Friday, 12 December 2014

New Photos of our Voiceover Agency Team

To coincide with our newly-re-launched voiceovers website, we commissioned a new set of professional photos of the BigFish Media Team:

Marketing Assistant Daniel

Audio Producer Nathan

Managing Director Ricky

Marketing Director Zoe

Audio Engineer Andrew

Marketing Assistant Rebecca

Audio Engineer John who records our voiceovers

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Can I be a full-time Voiceover Artist?

We are often asked by voiceover newbies who come to us to make voiceover showreels if they should quit their job and take up being a voiceover artist as a full-time occupation.

We also get many people asking us for a job as a voiceover artist. There is no such thing as having a job as a voiceover artist, unless you mean being booked for an hour. That's a voiceover job. Voice talent are freelance professionals.

Very few people indeed are full-time voiceover artists. Even great voice talent can be part time - fitting it around childcare or their partner's job. Most voice artists combine "voiceovering" with stage or screen acting, directing, producing, broadcasting on either TV or radio, voice coaching or doing translations.

Figures out recently showed that the number of newly self-employed people is growing twice as fast as those being given jobs. As people get made redundant and can't find a conventional job, they become freelance, effectively starting their own company.

The insecure freelance life doesn't suit everybody. If being freelance and running your own business (however small) isn't for you, then neither is being a voiceover artist.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Our New Voiceover Agency Marketing Assistant

Please let me introduce a new member of the BigFish Media voiceover team. This is Daniel:

Daniel - our new Marketing Assistant - will be working alongside our Marketing Manager Zoe:

. continue to build our voiceover business. We are growing at a massive 30 per cent year on year  - and we hope to continue this into 2015 and beyond!

For older posts about voiceovers and the voiceover industry please visit Our Old Voiceover Blog

Thursday, 30 October 2014

What do I need for a home Voiceover Booth?

Today we continue our look at building your own home studio.

We are often asked by voiceover artists how much building their home studio will cost. You could spend £3,000 or you could spend £30,000. Decide how much you have to spend and get the best kit you can for the money.

Alternatively decide what you would really like - then find out how much it will cost - and don't forget to include labour. There is no good spending £3,000 on kit if you have no idea how to assemble it. And Studio Engineers are not cheap - especially if they have a long journey to your place.

We have already covered what you would like to achieve and microphones in a previous blog.

When it comes to soundcards, headphones, mixers and monitors, get the best you can afford. The audio quality of what you record will be directly affected by the microphone mixer and soundcard. There is no point spending £3,000 on a Neumann microphone if you only use the on-board sound card that comes with your PC. These are not designed for professional audio use - they are fine to listen to music in MP3 format and videos on YouTube! The quality of your recording will be limited by the quality of the soundcard.

For years we used Marc 2 soundcards, but since upgrading to Windows 7 we now use Marian Seraph AD2 soundcards.

For monitors, any monitors that come with your PC will be fine - especially as you are likely to be wearing headphones to record your voiceovers and to edit it afterwards:

 There are lots of different mixers you can use, and we aren't experts on this but we are very happy with our Mackie Onyz 820i mixer. (pictured)

And as for headphones, there is only one broadcast-standard enclosed headphone to use and that is the Beyer DT100. There is no argument on this one!

I have worn out many pairs in my broadcasting career and we continue to use several pairs here for our voiceover business.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

How to build your home voiceover studio

We often get asked by new voice talent who have come to us to make a voiceover showreel or for voice training if they should invest in a home studio.

If you are thinking about building your own home voiceover booth, you are the only one who can decide if you would like to take the plunge.

Just as you don't need a voiceover agent, you don't need a home studio - but it sure helps.

First, do the research:

Do you have enough room in your home?

Can you afford it?

How much would you like to spend?

What are the costs involved?

What do you want to achieve?

Do you want to be directed by a client (in person/on the phone/on Skype/on ISDN/ipdTL/Source Connect etc)?

How high-spec do you want the voiceover booth to be?

Should you just buy a a complete booth (Esmono or Studiobricks for
example) to set up in a bigger room or should you convert a cupboard/a cupboard under-the-stairs, a wardrobe, a small spare single room or use part of a larger room?

