There is a long debated topic amongst working voice actors: what rates to charge for which services. The debate ranges from the time spent recording, to overall usage, to length of script, etc...and there is no right or wrong answer (OK, there is a WRONG answer...but that's a different topic).
Something that recently caught my eye on one of the message boards was a discussion about rates for editing audio. I wondered if I should feel foolish after reading it, because I have never charged extra to edit my audio before sending it to the client. Whether it's simply editing out the dead space between multiple takes after a phone patch session, or editing out everything except the best possible take...I've always considered editing to be part of the job. Smaller files mean less rendering, less space taken up on my ftp, and they are ultimately easier for the client to deal with during post-production.
After reading the thread on the message board, I started thinking back to my sessions from the past few days...
One was ISDN (so no editing required there), two were fully produced audio pieces (so of course that was edited), one was just voice (edited and uploaded to ftp), and two more were via phone patch.
Of the two phone patch sessions, one was a first-time client and one was a long-time client.
The first-time client was incredibly friendly- we had a good laugh when he admitted he was directing me from the back of his RV while he and his crew were driving across several states to their next video production gig. It made me realize what an incredibly cool and high-tech world we live in where he can work on one job while traveling to the next! We also talked about his last vacation with his family, a bit about my career in voice over, etc. Since I like to charge by the job and not by the hour, it's wonderful to spend a few minutes getting to know a bit about my client when the client's time permits. At the end of the session, I edited together the client's preferred takes, leaving small spaces between each one for post-production, then uploaded them to ftp.
My second phone patch session was with my long-time client. Since he's become a dear friend as well as a client, we spent a few minutes catching up before getting down to business. During recording, I kept track of his favorite takes, and then we decided it would be helpful if he could hear the best takes edited together. It was no problem, as I quickly edited together a final piece for approval. Once we had things the way he wanted, we decided it would be funny to put together a 'fake' take so he could play a prank on his co-workers. Back in the booth, I came up with a crazy character voice and tried to keep a straight face as I once again recorded the commercial. I uploaded both edited versions to my ftp as well as some additional takes in case he needed a different edit down the road. The entire session only took an hour of my time, but reminded me how much fun this job can truly be!
You see, I'm someone who doesn't like sessions in which I enforce time constraints. It's different if my client is in a hurry- but if they prefer a leisurely pace, then so do I. I also find it's the little 'extras'...like editing a file or being willing to have fun by providing silly outtakes...that make my clients more comfortable with my services. In addition, getting to know my clients a little gives my services a more personal touch. It makes the sessions feel less like work and more like just having a little fun while getting the work done.
Perhaps it's because I'm comfortable producing audio as well as recording it that editing doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I would never fault anyone for feeling differently, our differences are what make us valuable and keep our clients coming back. However, if I were to offer any advice to an up and coming talent it would be this, be willing to give a little extra now and then. Not only will your clients be grateful, you might find it keeps things just a bit lighter and more fun for you too!