From 20+ Years of Voiceover Experience

Contributed by Brucey Hayward

One of the great things about the voiceover business is that the professionals in this industry are generally very willing to share their experience with those just starting out. If you're a working voice actor and would like to share a "tip", "trick-of-the-trade", or some of your studio stories, I'd love to share them with my readers. The voiceover business can be a bit wacky at times, and we can all learn from the experience of others. I asked Bruce Hayward, of Toronto, if he would share some of his more interesting (and educational) studio experiences. Here's what he sent along:

As to studio experiences, where should I start in my 20 plus year career? There are lots, but some that come to mind immediately are these:

1. Spending inordinate amounts of time sitting in the studio while the client or myself or both rewrite the script because it's too long or doesn't read well or whatever. One project I did - a training DVD for Caterpillar and one of their diesel engine powered electric generators, all 90 minutes of it - took three full days in the studio while the two guys in charge of the project had me read two paragraphs, then they'd write some more, then I'd read and on and on.

2. Recording in a clothes closet on the second floor of a townhouse while the editor recorded downstairs on his video editing system, me jammed in with his clothes and the mic cable snaking its way down the stairs to the front room.

3. Recording in a nice audio booth at another video editor's office - not at his house, but a separate place - and asking what card he was using. I wanted to know the video card he was using to capture the video, but he thought I meant the audio card. "A Sound Blaster Live" was the answer. And he had had me bring down my Rode NTK so he could hear the mic. What a waste. Like putting high octane racing fuel in a Chevette.

4. The many times I've recorded in the flimsiest excuse for a studio, with no talkback and no foldback for the headphones and even no video monitor when I've had to read to and/or match video.

5. And one of the strangest recordings, at Toronto
's SkyDome. I was up in the audio/video control room (audio on one side, video on the other) where during sports events they play the audio sfx and put video up on the Jumbotron. I was called in by a friend of mine who was the audio guy there at the time. They wanted me to read a 30 second TV commercial for Garden Brothers Circus. They had the video and I would have to read to it. My friend, Dave, a good audio engineer, down his own mic and we started in. I'm sitting in the audio control room at the mic and there's no easily seen video monitor for me to watch the video. There is one video monitor, but it's behind me and well above the audio console. So I put the mic at the window overlooking the field and try to watch the video monitor's reflection in the glass. Not good. Finally, I get a chair, sit in it facing the monitor and lean back with my feet up on the back of the audio console so that I'm almost horizontal and so I can see the video monitor, with the microphone balanced on my chest, and proceed to do a spirited hard sell TV commercial about Garden Brothers Circus.

That's only a small sampling of the things I've gone through to do a recording. It doesn't even touch on the over 6 years in radio, back in the day when it was all analogue and we recorded on to reel-to-reel and cart. Four out of the five stations I worked at were announce/produce, meaning the announcer voiced and also produced the commercial. Many is the time I wrote the commercial, voiced the commercial, produced and mixed the commercial with my choice of music and sfx and then walked across the hall and played the commercial on the air. Great experience though, learning how to turn three cart machines, two turntables, a microphone and two reel-to-reels into an eightstudio. I really hated to edit tape, it ruined tape you could be using for your demos.

And none of the above takes away from the fun I've had in the business, the great people I've gotten to meet and work with and, although most of the time I don't like anything I've done - Icould have always done something better/different - those moments when it all comes together, it sounds just righteveryone realizes that, "Hey, we're making magic".

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