Would you like it to be sound-proofed or just acoustically treated (with acoustic tiles)?

Of course you will also need a computer to record onto and editing software (Garage Band, Adobe Audition, Pro Tools etc.)

The most important constituent part of your voiceover booth is...


...the microphone!

Ours (pictured) is a Neumann U87 - a top-of-the-range microphone and it comes with a top-of-the-range price too! If you buy a pop shield, stand and microphone holder, you won't get much change from £3K.

The good news however is there are much cheaper alternatives which will also give you a reasonable sound. We also have an Audio Technica AT4033 microphone which was a fraction of the price but did us very well indeed.

You can also get USB microphones which plug directly into your laptop or PC, but you will need to make sure you are recording in an acoustically-treated environment and you don't get any PC noise coming out on the recording.  

Ideally your PC should not be in your booth and your recording shouldn't take place in your office/production area.

There will be more to follow on future blogs when we will look at sound cards, headphones mixers and monitors to get your voiceover business buzzing.  Then in the third blog on how to build your home voiceover studio, we will look at ISDN  ipDTL, Source Connect, Skype and telephones.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Should I price Voiceovers by Word Count?

We often get given a word count for voiceover jobs and asked to quote to record the audio.

When the word count is around the 2,000 mark or more , this isn't an issue and would fit nicely into an hour's studio time.

But when we get asked to record 50 words or so it can often be an issue.

Voiceover artists are booked by the hour, so no matter if it's 10 words or 3, 000, we have to pay them for an hour of their time.

Don't forget that you are also paying for the value that the voiceover artist adds to your product video. The voice talent is, in effect, selling your product.

So if you make a lovely video for your product, do you really want to ruin it with an amateur voiceover which sounds like it was recorded in their kitchen on cheap equipment?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Voiceover Trueism

I found this trueism in a recent letters column of The Economist - attributed to Jim Jarmusch.

Fast, cheap and good...pick two. If it's fast and cheap it won't be good. If it's cheap and good it won't be fast. If it's fast and good it won't be cheap. 

Equally applicable to the voiceover industry I think.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Our Voiceover Song

We recently took on a great new American voiceover artist Nancy who was so thrilled to be on our voiceover agency books that she wrote and sang a song about it!

You can hear it here


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Our New Trainee Engineer

Please let me introduce the latest member of the BigFish Media voiceovers team.

This is Rebecca:

Or Bex as we like to call her around the office.

Bex is our Trainee Audio Engineer and over the next few months will be learning to edit, operate the mixer and take voiceover sessions with voice talent and clients.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Our New Monitors for our Voiceover Agency

Our Engineers had been on at me for a while to buy some Tannoy Monitors for our Voiceover Recording Studio. So eventually I gave in!

After re-jigging the desks, we bought some, removed a load of cables and finally wall-mounted them:

Result? Happy Engineers! And Great Voiceovers.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

ipDTL: a better cheap replacement for ISDN

There has been a lot of buzz in the social media in the last few months about this new ipDTL being a cheap replacement for ISDN. We tried it for a month with our voiceover sessions and liked it very much. 

We have therefore now invested our £200 in the ipDTL Link Account.

It is even easier to use than the trial version! 

And the great thing about this is that it costs our voiceover artists nothing. Not a penny.  And there is now a Mute button to avoid howlround while the voice talent is voicing. 

You must use Google Chrome though and also use a wired Ethernet cable to send us audio at 128kpbs (HIGH)

We send the voice talent a specific link which looks a bit like this

The voice talent then enters their name and clicks Connect. There is no need for passwords. The voice artist can then talk to our Engineer and the voiceovers begin!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Issues with voiceovers using ipDTL

After many test runs with various voiceover artists in the last couple of months, we have finally successfully recorded our first session using ipDTL.

However, our test runs and first proper session have thrown up some issues with delay, the technical set up in the remote studios and our mixer's inability to send clean feed.

Here is a summary of the relevant points from our Studio Engineer James which may affect your recording studio. (We have omitted the issues which only affect our studio set up.)

