Making your reading sound Great

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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » June 13th, 2013, 8:46 am

I know it sounds that way, but this isn't monotone. It isn't just a rote robotic recitation of words. And it isn't easy to do.

The "actable" portions of the text are still acted. In fact, must be acted. But acted naturally. REAL people DON'T talk like THIS. realpeopletalklikethis.

One of the narrators in the Ruben class has recorded over 30 professional audiobooks. He is a professional actor with a long resume in TV and movies. He obviously doesn't read like a third-grader. The feedback was the same for him as for me and the librarian who's recorded two books. Don't push. No vocal tricks. No gimmicks. Flat, flat, flat. Less, less, less.

Over three weekends I heard more than 100 readings by other narrators of varying experience, and including professional actors, radio people, professional voice actors, and professional narrators, one of whom had been nominated for an Audie. The feedback was always the same: less, less, less, flat, flat, flat. In every case I had to agree that the flatter, lesser read was better. And dramatic, tense stories, were more dramatic and more intense when the reader did less. I read the Ruben post prior to attending the workshop, so I thought I understood where he was coming from. I had no idea. But when I heard the first reader (an experienced pro) go through two iterations of toning it down, my reaction was "wow". Maybe you do have to hear it.

Anyway, I know it is all counter-intuitive. And I fully expected to get these kinds of reactions. I pass it along for you to use or discard at your option.

Happy reading, everyone!
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RuthieG
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Post by RuthieG » June 13th, 2013, 9:23 am

I can see where he's coming from if this is meant to apply to the narrative parts, yes. I'd love to actually hear what he means. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that he doesn't mean a monotone with no inflection. I hope not, anyway.

His post is a bit weird, isn't it? All that "You" business. I found it rather frustrating from someone whose business is communicating.

Ruth
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philchenevert
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Post by philchenevert » June 13th, 2013, 10:02 am

I am also bemused by the FLAT, FLAT emphasis. Nobody talks in a monotone, we use a lot of modulation all the time.
But I'm willing to listen to an expert and would love to hear examples of what he considers too much and then just the right lack of expression.
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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » June 13th, 2013, 2:16 pm

PM me and I'll send a link to a recording of one of my sessions. Contains "language". PR is rather colorful.
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ppcunningham
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Post by ppcunningham » June 13th, 2013, 3:10 pm

RuthieG wrote:
His post is a bit weird, isn't it? All that "You" business. I found it rather frustrating from someone whose business is communicating.

Ruth
I found the post nearly unintelligible. He pretty much lost me after the first two speeches, but I managed to force myself to finish it. If he had actually wanted to communicate, he would have written an informative article, instead of trying to be cute.

And, maybe I just work with a lot of Drama-Queens, but the people I know DO talk like This, notlikethis, andIcertainlywouldn'twanttolistentoabookwheretheydidbecauseitwouldbetoodifficulttounderstand.

But that's just ME.
The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers. Ruth Benedict

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carolb
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Post by carolb » July 17th, 2013, 1:10 am

I keep coming back to read your posts, Mark - and have just listened to a little of your final chapter of The God of Mars.
Brilliant! It is definitely not monotone, and very pleasant to listen to.

It seems to me that the flat-flat-flat is volume related?

A painful awareness has dawned on me during a non LV project that the volume of stressed words needs to be toned down for a smoother read. Another process to add to editing of already recorded stuff, but a learning curve for the future!

Thank you for sharing the advice.

Carol

Lilith1966
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Post by Lilith1966 » July 17th, 2013, 7:07 pm

Mark,
Your comments where interesting, but they did indeed seem counter-intuitive to me. I have seen a Pat Fraley workshop on line, and his comments differed a bit to Rubens. He listened to the readers, and in most cases told them to slow down, which improved their read. Now, I have only seen this video, and you have been in the flesh, so you may have had different input. The problem is that there is no scale to which we can refer when you describe "go half less" because we did not hear at what level the reader started. It is a bit of a blanket statement to assert that it is always better to do less and less. Now, you can read with more feeling, but not more emphasis, but that is mind-work, feeling what you are reading. Could it be that the professionals you worked with came in at a high level of energy and commitment, and that they needed to pull back from that to be more natural? And could it be that the aspiring readers in the Fraley video I watched came in at a lower level, with less 'energy' but more speed? So they needed to slow down, and feel and understand what they were reading. For people not theatrically trained, slowing down may be interpreted as being boring and monotone. But it really means to feel. I am saying that this kind of thing is subjective, and everyone is at a different place. Personally, I think audiobooks should be engaging and energetic because they are literary entertainment. They are not the conversation you had with your sister over coffee. That would be boring! Anyway, that is just my opinion, I could be swayed, I try to stay flexible!
Thanks for giving me something to think about and more research to do. :)
Tara

carolb
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Post by carolb » July 18th, 2013, 12:10 am

This page in the wiki is most helpful. This is my favourite passage:
Storytelling can be one of the most intimate activities of life. Unlike telling a story to an audience, recorded literature doesn’t require readers to trade subtlety for projection. Each of us has an un-projected voice of intimacy. That’s the voice you use at 3 AM lying next to someone in bed. It’s the voice you use to talk to yourself in public. And it’s the voice announcer’s use to make movie trailers. You speak without pushing, and the resonant frequencies of your natural voice come out. That’s the voice you want to record.
That'd be the "Will - you - stop - snoring" voice, then! Image

Carol

RuthieG
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Post by RuthieG » July 18th, 2013, 12:33 am

And it’s the voice announcers use to make movie trailers.
Oh, heaven preserve us. It may have been true when this was written, but now you have to be an American basso profundo :lol:. But I do like the 'un-projected voice of intimacy'. I know what it means, and I am pretty sure that I have occasionally achieved it in my most successful (to me) fiction readings. Non-fiction is different.

