Short history of a phenomenon that changed the way professional voiceovers worked.
In early ninetees we started the conversation. American and english voiceover talent were the first ones to get equipped of a mike and a small home setup looking forward to increase their business. At that time the internet was still running at 48Kbits/sec and an audio file was a big mountain impossible to be sent in a reasonable time. However, an italian voice artist, had no chance than being ready for the big change. That’s why a
voice over home recording studio setup was an important issue, unless very expensive.
A voiceover had to buy the best microphone for voice over, an outstanding mike preamplifier, a recording suite and an isdn codec, for remote audio digital connections through the telephone line. The rest of the sound absorption equipment could easily be retreived at home: blankets, pillows, coats and whatever useful. I still remember one of the most reknown english voice artist, one of the most talented, Mike Hurley – the first one who wrote a book about our voice over talent job, titled “confession of a vocal prostitute”, dealing with his young child complains, while recording with him under a heavy blanket where his father forced him to stay, sweating, during the recording of an italian tv spot connected via isdn with my studio in Italy. We were small pioneers, me, producers, creatives and clients, incredulous to be recording at thousands kilometers away, directly connected to a Surrey cottage’s living room, with the most famous voiceover in UK and his son. It was on of the first smart working experience ever. At that time a voice over studio kit required a huge investment, around thirty millions liras (around fifteen thousand pounds). It was the expensive ticket to enter into an exclusive club, unaffordable by young italian voice over talents facing the profession for the first time. Italian reknown voice overs could afford the expense, but there were some reasons to make us think this could be not a good idea: what would producers have thought about us? Were we competitors then? “You’ve got a mike? Then you’re on the other side”
An exclusive elite where correctness played a crucial role.
Being an established italian voice over talent meant, at the end of the nineties and in early two thousand, managing with great attention their relationships with creatives, producers, sound designers. Respecting the roles of the producer who was putting all the pieces together, from the voice casting to the recording session in the studio, was fundamental .
Having a home recording studio, was somehow consideres like a threat by the people who were in charge of the audio production in Italy. Knowing names and numbers of a huge bunch of italian voice artists was and exclusive know how determining a commercial advantage. The italian voice over artist were owning the first mobile phones, and those numbers were considered like figurins of a very rare collection.
On the other side, producers had no problems at all booking voice talents abroad with their home vocal booth: the localization business was still rising and considered a conquering land. At that time me and other voice over talents, adv voiceovers, did not take into consideration the idea of getting equipped of a diy voice over studio, capable of saving time, money, which would have multiplied business opportunities for all italian advertising voiceovers.
With the web revolution, information is available to everyone and the advertising voiceover business is finally free.
With the spread of network fast connections, trading italian voice over talents for advertising dubbing becomes liquid, accessible. An audio file can be exchanged in seconds. In addition, the costs of a voiceover home recording studio setup collapsed dramatically, making on-line broadcasting a reality. No more expensive isdn audio codecs are needed to establish remote audio connections, and a simple computer records as the best equipped recording room. A technological revolution and know-how that allowed the entry into the market of advertising items of numerous young aggressive subjects, with a more or less recognizable talent, related to the type of work, multiplied with the dizzying expansion of social media .
Social videos, corporate videos, local advertisements, audio books, narratives, are the new products that require a narrative voice, a professional reader, a voice of dubbing capable of giving depth to the contents. The low budget of these productions does not allow the maintenance of fees considered relevant until the day before. And the deconstruction of an elitist and rich world like that of the italian advertising voices overs is served. Useless talking about quality, to the interpretative ability, to the game of nuances that a voice actor dubbing the advertising can express with respect to a colleague. First of all, the price rule applies: it must be low. Then we can talk about quality. A diy voice over studio becomes the weapon needed to offer an additional service based on availability, a “fast turnaround time”. The walk-in wardrobes (for the lucky ones) then become places to house next to jackets and coats, sparkling Neumanns screwed to rods, cables, headphones and preamps. The “itinerant italian advertising voice talent” is born, as well as the figure of the nomadic sound designer, with his MacBook pro and Protools installed.
For the actor, the advertising voice over artist, having a voice over studio kit is a commodity that opens to new opportunities.
With the growth of job opportunities for an italian voice over talent, even the speed of responding to low-budget needs becomes strategic to fill the finite capacity of each and consequently give meaning to the profession of the italian voice over artist. For those who need audio products such as narratives, audiobooks and video comments, the web makes all the italian voice over actors like me visible, and the casting of voices is no longer an exclusive service reserved for enterprising producers: everyone can decide between dozens and dozens of advertising voiceovers with home voice over booth, the one that best meets their needs.
Even the producers would like to thank, where the big advertising campaigns are always subject to the risk of reworking, and where the advertising italian voice over has home voice recording equipment, allowing quick adjustment practices and saving a lot of money.
Therefore it is good to record at home, under the blankets or well equipped, for the lucky ones, another expression of the liquid work for italian voice overs which requires much more than an artistic talent often matured in years of professional preparation in front of the microphone . But resourcefulness, proactivity, a bit of technique, and a great desire to get involved.