1.)     Our first problem is that we do not know how sophisticated our voiceover artist’s setup is.  Please insist that they use Google Chrome, check that they are connected to (not the ‘free’ version of the url) and that they type in the user id and password (insist that they do not copy details it as extra spaces can be added – this confuses the server).  Their routing may be problematic, for example: some voiceover artists will have more than one sound card!
2.)     We have noted that some users can hear us but we can’t hear them.  To ensure that we’re definitely picking up audio through the ipDTL channel, click on the ‘devices’ tab on the ipDTL page and play the test tone – it should come through loud and clear, if we can hear the tone then the problem is at the voiceover artist’s end. 

3.)     The voiceover artist needs to ensure that Google Chrome is set to their default microphone setting on the sound card.  In many instances Chrome has linked itself to non-default soundcard settings.
4.)     If you’re having problems hearing the voiceover artist get them to click on the video camera icon at the right of the url bar next to the star icon, this should provide a dropdown box which allows them to change the microphone settings.
      5.)     We may need to ask the voiceover artist to mute what we send to them.  This way we can monitor on speakers and the client can hear at the same time – we can’t stop the voiceover artist mid paragraph though as they can’t hear us 

     6.) The voiceover artist must use Google Chrome and ideally send us audio at 128kpbs if their internet connection supports that speed 

We also send these handy tips to our voiceovers:

Are we having trouble hearing you? Google Chrome needs to use your default soundcard. Therefore you need to make your microphone’s soundcard the default soundcard. Click on the video camera icon at the right of the url bar next to the star icon, this should provide a dropdown box which allows you to change your microphone settings.

Are you having trouble hearing us? You will need to make sure that the soundcard that enabled you to hear previous clients in your headphones ( on the phone, ISDN or Skype for example) to hear our microphone through ipDTL.

Good luck!  

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Voiceover News April 2014

Despite me taking a week's vacation in Spain, we had an extremely busy month - and the team were worked solid.
We gave Voice Training to actress Elaine Coxall from London and child voiceover artist Ben recorded a song for Sky Sports 2.

For the UK Male voice talent, Ed recorded a voiceover for Secure IT and James G recorded a voiceover for BCam

For our International Voices, Roy recorded a German  a TV commercial for the Hobbit for transmission on the Cartoon Network, Colin C recorded another voiceover for SAP, Cameron voiced for Cisco, Robyn recorded a South African voiceover for Jabula Restaurant in Cheshire, Ruben S voiced for the Pokerstars Tournament, Michel recorded a French voiceover for Z-Frame, Mark P recorded a voiceover for Eurocamp and Lisa voiced for Axis Communications.

And finally for our UK Female Voices, Maureen recorded a voiceover for Working Voices, Jacky worked for Parago, Charley voiced for Asda and Suzanne recorded a voiceover for Eurocamp.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Our Tenth Anniversary of Recording Voiceovers

I can't believe it, but it was ten years ago - in 2004 - that BigFish Media was incorporated as a company to record voiceovers.

Then it was just me...

Now there are 6 of us - Studio Engineers/Producers Andrew, John, James and Nathan...

plus Zoe who does our marketing...

So here is how we celebrated...

With champagne...

And of course, fish...

So here's to the next ten years of voiceovers....!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Voiceover News for March 2014

This month we made a Voiceover Showreel for actor Mike Scoble from Richmond, South West London and Leonor gave a 12 year old actor Voice Coaching ahead of his part in a film.

Anthony  James  Matt C and Charlotte all recorded character voiceovers for Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset.

For our UK female voice talent, Helen S recorded a voiceover for Unilever, Michelle voiced more on-hold prompts for Vauxhall Motor Insurance and Immy recorded another voiceover for Axis Communications.

Among our International Voices, Colin C recorded a voiceover for SAP and Max voiced again in Italian for ActivTrades

And for our UK male voice artists, Craig recorded another voiceover for at0800 and another for Telefonica; Taylor voiced for Motor Insurers Bureau, Andrew D voiced for BBC Bitesize, Steffan recorded a voiceover for the Fire Protection Association, John G for BMW, Alec recorded another voiceover for Interxion, Carl worked for Taurus and Neil voiced for Computing Magazine.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Our Voiceover Booth

We have recently installed new LED lighting in our voiceover booth. We had been finding that the old lights created heat as well as light.

