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New Direction, New Venue

I’m not sure if other vocal talent will agree, but for me, my studio booth is an intimate place. It’s a sanctuary where you can be as crazy or emotional as you need to be without judgment. If a take doesn’t work, you can delete it and no one has to know.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the collaboration of being in someone else’s studio. I love being able to focus solely on the creative aspect and not also juggle the responsibilities of a sound engineer and director. However, all of the paid work I’ve gotten has been recorded in my own booth and edited in my own home.

So, I get a little defensive and secretive when discussing my set-up. Clients want to know that the talent they book are professional and I don’t want to do anything that will tarnish the image they might have of how that .wav file was created.

But the truth of the matter is that I do not rent an office space for my studio; I don’t even own a whisper room (I do fantasize about it though!). I have collected advise and suggestions from other voice artists and with that I established an area that works for me.

It was a process. In fact, prior blog entries go over the struggle – you may recall the infamous “hissing” noise. I tried everything I could think of but the one thing I never did was use my clothing closet.

However, lately I’ve been feeling a bit uncomfortable with my self-made, wooden “whisper room” in the garage. We had an unwelcome guest (read: rat), a flea infestation (that luckily kept to the garage-only), the lighting is horrible…. it was just a very “ratchet” atmosphere. The sound was good although it had a bit of that “dead” quality from being too cushioned. It worked but I wasn’t happy and I never could get the other half of the studio the way I wanted it, (despite moving the several hundred pound booth to the other side of the garage) so I would have to carry my laptop and mouse outside to record and then trek it inside to edit.

My studio felt more like an afterthought and I attributed that concept to my career approach. If I had a time scheduling conflict, the first thing cut off the itinerary was marketing. The only exception to this was when I booked work – then it became top priority to record. But without work, voice acting felt like a hobby. It was hard to pull myself out of that mentality (I’m still not quite out) and that’s when my roommate (sister) suggested the idea – what if we converted the extra walk-in closet into a booth?

The closet is in our Atelier (craft room) housed finished costumes, most of which were semi-retired. We’ve been on an organizational-kick and found we have a lot of stuff we can get rid of, which would open up room elsewhere for these costumes to be stored. The craft room has always been set apart from the rest of the house in that it’s the one place our animal companions are not allowed without supervision. That innate “respect” was exactly what I needed to attribute to my work space.

It took a few weeks to actually put the process in motion and I’m still not quite finished but it’s been a solid 2 weeks since the mic has been in the closet and I already love it. My editing station is permanent, the sound quality is more dynamic, and it’s easier to just “pop in” for a moment.

The one thing that bothers me is that it’s not as ‘deafening’ as my wooden box, so there is a faint air-noise in the silence. I still believe the improvement in my voice recording is worth it but I have made attempts to cut the echo of an empty room and the pockets of the corners.

First, I used the shelf for storage (and then covered the boxes so it wouldn’t look so ‘closet-y’) to stop the “empty room echo” effect. I then also got professional acoustic foam – auralex – to replace the egg-crate I had been using.

Finally, I decided that my booth – my intimate, safe space – should be a representation of my self. While I do conduct myself in a professional manner and I take pride in my work ethic, I have never let my imagination die. That’s what makes me creative and I believe it’s what helps the characters in my head come to life.

I had empty corners that needed to be softened. I could either use acoustic foam to create gentle curves and bumps or….I could use stuffed toys! 

The toys all have meaning to me; ‘baby pink bear’ has been with me since infancy. The Pokemon Meowth and Pikachu remind me of my niece’s infancy and our amazing family trip to California. The Eeyore-huddle reminds me of my college days, when I went through a bit of a collector’s phase (I accumulated over 30 plush toys of Eeyore….). Tramp, Chip, Dale, and Mickey remind me of both my young childhood and my high school graduation family trip to Disney World. And the assortment of random toys remind me of my current life: full of cosplay, video games, and small celebrations.

It’s not streamlined or overly pretty but it’s me; my creative outlet.

It’s hard to really take a good picture, but I have auralex on the side-walls, on the door, and one behind the mic. I was always told the mic doesn’t really need much behind it, as it picks up most of the vibrations from the front, but I may add more to the back wall if I feel it necessary.

I’m still fine-tuning things and when funds allow, I’m certain I’ll go for the more mainstream idea of what professionalism should look like. But until then, this works quite nicely and it feels like home.

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