Thursday, August 4, 2011

Practicing What I Preach

In my last blog I wrote about the need to stay current with technology and keeping all the 'tools' you might need as a voice actor close at hand.

Well, I've decided this week to practice what I preach. Remember the e-learning project I mentioned in a previous post? The one that was around 40,000 words? This past week it expanded to 60,000 words. With a project that size, there is no way I'm going to print my scripts. It would take a ton of paper and ink to do so. My Macbook came in quite handy at first- I loaded up the scripts, placed my laptop on my copy stand, and off I went!

Unfortunately, as we are all aware- there is scorching heat around the country. I'm in Dallas where we've spent the last several days hovering around 110 degrees. Ouch. I don't care how good your air conditioner is, there is no way it's keeping up with temps like that. When I'm in my Whisper Room, I can't have ventilation running while I record because the fan is too loud. It's rare that the heat really gets to me (I open the door or run a fan between takes and drink plenty of water) so I wasn't overly concerned. However, as this e-learning project went on I noticed the heat was bothering me more and more.

Then, it hit me. My laptop was acting more like a heater than a computer and was increasing the temperature inside of the booth...a lot! As if to confirm my theory, during one of our sessions my laptop fan kicked on twice- delaying things by several minutes.

So, I took off to the Apple store for an iPad 2. No fan noise, no heat. I can read my scripts easily, and thanks to Pages and Numbers- I can even edit them on the fly! I posted something on Facebook about how great my iPad was and a fellow voice actor said that he would love to read more about how I'm using it on the job. I figured others might be curious as well, and a blog idea was born!

Here are a few ways that in only 3 days of owning my iPad 2 I've used it for VO:

1. Numbers and Pages. These were 2 of the first apps I installed on the iPad. Numbers opens xls files, and Pages handles docs. You can edit on the fly if a client needs you to do so, and can expand the screen to enlarge the copy. I'm saving ink and paper, and the lit screen means I don't have to strain my eyes (I currently use LED lights in the booth- but the iPad is much brighter)

2. Splashtop. What a cool app this is! Thanks to a couple of recommendations on my Facebook page- I decided to give this a shot. This app allows me to link up to my iMac giving me full control of my desktop in the booth. Now I can start and stop ProTools without leaving my Whisper Room! The only negative is that it 'squishes' your desktop. Or at least, it squished mine. Then again, I am using a 27" iMac!! All of the icons on my desktop began overlapping each other making it hard to find the sessions I needed. Hopefully once I take the time to clean up my desktop this issue will be remedied.

3. Email. Previously, if I was in a session and a client needed to email me an updated script, I would have to step out of the booth- go over to my iMac- open email and print. Now I have instant access to my email, and with the preview function on the iPad I can open scripts instantly.

4. Recording. I'm adding this not because of my own personal experience, but because of others I know that have used their iPad to record files. In fact, one of my dearest friends- Kyle Hebert- recently texted me that he is using an AT2020 mic with the camera kit to do high quality recording when he is traveling. I didn't believe it could sound that good- so he sent me a recorded sample. Well, wow. I was impressed. It sounded as good as my mobile set up- but it takes up much less space than my laptop, audio interface, etc. And less is certainly more when you don't want to check your luggage at the gate!

5. Twisted Wave. Again, this is not from my own experience but my friend Beau Weaver mentioned this on my Facebook. Apparently Twisted Wave not only created a recording app for the iPad- they also created a remote app that allows you to directly control Twisted Wave on your main computer from inside the booth. Much like Splashtop it sounds like- but I'm guessing less buggy and squishy.

6. Words With Friends. OK- this does nothing to help my business. But it sure is fun! :)

I'm sure there are a million other functions and apps I have yet to discover. As I learn more, I'll be sure to update this blog. In the meantime, feel free to comment and share your favorite apps and uses- both for VO and for fun!

**As a small side note- I want to make sure I'm not coming across as someone telling you that a gazillion dollars must be spent making sure you have the latest technology. Quite the contrary. When I realized my laptop was on the fritz I chose to buy an iPad instead of another laptop. It was about half the price, and did everything I needed my laptop to do. Plus- I'll save a ton of money on ink and paper. Win win!!


Aaron Campbell said...

I played with an iPad2 at Best Buy a few months back, and it was pretty interesting. But at the same time, it was a lot of money that I didn't have. I wanted to start off small, getting a Kindle from Amazon just to get used to having a little tablet thingy. Once I start making more money and can shell out $600, I'll get me an iPad2.

Because I'm looking into doing voice acting with my videos, it would be nice to have something that doesn't have a loud hum while I'm in the middle of recording. Or hell, even when I'm doing actual videos, I can use it as a teleprompter. I use scripts in my work, so it would indeed save a lot of ink and paper. Plus, if you gotta edit something, voilĂ ! It saves on a cluster of scratched out words written on top of each other.

John McLain said...

Awesome blog, Kara! I, too, love my iPad 2 in the booth. It's a must for audiobooks - no more piles of noisy paper! Thanks for app ideas, too!

All the best,

John McLain

David Radtke said...

If Splashtop squishes your desktop, try VCN Viewer. It doesn't squish and works natively with Macs. Also, I think I had mentioned Twisted Wave to you first, but I guess I'm not as big a name as Beau Weaver. ;)

Enjoy your iPad! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Kara,
Great article, and good ammunition for persuading the hubz why I need an iPad :)
Another suggestion other than Splashtop is iTeleport. Free and awesome. Have been using it for a while now - works on my iPhone! small but super handy.
Thanks for blogging.

Rachel said...

Thanks for this post-I've tweeted it! I've also heard there's an app called iannotate that a lot of my audiobook narrator friends are using to make notes on their scripts.
Rachel Fulginiti