So now it's much colder - in fact some times rather cold at first - in our voiceover booth. But it does warm up quickly enough!

The only heat source in the studio is now the body of the voiceovers in there.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Voiceover News for February 2014

It was Barney Bear month for us! We took on the audio production of a singing and talking animatronic bear voiced by James for the Trafford Centre in Manchester. You can hear a cut down on our Audio Production page

James also recorded voiceovers for Envirovent.

For the other UK male voices, Craig voiced for Broadbean's Candidate Sourcing Platform,  Ricky recorded more voiceovers for the Pen Warehouse, Darren voiced again for McAfee and Solardome, Alan L recorded a character voiceover for Brooklands Museum in Surrey, David L recorded a voiceover for Cega, Peter O voiced for BMS, Elliott for Andrews IT Schooltech, Taylor recorded a voiceover for Wireless Logic, Kevin voiced again for Vodafone and the male part for Road Angel.

The female part for Road Angel was taken by Corrie
Other UK female voices this month included Steph voicing again for SmartBoard, Alice for Bell Insurance, Sara for EY and Clare voicing for BMS

And finally for our international voice talent, Masashi recorded a Japanese voiceover for Yamaha, Artem recorded a Russian voiceover for McAfee and Alec M recorded more Japanese voiceovers for Erwinaze.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Should I use word count to price a voiceover project?

So, should voiceovers be priced per hour or per word?

Here in UK it's standard to book a voice artist for an hour whether they are saying 3 words or 3,000 but many production companies in America and India expect prices to reflect the actual word count . (That is the time taken rather than paying for a full hour even if only half that time is used.)

If a company asks for a voiceover quote based on word count, they're certainly asking for a bargain price!

E-Learning is also often based on word count, but then with E-Learning the word count is often very high, so there isn't the same issue - a voice talent may need to be booked for 3 hours or 2 days to get through it all.

Companies offering work based on word count don't take into account where the audio is to be used and certainly completely ignore any potential usage fee for web use etc.

There is no standard fee for a voiceovers. You could find a cheap voiceover artist on voice123 or indeed for as little as $5 on Fiverr. Or you could pay £250ph for the studio cost alone in Soho let alone the voiceover talent fee which could easily be the same again.

There's nothing wrong with that - after all both Aldi and Waitrose are successful businesses.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Voiceover News for January 2014

This year for the BigFish Media team, it was straight back to work after Christmas - and an extremely busy first week recording voiceovers that were booked in before the break.

It was a great way to start our tenth year of being in business!

We gave Voice Training to Dave Butcher from Warwickshire and then

made his Voiceover ShowreelWe also made one for Berkshire actor Andrew Goddard.

We recorded a lot of international voiceovers this month. Randee recorded

a voiceover for the National Geographic TV documentary  "American 

Blackout", Dave C recorded an American voiceover for Gift-A-

Block, Cats voiced a video for the Interburns Charity, Rouel recorded for 

a museum in Cape Town. 

Stella recorded in Latin American Spanish for Impala and Maira did the 

Brazilian Portuguese version.Alec and Abdullahboth voiced in Canadian

for Voltaren Schmerzgel. 

We also recorded for McAfee LiveSafe 

in several languages: Ruben S voiced in Spanish, Max  recorded the 

Italian version, the Russian version was voiced by VladimirArno recorded the Dutch and Christoph voiced the German video.

And for our English voices Michelle recorded on-hold voiceovers for Aioi 

Nissay Dowa, Jo recorded voiceovers for the NHS and an E-Learning 

Course for Conducting Internal Investigations and Ricky voiced for Ortho 

Clinical Diagnostics and Penrose Interiors.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Should I get a Trademark for my Voiceover Business?

After a lot of faffing about, a lengthy wait and a fair amount of money spent, we have been granted our Trademark!

You will notice the nice little "R" on our logo - a Registered Trademark. This protects our brand for voiceovers.

Interestingly, you will see lots of logos and names with a little "TM" on - this does not mean the company has a Trademark.