Over the course of your voice-over career, you may be asked to go into a professional studio for a recording session. If it’s your first time, congratulations! Here’s what to expect, as well as some tips, for when you go into a studio session for voice-over.
Arrive having warmed up. Whether you sing in your car on the way to the studio or arrive early and warm up your vocals in the car, make sure that you are good to go when you enter the studio. Recording studios oftentimes do not have an area inside to get warmed up.
Make sure to wear quiet attire. Wear clothing that doesn’t make noise, like things that are soft and/or cotton. You don’t want to wear clothing that makes noise when you move, or the microphone will pick up the sound. That also goes for jewelry or anything in your pockets like change or keys that can make a sound.
Make sure to bring in anything you may need for the session. Have a water bottle to take in with you so that you can take a drink of water if you need to. You may also want to bring a pencil or highlighter so that you can make marks on your script as needed.
If you have the script beforehand, make sure you read through it and practice a few times. You want to go in having a good understanding of the script and tone, but do not practice the script excessively. If you over-practice the script, it won’t be as easy to take direction and make adjustments to your read while you’re in the studio. If there are any pronunciations, acronyms or general tones that you are unsure of, ask about them before you start recording. If you do not have the script ahead of time, ask for a few minutes to read through the script and ask any questions if necessary.
The audio engineer will help you get adjusted when you enter the vocal booth. Once you get into the booth, the sound engineer will adjust the microphone according to your height. Sometimes they will ask if you would rather sit or stand and you can let them know your preference. Do not touch or adjust the microphones or any equipment on your own. The equipment is very expensive and will all be adjusted by the audio engineer. If you need any sort of adjustment made, ask your engineer for help.
Once you are all set up in the booth, the engineer will check your volume levels. They will ask you to start reading a portion of the script so that they can make any needed adjustments to the levels. They’ll also ask if you can hear everything properly. In your headphones, you’ll be able to hear your voice as well as the voice of the engineer and director. Make sure that you can hear them and that the volume of your own voice in your headphones is to your liking.
When receiving direction from the client, stay positive and focused. Before you start recording, the client will likely give you an overview or give you some direction on tone. If you’re unclear on the direction, you can ask questions, but try your best to take what direction they give you and do your creative best. They will make adjustments as they see fit. Don’t get overwhelmed if they give you a lot of feedback, direction, or ask you to read it several times in different ways. They are making sure that they have all the audio they need from you while you are in the studio with them. A lot of times they’ll want to get several different takes or want you to read the same line in different ways.
Don’t get flustered. It’s okay if you mess up. There is no need to apologize or be hard on yourself, it happens. Just stop, take a deep breath, and begin again.
Remember to be flexible. Sometimes the director or engineer will need to make adjustments to the audio or the script. Be patient while they work through any adjustments. Have a pencil ready to make any changes to the script on your side.
Once they have all the audio they need, they will let you know you are finished and you can exit the booth. Take the time to shake their hands and let them know you enjoyed working with them! Clients are more likely to have you back on a project if they enjoyed working with you.
Good luck with your session and remember, have fun!