The Travelling Mic – Stories of Dedicated Voiceover Artists
We’ve said it before and we will say it again…voiceover actors are some of the hardest working people in the entertainment industry. But let us add another perfect adjective to describe voiceovers – DEDICATED!
Mention the word HOLIDAY or VACATION to them, and they may stare at you blankly… yes, it has been that long since YOU had one. And even if they do take some time off, you can bet they have in their luggage a mic, laptop, portable recording booth and all the portable equipment they can fit in that suitcase. It’s just so hard to say no to a client – what’s a little revision here, or a touch-up there? They worked so hard to build their reputation and their portfolio so missing a deadline is out of the question… saying NO to a client is like a sin. This is so true especially for those who work as freelancers… as one talent said, “When you work for yourself, you do the best you can for your client.”
So here we start the story of the Travelling Mic… what sparked the idea is a Twitter photo of a voice actor in a hospital gown, strapped to a dextrose bag, with a make-shift studio. Oh what lengths they would go through to get that job done!
And so we ask… where have you taken your mic? What’s the oddest place you have ever done your recording?
We now share four amazing stories of dedication and ingenuity… and yes it includes the story of our voice artist in the hospital.
In my car. I had a big audition that had to be sent-in right away. It was for a major pizza company and it had the potential to be an ongoing national gig. I wouldn’t have gotten the audition in on-time if I had to drive to my home so I downloaded a version of my at-home recording software, ‘Twisted Wave’, and promptly learned how to use it on a phone version (Recording, editing, etc.). I had to pull-off on a quiet side street, roll-up the windows, and give it my best shot. Alas, I didn’t get the gig but my agent was impressed that the sound quality was good enough to send in with the rest of the agency’s auditions that day.
While on holiday last year visiting my sister on the Isle of Wight (the little island at the bottom of England), I was called by a regular client of mine, a production company, while on the hovercraft crossing from the mainland to the island. They had an urgent project to complete (aren’t they all?) and needed my voice ASAP as I’d voiced a TV commercial for them in the past. I confirmed I could do it as I carry my portable studio gear when away from the studio “in case of emergency”. The script was still being finalised so I continued my day which included a trip on a steam train with my luggage en-route to my sister’s. I finally got the call to proceed but was on the stream train and if you’ve ever enjoyed a ride on a steam train from 1915 you’ll know they don’t offer the most recording-friendly environment! Fortunately there was an extended stop at one of the stations, refuelling or the off-loading of non-voice artists I presume. So I quickly unzipped my luggage, pulled out my ‘travel’ microphone and iPad and made the recording. As it was only one line I was able to take care of several takes before the whistle was blown to resume the journey! I spent the rest of the ride editing the recording with my headphones on and uploaded the high-resolution files using my phone’s data plan. The client was delighted and amazed at the lengths I went to provide them with their line! Ironically the final use was a car commercial which spoke about personal space, comfort and ease of use. No job is ever the same!
In the early days, my home studio was, at best, sub-standard. Thinking about it now, I can’t believe I actually produced paid work in it. To paint the picture, the room was the spare bedroom, there was no sound-proofing, save for blankets over the windows, material shoved under the door and a quilt over my head and shoulders. My laptop sat on an inconveniently positioned shelf in a cupboard too small for me to get into myself and the microphone was worse than any cell phone mic of today. So I’m hot and sweaty, hunched over, trying to read a noisy rustling script (no script stand) in a noisy room with kids banging on the door and a 747 or three flying overhead.
That’s about the strangest place I’ve recorded. And yes, the result was terrible but important in my growth… and funny to remember.
It was last August; I wasn’t feeling well in my stomach so I had to drive myself to the doctor to have it checked. The initial observation seemed to indicate that I can go home in 24 hours, but then after a few more tests, they found out I had stomach ulcer. So what I thought would only be a few hours stay turned to 6 days!
After my operation, I was taken to my room, it was the last one on the corridor and it was pretty quiet… of course the first thing I thought was it can be my studio for a few days, just in case I needed to do some recording. So when I checked my email there were a few projects lined up. Some of them could wait a few days, but there was one that needed to be done soon. It was a two-minute recording for an e-learning video, “timed” with original English version. It was for a good client based in Los Angeles, so I decided to do it in my hospital room.
My initial thought was to do it in my car, as I have been reading a lot about mobile voice recording and been doing some audio testing, and I found out that the best mobile voice studio (acoustically) is my car. But I don’t think my doctor would have approved it. Instead, I asked with my wife to bring some equipment to the hospital. Acoustics was crucial so I asked her to bring the Auralex pyramid panel, a few towels, and some of my portable equipment.
I got everything I needed – my Sennheiser 416 microphone connected through the Iric mic Pre that’s directed to my Samsung S4 smartphone, which has an Audio Evolution Mobile APP. I check the sound as always with one of my AKG K141 Monitor headphones. Then used my Toshiba notebook computer to edit and sync with original English version… whew!
The result was good and well-timed, but obviously not so acoustically perfect compared to when done in my pro-studio, so I had to let my client know that I did the recording at the hospital and if she needed me to re-record I could do it again at my studio in a couple of days. She asked if I was visiting a sick family member or if I was sick… she was so surprised (and I think impressed) to learn that I still did the recording even after my operation. “When you work for yourself, you do the best you can for your client.”
Two days later, it was great to learn that there was no need for me to re-record… the client approved and was very happy!
There are plenty more stories like these… of voiceover talents who would press the pause button on almost anything that is happening to get the job done. They are the Super Voiceover Artists who have so much passion and love for their work that they will skip, jump and leap bounds.
We ask you the same… where have you taken your mic lately? Share with us your story and let the mic travel on…