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Post Posted:: April 1st, 2008, 4:57 pm 

Joined: June 30th, 2006, 8:42 pm
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I might add that "voice coaching" of any kind is traditionally one-on-one / face-to-face. It is intimate, private. There are a variety of reasons for this, It is just too tricky to try voice coaching via writing.

Firstly, as we all know from experience, blind text messages (we can't see or hear the other person) are open to personal interpretation. There are all too often misunderstandings of meaning. How more likely such misunderstandings when we're talking about sounds that we heard but are now, via text, referencing something in two individual's very different memory banks. It's all not right here to listen to and agree on. Sound picky? Not really. It's how it works.

Comments on style and delivery are subjective. Even seasoned voice coaches have preferences or areas of personal concern --usually project specific --as not all projects demand the same particulars from readers or recording engineers.

Admittedly, as one who has had both many years of voice coaching and working with producers who "voice coach" to get what they want, my experience with the process tells me that it can only work as an immediate shared experience. I would strongly advise people not to try it via PMs or emails. Even if it could work, even ordinarily logic tells us that success would come only with a "coach" well versed (having plenty of experience) doing coaching of this kind --that is, coaching via text messages. The nuances and the relationship (subtle interactions and immediate feedback in both directions) would be missing. It's my firm belief (if I may be permitted such in this forum) that such ventures would be unsuccessful, counter-productive.

It would probably, in the long run, at the least (and I'm brainstorming here, guys) at best, (and I'm not advising this) be more helpful to gently encourage each other to try to adjust measurable distractions in readings: hums, buzzes, room noises, mike placement, creating more successful room environments or recording locales, eliminating puffs of air, enunciating more clearly, breathing techniques and all of that —the very things we've been doing all along. It should probably not be in the form of comments, but more like a place(s) anyone could read such things. Presently there are plenty of places where LVers can already read about all of this on the LV Wiki and in a few threads. Point people there and let them work it out themselves, I say.

Some people want help.
Some are happy as they are.
Some are limited by environments.
Some are strapped for money.

All of us want to have fun.
All of us want to feel good about what we read.

A single, pleasant, encouraging statement about our work goes a long way.
Spread the good words.
Don't feel embarrassed to use a smiley face —it's not all that hokey.

Whatta great community!

( :wink: )


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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 2:31 pm 

Joined: June 12th, 2007, 4:26 pm
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Didn't get email notifications, so didn't know so much had happened!
Bit busy this week, and I'll have a good mull over the thread on friday - there are some really good points here.

But as far as Public Domain and style goes, I'd like to illustrate my point briefly...
So, we welcome the fact that Librivox allows anyone to do whatever they want with a recording. So, I'm going to use a clip of a recording to illustrate the quality aspect - this person isn't round these parts any more, and I've removed the name etc, but this person did quite a few recordings and quite often, there are "version twos" of his recordings by other people.
So, in complete abidance of the librivox rules, I present...
http://www.digitaltoast.co.uk/librivox/lib_example.mp3
If only someone had said: "Slow down, drink a glass of water, move the mic away". But ALL his recordings are (to quote another site) "unlistenable" - and yet I see no reason why they could not have been pleasurable, with three simple steps.
What do you think is kinder - to do all the work and then find others have done a version two and find you get called "unlistenable" (if you go googling yourself that, of course!), or to have someone say a few guiding words at the start? I know which I'd prefer... :)

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 2:35 pm 

Joined: April 3rd, 2007, 2:44 pm
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So redo it. Or just redo his sections. That's the inherent beauty of Public Domain.

It's continuous improvement. First there's no recording. Then there is one. Then there are two, three, four - each one better than the last!


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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 2:38 pm 

Joined: May 22nd, 2007, 10:25 pm
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I HONESTLY think there's nothing wrong with the recording.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 2:39 pm 

Joined: June 12th, 2007, 4:26 pm
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SSherris wrote:
So redo it. Or just redo his sections. That's the inherent beauty of Public Domain.

It's continuous improvement. First there's no recording. Then there is one. Then there are two, three, four - each one better than the last!
Have you thought this through from an end-user point of view?! :shock:

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:08 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
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digitaltoast wrote:
If only someone had said: "Slow down, drink a glass of water, move the mic away". But ALL his recordings are (to quote another site) "unlistenable" - and yet I see no reason why they could not have been pleasurable, with three simple steps.

Well, first of all the reading is not too fast to me. The pace is just about right, I'd say. And I don't hear dry mouth at all, so I don't see how water would help. He does breath on the mic, though, so moving the mic or a pop screen would help. So basically, I'd say your critical feedback on this recording is at least two-thirds wrong and unhelpful.

This is the basic problem with all this feedback/mentoring stuff. It's all opinion. Mine isn't worth any more than yours, either.

