The voiceover talent: a smart professional…
Ever since audio technology has gone from analog to digital electronics, we italian voiceover talents have immediately thought about how to remotely interact . Someone will remember one of The Voice’s Frank Sinatra last albums. It was titled “Duets” and was recorded by Frank in his Palm Springs studio, while all the artists he surrounded himself sang from their respective residences: Bono Vox lying on his sofa from the STS studios in Dublin, Charles Aznavour from France, Aretha Franklyn directly from his Motown studio in Detroit.
It was 1992 and technology already made it possible to sing a voice in Europe and record it in the United States, thanks to ISDN digital telephone lines. Needless to say, such technology was reserved to those who had large capitals. Recording studios in the first place. To equip a fully-fledged voiceover room, an investment was needed that touched the equivalent of one hundred thousand euros today. Obviously for an italian advertising voice talent it represented a heavy investment. I don’t want to bother you telling the story of how technology has evolved since then, we also plunge to the present day. Owning an italian voiceover home studio is certainly an opportunity, the important thing is not to become a slave to it. Or worse, to be considered as the voice in front of the microphone 24 hours a day: to a voice actor could be a devaluation in terms.
“Ah, will you play this little phrase?” – “Come on, there are only a few lines” – “Listen as soon as you have a moment I have a retake, a no brainer …”
The risk is losing one’s professionalism, being always considered there, as a part of the furniture of the house, a small hut always open with the sign “dubbing rates” on display.
In my career as an italian advertising voiceover I have always appreciated human contact, the meeting with the various people who make up the world of advertising production: Copywriters, creative directors, producers, other voice actors… It is essential to talk in person also to understand the details of what is required, the emotions that you want to achieve, the depth of a voice for the type of production …
In Italy there’s a cognitive limit on accepting that the voiceover can work from home …
The need for human contact when dealing with an Italian voice artist, is also often expressed on the other side of production. In part for the reasons I have just expressed, very often due to the dutiful mediation of the production companies that manage the voiceovers of the commercials and manage their remuneration as part of their markup to the advertising agency … Very often these production facilities also have the their internal recording studio, hire people, need to run. As long as all this held up, everything went wonderfully. The italian voice talent aboard his scooter grinded kilometers from one studio to another, from one television to another, like a deliveroo of the advertising voicing, ringing contracts and writings and thus justifying a busy life…
The most active professionals have equipped with personal headphones, to be used in every studio to avoid unwanted contact with equipment used a bit by everyone, not to mention the microphone screens (the pop shields). Recently I learned of a colleague who is still active going from one studio to anogher with his own screen to be mounted on the microphone, to avoid unwanted proximity to the pop shields used by all the other colleagues. A health care that has become premonitory today.
With the health emergency, the voiceover artist with a home studio becomes a precious resource
And here we are at the italian voiceover talent at the time of Covid 19. What just last month represented a commercial opportunity to speed up the production process, like owning an italian home audio studio, now becomes a necessity. Multi voiceover sessions are organized in connection with several private houses where the voices are forced to stay, with the producers, who no longer work at the office, writers follow the voices of the Italian voice actors for audiobooks, TV channel promotions, advertising campaigns, television specials for the launch of the new TV series, etc. etc.
Somehow this emergency situation forces us to change the way we look at things, suggests new ways, reveals other opportunities. And it shows that the italian voiceover talents who have been able to equip themselves with a mini home studio, today have the opportunity to continue working in this type of production.
Of course, we are social animals going to die if the prohibitions to gather together to attend a show, a reading or any meeting time, will continue to apply. I have many actorfriends who are basically stuck and don’t work, they don’t have a studio at home and maybe they wouldn’t want it.
As you know I have my own studio in Milan, which is not at home but a real studio in the center of the big city. In these days I have set up a room in my apartment with the necessary equipment to record TV promos, advertising campaigns, documentaries, obviously audiobooks. But there remains a great nostalgia for the taste of seeing each other, I miss the confrontation, often hard, but always honest, the efforts to understand what context you are in and at what point you are in your career.
I’ve always thought that sooner or later artificial intelligence will be able to create the perfect voice. And I wouldn’t want to be in an online recording session at home while this is happening.