Apps for Voice Over Actors– via VoiceOverHerald.com – Need to record an audition on the run? These apps can help your smart phone into a mobile studio.
Are Your Prejudices Hurting Your Voice Overs?– VO Master Class – You know what they say about people who assume… Gary Terzza explains the psychology of assumption when it comes to traditional roles in narration and how they can hinder your performance.
Video Lessons and Resources– via ACX.com – Sometimes you don’t need to scour the internet for great advice and resources for getting started with #vo work. The ACX website has a wealth of helpful information from video tutorials to Amazon wish list of equipment to help you get started.
The APA announced the nominees for the 2016 Audie Awards on Tuesday, and we’re thrilled to see that ACX authors and actors received seven nominations across four categories! We checked in with a few of our finalists to get reactions from some of ACX’s accomplished creative talent.
Summary: Country music’s hottest star, Bryce Landry, and newly single, risk-averse Sophie Thatcher discover that finding each other was easy, but holding on will be a different story.
Memory: When asked about producing Come to Me Alive, Pamela Almond recounted a unique challenge she faced during production:
“Leah Atwood wrote beautiful lyrics to a country-western song, also called Come To Me Alive, and as the narrator, I had to sing it as bad-boy country star Bryce Landry, singing along to his radio hit, then as his girlfriend…and finally as a duet between the two of them! This was more a credit to my editing skills than my singing skills, for sure! But I loved doing the book, a very uplifting and well-done contemporary Christian romance, and Leah was great to work with. I am so honored and humbled at being named an Audie Award finalist for it.”
Summary: The sequel to Alpha, last year’s Audie winner in this very category, Beta finds main characters Kyrie and Roth traveling around the world when a mysterious tragedy strikes.
Memory: Author Jasinda Wilder stuck to her guns with the follow up to her genre blending Alpha:
“I personally love Beta. I love the way it plays with the accepted boundaries of romance and erotic suspense, or erotic romance or whatever category you want to slot it into. We made it different and a little darker than our usual fare on purpose. Not all of our fans appreciated Beta, though. I get that it’s not for everyone, and that a sequel can’t ever totally live up to the first book. So putting Beta into audio was a little scary, because we weren’t sure how it’d be received.”
Narrator Summer Roberts shared the excitement of tackling the sequel to an Audie winner:
“Erotica can be a really hard genre, but Jasinda’s writing is so rich and her characters are so multi-layered, that it makes narrating her work really fun. I think Tyler and I were just as excited as listeners to find out what was going to happen to Kyrie and Roth in Beta.”
Summary: In BEG TEASE SUBMIT, Jonathan Drazen is a known womanizer and a gorgeous piece of man who’s more capable of domination than love. In CONTROL BURN RESIST, his partner in pain Monica struggles with the discovery that love can be just as painful as submission.
Memory: Author CD Reiss recalled the casting process and the relationship she’s forged with her producers:
“I got a great selection of professional auditions to choose from. But I had an idea in my head and every one that didn’t meet that idea was painful to hear. Jo Raylan had a certain something that was spot on, and she let me know right away she’d do whatever she had to to get it perfect. It was obvious she had the talent, so I scooped her up. Christian’s audition for Jonathan was a home run right out of the gate. I would have walked on a bed of Legos to get him on the production. Fortunately, my feet were spared.
I’ve developed a wonderful friendship with Jo and have a deep respect for what she does. She wants it perfect. She wants every word to express the right emotions, and we spoke about the character of Monica for a long time. What she wanted, how she sat, where her fear was. It was deeply creative and deeply satisfying.”
Want to create an audiobook worthy of the Audies yourself? Check out our recent tips for rights holders and producers, then head over to ACX to get started.
Have you searched for an audition-ready project on ACX recently? You may have noticed a new banner labeled “Offer Pending” in your results. And if you’ve seen this new feature, you might have a few questions about it. Lucky for you, we’ve got all the answers.
Q: What does “Offer Pending” mean?
A: “Offer Pending” means the rights holder of that title has made an offer to produce it to another ACX producer.
Q: What if the offer was made to me? Will I still see the flag?
A: Nope, but others will.
Q: I’d really like to produce this book. How long does the other producer have to accept the offer?
A: Depending on the offer, the producer who received it has from 24 – 72 hours to accept or decline the offer.
Q: So can I still submit an audition even if a title has the “Offer Pending” banner?
