Audiobook Clinic: How to be efficient as a narrator
March 18, 2014
Audiobook narration in a home studio is a time intensive enterprise.
So any narrator who hopes to narrate and produce a steady stream of books soon finds himself searching for techniques that allow him to make the most efficient use of his time.
I have vacillated back and forth on the issues I discuss below, but I suggest narrators experiment with the techniques to see which one seems to work the best.
I have mentioned in other blogs the technique of punch and roll recording. This process allows a narrator to stop at any place in the narration where he makes a mistake and re-record the flawed passage, removing the mistake in the process.
Audiobook Creation Exchange (“ACX”) allows a narrator/producer to upload finished audio files, but, under the current system, the files are limited to one per chapter. In other words each file represents a complete chapter, not portions of one, and not one containing multiple chapters.
This technical reality presents two options for the narrator.
First he can record, edit and master each chapter individually, and not leave the file until he has completed the entire process.
The big plus to the first approach is that when the narrator finishes the production of that chapter, he is done with it.
However, one of the challenges the voice over artist faces is maintaining consistent vocal quality across all the chapters of a book. That is not easy, and the difficulty increases if the narrator records various chapters at different times of the day. The human voice changes as the day wears on, as external factors (like a stopped up nose or a sore throat) manifest, and as fatigue sets in.
So probably the simplest way to keep the sound consistent is to narrate several chapters back to back as one continuous file.
This is where the second option comes into play.
Sometimes, I read two or three or four chapters at one sitting.
I still use punch and roll, and I build in room noise where appropriate, such as right before the chapter announcement, between the chapter announcement and the first word of the chapter and at the end of each chapter.
When I have finished the entire read I have one long session, but the chapter breaks are easy to spot by looking at the wave form.
Then all I have to do is save that long file as several different files. For instance if the long file contained chapters one through four of a book, I would save the entire long file as chapter one, chapter two, chapter three and chapter four. Then I go to each file and delete everything but the audio for one chapter. At the end of this process, I have four files of a chapter each, and I can then complete the editing and mastering and be set to go.
The big plus of the second option is that the sound, both vocal and room noise, should be consistent across all four chapters. The negative is that the narrator does not complete the entire process in one fell swoop.
I haven’t put a stop watch to it, but I believe the second option is quicker and more efficient. When a person is narrating, he may have a tendency to want to take a short break between chapters. These breaks can add up over the course of a book, and by reading multiple chapters at the same sitting the narrator eliminates some of this down time.