Thursday, July 28, 2011

Demystified Studio Jargon!

For those that are new to the voiceover industry (and even those that have been in the industry for quite some time), there has likely been a time or two where a term has been used and you've frantically searched on Google to find out what that term means. We've all been there, which is why we've compiled a cheat sheet of studio jargon for you to reference! Below is a short list of some of the terms you might hear while recording in a studio or when referring to recording.

ADR: Automated Dialogue Replacement; also, “walla walla” or “looping.”

Anechoic: Free from echoes.

Animatic: The "rough draft" of the commercial (not finished, no music).

Announcer: This is the person selling the product (could be the voice of the entire spot or just a few sentences with other people).

Axis (on-axis, off-axis): On-axis refers to standing right in front of the microphone with it level to your mouth. Standing off-axis is slightly to the left, right, top or bottom of the microphone.

Bleed-through: Noise from headphones that are being picked up by the placement of the microphone. Your headphones may be too high or you may be standing in the wrong place.

Cans: An old term for headphones.

Condenser Mic: A microphone that has a higher frequency and transient response than most. This gives it the ability to reproduce the speed of your voice easier than other microphones. It also has a louder output and is more sensitive to loud sounds than its counterparts. They also require their own power supply.

Copy: A script.

Copywriter: A person who writes copy.

Cue up: Sound engineer is lining up your voice to the visual and timing of the spot (may also be lining it up to music).

Cut: Stopping a take. Used more for looping and ADR work.

Donut Spot: When copy is inserted between segments of music or video.

Dubbing: Anything you have to record over what has already been there.

Dynamic Mic: More rugged than condenser microphones, but their frequency response can sometimes be less than that of a condenser microphone. They also tend not to respond to the attack point of a sound source (i.e. your voice) as well as a condenser microphone. Does not require a power source.

Feedback: When a loop exists between an audio input and an audio output. When the output signal of monitors or speakers gets fed back into the input of a microphone it creates feedback. This can be dangerous to your hearing. Never have your mic and monitors on at the same time if they are in the same immediate space.

FTP Sites (File Transfer Protocol): One of the most common methods for sending large audio files between two computers. This is one method you may use to send audio files to your clients. is an alternate method to FTP and there are other companies as well. Think of an FTP site as a digital drop box for you to put files that are too large for email to be picked up by the client.

Hear More Live: Hear more of yourself in your headphones by turning up the volume.

Input: Something that sound is going into, like the input port on your M-box (for those of you recording with Pro-Tools).

Insurance Take: When you have all the takes you need, but you get one more just to be sure. Or, when you record one more take to have fun with.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) Line Codec Box/ Source Connect: This service allows you to digitally transfer data to and from the Internet in real time. This allows you to record at a studio without having to be physically there, or to interface with your client from across the country.

Iso-Booth/Voice Booth: A small enclosure that isolates its occupant from exterior sound or is acoustically treated to record or broadcast a sound source with as little noise from walls as possible.

Looping: Re-recording dialogue that was missed or didn't record properly the first time. Done in post-production.

MP3 File Type: Common audio format for consumer audio storage. It is a lossy format (meaning some digital information may be lost), designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording, while still sounding like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio for most listeners. MP3 is a popular audio file type because it is a manageable file size for most users.

Music Bed: The music that will be used in the back of a spot.

Output: Something that sound is going out of, like headphones, speakers or monitors (which are speakers).

Phone Patch: The producer, client, director and writer are patched in from another location to where you are recording.

Plosive: A sudden release of air from the mouth generated by the hard sounds of such letters as B, P, K, C, G and TH sounds. The air can hit the diaphragm of a microphone pretty hard and distort the broadcast or recorded signal.

PSA (Public Service Announcement): This is a type of advertisement featured on television, radio, print or other media that's intended to raise awareness of an issue and bring the public to action. There are no residuals with PSAs if you’re a member of AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).

Push: Emphasize, punch it using inflection, dynamics, pace or all of the above.

Slating: Reading your name aloud prior to performing the audition copy so that the casting director, or decision-maker, knows who they are listening to. A slate can also be the identifier for what part of the copy you’re reading.

Spot: A commercial.

Tag: A label associated with something for the purpose of identification. The end of a spot that usually includes the client’s name and catch-phrase or slogan. For example: “LG: Life’s Good”.

Track: A separate sound recording that can be combined with others to be heard at the same time. You could have a vocal track, a music track, a sound effects track, etc.

Track Sheet: A physical or digital document to keep track of what has been recorded.

V-O: Voice Over: V/O: voice-over: Voice-Over: VO: a live or recorded broadcast of spoken word by an unseen commentator.

Watermark: Placing an undesirable sound effect on a V-O mix in order to render it unusable until final payment is made by the client.

WAV File Type: A larger audio file type than MP3. It is a better representation to the original work or audio. It is lossless and uncompressed unlike its MP3 counterpart, but because of its size, MP3 tends to be more common.

What other terms would you add to this list that you've heard in the studio?

Written by:
Bethany Baker, Such A Voice Marketing Director and
Brendan Coyle, Such A Voice Post-Production Coordinator and Producer/Coach

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