Pro Tools and Other Multi-track Recording Programs

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    Join Voice Over Experts Dan Lenard and George Whittam as they discuss “Pro Tools and other Multi-track recording programs”. Discover different recording software programs and learn more about Pro Tools, the industry standard recording software for musicians, but not necessarily for voice over talent recording dry voice. You be the judge!

    Transcript of Pro Tools and Other Multi-track Recording Programs

    [Opening Music]
    Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It has never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
    This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Dan Lenard.
    Dan Lenard: Hi. I’m Dan Lenard and welcome to this podcast. And this is going to be a very interesting thing that some of you beginners and some people who are not so much beginners are doing voiceover [Indiscernible] [0:00:56] using their home studio really need to listen to as we discuss something that you really need to know about, recording software. And my guest today is my good friend out in Los Angeles, California. We’re talking with George Whittam from ElDorado Recording Services. Good morning, George.
    George Whittam: Hey there, Dan.
    Dan Lenard: We’re going to talk today about software and you and I both use different types of software to do certain things but as voiceover artists, we need specific types of recording software and one of the things that I’m finding in – I get these 911 calls from clients all the time when I’m consulting about home studios and they say, “Help, my Pro Tools doesn’t work,” or, “I don’t understand what this thing does. Somebody said get Pro Tools.” And that brings to mind a number of things about Pro Tools.
    Usually, Pro Tools is sold bundled with what’s called an Mbox from Digidesign and these are fabulous devices. They really do a great job of taking our analog sound input and changing it to digital sound and then it multi-tracks it into these multi-track programs like Pro Tools. But Pro Tools will work with the Mbox but Pro Tools will not work with anything else or is it the other way around? Sometimes, I get confused about that.
    George Whittam: Yes, the Mbox will work with others and – other apps but Pro Tools has to have an Mbox.
    Dan Lenard: That’s right.
    George Whittam: Or an M-Audio brand product in the case of M-powered Pro Tools.
    Dan Lenard: Right. And in some cases, you actually need a NASA scientist to get you to configure that with some other program but what’s happening is people are getting a lot of advice from – and this is – note that these people are getting a lot of advice from musicians, people who have recording studios and they have certain ways of doing things and when we, as voice artists approach them and say, “Hey, I would like to start a voice studio in my basement,” they refer directly to their base of knowledge and most of them use Pro Tools. Now, what is Pro Tools for?
    George, the other day I was – you know, the great thing about modern technology is we have iPods and I downloaded one of my favorite albums of all time the other day, Graceland by Paul Simon which won all sorts of Grammy Awards. And now, this was what? Twenty years ago, when he came out with this. It was probably the last of the great analog recorded albums that came out on vinyl. For those of you wondering what vinyl is, it was these big, black discs that we used to have.
    George Whittam: The end of vinyl about 20 years …
    Dan Lenard: That’s right. And if you listen to a little bit – and I’m going to play a little bit of it right now. And then we’ll just fade out of that and I’ll explain to you what it is you’re listening to.
    [Music plays]
    Dan Lenard: As you noticed, it was incredibly well-recorded but there were lots of different instruments playing in there and each one of those instruments, the guitar, the drums in the background. I think there’s a tambourine in there, Paul Simon’s voice. They’re all recorded on individual tracks one at a time.
    George Whittam: Yes, one at a time or simultaneously but they’re all on separate tracks, exactly.
    Dan Lenard: So what happens is usually, they’ll put down a baseline or the drum line, the rhythm line to that and then the artist will build their song on top of that. They’ll listen to the rhythm line, sing their parts or play their instrument part on it and then the engineer can mix that all down. And, that’s what Pro Tools is for.
    George Whittam: Exactly. It is meant to be the replacement for the tape machine and the replacement for the razorblade and now, it’s a replacement for even the mixing consul so it’s an all-in-one tool for music production and mixing and editing. And it’s used often in film scoring and post for film and it has many, many great uses. But it’s not the ideal application for your typical voiceover artist who just needs to be able to record their own voice, cut it, maybe clean it up a little bit, pop it into an MP3 file and send it off. It is far more cumbersome than it needs to be for that purpose.
    Dan Lenard: Now, your work with a lot of people out in Hollywood and out in L.A. and there’s a lot of engineers out there that have always been using Pro Tools, a lot of voice artists that have been using Pro Tools, at least the ones that have been doing it for a while. Are they recommending Pro Tools to other people? Do you find?
    George Whittam: That’s a good question. I don’t know what my clients recommend to other people. I really don’t. But I have, occasionally, heard, you know, someone that uses Pro Tools and has been using it for seven or eight years. They’re comfortable with it. I think a lot of voiceover talent that are comfortable with something will tend to recommend it. So, it could easily be, you know, misrecommended if I can think of a better way to say that, in that case.
    Dan Lenard: With Pro Tools, I like to use the analogy – you know, it’s getting a nuclear control room panel to control a hamster in a wheel generator. I am not doing what I used to do when I was in radio 25, 30 years ago. We did radio production. An advertising agency would come in. They would say, “Here’s a script. Produce it.” That would be the voice, the music, all the different elements of what goes on there. I think that a lot of people who are getting into voiceover still think in that mode or think that that’s what they have to do in order to make a living doing voiceover. When in reality …
    George Whittam: Yes, they come from the production angle.
    Dan Lenard: The reality is, is that’s hardly necessary. I think with – probably most of the genres of material that we as voice artists are putting out these days. All the producer is looking for, and that is if you’re doing a commercial for a fairly high-end ad agency or a production house or something, they don’t want you to put in reverb and add music and do all these other things.
    George Whittam: Yes, they want to hear your voice as purely and cleanly as possible with as little noise floor, that’s the background noise in your room or your equipment that hiss, as possible and they don’t want it to sound processed in any way, compressed when you’re sending in an actual job. They want you, nothing else.
