Narrating short fiction is always exciting and fun. While not as much of a marathon as narrating an audiobook, the challenges are much the same. Short fiction narration requires the same decisions to be made regarding performance.
This is a very brief piece of narration I hope you will enjoy.
Audiobook narration is something I really enjoy. As a voracious reader and sometimes writer its pretty obvious that I love a good tale. Within the genre of audiobook narration for voiceover talent, I have a special fondness for anthologies and short story collections. Which brings me to a recent release on Audible that I was pleased to produce.
Seven Tales (of Blood and Beauty) by Wayne Kyle Spitzer is a collection of seven short stories of the fantastic, the macabre, and the sublime. While I, perhaps with a little bias, think all of the stories are pretty fantastic I think listeners will find two tales particularly enjoyable.
Lean Season finds a group of people in a Pacific Northwest dinner confronted with remarkable events and the consequences of their own characters.
Coffin Road is a snapshot of a world you can almost recognize and a brief journey into fantasy.
I enjoyed reading and bringing to life both of these stories and I hope those who listen will take as much pleasure from the experience as I did.
Seven Tales (of Blood and Beauty) by Wayne Kyle Spitzer, narrated by Desmond Manny is available now through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
With Christmas just past I’m buckling down on a couple of projects due before the end of the year, including the recording of a horror anthology for Stitched Smile Publications, an indie press. Really good stuff.
I have to admit that the temptation was very strong this season to supplement my trusty Sennheiser MKH 416. I’ve used condenser microphones exclusively so there remains that little bit of curiosity of what a dynamic microphone might add to my arsenal. Something like the Electro-Voice RE20.
Being engaged in voiceover work there’s no denying that the microphone does matter. The idea of getting what you pay for is fairly relevant as well, but mostly on the low to mid-range end. In my opinion, once you reach a certain level of microphone there is a degree of diminishing returns.
Just for laughs though I made a comparison between my 416 and a Neweer NW-800, one of a pair I bought this past summer to teach my niece a little about creating a podcast. These are recordings made quick in an untreated room and without EQ. I think you would have to agree there’s still a fairly obvious difference between a microphone costing roughly $20 and one costing around $999.
To me it seems pretty obvious which I would rather listen to for a long period of time, say the length of an audiobook. However, as you get up into some of the mid-level microphones the difference becomes much less noticeable. It’s no difficult task to find a suitable microphone for voiceover at lower price points than the 416. Which is good news once your bitten by the microphone bug and start to fill your collection.
Voiceover Dispatch September 19, 2017
This week I’m finishing up a short novella I’m producing through ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, and as I finished the recording aspects and move into mastering I had a moment when I had my recording setup near my photography setup (I’m also a professional photographer).
What struck me was how both of these professions require specialized gear, that is available at lots of different price points and supposed suitability for professional work, but ultimately it comes down to the ability of the user.
While I’m faced with decisions about camera bodies, lenses, and lighting systems for photography, I’m faced with decisions about microphones, preamps, mixers, DAWs, and room treatments for voiceover. It can be really overwhelming.
The problem is that no matter what gear you use, there is always the nagging suspicion that the Neumann or CAD, or Sennheiser you don’t have is holding you back.
When I made my decision to get it VO work I tested a number of different microphones to find one that best suited my voice. I chose the Sennheiser MKH 416. I haven’t second-guessed the decision…but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I still follow up on forums and YouTube videos about other mics.
I guess what I want to say is that looking at the grass on the other side might be greener, but if you can get the best gear for you initially. In the long run, you’ll be better off than continuously trying to hit an ever-moving target.
And that is my VO Dispatch. Talk to you soon.
Voiceover Dispatch; September 13th, 2017
I’m a few days into the audiobook production of a novella, and that has me thinking about the things I enjoy about long form narration…and some things I don’t.
One thing that anyone who has recorded an audiobook for eventual purchase knows that, pardon the cliche, it’s a marathon, not a race.
Rushing inevitably leads to mistakes that could have been avoided which means recording pickups, which means that time you thought you were saving you really didn’t save at all.
If you can’t find it in you to work efficiently, but still have a little patience, then recording an audiobook is going to be a very frustrating experience for you. The good news is it gets easier with practice like any skill, and that’s heartening.
Because long form narration like audiobooks can be really rewarding. While the author has created a whole world on the written page, it’s up to you to bring it alive vocally. This is one reason that communication between the writer and the vocal talent is so important; the talent provides a performance, but it has to be true to the writer’s vision.
Which is one of the main things I like about it. It’s a chance to inhabit several characters and paint an aural picture with your voice. I know, that sounds lofty, but it’s true as anyone who’s tried to listen to a bad audiobook can tell you.
When it’s done well, however then you’ve got happiness all around; the writer, the audience, and the voice talent.
Personally, I’m happy whenever I get to be a part of that joy pyramid.
I guess all this is just in aid of saying I love what I do, and really appreciate the people who give me such exciting opportunities. That goes beyond playing with the cool gear and getting paid.
Thanks for listening during this brief indulgence, we’ll talk again soon.
There’s one aspect to doing voiceover that becomes readily apparent the more you get into the life; practice makes perfect. The idea that your voice is an instrument is not only a hackneyed saying, it’s the complete truth.
Remember that instrument you played in school? You know the one. When you first started you were super excited, then you realized how terrible you were. Adding insult to injury you learned the only way you will ever improve is if you practice. A lot.
Well, performing voiceover is pretty much the same thing, except your voice is the instrument. On the plus side, you always have it with you. On the downside, you still have to practice. A lot.
One way I’ve started to approach the idea of practice with voiceover involves not only vocal exercises and all the other things to take care of my voice (hydration, exercise, etc.) but short bits of voiceover and narration that can be a help to staying “in shape”.
For this reason, I’ve started reading short bits of classic literature. This works out well because I can find quite a few varied pieces that are short, and have language that requires paying attention and being accurate.
I pick about five or six at random and recorded them all in one go. As an example, here’s a short piece from Aesop’s Fables.
I’d be curious to know what others do to keep themselves ready to go.
A good day to you and success in all you do!
If you have found this page you likely have an interest in voiceover work as either a voiceover artist or someone in need of voiceover talent. If the former, welcome fellow travelever! If the later, you are in luck because I am someone who can provide you with exactly what you need.
Hi, my name is Desmond. I am a voiceover artist who can provide you with the highest quality product using the highest quality tools.
There is a FAQ that answers many of the questions to follow but heck, informing is easy.
What Equipment Do You Use?
I record my voiceover work using industry standard equipment: A Sennheiser MK 416 microphone and professional preamp/audio interface. There are also Zoom and Tascam field recorders in use with the Sennheiser if I am mobile.
What Is Your Average Turn Around?
Average turnaround is 24hrs. (Often half or less)
What sort of Voiceover Work Do You Do?
Many different genres; audiobooks, explainer videos, documentaries, and much, much more!