Recent Audio Book - First Life - Discovering The Connection Between Stars, Cells, and How Life Began

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Audiobooks - The Reading Is Just The Beginning

If you're a voice actor considering voicing audiobooks, and have never recorded one before, this is a post for you.

I recently began recording audiobooks.  When I was selected for a recent job, I was thrilled.  Audiobooks have long been an area of voice-overs that I've wanted to break into, and this particular book was an incredible opportunity.

Since this is a blog about my voice-over journey, I thought it might be helpful to take you through the process to give you an idea of just what goes into the recording of an audio book - and I came to find out that it's about a lot more than talking!

After the initial excitement of being selected, I knew that I had to assemble a small team to help complete this project.  Seasoned voice-over pros will often do all the recording and editing themselves.  I have a basic knowledge of editing and can handle smaller jobs, but I knew a project of this size would require the help of an audio engineer.

I'm fortunate to have some good friends in the voice over industry.  One in particular is a great audio engineer, who has himself just entered the world of voice acting.  He agreed to come on board as my Editor, and we were off and running!

This will take more than one post, so I'll start with an overview:  We had to record a total of 300 pages, plus a prologue and and epilogue - so we were up against a big project!  We created a project plan, laying out the chapters and establishing when to do the recording sessions and how much time we estimated each chapter would take.  We had to leave ourselves enough time to complete all the editing and mastering that would need to be done after the initial recording.

So the first thing I did was print off a copy of the manuscript for myself and my editor.  I put the transcript in a binder, and it became my constant companion for quite a while.  I like to read through the entire book to get a feel for the style of writing and the sense that the author is trying to convey.  This particular book is scientifically based, so it has some dry parts with a lot of lists - but it's also a compelling account of some serious stuff, so my reading had to convey that (no funny character voices on this one).

Our first hurdle was making sure all noise was eliminated from the studio.  We recorded what we thought was a good first 15 minute sample for the Publisher to review.  She liked it, but pointed out a low grade hum in the background.  We realized after listening again that the hard drive was creating the hum, so with some ingenuity and long cables, we were able to get the hard drive out of the recording area, and the hum was gone.

So, tip #1 is: Make sure your recording studio is completely quiet.  Many of us don't have soundproof rooms to record in, so you have to listen intently and be a super sleuth to find the sound source and eliminate it.  My recording studio is in a room in the basement of our home, so when I record, I literally have to shut the house down - turn off the dehumidifier, turn off the hot water heater, turn off the phones, and kindly ask our 4 children to go upstairs and be quiet - oh yeah, and no dishwasher or washer/dryer either - we're talking total shutdown!

With the studio perfectly quiet, we were ready to begin recording - but more on that in my next post.

Keep Talking!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

I had an interesting experience on Linked In recently.  I was working on my social media marketing, and finally concentrated on updating and maximizing my site.  I've had a somewhat varied background professionally, and currently am a partner in a successful company (which I really enjoy) that is totally separate from my voice-over world.

I made a decision to make my Linked In site exclusively about my voice-over experience, to really drill down on that aspect of my professional life, and started to send out invites to connect.

I received a terrific response from someone who happens to know of the other things I've done in the past, and my current goings on.  She was effusive in her praise of my decision to zero in on voice-overs exclusively on the site.  It definitely reaffirmed my decision, and also made me think about the ways in which we present ourselves to those around us, both the people we know and friends we haven't yet met.

Many of us are complex individuals, with many interests.  We all have varied experiences we bring to the table, and all of these experiences help define who we are.  That being said, there are times when we need to laser beam our thoughts and actions for a specific goal.

My decision to focus exclusively on voice acting on one of my social media sites doesn't take away from all the other things I do - both professionally and personally - that make!  I do believe, however, that the power of compartmentalizing can bring powerful results.

Best of luck in your social media world.  Let me know what's working for you!

Keep Talking


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Your Support Network - So Important!!

If you get a chance check out the recent post from a wonderful voice over artist, Bob Souer, about the importance of having a great support network.

