As voice-over talents, we specialize in “theatre of the mind”. Our job is to create an image, a presence, a brand in the mind of the listener. We get paid to pretend and it’s pretty great.
Within our own work space, voice talents do some great pretending too. Some VO’s like Joe Cipriano build wonderful voice-over studios within their property that are visually and audibly amazing. Some have pre-fabricated studios like Whisper Rooms to record in. Other voice talents work in their closets, surrounded by heavy winter coats or movers blankets.
I hesitated to write this post about my new voice-over booth for fear it would come across as boastful in someway. That’s not the intent; rather I hope this gives you helpful ideas if you are thinking about changing your voice-over recording space.
There are a thousand variations of voice-over recording booths, all simply want to ensure the best possible audio fidelity even if most of our studios will never make it to the pages of Architectural Digest (well, Joe’s might). Anyway, the beauty of the studio is in the eye of the beholder as, individually, we’re usually the only ones who see it.For years I’ve been cranking out tons of national, regional and local voice-over projects from a little sound box I made from old shutters and some foam. It has worked wonderfully and clients have been well pleased.
I wasn’t concerned that it was short on looks. But in the past few years, I have been concerned that it was not conducive to one important area of voice-over performance…I could not stand and record in my old set up. I was limited in the physicality of my performance.
With certain voice-over scripts, the physicality of the performance can really come through. I needed to change my voice acting set-up.
I’d been thinking about it, talking about it but for a myriad of reasons, I didn’t just get it done. Until now.
My goal was to create a great sounding space (quiet but not dead sounding), that gave me the physical space to perform sitting or standing, that worked within the dimensions of the room (a kind of reading room off the living room where I keep my office) that would be somewhat attractive (cause it would be in the space off the living room).Over at hardware store, they sell White Thermally-Fused Melamine board in sheets of 4’w x 7′ h and about 3/4″ thick. They are sturdy and attractive. With those boards, I had a carpenter friend of mine build a 3 walled box with a roof (cause handy I am not…my wife is though) and put it in the corner of the office. Inside the booth, there was installed a counter. Then, based on a video recommendation from George Whittman and some insight from Dan Friedman, I ordered custom built acoustical panels for the interior and put some sound foam on the ceiling. On the fourth wall (which I didn’t want to enclose at this time) hangs a very heavy curtain (wife’s idea). Simple.
I had the sound tested by a long haired audio recording expert in North Carolina who said the recorded sound quality was excellent. I’m happy, the wife is happy and clients didn’t even notice a change.
But I do. Not just in the physical space but the ability I have now to vary my performance. I move completely differently within this space and I think you can hear it in the performance. We’ll see what happens from here.