So you are about to cast a delightful and pleasant voiceover actress who you have worked with before. Or maybe you have never worked with them before but you are finally ready to start your project and now you need the recording TODAY, or tomorrow, but either way it is now a rush job. You email the talent and they are out of the studio for four days. What do you do? Well, if the talent is really a pro, they likely have a travel rig and that travel rig is likely to be almost as good as their studio set up. In some cases you will not notice a difference AT ALL between the booth and the travel rig, it just depends on what they have at home and what they have on the road.
My travel rig is quite good and as I do a lot of work for Pandora, I have worked with their engineers to perfect its sound and I am quite comfortable with it. There are, however, some key differences between my commercial grade booth and the rig I take on the road. On the road I use an apogee which is a USB mic. At home I have a Neumann that goes through my high-end RME interface. On the road I use a sound treated Kaotica eye-ball for sound proofing surrounded by a pillow fort. At home I have an entire custom built booth. Can I give a quality sound on the road? Yes. Is it the same as the Neumann in my booth? No, but nothing will every be as good as the Neumann. So why not travel with the Neumann? Well, for one, it’s kind of like why a lot of women have travel jewelry. It’s way too expensive. Next, it’s heavy and requires a huge set up. It just isn’t practical.
What other considerations are there when using a talent on a travel rig? What if the voiceover actor has recorded the job at their home studio, they are now on the road, and you need a pickup. It’s up to you to decide if the recording is a close enough match. I’ve had clients decide to wait and I’ve had clients happily use the recoding on my rig without issue. It depends on the usage and how much processing is going with the piece.
Don’t be afraid of travel rigs. Just ask the voiceover actor what their recording chain is and what kind of work they have successfully done on it. If the voiceover actor has made the investment in this, they want to make you happy so that you will work with them again so you are more likely to be safe than sorry.
Mine includes the items below. If you have questions about my abilities to record when I’m traveling, I’d love to talk to you about it.
10. Every day is a surprise- no 2 days are the same!
9. I can take snack breaks whenever I want.
8. I make my own choices for my business.
7. My work is creative.
6. I am on social media all of the time.
5. My job is technology based and I can play with lots of gadgets.
4. I am constantly learning and growing new skills- my education and professional development never ends.
3. I meet lots of amazing people- from clients to other talents.
2. I can work from home!
1. My job is a happy, upbeat, fun job.
In order to even ask the question, how does a middle-aged mom make the move from History teacher to full-time, professional voiceover actress, you have to believe that dreams really do come true. For me, the seeds of this dream were planted when I was a passionate and enthusiastic college student at Barnard. Being in New York City, I was exposed to actors regularly- often when they were waiters in restaurants and people regularly commented on my voice. I have a very high register and sound quite young for my age. Even when I was young people were surprised when they heard me. I was encouraged multiple times a week in college to pursue voiceover or something in performing arts.
My sophomore year I took it as far as buying both a book and a newspaper about making a demo, which would then have been on casette tape, and looking into auditions. Back then, nothing in our industry was on-line as it is today. Voiceactors had to show up in person for every audition and the arduous task of mailing out packages of demos seemed quite daunting from my college dorm. Being at Columbia was something that I worked for my entire life and I could not reconcile my academic ambitions and my creative goals. At that point, I stayed at Columbia through graduate school and was well on my way to teaching.
It was not that I wasn’t happy teaching. I woke up every day with a smile on my face and felt like I had found my calling. I was fortunate to teach at an all-girls school on the Upper East Side of New York and really the job was ideal. So what changed? I had children. When I had my twins Emma and Jack, I could not stomach leaving them, particularly when we moved to the suburbs in New Jersey. I would have been gone for a really long day and I would have been forgoing time with my children to be with other people’s children. It just did not seem reasonable to me.
Building a recording studio in my house, where I could work full time but from home- now that seemed like the perfect answer! I could be there for early dismissals, for science fairs, for conferences, and I could pursue the dreams that I had cast aside so many years ago. One weekend I was seated next to an old friend named Marie at a party. Marie had built a home studio and was doing audio books. She was still working another job part time while she transitioned to voiceover, but when I heard that Marie had had the confidence to invest in herself, it gave me the strength to make the next step for me and for my family. Once I began my journey into voiceover, I viewed it as if it was certain truth and felt in my heart that there was no other path for me.
What grew from months of researching and writing a business plan, to building a custom booth, and years of training with coaches and acting and improv classes, has now blossomed into a sustainable business. Nothing makes me happier than calls and emails from repeat clients booking work. But my years of teaching- that is so much a part of who I am, and I believe that the performance component of teaching and the ability to connect with people that is so essential to being a good teacher is the foundation to my voiceover business.