Tag Archives: narrator

This Week in Links: April 3 – 7

For Rights Holders:

Your Media Book Pitch Can Open 1,000 Doors! – via The Book Designer – Looking for opportunities to promote your book on TV? Find out who to contact and what to say in this helpful post.

The Ultimate Book Marketing Strategy is Surprisingly Simple – via The Write Life – “A lot of the foundational skills of writing and storytelling are a good foundation to build from for the rest of this stuff. If nothing else, your readers are coming to you for your voice, and that is one thing you are an expert in.”

Repeat After Me: “Goodreads Is My Friend” – via Writer Unboxed – Learn how authors can make the most out of bookworms’ favorite website.

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Book – via CreateSpace – “A lot of authors are initially a bit baffled as to how to use such a visual medium for book promotion. To get you off on the right foot, here are four of the most common questions I get about Instagram from clients, answered.”

For Producers:

It’s Booth Gear, Baby! – via J. Christopher Dunn – “The accumulation of booth gear doesn’t necessarily reveal the type of person you’ve become. It’s not a reflection of what makes you, you. Instead, it’s what makes you comfortable so you can do an excellent job recording and impress the heck out of your clients who will shower you with repeat work.”

Surviving Marathons at the Microphone – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “So how do you survive a marathon at the microphone? I have an easy process for you to remember.  It’s based on three P’s:  Prioritize, Plan and Pace yourself.”

What The Heck Does PFH Mean in Voice-Over Job Quotes? – via Gary Terzza – For newbies, Gary’s got a quick explainer on what goes into your per-finished-hour narration rate.

Choosing the Right DAW – via Dave Courvoisier – “If you’re a complete beginner, this article will take you through the entire process of choosing the DAW that’s right for you. You’ll also learn what other equipment you’ll need, such as an audio interface, studio monitors, and software plugins.

Now On ACX: “Offer Pending” Banner

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.

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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.

Offer Pending_02Want to stay up to date on new ACX features? Subscribe to The ACX Blog!

This Week in Links: August 18 – 22

For Producers:

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?”

Commitment-of-the-Self: How Elizabeth Ashley Greets the Subtext and Why Narrators Benefit From Engaging This Essential Storytelling Process – via Audio Book Narrators – Grammy-winning producer Paul Alen Ruben gets deep into the emotional commitment a great voice actor must have to the script.

Follow Your Passion? Not So Fast – via vo2gogo – Do you have the right balance between following your passion and making smart career choices?

15 Networking Tips for the Thriving Voice Actor – via Backstage – Rudy and Joan of “That’s Voiceover” offer up their tips for finding new relationships and opportunities in the voiceover industry.

For Rights Holders:

Professional Authors Need H.E.A.R.T.—What It Takes to Make It In The Digital Age of Publishing – via Kristen Lamb’s Blog – Find out what “heart” stands for, and what it means to the modern author.

10 Stunning Writing Studios  – via FLAVORWIRE – Do you have a special place to write? Here’s a look at ten really special writing spaces.

Writing: How to Write About Distant Places – via ALLi – Learn how to sound authentic when describing a far away locale.

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.

 

Home Studio Setup with Andrew the Audio Scientist: Part 2

WelAndrew_250x320come 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

Visible Sound

 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

Udall

 

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

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.

 

FINAL NOTES

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.)

This Week in Links: August 11 – 15

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!

Now, on to your weekly links roundup.

For Rights Holders:

J. R. R. Tolkien’s 10 Tips For Writers (Infographic) – via Galleycat – Take a look at the Lord of the Rings author’s advice for wordsmiths.

The Joy of Writing Longhand – via Lit Reactor – Writing longhand: antiquated idea or inspiring throwback?

10 Essential Tips for Dating A Writer – via Buzzfeed Books -Check out this fun look at what it takes to date a writer. Do you resemble these remarks?

For Producers:

This Much I Know…10 Things I Learned From Getting Into Voiceovervia steveoneillvoice –  Steve O’Neill helps you learn from his time in the VO business.

Game Of Tones: How To Play Your Voice For Maximum Impact – via Gary Terzza’s Voice-Over Blog UK – Gary’s got the “moves that will sharpen your voiceover skills.”

What Growing Grass Taught Me About Voice Over – via Marc Scott Voice 0ver – Find out why the voiceover business is all about patience, perseverance, and endurance.

Home Studio Setup with Andrew the Audio Scientist

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.

Andrew_250x320The Room

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.

ACX Recommends:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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THE MICROPHONE

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

    andrew's blog ratio

    Diagram of a ideal mic placement within a home studio

  3. 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)
  4. Interface – All cardioid condenser microphones require an audio interface that can provide phantom power to the microphone. If phantom power is not provided to the microphone, then it will not work.

ACX Recommends:

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.

