How To Set Up Your Recording Booth For Voice Over
Check out the podcast here - A VO's JOURNEY PODCAST Ep. 2
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Welcome to A VO's JOURNEY.
My name is Anthony Pica and this is episode two. I am so excited to be back. I want to start off just thanking everybody for all of the amazing words and all of the praise and just I don't pouring of uh, love and, and I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much. It means the world to me. Um, I've have to be honest with you guys. I literally have been thinking about doing this podcast all day while I was at work and everything.
So I'm, like I said yesterday, I'm a teacher and I had a good day at work, but I just literally been thinking about this all day, so I'm so excited to finally be here tonight doing the podcast and um, today we're going to dive right in to setting up a booth and how I set up my booth.
It, his worked incredible. It is cheap and it doesn't have to be a, the crazy thousands of dollars that you hear about a. again, not that that's bad.
I mean, it's wonderful. Whisper rooms are incredible, but there's also other ways to make it happen.
Um, anyways, so moving forward with, um, tonight I want to start off again by welcoming everybody in letting you know that this podcast is about helping the new voice over artists, um, make some money, learn how to be a VO, uh, in this crazy world. And I'm with me on this journey to try to make a career out of this thing.
So, um, tonight I want to talk about my booth. I want to talk about a cool, uh, I don't know, kind of like epiphany I had today a while I was at work and, um, yeah. And, and see where else tonight leads us.
So anyways, um, real quick story before we talk about the booth. I was at work today and um, was working on comparing and contrasting some different pieces of theater and cinema from the past and the present and uh, came across a song.
So I don't know if many of you are theater junkies like myself, but, um, I, uh, love, uh, Annie, the movie the musical. I've produced the musical, directed it. Um, I've watched the movie a million times, but there was a movie that came out in 2014, the new movie with Jamie Foxx.
And um, I had never seen it. So, uh, was working on that today. I watched it, and I know this might sound Corny, but there is a song in there, um, and um, by the little girl Annie, she sings, it's called opportunity and it is just the most beautiful song and you really should check it out.
And, uh, I really, you get it on YouTube and just type in opportunity and then Annie on YouTube and pull it up and you'll see is absolutely amazing.
But the reason why I'm telling you about this is because she sings the song about this her moment, um, and this is her opportunity and she's going to put on the best show. A part of it is luck, but the other part of it is up to her.
And, um, I really think that is us. This is our opportunity and it's only going to be what we do with it. So the world is watching. And let's put on our best show.
So anyways, that's my, that's my soap box about that. Um, anyways, so I want to talk to you. Let's move on to the booth. So I'm really actually excited to talk to you about this because I'm quite happy with it.
So anyways, moving bank, um, right when I started being a voiceover artist, I had no idea what I was doing. I've always mixed a live theater or a live sound.
I've never, you know, I had never mixed, um, recorded sound and there's a difference, of course, you know, because when you're live you don't have to worry about uh, well we, you do worry about acoustics, but differently when you don't worry about the sound bouncing off the walls per se, you're trying to, uh, control, uh, how loud things are so that you can hear clearly and so forth and frequencies.
And we do that here to an extent. But our job is to also make sure that the sound that is going through to our files is the very purest and cleanest it can be.
So that starts with a, um, a recording space that is going to be quiet as well as not have a lot of, um, reverb, which is what we call a sound waves, a bouncing off of walls and hearing it, it is the time it takes for your voice to bounce off of a wall and come back to hit the microphone.
And it sounds like, uh, you know, that saying where it sounds like you're in a big room and, uh, just you hear an echo. Um, so that's a reverb.
Uh, so anyways, um, one way we do it is to cut that out, is to create a booth or some sort of structure that we can record in that stomps the sound from bouncing off the walls that absorbs it. Um, there is many different ways to do this and I'm going to talk about a couple, but like I said, I'm going to talk about the booth that I created, um, and kind of the journey I was on.
So, uh, I, I literally went on Youtube and I looked up different booths are different ways, um, to a stomp the reverb. And I came across this guy who was talking about blankets and pillows. I didn't have any money to spend on acoustic tiling.
I didn't have money to spend on trying to deaden sound in my house and the space I was in, and I don't know if anybody experienced this, but, um, I think the reality is, I don't know if you, if you've watched any other shows, but I swear every, every show I watch on YouTube, it's like someone just happens to have the most perfect space that they're recording in.
And it just looked so wonderful and then they just pop up some things and it's like Walla. It's amazing. While I was in literally a room that had an ad to two entrances and exits one into the kitchen, one into the hallway, it was right on the end.
