Blog February 2014

Getting Started in Voiceovers- Equipment

Posted On: February 28, 2014

In the continuing series on 'Getting Started In Voiceovers', today I'll talk about equipment.

Research buying equipment as opposed to renting studio space; studio space is expensive and you're held hostage to the studios operating schedule.  You'll probably find some good deals on used equipment; when voice talents upgrade and buy new equipment they tend to sell their 'old' gear.  Here’s a list of the equipment I use:

WhisperRoom- MDL 4242S/SNV

22” ViewSonic touch screen monitor (VSD220)

Mic:  (2) EV RE 27n/d

Mixer:  Mackie 1402- VLZ Pro

Computer:  Dell Studio XPS9100 Desktop with a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Pro Series PCI Sound card.

Digital editing program: Adobe Audition CC

Phone patch:  JK Audio autohybrid

An ever-growing library of royalty free music and sound effects from Sound Ideas.

  Keeping in mind...that you're main objective is to make YOUR VOICE sound the best it can.  In the voiceover business, you'll absolutely need 4 things: Computer, microphone, recording software and a place to record.  Of course...you can't get an 'off the shelf' computer (from one of those popular retailers)...you'll need a computer with a big hard drive...with an upgraded processor; and an upgraded sound card; or you can use an interface (it's the way to go, these days).  Do you prefer a MAC or a PC?  MAC's are more expensive than PC's; but again, it depends on what system you’re more comfortable with.  You can expect to pay from $1200 and up for a computer whether you get a laptop or a desktop.  External hard drives are a safe investment; I have 3- 1 for sound effects; 1 for music and 1 for all my backups.  I recently picked up the third one (4 terabytes) because I had a virus on my pc and was at risk of losing EVERYTHING I'd recorded; so now I keep everything I record on the 3rd external hard drive.  I've also been playing around with video, so I keep it on there, as well.

You'll need software to record your voice onto....and, of course, you'll have to learn how to set it up and how to record onto it. There’s a whole bunch of recording programs that voice talents use and depending upon your skill-level and what you’re looking to do, you should have no problem in finding something to get you started.  I use Adobe Audition CC because I can also produce material (meaning add music and sound effects to projects). http://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html

Garage Band is a popular program:  http://www.jakeludington.com/ask_jake/20100401_garageband_for_windows_7.html

Audacity is another: http://www.sonicdownloads.net/download/Audio/Audacity/?f=inCAk0Xte&a=7378&adid=742700073

And Wavpad:  http://www.nch.com.au/wavepad/index.html

Then there’s always Pro Tools (considered the industry standard) http://www.avid.com/us/products/pro-tools-software  (in my opinion- Pro Tools has the biggest learning curve)

Most software will offer free downloads of their programs, but you’re limited to what you can do; some offer a 30 day trial period.

 

Microphones: 

  You probably won‘t be spending a whole lot on a mic (for the first time).  A decent mic will run from a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand; realizing, of course, that you NEVER, EVER, use the mic that came with your computer.  Lol.  The best I can tell you about mics is to go into a Sam Ash or a Guitar Center and have the guy show you all the different types of mics that a voice talent can can use for voiceovers.  Your voice has a natural ‘sound’ and depending upon which mic you use….will give your voice a different sound.  I know people who have a bunch of different mics that they use…each for a different purpose; 1 mic for audiobooks; another mic for commercials etc…

Portable gear.

Being able to record on-the-go is booming right now; and the gear needed is getting smaller.  You can record your voice on Smart Phones; however, you can’t edit on them (not yet, anyway..lol).  Laptops are popular and you can get the same quality as being in the studio; you’ll still need a good mic and a place to record.

...and finally, where are you going to record?

  Do you own a home or rent an apt?  Is there a lot of outside noise?  Do you have kids running around?  Pets?  Is your phone always ringing?  These can all affect how and where you can record.  When I first got started, I set up a little space in my basment, it worked well; until the boiler kicked on...lol...I had to wait for it to cycle and shut down before I could continue with the voicoever project.  Some people use a closet (with the clothes hanging in it).  I saw a picture of this one guy who sets up a couple of high-back chairs and throws some blankets over it...lol.  Some people have a booth (either from a manufacturer, or they construct their own)…some convert a whole room,  which is expensive and somewhat permanent. Again, your situation is different, so it’s difficult to point you in ‘any’ direction.  The room is important and it has to be DEAD (meaning- NO ECHO).  Oddly enough, a room ‘lives’.  Walk into an empty room with no carpeting….big echo, right?  Add carpet and some furniture…and the echo is reduced, but there’s still some echo there, you may not hear it, but the MIC will; and then you’ll hear it on the play back.  Youtube has a lot of videos on sound proofing a room.

by Rich Brennan

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Getting Started in Voiceovers- E-mail

Posted On: February 26, 2014

Remember this:

NOTHING SHOULD LEAVE YOUR POSSESSION WITHOUT YOUR CONTACT INFO INCLUDED!

