Friday, May 14, 2010

How to Record When You're On the Road

The lifestyle of a voice-over artist is fabulous. You get to be your own boss, you can grow into a niche of your choosing, and you never have to deal with office politics. Working from home also affords you the flexibility work at your leisure -- and in your pajamas!

But what do you do when you get a great voice-over job when you're traveling? Do you take your home studio with you? Do you pass on the job and hope for the next one? Do you buy one of those portable boxes and put it together on the go?

Our coaches and producers had some surprising -- and affordable -- tips for how they nail a professional recording when they're on the road.

Rather than spending money on extra equipment, all of our voice-over actors said they get a great sound by building their own sound booth in their hotel room. Lisa Foster routinely asks for extra pillows in her hotel room so that she can build a "pillow fort" to read in. She gets the same effect of having a sound booth because sound is dampened on all sides.

Rob Sciglimpaglia uses the same technique as Lisa, adding a comforter over his head to cancel out extra noise. Another great alternative is to take a large pizza box, fill it with acoustic foam from a mic case, and create a pyramid around the mic. It is easier to read the copy this way, and it stops a lot of the reflective sound.

Heather Costa uses a porta booth on the road, but only for short recordings. For longer voice over jobs, she comes prepared with a sheet of 2" Auralex foam. To make a professional recording studio out of her hotel room, she covers the desk with a towel, puts couch cushions and foam on the desk surrounding the mic, and sometimes uses a blanket on top if she's in a room with a vaulted ceiling. Heather has also used a porta booth in her car in a parking lot, with tractor trailers driving by, and she got a superb recording!

As you can see, there are great ways to create a sound booth in a pinch without dropping a dime. There is no substitute for professional voice-over technique training, and a bad recording will sound bad -- no matter what you're using for your sound booth!

If you have never recorded voice-over work while traveling, experiment at home with bedding and towels so you feel comfortable putting something together on the spot. Be prepared before you hit the road, and don't forget your pajamas!

4 comments:

  1. Some great tips there Cat, keep them going! I was just discussing the travelling voice over with another VO on a job this afternoon.
    Lindsay :>)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just avoid your hotel room bathroom. You may sound great singing in the shower, but it's not really the place for VO - much too live! Other than that, you can make anything work :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. A great investment is the Yeti mic from Blue. It produces fantastic sound, and has a simple USB plug to go directly into your laptop. It has its own dampening device so you really don't get that 'tin can' sound as much as you might think. Its what I use on the road and is very easy to pack into your suitcase. You'll drop about $100-150 but it is TOTALLY worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. In addition to using pillow forts with a comforter over my head, I also tend to read my copy from my Blackberry - it's small and has a back light so I can see what I am reading under my "fort" - and there's no rustling of paper sounds to contend with!

    ReplyDelete