Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reality Check

Who pays a reality check?  Just curious.

Paul Strikwerda just wrote a great piece on his blog about building or having a home studio.  It's a great reality check for people thinking about doing VO work and toying with the idea of "how hard can it be" to do at home.

I tell people it's a rabbit hole.  To to VO work, you need to be able to act well, connect with the copy and connect with the target audience.  Blah blah blah.  If you have researched this field, you know that and have heard that.  (If you do something about it, like get a good coach, then bravo!)

Then you buy a microphone, and connect it to a recording device.  This has come a LONG way!  My first setup to record onto a computer had an external 1Gig hard drive that cost me a THOUSAND dollars.  Sheesh!  I want that thousand back!  Hey, I'm not that old, it was only 20 years ago and I was using E-Magic Logic 1.5...

Anyhoo.  Back to that microphone.  If you're starting out, are you going to buy a three thousand dollar Neumann u87 and plop it onto the kitchen table and wonder where to plug it into your machine?  No.  At least I hope not.  You start easy, a Shure SM7 or Electrovoice RE-20 and an M-box was a good start.  Now you can use an Audio Technica with a USB output that sounds pretty nice. (pretty nice)

Then, you start hearing things.  Things that creep into your headphones.  Fish tank, refrigerator, neighbors kids in the yard, that DAMN LEAF BLOWER.  Ok ok, so you wait till after 8 to knock out those scripts.  But then you listen deeper.  There's a ring in the sound or a hollow echo... now what?

You start hearing things about Room Treatment and you hear about this wonderful company called Auralex and wonder if some foam on the wall will help.  (it will)

You may land a gig, get a few complements and think about that new condo in Boca. 

Now, here's the dividing point.  Do you A. go and introduce yourself to all of the cool studios in your city or town within reasonable walking and driving distance, demo in hand.  Or do you B. think about improving your gear to something more professional and buffing out that room in the basement? (or C, BOTH!)

Here's the reality check and where Paul's  blog post is so helpful.  Know your limits.  I had a musician friend that got an M-box and ProTools LE.  She knew nothing about engineering.  Nothing.  The learning curve, to me, isn't hard, but I also know that I can not play guitar.  C chord?  nope, can't find it, can't remember it, don't try to teach me.  Editing in ProTools?  I do it in my sleep.  (Final Cut as well, but that's a different subject.)

If you are not handy with tools.  Don't try to build a booth or studio.  Hire someone who has done it.  It's not rocket surgery, but it's different than building a bathroom.  If you know nothing about audio engineering or editing, get training or have someone else do it.  You will save yourself HOURS of stress.  Once again, it's not hard, it just isn't something you're born knowing.  If programing the DVR gives you fits, you may want to really focus on being in a town with a couple studios that you can visit.

So, it's more than reading into a microphone.  Especially if you're going to try  it at home, you end up being talent, engineer, CEO, CFO, the marketing department, sales and billing...

This can be a fun and rewarding career.  I've done great eLearning work, national commercial work and all sorts of projects before I started this studio build out.  For me, this is about kicking it up to the next level and creating a space that I can produce consistently solid sounding work.  Think audiobook.  Hours of recording that sounds clean and a space that is easy to work and edit in.

Yet even I know to hand off the billing to my accountant.  :)

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