Delivering Your Files
OK. You’re now, officially, a professional voice actor. You’ve spent the time, energy, and money necessary to master your performing skills and you’re confident that you can record high-quality audio for your clients. You’ve been submitting auditions for what seems like an eternity! And now you’ve got the gig! Congratulations! You’ve just been booked for a director-less, producer-less session (meaning you’re on your own, recording the project in your home studio.)
Your new client is e-mailing you the script, and handling the recording certainly won’t be a problem. But what about getting your recorded voice track back to your client? Have you thought of that?
There is often confusion regarding the multitude of voice track delivery options: ISDN, Source Connect, Phone Patch, FTP, E-mail, and 3rd party delivery methods are the most common terms mentioned . . . but do you really know what they are? Or, better yet, which one will be best for this project?
An understanding of the basic definition of each of these options will help you decide which option will be your best choice:
- ISDN - stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. ISDN is a function of the phone company (our friends at AT&T). Basically, this is a digital phone line that connects your home studio to another studio located somewhere else in the world. Technically, ISDN allows for direct real-time recording at a remote location. It is three things at the same time: 1) the equivalent of a really long microphone cable from a far off studio to your home studio, 2) a means by which a producer/director/engineer can communicate with you, and 3) the ultimate real-time delivery system for your voice tracks.
ISDN is also relatively expensive compared to other recording and delivery options. A special CoDec (coder-decoder) is required as are monthly maintenance fees for the special phone lines.
ISDN is usually reserved for higher-end recordings or for sessions where the client needs to work in real-time or cannot handle any delays with delivery of recorded files.
The phone company is gradually phasing-out ISDN service. In fact, there are already some parts of the country that used to have ISDN, but now must find other means for real-time recording and delivery. In time, ISDN may be a thing of the past.
- Source Connect - This only one of several options for real-time recording and delivery that use the Internet as a means for transferring audio data. Most of these systems require that the same software (and sometimes a hardware “dongle”) be installed at both ends of the recording chain.
Where ISDN uses an expensive external CoDec, these newer Internet recording options build everything into the software. However, most do require a monthly maintenance fee in addition to the cost of purchasing the software.
As with ISDN, this sort of direct, real-time recording is generally reserved for higher-budget voiceover work. If you don’t have the clients to support the investment, you don’t have an immediate need for this technology.
- Phone Patch - This is one of the most mis-understood terms used in recording and voiceover work. A Phone Patch is NOT a method for delivering audio recordings. A Phone Patch IS a means by which your client can listen to you over the phone as you record their script. The simplest Phone Patch is to hold a phone up to your ear: your client can hear you and you can hear your client - and the recording of your voice is completely isolated on your computer.
A more sophisticated Phone Patch uses a digital hybrid telephone interface to connect your VOIP or land line telephone system to your audio mixer - and to connect a “mix-minus” output of your mixer to the hybrid.
Here’s the basic set-up: Your microphone is sent (A) to your computer through the MAIN MIX buss of your mixer and (B) to an AUX buss that will include the Caller output coming from the hybrid. Your mic is also sent out a second AUX buss (C) that goes to the hybrid’s input.
The Caller side of the hybrid (Caller Out) is connected to a Line Level input on your mixer. This input is only sent to the combined AUX output that includes your mic. Basically, as you listen under headphones to this AUX mix you will be able to hear both yourself and your client as she/he gives you direction. This input (coming from the hybrid) is NOT brought in to the mix you are sending to your computer.
If you want your client to be able to hear playbacks of your recordings, you’ll need to connect the output of your computer to your mixer and send the computer inputs through the AUX buss going to the hybrid’s input.
To properly use a Phone Patch your home studio must be using an external mixer with two AUX sends, one of which is Pre-Send, and the ability to monitor the Pre-Send buss using headphones. If you are using a USB mic or using a direct USB interface like the MicPort Pro, Pro-Tools M-Box, MobilePre, Tascam 122, etc. the only phone patch you can use will be your telephone (or a bluetooth headset.)
- FTP - stands for File Transfer Protocol. This is a true file delivery system that uses the Internet to deliver large files. Many web sites have both a Public and an FTP area. Those who know how to use FTP can create special folders for uploading and downloading files - sort of like an external hard drive, only it’s on a web site.
FTP sites are usually protected with both a Username and Password, so if you don’t know how to access the site, you won’t be able to deliver your tracks.
At your end, you’ll need FTP software (often referred to as the FTP client). This software, along with the URL address, Username, Password, and some other info will get you access to your client’s FTP site. Of course, you may be able to upload files to your FTP area and give the necessary information to your client for them to access their folder to download their projects.
E-mail - This is probably the simplest delivery method for files smaller than 6-8MB. The larger the file the longer it will take to upload (or download). But, more important, large files tend to completely bog down e-mail servers. Any file larger than about 6MB can easily become unwieldily. Personally, I don’t recommend sending any file larger than 4MB via e-mail.
3rd Party Delivery Methods - There are many, many options in this category. The general idea is to provide a means by which very large files can be delivered efficiently over the Internet.
You may already have your favorite provider, and you may or may not be paying a fee for the service. My personal favorite of the day (it may change if I find something I think is better or offers more benefits) is www.transferbigfiles.com. There are four reasons why I like this service: 1) it can handle delivery of multiple files to the same destination during a single upload, 2) you don’t need to open a browser to begin uploading files (a downloaded plug-in is required for this), 3) it can handle delivery of files up to 1GB per upload, and 4) it’s free.
Once a free account is established and the necessary software is installed, it’s a very simple and efficient method for delivering files. Files are uploaded from your computer to the TFB servers and an e-mail is sent to your client that includes a link to download the files. Most of the 3rd part delivery services work in this way, but many are limited to files of a maximum 100MB or can only deliver a single file at a time. Of course, many of these services have both a free level (with limited file size or storage duration) and a paid service that offers much greater flexibility.
Here are some other 3rd party file transfer services:
- Transferbigfiles.com - send up to 1GB file for free. File is available for 5-10 days with free Drop Zone account. This is the best we've found! Places an icon in your task bar for "drag & drop" to send large files.
- Yousendit.com - Send up to 100MB for free. File available for 7 days
- Sendthisfile.com - File available for 3 days and 3 downloads
- Cutesendit.com - File available for 3 days and 5 downloads
Hopefully, this has helped to take some of the confusion out of file delivery terminology used in voiceover. This topic, and much, much more, is discussed at length in my VoiceActor’s Guide to Professional Home Recording E-book. Even if you have another book on setting up your home studio, I guarantee you’ll learn something from this E-book. Plus there are literally dozens of links that will take you to web sites with tons of information that you’ll probably never need, but you’ll be glad you have access to if you ever do.