Photo by Iyus Sugiharto on Unsplash
Since Covid, there are two words many of us hear far more than we ever heard before: Zoom and Teams. They have become staples of conducting meetings and business. They have also become regular ways to conduct live voice-over sessions.
Zoom / Teams Recording Quality.
Let’s clear up a possible misunderstanding. The recording itself isn’t technically recorded over the Zoom (or Teams) interface. If you’ve ever used Zoom or Teams before, you might be concerned about the quality and how that wouldn’t be good enough for a voiceover session. You’d be right.
Why Use Zoom For Voice-Over?
The actual use is simple. In a directed session, you want to be able to hear what’s being recorded. You’ll want a reasonable quality connection, so you can hear the nuance of what the voice-over artist is saying and be able to judge the performance.
Believe it or not, in the ‘old days’ this might often be conducted over the telephone. This allowed a session to be directed from someone’s office desk, rather than in an actual studio.
The huge advantage of Zoom or Teams is like that of all meetings. It can allow different stakeholders to be present for the session, whilst being physically in different places.
Essentially, you hold a normal remote meeting. People involved can be anywhere in the world, but with the addition of a voiceover artist. They perform in their own studio quality booth. They record their studio feed, so you get a pristine studio-quality recording.
The Voice-Over Artist Might Not Appear On Camera.
This is a matter of choice for many, but you might not always see a voiceover artist on camera as they perform. Some may say hello at the start, but then turn off. There are several reasons for this, and it will be personal preference.
In most cases, a web-cam is built in or attached to the computer. To maintain sound quality in most home studio set-ups, it’s common that the computer stays outside the studio.
SSD hard drives and fanless computers are growing, but historically, the noise from a computer fan introduced unacceptable noise levels into recordings. Professional microphones are very sensitive and pick up the slightest noise.
The best practice is to have the computer outside of the booth.
Video uses up many times more bandwidth than audio. The sound is precious, so removing unnecessary things that could also hog bandwidth reduces the likelihood of the audio session being affected by it. This is for your benefit, as it won’t affect the actual recording, only the audio you’re listening to in the live session.
This varies from person to person. Performance is quite a personal thing. Some love the attention, but some suddenly feel Intimidated knowing that they are being watched during a performance.
When we learn our craft, we learn that physical gestures and animation of our bodies improve our performance and connection with the content.
To an outsider, it can look a little weird and some of us prefer to keep it to ourselves. Forcing someone on camera unnecessarily isn’t good for creating a calm, anxiety-free session. After all, it’s the sound that matters.
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
What About the Recording of the Voice-Over Session?
In most cases, where a live session is taking place, someone on the production or client-side takes care of the edit. This could be a producer who sits in on the session and takes the whole recording to edit down based on preferences expressed by the director or client.
My big tip here is that whoever that is, they should take notes during the session.
What you will receive is an audio file, where you will only hear the voice-over artist’s part of the session. Your own comments and feedback won’t be in the recording. This is deliberate, so as not to compromise the recording of the audio.
Document Your Preferred Choices As You Go.
Take notes (and timings) of takes that you preferred as the session progresses.
You could also make your own recording of the complete Zoom or Teams session. That way you have a reference point for what everyone said when you listen back to it.
Another approach is to ask the voice-over artist to say something before or after a take, so that is in the recording that you receive for the edit.
Listening Back Whilst In The Session.
This can be a tricky one for some home-studio recording studios.
Technically, it’s not straightforward for the voice-over artist to stop the recording and play back to you what has been performed. It involves changing the sources of recording and playback and will affect the recorded audio you receive as it will have stopped and re-started.
It also switches the voice-over artist from ‘performer-mode’ into ‘engineer-mode’. Many voice actors are competent at both, but it can disrupt the mindset and have a negative effect on being in-the-zone for the performance.
Some artists have extra kit to facilitate playback, but if that is absolutely necessary, that’s where I would suggest you should conduct the session in a different way, with a studio engineer who can facilitate that for you.
A Sensible Solution and a Money Saver.
Bringing people together for a live recording session can be expensive. Especially, when you factor in the costs of booking a studio, an engineer and the potential travel costs. Using Zoom or Teams can be a game changer.
“Necessity is the mother of invention”, or so they say. The pandemic forced us all to think outside the box. This advance, in particular, isn’t going anywhere fast.
Tony Collins Fogarty is a British Voice-Over Artist, with a background in broadcast and training as an actor. His radio career began in 1988. He has been a full-time voice over artist since 2012. Commercially, he is best known as the brand voice of Tripadvisor, playing their spokesperson (owl) in their TV campaigns in the US, Canada and the UK.