I'm in a different house now and I'll tell you about the house I'm in now. But where I started was, I'm in this room, we were right next to the railroad tracks, so the train and they were very active railroad tracks.
So the train went by all the time. And I, I'm literally a, was like, it had to be the loudest room and I happen to have, we had bought a new refrigerator I'm not kidding.
And it just so happened that the refrigerator was literally right next to the doorway. So like every time, every time I would go to record, the refrigerator was turning on to make ice and everything and it could hear all of this.
So, uh, you know, it was. So I had a sound, I had a noise issue as well as reverberations. But anyways, so the further research I did, I had come across some people who, uh, were doing some sound tests with blankets and pillows and different things and acoustic tiles and foam and found that the reality is, uh, most of the acoustic foam and things that you have, um, blankets, certain types of blankets and pillows work just as good or better than, than, than the foam.
So I literally went out and I had this idea that I was going to create a structure out of PVC pipe.
And a, I, there's, there's lots of different. I think there's some tutorials on YouTube about other people. I think I've seen some other people who do it too, but basically what I did is I took my desk.
So this is what I suggest if you're looking for a way to do this. So I took my desk, I measured the size of my desk and I wanted to be able to come in, in and out of this structure. I wanted to be able to stand up and record and sit down if I needed to, but also be at my desk for all of my equipment that needed to sit on it. So I measure the size of my desk. Uh, I measured the depth, so my desk was just happened to be around four feet wide and then it was a couple, it was about two feet deep.
And um, so I did pretty much like a four by four literally. And then the height I wanted to be able to stand up.
So I did the height at around six, six, which is, which for me, I'm like, who am I? Five eight. So, you know, six, six is pretty all pretty tall, so I did that and I went to Lowe's and I got pvc pipe and I got fasteners they have those um, corner fasteners, they have the ends that you can put three different sides of a pvc piping and I basically put a rudimentary structure together that held itself up and the shape of a rectangle using these ends.
And I'm a, I cut the PVC pipe at the time. I had literally a hand saw and that I had bought from Lowe's for a couple of dollars. It took awhile, I have to admit, it took awhile to get off of my chair, but I did and I put the structure together and then I bought packing blankets and I started out with one set of packing.
Well, when I mean one set, I mean for, I bought four sets of packing blankets but meaning that each side.
So I had the back the front, uh, and well actually, so the structure, the packing blankets made it all the way around. So I had four. So I'm three. Made it around all the signs and then one over the top. So when I did that, it completely took care of the reverb. However, what it didn't take care of was the sound.
I mean the noise. So I realized that no matter what would the packing blankets, they help the river, but they didn't do anything for the noise. So what I started to do was go on an adventure for finding different ways to deaden the extra noise, which I will talk about later. But um, what I, uh, what I did though is his first I had to eliminate that reverb.
And um, that's how I created my own booth. Um, oh. And what I did was I simply bought from Lowe's some, um, um, grips or some clamps, some hand clamps that you can just squeeze, you know, the, the black ones. And then there's the silver ones with the blue tips. Are there tips?
And our fan base knows, but they're, they're not very expensive. I spent under $100 to do this. And then what I did was, is I took some pills from home and I pushed them on the sides, on the bottom. I took a blanket that I had at home, put it over desk, Tom. Uh, I had a light, uh, and um, I use an iMac computer, just something that I happened to have. It wasn't something I bought, I'd had it for years since 2011 and I started from there.
So, and, and we're going to talk about equipment and another episode, but I just wanted to talk about the booth and everything, but I also wanted to talk to you about something else with a booth at a friend.
Really, really cool. So I stopped there and I recorded for a while, you know, I recorded for a long time with just that and I was able to find some different ways to reduce the noise floor. Uh, which the noise floor is the um, the like your room noise.
So like you're the, the room level that the noises at, in your, in your recording area. Uh, so I was, uh, you know, I went and found some different plugins and things that helped with that, but, um, I, when I moved to my new home, I don't know why this was, but, uh, I, I had this whole new room that I, that I'm using just for our recording now and uh, I had my booth, same one I built before and I brought it up, but the room itself is all wood.
I mean the floor is all wood and I'm the walls and everything.
It was very echoey in the room. So when I set up my booth, what I found was, is that it's still echoed and I was like, oh, this is crazy because I put my blankets or anything.
So I went out and I bought another set that will made it all the way around again, just like I bought a, a second set of four blankets and I put them up. I put a extra set up against the back and then of course decked out the rest of it.
