I have seen posts on various social media outlets highlighting the creation of pillow forts in hotel rooms, travel gear, and requests for local studio recommendations, so it's clearly not just me that has a quandary about how to deal with work requests while away from my studio, but what is a travel rig and a pillow fort?
The VO travel rig is a set of awkwardly shaped equipment you pack in your luggage and take with you on vacation in case a client wants a voice-over while you are away from your broadcast quality studio.
A Pillow Fort is The creation of an extremely hot and uncomfortable temporary recording area in a hotel room (or similar) by imaginative use of pillows, blankets, ironing boards, chairs, heads in cupboards, and other common objects found in said rooms.
Circumstances led to a need to travel to the UK recently, so this subject became particularly topical.
About three years ago, I took a personal business decision to stop taking a travelling VO set up with me when I went on vacation or on business trips.
I had spent the previous 3-4 years making room in my carry-on luggage for portable equipment (microphone, interface, etc.), constantly packing and unpacking it at airport security and arriving at a destination, and immediately setting to the task of identifying where I would set up and what they had in the room I could use. Also, whereas this kind of travel setup might be okay for an audition, it would be hard to replace my studio for the sound quality and comfort it provides.
I decided that if a project were worth it, I would rent some time at a local studio. If it were a smaller project, then it would just have to be a miss this time. This worked well for me. New connections were forged at several studios in the US and UK, my clients got high-quality audio and my family appreciated the change. In fact, if I needed to go to a studio for a couple of hours it would often mean them having the opportunity to explore somewhere we had not initially intended to visit. Win-Win for all concerned.
Until now! The universe conspired to create a set of circumstances that are making me reconsider. A period of 10 days, in the UK, in my mums' bungalow, during which I could not leave, could not hire a studio…..Quarantine!
A major international campaign that I had auditioned for multiple times over several months decided this was the moment to choose me and need me…NOW. A referral from a VO friend to a significant client for a significant project… Availability…NOW. An existing client with a simple 2-minute explainer but a 24-hour turnaround time. These all came during that 10-day period and I had to say that unfortunately, I was unavailable for all three.
I can tell you it created a little anxiety and it caused me to question my original decision. I was thinking “These projects would have more than paid for the whole trip,” “What if these people never talk to me again!” In contrast, my wife said. “Don’t worry there will be other work when you get back,” “The people will understand.” “If they felt you were good enough for these projects, they will consider you again.”
As it turned out, all is fairly well with the world, and I am working busily, in my first week back home. I am working on a large E-Learning, I recorded a 2-minute explainer, and a game company has asked me to help them with quite a large project coming up. There may well be a set of circumstances in the future where I change my tack but for now, I am sticking with my original decision. In my view, the time with my family, the downtime from work is mentally and emotionally needed sometimes. For me, right now, a travel rig is not a business necessity but quality time with my family is.