Audiobook Narrating

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mhhbook
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Post by mhhbook » April 26th, 2019, 12:58 pm

I found this interesting article link in the Gutenberg Facebook page and copied it to the LibriVox Readers and Listeners Facebook group. Thought people who don’t use Facebook would enjoy it, too.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/radio/2019-04-23/why-narrating-an-audiobook-is-a-lot-harder-you-think/
Mary

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k5hsj
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Post by k5hsj » April 27th, 2019, 7:14 pm

Thanks for the interesting piece, Mary. I was encouraged by the admission of one of the professional narrators that she made about one fluff per page. Now, if I could just work toward that goal from my current one fluff per paragraph! :D

Winston
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SonOfTheExiles
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Post by SonOfTheExiles » April 27th, 2019, 11:42 pm

Definitely an interesting insight into the lives of the professional readers amongst our Librivox community.

As I only speak English and Australian, I am intrigued as to what they do to get "into the zone" speaking a language other than their own, particularly one that is not even within the same language super-family.


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lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » April 28th, 2019, 2:47 am

Well, it sems like I make a hell of a lot of mistakes compared to those readers. I also swear a hell of a lot more as well. I think and hope though, that I don't just read the text, as in the first example (the guy that was pretty bad). I do try to put some expression into it.

I suppose the thing that comes over from the professional reader is that you should have a lot of preparation. I think I would make less mistakes if I was not sight reading. Lazy me. I'm halfway through a Conan Doyle story - so I will try and do some preparation before reading the next half of the story ... I do have a couple of things on Audible - so I suppose I can't be that bad, can I? Maybe I am ...

annise
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Post by annise » April 28th, 2019, 3:14 am

I think it's important to remember that they have a sound engineer and probably someone else there all the time they are recording, no cats, dogs, phones, dinner to cook....... etc etc.
The only one I saw recording had a coach who said if she strayed from the text and the reader read it again, and the sound engineer fixed it so yes she didn't have a second session , but she did make mistakes
AND even with all this they do make mistakes - the one I'm listening to now has 2 places where what is said does not make sense.

So it's interesting , I don't agree with all they say about accents, but I think that to assume anyone (except Stephen Fry ?) is perfect first up is just not true.
And I've heard him fluff his lines on TV occasionally.

Anne

iBeScotty
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Post by iBeScotty » April 28th, 2019, 5:37 am

That is a really interesting article, thank you for sharing!

Funny they mention Stephen Fry not making mistakes. I remember reading a story once about him narrating the first Harry Potter book and having trouble with a phrase (can’t remember exactly) something like, “...picked a pocket watch out of his pocket.” The producer contacted J.K. Rowling asking if he could read it differently. She said no and was so miffed that she purposefully put the phrase in every subsequent book. :lol:

It definitely is hard if one tries reading without error and can change the cadence and natural delivery. I recently did a narrating experiment, recording “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius” on video, reading off a teleprompter. It was a real challenge, trying not to have any edit per entry. At least most entries were pretty short. Though I flubbed up plenty, oddly enough this one 5 minute section (Book XI, 18) was one take: https://youtu.be/1UAjPu0pyRI?t=12m05s
There is one added word here (Where’s Waldo?) but the text is there as a safety net.
Scotty

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » April 28th, 2019, 6:01 am

Recording to video is harder because unless it is possible to cut and change the angle of the shot then it has to be done in one take. You did extremely well, and the "almost" stumbles were perfectly OK and only people like us who do recordings will even notice. They were so well covered and small that normally they wouldn't even be noticed, apart from this forensic listening that we are obsessed about. I don't think many of us, and certainly I, could carry this off so smoothly. If it were not for audio editing I couldn't produce a coherent audiobook. Strangely enough, many decades ago, I did audio editing (on tape) for an organisation where professional readers had recorded for the blind. It was a lot of editing as they made loads of mistakes! But maybe narrators have got better these days?

iBeScotty
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Post by iBeScotty » April 28th, 2019, 6:26 am

Thanks, Peter, that is very kind. This was toward the end and after several hours I guess I was almost used to reading that way. I didn’t care about word perfect but a few times in the project I did edit the audio, creating a brief video mismatch. I think that I will make a blooper reel from this if I can find the times I went stir crazy and totally went off the rails. :P

Anyway, sorry for hijacking the thread. Back to the article....
Scotty

billbird2111
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Post by billbird2111 » May 16th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Well! After reading that article I certainly feel a lot better! If Imogen Church is making the same mistakes that I'm making, that's a good thing!