A: Yep, you can.
Q: Is that a good idea?
A: That depends. Preparing, producing, and uploading an audition takes time. If the rights holder is negotiating with another producer, you might do that work only to find the book has gone into production. We suggest you message the rights holder to introduce yourself and request more information if you’re dead set on auditioning.
Defining the “IT” Factor – via Nethervoice – Paul Strikwerda believes having IT is all about charisma, and this post is dedicated to helping you understand exactly what that is and how to get it into the mic.
Social Media Scheduling Tools for Authors – via BadRedhead Media – We don’t have to tell you that authors are busy people! Save yourself some time and improve your audiobook promotion by using one of these tools.
What Sustains You? – via Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop – “What re-inspires you when you start to question whether or not it’s worth it, or you’d be better off moving back to Montana or you feel as if you’re spinning your wheels?”
Are You Progressively Tense? – via Live Write Thrive – “It’s important for fiction writers to understand what progressive tense is. Why? Because it’s used too often and can weaken your writing.”
We’ll leave you today with a note about Bob Deyan, who passed this week after a courageous battle with ALS. Bob was loved and respected throughout the audiobook industry, and Deyan Audio has been a trusted Audible Studios and ACX partner for many years. Our hearts go out to Bob’s family and close friends. If you’d like to donate to help end ALS in Bob’s name, please visit www.ALSBob.com.
Welcome back to the second half of my two-part home studio setup series. Last week I covered where to place your home studio, how to properly soundproof it, and the basic equipment you’ll use in it. Today, I’d like to share real-world examples from three Audible Approved Producers. Let’s look at (and listen to) the great results a home studio can produce.
Visible Sound Audiobooks
The controlling and deadening of acoustic reflections in her bedroom and specifically around the microphone is one of the main contributing factors to the professional audio quality of her recordings – Ben Glawe of Visible Sound Audiobooks.
This home studio photo comes to us from Visible Sound Audiobooks, an Audible-Approved Producer whose operations primarily take place in a Brooklyn bedroom. How does this team achieve their professional sound quality in the midst of the country’s busiest city? House-narrator Christine Papania explains:
The biggest noise problem with my bedroom was my window, which overlooks a a noisy street in Brooklyn as well as a park. I bought special blackout curtains which block out light and sound from windows, which lowered the outside noise to acceptable levels. My laptop fan was also leaking noise into the microphone, but the addition of a silent laptop cooling pad fixed the problem.
Now we’ll hear a recording from Visible Sound’s space. You might be surprised how good it sounds!
Kate Udall got her start as a narrator at Audible Studios. After working on her production chops and securing some great ACX titles, she earned herself the Audible-Approved Producer distinction. Kate’s studio is a great representation of an effective DIY home recording setup.
According to Kate
We call it Fuzzy Jail around here. It is made of blankets, the size of a cell and I am often inside in locked-down solitary confinement.
Kate uses thick packing blankets to isolate her recording studio from the rest of the room’s noises, which also provides the added benefit of reducing sound reflections that may otherwise occur on the side wall to the left. Her microphone is situated in front of an Auralex Mudguard, a great tool that can further reduce sonic clutter that occurs in home recording environments. She is also wise to set up an external monitor and other necessary components so that her laptop, which sits outside of the recording environment, does not introduce more artifacts and noises into the recorded signal.
Lets listen to a recording from Kate’s Studio:
Stephen Bel Davies
Our final example shows the upper limits are of home audiobook production. Yes, you are looking at a home studio! This photo comes to us from veteran narrator Stephen Bel Davies.
Located in his Manhattan bedroom, this Studiobricks* installation is the top-of-the-line option for home recording due to its incredible noise-blocking capabilities and reflection controlled environment. Acoustic treatments on all walls, as well as the ceiling, guarantees a deadened recording space with extremely dampened artifacts and reflections. While Stephen is able to achieve a stunning -60dB of sound reduction with this setup, it doesn’t come cheap. These installations will set you back about at least $4,000 before factoring in installation costs. Still – one can dream!
Here is a bit of audio produced in Stephen’s studio.
While Whisper Rooms are an ideal recording environment for any audiobook narrator, they are not necessary to produce a great recording. The most important consideration during an ACX production is consistency – both in practice and in aesthetic. For this reason, after you’ve installed your home studio, I strongly encourage you to read up on my four-part series, How to Succeed at Audiobook Production, which goes over methodologies to ensure success with your new audio production system.