ACX and Voice 2014 Team for Audible Studios Casting

Audible Studios and ACX are kicking off our latest casting call. This time, we’re teaming up with Voice 2014, one of the LA area’s top voiceover industry conventions, taking place in Anahiem, CA August 27 – 30 2014.

VoiceButtonThis casting call gives actors attending Voice 2014 the chance to audition for Audible Studios’ Grammy-winning team of producers, as well as one of the audiobook industry’s top talents, Scott Brick. Male actors can audition for the opportunity to voice Build for Change by Alan Trefler. Female actors can audition for Pivot Points by Julia Tang Peters. Both titles are non-fiction, and require an instructional read appropriate for newbies and veterans alike.

Both titles pay a per finished hour rate commensurate with the actor’s experience. Build for Change will having an estimated running time of 6 hours, and the contract is valued at roughly $1,200. Pivot Points will have a running time of about 10 hours, and will reward the female winner a contract worth roughly $1800. The contract is for narration only; all editing and post production will be handled by Audible Studios.

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Actor and casting call judge Scott Brick

To audition, visit ACX.com and create a free account. Auditions are open to attendees of Voice 2014 from Friday August 8th at 9 AM ET – Monday, August 25th at 11:59 PM ET. The selected actors will be announced during Scott Brick’s audiobook panel at Voice 2014 and right here on the blog.

After submitting your audition, browse over 4,600 additional titles open for audition on ACX and find your next audiobook gig. We can’t wait to hear your voice!

ACX at the 2014 Audie Awards

This past Thursday, amidst one of the busiest weeks of the year in the audiobook industry, ACX attended the “audiobook Oscars,” better known as the 2014 Audie Awards at the New York Academy of Medicine.

IMG_1231The night kicked off with an opening cocktail reception, where the industry’s best engineers, narrators and other audiobook celebrities rubbed elbows, munched hors d’oeuvre, and sipped cocktails, while the night’s nominee’s received medals for their work. Our mistress of ceremonies, author Libba Bray, kicked things off with a blisteringly funny monologue, highlighted by the musical number “Talk Audie to Me.”

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Author and Audie hostess Libba Bray.

This year, 6 ACX titles were nominated for this prestigious award. We’re thrilled to celebrate the producers and rights holders of the following books:

The first round of awards featured presenters Robert Fass, Suzanne Toren, and Joe Barret (ACX producers all) announcing winners for categories like best Non-Fiction, Biography/Memoir, and Business/Educational audiobooks. Billy Crystal (sadly not in attendance) then picked up his first award of the evening for Still Foolin’ ‘Em, in the Humor category.

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Audible Studios received their first award of the evening for Graeme Malcolm’s narration in the Short Stories/Collections category for his read of Sherlock Holmes in America. Our celebration continued when Audible Studios next won its  second award of the evening for Best Erotica audiobook (Shana Savage, reading Carrie’s Story.)

IMG_1229Robin Whitten of AudioFile Magazine presented the Special Achievement award to George Guidall for his impressive record of success in the audiobook industry. With over 1,100 audiobooks recorded, the standing ovation he received upon acceptance was well deserved.

Katherine Kellgren was honored with the Audie for Solo Narration/Female for the Audible Studios production of The Twelve Clues of Christmas, and David Pittu picked up his second award of the night for his read of The Goldfinch.

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The final, most coveted award for the evening, Best Audiobook, netted Billy Crystal his third win of the night for Still Foolin’ ‘Em.

Congratulations to all the 2014 Audie nominees and winners. With all the talented rights holders and producers on ACX, we can’t wait to see what you create to be featured at the 2015 Audie’s!

Audible has a full list of 2014 Audie winners here. You can read @ACX_com’s live tweeting of this year’s ceremony on Storify.

This Week in Links: May 19 – 23

Before embarking on that Memorial weekend trip, take a look at our roundup of this week’s best audiobook related links. Planning a staycation this year? Working through the weekend? Even more reason to educate yourself on your craft before the day is done.

Enjoy the links below, and share anything we missed in the comments below!

For Rights Holders:

The Iron Triangle of Interesting Characters – via Writers and Authors – “What makes a character interesting? This infographic gives one take on how to make characters interesting and might give you some ideas for when you’re developing your characters.”

Editorial Matchmaking – via Writer Unboxed – When you’ve taken your novel as far as you can, it may be time to call in a professional editor. Dave King has advice on finding the right one for you.

What the Marine Corps Taught Me About Writing – via Writer’s Digest – Author and US Marine William Ballard discusses the 4 things every Marine recruit learns, and how they apply to writing.

5 Tips to Gain Confidence and Overcome Writer’s Doubt  – via Live Write Thrive – Guest blogger Bryan Hutchinson has advice for writers suffering from a lack of faith.

For Producers:

The ACX Twitter Chat – via @acx_com – This month’s guest tweeter, George Whittam of Edge Studio, answered your questions on audiobook recording and production.