Two things: I just wrapped a 22-hour audio book about submarine warfare in WW II. It's now in the clutches of Audible. Both the author and I got the standard line from Audible: "It will take 10-14 (business) days to review this submission. I'm now on Day 8. Not a word from Audible. Crickets. I did find and download the ACX Check plug-in for Audacity and boy did I learn a few things when I was putting each of the 29 chapters through that check! But, I did learn something. And every file, every chapter, everything that I submitted passed that crucial ACX check. Still, I am very nervous. I'm waiting for that other proverbial shoe to drop. I'm either going to get an email from Audible that says APPROVED or, Lord help me, "audio quality failure." This project, from start to finish, took six months out of my life. It even has (gulp) sound effects (SFX).

Secondly, this article deals with narrators who actually have a producer. I am a narrator AND a producer. I do all my own work. I have my own studio -- though it looks nothing like the studios depicted in the article. Those are more "professional." Mine are "home ish." Which means they look like Hell, but they get the job done.

I had the same issue with hard to pronounce words. The author managed to name every single island in the South Pacific. Sure, some like Luzon are pretty easy. But, for every Luzon, there's ten more in Chinese, or Japanese, or, or, or. Then, there's those special "submarine" words like Pelorus. How many of you would use the Spanish pronunciation of GATO? As in GAH-TOW. The U.S. Navy does not. The U.S. Navy is never wrong. Therefore, this class of submarine used in WW II is GAY-TOW. These weren't the only two words that threw me. I can't tell you how many times the author would email back to say, "NOPE -- DO IT AGAIN!" He was also very fond of using "Navy terms" to describe servicemen on a submarine. I'm telling you that "TM3 Floyd Sweat" doesn't transfer well on the audio end. Raise your hand if you know what a TM3 is. It's Torpedo Man, 3rd Class, Petty Officer Floyd Sweat. That has to come out on the audio end. It simply has too. You can't get away with using Navy abbreviations. You'll lose an entire audience that's never served a day in the Navy.

One other thing I can tell you? There's a glut of narrators at the moment. I've submitted 23 auditions in the past five days. I've been turned down for four of them. I've never been turned down four times in my entire CAREER. True, I am aiming higher. But still... Rejection hurts!

CliveCatterall
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Post by CliveCatterall » May 19th, 2019, 6:16 am

Very interesting. I thought I was the only one who had to read stuff through before recording. I find this especially so when recording older texts. When I'm doing well I go 1 minute between fluffs, maybe 2 minutes. When I'm tired or at the end of a session it falls to 30 seconds or even less. Good lighting helps, as does getting the text size right.

No way could I do six hours a day of recording, even if they break it down into 1.5 hour sessions! After 40 minutes I start making more mistakes and have to take a break. Michael Jayson recorded one of my all time favourite audiobooks "Rogue Male" by Geoffrey Household for the BBC back in 2004. In an interview in 2011 he said that he was scheduled for six days in the studio to record it (7.5 hours fnished audio) and polished it off in 3 days. I have listened to it several times and it is astonishingly good. I remember making sure I was in the house with the radio on when it was first broadcast...

3 days, eh? I Think I'll give up ...

https://loveandliberty.blogspot.com/2011/08/rogue-male-and-michael-jayston.html


Clive

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » May 19th, 2019, 8:30 am

About one chapter a day - say 25-30 minutes, is about all I can manage, although on a good day with little else to do, which is very rare, I might manage two chapters ... It took me 3 weeks or so to read and edit a 9.5 hour book for Audible.

