Tag Archives: voiceover

Sneak Peak – ACX Audiobook Production Terms Glossary

How do you define success? Our latest effort to educate ACX actors and help them become better audiobook producers is an audio terminology glossary coming soon to the ACX website. But first, we wanted to give blog readers a sneak peek of a few key definitions.

  • Artifact:  Undesirable sounds around words, such as random, humming noises and metallic sounding breaths. Artifacts can be added to the original audio from excessive or incorrect noise reduction resulting from technical limitations.
  • Decibel (dB):  The standard unit of measurement used to represent sound volume or sound level. In the digital audio world, it is often assumed that when referring to “dB”, it actually refers to decibels relative to full scale (dBFS), where “0dBFS” represents the maximum possible digital level. This means that measurements in the digital audio realm are generally represented in negative values (-).
  • Edited Master:  Raw audio (unprocessed) that has gone through the editing/quality control pass (QC pass) stage. This form of audio has not been processed a.k.a. mastered, but has been edited and corrected (QC pass).
  • Headroom:  A term related to dynamic range expressed in decibels (dB), as the difference between the typical operating level, and the maximum operating level in an audio system. The maximum output level of a Digital Audible Workstation (DAW) is 0dB, though many DAWs have additional headroom built into the master fader which allows sound to be output between +3dBFS and +6dBFS. At Audible Studios, audiobook recordings are limited to a maximum peak of -3dB in order to leave headroom and avoid clipping (distortion caused by audio peaks exceeding 0dB). This limit allows for 3dB of headroom, leaving room for any surprise peaks that may occur when converting or exporting audiobooks to audible.com.
  • Limiter:  A type of compressor with a fast attack and release, and a fixed ratio of 20:1 or greater. The dynamic action effectively prevents the audio signal from rising above the output ceiling setting. See “Brickwall limiting” also.
  • Normalize:  The process of increasing all digital samples linearly, by the same amount, in order for the largest original sample to reach a given level, based on a peak or RMs value.

Which audiobook production terms do you think should be included in our glossary?

Social Media Tips For Voice Actors

We recently attended a webinar broadcast by the APA, hosted by Tavia Gilbert and featuring a panel of veteran narrators and publishers discussing social media for narrators. Today, we’ve selected our favorite tips that will help audiobook narrators navigate an online landscape that can at times seem overwhelming.

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  1. It’s better to do a few platforms, and do them well, than try and be everywhere. There are many social media networks out there, from Facebook and Twitter to Google+, Pinterest and others. People can sometimes feel the need to be everywhere, but it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. You don’t have to be on any social media sites. Only branch out to social platforms you’re comfortable on.
  2. Build your brand. As an audiobook narrator/producer your brand should be your efficiency and skill, colored by your personality. For more established narrators, your brand is also your body of work. Everything you do online should be tie back to the image you’re trying to project to potential employers.
  3. A good website will help the less established get more work.  Make sure your site is professional looking, uncluttered and easy to navigate. Feature a raw, uncut video of yourself narrating on your site. This will show potential clients that you’re fluent and work quickly.
  4. Promote your client’s work. This is especially true for royalty share projects, where you have a vested interest in the sales of your titles. But even if you’ve been paid on a per-finished-hour basis, you can add to your value in the eyes of those doing the casting if you’re willing and able to help spread the word about their productions.
  5. Keep track of metrics, but don’t be a slave to the numbers. Track things like how many times your posts are shared or retweeted, and how many followers you’re gaining (Hootsuite and TweetDeck are two good services for tracking metrics). Make note of what types of content do well with your network and look to recreate those successes. But don’t get discouraged if you’re not adding followers as quickly as you’d like, or if your posts don’t immediately “go viral.”
  6. Be positive! Never post anything that could be interpreted as negative about your work or clients. It’s ok to vent about a long day in the studio or the neighbor’s lawnmower, but don’t complain about the book you’re producing being boring, or poorly written, or your employer being late with payment. The things you say online live forever, and are only a quick Google search away. Employers won’t want the hassle of dealing with a “loose cannon” on social media.

With these six pointers, you should be able to confidentially establish yourself on social media. Remember: keep it professional, keep it positive, and look at social media as a tool you use, not a slave driver you have to put all your energy into.

What have you done to find success on social media?

ACX Guest Post: Andi Ackerman

Last month, ACX met new talent Andi Ackerman while we where out in LA for That’s Voiceover 2013, and she joins us today to help ACX producers learn from her experience. Read on, and let Andi help you avoid some of the mistakes she made in her early in her audiobook career.

