Do you have a soft-furnished, quiet place to record?

Having the best equipment isn't everything when it comes to recording a professional sounding voice over. Yes we encourage you to get as top spec gear as you can get your hands on but at the end of the day, if you record in your bathroom it won't sound good. 

We ask you to find the softest furnished room in your house. Bedrooms, closets (walk-in closets are perfect if you're a fancy-pants) or even studies work. The idea is to reduce the amount of reflective surfaces in the room with the mic. Ever wondered why your voice sounds amazing when singing in the shower? It's because of the acoustics in the bathroom, flat surfaces that cause natural reverb. Although we're sure your Tom Jones impressions sound fantastic, let's keep the VO sessions in the quietest, softest place in the house.

Read more about recording from home here:

I'm a technophobe, is it even possible for me to set up a home recording studio?

Do you have ipDTL or Source-Connect?

ipDTL and Source-Connect are pieces of software that allow high-quality audio connection via the internet. You need either of these as a requirement for us to work together with you on your demo (Standard or Pro Bundle). We'll connect to you via this to record high-quality audio from your home studio set up and run the session remotely.

ipDTL is subscription based at $25 a month (or $160 annually) for the voiceover package. Please read our article on 'I keep hearing about ipDTL, what are they talking about?' for more details.

Source-Connect have several options: 

Please read our article on 'Is Source-Connect worth buying?' for more details.

Do you have a good, solid internet connection?

Ideally you need to be hard wired to the internet. This means using an Ethernet cable from your router or hub and plugging it directly into your computer. Most computers have one and if they don't there's normally an adapter (such as the Thunderbolt to Ethernet for the Macbook Air). The Cable looks like this:

Ethernet Cable

Ethernet Cable

After connecting directly you should check your internet speed. A lot of Broadband providers boast high internet speeds but they normally only boast about the download speed. It's important to have a good upload too. You can check your speed here: www.speedtest.net 

Source-Connect require that you have a minimum of 300kbps (kilobytes per second) upload. 

Do you have a decent microphone, headphones and computer?

In order for you to proceed with our remote voice over demo creation service, we need to ensure you have equipment that is up to par. This enables us to provide you with the best service and ultimately a professional sounding demo that will get you jobs.

Microphone

We define a 'decent' microphone as a condenser microphone with a cardioid pick-up pattern. Any of that make sense? In case it doesn't, below are 3 of our recommended mics. 

Audio Technica AT2020 USB+
150.00
Add To Cart
Neumann TLM102 (approx. $700)

Neumann TLM102 (approx. $700)

Blue Yeti (approx. $100)

Blue Yeti (approx. $100)

An important difference between the AT2020 and Yeti compared to the Neumann above is that the AT2020 and Yeti are USB microphones. It means that they're powered by the USB in your computer and also have build-in sound cards. They are in short, 'plug and play'. You can plug them into your computer and essentially start recording with them immediately (assuming you have the software). The down side is that the volume control of the mic (on the At2020) has to be done through the software (as opposed to a physical knob). The headphones also have to be controlled via your computer volume.

These mics we recommend for somebody who perhaps doesn't know the technical side of things as well or who may be on a budget. They're not the best mics in the world and we always recommend the highest quality equipment where possible but we're also realistic about how much things cost. To be clear, these mics will provide a good, professional sound if used correctly but there are better microphones out there if you have the money to spend.

With the Neumann, it requires a third party sound card. This is NOT 'plug and play'. Now, we know you may be thinking, "but this is more expensive and has less functionality than the AT2020", and you wouldn't be wrong. However, this is what professional studios use, and for good reason. This brand has been around forever and their mics last forever. If you want a long-term, quality mic purchase, Neumann is the brand. The TLM102 is their least expensive of their products but still produces excellent results. 

The third party sound card can be in a lot of different forms. The simplest and cheapest are below. 

 
CEntrance MicPort Pro (approx. $200)

CEntrance MicPort Pro (approx. $200)

Shure X2U (approx. $100)

Shure X2U (approx. $100)

 

Both of these require you to use a mic cable (XLR) to attach your mic then a USB (provided) connects to your computer. These little devices have the advantage that you can use any mic  with them (in case you upgrade) and you can also connect your headphones to them. Another handy feature is the volume controls of both the mic and the headphones. Having this gives you a little more freedom if you are in a session and you need to separately turn yourself or the client up or down in the headphones.

Headphones

You can use any headphones you like really. We recommend you use closed back over-ear headphones to prevent bleed-through into the mic. This means that the sound of your voice feeds back into the mic from the headphones and causes feedback or a weird phasey sound that isn't pleasant. Below are recommend or at least this style.

 
Sony MDR-7506 (approx. $130)

Sony MDR-7506 (approx. $130)

 

Computer

We're going to assume that you all have one of these. It can be Mac or PC, laptop or desktop, as long as it was bought in the last 5 years then we're certain it will be good enough to record. You do have to make sure that there's a fair amount of hard drive space on there though, audio files can be large and take up space. 

