I recently recorded material for a voice-over assignment using a mix of software and studio equipment. Most of the equipment I utilised has been standard issue for many a year, the headphones for example will look very familiar to any broadcast engineer. Traditionally I have always printed my scripts, whether they are my own creations or the work of others and set to work performing them. However, on this occasion there were so many PDF files and screen shots to work from that I found myself running low on paper and ink. I took a somewhat radical decision to try and export the PDF files to a tablet e-reader I managed to borrow. It felt wrong somehow, holding aloft a thin block of plastic, metal and glass rather than the reassuring coarseness of A4 paper. It did of course save me a vast amount of time, a number of trees, and potentially money. I am now potentially sold on the idea of buying an e-reader…not a tablet computer you understand, and certainly not something to replace my beloved library of books. I am going to do some research and try to discover if someone has created an e-reader suited to scripts. In fact, there may be a gap in the market for something like that, and if I were technically minded I might be inclined to build a prototype and head for the ‘Dragon’s Den’!
As I consider my new found appreciation for the e-reader I can only marvel at the way I’ve managed to surround myself with a mix of outdated and modern technology. Yes, I am a traditionalist, but I can also see the sense in doing things in a smarter way as the technology evolves. In one corner of my study I have the PC with the sound editing software and access to the web and DropBox. There’s so much sense in these time and labour saving creations. In another corner I have a storage box brimming with cassette tapes I’m attempting to digitise, some still sporting the home-made covers I designed, photocopied and pieced together in the late eighties. And buried somewhere in a drawer is my beloved mini-disc recorder, a short-lived casualty of the digital age. Things have evolved incredibly over the years I’ve been dabbling in audio recording. I began with two tape cassette recorders, one a small and squat Philips machine that used to hook up to the ZX Spectrum computer, the other a tall and majestic Toshiba portable with built in microphone. My fellow ‘comedy’ performers and I would play sound effects and wibbly-wobbly pre-recorded voices from the Philips, and record everything ‘live’ into the Toshiba. All the editing was done later using my parent’s tape-to-tape hi-fi. It was all pretty low-tech, but I tell you what it still makes me laugh and I get a real kick out of listening back to those old hissy tapes. Oh, yes, an interesting aside…I once tried to compile a “best of” CD from my old comedy tapes and managed to copy a fair amount over to mini-disc format ready to edit. Unfortunately one of the tapes hadn’t survived too well and a crucial part of the audio was unusable. Now, here’s the clever bit! Despite it being a good 15 years since I recorded the original I managed to find the old Toshiba portable and a cassette and mimicked as best I could the original audio (I still had the crumpled old script!) – and it worked a treat! You should always leave your technological options open.
Technological Musings of a Voice-Over Artist © Richard A. Usher 2013