Four Things I Learned About Audiobook Production The Hard Way

Most people think of themselves as reasonably astute, myself included.  I may not be genius material, but I like to fancy myself perhaps just a bit smarter than the average bear, or at least smart enough to not have to read instructions. But in truth I always need to read the instructions.

Going against my usual habit, I did actually read the ACX web site pretty thoroughly before accepting my first title.  But that only began to prepare me for my ultimately wonderful, but initially torturous audiobook journey.  Below is a brief summary of four things I’ve learned about audiobook production over the past year.

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ACX Producer Andi Ackerman

1. Amazon reviews only tell part of the story.

Believe it or not, it took me three tries to learn what should be a pretty obvious concept. Everybody has different tastes, and some wonderful books have never been reviewed on Amazon. To make an informed decision when choosing titles to audition for or produce, read as much of the book as you can yourself before you accept the project. (Editor’s Note: ACX producers should feel comfortable politely asking the rights holder for a full script before agreeing to produce the title.)

2. Don’t take on a project that makes you uncomfortable.

Some nonfiction titles that seem innocuous can turn out to espouse points of view with which you may strongly disagree. And in the words of the brilliant Richard Horvitz, the voice is the work of the spirit, or in other words, our true selves.  Your feelings can be heard in your voice.

I agreed to narrate a nonfiction title about holistic health by a credentialed, reputable author.  I love health!  I want people to be healthy!  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, a few pages into the second chapter I discovered the author held opinions about childhood vaccinations that I vehemently opposed.  I could not in good conscience produce that book.  The author deserved a narrator who would help them realize their vision, not undermine it.  And if I had followed my own advice in point number one, I wouldn’t have made this mistake!

There are certain things you have to know about yourself, and I know that I can’t do erotica because I get the giggles. If you don’t care for violence you probably want to stay away from mysteries and police procedurals. You’re going to be spending a good chunk of time with a work so choose a project you like.

3. Editing will always take you longer than you think.

When I first signed on to ACX I had been editing short project voiceover work comfortably, and naively believed an audiobook couldn’t really be that different. It really is that different.  I had a pretty darn steep learning curve with the production end.  Allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need.  Watch the videos on ACX and check out tutorials on YouTube before you start your first book.

4. Don’t get so caught up in the technical end that you forget to enjoy your time with the words.

You’ve been entrusted with someone’s “baby.”  It really is a gift and a joy to be able to create a landscape, a universe, a story with your voice.

Now that I’m wiser and more experienced (but not yet a master!), the work of audiobook production is a joy.  I am grateful to be able to do what I love.  If you’re just starting out on your ACX journey, I hope you can learn from my experience and forge a successful voiceover career.

Help others learn from your mistakes by leaving your best piece of audiobook production advice in the comments!

The Great ACX California Adventure

We’ve just returned from Tinseltown, meeting producers and actors at That’s Voiceover, the one-day voiceover acting career expo, at the beautiful Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood. Over the course of a whirlwind day, guests attended panels on how to work the mic, presenting from the red carpet, and making a living with audiobooks, hosted by ACX.

Audible VP and head of ACX Jason Ojalvo moderated narrators Scott Brick and Shelby Lewis as they gave their best tips for breaking into the audiobook business and succeeding. If you couldn’t attend, here are a few of our favorite insights.

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Photo credit: Jeff Fasano

Breaking into the Industry

Shelby’s and Scott’s paths to success in the audiobook industry were very different. For Scott, “it [was] all about getting the audition.” The right contact lead to the right book that helped him get his next gig, but he added, “14 years later, it’s so much easier. You make a demo, you put it on ACX, and you can get a job the same day.”

“Once you get your foot in the door, you tend to stay in the room,” agreed Jason.

Shelby was discovered by Audible in 2011 by submitting her wild and crazy audition for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland during that year’s That’s Voiceover audition contest. Her first audition led to more projects through both traditional audiobook publishers and ACX. “It’s truly a 9-to-5 job whether you’re in a closet or a studio,” she said.

On Acting Versus Storytelling

Scott and Shelby also discussed two approaches to their narration technique. For Shelby, she likened it to choosing between performing sitcoms and Shakespeare. “It’s not that one’s better than the other. They’re just different.”

Scott added: “It’s all storytelling. Doing an audiobook is like shaking hands. Two people do the work. What I’m doing when narrating the book is asking the listener to take me by the hand and work with me. If you’re authentic, that’s what matters.” When asked if he ever performs character voices, he recommended bowing to the context and genre, and if it’s called for, meeting the challenge enthusiastically.

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Photo credit: Jeff Fasano

Preparation and Recording Advice

In the booth, Shelby shared a tip she’d been taught by Scott on good hydration: “Take a sip of water after each page, even if you’re not thirsty,” reminding that dehydration can take hours to overcome.