I'm a technophobe, is it even possible for me to set up a home recording studio?

Yes!

Every day we encounter voice over talent with varying technical and computing abilities. As long as you can competently browse the internet, we reckon you can record an audition from home. 

Software

There's various free software out there, we recommend:

These are both fairly intuitive programs to use for recording but if you're struggling we have a recording guide here.

Microphone

The next thing you'll need is a fairly decent microphone. We also have a microphone buying guide here. Essentially your mic options vary hugely in shape, size, brand, price and sound so it can be a scary world out there if you've never bought a microphone before.

Headphones

You can use any headphones really but they are important so that you can hear yourself and so that the microphone doesn't feedback. This means that when the mic is on and the speakers are on, the sound that the mic picks up plays out the speakers and goes back into the mic round and around forever. It creates a horrible squeal known as feedback. Bottom line: use headphones!

Computer

We think it's a given these days that everyone will have a computer in the form of a desktop, Mac or laptop. Generally computers that were bought in the last 5 years will be good enough to record audio (assuming your hard drive isn't completely full). Most recording software will have both Windows and Mac download options so there's no excuses for not recording at home!!

You big softy!

Soft furnishings! We can't express that enough when it comes to where you are recording. This is the most important step of home recording. You could have the best microphone, mixing desk, and computer in the world and if you recorded in your echoey bathroom the recording would sound horrendous! We recommend going into the bedroom and even in your clothes closet. Putting the microphone in between hangers of clothes talking towards the closet actually proves to be a pretty pro sounding recording. If you can set up a light in there and drape a duvet or blanket behind you, even better!

So although there's a lot to consider with recording from home, it's probably not as big of a deal as you thought. We're here to help and want the best sounding auditions from our talent so if you have any more questions please contact us.

Is Source-Connect worth buying?

Firstly, if you don't know what Source-Connect is, we'll briefly explain...

Source-Connect is a high quality application (or plug-in) to record audio remotely over the internet. For example if I'm the voice over in Australia and the studio is in New York, assuming we both have Source-Connect, we can call each other. It's just like a high-quality Skype call. This is becoming a more common alternative to the pricey ISDN connection.

The standard version (which will suffice for a VO recording) is currently priced at $650 USD or a monthly subscription of $35 is now available. If this plug-in is trending the way other plug-ins are then they will inevitably get rid of the one time payment and insist you pay a monthly subscription forevermore!

Another option is rent-to-buy. This means that if you don't want to commit to the $650, you can rent the plug-in for $250 for 7 days and that money will be taken off the full price if you decide to purchase it in full later. This is a good option if you are unsure about the full purchase or need Source-Connect for a specific job.

A further option may be Source-Connect Now which is a free version that is run through your Chrome browser. However, this is only a possibility if somebody else (usually the studio that is recording) already has a full Source-Connect account. The user with the full account sends an access code to you to login online and connects with you that way. You just require headphones, a mic and a good internet connection.

NOTE: All of these options require a fast upload speed as well as download speed. We recommend plugging your internet in directly via an Ethernet cable (that's the network cable that looks a bit like a phone cable that goes into your router) for best performance.  

Do I need it?

Some of the jobs we get in won't even consider talent that don't have a home set up. They sometimes specify Source-Connect but usually studios can be flexible with how they connect. We recommend trying Source-Connect Now with another VO friend that owns it (if possible) and seeing how easy it is to use. Or even getting the 14 day free trial of the standard version. If a job specifically wants you to get it, and the money is good then we would say yes to at least renting it.

More info:

http://source-elements.com/source-connect/

What is ISDN?

ISDN stands for Integrated Services for Digital Network and is basically a way for two parties to connect to each other over phone lines but at a much better quality than a phone.

It uses technology that requires each party to have an 'ISDN Box' in order to code and decode (a codec) the signal to and from a studio (i.e. someone's microphone). These boxes can extremely expensive and have to be installed by specialists. It's also not always available in the area which can be a serious down side.

In the voice over industry they are used frequently to connect to voice over talent that may not be present at the studio recording them. For example, if the studio that is producing an advert is in New York but the client wants a voice that is based in LA, they will usually connect via ISDN. Depending on the codec this will use two telephone lines to spread the bandwidth over them both resulting in a high quality connection. This comes at a price of around $1 per minute per line. So an hour session would cost whoever dialled out around $120 in line charges alone! 

Whilst this technology has been around since the 80's, it is still used often. However, with internet speeds getting quicker it is getting forced out by products such as ipDTL and Source-Connect. These are far cheaper to initially buy and only requires a fairly decent internet connection. 

I did a job a while ago and I still haven't been paid for it, what do I do?