Mind you, if it was just recording and no editing then I could record at least 4 chapters a day, say about 1.5 hours worth. That would be a 7.5 hour book in 5 days, I think?

CliveCatterall
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Post by CliveCatterall » May 20th, 2019, 6:27 am

lurcherlover wrote:
May 19th, 2019, 8:30 am
About one chapter a day - say 25-30 minutes, is about all I can manage, although on a good day with little else to do, which is very rare, I might manage two chapters ... It took me 3 weeks or so to read and edit a 9.5 hour book for Audible.
I think you're doing pretty well there. It takes me months to complete a 9.5 hour book (I'm fitting this in with a full time job, commuting, children etc. etc.). Also for Audible I'm guessing you are aiming for "word perfect"? I estimate I need 5 to 6 times the finished audio time to do the prep, recording, editing and initial PLing required for "word perfect". Your 9.5 hours finished audio could take me 48 to 57 hours of work! I'm not surprised it took 3 weeks!

Well done :wink:

Clive

billbird2111
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Post by billbird2111 » May 23rd, 2019, 12:49 pm

Well! I am very proud! Audible approved my latest audio book. That's 23.5 hours, 29 chapters, which took six months of my life to not only narrate, but produce. It's heavy on production elements.

The audio book is called Silent Warriors: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific. It is by Gene Masters. Narrated by Tweet Audio Productions (or Bill Bird). And I have free audio codes if you are so interested in hearing about the World War II exploits of the USS Orca, its crew and a series of ten war patrols that are drawn from Navy records (which means they really did happen).

I've never had Audible approve one of my productions like this before. Usually? There's a problem or two. But I got a lot better at editing and producing in the past year and that work has paid off. If you would like a code, please let me know. Leave a note in this forum. All I ask is an HONEST review in return. If you hated it, you hated it. No hard feelings.

But, I hope you'll like it.

KevinS
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Post by KevinS » May 23rd, 2019, 3:25 pm

That's wonderful.

I'll be anxious to listen when I can free up the time. I know more about the submarines of the First World War than the Second and practically nothing of the Pacific Theater under the waves. I had a friend, however, who was transferred off the Indianapolis immediately before its last mission. You must know that awful story.

Congratulations to you!

Kevin
E agora, José?

billbird2111
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Post by billbird2111 » May 23rd, 2019, 5:52 pm

OMG! Yes, I am very aware of the Indianapolis story. Your friend is very, very, very lucky. Although some did survive that incident, most did not. Those that survived the sinking only to perish from wanton shark attacks, well, I can't imagine what that must have been like. The story of the Indianapolis was, of course, mentioned in the first JAWS movie. The true story of what really happened out there is even worse.

I do consider myself an unofficial student of the war, but I ran across something I did not know during my production research. It is the "Bataan Has Fallen" radio broadcast that took place after American and Philippine servicemen surrendered after three months of fighting to superior Japanese forces. The surrender is still the largest in United States military history. It also marked the official start of the Bataan Death March. The Bataan Has Fallen Broadcast took place inside the Malinta Tunnel on the island fortress of Corregidore. It fell roughly two weeks after Bataan. The broadcast is very symbolic and very famous in the Philippines. High schools across the country routinely have students re-enact the reading of the famous radio broadcast. I'm very surprised it wasn't well known here, given the level of American involvement in the Philippine Islands and the sacrifices many ordinary Philippine citizens made on behalf of American forces.

As soon as I discovered the symbolism behind the message, I knew it had to be part of the audio book. The author firmly agreed with me. He had been unaware of it as well. Unfortunately, although audio copies of the original broadcast do exist, none are in very good shape. I tried to clean it up the best I could with a digital editor, but without a clean copy to start with, it's rough. So, I recreated it. I stuck to the script, the timing and the graveness of the message. I actually included "static" in the background to make it as real as possible. I am using this, by the way, to market the book with English language newspapers in the Philippines. Although Tagalog remains the official language of The Philippines, most of them speak English as well.

Again, I have promo codes for anyone who wants a free copy of the audio book.

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