Scott also recommended using printed manuscript pages in the booth to perform because that helps keep track of how far he’s read and reminds him to take breaks. On an iPad, he can scroll for long periods before realizing how much time has gone by. He also recommended no more than two pages on your mic stand to prevent your voice from straying too far from the mic as you read the first and third pages.

Jason’s advice on preparation was to read the text before beginning your record: “You don’t want to find out on the last page that your English detective was actually Scottish.”

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Photo Credit: Hannah Wall

We truly enjoyed meeting so many of you at That’s Voiceover and hearing your success stories! We’ll leave you with one last photo: no trip to California would be complete without a requisite stop at world-famous In-N-Out Burger.

What’s your best tip for those just breaking into audiobooks? Tell us in the comments!

This Week In Links – July 15 – 19

This week, we’ve collected some interesting and informative links from around the online audiobook world. Share what you learned below, and add your favorite links from this week in the comments!

Producers:

You Know The Voices, Not The Faces – Via CNN.com – Compelling interview with John DiMaggio ( aka Bender on Futurama), Tara Strong (Rugrats, Powerpuff Girls), and Lawrence Shapiro, director of the upcoming documentary I Know That Voice.

Stop Doing The Basics – Via Dan Hurst Voiceovers – Why moving beyond the basics may be the key for your VO business.

Why You Can’t Take Rejection Personally as an Actor – Via Rebecca Forstadt – “If you want to be an actor, you have to roll with the punches.”

Announcing The 2nd ACX/That’s Voiceover! Audiobook Narration Contest – Via The ACX Blog – Exciting opportunity exclusively for attendees of That’s Voiceover!

Rights Holders:

Why Watching TV Can Actually Be Good For A Writer – Via Writer’s Digest – Notes from the panel discussion at ThrillerFest 2013.

3 Keys to Writing Success and Overcoming Procrastination – Via Training Writers – Shelly Hitz offers tips for staying productive.

The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover – via The New Yorker – A look at the history and current state of book covers.

Thanks for clicking! We’ll be back next week with more news and notes!

Announcing the 2nd ACX/That’s Voiceover Audiobook Narration Contest

ACX is pleased to bring you another great audition opportunity open exclusively to attendees of That’s Voiceover!

Anyone ACX_Contest_Logoattending That’s Voiceover in Los Angeles on August 17th, 2013 is invited to record an audition for for one of two titles currently listed on ACX. Male narrators can audition for The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green, while female narrators can read for An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. Upload your audition to ACX by August 14th, and a panel of audiobook experts, including Audible Studios’ Executive Producer Mike Charzuk will select one male and one female VO to narrate one of the two titles to be produced by Audible. Winners will be announced at That’s Voiceover! Click here for the official rules.

That’s Voiceover! is an exciting, interactive, behind-the-scenes career event where agents and industry buyers come together with some of the top voice actors in the voiceover industry to reveal the practical steps to establishing and sustaining a career in this rewarding and intriguing field.

We highly reclogoommend you attend this fun and informative event, and take advantage of the opportunity to audition and potentially read for Audible Studios. You never know where it might lead – just ask previous winner Shelby Lewis!

Register here, and use code ACX2013 for a 20% discount on attendance!

Let us know if you’re signed up for That’s Voiceover and plan to submit an audition by telling us in the comments below!

This Week In Links – July 8 – 12

Welcome to our newest feature: a weekly recap of notable links from around the audiobook world. Whether you’re an actor, producer, author, or a rights holder, we’ve got something good for you below. So, check out our roundup, and share anything we may have missed in the comments!

Rights holders:

How To Launch A Book In 3 Steps  via Duolit. Guest blogger Nick Thacker walks us through the setup and execution of his 3 step plan.

Book Publishing’s Big Gamble – via The NY Times – Big 6 mergers and self published authors are reshaping the publishing landscape.

The 3 Biggest Mistakes of Beginning Bloggers – Via CreateSpace – The basic do’s and don’ts of author blogging.

Couple Saves Their Home With Steamy Romance Novels – Via CBS News – Televised feature on ACX author Jasinda Wilder’s incredible story.

Producers:

Juan Carlos Bagnell on ModernMics – Via SomeAudioGuy – Video reviews of three popular mics used to record the spoken word.

10 Voice Over Twitter Feeds You’d Be Crazy Not To Follow – via VoiceOverGenie – The title says it all, though we’d add our own Twitter feed to this list as the 11th!

Cheap Microphone + $100 Part = Amazing Microphone – via Jordan’s Chopped Thoughts – For all the gearheads out there, Jordan shows us how a little microphone surgery can yield great sounding results.

That’s a wrap. We’ll see you next week!