Oh, and credit to the reader for trying. I wouldn't have had the nerve at that age.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:13 pm 
LibriVox Admin Team

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besides which, that recording is exactly the sort of recording I love about librivox. obviously amateur, but by no means unlistenable, in fact, it's the kind of recording I like best. That's just me, mind.

so that begs a question: who gets to be a "provider of unsolicited advice"? (because there is no need to debate this about solicited advice, we already have a mechanism to deal with that - though it could be better promoted).

everyone? just selected people? selected how? if everyone, the question I have is: would the mission of librivox be better served by self-appointed "improvers of quality" offering advice, or would it be better served without that?

I think for all the reasons stated above, we're better off without it because: people are sensitive, people are likely to record less if they expect to get harsh criticism, and most importantly, among the least welcome things in the world is unsolicited advice.

our strength is in how welcoming we are; opening up every recording to unsolicited advice will make us less welcoming; being less welcoming will make it hard for us to meet our objectives, which is:
Quote:
To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.


and if something makes it harder, rather than easier, to meet our objectives, then I will always argue against it.

though again, there is an established system for *solicited* advice, and maybe a good way to think about this is to ask: how can we make a better system for solicited advice?

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:29 pm 

Joined: June 12th, 2007, 4:26 pm
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hugh wrote:
our strength is in how welcoming we are; opening up every recording to unsolicited advice will make us less welcoming; being less welcoming will make it hard for us to meet our objectives, which is:
Quote:
To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.
and if something makes it harder, rather than easier, to meet our objectives, then I will always argue against it.
It's hard not to kind of read "quantity over quality" into that. But that's just me.
hugh wrote:
though again, there is an established system for *solicited* advice, and maybe a good way to think about this is to ask: how can we make a better system for solicited advice?
Exactly :)

Just had a quick look round - there's a spinoff of Gutenberg called Distributed Proofreading - it's PD, it relies on volunteers, but it has strict and tough rules and workflows for quality - even so far as everything being double-proofed. And they seem to be doing alright for volunteers.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:33 pm 

Joined: August 7th, 2007, 9:12 am
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digitaltoast wrote:
SSherris wrote:
So redo it. Or just redo his sections. That's the inherent beauty of Public Domain.

It's continuous improvement. First there's no recording. Then there is one. Then there are two, three, four - each one better than the last!


I don't see that in practice. The standard English translation of Don Quixote is almost as old as Don Quixote himself. There's a constant stream of new translations of public domain works, and most of them never surpass earlier translations. However, after a few dozen translators charge up that mountain, we do acquire a small collection of translations, each that has its own perfection; one is poetic, another easy-to-read, another brutally literal. I suspect that will be a more accurate description of what having a number of recordings may achieve.

Quote:
Have you thought this through from an end-user point of view?! :shock:


A lot of things do this. For one example, in the Open Source/Linux* world, there's a dozen programs for a lot of jobs, and the end-user either (a) uses the one that gets installed by standard, (b) looks up a review on the Net that compares the various programs, or (c) pokes through several of them looking for something that works for them. It's less than optimal, but it works. Alternately, in the book world, there's dozens of new authors in any major genre; you have basically the same three options for finding something good to read, read the bestseller/renown authors, look up reviews, or simply grab a few new authors at random.

If we do get a number of readings for each book, I suspect there will be other groups helping separate the chaff from the wheat.

As for the sample you offered, it wasn't great, but I'm with the other person in that your complaints missed the target. I'd really have to listen to a reading size sample to judge whether it's really unlistenable.

* Flame off. I know this is an inexact summary, but the exact details of *BSD & Linux and Free Software & Open Source aren't interesting here.


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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:45 pm 

Joined: May 22nd, 2007, 10:25 pm
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digitaltoast wrote:
Just had a quick look round - there's a spinoff of Gutenberg called Distributed Proofreading - it's PD, it relies on volunteers, but it has strict and tough rules and workflows for quality - even so far as everything being double-proofed. And they seem to be doing alright for volunteers.
Except that they're like 10 000 people over there (17K with at least one page). When they were only 2000, I'm pretty sure they didn't have 3 proofing rounds.
And besides, the goal is different. They correct mistakes, so the more rounds, the better. We produce recordings, so the more people, the better. AND they don't require volunteers to place one of their most personal features out to be judged or criticized.
And their process is relatively anonymous, you won't have a reader complaining that so-and-so's proofing sucks. If there are mistakes, you just go find another version.

Oh, and BTW, it's not a spinoff, they're the ones producing the texts.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:51 pm 

Joined: June 30th, 2006, 8:42 pm
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I'm not certain I understand Distributed Proofreaders in the context of this discussion. The DP folks are volunteer proofreaders, not people creating interpretive readings of those texts. They dot i's and cross t's, making certain that transcriptions match originals to the letter.