Whilst we pay promptly, our clients unfortunately don't always. This means that it can be up to 90 days after the job was done until we receive payment. Until then, we are usually unable to pay our talent. This is not uncommon and we always do our best to politely nudge our clients to get their wallet out in a timely fashion!

What is Scale?

Scale is a pay rate that is set by the Unions such as SAG-AFTRA. It depends on the job and usage etc. but there are rate cards that clearly lay out what one should earn if you are in the Union and working a Union job. This is a way to protect the Union members from being ripped off for jobs that could be worth more money.

More info: 'What's SAG-AFTRA?'

What commission does IVG charge?

Unlike most other agents, our commission is only 10%. By being online only we reduce costs and in turn take less commission than most other agents. This has the benefit of appealing to more VO talent giving us a stronger roster. 

When we email our auditions out, this rate is NOT taken off. So please allow for that if you are successful in booking the job.

I keep hearing about ipDTL, what are they talking about?

ipDTL is subscription based at $25 a month (or $160 annually) for the voiceover package. It works in the same way as Source-Connect in the sense that it connects audio over the internet. This is not dissimilar to Skype in principle except the quality is far superior (320kbit/s Stereo). This is what justifies the price as opposed to being free. The main benefit of ipDTL is that it runs through your internet browser (they recommend Chrome). You simply log into your user area and connect to the network of ipDTL subscribers. 

If you opt in for Link+ ($50/month) you can use ipDTL with people that don't have a subscription by simply sending them a web link. This can be helpful if clients want to listen in but not as common for VO talent. They offer a range of packages including ones that allow you to connect to ISDN see which can be helpful when dealing with studios that don't currently have an ipDTL subscription.

ipDTL has not been around as long as Source-Connect but currently more studios and VO talent seem to prefer it since it costs less (initially) and has the same quality and capabilities.

At IVG we recommend this software or Source-Connect. 

More Information: https://ipdtl.com/ 

What's FI-CORE?

Fi-Core or "financial core" status is an option within the Screen Actors Guild allowing actors to work both union and non-union jobs.

Some in the industry say that it is becoming more common lately for actors to join Fi-Core than SAG-AFTRA. The reason being that in hard economic times, rates for jobs have to be reduced meaning that production companies can't afford the SAG-AFTRA Scale Rate for talent. With more and more very good voice over talent on the scene, it becomes easier for producers to choose from a great pool of non-Union talent for a lot less money.

As an actor being Fi-Core means you get the best of both worlds to some extent. However, SAG-AFTRA does not particularly like Fi-Core members. They only see them as 'Fee Paying Non-Members' of SAG and state that as a Fi-Core member you shouldn't market yourself as a SAG-AFTRA member. This means there can be a lack of support from them as well as certain jobs potentially not employing Fi-Core members. 

The following excerpt is taken from Actor's Who Make Money:

"Some of the rights you lose when you declare financial core are:
• The right to vote in SAG elections
• The right to hold SAG office
• The right to use iActor, a web service run by SAG
• The right to represent yourself as SAG on your resume or on the Internet
• The right to call yourself a member of SAG or have a SAG card
• The right to re-join SAG without a formal hearing and without repaying the initiation fee

Some of the rights you gain:
• The right to work on non-union projects
• The continued right to work on SAG projects
• The right to pension and health if you qualify under SAG rules

In order to become Fi-Core with SAG, you must first join SAG. You pay your initiation fee, and start paying your dues. (Even after you turn in your card, you still have to pay your dues and fees. Your dues will be 5-10 percent less, however.) Pension and health is completely separate from the SAG office. Don’t worry about losing those benefits."

The 'To Fi-Core, or not Fi-Core' topic has been heavily discussed and debated for years so at IVG, we think it's up to you to research and decide what is best for you as an actor.

What's SAG-AFTRA?

SAG-AFTRA Is the Union representing all actors employed on UNION recognized work in the US. You must be a fully paid member of SAG-AFTRA to work on these jobs. The acronym stands for Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Essentially to join you must first work a SAG-AFTRA job, when you are offered your first union job, you are urged to consider joining SAG-AFTRA. This is a commitment though, once you are a member, "you must abide by the rules of membership, starting with Global Rule One. And, whether you are a SAG-AFTRA member or not--never accept work during a union strike!"

After this first job there will be initiation fees and they will check the legitimacy of the Union job you did. There are huge benefits to being in the Union such as Scale Rates (set rates per job), health insurance (if you earn enough for the Union), monitored residuals (e.g. you get paid every time the spot airs) and general protection from low rates and delayed payments etc. The downsides are that if you are solely SAG-AFTRA, you can ONLY work on SAG-AFTRA jobs, and that the fees you pay can be quite hefty.

The main Union/non-Union differences are that an actor who is non-union may NOT work on a Union job. Conversely, a Union member MAY work on a non-union job if they are FI-CORE (See 'What's FI-CORE?').