In todays voice over world, voice actors are asked 90% of the time to audition from home, and that can pose a challenge. There are issues of background noise (kids, cars etc) and the recording equipment and editing process itself. iPhone recordings can be used if you do not own a pro mic, but you'll need a few things on your checklist: Headphones. I can't stress enough how vital decent over-ear headphones are to a voice actor (especially when home recording and editing). Invest $100 and you will be amazed on how much better the sound and clarity is when listening back. Remember, you need to listen like casting directors do: with critical ears! When recording on iPhone, be at least 3"- 6" away, and try speaking into the mic at 45 degree angle, rather than head on. This will alleviate the dreaded 'plosives'. Plosives are hard consonants that distort the mic and ruin the recording (producers hate bad plosives!) It also shows you are inexperienced and you won't get hired! You may need to invest in a pop screen, or mic soc, Again with decent headphones you can listen back with a critical ear before sending off. SOFTWARE: If you are a Mac user I suggest Twisted Wave, Audacity is another good one and its free!
There are also many free audio editors out there. If you do invest in a USB mic (I strongly suggest you do!) there are many to choose from. The best I've used and heard are Apogee, and the Blue Yeti
IMPORTANT: these mics will still usually give you ony audition quality, (or possibly small market radio quality), not true broadcast quality. There are always other mic and audio interface options that will get you better sound quality, but without a proper recording environment, it is not worth the investment, and besides...most of you are actors NOT producers! Make sure whatever software you record with has LED's ( those pretty bouncing lights) Stay in the green or a little bit of yellow, but NEVER in the RED! (that means distortion which is a big no no). THE ROOM. Choose a smaller space in your home with carpeting, curtains and furniture. Be inventive! Use blankets, pillows or whatever will absorb the slap-back echo/reverb when you speak. Try foam inside a large apple box and speak into mic inside for a 'deader' sound. A mattress is also excellent as a sound absorber, as well as speaking near or in front of a closet full of clothes. You'll need to experiment on what works best. METHOD: First record a sample in what you know to be a bad space: IE Kitchen or bathroom with lots of reverb or natural echo. Then record the same line in your desirable environment and compare the two. My first studio was egg cartons covered in cheap material and camping foam!
So now lets focus on the audition itself (now that the technical stuff is out of the way). SLATE. If doing animation, always slate in character, just be sure your name is clear, and you are performing as the character with intent (IE In an acting scene) make it interesting as its the first thing casting people hear! If slating for commercial, slate in the style you will be performing (IE friendly, authoritative etc). Then just let the recording go and riff, try different inflections and be focussed only on the performance! (be sure and do a quick test recording and listen back for levels, plosives, unwanted noice etc) You don't want a distorted recording to ruin a great performance! DIRECTING this is the tricky part, as you've gone from engineer, to performer, to director. Listen back with a critical ear and find any flubbed words, or off notes, weird inflections etc. Ask these questions: does it tell the story? Does it it casting specs? Does it sound natural and interesting? What would a casting person hear? Then you might redo a line or tow and cut and paste (very common BTW!) EDITING this overlaps a bit of directing as you will be cutting out unwanted breaths and clicks etc for a clean recording, and may notice you'd like a different performance on a particular line. IMPORTANT NOTE: ANIMATION or ACTING Scene You will want to leave in some breaths as it is more realistic especially if you are performing non vocal sounds: (exertion, laughing, running etc).
Whew! Almost done! Now you need to label and email.
FILE NAMING Agents and casting peeps are very picky about this! They will usually provide exact naming specs so please pay close attention before sending! If there are no specs, (as a default) I always do: Brent_Halfyard_Client. Make sure it is MONO Mp3 (Not stereo) You'll need to check this in preferences of your software. OK were done! If this sounds like a lot and too much to deal with, don't worry! Halfyard Studios is here to help. Book a session and we'll take care of all the technical junk so you don't have to! I do hope these tips have helped now go break a leg... or whatever we break in the voice over industry!
Our studio will be closed April 24 to May 16, 2018
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