Several months into my new voice over career, I’ve learned a few things. Well, many dozens of things. But here’s a few of the really important ones:
-Airplanes are terrible
-Trains are terrible
-Lawnmowers are terrible
-Teenagers revving their muscle cars are terrible
The theme here, if you hadn’t guessed, is that all of these terrible things create noise. We know this, and for the most part, accept these things as part of our normal, daily lives. We’ve lived 10 minutes from John Glenn International Airport for a dozen years, and while the direct aural hit we incur from the planes flying overhead has always been mildly annoying, it’s at least been acceptable.
Alas, it’s not so acceptable when you’re inside your makeshift recording booth and, despite the fantastic (and expensive) software that reduces noise and fixes the majority of environmental flaws, the external noises destroy your audio. It’s so quite so bad when doing one-off jobs for commercials or startups…..a 60-second spot might take roughly 30-40 minutes, so a few pauses while recording are okay. But audio books? Impossible.
I’m currently working on my ninth audio book (a couple, as of this date, have yet to be published) and these are marathons. They require longer sessions and, more importantly, require acting. Real acting….immersion….the ability to take the listener to a different place. To achieve this, as a narrator, you need to get to this place yourself. You’re already alone in your booth, you have all the tools, so the only thing you need is the time to create.
So, when you narrate for a couple minutes, then hear the low-end rumblings of a plane approaching, you stop. You wait. Maybe you make a couple spacing edits in what you just recorded to save time later. Then, anywhere from 30-45 seconds later, you resume narrating. Inevitably, you stumble on your first utterance. Your flow, or whatever passes for a flow, is gone. You have to regroup, get back into it. By now, you’ve lost 60-90 seconds. Two minutes later, another plane passes by. Rinse and repeat.
At a certain point, you simply have to stop. It’s just not worth the effort, you’re taking 6-8 minutes to narrate a single page and are so frustrated that you probably aren’t as “in character” as you really need to be. Naturally, when a lawnmower gets going two houses down, you know you’re in for a long break, but at least you know for sure you’re shutting down for an hour….it’s slightly less frustrating than the intermittent planes.
So, I’ve been trying to spare myself the frustration by narrating at night. On most nights, it seems that closing in on midnight is safer, and after 1:00 AM is prime time. But, depending on the day, I may have wasted my voice at a gig, or working on other projects. I may be spent. I have had some success with this but it’s still been very sporadic.
So, after months of this, I’ve decided it’s time to fix the problem once and for all. After a lot of research and careful consideration, I ordered a custom unit from StudioBricks, a relatively new player in the sound isolation game, but one that has been quickly becoming known as one of the best. You can read about it all on their site. Well, everything except the cost. I won’t get into it here, but …..yikes. I’ve invested a lot in the voice over world this year, much more in music over the years, but this was a whopper.
Still, it looks like this is exactly what I need; the ability to work 24/7, whenever I need to, with no distractions. I’m excited about this, even though it will take up to 12 weeks to arrive. I’ll certainly be talking about it more later on.