Tag Archives: quality

Scream if you wanna go faster???

I was reading an article today from Voiceover Herald with interest. (The link to it is at the end of this blog if you’d like to see it).

It was an interesting article, and in the main advocated choosing a professional voiceover person in order to create realistic characters for video games

However, I was sad to see that the section on the ‘freelance’ sites (I think we know which ones) refers only to potential quality issues. This isn’t the main issue – it is that artists are dropping their rates to exist on such sites at all.

This may appear to be in the interests of the client short term – but as it directly competes with those who charge a fair price for their work, it’s surely going to impact the reputation of the industry as a whole in the longer term. In my view clients with a tight budget will end up spending even less of it on the audio in favour of spending more on the imagery/video or other elements of their project.

“It becomes very difficult to revise your pricing once you’re stuck in it”

Of course the article needed to be balanced in its assessment of the options available – we can’t just ignore what’s going on. The challenge though is that people new to the industry could read it as advocating that it’s right to charge nothing or virtually nothing in favour of getting a testimonial. If you’ve been around even a little while, you know that’s not going to help in the longer term, in fact it becomes very difficult to revise your pricing once you’re stuck in it.

A difficult point to address agreed. I’m don’t think I’m a fan of an unofficial ‘union’ or membership/logo approach as I always think these things never get off the ground in the way it’s originally intended – however I could be convinced otherwise! 

I am confident of my personal long term success by sticking to fair rates and providing quality work – however will this become an ‘outdated’ approach if there is a shift in the industry? To be clear, I don’t worry about poor quality work being offered at a low price; I don’t see that as a competition or risk. Also, this is not the view of a ‘Luddite’ – I love technology and enjoy an ever-evolving world and the challenges we are presented with.

I think I know where most of my colleagues stand on the pricing side of things – I’m keen to find out what you think? Are you concerned – do you think it will just ‘fizzle out’ ?

I guess I’m keen to see if there’s a general sentiment that it’s appropriate to challenge how these sites are impacting things, is peer-pressure appropriate and will it be enough?

You can reply directly on this blog if you’d like to in the ‘leave a reply’ section at the top or using the contact form below.

I’d be really interested to hear your views!

Thank you for reading, and have a GREAT day

Steve

http://www.voiceoverherald.com/hire-hire-professional-voice-actors-video-games/

 

Learning to love your mic

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.

Steve

 

MP3 and a nice cup of tea

Many years ago I worked in a relatively small office, where people were grouped into different teams. I was new to the role, keen, and eager to get on.

As part of our daily routine we’d each do a ‘tea’ run at certain times of the day for our team.

The word ‘tea’ was a generic term for hot drinks of some description – often including a trip via the vending machine to stock up on chocolate, sweets, and other health food.

The company was a huge – multi national concern, the kitchen was small and minimal – hence the need for the tea-runs.

In the tiny space there was a kettle, a microwave, some cups – and a water heater fixed to the wall which kept the water steaming, designed specifically for making the hot drinks.

One of the more senior members of the team used to eschew this device, saying that you “..didn’t get ‘proper’ tea unless the water was boiling…” and she insisted on making it using the kettle, and taking twice as long in the process.

Being a fervent worker, earnest, and wanting to avoid any distraction from being at my desk – I would dismiss her advice, make the tea as fast as possible with the ‘purpose built’ water heating device, deliver it out – and get back to the task in hand as quickly as I could.

I was also often the first person in the office – and one of the last ones out.

This work ethic has kept me successful – something which I am fiercely protective of.

However, being a little older and, hopefully, a little wiser now – I realise that having a strong work ethic may be important, but sometimes in life it’s the little things that actually make the difference.

Hilda was right (her name has been changed to protect the innocent) – of course you need to use fully boiling water to make a proper cup of tea, anyone who knows anything about tea knows that. You also need:

  • A teapot (which you warm first)
  • Proper tea (not bags)
  • China cups (warmed first)
  • Semi-skimmed milk (put in AFTER the tea)
  • Once-boiled water (boil it twice and it’s too oxygenated)

I learned over the years that if you’re going to do something important do it well, and to the highest standard you can, in the long run it’s what really makes a difference.

We can’t do EVERYTHING to perfection, but I learned that if you can do the little things well it massively enhances your ability to do the big things too.

You also have to make loads of mistakes, in order to find out what works and what doesn’t – no one learned anything from being perfect all the time.

But, when you’re working hard, and it’s time for a tea break – then you should have the NICEST cup of tea (coffee/Bovril/whiskey) you can, it makes the break all the more significant – even if it takes a little longer.

In the world of VoiceOver we fire stuff onto MP3 for convenience when we’re doing an audition, and we know why it’s inferior and why we need to do it. We also know that there’s a time for MP3 – and then there’s a time for allowing the effort you put into making a quality recording shine by using a ‘full format’ quality.

…the nicest cup of tea you can make…

With three young kids who are growing up in a world that believes that MP3 quality is the norm, and records/cd’s are old fashioned, I wonder where their time for ‘quality’ is going to come?

The triumph today of speed and convenience over quality does appear to me to be almost epidemic. I really hope things swing back a little the other way as we move through this world, and people will learn the importance of taking the time to do things well, in some capacity.

It’s what I want to teach my kids, and what I tell them when they’re moaning about it taking SOOOO long to make the tea.

Have a great day!