- Record everything on the same day with only short breaks.
- Be conversational. Pick one person to talk to and talk to him or her. If you sound like you’re reading, you’re going to bore your audience.
- If you fluff a line, start at the beginning of the paragraph/scene and start again. Vocal quality and intonations change every time you read – you cannot just drop a sentence into the middle of a paragraph after the fact and have it sound like it belongs there.
- Give three seconds of silence before and after everything you record.
- Find a quiet room with a low ceiling and lots of drapes, carpeting and soft furnishings to record in.
If recording straight to computer
- The easiest to use audio recording software is also free – Audacity.
If using a mic on a stand
- use the highest quality USB mic possible. Many laptops now take a single plugin like a mobile phone earpiece so pin mics don’t function well if at all with them.
If you cannot get a room as above
- grab a couple of sofa cushions and put them in a V behind the mic being used. Ensure the mic stand is resting on something soft so it doesn’t pick up desk vibrations.
If using a lapel mic
- the very best thing to wear is a soft t-shirt with no jewellery – especially no necklaces, bangles or jangly earrings.
If using a Toshiba Satellite laptop, to charge it up before and NOT try to record with it plugged into power as Toshies plugged in can cause issues.
If using a camera to record the audio
- If not using a tripod, ensure the camera body is resting on something soft.
- Position yourself with your back up against a wall. If you can get those aforementioned sofa cushions and can put them behind you to deaden sound, all the better.
- If using the mic off the camera, see if you can adjust the mic’s “cardiod” pattern. Some cameras allow you to narrow the focus of the mic to cut down on background noise.
- Get a copy stand for whatever it is you’re reading – like the ones used for typing . I use my computer’s second monitor.
- Read through a few times and mark up script to allow for pauses, breaths, word combinations giving you trouble, etc.
- Hit record and say nothing for 30 seconds. Play back and eliminate what background noise you can. If the volume of the background noise increases during your recording, chances are you may have “auto gain” on. This pumps up quiet sound. Turn it off. Record your 30 seconds of silence again.
- Record the opening few sentences and ensure that you’re not recording too “hot” (loud and distorted) or too low. Adjust volume, seating positing, etc.
- Check that you have adequate “pop” and sibilance barriers or strategies. Record the following sentences “Sammy the snake confesses his desire to see some sea snakes. Then “Popcorn, big boy, peanuts, people.” Play it back and adjust. If you have a pop filter, ensure it isn’t touching the mic. If you don’t, back away from the mic.
- Once you’ve adjust for background noise, sibilance and popping and you’ve checked all your levels, start recording.
- Record in coherent chunks or scenes.
- Drink a small bit of water after recording each scene. Avoid milky, viscous drinks.
- Play back what you’ve recorded and fix any errors before going on to the next scene. Label as you go.
- When you are finished, save your work.
- If you take a break, take a mental note of where you were in relation to the mic before you get up.
- When you return from a break (even a short one), play back your earlier recording to pick up the rhythm and timbre of your work so that you can match it.
- Record a test phrase and compare it to your earlier work.
- Save as you go.
- If you do multiple takes, mark on your script which bits you did second and third takes for. Say what your favourite one is.
- Play back the finished recordings in sequence to ensure it sounds like one piece, that all scenes match in terms of pace, quality, timbre, pitch, etc.