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07 April 2013 @ 06:07 pm
In the studio  
I spent about four hours yesterday in a recording studio, recording an audiobook of Space Magic.

Although I've read my own work in public many times, and recorded podcasts before, this is my first time in a professional recording studio, working with an experienced engineer. It's been a very interesting process. Apparently I have a tendency to read much too fast, and to "pop" my P's and B's, so I get corrected once every couple of paragraphs -- and occasionally several times per sentence -- and have to back up and re-do a lot. I've learned to turn my head slightly to the side before a "plosive" sound to prevent it from hitting the microphone too hard. The engineer has also helped me keep my character voices consistent and get my Mexican accent right (it keeps coming out more like Russian).

It's hard work -- harder on the brain than the voice -- and after several hours of it I begin to feel as though I am nothing but a conduit, turning the words on the page into sound. But I trust that my own knowledge of the story and the engineer's experience will keep the performance top-notch. We've done four of the 15 stories so far, so there are at least three more recording sessions to go.

The studio I am working with is Oregon Translation, a Portland company that performs language translations. They have recently branched out into voice-over work and installed a small recording studio, and are now looking to get into the business of recording audiobooks. To this end they are offering to produce a few audiobooks for local authors and publishers at a substantial discount, in exchange for the right to use the completed audiobook as a portfolio piece. If you'd like to contact them yourself, let me know and I'll put you in touch. They have a stable of professional narrators as well as the studio and engineer.

I'm acting as my own narrator here, so all I'm paying for is studio and post-production time, but even at a very steep discount it's still hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, when we're through I'll have a professionally produced audiobook that I can sell through acx.com and keep all the proceeds. I don't know if I will ever sell enough audiobooks to recoup the investment, but even if I don't, this is a learning experience and PR opportunity for me (I will be able to use these recordings of my stories for publicity for years to come).

I'm also beginning to offer myself as a reader for podcasts. One nice thing about this gig is that they had a few squares of acoustic foam left over after they finished the studio, which they graciously let me have for free (this stuff is surprisingly expensive, and hard to get in small quantities). I will use these to set up a small recording box for improved sound when I record at home.

This is an exciting new adventure for me! I'll let you know as soon as the audiobook is available.

David in the Studio
billeylerbilleyler on April 8th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
That is exciting!

About 5 years ago, Danny took a 'voice training' course (it was a couple of months) in a professional recording studio like you are in. It was quite interesting for me to hear about it all!

calendula_witch: Mark artcalendula_witch on April 8th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC)
Oh that sounds fascinating. Do you know how long their "steep discount" period is? Some interest here, in my immediate environs... :-)
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
I've sent you the info by email.
Kalimackalimac on April 8th, 2013 02:14 am (UTC)
This should be great.

You do read fast (so do I). And almost everyone pops their plosives, so don't take that part personally.

Were you reading from a printed copy of the book, or a sheaf of printouts, or an electronic copy?
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
I was reading from the original manuscript on my phone, actually!
KMS: balesvgqn on April 8th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
Almost all of us who read fluently will read too quickly when we do so aloud. Maybe our mouths are trying to keep up with our brains. We just saw a play last night (Brigadoon), and the two Americans delivered their lines at such a clip I had a hard time understanding them. But even in conversation, I think of you as a fast speaker, more like a New Yorker than a Midwesterner, so I'm not surprised you were asked to slow down.

Learning not to aspirate your plosives is useful in speaking French also. Though I've never tested the reverse, whether I could try applying French 'p's to English words in situations involving a microphone. Hmm.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
I was raised in Minnesota and Wisconsin by New Yorkers. The engineer asked me within five minutes of meeting me whether I was from Minnesota. Apparently my enunciation and diction are typically Minnesotan.

I wasn't aware that the French P is not aspirated. I'll see if I can apply that idea to good effect.
KMS: balesvgqn on April 8th, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
True for French 't' and 'k' as well, but 'p' is the most dramatic. The interesting thing about the plosive is the delay of voicing. The difference between a French 'p' and 'b' is the voicing onset -- think 'dapple' vs 'dabble'. But our ears are so attuned to listen for the aspiration that we can have a hard time distinguishing when the aspiration is absent -- think English 'pa' and 'bah vs the French 'pas' and 'bas' because voicing onset is the only difference in the latter.
KMS: balesvgqn on April 8th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)
English elongates the vowels preceding a voiced consonant as well, which is often more indicative than the consonant itself. Useful for ventriloquists.
joycemochajoycemocha on April 8th, 2013 05:23 am (UTC)
Mmm. Yummy. This kind of thing does intrigue me, because I like doing things with my voice.

One career I've been tempted by is that of being a reader...but I suspect my voice is also past its prime. Not sure where to go from here.

Definitely excited to read about this, though. Go you! I'm looking forward to hearing the audiobook.

(and geez, is it horrible of me as a teacher and special ed person with exposure to a lot of speech stuff that I was nodding my head in agreement with the engineer's assessment? It will be interesting to hear how that influences your future public speaking voice. Not saying you're a bad speaker--you're quite good--but I think this experience will improve you to astounding public reading levels. IOW, it'll put a polish on an already-high-level performance. You've got talent, and it would be cool to see it go further).
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
Neither of us has "radio voice" -- we're both too slightly built for that -- but that shouldn't stop either of us from being volunteer podcast narrators. If you'd like to get started in podcasting, take a look over here: http://www.everydayfiction.com/features/podcast/submit-a-podcast/ (I have not yet done this but I plan to).
joycemochajoycemocha on April 8th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, David. I'm keeping this on file for checking out this summer, when I theoretically will have more time....
Carlcarl_allery on April 8th, 2013 09:53 am (UTC)
This sounds very exciting. I've been surprised just how much I've enjoyed reading aloud, though I don't think my voice is particularly suited. In my case, I suspect years of being co-erced into reading aloud to my mother's primary school classes has reduced the stress to where I can actually enjoy the challenge of playing a bit more with emphasis and intonation.

But accents - that's advanced level stuff. Well done you. It will be interesting if you notice any impact on your witing style or abilities as a result. :)
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 01:42 pm (UTC)
I've been doing accents for years, and the emphasis and intonation comes naturally to me, especially when reading my own stuff. I must confess that hearing other people read my stories often bugs me because they put the stress in the "wrong" place in a sentence.
Twilighttwilight2000 on April 8th, 2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a BLAST!
beamjockey: Bill Heterodyne animatedbeamjockey on April 8th, 2013 03:23 pm (UTC)
Some readers will buy this solely to learn the authoritative pronunciation of “Tk’tk’tk,”
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
I'm actually kind of dreading that story. I have never read it aloud before!
beamjockeybeamjockey on April 8th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
I suppose it's possible that a person could write that story and yet not know how to pronounce it. But I have faith in you!
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
"Tk'tk'tk" is easy, that's just "tick tick tick." But even though I know how to pronounce "shkthh pth kstphst," I'm concerned about what it will sound like in the recording.
beamjockey: That's It boaterbeamjockey on April 8th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
One nice thing about this gig is that they had a few squares of acoustic foam left over after they finished the studio, which they graciously let me have for free (this stuff is surprisingly expensive, and hard to get in small quantities).

Remember when we used to call this "Pointyfoam?"
David D. Levinedavidlevine on April 8th, 2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
I still do call it "pointyfoam!" However, generic pointyfoam (the kind you'd use for packing a delicate object or to pad a mattress) is much less dense than acoustic foam. Also, the stuff I got (you can see some of it in the background of the photo above) is more "wedgie foam" than pointy.