Like I told you, excuse me, and I have to say, it works fantastic. The sound, um, is, is, is wonderful and it just, it, it completely deadens the sound or the reverb and um, the sound is pure. I have like barely no noise level and um, or no noise, you know, and, and it just is wonderful.
So I'm thrilled with it. The noise itself from outside. I happened to be in a quiet neighborhood.
So that's still the reality is, is I moved to another place where it's a quiet neighborhood and that has helped a lot. I don't have a train anymore. I don't have planes flying over by, I don't have loud roads, but if you have those things, my suggestion is you start with the reverb record at night.
I know that might not be an option for some of you, but recording at nighttime really helped me. I kind of had to record at nighttime anyways because of my family. Um, I had to wait till my kids go to bed so I know if any of you have kids out there, but I have a couple. They're young and uh, you know, I don't get to spend time with them unless I spend time with them at night before they go to sleep.
So what I do even even now I'm recording this, it's, you know, the, all the kids are to bed and my wife went to sleep and I'm up in my booth recording for you guys. And then after this is done, I'll go ahead and work on a book that I'm doing called, um, the gratitude effect by Nancy Baldwin A.
Anyways, so I record at night and what I found is, is that it really is a lot quieter at night and it is a great time to record. So my advice to you is if you are having a loud noise problem in your area that you're recording in record at night, if that's possible.
Um, if it's not possible. Like I said, there are some ways that you can, uh, take out the noise from your, from your floor and you know, go from there. But my best advice is to create this booth that I told you how to do and go ahead and try to record at night, get the packing blankets, get the hand the clamps.
It shouldn't cost you more than $100. I mean, I guess it depends on where you live. It might be a little bit over, it might be, you know, hopefully it's under, but it should be around there and use some blankets and stuff you have at home and you literally can create a fantastic booth with under $100.
Um, and the cool thing about this booth too is that it was portable. So for the first year, so that I did my business, I literally took down my booth every single night. Now I have to tell you that was a pain in the butt, especially if I recorded into the like two or three in the morning and I'm trying to take down this PVC pipe booth without waking anybody.
It was a pain. It was a pain, no doubt. But, um, it did teach me a lot about perseverance in Africa.
It was a pain. It was, it was a pain. I'm not gonna lie, it was a pain. I don't recommend it, but at the same time I guess I kept telling myself, you know, you do what you gotta do. Uh, so, um, there was some nights where I didn't do recording because I just didn't want to put up the booth and take it down, but uh, I made it through that and finally found a way to keep it up. So this is just one structure. You can put something like this together and a closet. You can put something like this together and understands somewhere totally Harry Potter.
It, uh, you can do whatever you, wherever you can find a space, um, that is easier for you to create a structure or put up some sort of acoustic treatment. I'm like, I'm just literally using packing blankets and different home blankets and so forth.
And the sound's great. So, um, tell. Anyway, so yeah, so that's, that's the booth that I created and hopefully that helps you. And I can tell you this too, I'm really going to.
You-tube will help if you're not quite sure about the structure in your mind, but literally I have three tiers, so I have a bottom structure with the PVC pipe that makes a rectangle, but I ha, I leave the bottom open on the end that I walk into and then I leave the second tier. Uh, it's three pipes, so there's three pipes on the bottom that go and, and, and a rectangular shape.
There's three pipes in the middle that go in rectangular shape and I leave one of them, one of our, one on each of those levels off so I can walk into the booth. And then on the top there's four pints that go around the top.
And then I literally connect each one of those sections with um, uh, either there are three three way, a PVC connectors or the top ones are just the elbow joints. So you can literally put it together for next to nothing.
PVC Pipe is cheap, you just have to cut it and even some lows will cut it for you. I know home depot cuts stuff for you too, so whether you, which one or even ace hardware or even if you have a local hardware shop or somewhere that you can get a plumbing shop, you can get PVC pipe. It really is easy and it's quiet. Um, you know, unless you're hitting it and stuff. But other than that it's really sturdy and it works wonders.
So, um, anyway, so that's my booth and if you have any questions about it, please feel free to message me. Um, and, or, you know, ask me a question through, uh, through the sound cloud account or message me.
Um, you can send me a message at my email address, which is a tp [email protected] I probably should put a link to that or something. And um, you know, and anything you want like that or you can message me on Facebook at Anthony Pica. VO Or um, leave a comment. I'm, I'm new.
