Doing laps in the LA Fishbowl

Sounding Off

Spending the morning reading the tutorial on how to use a digital recording application I’ve just downloaded called “Audacity.” Exciting, eh? I’m setting up a home recording “studio” (AKA my study closet) so that I can record voiceover auditions from home, thus garnering me more chances to yell my brains out on all manner of video games. There’s so much copy for video games these days that my agency can only record a fraction of them in-house (they’d have no booth space for anything else otherwise). Hence, my entry into home recording.

Many people I know would just jump in and “play around” with the equipment and software without using a manual, a FAQ, or a “Read Me.” Those people fall into two categories: Gestaltists, who intuitively “get” how something works and can magically make it happen; and Minimalists, who want to know only enough to get them up and running, but no more. An example of the former would be my friend Michael, a savant who can assemble a Lego kit just by looking at the box (and I’m talking about one of those “for ages 8-14” Star Wars kits that have been known to reduce parents to quivering lunatics ). An example of the latter would be my husband Doug, who still does not know where the volume is on his Blackberry phone. 

I am cautious, and obedient. I want ALL the information. If something says “Read Me,” I, like Alice in Wonderland, cannot resist. I am of the “Gather All Data and Synthesize” school (GADAS), which Doug has rechristened the “Waste My Time and Put me to Sleep” (WMTPMS) school. I am able to tell him how to use his iTunes library to create a specific Requiem ringtone for each of his most-called numbers. He refuses to care. This is how marriage works after twenty years. 

Audacity is a free downloadable program, recommended to me by several of my VO colleagues. It’s simpler to use than Garage Band, and its online manual rocks, mostly because it begins with the heading, “How is sound made?” which is exactly the level I’m starting at. The manual has conversational, easy-to-understand instructions, employing exactly the same tone I use when trying to explain to my mother-in-law how to attach photos to her email. 

Here’s a sample:

Your computer has a soundcard − it could be a separate card, like a SoundBlaster, or it could be built−in to your computer. Either way, your soundcard comes with an Analog−to−Digital Converter (ADC) for recording, and a Digital−to−Analog Converter (DAC) for playing audio. Your operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc.) talks to the sound card to actually handle the recording and playback, and Audacity talks to your operating system so that you can capture sounds to a file, edit them, and mix multiple tracks while playing.
I like all those components having little chats in my computer— it’s so warm, so collegial! I imagine them gathered around the water cooler, sound files tucked under their digital arms, holding coffee mugs with sound waves steaming out of them…

Okay, back to reading…
Here’s another good bit:

Next comes foley. These are clothes rustling(body sounds), foot steps and objects being handled. People that have the ultimate edition of Terminator 2 will know that all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s footsteps and rustle of his leather clothing were created by a five foot woman. These people are usually called foley walkers or foley artists.
Arnold Schwarzenegger being foley’d by a five-foot woman? Now that’s information I can use! Even Doug would want to know that!

This may take a while…

Update: My brain hurts. I’m done

April 29th, 2011 - Still Life Las Vegas


2 responses to “Sounding Off”

  1. salgal99 says:

    I'm firmly in the "wing it" camp with Doug. Though I do like the foley fun fact!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Have you seen the recent South Park about IPads and the human caterpillarpad (or something like that). Quite gross and hilarious. I feel guilty checking "I accept" when I haven't read all the stuff for computer updates, etc. This episodes explores what could be in that fine print of accepting terms and agreements. Yikes!
    Have fun!

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