A look at the new Marantz Pro TURRET

One of the best things about attending the annual NAB Convention in Las Vegas each April is that I get to check out, first hand, some cool new gear like microphones and outboard audio gear. NAB is also a great place to get introduced to the trends in video production so I can stay in step with my clients.

This year one piece from Marantz Professional really caught my eye. It is the TURRET – an all in one, freestanding HD webcam camera & microphone package that is perfect for wide range of users – including voiceover professionals, podcasters, online presenters, streaming video pros and more.

For VO pros this is a tool that will allow you to communicate during live directed sessions with your clients during a voiceover session via SKYPE, Zoom, etc. – allowing you to keep your focus on recording audio on your main system & microphone.

The new Marantz Turret

Presenters will love having a professional rig for their live streaming projects, video tutorials and online sharing segments, etc. – all while communicating from their presenting space with a professional look AND sound.

Marantz is known in the broadcast and production world for their professional hand-held portable audio recorders. This is a great compliment to that line-up. I loved the “all-in-one” aspect of having a professional HD camera and LED adjustable Light Wheel system plus semi-professional Marantz quality condenser microphone with pop filter all in one unit with one USB cable is pretty slick. Buttons on the main pedestal allow you to control the camera, microphone, headphone volume and lighting from one location.

The TURRET is not on the market quite yet so look for it to be released later this year.

Small Space Syndrome by Tim Keenan

A passing comment in an email from a client the other day got my wheels spinning. I’ve noticed this phenomenon, but was never able to put my finger on the issue so well. The client shared that a batch of recent e-Learning auditions we sent him sounded “soft” – as if the narrators we’re reading a book aloud in a very quiet room. In other words, there was no energy, no engagement with the potential listener.

Now, I know VO pros are always encouraged to think of the microphone as a person’s “ear” and be aware of the power of the intimacy of their voice when speaking softly. But this client was hoping to hear more energy and enthusiasm, yet still have the read be conversational.

It came to me that I had noticed this same phenomenon myself when working with voices from their home studios. I have have had to push the talent to get a little more zest.

The one thing that just may be holding them back in their delivery could be the SIZE of the person’s recording space. I’m going to call it “small space syndrome.

Human’s, by nature, will tend to speak softly when they enter a closet sized room because they know they don’t have to speak-up to be heard. A small VO booth may be having that same subliminal effect on narrators. Even a space carved off a larger room using acoustic curtains can have a dampening effect on a performance.

I know I’m spoiled. I own a professional studio with a nice, roomy VO booth that we designed from the ground up. It is, on average, 9’ x 16’ with enough room for three voice talent at a time comfortably. It’s big enough to feel like a room. When you perform in our VO booth you can speak in normal, bold tones with no hesitation.

So how do you overcome small space syndrome? Well, just being aware and conscious of it is a good step one. Listen to your auditions back in another room or on a different computer and see if you gave it enough energy. Part of your prep might be to imagine yourself in a larger room. Forget that it is just you and the microphone. Down the road you might consider an expansion of your space. Adding a window might give you a different perspective, too. Something to think about.

Who knows, knowing this just might give you that little edge in your next voiceover audition.

5 Tips for a Better VO Session

1) Make sure your client thoroughly reviews and signs off on the final script in advance of your VO session. If you think your client needs the extra effort, record a “scratch track” with a temp voice for your client to review. Revisions to the narration after the initial VO session may not always match the energy and sound quality of the original performance and can be avoided with pre-production efforts.

2) Prepare the script in a format that is easy to read and understand. 12 pt fonts or larger and lots of spacing for the narration copy will make the session go smoother. The extra space allows for the talent to write in last minute changes that come up during the narration session.

3) Work out ahead of time how you would like the program paced and which places are good for music and narration transitions. What kind of music (if any) will be used throughout. This will help the talent get a feel for the segments that need more emphasis.

4) Direct the voiceover session. This seems like the obvious one but with the changes in the VO business this step is often overlooked. It is important to give guidance and direction as the VO is being recorded, either by phone or in-person, to avoid costly re-do’s. It also helps assure correct pronunciations and emphasis as well as a good performance.

5) Don’t over-direct and avoid the use of “line reads” if possible. Respect the fact that every voice talent has his or her own pacing, tempo and speech patterns. It is best to use positive words and encouragement to guide the talent to where you would like them to go with their read and which words require more emphasis.

This piece originally ran on the www.mcai-oc.org website.