Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Tools in Your VO Tool Belt

Long gone are the days when very few actors had studios in their homes. Nowadays, if you don't have some way to record and send high-quality files with minimal notice, you are most likely fighting an uphill battle with your voice over career.

Each time I build a new studio, I'm careful to reassess- insuring I have the latest and greatest technology. Things are changing so quickly, and the possibilities for home studios seem endless!

I remember the first time I heard about something called 'Source Connect'. It was in 2007, and I was given a demo of SC at the VOICE conference in Vegas. I never did pop in that DVD to see what it was all about, but it wasn't long before SC was part of everyone's vocabulary. I believe it was 2008 or 2009 when I decided to purchase the SC plug-in. I hadn't had a single client ask for it, and honestly wasn't sure if it was something I would ever need. However, I've kept one rule throughout my full-time VO career: If I have all the tools I could possibly need hanging from my tool belt, then I'll be ready for any imaginable situation.

(For anyone unaware of what Source Connect is, I borrowed this description directly from their website: Source-Connect enables audio connections between digital audio systems anywhere in the world, allowing direct-to-the-timeline recording with real-time, broadcast-quality audio)

For the first year, I never used it. Not once. Then I moved to Texas unexpectedly and spent a year without ISDN (the horror!). Thankfully, many of the studios I had previously connected to with ISDN were all too happy to switch my sessions over to Source Connect. So there was very little work lost.

Several months ago, I reconnected my ISDN lines and figured SC would once again be put on the back burner. Boy was I wrong! A month or so ago I was contacted by a company in Ireland to record a very long script. During the first hour we connected over ISDN, then they asked if I had Source Connect. Yes, I do! In the end, it saved them a ton of money on international line charges...which obviously made for one happy client.

Then this morning as I was waiting for the 'chirp chirp' of my ISDN line, I received a call on my cell. It was the studio- calling in a panic. Their ISDN lines had just gone down and we were 4 minutes out from the client calling in. The other talent was within driving distance of the studio, so she went in to record her section of the script. However, I was half a country away. Was there any chance I had Source Connect? As a matter of fact...yes! We connected with no issues, and 30 minutes later everyone was happy.

I remember several years ago having to visit my dentist after I broke a tooth eating (of all things) popcorn. An onlay, a root canal, and a full crown later- I was as good as new. Despite being one of the lesser enjoyable experiences of my life- there was one thing that really stuck out during the process. My dentist had just purchased this cool machine that made the crown right in his office using high pressure water to create the tooth shape. It was the latest and greatest, and made my life much easier since I didn't have to wait forever for the crown to be created in another location. Yes, he had spent a small fortune on the machine, but he believed that if he could make his patient's lives easier, then hopefully they would continue to use him- and recommend their friends as well.

The same principal applies to voice over. If your clients know they can rely on you (and your studio) to solve any imaginable issue they could encounter...well, you know the rest of the story.

All of the cool gizmos and gadgets we keep in our studio are there to make our lives, and our clients lives, easier. So staying on top of the technology curve is vital. I honestly look forward to seeing how my studio will look 5, 10, or 50 years from now...and how much easier and more enjoyable my job can become! (Though it is hard to imagine it being any more fun!)

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