Running a small business, of any shape or color, means wearing many hats. When you are a Voice Actor there are Business hats that include Marketing manager, Finance manager, and Social Media Manager. On the Acting side: Talent, Director, and Coach. On the technical side: Sound engineer, Studio Consultant, Technical Consultant, Software and Hardware Manager.
Around 90% of my recording work is self-generated, self-directed, and self-engineered and I do wonder if sometimes wearing all these hats has an impact on the final audio project. If you are self-directing someone else’s vision at least a small part of your mind is focused on whether your performance is meeting the project requirement. Evaluating your acting choices and making decisions about what is right sometimes needs to be discussed in further detail with the client. Those issues are reduced if you have a client who wishes to be online with you while you record.
I have had talent tell me that having someone online makes them nervous, but for me, coming from a theatrical background, I thrive in that environment. I can respond to the feedback, make educated, directed choices, and focus more on my performance.
A directed session has other advantages too, such as the reduced probability of pickups for pace or tone, as the project owner has had the opportunity to give immediate feedback and, in theory, has the read they want by the end of the session.
It’s not always the case, but often the client also wants you to send the entire session to them, so you also save the editing/post-production time. I offer the opportunity to connect live to every client for these very reasons. Services like Source Connect, Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, Cleanfeed, and ipDTL have made connecting with clients around the world incredibly easy and I feel it adds polish to my Customer Service to offer live sessions as an added benefit.
Similarly, if you are self-engineering, a part of your mind is thinking about levels during the recording, especially if the energy changes from a quiet contemplative mood to an over-the-top scream! This is where a client requesting you to travel to a studio puts the cherry on the Voice Actors cake. Not only are these sessions generally directed by your client but, in most cases, you also no longer have the responsibility to monitor levels or even to save and send the files. It’s a pleasure we’ve had precious little of since the Pandemic hit but I had my first for a while this week and what a nice change of pace it was.
When visiting a studio, some small things have changed. They may require proof of vaccination or have a requirement to wear a mask (or both) and the accepted etiquette of allowing the studio engineer to make all the adjustments to mic placement etc. has the additional element of best health practice. For my visit, I also chose to take all my own support materials. Scripts, water bottle, pencil, etc. Things that many studios would also normally provide. It was a courtesy that the studio owner noticed and thanked me for, so I was glad it was a choice I made.
And don’t forget that visiting a studio gives you an opportunity to influence another potential caster. If you have visited before it’s a reminder to the studio of your strength as a talent. If it’s a new studio to you, it’s an opening to show what you can do and maybe put your name on another casting roster.
As the world continues to rebalance and more studio sessions start appearing again, visiting a studio can provide an excellent change of pace. A time to release one’s mind fully from its other responsibilities and to give a truly focused performance.
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