So You’re Leaving the Booth
It happens, even in the time of covid, we leave our studios. As a professional voice talent, we have work we can predict, and the joy of work we cannot predict, that comes in at a moment’s notice and can have a pretty tight turn around time. As a working mom, whether I’m home or traveling I’m always juggling my responsibilities as a small business owner and my role of a mom, this year more than ever. This year, my high school juniors are looking at colleges. And as if looking at colleges for twins is not challenging enough, their interests do not overlap at all. Emma is targeting schools with Speech programs and STEM programs. Jack is looking for International Relations and Russian. So, we are doing two completely different college searches at once. What does this mean for me as a voice actor? It means I’m leaving the booth for the first time in a year and I need to be prepared. Voice over work should never prevent travel, it just means you need the right set up for your voice over travel rig and to take the necessary steps when planning.
What’s in The Travel Rig
The point of the travel rig is to sound like you sound in your home studio when you are on the road so that you can provide clients with a continuity of service. I have tweaked my rig quite a few times over the years, and finally invested in a quality set up that I am pleased with. I now bring:
- A VoMo booth to go
- A Sennheiser MKE 660 microphone
- Sennheiser headphones
- An AUD Appollo MK II Preamp
- A MacBook Air with Twisted Wave
The reason this set up works, is that an effects stack works was created that gives the same sound to the finished audio of that recorded in my booth. It is quite remarkable.
If you are still in the pillow fort phase, here is a video that might be helpful from when I was using pillow forts as well:
To Bring Or Not To Bring
Now that I have this amazing set up, does this mean that I never take off or that I bring the travel rig everywhere? No. For instance, this weekend I am away Friday night through Sunday. I left the rig at home. I did have one booking come in from an international client. I asked if they could please wait until Monday and that worked out, but if not I was willing to let the gig go. Sometimes you just need a break. Typically, I evaluate what I’ll be doing, how much free time I’ll have, and how much I typically earn that time of year. For example, the last four years in a row July has been my highest earning month of the year. If I go anywhere in July, the travel rig is coming with me. June, in contrast is a slower month. It might be safer to travel without it or to plan travel for that month. Tracking your trends in a CRM can be helpful for you to make such calls. Ultimately, we are all entitled to a break, but you have to weigh how disruptive it will be to your long term success. If your client hires another talents, and then that talents gets then ongoing work instead of you, can you live with that?
Professional Procedures to Take
Ultimately the point of the travel rig is to serve your clients well. If you know travel is coming up, and you are starting a project that might have pickups or script changes you should let the client know. You might also discuss with them the option of recording on your travel rig from home so that the audio matches. If you will have limits to your availability while on the road, it is great to give your regular clients a heads up. If they are used to a speedy turn around and you will have a delay, they’ll appreciate the notice. If you send out a newsletter, the newsletter is a great place to let clients know when you’ll be out of the studio. If you are on regular rosters that send you work, they appreciate the advance notice as well. Typically two weeks notice before travel is standard, and that way clients have the chance to decide of they want to work around your dates and you can decide whether or not you need your rig!
Ultimately, there are a lot of ways to get great sound on the road, from pillow forts made out of comforters to tiny mics that plug into your phone. It makes sense to decide what your goals are: ranging from auditions to booked work to pickups, and then determine what gear best meets your needs.