Often, when you record a job at home you will receive a request for “edits” from your client. Maybe you pronounced a name wrong or didn’t have the right “vibe” on a sentence. These edits can be fixed with pick ups.
To refresh, in voice over recording, a “pickup” is a sentence or phrase which didn’t come out correctly the first time, so it is re-recorded, hopefully with better results.
So, rather than redoing an entire job, you can often satisfy the client by re-performing only the sentences that need fixing. Here are some hints that can make pickups quick and easy and improve your voice over efficiency.
Set and Forget
It is important to keep your initial recording process as simple as possible. When you set up your gear, find the optimum settings to record the best audio and then leave all the knobs where they are forever. This will simplify the difficult task of trying to match the new audio with the old audio. Make a note of the following:
- your voice strength and pitch
- your distance from the mic
- any compression settings
- any eq settings
- the microphone gain
- recording level
These settings interact with each other so try to standardize them as much as possible. For example, if you do your pickup recording closer the mic, the tonality of the audio will change because of the proximity effect. The recording will also be “hotter” so you will need to reduce the mic gain to record at the same level. And when you listen back, the recording will sound much different, even though it will look the same.
Listen and Compare the Original to the Pickup
The only way to be sure you’ve matched the audio is to listen. Are you using the same voice and energy? Is the new recording louder or softer? Brighter or duller in tone? Close your eyes and listen. You shouldn’t be able to tell where the old recording stops and the new recording begins. If the pickup jumps out at you, you need to figure out why it’s different and correctly set that variable.
Swap ‘Em Out
Sometimes you can provide the client with a short file with only the sentences that need correcting. But if you’ve sent edited, finished files originally, the it is wise to provide a complete new file with the new changes replacing the old sentences. Many video editors want to just drop the entire new file into the video. Often it is much more work to seek out each changed sentence in the video and replace it. If you’re not sure, then just ask.
Use the “Wild Spot” Technique
It’s very difficult to record a sentence just the way yo want it in one take. So use the “wild spot” recording technique to get just the right take. Hit “record” and perform the sentence several times with a bit of space in between each version. You’ll know when you’re nailing it. When you do five or six versions, one of them will be right. Then choose the best version and blow the others away.
When Not To Do Pickups
If there are many corrections to be made, or the client wants a different feel for the entire read, then pickups are not the way to go. The finished performance will lack continuity and consistency. In this case, especially if it’s a short project, bite the bullet and re-record the entire script. The good news is that by this time you’ll be familiar with the script and you can just sail through it with the appropriate corrections and the entire read will be better.
Pickups To The Rescue
If there a few minor corrections required by the client, use pickups to do the repairs. With practice you’ll perform them quickly and improve your final product. You’ll also speed up your recording process and improve your efficiency. By saving time this way you’ll have more time to do auditions or other jobs.