I’ve spent the last 6 months recording the voiceover for a project I wrote up. It’s 75k words, so many hours of recording. I’ve recorded it 3 times, as I improved at the recording process so much along the way the first 2 times that I wouldn’t have been doing it justice if I didn’t do it a final time to really give it my best. The editing process has destroyed me. Even after hiring someone to remove the bad takes, I still had to edit the spacing to get it sounding natural. That’s been the time consuming part.
After all the work this past 6 months, I wish I’d just hired a pro VO to do the job. Had I known what a ball ache the process would be, I’d have done that in a heartbeat. I decided to do it myself as I felt it would be more authentic given it’s my project.
I’m near the end of the process and am having doubts about how good the end result is compared to what the right pro VO could produce. If I decided to hire someone, 6 months of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention precious time, would go to waste. I put hundreds of hours into it over that time. Would be 6 months down the drain. But the right pro VO may be able to make the end result a better job.
Any advice? I’m at a loss for what to do. Every time I decide to stick with my own work, thoughts about hiring someone to do it come back.
It’s really up to you. The pro VO may not be perfect either.
This stuff can be very time consuming, especially if you are trying to get it perfect.
If I decided to hire someone, 6 months of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention precious time, would go to waste.
In business & investing there is a concept called [u]sunk costs[/u]. The time & effort you put-in is gone and you can’t get it back. Emotionally, it’s hard to ignore butyyou can only control where you go from here.
…This is a LOT less-serious situation, but one time I was fixing-up a scratchy digitized vinyl recording because it was out-of-print digitally. I had spent at-least a full weekend on it and I was making progress and it probably would have been “good enough” but it wasn’t as good a digital. Then I found a used CD copy online. I was so happy to get a good-clean sounding copy that I didn’t mind having wasted the time and then spending money.
That’s the Producer talking, upper case “P” intentional. You are three people: Recording Engineer, Vocal Performer, and Producer. All of them are careers and they can all win Academy Awards for professional, top quality work.
Home microphone makers love to pretend that anybody can set up their microphone on a kitchen table, record their voice, make a fortune, and retire to a picturesque cottage on the coast.
Maybe not. Do you have someone whose voice you like? Can you pay them to record a portion of your show? If you like it, get them to do everything. If it’s just OK, stick with what you have.
I know this is dangerous, but post up to 20 seconds of finished, polished MP3 at 192 constant quality on the forum. Scroll down from a forum text window, Attachments > Add Files. We assume your Edit Master is WAV, and not MP3, right? It could also be an Audacity Project, but that can have its own pitfalls.
Comments can go all the way from: “Can I pay you to do my book,” to, “Don’t give up the day job.” If you’re close, sometimes we can give constructive comments. We have pushed many people along to being successful voice artists.
And yes, it didn’t escape me that we don’t know what your show is. Who is your audience? You’re talking about reading a serious novel at several hours. If you are reading your novel, then you need to conform to the audiobook restrictions and guidelines.
The best audiobooks have Plot, Setting, and Characters in some form. You can’t read a cookbook.
“Alice was realizing what a bad idea this was when the plank she was standing on broke free from the river bank and started drifting into the rapidly flowing river.”
Many years ago when I was converting my vinyl I used to use the Audacity Repair tool to fix up each scratch individually. And like you, Doug, I spent a whole weekend on a favourite LP of my wife’s (that Warner Bros were sitting on the copyright and refusing to release a CD).
Then just after that Koz gave me a steer to Brian Davies’ excellent Click Repair app. I ran it first on my “repaired” copy of the album and it found and fixed a lot more small clicks. So then I ran it on the original WAV recording and it took about 5 minutes to produce a truly excellent result. So for the small amount of cash I spent on buying the app from Brian I saved many many hours of tedious work.
The good news is I applied Audiobook Mastering and it easily passes ACX-Check and would sail straight through audiobook evaluation for publication.
The bad news is it drags. You took 23 seconds of words and presented them in 29 seconds.
There’s a common assumption that training speeches should be slow and deliberate. No. that’s a good way to put people to sleep particularly if you’re presenting to sleep-deprived students. Speeches work out best if they’re presented in approximately normal conversational speeds. You wouldn’t order lunch in that speed. You might leave gaps here and there for people taking notes or to make a point or so people can take in graphics or illustrations.
There’s a whole course on how long to wait after a joke. The audience is always behind and you don’t want to step on their enjoyment. There’s also “reading the audience” to gauge speed which you can’t do in a video. In that case you have to rely on past experience. Is this a formal rendering of your live training performances?
They warn you that performances need to be broken up into chapters with short gaps and introductions. Is yours?
This could be really sticky for you if this is a v/o track for a video and you appear on camera.
Oh, and to bring this around, I would totally get someone else to read a portion of the work as a test and don’t show them your readings. Just explain this is a training presentation. See what they do. Ideally you pick someone from the ACX roster with sample readings.
So the quality given by the mic and my processing is fine… I’m guessing tone of voice is okay? I don’t sound like a ‘bad’ VO?
Yes it drags. I record at a slower pace as I find it eliminates clicks and other mouth noise from speech. Not only that but some of my customers are not native English speakers, so I didn’t want the 1x speed to be too high. The video player these voiceovers will be played on will have 1x, 1.1x and 1.25x as playback speed options, so if it’s too slow for someone, they can easily resolve that during playback. But I see it dragging as a minor issue as can easily resolve it with tempo boost.
If I give it a 10% tempo boost in Audacity, should sound better? 20% and the audio starts to sound a little distorted.
So I’ve recorded 75k words like this. Many hours of near finished audio. I think I’m reaching the view that it’s good enough to use if the tempo is boosted. Especially considering that I’d be gutted to see 6 months of work go to waste. Agree?
These voiceovers will go on recorded powerpoint presentations which have an image relevant to the content, with subtitles of the script below. My face won’t appear at all. No recording of me whatsoever.
The content would have to be bad for me to not use it. You’d have to be listening to it and saying, “sorry but you can’t use this on content someone will pay for” (after tempo is boosted of course).
So I’ve recorded and edited 75k words of 347k words total that need recording. Took 6 months having recorded it 3 times over during that time because I improved so much along the way. Also spent probably $3k on having the raw files cleaned up.
I’ve calculated that even having spent 6 months recording myself, hiring the VO I’m talking with would save me 18 months from this point, vs doing the rest of the recording myself. I’m incredibly slow recording and editing. Can only record about 2k words a day, and can only edit 1300 - 1500 words a day to completion, and that’s AFTER someone else has removed the bad takes. At that rate, I would finish the 347k words fully edited and finished, about 2 years from now. Whereas the VO can have it done in less than 6 months. So even after I just wasted 6 months, I would still save myself 18 months from this point on, hiring the VO.
Is this starting to sound like a no brainer (as long as the VO is good)?
If I hire him I will struggle to find a way to positively spin the past 6 months to myself. I’ve put my all into it, improved a lot at it along the way, and can’t see any kind of benefit to that time spent if I don’t use my own recordings. It would be truly wasted as I see it.
I’ve given the VO the first 1k words of the project to record. Will see what the end result is like and then decide. Thoughts encouraged.
Before you engage a pro, you need to resolve that rhythm business. Are you going to require that they record the voice slow as for a non-English speaker? That will be a nightmare recording contract if you can even get anybody to agree to it. Producing work that sounds damaged means they can’t use this job to get their next job.