Friday, 28 April 2017

How do I self-record a Voiceover on an iPad or iPhone?

So, you have a voiceover audition coming up. Lets imagine, you need to record a voice sample for a potential job quickly and all you have is your iPhone and / or iPad.

You don’t have the time / money to book a studio just for an audition, for a job which you may or may not get.

You could record yourself on the phone, using the built-in mic, but the end result will not do your voice justice.

You could go and buy a portable digital recorder such as the Zoom or Edirol. These are great, but you then have to transfer the audio to a computer before sending.

A great alternative is a high quality microphone attachment for your iphone or iPad, such as the RODE i-XY with lightning connection (there is also a 30 pin version for older iPhones)

Using the Rode i-XY and the Rode Rec app you can record and edit audio, then you have a choice of ways to transfer that audio straight from the phone via File Sharing. Email, FTP, Dropbox or Soundcloud. This is an advantage over the separate flash recorder with USB card.

When you are living in a Battersea bedsit that costs £1600 a month, you are probably doing all your business on a smartphone and or tablet. With the Rode mic and App you can record, edit and send, all on the phone and very quickly.

If you are in the world of voiceover, speed can be important. If you were out and about and your agent or a client requested a voice sample to be done within the hour, with this you could find a quiet enough space and make a recording in next to no time.

I own the Rode i-XY and the Rode Rec app and I have found them to be excellent. The mic attachment is not cheap at around £150, but it is well worth the money and has paid for itself in just one voiceover job.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Who is responsible to make sure a Sync Voiceover fits?

We often get localisation voiceover recording jobs. That is, those scripts that have been originally written in English and have accompanied a video which it fits perfectly time wise.

Now, when it comes to recording say, the German voiceover for that same video, we often find that the German translation is too long for the video, due to ‘text expansion’ as its know in the translation world. 

Basically, in some languages, more words are needed to say the same thing as in another language. In the case of German translated from English it can be up to 35 per cent longer.

What usually happens is that the client only realises this when it comes to recording and we end up wasting expensive in-session time re-writing the script on the fly in an attempt to make it fit. 

This is less than ideal as the proper time and consideration can’t be given to script changes during a session.

It would be better if these things were sorted out before the session. But whose job is that?

A client will usually use a translation company, who do a literal translation. We called a company who told us they cannot translate to picture, i.e. they cannot make sure the translated script fits the video as this would be "copywriting".

This is understandable as it would require changing the script from the written English. This isn’t something you would do without consulting the client. 

As many translators are freelancers working from home doing a literal translation of a document they have been sent, it’s unlikely they will even have the details of the client. 

So what is the answer to this common voiceover problem? 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What do the buttons on a Mixing Desk do?

Anyone who has ever had any association with the world of Audio or Voiceovers will have at some point come across something similar to one of these:

No that's not the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, but our new Mixing Desk and a staple in Recording Studios around the world. 

We have just upgraded our studio desk (to the above) to allow us to more effectively and efficiently record our voiceovers.

I thought now would be a good time to speak about approaching new mixing desks for the first time and facing any anxiety that they may conjure up.

The most common phrase I hear when people are first confronted with a mixing desk is usually: 

"How do you remember what all of those Dials, Buttons, and Faders do!?"  

In actual fact there are only a few features on all desks that you need to remember, regardless of how big or small they are. Once you understand these you will be able to apply them to most of the desks you come across. 

Our desk, the Soundcraft Signature 22 has 22 Channels, as its name implies. This means that the desk has just 18 Channel Strips (given that four of the 22 are Stereo Channels). 

While you may be thinking that I am making this sound even more daunting, the number of Channel Strips is in fact completely uncorrelated to the complexity of understanding the Desk. 

In the above picture highlighted in yellow is a single Channel Strip and as you'll notice, all of the Channel Strips around it are identical (the different coloured Knobs & Faders are there simply for our own ease of use and all serve the same purpose). 

This is why understanding mixing desks is a great deal less daunting than it first appears; Once you understand one... You understand the rest! 

Starting from the bottom of the Channel Strip you have the Fader. These control level of the source (Playback or Recording depending on your routing). At the top of the Fader you will notice three buttons; these determine where the output of the Fader goes. For example we have ours setup to route to Headphones, Speakers & our DAW to record. The Mute button, Mutes the output of the Fader (which we use frequently in a more complex Minus Mix scenario that I will refrain from delving into) and above that we have a pan knob. 

The next block of Knobs are known as Aux Sends, and on our desk we have 5 per channel. These allow us to send audio from one channel to another. This is particularly useful in our setup as our sessions often involve a number of different sources of voice talent and Clients. 

For example, we have an Aux dedicated to our Booth, ISDN, ipDTL, Skype and the Telephone so that we are able to send the VO and Clients to and from each other at varying levels depending on their location, so that they can communicate as if they were in the same room. 

Above the Aux's are an EQ section which allow us to balance frequencies when necessary, and lastly there is a Gain trim, which means we are able to make fine adjustment to the recording level of our Voiceovers. 

And that's it... That's how we remember what all those Dials, Buttons and Faders do to give you the perfect voiceovers every time!