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Author Topic: Your Narration Studio  (Read 4286 times)
kibitzer
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« on: January 22, 2012, 06:18:08 AM »

Hello folks.

I've done a few narrations here and through that, learned a lot. This makes me very curious about how other narrators perform their craft and the equipment they use. In a spirit of sharing, I present my "narration space" and would love to see how others do it, if so inclined.



This is my "recording studio" in a cupboard! (It's about 3 weeks old). A near-as-dammit silent laptop; a Blue Snowball USB mic; a homemade pop filter; a Kindle DX for the reading material; a pillow to damp the sound a bit. I'd like to line it with acoustic foam but it ain't cheap. This setup works well for me. I can stand whilst talking and the mic is at mouth level. The Kindle needs repositioning as the mic gets in my eyeline. But it works much better than recording at my desktop computer which has quite a noisy fan.
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Listener
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2012, 08:47:53 AM »

This is mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listener42/3917447039/

The picture is annotated, so you really should click through to Flickr to see it.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2012, 11:02:43 AM »

note to self:  update recording apparatus before applying for narration gig. 

Both of those setups are quite nice.  I have known that I need a better mic forever, but I have not had occasion to buy one.  I used to be an engineer/dj for my college radio station, and as such, I know what sounds good and what does not.  What I have currently most certainly does not.  My conundrum, however, is a chicken/egg thing.  I need better equipment to get a narration gig, but need a narration gig to justify better equipment. 
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Listener
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 12:12:49 PM »

I got most of my equipment when I was still working in radio -- it's about ten years old now. It's traveled with me to recording sessions, conventions, and three different houses in two states.

The microphone was $40 (it was on clearance or somesuch), the board was $110 (on sale), the stand was I think $30-$40, and the pop filters were $6 for a three-pack. I also spent about $150 on cables -- you'll probably only need to spend a fraction of that (one to connect the mic to the board, and one to connect the board to the computer), but I have a lot of other stuff that needed to go in and out of that board at the time -- other audio sources, my guitars, etc.

Honestly, if you have a good microphone and a good cheap stand (preferably one that doesn't sit on the table, as mine does), you can get an inexpensive board (the 4-track version of mine cost $75 at the time) and call it solved. The microphone is the most important part, followed by your sound card. My old Dell laptop had a great line-in, but the Toshiba I bought after it was pretty meh (very fuzzy and clipped). That's why I had to buy the computer, which was actually the most expensive thing -- $300 (I already had the monitor).

I don't have any soundproofing, but that stuff's not too expensive -- or you can just use foam from packages your IT guy gets. Depending upon what kind of room you want to record in, you may not need any; I'm in my basement, and as long as the water isn't running (the laundry room is in the kitchen, just above me) it's perfect. I do have to noise-cancel the heater in post-production, but if you can pick out on any of my StarShipSofa narrations when I did that, then you have better ears than me. (I can sometimes hear it in the ones I do for EP.) My basement is half-drywall and half-wood-wall, with a carpeted floor and an industrial-style drop ceiling.

Finally, spend the money to get a good pair of headphones. Earbuds -- especially iDevice earbuds -- do not cut it. I prefer these (http://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDR-V150-Monitor-Series-Headphones/dp/B000092YPR). They're comfortable, inexpensive (price has gone up $6 since I started using them in 2002, for a grand total of $21), and easy to get online. I have three pairs right now: one for work, one for home, one for the gym.

I'd say you could put together a little home studio for under $200, if you already have a computer that can bring in your audio and run your editing program.
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"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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matweller
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 12:34:18 PM »

I get slammed by some tech geek every time I show this, so be gentle. I know it's not perfect, but it's great for how I use it. The video's also longer than it needs to be, but I'm nothing if not verbose...

UPDATE: The previous link may not have worked, try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLS85Sn-GYA
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 11:52:55 AM by matweller » Logged
kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2012, 07:22:14 AM »

I get slammed by some tech geek every time I show this, so be gentle. I know it's not perfect, but it's great for how I use it. The video's also longer than it needs to be, but I'm nothing if not verbose...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLS85Sn-GYA

Can't see it, dude. It's private or somesuch.
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kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2012, 07:23:52 AM »

note to self:  update recording apparatus before applying for narration gig. 

