So you’re in the process of hiring a voice actor on Voice123? That’s great! The only thing niggling at you is the fact that you want to be in on the recording session. Would you like to direct a voice actor remotely, but you don’t know how? Then read on!
The way things were…
It’s a simple fact: gone are the days when voice actors had to visit recording studios to get something recorded — with the client, a production manager, and a casting director in attendance. Recording from home is now the norm; Voice123 can certainly attest to that!
Inevitably, recording from home has led to most actors self-directing and, by following the client’s brief carefully, this is all that’s required 95% of the time.
Nevertheless, some clients and directors want to direct the session by offering guidance while the voice actor is recording — particularly with regard to tone, pace, emotion, style, and so on. This can complicate matters when the client is in Toronto and the chosen actor is in Los Angeles!
The age of ISDN
The way this problem used to be solved (since the mid-1980s) was by making use of an Integrated Services Digital Network, known by its acronym ISDN. ISDN is a circuit-switched telephone network system that transmits data as well as voice over a digital line. The sound quality is excellent.
It was fairly expensive at the time, but it’s inclusion in upmarket recording studios was pretty much ubiquitous. It was a sign of prestige. When it became more affordable, more and more pro voice actors started installing ISDN in their own home studios.
A slightly down-scaled alternative to ISDN is the phone patch. Here, the voice artist uses an outboard audio box to patch the output from his microphone into a telephone line. A client or director using any telephone can then listen to the recording and give instructions between takes. Obviously, recordings can’t be done remotely and the voice actor still needs to send the recording to the client when the session is over.
The age of the Internet and the rise of broadband
The Internet has moved things along at quite a pace. In fact, ISDN has been all but retired as the primary means of remote broadcast quality recording. For many, the phone patch has suffered the same fate.
There are several new kids on the block. Here are the most popular current choices that will allow you to direct a voice actor remotely:
Source Connect is referred to by audio producers as the new ISDN. Similar to its predecessor, Source Connect helps you connect remotely with another studio or the actor’s home studio environment. It has several features to meet audio recording and monitoring needs.
Instead of using phone lines, Source Connect routes audio through its own internet network. For this to work, of course, both parties must have the software installed on their computers. As a client, however, it’s well worth having if you intend to direct a voice actor remotely.
The technology itself is practically flawless, and the sound quality is top-notch. It has three versions – Standard, Pro, and Pro Extended, depending on the scope required. The fee for the Standard package is $35/month or $650 perpetual. Furthermore, the rates for Pro and Pro Extended are $1,495 perpetual and $2,450 perpetual, respectively. While the set-up fee is $75, before making a purchase, you can grab hold of a full-featured 15-day trial to see if it works for you.
Another great option for directing voice overs and recording remotely is ConnectionOpen. The platform enables you to collaborate and communicate all over the world in real-time. With almost zero latency, it uses high-quality uncompressed audio.
A cost-effective alternative to Source Connect, ConnectionOpen offers a heap of possibilities to users. The software is available for both Mac and PC, either as a VST/AU/AAX plugin or as standalone desktop application.
This reliable and easy-to-set-up software only needs a broadband connection to work, and a new session can be started in seconds. The digital voice recorder comes built into the software. Also, ConnectionOpen allows a 1-month free trial before you finalize your purchase. It offers three pricing tiers: day pass for a once-off recording at $10, Basic at $25 a month, and Pro at $100 a month.
ipDTL, is an IP codec that runs in a web browser. It must be accessed through the company’s website.
With backward compatibility, ipDTL is a substitute for ISDN’s audio codes. ipDTL has three main subscription levels that start at £10 depending on your needs. there’s a £15 day pass as well. It works on Windows, MacOS, Linux, and ChromeOS, and for voice sessions, it creates a phone patch. It even has its own dedicated ipDTL Browser and only requires a stable internet connection to function.
Cleanfeed, one of the most technically advanced systems of its type, uses the Opus audio codec to connect remote studios in real time using high-quality audio. It only requires a browser and mic to get going in a matter of just minutes. It is used by major broadcasters the world over as it offers crystal-clear audio quality.
You can connect to Cleanfeed from Android, Mac, Linux, or Windows platforms. Besides, the Standard version is free to use, while the Pro edition costs $34 monthly. Discounts are available for charitable and educational use too.
While these are only some of several options you can consider, the best way forward will be determined by the voice actors you deal with on a regular basis and making sure that the system you choose is compatible with theirs.
As a final word, we wish you every success with directing a voice actor remotely!