 Here's the link to Bob's blog post:

 I know that my support network is definitely my family.  When Daddy is recording, our children are all very mindful of keeping as quiet as possible, and my wife has been my biggest cheerleader.  I couldn't do any of this without their love and support.

I'm very grateful as well to have many good friends in the voice-over business.  I'm always meeting new people who are interested in getting into voice-overs.  One of my greatest enjoyments is helping others learn about and succeed in this awesome industry.

Let me know who your support network is!

 Keep talking!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Staying Hydrated When Recording

I don't know about you, but one of the biggest issues I face when recording is keeping my mouth properly hydrated.  You've all experienced the different vocal issues when your mouth is too dry, or how about when you're producing too much saliva.  Then there's always the issue of mucous slowly working it's way up into your throat and vocal chords, causing you to cough or have to clear your throat (usually at the worst possible moment).

When you start to analyze why your mouth and throat experience these various symptoms, you realize just how fine an instrument our vocal chords are, and how much effort it takes to keep this instrument properly tuned so as to function effectively.  So many factors play a role in how well your voice sounds in the recording studio.  What you eat, when you eat, what you drink, how often you drink, nerves, health, strain, and fatigue are just a few of the many daily influences that your voice is subjected to.

Through my recent experience of recording an audiobook, I came face to face with all of these issues and factors.  Recording almost every day for about a month really put my voice to the test.  I found a few treatments that seemed to help me.  Hopefully they can help you as well:

1.  Drink water - lots and lots.  I am a notorious non-water drinker.  I can literally go almost an entire day without even thinking about drinking water.  As a voice actor, I have to force myself to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day.  This is by far the best thing you can do for your voice.

2.  Decaffeinated!! tea with lemon wedges and honey.  This drink is very soothing to the throat while recording.  There are some schools of thought that hot beverages can cause the vocal chords to inflame, but the tea cools pretty quickly, and I've found it quite helpful.

3.  My personal quirky favorite is ginger chews.  I use these as a lozenge in between takes.  Ginger can be a bit spicy, but I absolutely love them for soothing my throat and generating saliva production.

Do you have any special things you do to keep your voice in top shape before, during, and after recording?  If you do, please let me know - - I'm always on the lookout for new ideas!


Keep Talking!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Entering The Audiobook World

Let's talk audiobooks. If you're a voice actor, you've probably aspired to recording audiobooks. I don't know many people who would say that they don't want to voice audiobooks. That being said, the world of audiobook recording is very different than any other area of voice-overs. I've had the opportunity to record quick radio commercials where you arrive at the studio and an hour later you're done. I've also worked on longer projects that required me to do several sessions, each lasting a few hours. This is the typical scenario for most voice-over jobs. You zip in - get the job done - and move on to the next project.

 Audiobooks, however, are a completely different animal. I would compare it to the difference between voicing the trailer to a movie and actually being a main character - if not the actual star - of the movie. In the first instance, you rehearse a few lines, and record the trailer - your work is done. In the second instance, you are on the set every day, prepared to deliver your lines and act your role, until the movie is a wrap. Recording audiobooks requires a great attention to detail and a desire to immerse yourself in the job for potentially a month or more of intensive recording. If this sounds like fun to you (like it does to me!) then audiobooks are definitely an area of voice-overs that you should work toward.

My current audiobook project should wrap up in about a month. It's been an amazing process to lay down the actual recording of over 300 pages! The preparation was intense, as I read through the entire manuscript and marked up the pages with notes for myself, to help when recording. The actual recording of each chapter took a lot of time and I drank a lot of tea with lemon and honey to make it through. Now, my editor will be working his magic, and we'll be reviewing every word to make sure it's ready to go
It's been a truly rewarding, collaborative effort - and a whole lot of fun!

If audiobooks are your passion, then go for it. You'll work harder than you ever have, but in the end, it will be worth it. After all, even though we're getting paid to talk, it never really feels like work. That's the best job of all!

Keep Talking!