Voiceover for Toyota: Start Your Impossible

Dr Amit Patel @BlindDad_Uk stands in front of a red Toyota GT86 at a race track in Surrey.

As a voiceover, I am often the very last piece in a long and complicated puzzle. I’m fully aware that days, weeks, and sometimes months of preparation have gone into a project before I get the call, and I aim to step up the mic without making a drama, read the words as they’ve been imagined in various heads, and make it seem effortless.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on a project with quite so much preparation, the potential for a huge amount of drama, and one of the best stories you could hope for but that’s exactly what I signed up for when I was booked to provide the voiceover for Toyota and their incredible Blind Driver film.

The story

Dr Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk on twitter) lost his sight six years ago. He was a first response medic for the NHS at the time, and hasn’t driven a car since. When he contacted Toyota about their #StartYourImpossible project, he asked them to help him drive again. Between them, they hatched a fantastic, slightly terrifying and utterly thrilling plan. You can see the result if you scroll down.

Dr Amit Patel and instructor Mark Watkins, stand on the race track, either side of the Toyota GT86

In the recording studio

Audio Description is an interesting area of voiceover and one I can’t claim much expertise in. In general, it is literally about describing what’s happening on the screen to make the experience more inclusive for a blind or visually impaired viewer. It’s not acting, it’s low key and it has to fit around the existing audio track. For this project, we struck a mid-point between describer and narrator. Some of the pictures were designed to build the tension, and we all felt that it would be right to signal this with my delivery. But at other points, Amit’s emotion was so great, my description needed to step back, and simply support Amit’s story-telling.

A Neumann TLM103 microphone in Natalie Cooper's studio. In the background an iPad screen is used for reading scripts, and a computer monitor shows a mixing desk.

The voiceover recording session was collaborative, between the film director, the editor and myself and it was incredibly rewarding to find that although we drew from different areas of expertise, we quickly agreed about the best ways to approach each part.

Not so very long ago, a project like this would have demanded a booking in a London studio, but having watched the video beforehand, we were able to connect simply using Skype, I recorded high-quality audio in my studio, edited on the fly, and sent the error-free raw audio over to the editor via WeTransfer.com to bring the whole thing together.

And when the script changed slightly a couple of days before the launch? No problem, we all jumped on Skype, I was able to read along with the previous takes, and the new lines slipped in with ease.

That’s the recording process for the voiceover for Toyota, but for the end result and Amit’s incredible story you can watch here.

More about how the film was made can be found on the Toyota blog.