Before I got all my own equipment, I used to commandeer the local community radio station's Behringer, which was lovely, in their studio, which was not... It wasn't soundproofed and picked up all the nice but shouty kids outside. I also worked in a school for a while, and used their terrible equipment in a room that sounded like a tin lunchbox. Sometimes I would go home and sit, hunched, in a pile of cushions under the kitchen table with a borrowed Edirol Roland R-09.
It was awkward. And unworkable.
It’s not possible to be a full time voice over without a home studio – you can’t be dilly dallying around booking studios while your client waits for their neatly packaged MP3 to be dropboxed to them, so they can play it to their waiting boss, who will then play it to their waiting client, who in turn needs to play it to their own, waiting management team…
The tech world was a bit intimidating at first, but I wandered through miles of threads on forums, and read reams of online reviews. I decided what I wanted and then saved like mad for my microphone, stand, pop shield, shock absorber, digital interface, laptop and editing programme. I built a person sized frame in my nice quiet house and, until the acoustic tiles moved in, hung heavy blankets everywhere.
There are blogs and articles by proper sound engineers that deal with this topic with much more flair than I can - I know how to use my beautiful equipment to best effect but for advice on what would be right for you, get researching. The more you read, the better you will understand your tools.
That Editing Feeling
So you’ve recorded a job, but it’s full of mistakes and mouth noise, and 20 seconds of motorbikes driving past… what - you gonna send it like that?
Of course not! Silly.
Knowing how to tidy up your work is as much a part of this as your vocal chords.
The very first software I used was back in the 1990s, when I was working on BBC Manchester’s Jewish community programme, “It’s Kosher!”. CoolEdit was the new fangled, razor-free method of choice at the BBC, and was later bought by Adobe and turned into Audition.
I was just young enough to escape working with actual tape, although some of the equipment was still lying around while I was there. Chaps, any time you feel like editing’s a chore, imagine ploughing through 10,000 words of a distance learning project on magnetic plastic strips. We’ve come a long way.
When I started trying to crack voice over, I used Audacity. It’s free, brilliant, and there’s an internet full of support to help you learn.
These days, I use Adobe Soundbooth, because it was given to me as a present and now I love it. Most of the VOs I know use Audition. They’re both great.
There is no feeling quite like editing. Zooming right into a wave, taking out the tiniest flaw, moving a smidge of noise from one part of an audio file, tucking it on the end of another bit, and making it sound perfect… I’ve done the “I’m So Clever At Editing” dance on more than one occasion this month.
Working live, in person, with the client right there with you is marvellous for different reasons, of course. We’ll talk about that another day.
Pop back next week for the third instalment; “Your Face, This Internet”