How do you achieve a professional recording? Leave your feedback in the comments below.
(This section originally misidentified Mr. Bel Davies home studio as a WhisperRoom.)
Did you know that the submission period for the 2015 Audies is open? Sponsored by the APA, the Audies recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. As a publisher or producer of an audiobook, you can enter your ACX title for consideration as a nominee, and yes, rights holders, by “publishers,” we mean you!
Titles released between November 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014 are eligible during the current submission period. Submission runs $175 per title ($100 for APA members), and must be completed by August 22. Complete submission info can be found here (PDF). Submit your ACX production today, and you might find yourself the winner of a shiny new Audie!
Welcome to the latest musings from Andrew the Audio Scientist. Today, I’ll be addressing the most essential component of a successful ACX audiobook production: constructing a home recording studio. You may be surprised to find how clean and clear your narration can sound after implementing just a few of the techniques and products below into your own studio setup. Let’s take a look at the two main aspects of a solid studio arrangement.
The most important consideration when building your home studio is its location. The ideal recording space dimensions are rectangular (NOT square), with low ceilings and 90º corners. Closets and other enclosed spaces make perfectly great recording spaces after implementing a few basic room treatments.
Reflection absorption materials, such as the ones detailed on the ACX Beginners Amazon Wish List can make all the difference. The primary reflection points that should be addressed are any surfaces behind the microphone and on the side walls, at a distance exactly half-way between your sitting position and the microphone stand. If you want to go the DIY route, the same effect can be achieved by hanging your old winter coats on the walls, or even throwing up moving blankets where clothing is not an option. The idea is to use fabrics that are thick and provide ample absorption so that once sound hits the material, it stops dead in its tracks.
Isolation is an important consideration for your room, too. An important step in the audiobook production process is the pasting of clean room tone on top of edits and other extraneous noises. Doing so can be greatly inhibited, though, by a non-ideal recording space. You may find the room tone to be too noisy to affect any real sonic improvements. To combat this and other noise problems, make sure to isolate outside noises from your recording space by hanging blackout curtains at all windows, and insulating your room’s open cracks and crevices. However, note that there are some rooms where even the most expensive room treatments are unlikely to make a big impact.
Avoid installing your studio in large rooms such as kitchens and sun rooms. These will cause undesirable echo and reverberation, and result in a muddy sound.
Small rooms with reflective surfaces like bathrooms should also be avoided, because the porcelain and mirrors will send your voice flying across the room without remorse.
Last but not least, recording outdoors is a big no-no. While the sounds of nature can be pleasant, squawking birds and passing cars are not sounds that belong in audiobook productions.
This is pretty obvious – if you want to record your voice at home, you’ll need a microphone. Not so obvious, however, is the kind of microphone you need to purchase. At ACX, we recommend a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone. These microphones are typically more accurate and clean than other types of vocal microphones, but are also more sensitive to recording mistakes. You’ll need to adhere to some setup best practices to get the most out of your purchase:
Placement – A microphone is best set up at a point no further than 40% away from the front wall. Ideally, the microphone would be placed half-way between the side walls.
Height – Microphones placed at or below mouth-level tend to pick up more “body” of a voice, while placement above the mouth (closer to the nasal cavity) capture a more “bright” and airy sound. However, this is a very personal aspect to studio configuration that is best left to experimentation.
Diagram of a ideal mic placement within a home studio
Distance – It is never necessary to stand the microphone further than 6-10 inches from your mouth. This should help you avoid plosives, but we strongly recommend purchasing a pop filter for your microphone if it does not already come with one. (For you DIYers, you can also construct your own pop filter out of – no joke – some pantyhose and flex tubing, as demonstrated in this Lifehacker article)
One of our favorite starter microphones of this type is the Rode NT1-A, which can be found on the ACX Beginners Amazon Wish List. The NT1-A kit available on Amazon comes with a pop filter and all of the mounting hardware needed to get started. This, in conjunction with the Blue Icicle XLR-to-USB microphone interface and a solid microphone stand, provides an excellent starter ACX production system.
Following these basic rules for home studio setup will allow you to transform the appropriate area of your living space into a great sounding vocal booth. Check out Part 2 to see and hear examples of some real-life Audible Approved Producers home studios.