Recording In Multiple Locations – What’s The Big Deal?

Family vacations are always something I look forward to, and every time I go on vacation these days  I seem to struggle with a dilemma of whether to bring my mobile recording rig along for the trip or to leave all the gear at home and just focus on taking time out to recharge the batteries.

Now, the reason I bring this up today is because I recently had to make this decision and it impacted one of my clients but probably not for the reason you’d expect.

Some of my readers might find this tale instructional so I thought I’d share it with you all in this blog post.

OK, so here I am on day one of my vacation, about an hour after my plane has landed in the Tropics and I switch on my phone to see an email from a client who had recently engaged me to narrate an e-Learning program.

It turns out that the narration has been undergoing a QA review over the last week and has come back to me with a couple of pick-ups that need to be voiced.

Not sure what I mean when I say a Pick-Up?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone – It’s a generally accepted industry  term for portions of the original script that may need to be re-recorded for some reason or for  minor script changes that arise after recording has been completed.

So here’s where the problem arises and the story starts to get interesting – the changes need to be completed ASAP, which means it needs to be done whilst I’m away.

Now, for the record, I DID actually bring my mobile rig along for the ride, so the problem isn’t that I don’t have a microphone handy, but rather that I can’t recreate the same sound-dynamics as the original recording.

Huh? Sound dynamics?

Well, this means that anything I record while I’m away, won’t sound EXACTLY the same as the audio files I submitted originally.

Now this wouldn’t  be a problem if my hotel had a controlled recording environment like a studio booth, because the sound dynamics of the recording space would be consistent with the booth I used to record the original session.

What I mean here is that the reverberation of sound within the room would be treated to maintain minimum echo, plus the ambient background noise within the booth would be ultra low, resulting in a low-noise, low echo environment which allows for consistent voice over recordings, even across different locations.

As you’d probably imagine however, my hotel doesn’t have a dedicated recording booth so any pick-ups I attempt to record would most likely feature different background noise levels and most likely more pronounced room echo than my original files.

When you’re recording a complete narration in one session, in one location, then you don’t generally have to worry too much about changes in sound dynamics because they remain consistent.

When you record a single narration in different locations however, subtle differences between recordings really start to make a difference because multiple audio files need to be mixed in with one another to complete the project. The subtle differences that you didn’t really notice the first time round are suddenly thrust into prominence and the two recordings sharply contrast each other.

For the corporate training community, this is most prominently an issue when portions of a training narration are recorded at the office, and portions are recorded at home by different trainers. When mixed together, the audio sounds inconsistent and disengaging, with your audience more focussed on the audio anomalies than the message you are trying to convey

There are techniques you can use to minimise the contrast, both in preparing your audio recording space, and in post-production (some of which I cover in my Voice Over for eLearning masterclass) but  for the purposes of this blog, what I’m going to suggest is that the simplest thing to do is record all sessions in the same recording space to minimise any differences in sound dynamics.

Maintain a controlled space for recording your training narrations and use the space consistently for all sessions including pick-ups.  Even if it’s not a sound-proof recording booth, the fact that it’s a treated space that minimises echo and is used consistently for all recording  will greatly be appreciated by your target audience.

Have you ever recorded different sections of the same script in different locations? How did it work out for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Speak Up. Be Heard


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