I have now listened to one of Mark's clips, and while 'less, less, less' was most appropriate for the passage he was reading, as it brought out the intensity of a particular period of tension for the protagonist, I am as yet unconvinced that reading like that all the time would work.

Ruth
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scout
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Post by scout » July 28th, 2013, 5:24 am

Content retracted.

Daniel
Last edited by scout on February 27th, 2015, 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
The quality of an audiobook of fiction may be defined by its technical quality, the author's
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ElliottSwanson
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Post by ElliottSwanson » December 22nd, 2013, 12:53 pm

Speak softly, but carry a big stick?

No, this post doesn't have anything to do with Teddy Roosevelt's comments about the Monroe Doctrine.

I've been scouring the site and the web for reducing mouth noise, physically, as well as from a hardware and software approach. My apologies if this post is redundant.

Reducing "punch" seems to be an improvement, as others have noted. I'm just talking to a microphone, after all, not projecting my voice to the back row of a theater. Like the opinions of a number of librivoxers, I don't think a read should be flat-- gotta have some dynamics. But that can still be accomplished with less volume, and it's also easier on the throat.

I've done chapter one of my solo book twice now, and the second try was better. But using the noise removal functions of Audacity still makes a digital artifact I can hear. So which is worse? A little artifacting, or occasionally sounding like Gollum? It's a tough call. During my second read, I expanded the wave form and manually edited out a lot of 'em. This is teeeeeediiiiiiioooooouuuuus, as everyone who has done it knows. I still had to run Noise Removal a few times more than I should have. So I started working with mic positioning, and looking into software. The Wave Arts program "Dialog" looks promising, so I fired off an email to them with a bunch of questions. The key drawback is that it's a fairly-- but not hideously spendy program at $250 for a plug in...

One of the best sites I found covering the subject on the web-- informative, and also assembled with style and humor is:

http://sound.stackexchange.com/questions/2336/how-do-you-lessen-mouth-noise-in-vo-recordings

Lots of interesting ideas, contradictory information from a bunch of contributors, and the results of experiments and techniques. It seems very clear that what works for one person won't work for everyone. The site is targeted at professional voice-over people. You won't see a lot of mention of Audacity, but there is some.

If Wave Arts reports back anything useful, I'll post it.

From a hardware aspect, I'm going to make a silent remote control to try using with Audacity. What should work is a clickless Radio Shack switch stuck in a plastic tube with a wire, which will take on a momentary contact function patched into the left-click side of a wireless USB mouse button (an add-on), and with all other contacts disconnected. My laptop doesn't seem to mind taking orders from two mice at the same time (one on the keyboard, one external). Fortunately, if you begin recording with Audacity and re-position the selection arrow over the Pause button, recording stops and starts just by re-pressing the Pause button again-- one doesn't have to re-click Record. With this gizmo held in the hand used to hold the book, I can shut down Record to burp, and quickly get rolling again. I think the theory is sound-- will soon see what really happens.

ES
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RuthieG
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Post by RuthieG » December 23rd, 2013, 1:41 am

So which is worse? A little artifacting, or occasionally sounding like Gollum?
Artifacts. Avoid getting as much background noise as possible in the first place, and then use noise removal VERY sparingly. Noise removal isn't for removing mouth noise (or traffic noise, for that matter), but for removing constant tones. And even then, if the tone is at a particular frequency, then an alternative method such as Notch Filter is likely to give you better results. I don't think I have seen a test recording from you, and I would highly recommend this.

Ruth
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julieread
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Post by julieread » July 26th, 2014, 1:00 pm

Thanks so much for posting this. As a neophyte, I found it quite useful. Can you explain the use of SoundForge? If it's not too difficult to use, I'd like to give it a try...

Darvinia
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Post by Darvinia » July 26th, 2014, 1:58 pm

SoundForge was mentioned in the first post, which was written by ChipDoc in 2006 and he was last logged in Oct. 11, 2006.

Perhaps there is somebody who will read this who knows it but ChipDoc is unlikely to see it.
Bev

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musicissilver
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Post by musicissilver » March 5th, 2015, 12:46 am

Shepherd wrote:The biggest challenge for me is hearing myself while I'm reading... I think I sound like an ass, over-emoting William Shatner style...
Thank you for putting this into words ._. :oops:
Angelica Silver (musicissilver)
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I can read for you! PM me!!↴ I'm up to read basically anything (trying my best to avoid reading multi-character dialogue, though).

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