Both of those setups are quite nice.  I have known that I need a better mic forever, but I have not had occasion to buy one.  I used to be an engineer/dj for my college radio station, and as such, I know what sounds good and what does not.  What I have currently most certainly does not.  My conundrum, however, is a chicken/egg thing.  I need better equipment to get a narration gig, but need a narration gig to justify better equipment. 

Seriously -- if you're looking to narrate, PM me. Can always use folks for Cast of Wonders. Smiley
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kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2012, 07:25:32 AM »

This is mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listener42/3917447039/

The picture is annotated, so you really should click through to Flickr to see it.

Thanks! Nicely notated, down to "miscellaneous crap." Smiley What software do you run?
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Listener
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2012, 09:51:36 AM »

This is mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listener42/3917447039/

The picture is annotated, so you really should click through to Flickr to see it.

Thanks! Nicely notated, down to "miscellaneous crap." Smiley What software do you run?

An ancient (like, more than 10 years old) version of Adobe Audition, from before they were bought by Adobe. One of our station's producers got hired and he brought it in, and it replaced Session 8, which is what I learned on. I would say Audition is WELL worth the money, too: Audacity is all well and good, but I've used it, and Audition is MUCH easier to use, once you get used to the fact that you right-click to move stuff around and left-click to highlight stuff. That took me a while.

Seriously -- if you're looking to narrate, PM me. Can always use folks for Cast of Wonders. Smiley

I'm going into the basement this weekend to record some stuff for Journey Into. If you have lines that you need, send 'em my way and I'll knock 'em all out together.
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"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2012, 11:54:50 PM »

On the software side, I've been using Reaper. I know a lot of folks use Audition and swear by it but at $350 it ain't cheap. (I'm sure you can find it cheaper online). To contrast, a full personal-use license for Reaper is $60; a full commercial license is $225. You can use the personal license if you're doing commercial work for an organisation whose yearly gross revenue doesn't exceed USD $20,000. And there's only one download which is not crippled in any way so you have a fair chance to evaluate.

Reaper is a proper DAW (Digital Audio Workbench) and so is a bit more powerful than Audacity. It took me a while to get used to it after using Audacity but it's been well worth it.
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danooli
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2012, 08:27:16 AM »

mine is actually similar to yours Kibitzer...but not in such a cool cabinet...i sit at my desk with my super loud desktop OFF, hang a blanket behind me, put a pillow between the desktop monitor and my snowball mic and i use my hubbys netbook to record on audacity.

maybe i'll take a pic when i record later today, but unless i clean up the pile of papers off to the side (read that as pay the bills and file them away) I won't want to :p
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danooli
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2012, 07:02:51 PM »



Here's my photo  Smiley
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kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 03:15:11 AM »

Your is way prettier than mine Wink Cheesy
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kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 07:07:10 PM »

I wasn't going to ask Wink
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danooli
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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2012, 08:03:36 PM »

So, since this was last posted to, I've produced a short audiobook through ACX and have had some interest from other authors.  I've upgraded my recording space a bit:



(In other words, commandeered a closet)
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 08:08:41 PM by danooli » Logged
kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2012, 08:17:23 PM »

Hey, WOW! That's looking fantastic Smiley How's it working out? Noticeably cleaner recordings?
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danooli
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2012, 08:27:17 PM »

I'll have to let you know.  We just finished for the evening and I'm exhausted.  I have an audition script for a really cute novella that I'll be recording tomorrow (at the authors request) so I'll let you know!  If nothing else, it can't be worse and it will sure be more comfortable...
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Scattercat
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« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2012, 01:51:15 AM »

Now I'm all paranoid.  I just have a mediocre microphone that I plug into my laptop and then perch on my tummy while I record the outro segments.  No one's complained about sound quality yet, but maybe they're all just too polite...

(Ha!  What am I thinking?  These are the EA forums.)

(I kid.  I kid because I love.)
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kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2012, 06:03:34 AM »

I've helped out with producing some audiobooks... a real learning experience. One doesn't realise just how much background noise gets in to a recording. Believe me, the cleaner the original recording, the better the output. Something like Danooli's setup really helps. In fact, I'm thinking I'll have to upgrade my own setup!
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danooli
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« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2012, 11:19:26 AM »

The new setup for me really helps. We've even taken the network out of the closet entirely and just have a monitor and mouse, the cables through the wall.
Nice and quiet.
And, i got another job through ACX!
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