Recently I recorded a short story called The Rural Postman.A service I provide at Rob Hunns Music is voice overs for audio books. I currently have two projects coming up, a short story and a novel. Most recently however I recorded a short story called The Rural Postman by David R.J Sealey.
I listen to a ton of audio books these days as do many of my generation, being that we are mostly on the move and rarely have time to sit and read in the quiet moments ( I tend to leave that for gaming ). So I felt comfortable enough to give it a go myself. Being no stranger to talking into a microphone and I have a very quiet house once the kids are in bed!
My Process.What is the process for recording an audio book???? One would think sitting in front of a mic and talking.
While this is true in the main, there were a few things that needed consideration before, during and after recording.
Mic Placement: For this particular recording I placed the mic reasonably close as I found it was more natural sounding if I wasn't shouting at the top of my voice for the main narration. It also helped to get a nice warm sound without having to do post processing ( good going in = good coming out ). For the louder parts e.g. the acting parts, I moved myself back slightly so I could express the words properly without the sound clipping.
I also found that due to the fact I was sat close it was better to talk slightly off axis as my plosives were very pronounced. ( P sounds tend to create a lot of wind ).
Compression: To compensate for the fact that I was constantly changing between characters, narration and position, I naturally used a compressor. This really helped when the volume was fluctuating so much ( I did use this after the fact, which I now know made things a lot harder ).
De-essing: As if plosives weren't bad enough, sitting so close to the mic also meant I had to watch my sibilant sounds. ( I'm sure you will have guessed that this is the sound that an S makes. But I also happens with z, ch, j etc ).
A de-esser really helped to rein in any excessive noise ( again using this after the fact did not make it easy ).
RecordingUsually I do all my recording in Reason 10, however when it comes to voiceover work I stick to Audacity, which by its nature is very simple ( As is reading a story, hence the use ) and it has some very handy tools which for some reason Reason lacks.
Although the story was only just over 5 minutes long, it took a fair while longer to read it all in a manner I was happy with.
It does seem to be a happy coincidence that books are written in a handy manner for acting out the parts e.g. narration and characters take turns.
Therefore I took chunks and read them in one go, going over them a few times until I had take that sounded right and with good expression, doing my best acting.
Once all the story was finished, I took the time to remove the background noise to enhance the clarity of the recording. I did this using one of the "handy tools" I mentioned earlier, called noise removal.
Once again the manner is simple. I took a selection of audio that is "silent" and it takes a noise profile, which basically looks for sounds like a laptop fan or a humming fridge and removes them. This means that the sections where there is no talking are completely silent ( I think this ads a level of professionalism to the finished product ).
I then finally moved the audio into Reason 10 to add the compressor and de-esser. This removed the plosives and sibilants and evened out the levels of the different sections.
The only other thing I did to the audio, was to remove the breathing sounds before I spoke between sentences. Reason as most DAWs, have the ability to shorten the audio by simply dragging the end to where you want it. How easy is that?!
That was that, that was that as they say....
This was a very pleasurable experience all in all, and I found that it was easy to get a professional sounding recording, albeit a bit of a long winded process this time round. Next time I know that I can record straight into Reason and use the compressor and de-esser while I record and move to audacity to remove noise after the fact.
You can listen to the full story here https://soundcloud.com/user-487692967/rural-postman-full.
Let me know what you think.
Don't forget my first solo album Stoned Ape Theory will be out on the 22nd of February. Meanwhile you can listen to my previous single releases here https://open.spotify.com/artist/20pPvdURqYKNtXCydSpIJy.
And buy them here