About five years ago, I made my first ever ‘professional’ voiceover recording.
It was for a training video and the producer gave me a quick lesson in acoustics; we made an ‘igloo’ out of mattresses and pillows in a canteen – and then we got to recording. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you can have a ‘bash’ at pretty much anything and not worry about the outcome. Indeed at the time I was pretty happy (as was the producer).
But then, a few years later, I started learning about voiceover myself and, before long, one of the elements of the process became an elephant in the booth.
The mic was making me sound terrible.
It was highlighting horrible noises, embellishing errors, amplifying imperfections, and generally making me sound terrible. Flipping microphone. I would step in front of it – and we’d eyeball each other. She would say to me, “Go on – try and sound good, and I’ll mess it up for you”. And she was succeeding. Every session was a battle, every recording a fight.
But then – I went back and listened to those early recordings, and I realised something:
The mic didn’t make me sound terrible – it was doing exactly what I had invested in it to do. It was my ears – they had become educated. I was hearing things I never heard before. I was becoming frustrated at an apparent lack of quality – when actually it was because I was now aware of it.
Some of those things would get better with practice, and they did – and some of them were just ‘my sound’.
If you know me – you’ll know that one of my favourite phrases is:
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
I thought about this phrase, and considered what I wanted to change.
And then something happened – I learned to love my mic.
Not an ‘obsessed with the technology’ kind of love. But I learned that the mic was the conduit, the link, the solution – not the problem. The mic was my servant, it would do whatever I asked of it – and reproduce faithfully exactly what it heard.
And our relationship changed. It wasn’t the thing highlighting the faults – it was the thing helping me to channel what the client or director wanted. Yeh, sure, some imperfection was going to go along for the ride too – but it was far outweighed by what was good.
The mic was HELPING me to sound good, not the other way round. And like when you learn anything – every visit to the booth meant I was getting better. Suddenly, the mic wasn’t something to be afraid of – it was my partner.
I firmly believe that as soon as that switch was flicked – it was all change.
So when I go into the booth now – I do it with a little buddy, who is on my side, who wants to help me sound the best I can, and who faithfully ensures I do.
Love your mic – and it’ll love you back.
Have a GREAT day.