E-Mail signature:

  Sometimes I need another voice for a project and have to reach out to other voice talents to audition, for the client to choose from.  When I get the submissions I'm boggled by the lack of contact info in the email: Often, it's just a "thank you for the audition" with the persons name (sometimes, there's just a first-name), with no other contact info listed.  How are potential clients supposed to know who you are, if you don't leave any contact info in your email?
  Set up an email signature (including your mobile devices); it'll be attached to every email you send out. Attaching a logo, on the otherhand, may be something you might want to pass on; some mail servers don't allow jpg, bmp, gif or other pictures and your email might not get delivered. I have 3 signatures formatted; Outlook, my cell phone and for Yahoo. Here's my signature

Rich Brennan
JustMyVoice Production
JustMyVoice@yahoo.com
www.JustMyVoice.com
516-454-0859
516-702-6507 (cell)
Facebook: JustMyVoice Production
Twitter @JustMyVoiceProd

After it’s all done and over with, what you’re left with is: JustMyVoice.

by Rich Brennan

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Getting Started in Voiceovers- Letterhead

Posted On: February 20, 2014

  A letterhead is a word document that has your your logo, and contact info, at the top of the page (the header); some folks use the bottom of the page (the footer) for contact info.  It depends on your needs and likes. However, a word document SHOULD contain your logo AND contact info. Word documents are used for correspondences that you send to a perspective client; it can be for an introduction, a proposal, a rate sheet or a thank-you for being chosen to work on the previous job you voiced/produced.   Remember, it's all about familiarity- your logo and contact info on EVERYTHING.  It also shows that you've got your act together. 
  A note on 'rate-sheets': A rate-sheet is a breakdown of what you charge for a particular voice service: commercials, narrations, on-hold messages, production, the various markets...etc. The Edge Studio, Voices.com (and a few others) carry a rate sheet that you can use as a guide for what you'd charge for a voice recording and/or an audio production.  If you're contacted about doing a project (let's say a 5:00 narration for a company's training program) you could reply to the email with a quote, along with a breakdown of how that quote was determined.  It would also be a good idea to attach a copy of your ratesheet as a reference; just make sure that your quote, coincides with your rate-sheet:  What good is having a rate-sheet, if you're not going to follow it?

by Rich Brennan

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Getting Started in Voiceovers- Invoice

Posted On: February 12, 2014

"How can I get into voiceovers?"

  This is a continuing series of blogs on what I've done to get started in the voiceover business; some of this info may help you get started in voiceovers, as well.  Last time I wrote about business cards; In the coming weeks I'll talk about letterhead, email, equipment, software, recording environments, training, auditions and the process, I used, of 'getting out there' in the virtual (voicoever) environment.

Today, I'll talk about the all important invoice.

  An invoice is an important part of doing business; it's a financial record of the work you've done and the rates/fees that are associated with that work. Your invoice should look professional and should carry all of your contact info, including your logo. There are lots of free templates out there that can be customized for your purposes, do a web search for 'invoice templates'.  If you're running current programs it would be a good idea to use current templates; for example, if you're using Word 2003 and download a Word 2010 template you might have a problem using that template.  I use Microsoft Excel 2010- specifically because I know, and like, the program and know how to set up the formulas so that all I have to do is enter the figures: Excel calculates the totals automatically.  Your invoice should carry the same appearance as your logo, website and business card- remember, it's all about familiarity.

  Below is a copy of my invoice; I just took an excel template and used my logos and contact info, and changed the colors.

 

  Your invoice should have a description of the work you've done, for example: Lets say ABC Lumber wants you to record 2- :30 radio commercials for an upcoming sale (on sheetrock) and are having the local radio station air them.  You'll notice that I list how the fee was agreed upon:  "As per email agreement".  Sometimes I use:  "As per telephone agreement" meaning that the quote I gave, during a telephone conversation, was how the fee was agreed upon.  I also follow-up with an email re-affirming the quote given over the phone and then printing out the reply.  REMEMBER....COPIES OF EVERYTHING.  

Add the contact info for ABC Lumber, the date and the contact person. Some businesses use purchase or work orders so you can apply those, as well (that's for their record keeping).

Qty- 2

Description-
- Sheetrock sale (this weekend)- :30 radio commercial (voiced and produced). MP3 delivered via email.
- Sheetrock sale (today)- :30 radio commercial (voiced and produced). MP3 delivered via email.

Unit Price- for each spot.

Total- would be the total for both spots.

It should list how payments are made (check, money order, Paypal...etc) and include transaction numbers, check numbers etc. I added my paypal account and tax ID number...I'm amazed that, even after submitting my invoice, I'm still asked for that info (paypal and/or tax ID) later on. lol.

At the end...my slogan, logo and a Thank you.

After the client has made payment, some may want an additional invoice showing a zero balance ($0.00); either their overly detail oriented or it's for their accountant.

There's alot more that can be incorporated into your invoice; like itemization, campaign runs, weekly or monthly invoices, conversion rates (international money transactions) and the dreaded 'T'-word (taxes).  Those are all things that you can use...once you get the ball rolling.

There you have it; the invoice.

by Rich Brennan

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Getting Started in Voiceovers- Business Cards

Posted On: February 08, 2014

 "How can I get into voiceovers?"

  The series of blogs, continures, on what I've done to get started in the voiceover business; some of this info may help you get started in voiceovers, as well.  Last time I wrote about domain names and a website. In the coming weeks I'll talk about invoices, letterhead, email, equipment, software, recording environments, training, auditions and the process, I used, of 'getting out there' in the virtual environment.

Today I'll talk about business cards.

  Business cards, a good item to carry around. I use one of the popular companies for my cards. You can always hand 'em out at a moments notice and they're alot easier to carry than a load of CD's (although...who uses CD's anymore? lol). Business cards should have all your contact info on it: Your business name, logo, phone number(s), email address, website address and a brief description of your sevices. 
  QR (Quick Response) codes are the thing now; with a smartphone you can scan the QR code and be directed to your site. Below is a copy of my cards with the QR code, on the front of the card. 

                         

  

I have another batch of cards with the QR code on the back (below); you'll notice that wherever you look my business name is visible.

  After downloading the QR code reader onto your smartphone (it's free) you'll be able to scan that QR code without having to type the webpage address. I have 2 colors because the black card looked good on the computer screen; however, when you hold it in your hand it's difficult to read so I ordered the white cards which are easier to read.  Go ahead and download the QR app, on your smartphone, hold your phone to the screen and scan anyone of these QR codes- You'll be broght to www.JustMyVoice.com

 

by Rich Brennan

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