Not only is it great to speak with a client, but the client is able to listen in real time, make script adjustments and give much appreciated insight. All of which helps to reduce the need for re-takes and saves a lot of time. Something as simple as adding a comma can change the whole meaning of a sentence.
A live directed voice over session allows for much more input for a voice talent to follow that they wouldn’t otherwise have by just looking at a script.
Directing a voice talent live is possible through many different forms. Some ways are old and complicated (ISDN), and some are new and simple (IP-based streaming codecs).
When I decided to incorporate live directed sessions into my studio setup, I wanted to make sure it was convenient for the client.
Here’s a list of the options available when needing to connect to a recording studio remotely:
ISDN, Great For It’s Time But Better Options Now Exist
Maybe before digital delivery, in the days of mailing voice over on reels, ISDN would be more useful.
To be honest, I’ve been in voice over since 1999, and I’ve never once worked with ISDN.
As far as the technology goes, it’s excellent! Especially when you consider it’s age. I think it was (and is, if you have it already) a great solution to connect studio to studio.
Unfortunately, if you don’t already have it, the phone company may not offer it in your area or if it is available, it’s a difficult installation (some phone company reps will have no idea what ISDN is if you ask about it).
With the cost of installation along with line charges for use, it quickly becomes obvious how unpractical ISDN is nowadays. ISDN is quickly being replaced by more affordable alternatives.
So due to the high cost, infrequent request for ISDN connections by clients and it not even being available in my area, ISDN just wasn’t a reality.
The Good Old Phone Patch
Up until just a few years ago, I used a phone patch exclusively. It’s basically just a phone land line patched into the mixing board in the studio. A call is placed to the client, who can then listen while I record their voice over script. They give feedback and note changes in real time. Then the high quality audio file is sent to the client after the call ends.
It worked very well, but the call quality was poor.
The Skype Method
Skype works just like the phone patch, but without the phone. If it’s a Skype to Skype call, it’s free and usually very clean audio and you can add video if you need to.
While the call quality is better than a land line, I still record the voice over on my end and transfer the file to the client after the session.
A client who doesn’t have Skype is able to call my Skype number.
This is my preferred way for live direction. The way it’s setup and run through my mixer, I hear the client in my headphones and the client hears me from the studio microphone. Only the mic on my end is recorded, so the client doesn’t need to mute their side.
It’s a great setup!
Source-Connect and IPDTL: Remote Side Recording
Source-Connect is an option for directing voice over sessions with the added benefit being the amazing audio quality (considered an ISDN alternative). The quality of audio is so high that the listening studio can record on their end and have the voice over in real time. It works great but is a program clients need to download and requires an iLok USB, which can be somewhat of a hassle.
Source-elements recently came out with Source-Connect Now which eliminates the need for an iLok USB and program download requirement. All you need is a Chrome browser. And believe it or not, Source-Connect Now is FREE at broadcast quality! You have the option to upgrade if you plan on doing conference calls.
IPDTL is a another option which provides excellent call quality (another ISDN alternative) and is so simple, all you need is Google Chrome. It’s amazing that we’ve gone from the complications, expense and hassle of ISDN to an ISDN alternative that just needs a web browser! I’m very impressed with IPDTL.
I’ve never really understood the real upside to remote side recording (where the studio on the other end records the audio). Maybe some talents are slow to send the file. That’s not how I work. As soon as the session ends, the file is on it’s way to the client.
My preference is Skype or Source-Connect Now simply because every client I work with has a phone (or in the case of Source-Connect Now, a web browser). Skype and Source-Connect Now are simple to use without much setup, so it works with a range of clients. True, with Skype I have to send the audio file after the session but it takes only minutes to upload. And I know the quality from my studio will be top notch with no glitches in the audio from missing bits of data.
Even though I prefer the Skype or Source-Connect Now method, it’s not about what I like. So I use Skype, Source-Connect, Source-Connect Now and IPDTL in order to meet any client’s needs for live directed voice over sessions.