I learned about voice production back in college and when I worked in radio. Actually, I learned the basic workings of the equipment. Looking back on my career in radio, I realize how little I learned back then. One could attribute this to the fact that audio technology has changed considerably since the 80′s. Back then, all the recording and editing was done on reels of tape. We played music on cartridges. CDs were a new technology. However, even before my time, there have been audio tricks I knew nothing about and probably wouldn’t know now if I hadn’t decided to set up a home studio.
I’ve been fairly lucky in that my house is quiet and seems to absorb sound, despite the walls being made of lathe and plaster. The floor is carpeted and the room I work in has a drop ceiling covering the real old ceiling above it. I’ve read of other voiceover people building some fairly elaborate studios with sound absorbing walls, but I am just starting out and want to keep things economical at this point. If Hollywood or New York takes an interest in me, then I’d be willing to shell out the bucks, but I still need to put together my first demo at this point.
I have also realized I needed to bone up on the technology. My recording interface is Audacity. It’s a free program with a good reputation. One of the books I’ve downloaded is about that program and how to use it for podcasting. Naturally, I also have a book on voice acting with lots of tips. But the one book that has made the biggest hit on me was Big Studio Secrets for Home Recording and Production.
The book is by Joe Dochtermann and I have barely scratched the surface of it. However, I am amazed by what I have read so far. The book is mostly dedicated to music production. I know I will be dealing only in voice, and not even a singing voice, but I cannot help but feel that I didn’t go far enough in my studies the first time around. I was young and still under the subconscious impression that music just spontaneously generated from some distant place that wasn’t Peoria.
You hear about music producers.. sometimes. You hear the names and just sort of assume that they create some kind of magic that makes the music sound good, but nobody goes into much detail about how they do it. Most likely because that job is actually very geeky, detailed, and picky. The job is not to get an accurate recording of the music, but to bend the music into a shape that grabs the attention of the listener.
For example, when recording the early Rockabilly music, Sam Phillips introduced a “slap-echo” effect by introducing a delay of 115 milliseconds into the music. This produced a sound that couldn’t be matched in a live performance at the time.
I wonder what else I’m going to learn? And how much is it going to help me in this business?