As a writer and performer, one of the things I’ve always had on my radar is to eventually create audiobooks of my novels. I’m of two minds on the issue. One is that “read by the author” would be a good thing since I am closest to the material and know exactly what it should sound like, know what feelings I was trying to invoke when I wrote it. However, on the other side, I also knew my previous performing experience would not serve me well. I was used to the stage, An audiobook would require long hours at a conversational tone in a booth – a whole different skill set.
A few months ago, I decided to invest in training with a company called VoiceCoaches, specifically on becoming a voice actor. They helped me with lessons on basic techniques, practice reading copy for both narrative and commercial spots, and most important, booth techniques. That said, after three months, I was ready to step in the booth for the first time in two decades.
This wasn’t my first time in a booth – in 1996, I recorded a series of short radio spots in Japan when I directed The Music Man on base in Yokosuka. Of course, the engineer and the other VA were both Japanese, but the experience was similar. Actually, this time was less daunting – I wasn’t worried about communication issues at all.
Yesterday, I stepped into the booth at Phat Planet Studios in Orlando, worked with the engineer Aaron in the control room and took direction from my producer, Josh, in his office in Albany, NY. The session was to record my two demos tracks – one narrative, one commercial. I spent my studio time having these gentlemen recording my melodious voice. It now goes to post-production to be folded, spindled, mutilated, music and sound effects are added and presto, I get the finished demos in about two to three weeks.
I spent just over two hours reading copy. Then rereading it. Then rereading just a line. Now reread it again and match the energy from that first time through. Make sure your accent is more precise on that word – it’s ahhh-fternoon. Stay the same distance from the mike. Stand closer to the mike. Step away from the mike. Breathe consistently. Head up. Eyes front. Hydrate. Bites of Granny Smith apple to clear your mouth if need be. Relax. Breathe. And have fun.
So I did. I had a ton of fun. Josh and Aaron both mentioned at points that just doing audiobooks is limiting myself, that I should pursue VA jobs as well. That was never my intent, but to try merits consideration now.
I look forward to sharing those demos when they arrive. Until then, be well.
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