It looks like I’ve got another bone to pick...
Lately I’ve been reading a number of articles, and discussions on forums, where people are attempting to provide technical assistance and advice on recording. It’s usually done with the best of intentions (though we’ve all seen forums descend into gear pissing matches), but often the advice given is misinterpreted, inaccurate, or plain wrong.
I’ve taken to calling this “The Casual Understanding of a Concept”, and I can almost guarantee that it’s costing you money, and in more ways than you might imagine.
Recently I had to comment on a blog article posted on mic selection, written for one of the more popular web casting services. On first glance the article seemed reasonable enough, and chock full of decent info, but upon closer examination, many complicated ideas were so boiled down, that the intended point was rendered horribly inaccurate. The concepts were so casually simplified they were almost dis-proving the original point, and were in essence spreading information that could lead others looking for help astray.
This is why good recording engineers can predict what their output is going to sound like even if they’re in a different environment. They’re not mystic gurus. They understand the science behind why their tools work.
Proximity Effect is another casually misunderstood concept for a different rant).
I certainly see a desire to improve the collective quality of web delivered VO. There are de-facto guilds dedicated to branding talent as approved, certified, voice performers. These certifications tend to deal primarily with the technical quality these voice performers are capable of delivering, but it’s at least an acknowledgement of how far the home recording revolution has reached. Unfortunately, while participating in these forums, you see the same intellectual laziness at play. One specific post I recently read (on mic selection again no less) came from one of these certified performers saying to a newer performer:
“Good enough is always good enough, but perfect is usually a pain in the ass, way more expensive, and not that much better than good enough.”This coming from someone who had obviously spent a significant amount of time, money, and effort cultivating his own sound.
There seems to be a need to continue “selling” VO as a possible career to people curious about entering this profession, leading them to participate in forums, and to buy inexpensive gear. I honestly can’t tell sometimes if it’s to further a sales goal, increase site hits, established talents making sure they will sound better than their competition (to “gaslight” if you will), or if it’s just one with a casual understanding informing someone else with inaccurate info. We’re stuck playing a perpetual game of telephone as this info gets spread, interpreted, assimilated, and spread again.
It is true that the acquisition and installation of this gear has never been easier than it is right now, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that more professional quality tools will become available to consumers as time passes. However, buying something and plugging it in is NOT the same as using and understanding how that tool works. That can only come from an investment in education and practice over time. If you got a free education in recording from others who also got a free education in recording, you can imagine what I think that education might be worth. You get what you pay for...
I’m not trying to shame people who are genuinely acting with good intentions (I will shame those I feel are acting maliciously), but it is this same casual understanding which plays a hand in the devaluing of our profession.
Any time you produce finished audio, with background elements, of yourself, that you recorded, self directed, and edited, you are doing the jobs of three or more individuals, often for LESS than what an actor used to make just to show up to record.
No one disputes that our industry must grow and adapt to new technologies, but is this really what we want our business to look like? Doing more and more work, for the same or less pay? This doesn’t seem like a good position to be in for long term growth of an industry...