Does a Good Home Studio make you a Good Voice Actor?
Once upon a time, before the age of Coronavirus, the professional Home Studio was somewhat looked down upon. The pandemic has changed things but…
Does a good home studio make you a good voice actor?
Voice actors who invested thousands carefully and knowledgeably on building their home studio have, in the past, been told that their efforts weren’t good enough. Nothing, apparently, could compare to the air-conditioned wonders of engineering that were Pro Studios. Nothing except, perhaps, a home studio’s ability to keep working during a virus pandemic.
The Covid-19 situation has created something of a re-think about Home Studios. This has happened out of necessity. Across the voice over profession, production in Pro Studios has all but ground to a halt. Professional actors who have never had to record and produce themselves have been panicking. Meanwhile, Home Studio owners, initially smug at the flood of work heading their way, have seen competition for jobs increase tenfold.
A new Home Studio battle ground has played out many sorties on social media in the last few weeks. I have witnessed the downright irritation of many established Home Studio VOs
This home studio vs pro studio battleground is an intense and sometimes bitter stage which is populated by two clear sects
First, we have the well-appointed Home Studio narrators. These people realised some time ago that it was indeed possible to build a top line studio in the comfort of your own home. Through diligent research, training and not a small amount of hard cash they have built their very own broadcast quality facilities. More importantly they know how to use them. These people understand that a Neumann u87 isn’t going to sound like it cost £2,500 if the only sound proofing/conditioning you’ve invested in is empty egg boxes on your thin walls.
Second, we have the Home Studio entryists. These people have the work but not the place to record. They are usually represented by top agencies who are desperate to keep their clients working. Talented though they undoubtedly are, they have never studied the art of building or operating a recording facility. They are discovering that buying Blue Yeti microphone on Amazon and plugging it into their laptop isn’t going to keep them in work. These people are often brilliant VOs but wouldn’t know a DAW if it charged them a £19.97 a month subscription fee.
But, does a good home studio make you a good voice actor?
The home studio battle ground has played out many sorties on social media in the last few weeks
I have witnessed the downright irritation of many established Home Studio VOs. I share their frustration when a Voice Actor who has never recorded themselves before makes no effort to research their questions but just expects a more experienced performer to tell them what to do. It’s lazy and unprofessional I get that.
On the other hand, nobody chose to be locked down by a pandemic. I’m sure that plenty of established VOs who simply never had to build or run their own studio are pretty terrified by having to learn at breakneck speed. All actors know that if they can’t do something right now a producer will quickly find an alternative someone who can. Time is of the essence for retaining the work you do have. Under these pressurised conditions it’s perfectly understandable that a VO who needs Home Studio knowledge will look for the most direct source they can find i.e. someone who already runs a successful Home Studio.
It’s true that if you need to learn how to do something in voice over you shouldn’t go about it in a lazy way
The essential truth of being a voice actor
Amidst all this angst and frustration I do find myself reminded of an essential truth of being a Voice Actor. Your performance is everything. While having superior kit can make your work more efficient, it can’t make you more talented. Just because you can afford to build cutting edge facilities in your home doesn’t make you a better VO than someone who can’t.
It’s true that if you need to learn how to do something in voice over you shouldn’t go about it in a lazy way. Do your research, watch YouTube, understand your requirements. Then when you do approach an established VO for help setting up your Home Studio you are at least paying them the courtesy of having a clue what you need.
Lazily asking “How do I set up a home studio then?” is disrespectful. Perhaps a better question might be: Can you recommend a good sound conditioning material for the cupboard under the stairs that I’ve just proofed with rock wool and plasterboard?
That said, if you are an established VO who needs to construct a studio fast on a limited budget don’t be afraid to ask intelligent questions from an established studio if you need to. And certainly, don’t feel inferior to another Voice Actor because they have a more expensive home set up then you do.
In these crazy unprecedented times, we should be showing kindness and respect to our fellow professionals. We might not all be in the same boat, but we are sailing in the same storm right now. Any sailor will tell you that a ship is only as good as her captain. Similarly, no amount of high-tech kit will make you a better Voice Actor. If the sound is good enough to allow your talent to be heard that’s all that matters.
After all, a successful career in Voice Over is about more than just a Home Studio!