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How to Provide Live Direction Remotely

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Did you know that you can connect to a voice actor’s recording studio no matter where in the world you are located?

If you prefer to provide direction during a recording session, yet you aren’t available to connect with the voice talent in person, then remote live direction may be your solution.

While live direction has been a possibility for many years, its importance has accelerated during the global pandemic. Creative services marketplaces such as Voices have enabled professionals from across industries to hire creative talent who can complete a job and connect for live-directed sessions all without either party meeting face to face (in person, that is).

Hiring voice actors who have the ability to partake in live-directed sessions has never been easier.

What Is Remote Live Direction?

Remote live direction is the process of clients connecting with voice actors for a recording session using remote connection tools such as ISDN, Source-Connect, or Zoom.

Before the emergence of the internet, voice actors attended in-studio recording sessions, where their clients would provide creative direction on the spot. In today’s world, it is far more common for clients to arrange a live-directed session with voice actors, so the two parties can connect in real-time without having to travel to meet each other in person.

Tips for Remote Voice Recording Sessions

Acting is a demanding art form no matter the context, but voice actors often have the added difficulty of matching a scene without being physically immersed in it.

Here are six tips to successfully record a convincing voice over performance without your costars present:

1) Record sessions remotely via ISDN, Source-Connect, Skype or phone patch.
2) Listen to your costars’ audio in between recordings to ensure your interaction is seamless.
3) Use any reference materials you can get your hands on, including background music, a full script with scene and character outlines, or even clips of the incomplete scenes of the film.
4) Practice with your costars on the phone prior to recording in order to get a feel for their style.
5) Use your imagination to envision yourself in a world that’s not really there.
6) Don’t overthink it.

Characters, Everywhere from Anywhere

A funny one-liner we often hear from voice talent is that their job is to sit in a quiet room and talk to themselves all day. Yet, little do people know that that room could be filled with characters beyond our imagination.

Voices features a vast pool of voice acting talent who are all equipped with studios that allow their clients to be ‘present’ during the recording session, no matter where their clients actually reside. Not only is this beneficial for you as a client, but live-direction (well, good live-direction) is helpful for voice actors as well. If you tap into an actor’s studio, you can provide them with a clearer understanding of the read you’re looking for, and deliver your vision in far fewer takes.

Let’s a look at some of the ways this can be accomplished, whether you live in different cities or across continents:

ISDN

Integrated Services Digital Network, or ISDN, is a special phone line offered by some phone companies. It connects one recording studio to another as though you were actually in the same studio, and is generally used for high-end recordings. So, if you are in New York City you could direct someone in L.A.—or Australia, for that matter—in real-time. You can communicate with and direct your voice actor, and both of you will simultaneously receive copies of the recording session.

While it sounds great on the surface, there are a few problems with ISDN. A special Codec (coder-decoder) is required, making the installation and monthly maintenance fees astronomical.

In Canada, only one phone company offers ISDN, and finding technicians who service it is near impossible. Here and in most countries around the world, ISDN services are slowly being phased out.

Source-Connect

A growing number of studios are moving to Source-Connect. Source-Connect is another way that you can connect to your voice talent’s studio for higher-end projects. It is a far more economical option, and many professional voice talent have their studios equipped with it.

Source-Connect is internet-dependent software that easily connects one digital studio to another in real-time. The software allows you to tap into the talent’s studio during the recording session so you can listen, direct, and receive the recording immediately.

If you have ISDN but your voice talent has Source-Connect, you can still work together. You or the talent can create a bridge between your studios so that they can record into your ISDN system. Most voice over pros know how to set up a bridge.

Phone Patch

If you want to direct a live session but don’t need the file immediately, then a talent studio equipped with a phone patch is a good option. It allows you to tap into the recording session and provide real-time direction. Once the final recording is cut, the talent sends the files to you.

Be sure to ask what kind of phone patch the talent has. A phone patch can be considered anything from you listening in on speakerphone via a landline, or more sophisticated VoIP services like Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet. Skype is generally considered the best option for phone patch as it uses the latest in HD VoIP technology, giving the same sound quality you’d hear with ISDN. Yes, really! As with ISDN, HD VoiP creates audio tracks from 100Hz to 6KHz.

Another nice thing about Skype is video-conferencing, especially if you are in a different geographic location than your voice talent. It allows you to meet face-to-face and have that all-important pre-session discussion to let them know your vision for the voice over recording.

Finding Voice Talent Equipped For Live Direction

The creative talent on Voices have the opportunity to list their studio equipment directly on their profiles, so you can enter the equipment you need the voice talent to have in the search function at Voices to bring up a listing of talent who can accommodate that.

You can also post your job and list that as a special requirement in your job posting. You’ll then receive auditions from voice over talent who can meet those needs.

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