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Answer: The word “copy” has a special meaning in the world of on-camera and voiceover performance. It doesn’t usually mean a physical copy of something (although, it can) – it means… (continued in David’s answer below)
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Answer: The word “copy” has a special meaning in the world of on-camera and voiceover performance. It doesn’t usually mean a physical copy of something (although, it can) – it means the written script, usually for a commercial.
The long history of what words mean what in the world of acting can be confusing, and it doesn’t stop with the word ‘copy’. I got a note one night from a voiceover client who had a question about a voice class I was teaching, in which instead of performing scripts provided by me, the students were invited to ‘bring their own copy’, or BYOC.
He didn’t know what that meant, but had some ideas.
He wondered if he needed to bring a copy of his voice on CD, record some words on his laptop and bring that; he really was confused and asked for clarification.
I don’t blame him. Unlike some words used in the industry, ‘copy’ isn’t very intuitive. And although it comes from the age of mimeograph fluid, toner and carbon paper, it doesn’t hold much of a connection to the state of affairs today.
The word ‘copy’ simply means the scripted words that are used by actors to deliver voiceover or commercial content. It’s sometimes called VO copy, commercial copy or ad copy, but it’s actually a holdover phrase from the days when a copywriter would create the commercial script, then have the mail room or office assistant make several ‘copies’ of the script, for delivery and use of everyone from the client to the legal department to the account executive to the actual talent that would read his or her…copy.
With my voice classes, especially the ones where I cover various types of voicework, from commerical to audiobook and e-learning, I provice copy, copy that is in the category we’re studying in the class. If we’re studying how to voice children’s audiobooks, I give each student in the class excerpts from children’s audio books to choose from for their work (everyone gets to record at the mic and gets the MP3 of that recording as their takeaway from the class).
But in those classes where I’m not discussing a type of voicework, but rather a facet of managing the student’s voiceover practice, they are encouraged to BYOC, or Bring Your Own Copy – an audition they are working on, a piece they want to record and be directed on, whatever they want.
(I actually let them pick from a variety of copy that I bring to class just in case, so no one is left without some sort of copy to read.)
Other phrases that mean the same thing are ‘lines’ (but that’s usually reserved for words spoken in a dramatic or comedic production), ‘script’, and so on. But when it comes to the world of voiceover, whether it’s commercial copy, narration copy, IVR or phone prompt copy, audiobook copy or any other type of copy, the written script delivered by the voiceover talent, as written by, descriptively, the copywriter, is called…copy.
What’s your answer to this acting question? Let me know in the comments below.
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I have a script, and every so often it has (MORE) written after a line, what does it mean ?
It’s always at the bottom of the page, or before stage directions, to let you know that the same character is speaking next, usually in a continuation of the line just before (MORE…).
You’ll also see the visual head’s-up (CON’T) at the end of a page – that means be prepared to continue with that character on the next page.
Hope this helps.
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