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  • Writer's pictureTom Dheere

Voiceovers And Scratch Tracks, Part 1 – The Not Silent Blog 10/07/20

Let’s talk about scratch tracks.

There are two perspectives for this:

  1. As a voice actor who listens to scratch tracks

  2. As a voice actor who narrates scratch tracks

This week we’ll talk about listening to scratch tracks. I yet again am narcissistically quoting myself, this time from my contribution to “The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing for Voiceover, 5th Edition”…

Everyone once in a while I get a “scratch track” from a client before I start recording a project. Scratch tracks are used as a placeholder to assist in the timing of a video so the producer knows how much time they have to display certain visuals. Sometimes it’s recorded by the producer, sometimes it’s someone in the office who is good with pronunciations, often it’s the sound engineer or maybe an intern. While this is an extremely useful tool in the production process, it does not, I repeat NOT, help the voice talent! Why? The voice talent is listening to a non-voice talent say their lines and it gets in their head. Sometimes it’s difficult not to use the inflections and cadence used on the scratch track. While the length of the scratch track may be correct, the speed in which certain words & phrases are uttered don’t necessarily convey the proper emotion or message. It’s difficult to listen to a scratch track, look at the script, and then try to deliver the proper read at the same time. It’s like trying to read a script written in German and then say it aloud in French! With that in mind; if you’re producing a project and you hired a voice talent, sending a scratch track does not necessarily help. Trust your talent to tell your story in the time allotted and in an engaging way! From “The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing for Voiceover, 5th Edition”


I made that quote in 2015 and both my understanding & opinion of scratch tracks has evolved. Nowadays I’m more comfortable with them.

Scratch tracks are narrated by professional voice actors more & more often (more on that in next week’s blog) so the performance is improving, which gives you more clues as to what the voice seeker wants.

If the scratch track wasn’t recorded by a professional voice actor, ignore the performance and focus on timing, speed, and pronunciations. The more accurate you are with stuff like that, your chances of getting cast will increase.

In next week’s blog, we’ll talk about narrating scratch tracks…


If you missed “The Practical Voice Actor” webinar, never fear! The webinar was recorded and is available for purchase at the VO Strategist Shop.

Thursday, October 8th @8PM EST: My next Edge Studio Business and Money 201 webinar will be ‘Workflow’. In this one-hour webinar, we’ll talk about how to manage your office, inbox, and Systems of Thought. This webinar caps at 25 attendees and sells out fast. Click here to sign up.

Thursday, October 22nd @8PM EST: My next Edge Studio Marketing 201 webinar will be ‘What Your Website Says About You’. In this one-hour webinar, we’ll talk about how your website can help you gain or lose clients without you ever knowing it. This webinar caps at 25 attendees and sells out fast. Click here to sign up!

Saturday, October 24th @1:30 PM EDT: Johnny Heller’s NEW ENGLAND VIRTUAL NARRATOR RETREAT 2020. I will talk about Time Management and Workflow. There will be many amazing audio book narrators, coaches, and publishers. It’ll be swell! Learn more and sign up here.

November 6-8: Mini-MAVO is getting closer! This year I will be presenting “Rates, Negotiating, and Billing”. Sign up here!



Tom Dheere is a voice actor who has narrated thousands of projects for hundreds of clients in over a dozen countries. In addition to voice acting, he is a voiceover business and marketing consultant known as the VOStrategist. When not voicing or talking about voicing, Tom produces the comic book “Agent 1.22”. You can subscribe to his weekly blog and the monthly VO Strategist Learnin’ Stuff Notice here.


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