A Caddyshack Alum on Surviving the Tumultuous Audiobook Industry – via Wired – The actor on the receiving end of Bill Murray’s famous “Gunga Galunga” speech recounts his time in the audiobook industry.

How To Handle Rejection – via Actor Inspiration – Wendy Braun offers some perspective on those times when you don’t land the part.

 

Wendy Braun
Wendy Braun

File Management with Andrew The Audio Scientist

ACX’s resident audio scientist first joined us on the blog last month, when he discussed the theory and best practices for encoding audio. Today, he’s back to discuss the bedrock of any successful audiobook production: file management.

File Backup and Preservation

Andrew_250x320Anybody who has produced a lengthy audiobook will tell you that it can be rather arduous. After hours of prep work, days of recording your narration, and several additional days of editing, QC and mastering, the last thing you want to have happen is a disastrous and sudden loss of all your hard work.

As a former Audible Studios engineer, it didn’t take long for me to realize the importance of backing up my work. While it may be obvious to some producers that data backup is important, learning file storage and archiving methods appropriate for audiobooks is key to your project’s success. Today, I’d like to go over some best practices for data preservation and how you can help prevent any tragic file loss for your next ACX production.

5 Keys to Proper File Management

  1. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. Make a habit of saving your work every five minutes. It takes almost no time at all and will ensure that, if data loss occurs, you will be able to recover most of your current work. The keyboard shortcut to save is almost always “Ctrl+S” in a Windows program, and “Command+S” in a Mac program (command is the “⌘” key on your Mac keyboard).
  2. Each chapter’s audio file should be backed up upon completion of each stage of production:
    1. Completed Recording Backup – The WAV or AIFF file containing the completed raw recording of your chapter.
    2. Completed Edits Backup – The WAV or AIFF file containing the completed edits to your recorded audio.
    3. Mastered Audio Backup – The WAV or AIFF audio file created after putting the Completed Edits Backup file through your mastering chain.
    4. Encoded Masters – The Mastered Audio Backup file that has been encoded to MP3 for ACX submission. This is your final, retail-ready audio.
  3. At the end of each day of production, you should make a backup of your DAW session, making sure the filename contains the day’s date.
  4. Each time you make a backup of your work, it is strongly recommended that you store the files in two storage locations. (We recommend doing automatic backups to an external hard drive as well as cloud storage. More on that in a bit!)
  5. Until you are ready to encode and submit your audio to ACX, back up all audio as WAV or AIFF files. No chapter file should be backed up as an MP3 unless it is 100% complete and ready for ACX submission. Making changes directly to an MP3 will lower the audio quality of your final production.

The above practices are important habits to form. Should you ever need to make changes to your files or fix an error found by our audio QA team, having consistent backups at each stage of your production will ensure that changes can be easily committed. For instance, if you master a chapter file only to discover that you want to re-record a particular line of dialog, doing so would be as easy as opening up your chapter’s Completed Edits Backup file and re-recording the line. Without this file, you will be forced to record and master your new dialog to a different file and paste it on top of your old Mastered Audio Backup file. Things can get messy!

Data Storage Options

File preservation is important, but it is undoubtedly a hassle. Luckily, file storage is more versatile, cheap, and reliable than ever before. We producers can take advantage of not just excellent portable hard drives, but specialized software and online backup services as well! We recommend the options below.

Portable External Hard Drive – The easiest and quickest file storage solution is to simply purchase an external hard drive. We love the Seagate Expansion drive series, which has a 1TB option priced at only $64.99. Cheap and easy to use, these drives should be on the shopping list of every beginning ACX producer. However, using it can be a bit clunky, as you must organize all of your files manually.

Backup Scheduling Software – Luckily, there exists software for both Windows and Macintosh platforms that aid file backup. We strongly recommend that Mac users utilize the built-in Time Machine feature on OSX to automatically back up and organize your files on your external hard drive. For Windows, I love the free FBackup by Softland. Both of these tools are easy to use and can be configured to automatically back up your files to external locations every night, or even every time the file is modified.

Cloud Storage – Amazon, ACX’s parent company, knows as well as anyone how important reliable storage solutions are for consumers. AWS, Amazon’s online web storage platform, is the leading “cloud storage” solution on the web. What is cloud storage exactly? In essence, it is a series of interconnected servers which safely handle and store massive amounts of data for customers of all stripes. Amazon provides this service to consumers for free as Amazon Cloud Drive. Upon signing up, all users receive 5GB of free storage! Using Amazon Cloud Drive in conjunction with the free Cloud Drive App, you can automatically back up your files to the Amazon Cloud Drive network without needing to lift a finger. Once you finish installing the Cloud Drive App, simply follow the on-screen instructions to set up your computer for automatic nightly backups.

In following these best-practices, you may save yourself and your rights holder from a potential disaster, and you will be putting your best foot forward by amply protecting both your hard work and your rights holder’s intellectual property.

What is your file management and backup process? Do you use any of the methods Andrew recommends above?