DAVE’S AUDIOBLOG Entry #5: Why I Quit…no, I mean why I quit trying to solve this problem I was having with my recordings and enlisted the services of George Whittam. What did you think I meant?

George Whittam, Da Man himself!

DON’T WANNA READ? THEN LISTEN!:

Okay. First off, if you’re listening to this blog, you’ll notice that the volume is a tad on the low side. Don’t turn up your speakers just yet, though. You’ll see why in a second.

You see, this blog entry is essentially an endorsement of a particular audio genius by the name of George Whittam. Chances are you’ve heard of him if you’ve been in VO for even a little bit. Have you worked with him, though? If not, you should! Especially if you’re having problems with your audio editing program that you can’t seem to get rid of.

He’s most certainly qualified—he has hosted several webinars for Voice-Over Xtra on many audio editing programs, he co-hosts the East-West Audio Body Shop (or “EWABS”) show with Dan Lenard, he constructed several home studios for big-name voice actors, and was the personal recording engineer of Don LaFontaine (aka “The Movie Trailer Guy,” aka “The Voice of God,” aka “The ‘In A World’ Guy,” aka “The Voice Actor Who Made Way, Way, Way More Money Than The Rest Of Us Voice Actors”). George also oversees the Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab in Los Angeles. All of this to say…George knows his stuff.

Or so I heard. Recently, though, I had the opportunity to confirm this for myself. I was having some problems with my some of my settings in my Twisted Wave audio editing program. What problems, I can hear my hypothetical listeners and readers asking? Well, you’re listening to them right now. I decided to record this audioblog entry using the problematic settings that I had been using before, to give you an idea of what was fixed. It wasn’t a *irreparable* problem per say, but I found myself getting around this problem with my compression settings by taking my audio back and forth between two different editing programs. To say that it was time-consuming is a huge understatement. Because I never settle for anything short of the best results that I can deliver, I decided that my clients deserved a much faster workflow.

But quite frankly, even if they didn’t, I wanted a faster workflow anyway. So…

I tried relentlessly to figure it out for myself, but I just couldn’t. So I figured…”You know what? I’ll give George a shot.” So, I signed up for a service appointment at his website, eldorec.com, and he solved my problem for me. Quite literally, actually. Using this really cool program called Mikogo, which would allow him to remotely view my computer (and allow me to remotely view his), he took my audio file, fired up Twisted Wave on his end, and made his own custom configurations to make sure that my audio sounded the best it could. Through modifying some of my compression settings and introducing some peak limiter settings—all on his end—he not only got my audio sounding good, but saved all of the new custom settings that he had come up with into a file type that could be imported into my own computer. He emailed that to me, I downloaded it, and bam—I’ve got new preferences that eliminated my problem, so that now my audio sounds like this.

See? Told you not to turn your speakers up.

Through it all, he was so calm and calculating, taking his time to explain to me why he was making his particular settings. Which, mind you, he did not need to take the time to do at all since he just ended up emailing me my new settings anyway.

While I have indeed developed a growing fascination with the more technical side of VO—and gave into that growing fascination by buying Pro Tools to learn on the side—the fact of the matter is, I come from an acting background. I don’t mind the technical stuff, and I’m even growing to love it, but it’s still second to my passion for acting. For George to go into my system so easily, and eliminate my technical problems for me, is a huge load off this actor’s mind.

Here’s another way to put it. Have you ever watched the third Star Wars movie, “Return of the Jedi?” You know that small, weird creature that sits near Jabba the Hutt?

All it does is give this mocking laugh, and he’s utterly annoying because his origins are never explained? Well, that’s pretty much what audio anomalies are. They’re annoying, they’re often hard to explain, they mock you at every turn, and you don’t know why they’re even there. If you hire George, he gets all of the annoying audio anomalies out so that you can just go back to being an actor. Can you really put a price on that? Well, sure, George did, but he deserves every penny of it.

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3 thoughts on “DAVE’S AUDIOBLOG Entry #5: Why I Quit…no, I mean why I quit trying to solve this problem I was having with my recordings and enlisted the services of George Whittam. What did you think I meant?

  1. PS: I feel the need to clarify something. While I did demonstrate my problem by recording the first half of this blog entry with the “bad” settings, I figured maybe I should go into a little bit more detail for those of you who want to know exactly what was happening.

    Well, after using my compression settings, my audio came out at a very low volume…which is, of course, what one should expect after compression, so that wasn’t the big deal. The big deal was that there were these really odd spikes in the waveform even *after* utilizing compression. So, when I tried to normalize the audio–which is how one typically corrects the “low volume problem” that happens after compression–the normalization process took those weird spikes into account when calculating how far to raise the volume. Since the spikes were fairly big, it rose the spikes to the level I told the audio to normalize to, while leaving the overall waveform at a fairly low volume. The result was audio that was low in volume, with unpredictable spikes that came out of nowhere.

    The key was to add some “peak limiter” settings, which is what George did. He looked at those spikes (or “peaks” to use more appropriate terminology), and dialed in some settings into my Twisted Wave peak limiter to specifically turn down the volume of those peaks. So now, after normalizing after compression, the volume is at a nice, even level. And to top it off, George got it done quickly, easily, and even explained to me what to do for future reference.

    Perhaps I should have mentioned that in the actual blog entry, but alas…

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