Voicing Concerns


Have you ever tried to record audio tracks for something in a home studio while a loud party was in full swing downstairs?  It’s certainly a challenge, and proved to be an interesting experience for me recently.  Previously I have always created my #OnThisDay sketch material as a solo performer using my home studio facilities.  ‘On This Day’ is a sketch series re-telling the stories behind key moments in history with a comical edge.  I’ve re-staged executions, moments of great invention, and even space missions, all featuring my own looney range of original characters and bucket loads of sound effects!  Generally speaking the approach and process is always the same.  I check various sources for details of key events carry out a little further research and then write and perform the scripts, recording the audio digitally.

In terms of the performance I approach this by reading the lines one character at a time, usually sight reading if the script is fresh in my memory.  This method tends to save time in the editing process, but of course you have to be mindful of how each line links up and what the context is, always imagining the flow of the dialogue so you can match the characters together effectively.  On occasion there will need to be an interruption, or perhaps there might be a small crowd of characters heckling in the background – it all requires a bit of forethought and careful judgement.  Should there be a need for some Foley style effects creation I will usually add that into the recording session.  Once I have all the dialogue recorded I will digitally edit each line to be an individual numbered cut, opening up all the audio files in a multi-channel digital editing programme.  After adding in a range of sound effects – some to be tweaked or treated with filters to serve a very different purpose – it is then a matter of laying down the tracks across the channel windows and beginning the process of blending them all together.

Back in the mists of time I used to write and record comedy sketches with a dear old friend who shared the same mad sense of humour.  A few months ago I was nudged to try and resurrect this recording partnership, something I had long wanted to do in any case.  Life kept getting in the way, with either my friend or me being busy, so when I knew Mark would be attending a party at my home I got busy writing!  Sure enough, Mark was keen as mustard to do some recording once more, and everything was set.  The only difference for this re-union recording would be the fact that we would not be recording together at the same time in the way we used to.  It was still enormous fun though, breaking away to the kitchen to briefly read through the scripts, that old dynamic still evident.  We were soon joined by two curious partygoers who showed a keen interest in taking on some voice roles – this would be an interesting departure for my ‘On This Day’ output!

Very soon I had the home studio set up, the recording was in progress, and three willing volunteers (Mark, Geoff and Alex) took their places before the microphone and performed their lines.  We could hear the bass of the music downstairs, and gales of hearty laughter wafting up from the party, but we all persevered.  I soon had numerous sound files recorded and ready for editing.  Of course I still had my own lines to perform, which I did a couple of days after the party, and I did worry that the levels might not match up, or that the ambient sounds on the party recordings might cause an issue.  Well, I need not have been concerned!  Miraculously the sound proofing masked most of the ambient noise, and the material most affected would end up with crowd atmosphere beneath it in any case and sounded so much better for it.  It wasn’t the same as two chums sharing a microphone and having a good laugh, but it was a fun and worthwhile experience – and as Eric Morecambe used to say, “You can’t see the join!”

Media Creative: Voice Artist, performer, supporting artiste, writer, broadcaster and stage 'Goon'! Lover of comedy, film music and a pot of Darjeeling.

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