Directing a Voice Actor During a Remote Recording Session
Want to be involved in the recording process with your voice talent, but are not sure where to start? Let's talk about the options available to you.
What is Remote Direction?
Just what it sounds like. Remote direction is connecting live to your remote voice talent and directing them during the recording session. One arguably good thing to come from the pandemic is an increase in proficiency and use of remote tools, for all sorts of tasks that previously were generally only considered on-location things, not just for voice over, but that is the focus of this article. Remote voice over sessions are certainly not new, they've been utilized extensively since the 80s. The most common method historically has been via ISDN. There are many other tools available today that make it even more accessible than ever before.
How Does a Directed Voiceover Recording Session Happen?
There are 4 ways that voice actors work:
- Self-directed, typically in their private recording studio, they work independently with your script and send raw or more typically edited audio to you
- In-studio directed, they work in a professional studio with an engineer and one or more people physically present providing direction and feedback
- Directed remotely, recording local to them and sending completed audio afterward
- Directed remotely, recording remotely to them by streaming high-quality audio in real-time to an engineer who handles the recording.
For our purposes, we'll focus on the last two. The significant difference is who is doing the actual capture of audio to digital file - the voice artist or an engineer located somewhere other than the voice actor's home studio.
In either case, you will connect to the voice talent's home studio listening in while they perform live, and directing their performance in real-time. There are many tools available for this, let's take a look at some of the more popular options.
Remote Connection to a Recording Studio
When working with a recording engineer, voice over talent will connect to the remote studios directly, sending high-quality audio directly into their mixing board so that the recording experience is similar to the talent being physically present in the studio.
ISDN is an older technology dating back to the mid-1980s, that utilizes dedicated circuits on the old copper-wire phone system. ISDN was the first real solution for recording voice talent remotely. It provided a means of sending broadcast-quality audio over, essentially, a standard phone line. It is still in use, but there aren't many new installations occurring, and most people are transitioning to newer systems.
Developed by a BBC engineer, ipDTL is an implementation of the ISDN protocol over IP. So it allows ISDN connections over the internet without the expense of installing the dedicated ISDN lines that may be cost prohibitive or not available at all in many locations.
Developed by Source-Elements, Source Connect is certainly the most popular solution for connecting studio-to-studio remotely in the US and Canada. Like the others, it provides quality audio from one studio to another. It also allows multiple talents to connect at the same time, and the engineer is able to route audio between specific parties and control who can hear what at any given time. Like ipDTL it's an alternative to ISDN. Source Connect is available in a free version, source connect now, and multiple paid versions - source connect standard and pro.
There are several other options similar to these that provide high-quality audio transmission over the internet, with varying levels of popularity:
I have personally used Sonobus and StudioLink, and find them to be every bit as capable as, at least the free version of Source Connect, Source Connect NOW
Directing Voice Overs When the Voice Talent is Recording
When the voice actor is recording themselves, this opens up several other options for connecting to remotely direct the performance. Since sound quality is not critical, virtually any standard meeting, screen-sharing, or voice chat solution would apply here. Most common solutions would include:
- Google Meet
- Microsoft Teams
- telephone (Phone patch)
Whether the talent is handling the recording, or sending their signal to another recording studio, hiring a voice actor who can deliver studio quality audio from virtually anywhere in the world is not just possible, but very accessible to everyone. As you can see, there is a multitude of technology you can use to facilitate a direction during the session regardless of who is doing the recording.
Keep in mind that as long as someone is recording high-fidelity audio, your focus should be on directing the voice actor's performance, not worrying about the audio quality.
Directed sessions are a great option to be involved in the recording process, and help to ensure that the voice actor captures the intent behind your messaging. Will Vincent is equipped with Source Connect standard and is also able to connect via any of the standard meeting software for directed sessions, and even when connecting via phone you will hear a direct feed from his booth microphone. Request a free quote, custom audition, or schedule a complimentary 15 minute voice over consultation today.