    Dan Lenard: Exactly. And, the thing is, is that you buy Pro Tools or SONAR or Sound Forge or any one of these other big, you know, packaged, multi-track recording programs to do all of those things of compression and reverb and adding music tracks and all that sort of stuff. It really is total overkill for what it is you’re trying to do. And there are a lot better choices for what you can use as a voice artist.
    A lot of people use Adobe Audition, which is a multi-track program that’s supposed to be linked with Adobe Premiere for doing – mixing audio for video and it also works as for recording voice work and music production. But Adobe has another system that I had been working with for over a year and I find it absolutely fabulous. It’s called Adobe Soundbooth and I’m not necessarily endorsing it for our friends at Adobe but it is a good program. It’s a single track recorder that has the capability to do multi-tracking and not in the way the other multi-track programs work. Their new CS4 version works more like a video overlay interface where if you’re adding music or you’re adding sound effects or you need to intersperse another voice in there, you put it in this timeline in the same non-linear fashion that you do as with video and it works really well.
    But there are some other cool features with it that I know you were playing with last night. What did you like about it?
    George Whittam: I do like the very clean, simple interface. I like that it has some very powerful editing features that are extremely easy to use. It makes it very easy to take out clicks, pops, lip smacks, all those little things. [POP] Yes, pops and lip smacks. That’s probably what you’re going to end up as a – when you’re editing your file to send off to your client. You’ll probably spend more time taking out certain breaths, lip smacks and extraneous noises at your file than anything else. And this program makes it extremely easy to take those out using features like Heal which literally you select a sound you don’t want and it heals the audio around it and it’s as though it was never there. You don’t lose the continuity of the recording, the timing or any kind of background noise like the noise floor stays there. So, it doesn’t sound like there’s a big hole in the file whenever you take out a click or a pop. And I think that’s one thing that makes this program so great.
    Dan Lenard: And they’ve got some great video tutorials too, you know. The first time I watched those, it was like saying, “Oh, that’s how you do that. Very good …”
    George Whittam: Yes, they have a very good tutorial. I watched the 12-minute introduction tutorial. I liked it so much, I put it on my webpage. It’s embedded on my website actually. But it immediately gives a very good overview of the software and gets you started with running recording right away.
    Dan Lenard: I would say try it and the great thing about Adobe is, is they give you these 30-day free trials for these things. And try it on your computer. If you like it, buy it. I find that if you start it and use it and follow the tutorials, you’ll go, “I don’t know why I would use anything else especially for voiceover.” And I guess the bottom line is, is that if you’re looking for a piece of software, I think a lot of people make the mistake of they want something that’s going to make them sound great. And I would say – and I’m sure you agree with me, it’s – you’re not looking for something that makes you sound great. You’re looking for something that makes you sound like you.
    George Whittam: Yes, the software is not going to make you sound great. The only thing that’s going to do that is your performance. You want to capture it as well as possible so that means good – a nice microphone and proper production techniques which you will learn over time. But, in the end, it’s really all about you, the performer.
    Dan Lenard: Right. And easier software will make that easier for you to do because what you want to do …
    George Whittam: Exactly.
    Dan Lenard: … is set it and forget it so when you want to do an audition, you click it on, you record it, you go to your software, you edit it and it’s out of here. You don’t want to have to deal with arming the track and making sure this isn’t on and not – you know, all the different things that nobody understands except musicians and recording engineers and that should …
    George Whittam: Right.
    Dan Lenard: This should simplify the process because as I always say, keep it simple.
    George Whittam: Yes, the $200 price tag of that software sounds steep. There are some others real quick I’ll rattle off.
    Dan Lenard: Sure.
    George Whittam: In the Mac world, there’s TwistedWave for about 80 bucks which I’ve been promoting heavily because it’s the same idea, very simple program, gets you to the end result as quickly as possible. It just doesn’t have all the powerful bells and whistles of Soundbooth. That’s what I like on the Mac. Audacity which I think everybody in voiceover has been told about at one point or the other. It’s a great way to start for totally for free and I think you would be surprised how far you can actually get with that program. Don’t dismiss Audacity and then on the Windows side of things – that’s cross-platform Mac and Windows. In the Windows side, I do like Sound Forge and they make a version called Audio Studio that’s like the stripped down version. It’s only $55 and it’s actually a really good value and it is not that difficult to use. I think it’s one of the easier platforms to use on the PC that is still a good value.
    Dan Lenard: I agree. And, you know – and the most important thing is people need to learn how to use a basic program before they start using something more sophisticated. George, thanks so much for joining us today. I think we’ll continue this conversation because we get a lot of questions about microphones and USB mics. I know a lot of the podcast that we do here are on technique. I think people have many, many questions about physical set-up of their studio and how to maximize it and I think you and I can probably get them through it if they really would like to.
    And if they want to contact you, they can get you at your business.
    George Whittam: Well, you could just go to my website. It’s ElDoRec.com. That’s ElDorado Recording Services. If you Google that, you’ll find it immediately. And all the information you could need and I’m always adding more useful stuff on there all the time so it’s a great information resource for voiceover.
    Dan Lenard: And if you need some more consultation, perhaps on a less complex level, you can find me at HomeStudioMaster.com and you’ll see the things that I deal with too.
    George, thanks for being with us today and let’s continue this conversation.
    George Whittam: Yes, there’s a lot more to talk about so you’ll be hearing from us again. I guarantee it.
    Dan Lenard: Very good. Alright, everybody. Go out there and keep it simple.
    [Music Plays]
    Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
    If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting Podcasts.Voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.
    [Closing Music]

