Setting up as a Voiceover with a Home Studio was a scary business for me. I knew I wanted to do it, I knew I wanted to make that switch to being available to many jobs over the internet rather than solely relying on my Agent to land me a gig in a big studio in London or elsewhere in the country. So I was ready....
Being a total techno-phobe though, made decisions on what equipment to buy almost impossible. I mean, how could I possibly know the in-depth specifications of a particular microphone and pre-amp when I didn't know my USB from my XLR?! I had much experience working a studio where the wonderful, technical engineers took care of all of that. Until now, I had showed up, sounded pretty, never really taking any notice of the impressive gear around me - it just was a whole world away from my knowledge and skill-set.
I swotted up on all I could about Voiceover Equipment on the internet, but like I said, I am a technophobe. Also it was in the Dark Ages, when I had not yet discovered Twitter, or LinkedIn, or GooglePlus, or any of the other wonderful Social Network sites which now enhance my career (is it too sad to say 'my life'?!). So in the end, I bottled the decision making process after procrastinating for far too long, and went for a 'Voiceover Starter Pack' recommended by Gary Terzza. Gary is one of the UK's most familiar voices for his TV work on E4, among many others. He also runs www.VoMasterclass.com, training and recording demo's for newbie's, and sometimes the more experienced VO's too. I'd had a few years out of the business for motherhood, and Gary helped boost my confidence to return to the business - many thanks to Gary.
I bought Gary's Home Recording Kit, which consisted of a USB Alesis Microphone complete with stand (which means you plug it straight into your computer, and therefore you don't need a pre-amp, mixer or audio interface of any description), a pop-shield (to prevent any extra wind getting to your microphone and ruining your recording when you speak, especially on plosives like 'p' and 'b'), a basic set of headphones, and a disk of Audacity recording software to record and edit with (you can download this for free from the internet too). Plus there was a simple acoustic screen to help with noise levels in the room reaching the microphone. Nothing flash, all perfectly simple, and a great place to start. (I know Gary has updated the equipment now to make it suitable for recording to iPad. Have a look at https://sites.google.com/a/vomasterclass.com/home-recording-kit/)
The equipment gave me a place to hone my skills, and allowed me to begin auditioning online with the likes of Voices.com and Voice123.com, without the risk of a huge outlay for technical equipment. I hadn't the foggiest idea how to edit and produce simple audio, how to convert files to mp3 or wav, how to produce effects, how to cut out unpleasant mouth noise. But I quickly picked up some skills, and crucially a few small gigs, and grew in confidence rapidly. I lacked a 'proper' recording booth, but with encouragement from my new online Voiceover Community, I experimented with duvets, blankets, and room positioning to find the 'perfect-spot-for-now-while-I-save-my-pennies-for-better-studio-equipment', and found a great recording spot inside our old airing cupboard at the top of the stairs, which my husband kindly and enthusiastically converted for me.
In this blog, I have shared with you my thoughts and decisions when I was starting out working as a Voiceover from home. I hope it will inspire you to take a step. How can you reach for the top in the VO world, when you haven't even begun on the bottom rung of the ladder? Make a decision on your first home recording set-up, and go for it. And to all you other established VO's out there - how did you get going in the beginning? None of us became experts overnight. What would you have done differently if you had been 'in the know'? Please share your stories and experiences in the comment section below.