So you’ve booked a voiceover gig. What’s next? After you’ve popped the date, time, and studio location into your calendar, the next item on your agenda should be preparing for your recording session.
Coming from an on-camera or stage background, you’ll find it refreshing to know that what you look like doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you sound when you step into the booth at a recording studio. In this facet of the business, it’s all about your voice and how you use it.
One of the most common things I hear actors say is that they love the fact that they don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to get their makeup, hair, and wardrobe done. While that’s both wonderful and true, there are a number of factors stage and film actors need to take into consideration when recording voiceovers, whether the setting is a professional recording studio or an area dedicated to audio recording at home.
Did you know that what you wear can make or break your in-studio performance? For instance, jewelry makes noise. Perfume can cause an allergic reaction or compromise your ability to breathe, and as a result, perform at optimum levels. Things that seem inconsequential at first blush can make a huge difference in how you perform at the mic. Here are the four most important things you’ll want to keep in mind before heading into the studio.
1. Choose quiet, comfortable clothing. What you decide to wear will have an impact on how your recording session goes. Wear comfy clothing that allows you full access to your breath. Cotton is a perennial favorite as the fabric breathes well and doesn’t make much noise. You might also consider blends, well-worn denim and the like. Dress in layers so that you can remove a sweater if you get too warm. Fabrics to steer clear of include polyester, nylon, and anything that creates discomfort or noise when you move.
2. Avoid perfume or cologne. Have you ever walked by a strong scent only to have it affect your breathing or ability to speak well? A small whiff of perfume, cologne, body wash, or hand sanitizer can wreak havoc on your instrument and respiratory system. The same can be said for cigarette smoke, even if it comes secondhand. Remember, you’re in an enclosed space. Make sure you are thinking of others and their sensitivities as well as your own.
3. Leave your jewelry at home. The microphone is incredibly sensitive, and every jingle and jangle will be picked up. Make sure that any jewelry or accessories you are wearing don’t create noise when you move. Be mindful of zippers and buttons that make sound. You’ll also want to be careful to not touch the microphone or knock the music stand that’s holding your script. Some earrings can be particularly annoying if you are wearing headphones. Studs or sleepers are OK, but large or dangly earrings will not help improve the quality of your audio one iota. This may go without saying, but turn your mobile phone completely off: If it’s set to silent mode, incoming calls and messages could still interfere with the studio equipment. The same applies to tablets and laptops. And if your watch has an alarm feature, turn that off, too.
4. Wear flats or soft-soled shoes. Last but not least, I strongly encourage that you come equipped with sensible footwear. Opt to wear comfortable shoes, because you will probably be standing for the duration of your session. Don’t worry about your height and reaching the microphone. The engineer will adjust the mic stand for you. No need to topple on high heels! Flats and soft-soled shoes, maybe even slippers if the studio permits, are beneficial in the studio environment.
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