Moving voiceovers into the 21st century


Leigh Emmerson TV-Bay Magazine
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by Leigh Emmerson
Issue 101 - May 2015

There was a time when the only way to get a voiceover for your production was by contacting a voiceover agent who would obligingly send over a CD or two full of voiceover sparkle and you and your client would choose one, schlep on down to a studio and pay a small fortune to sit on a swanky sofa and watch said sparkle record your script.

You would then return back to your suite with a DAT tape or CD in your hand to pop the resulting recording into your production. It wasn't the greatest system for many reasons, apart from the time and money involved in recording the original session, it made re-records extremely expensive and slow as the only way to do a pickup was for the artist to go back to the studio.

Some people do still work this way, partly because that's how they've always worked and partly in the mistaken belief it's the only way to ensure a high quality result. I say some people still work this way, because there has been a revolution quietly happening in people's spare rooms that has transformed the way a lot of producers get their voiceovers recorded.

The revolution is the result of two main developments, firstly the cost of recording technology has dropped dramatically - mainly because of home music recording and secondly because of a little phenomena known as the Internet. No longer do we need to send things back and forward via a motorcycle courier. Those 'things' are now comprised of 1s and 0s and can be sent in a matter of moments - very quickly and efficiently.

There is now an army of voiceover artists all over the world who have taken the step of building their own studios in their homes, meaning they can record without leaving their front door and clients can get scripts recorded very quickly and cost effectively.

These studios have to be properly sound-proofed, need professional quality microphones and pre-amps etc. But this can be done without a huge outlay on the part of the artist. With the falling cost of audio technology a little ingenuity can go a long way. I have heard stories of artists recording under duvets or in their airing cupboards to get the correct acoustics. If it works - don't knock it!

Now you might think that you need to be with the artist when they record to give them proper direction. Well guess what, you can give the artist direction from anywhere in the world. There are technologies like ISDN and Source Connect allowing high quality monitoring of a session and technologies such as Skype and a normal telephone call work pretty well too.

So maybe these artists aren't as professional as the voices that still record in expensive studios? Actually, the reality is a lot of the time they are the same individuals, who do both home recorded sessions as well as sessions in an external studio. VoxXpress.com, the site we run has some of the best artists on the planet right now. You may not recognise their names but you will recognise their voices. So the question is why would you go through the rigmarole of travelling to a studio now when you can join the 21st century and get the same job done cheaper and quicker.


Tags: iss101 | audio | voiceover industry | video producer | studio | dat tape | Leigh Emmerson
Contributing Author Leigh Emmerson

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