One of the questions I get asked on a good number of occasions is “How do I become a voiceover?” It’s a reasonable question and indeed, I can certainly think back to a time when I would contact established voice artists and ask them how they went about achieving their success. I’m still in touch with many of those people today, some ten years later, and I’m always grateful for all of the advice that they gave.
One question I also get asked, normally by way of a follow up, is what sort of equipment is needed in order to turn their dream into a reality. And this is where things get very interesting.
First things first, you need a home studio. The majority of work that comes my way does not require my going in to a production suite somewhere. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE those jobs! My inner nerd gets to rise neatly to the surface when I’m surrounded by enough consoles, buttons and readouts to make the Starship Enterprise look like a model one Ford Cortina.
On top of that, I get the pleasure of having my work engineered by a true professional. Granted, I am quite comfortable engineering my own recording sessions, but these guys can take my voice to a whole other level, allowing me to focus on the performance, rather than whether or not my microphone is picking up the sound of the bus that just drove passed my house.
But let’s get back to the idea of a home studio. If you’re on a budget (and who amongst us isn’t) then a PC and a USB microphone can do the trick. You can download some audio software like Audacity, which is free, and you’re good to go. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that you position yourself where the acoustics of the room work best for you, and even just a couple of Tesco Value duvets hung up on the wall can do a decent job. It may not look pretty, but remember that your focus is not visual, it’s audio.
One popular choice is to use a built in wardrobe as a basic recording booth. Line the walls, shut the door and away you go. Before I moved into my current home, the wardrobe in my second bedroom made a fantastic booth, as well as providing convenient access to Narnia, but that’s another story.
This, as I say, is a basic set up, and as you progress with your career you are going to want to get yourself some new toys. You’ll want a better class of mic, professional acoustic treatment and you may even up your computer hardware and software to something a lot more powerful.
Next time around, I’ll share with you what I have in my studio, but the thought I will leave you with is that the best investment you can make in your voiceover business is education. Find a good coach and work with them to develop your career, because the best mic in the world can’t help you if you don’t know how to truly use it.