I’ve written before about whether, as voice actors, one REALLY needs to take a portable recording kit when traveling. I had previously made a business and personal decision, not to – as taking a rig can be just too tempting, in taking one away from the trip's intended purpose. Turns out that this year, I went to London and was going to be away from my studio for three weeks! I had a feeling, that I would be presented with opportunities, that I might not be able to ignore. So, I actually broke my own rule and took my Sennheiser 416 with me. I promised myself that I would only use it in emergencies.
Originally, the trip was to be a family one, with my wife keen to experience the Platinum Jubilee, our daughters joining us halfway through loving all London has to offer and then my mum (who is originally from North London) coming for the last week. It had been ages since she had visited her hometown. When the One Voice Conference UK was announced, we decided to combine One Voice and our holiday. I was a speaker and had been nominated for several awards (along with my daughter Eva), so that was an additional incentive to travel.
Before traveling, one of my regular clients was asking about availability for the end of May, so I knew I would need access to a studio and reached out to several, in the event I needed them. As it turned out, I was glad that I had planned ahead. The number of recording studios in London teeters at around 300. I had narrowed my choices down to studios that I had done online auditions for and a couple that I thought would be great to record and connect with.
Little did I know it but I was about to embark upon an unexpected voiceover adventure! It started with an eLearning client needing an urgent pickup which I recorded in the One Voice Studiobricks booth on the first day of the conference. They had 2 booths available for attendees to record in. Many thanks to Nik from Black Cat Music, who went above and beyond to make that happen.
One of the unwritten universal truths is that when you go on holiday, that is when the work shows up.
Most London recording studios are quite busy and booked up, so I was fortunate to find space. I tried to be flexible on when I could go in, which did mean missing some London sights. As it turned out, I booked 6 sessions in 8 days!
This was what my schedule looked like :
5/18 & 5/20 Damn Good Voices -An audition from them & then an E-Learning project. Damn Good Voices is one of my main agents in London and when I realised they were very close to the hotel we were staying at, it was an easy decision to pay Simon and his team a visit. He is a very caring agent and is fearless when it comes to negotiating rates. His office is also very close to the Beefeater Gin Distillery (Well we just had to take the tour) and The Oval Cricket Ground (no cricket going on but it was lovely to go by).
These next two studios gave me a sample of what life as a VO in a large market could be like. 5/23 Morning Jukebox- Tomatin Whiskey Campaign Jukebox is out near the BBC studios in Wood Lane. So two tube rides and a morning walk later I was in a lovely business centre. I was early enough to sit with a cup of tea and chat with another visitor. Turned out they knew Jukebox and were very complimentary. That helped to settle the apprehension of visiting someone new! Also, thank you Camilla Laxton of Loquacious Media for the studio referral. 5/23 Afternoon SNK Studios – Intel Campaign-Tube ride back to Tottenham Court Road. Intel was a Union hire, so needed a studio that had been Covid Safety Protocol approved by SAG (Screen Actors Guild). The list was surprisingly short but SNK was on the list! Very lucky, they were able to book me in the timeslots, that were needed for this live session.
5/24 & 5/26 OMUK - Banana Crème Olipop /The Rise of Gru and then 2 x Corporate Films and an E-Learning script. This took me to the Kings Cross area and a studio, I had hoped to visit. They were brilliant in accommodating my last-minute booking and stretching their workday to allow for the transatlantic communication needed. There was some awesome videogame recording happening at the same time which my eldest daughter had the privilege to watch. It made her day. I also got to play with their headphone-mounted microphones (see below). A very liberating experience from a performance point of view.
It was quite an unexpected working week in London. I think it's worth reflecting on what I learned and how I might change my plans in the future as a consequence. I did keep my promise to only get the travel mic out for emergencies. I only auditioned from it once, but it was for the Olipop Project, which I booked! It proved to me that in the end, it paid off taking a travel rig. Even bringing a microphone that attaches directly to a phone, would be beneficial to have on hand, especially if space was an issue.
I will make it a mantra to see what studios are nearby when traveling. Even if the auditions or bookings don’t pan out, it’s a great reason to make contact and get to know a new or prospective recording studio better.
I really enjoyed my sessions and chats with everyone I met, and I know I’ll be reaching out again, next time I’m in The Big Smoke. This wasn’t my first time recording at a London studio in person, but upon reflection, working directly in a large entertainment hub is exciting and something I will definitely consider doing more of in the future.
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