What do I need to set up so I can start voice acting?
A complete and utter beginner's guide
This article was originally published in Radioplay Magazine, Issue iv, November 2008
This guide is designed for people who enjoy acting and would like to get involved in satellite audio drama productions, but don't know where to start in recording lines at home. If that sounds like you, please read on...
- A microphone
Most cheaper or mid-price microphones plug directly into your computer - either into a USB drive, or into a microphone socket. Generally, it's better to use a free standing microphone than a headset one, to avoid puffs of air distorting your lines.
If you decide that voice acting is definitely for you, then you will want to look into condenser microphones, which require an interface with phantom power. Many established music stores sell recording bundles, including microphone, interface, cables, and often a pop screen.
- A pop screen
- A blanket/towel
Equipment you need - software
You need a piece of software to record your lines. Windows Sound Recorder is not suitable for recording broadcast quality lines. If you don't have a favorite program already, there is a completely free, user-friendly program out there that many voice actors use for recording lines, called Audacity. It is suitable for both PC and Mac users and is free to download here.
Once you have a program, you are now ready to record, but there's just one more thing to set up. Most producers ask for Mp3 files. Audacity needs an extra free download called a lame encoder, available free to create Mp3 files. All the information you need is here.
Congratulations. You're now ready to begin recording.
First, plug in your microphone. Check your audio settings on your computer and check that you have set this microphone as your default one. Now open up Audacity.
Edit>Preferences>File Formats Here you can click on the boxes to alter export format and bit rate.
Edit>Preferences>Audio I/O Here you can change from stereo to mono recordings.
When you record your lines, always leave a 'tail' of a few seconds at the end where you record, but don't speak or breathe. The mixer will be able to take this room ambiance as a sample which they can then remove from your lines to make them cleaner.
Listen to your lines for delivery, but also quality. Make sure there are no strange noises or distortion like breath puffs and edit out mouse clicks. Many producers do their own noise reduction etc. so send them 'raw'.
Check with your producer how they want the lines. Some like them cut up into individual numbered files. If numbering, always put the line number first. eg. 034_character name. That way, they are easy to order. Some prefer scenes in one long file.
When you're happy, use the file menu to export the whole file or sections as Mp3s - or, more rarely, as .wav files. Label them carefully and then zip them into one file. Depending on file size, you may be able to send the lines as an email attachment or via a cloud system like Dropbox or a free delivery service such as Yousendit.
Welcome to the world of online voice acting. Have fun!
What do I need, Where do I get it, How do I use it? Individual links for software, microphones, tutorials, etc.
Audacity Free Download and User Manual
Individual radio groups often hold auditions. Check out their websites on the Audio Drama Talk Forums and join their group or forum for casting calls. Also smaller groups and individuals list on other boards:
Audio Drama Talk Forums
Voice Acting Alliance boards
Voice Acting Club