I reread my last few blogs and was horrified to see that I almost always include the word “recently” in the first sentence. “Recently” I walked into a client’s office, read an email, and watched a terrific interview. While there’s nothing wrong with the word or the reference, I don’t want to become known as the “recently girl” so I’m changing things up!
I mentioned in an earlier blog post (OK, I know that’s close to “recently” but, give me a break, some patterns are hard to change.) that we use a lot of audio in our training programs. Sometimes we create models of “what to say,” sometimes “what not to say,” often full conversations for discussion, and most often practice exercises. Like most companies these days we’ve espoused the philosophy of “doing more with less.” Thankfully technology has made many formerly incredible things possible; it’s also, on occasion, been the bane of my existence but I'll write about those occasions another time.
If you are considering producing your own audio – whether for a podcast or training program – here are a few personal tips.
1. Look for help online. Minimize your trial and error time by taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge that's available. For example, I really enjoy Tom Kuhlmann’s blog; it’s fun to read and always full of practical information. Since we're talking about recording audio, check out his “4 Simple Tips for Recording High Quality Audio.” Some of the responses to that blog lead to additional helpful posts.
Another resource I’ve used is “Voice Actor’s Guide to Recording at Home and on the Road” by Harlan Hogan and Jeffrey P. Fisher. There’s also a website that shows a portable recording studio that served as the model for the one I assembled.
One of the great things about having a portable recording studio (We call it the PRS for short) is that it really works. It allows you to record audio wherever you are, minimize noise, and get great sound results. Other benefits include it's lightweight, compact, and easy to assemble; it ships like a dream. We have a good solid box that holds all the bits and pieces and only weighs 10 pounds fully loaded which makes is reasonable if you have to ship it, as we do, around the country. Because the box is sturdy and filled with acoustic foam that protects the microphone, I don’t worry about shipping it via UPS ground.
2. Buy smart. Depending on what you’re going to be doing, how often and for whom, you’ll choose different equipment. One consistent piece of advice from the experts is to buy a good microphone. Good, of course, is in the ear and pocketbook of the beholder. If you’re doing commercial voice-over work you’ll probably choose a different microphone and recording set up than we did. There are lots of blogs to read about what to buy.
We went with a really good, medium priced microphone, the Blue Snowball, and bought the microphone, pop filter and pop-up canvas cube through Amazon. I found Auralex acoustic foam in 12” x 12” squares at Fullcompass.com – no minimum order size, reasonably priced and very helpful customer service reps. Buying acoustic foam online is the only way to go in my area of the country; none of the musician supply stores have it in stock.
3. Consider using home grown talent. Actors will always give you a reliable performance, but sometimes you can get an added dash of realism by using someone who actually does the job. Depending on the budget we’ll sometimes use actors but more and more we enlist members of our Impact family. It’s fun and they do a great job!
4. Have fun! Matching acoustics between different locations can be a challenge but we love a challenge. As witness, here's what we did to deaden the atmosphere in a particularly cavernous space. The solution proved to be a slight case of overkill but it was worth it given the terrific photo op it provided!