I was talking to one of my students. He had invested in taking my commercial class and showed good potential. He had also purchased the bare equipment needed to record at home. He sent me a MP3 of a test recording and it sounded fine: quiet recording, good levels, and good performance.
Then he said: do I really need a professionally produced demo? I can’t afford it. This surprised me because he is also an on-camera actor. He has the required professional headshots and a resume. And I know he’s taken several acting classes to fill that resume.
So I asked: Why are you interested in doing voice over? His answer: Because I want to earn money doing what I love.
I’m usually not so abrupt, but I said: Then you can’t afford NOT to have a professionally produced demo! Continue reading
To record voiceovers you need four things: A computer, a microphone, headphones and a recording application. You can get fancier if you want, but these four items will get you where you want to go. I recommend Audacity as a effective and simple program to record your voice over demos. It’s easy to use, it produces high quality audio and it’s FREE. You can’t beat that. But Audacity has some “idiosyncrasies” that drive me crazy. Here are the top three annoying oddities and how to work around them. Continue reading
To USB or not to USB?
Some people caution against using a USB mic for voice over. But these mics have evolved. Now you can create broadcast quality audio with a USB microphone. But you have to choose the right mic!
Remember: Look for these specs in a USB Mic
- A quality microphone–+$150
- Gain control on the mic (a knob)
- Headphone jack on the mic for zero latency monitoring
- 20-20,000 hz frequency response
- Perhaps 24 bit
And you will be ready to record in your voice over home studio.
I am a firm believer that speeding up auditions equals more auditions turned in equals more jobs. And this efficiency means mo’ money per hour of auditioning. When I read an audition there is often a sentence or two that I “pick up” so there is usually some quick editing involved in creating the final audition.
I also like to clean the beginning and the end with silence. So no rattling paper sound or me mumbling “man this copy really sucks…” But then the question arises “should I take out the breaths?” The answer is no… and yes. Continue reading
Ok, you’re signed up with voices.com or voice123.com and a new audition is posted with a budget of $1000.00. Looks good to me… until you open the project description. This is someone’s autobiography and it’s 110, 000 words. Yikes! That’s less than a penny per word. Oh, and the author wants edited, mastered, finished tracks. All of a sudden that 250 word narration for $500.00 looks a whole lot better. The moral of this story? Always watch the word count. Continue reading
If you record with Audacity Recording Software you notice that each time you record certain file specifications are used. And when you export certain specs, such as the bit rate for your MP3s, are used. And you may notice that these specification choices are all wrong! Not to worry! Audacity Preferences to the rescue! Continue reading
Listen carefully to your pickup recordings to make sure the sound matches the original
OK, you finished a long, involved business narration. You’ve done the slicing and dicing and sent the client flawless edited files. Maybe you underbid this job a little but you stuck it out and you finally uploaded the files, invoiced the client and breathed a sigh of relief.
And then the dreaded email arrives. They love the delivery and the audio quality is spot-on but… you mispronounced several words and the company name. (I’m not going to nag you and tell you that you should check ALL pronunciations before you record).
No problem! You’ll fix the mispronounced words with “pickups” of each sentence and replace the faulty sentences. You record the first sentence and… it sounds completely different than the original! OMG! Now you have to re-record the entire job! Gasp! Continue reading
Eliminate Noise from your Voice Over Recordings
What is Noise in a Voice Over Recording?
Trying to define noise is like trying to define a “weed”. A rose can be a weed in a vegetable garden. Many a lawn-care expert spends much energy defeating the dreaded dandelion and yet it is one of children’s favorite flowers.
And so it is with “noise”. Pop music may offend the ears of classical music listener and a loud television may be noisy to someone taking an afternoon nap.
But the definition of noise in a voice over recording is simple to define. It is any sound in the recording that is not your voice. Let’s look at various sources for these spurious sounds and some hints at how to reduce them. Continue reading
Once upon a time audio engineers dreamed of a digital microphone. With the advent of the USB mic that dream is now a reality. This type of mic requires no mixing board or interface box. You simply plug it into the USB port of your computer and voila! The mic appears as an audio input device on your computer.
The first mics were primitive–just a mic and a USB cable. Gain was controlled in the sound panel of your computer. And because the digital output had to be processed by the computer, there was a noticeable delay when you monitored the output.
But USB mics have matured and the latest generations have made them a good choice for voice over home studios. Here are six tips on what to look for in a USB microphone. Continue reading
The “brand name” controvery
If you research voice over commercial demo production on the internet, at some point you will be confronted with the “brand name” controversy.
It goes like this: Should I use real brand names in the copy for my demo? Why is this a debate?
There are some industry pundits that advise not to use brand names for the following reasons:
- Some argue that copy with actual brand names will violate copy or trademark laws and can get in legal hot water.
- Others argue that you will be compared to the voice over talent that performed the original commercial.
- In a similar vein, some argue that, by using existing commercial copy and brand names, you will be confusing agents or clients who will assume you recorded the actual aired spot. Continue reading