So I'm just on iTunes. It just popped up. So please subscribe and um, if you like to give, give me a good rating and uh, if you didn't that's okay too. Let me know, you know, what, what, what, uh, you know, what, what you like, um, and uh, I work really hard to help you out. So, um, I wanted to leave off today also letting you guys know just really quickly something about today was uh, or yesterday after I had gotten done ACX. So I do a audio books as well. So part of some things that we'll be going over also is the different areas that we can create money.
And uh, when I first started recording I did audio books and royalty deals and I started, um, you know, kind of racking up those books. I learned a process, uh, from an awesome a vo coach named Earl Hall and uh, he's really cool.
Check him out. He has, he's everywhere. I'm earl hall was his name and now he helped me with a process and then I took that process and I kind of modified it myself and came up with some ways. Anyways, needless to say, I found a way to pick books on, um, on audible or excuse me, ACX, which is the platform that Amazon are audible owns, which Amazon owns that uses to find our connect narrators with the, um, with the book creators, with the Authors and anyways, so I found a way to pick books that reduced the amount of time it took me to record them and also maximize the amount of money I would make with royalties.
So, um, I did a whole bunch of books and I started getting these royalty payments. So like yesterday I got paid, it was a February, was there about their month behind February's a little slower month. So I made about $560 that I got paid and it's like directly deposited into my bank account.
Usually it's around, it can be from 800 to a thousand dollars depending on how many bounties and bounties are these things that ACX pays. If a person within an account that opens up a, a subscription account, if the first, um, if the first book they buy their free book with their subscription account is one of your books, they give you $25.
Well they give you 50, but you split the royalties, what the author. So he gets the, you know, he or she gets 50 to $25 and then you get $25. But it's really great because, you know, you know, you sell, you know, 10, 20, 30 of those and you're already making hundreds and hundreds of dollars just by selling a couple of books.
So that's really nice. But anyways, I just wanted to tell you that. So, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm selling, I sell some knives between 400 to six, 700 books a month.
Uh, and that is, um, I get a royalty from that. Uh, so that's really nice. That's kind of where I am right now. I'm the last book I did as a royalty deal. I went through and it took off and I'm uh, this is in the second month and it's already sold 50, 60 books and um, I've, I have to be honest about it though. I've done a really piss poor job of actually promoting the books. So we're gonna we're gonna work on that. I think we're gonna I'm gonna try something and we're going to see if I can promote it.
I was reading some things about reddit and that and so forth, but we'll talk about.
We'll, I'll know I'll, we'll launch a book. I launched a book or do one and then when we go to do it, I'll try to promote it some because they see x gives you free books to promote and stuff. And I've done a very poor job of actually promoting the books.
But anyways, I'm digressing. So, um, I hope this was helpful. I feel like just get it started talking. I'm looking at them and I'm like, oh my gosh, it's 24 minutes. So, um, thank you. Hopefully you stuck around again to the end. I really, really appreciate it.
If you have any questions, comments, please send them to me, messaged them to me, subscribe and, uh, tell your friends. Hopefully this is helpful. I want to keep on this theme of want to get into equipment and a Daw, which is digital audio workspace. And I'm going to keep talking about throughout this.
I'm going to keep sprinkling it with what's actually happening. So like right now I'm recording an audio book, like I said earlier, it's called, it's written by Nancy Baldwin and it is the gratitude effect.
And um, it's a fantastic book and it's about 21,000 words or so. And I'm, you know, I'm, I'm making, I think like I'm being paid $500 to do this book, which is, you know, a couple hours of work if 9,500 words an hour, which is typical of finished our work.
Um, you know, that would make this book around to and you know, two hours and 20 minutes, two hours and 15 minutes when I was 20 minutes of finished work, which if we do it right, if we do it right, we try to get a two to one kind of ratio, meaning that you would like to only work or I only like to work two hours for every one hour I record and if I can keep it to that, that means that, you know, I only were four to five hours on the book as opposed to me working three or four extra hours per hour, which is a standard.
Usually three, three hours is a standard that's judged off of per finished hour, but I really try to keep it to two and we'll go over some techniques that I've learned that, that hopefully will help you guys out when it comes to editing and mastering because I do all that myself. So anyways. Um, okay. I'm going to go this time.
Thank you again very much and look forward to tomorrow night for the next one. We'll talk about equipment. I'll talk to you about the mic, my earphones, my DAW, um, my audio box, etc.
All right, well, thank you guys so much again, and uh, this was A VO's JOURNEY and I will talk to you tomorrow night piece.