Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mailbag: Voice Actor Jack of ALL trades?

Just got this from a reader:
Hello Juan, I was taking a look at your site and you were talking a lot about voice actors needing to wear more hats in today's market. They need to not only act, but self-direct, engineer, etc. I was curious, especially as a young actor, how much knowledge should one seek to have?
 I've worked hard to become knowledgeable on the subject of microphones, preamp setups, and all types of gear. However, I am not an engineer. There are people that study sound, have degree in it and love to immerse themselves in it. That being said, I also want to be able to speak the language of sound and show engineers I understand what they do and respect their side of the process. How do you feel about actors that can talk intelligently about audio? Is that something you appreciate or does it not really matter?
Also, I was curious if you did any kind of demo reviews. Both from an audio stand point and a theatrical standpoint, I highly regard your opinion and would love to be able to get some feedback on my latest cuts. Thanks so much for your time.
So here's the deal.
Do you need to be a full-fledged engineer? No.

I'm not, though I have taken some classes, and I've studied some physics, the majority of my education has been practical in-the-studio hands on learnin'. Learning which has taken place in studios over the last twelve  years. Collecting knowledge for knowledge's sake isn't going to help us that much, and I feel often leads to THOSE discussions we read all the time on forums. Be they tech, recording, photography, gaming, etc a BUNCH of people KNOW things...

One of the main problems I see with new VA's is they're often trying to learn how to record WHILE they're learning how to perform. No other industry makes their performers do this. On camera actors aren't forced to become a DP while learning how to act. Smug bastards...

Anywho, the biggest challenge IMO, is learning to trust your ears. YOU have to make decisions for YOUR business. What are you trying to showcase? What does your voice ACTUALLY sound like? What does the technical aspect of your recording highlight about your performance? These are some of the questions you need to start asking yourself AFTER you've achieved the basics of delivering a clean recording free of any distracting elements.

As to actors who "speak sound" that can sometimes blow back. Most of the time it's great to meet a like-minded audiophile, but every now and then it manifests as a "know-it-all". Someone who questions my choices in miking. Someone "familiar" enough with their gear to touch my gear. Any number of faux pas derived from "knowledge". We all have roles to play in this machine, and there will be times where you have to wear all hats, and there will be times for you to do ONE job tactically well. Gotta be comfortable with both, and all the shades of gray in between.

I tend to be hands off with demos. These are your marketing materials, so sending them to me should mean you're ready for pros to hear what you sound like. I also don't like critiquing other engineer's work. They make different decisions then I would've, so you're almost guaranteed to get a critical review from me. That doesn't mean they're wrong, just that I would've done something different with the production.

That said, I'm always down to career coach in a more holistic sense, and my rates are affordable.

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