The One Voice Conference 2020 has been and gone. And what a weekend it was. Driven online by the current lockdown the team behind it rose to the challenge and created the World’s first online Voiceover conference, and it was attended by people in 24 countries.
As a sponsor of the conference we were asked to submit a promotional film, which you can see below. But as we don’t have a product to promote we asked for questions people would like answering. The below is a small write up of the questions and one or two we didn’t get time to answer in the film.
Rob… Just how important is it to eliminate noise floor prior to recording? I can lose it in post production, but is that the right thing to do?
It’s always best practice to get as clean a recording as possible, this involves getting your noise floor as low as possible. Working with a clean recording means you have many more options as to how you treat it in your mix. It will mean the voiceover will be a clear as possible, easier to work with and easier to listen to. It is possible to clean up a read in post-production to a certain degree, but not entirely. Even if the noise you need to get rid of is an easy fix it will add time into your workflow, and mean your studio isn’t working as efficiently as it could do. And if you need to do some heavy cleaning up (audio restoration) then you run the risk of leaving artefacts in the audio and degrading it’s quality. So even with the tools we now have at our disposal it’s still better to spend time getting your studio sounding right than to have to rely on post-production routines.
Helen… How do you create your own voiceover ‘brand’ if you’re doing it by yourself?
A huge amount of emphasis is put on the glossy colourful sexy visual side of branding and websites. All too often, someone’s brand is defined as ‘looking great’. But without clear reasons why that logo looks the way it does, a brand can look shallow and weak.
The most important part of any brand (and website) is the strategy behind it. No-one really cares what the Apple logo looks like – it’s the business values, ethos and approach to innovation that has made Apple a world-leader in tech.
That’s where to begin. Discover you business values, what makes you unique to everyone else, Discover your brand style, how you work with people – are you lively and fun or more serious and ordered? Work out who your ideal customer is, and what they like.
Every branding and web project I do starts with a detailed look into what makes your business tick – what your brand personality is & who your customers are. It’s where every visual item comes from – colours, logo, type, everything else – they all relate back to your brand’s values.
Rob… Would it be advisable to get a sip.audio account with the box/codec and Source Connect standard? Or would Source standard be fine on its own?
Remote connectivity is a real hot topic at the moment as we’re all confined to quarters. There are many options that allow us to connect with remote studios and get live direction. You can read about them in this blog I wrote for Gravy For The Brain.
But to specifically address the question about SIP, I’d have to say that as things currently stand you wouldn’t get much return on your investment if you bought the SIP codec box. For those who don’t know SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is an address a bit like a phone number or email address. It allows you to connect with anyone else with a SIP address. The only IP protocol in the above article that currently has capacity to connect via a SIP address is ipDTL, and until other vendors allow similar connection (thus allowing cross-platform connectivity) it has a very limited use in VO world. You may have other uses for a SIP address, and if you have then you probably know about it anyway. For me, for now it’s something to watch, but not an essential item.
Helen… Should you always have your picture featured prominently?
There is quite a trend to open a voiceover website with a huge image of you. Now, if you should or should’t do this depends on a few things…
Have you had a professional photoshoot done? If not, don’t have the photo. And avoid stock images too – they aren’t unique and could be on any number of other websites.
Do you look like you sound? If your best known for characters, or you sound like a 18 year old female when in fact you are a 55 year old male, then having an opening photo could result in someone pre-judging how you sound by what you look like. Maybe use a selection of the the characters you are know for, or find an image that represents your sound.
These are quick answers, but it really does depend on you, your voice and your brand. BUT (and it’s a really big one!) people are more likely to buy services from people they feel they know. One way to get people to know you is to let them know what you look like. This doesn’t have to be done in full-screen glory, it can be on your about page and in your social feeds, but it is important that people associate a real-life person with you and your voice.
Rob… If you’ve had the same kit for a few years, what would be a reason to upgrade it, and what part of your recording environment or equipment should you concentrate on for the most efficient improvement?
Audio equipment treated well lasts a very long time. There’s a thriving market for vintage gear, and many people willing to pay good money for it. So on that front there’s no need to replace things just because you’ve had it a while. That said you should be reviewing your setup fairly regularly to make sure it’s still performing at it’s best. This can involve basic maintenance and cleaning to ensure your gear lasts as long as possible. The exception to this is audio interfaces and software. Computer technology changes very regularly and software and hardware can become obsolete much sooner than other bits of the studio. This can force you into upgrading a studio component, and leaving a perfectly functional interface on the shelf to gather dust, but in this regard we’re often at the mercy of the manufacturers who choose to end support for an interface when a new OS is released.
The most efficient improvement is always going to be improving your recording environment. Getting better soundproofing, and making sure your recordings are clean and clear is always going to be the best way to improve your sound. In fact many VOs who upgrade their mic then need to upgrade their studio acoustics as the new mic reveals flaws in the room that the old mic didn’t notice.
Helen… Can you have more than one type of show reel on your site at a time, to appeal to different clients?
Yes, yes and yes!
It’s always a good idea to have multiple showreels on your website so that clients can see your range. However, it’s not advisable to have them all in the same place. Let me explain…
On average, you have 6 seconds (yes, only 6 seconds) to grab someones attention on your website homepage and get them interested enough to read more. Keeping it simple and clear is one of the best ways to ensure you do this well, so have a short introduction sentence or paragraph that clearly explains what you do, then a single showreel proving what you do.
You can add a button and link to more showreels if they want to hear more, you may need to section your site even more. For instance you are an audiobook narrator, it’s helpful to have an audiobook section with links to live work and (depending if relevant) showreels for accents or characters.
I am going to go into more detail with this in a future blog, so keep an eye out!
Rob… My MacBook is outside the booth wired to a silent screen inside the booth. How can I hear myself in the cans without a tiny delay?
If you monitor directly from your audio interface you shouldn’t get any delay. If you’re monitoring through your software there will be delay. That’s only half true! The latest interfaces – even usb ones – have fast enough latency so there’s no perceivable delay. With the older ones if you monitor via the software there is a delay, but there’s always a way around it. There will be either a ‘Mix’ dial or a ‘Direct’ switch. The direct knob simply routes the signal from your mic straight to the headphone output (and your computer!) so there’s no delay, the Mix dial is a little more complicated in that you get to blend signal from your computer and your mic together depending on where the knob is. One extreme will be just your software and none of your mic, the other extreme will be all your mic and none of your computer sounds. If you’re recording onto a DAW you may need to mute the track you’re recording onto to prevent the delayed recording routing back to the headphones.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us.