The link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_Proofreaders


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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:53 pm 

Joined: May 22nd, 2007, 10:25 pm
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PS: you know what drove me to LV in the first place? a bad recording.
I was listening to a book, and one of the readers was horrible. I wanted to find out who that reader was, and even visited her blog (which was mentioned in the recording). For a split second, I contemplated leaving a negative comment, then thought it would be plain pointless and mean.
Then I decided to start recording, and after hearing myself the first time, vowed never to criticize anyone EVER.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 3:56 pm 
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Quote:
It's hard not to kind of read "quantity over quality" into that. But that's just me.

exactly.

our mission is this:
Quote:
To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

There is an explicit mention of quantity (all) and, also explicitly, no mention of quality. That was built into the original idea. The result,luckily, has been both - quantity and a truly astounding (and surprising, to me) amount of quality.

But our mission is not: "to make the best public domain audio available," or "to make BBC quality audio" or "to make audio that so-and-so really likes." Our objective is to make all public domain books available.

And as mentioned above there are numerous other projects that exist with a different approach to a similar problem, but with explicit quality objectives. For two projects that focus on quality and not quantity, you might want to check:
http://literalsystems.org/abooks/index.php
http://www.alexwilson.com/telltale/spokenalexandria.php

And as for DP, what is their objective? Their wording is a little bit fuzzy on this:
Quote:
Distributed Proofreaders is an effort to support Project Gutenberg, and a recognized affiliated site of Project Gutenberg. The basic concept is that our website software allows several proofreaders to be working on the same book at the same time, each proofreading on different pages. This will significantly speed up the proofreading process.

but it's fair to say their objective is to proof-read gutenberg texts. The definition of a "good" proof-read text is the degree to which copywriting/transcription errors have been removed. so approaching perfection with proofreading is: a) measurable and b) the whole point.

with librivox, perfection is a) impossible to measure and meaningless as well(unless by perfect, you mean the spoken words match exactly the text) and b) not the point.

in fact, "perfection" is the opposite of the point, and the opposite of the purpose, which, to repeat myself is:
Quote:
To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.


so i think the problem here is a fundamental disagreement and/or misunderstanding about what LirbiVox is for.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 4:03 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
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Photographer Ted Orland wrote a book titled "Art and Fear". The basic premise is that before modern times, everyone made art. Whether it was singing, dancing, music, poetry, scrimshaw or whatever form, it was available to everyone. Art wasn't limited to the "talented", or the trained, or only to those positively reviewed by others. It is only in modern times that people limit their own creation of art, based solely on whether others judge it to be "good", and as a result we deny ourselves the pleasure of artistic expression not because we don't enjoy it, but because others don't. Artistic things at whatever level aren't simply done, they have to be learned first, making them a chore rather than a pastime, a job rather than fun.

Ted's point is that art is the safest thing you can do. No money has to be made, no one gets hurt, and the consequences of "failure" are zilch.

I have to say, it takes some balls for someone who has never done a public performance to make a LV recording. Unlike a part in the local community theater production where you go on stage, flop, a handful of people see it and it's quickly forgotten, an audiobook lives on on the web, exposed to the whole world, forever. And yet, new folks keeping stepping up to try it for the first time with their $25 headset mic and PC with a rattling fan. And I say, good for them. And I hope they keep dancing into their '70's, too, no matter who points and laughs.

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Post Posted:: April 2nd, 2008, 5:15 pm 

Joined: January 2nd, 2006, 9:51 am
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I came to Librivox after a long performance apprenticeship at open stages and coffeehouses. One of the things I learned from several hundred performances at coffeehouses and listening to other performers is that unlike the commercial media which is very homogenous, in live performances there are is a great variety of styles, voices, and abilities.
Time and time again I've seen novice performers turn into seasoned entertainers over the course of a few years of being able to perform on stage. I don't always like their particular schtick but I deeply appreciate the variety of voices and I'm astounded at the way people grow as performers just by having the chance to perform.

Similarly, here at Librivox, as a general rule people who come to us as complete beginners at recording audio DO improve and many become quite proficient at it through practice.
I've come to love the sheer variety of voices, accents, styles and technical abilities of Librivox recordings. In some projects, particularly the weekly poetry, I enjoy listening to the chorus of voices and the variety of interpretations as much as I enjoy the original poems.

It has been said previously on the forums that our ideal here is not a BBC newsreader, or a commercial audiobook, but a parent reading to their children. Given that many people listen to audiobooks on mp3 players and the voice is coming directly "into their ears", I love the idea of one person reading to another. It is a very human and natural exchange.

I'm off to read a bedtime story with my daughter.

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