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Session Notes: Recording Voiceover On The Road

The Practical Craft Of Recording
Published December 2017
By Jason Bermingham

By turning your hotel room into a project studio, you can deliver broadcast-quality VO tracks when you travel.

For those of us who make our livings doing voiceover (VO) work, leaving home needn’t mean losing work. In fact, a VO talent with a basic understanding of acoustics can use a laptop computer, a portable interface, and a small studio microphone to deliver broadcast-quality voiceover tracks from just about anywhere in the world. My wife and I both work in the industry, and record mainly in our home studio in São Paulo, Brazil, and at production houses in the region. But we spend a lot of time on the road as well — as an American expat, I make a point of returning home at least once a year.

The acoustic treatment in our São Paulo home studio, pictured, follows the principle of thirds: one-third absorption, one-third diffusion and one-third reflection. In our hotel rooms, where pillows and blankets substituted diffusors and acoustic clouds, we ended up with something closer to two-thirds absorption and one-part reflection.The acoustic treatment in our São Paulo home studio, pictured, follows the principle of thirds: one-third absorption, one-third diffusion and one-third reflection. In our hotel rooms, where pillows and blankets substituted diffusors and acoustic clouds, we ended up with something closer to two-thirds absorption and one-part reflection.Photo: by Jason BerminghamA trip to the USA in March this year took us both to the VO Atlanta voiceover conference in Georgia, and then to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival of film, technology and music in Texas, before we visited family and friends in California. That’s a lot of time to take off work when you freelance, so for three weeks we exchanged our home studio for a portable studio that we wheeled around in a carry-on suitcase.

During the three weeks we spent away from our home studio, we gave voice to dozens of audio projects: an in-flight safety announcement for a major airline, a national TV campaign for a furniture and home accessories retailer, corporate videos for companies in and out of Brazil, and case studies for advertising agencies, to name a few. Each project posed unique challenges, but we managed to deliver with speed and quality in every case.

In this month’s Session Notes, then, I want to take you through how we approached our work on this trip, as well as teasing out a few lessons for you (and for us!). Before I do, by way of background, it’s worth mentioning that, compared with music production, voiceover work has some specific recording requirements and aesthetics — you can find out more...

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Published December 2017