    Your Instructors this week:

    Dan LenardBuffalo, NY native Dan Lenard has been a radio personality, an insurance sales consultant, a high school Media and Social Studies teacher and a stay-at-home dad. He earned his BA in Broadcasting from Buffalo State College in 1980, a New York State teaching certificate from Buff State in 1997 and then in 2002, an MA in Creative Studies from again, his hometown Alma Mater.

    Now working from his home based, digital studio, Dan produces high quality audio narration in many genres. Specializing in Tutorial, e-Learning and Documentary narration, Dan also voices non-fiction, business oriented books as well as a wide cast of unique animation characters. Dan uses his vast life experiences to bring his clients just what they need; a knowledgeable voice that conveys confidence, warmth, intelligence and humor.
    His years in radio and television production made his transition to his home built and based studio, seamless. His experience as a teacher and lecturer on many subjects allows him to convey the daily, nitty gritty of a home-based studio voice over business to the many newcomers in the industry with his dry sense of humor and a commitment to the American entrepreneurial spirit.
    Voice Over Expert George Whittam

    George WhittamGeorge M. Whittam is a 1997 graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelors degree in Music and Audio Technology and a Minor degree in George Communications. George discovered his talent for the trumpet as a child and performed through high school and college. In doing this he developed a finely tuned ear with his performances in orchestras, jazz and rock bands as well as alternative groups. George acquired a high level of expertise in music recording by working with various musicians and artists in the Philadelphia area after his training at Virginia Tech.

    He gained a large amount of broadcast engineering experience working for 94 WYSP FM radio in Philadelphia as the remote engineer for the NFL Eagles Radio Network. He furthered his diverse experience in Los Angeles by working on over 15 film projects in 3 years as a sound mixer and boom operator.
    George has become an industry innovator by developing specialized services that cater to voice-over industry professionals, such as the late Don LaFontaine. His extensive knowledge of computers, software, equipment, and troubleshooting abilities makes him a sought after expert and indispensable on-call technician for his ever growing client base.

    Did you enjoy this episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

    7 COMMENTS

    1. When you say “improve auditions and submissions”, do you mean the sound quality, the production, how do you mean?
      Short answer is no software will improve your audition, only your own skill and talent has the power to do that. The software is simply the tool, a means to an end. There are many factors that go into a great audition, the software has about the least effect on the final product.
      We welcome any and all suggestions for future podcasts!
      Thanks, Pamela.

    2. Hello George & Dan,
      Thanks for the words of wisdom. I suggest that ALL newcomers, and less ‘techy’ VO artists use the simpler platforms.
      For me? Personally, after using a program similar to Pro Tools for the past 10 years in my radio gig, I find it much easier to work with what I already use and KNOW (an old program). What’s great is that you can do simple voice-overs, as well as multi-tracking(when needed).
      And, by the way…a project I’m currently working on, for a local hospital, includes VO, patient comments, and music…and as a producer and VO for these pieces, my multi-tracker comes in VERY handy! Do I ALWAYS need multi?? Nope. Most times its a simple VO. But it’s nice to have, and I suggest ALL VO talent, ONCE comfortable with the recording process, try their hand at multi. Knowledge is power.

    3. Really good job both of you Dan and George. The webinars I have listened to you of yours Dan have always been so informative ans full of content! Thanks SO MUCH for the inspiration and altruistic effort!
      A true admirer,
      Ramesh

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