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On the Road: Ecstatic But Terrified
To Get Jobs?
Today, Recording Is Easier ...


By Heather Costa
Voice Talent & Trainer

I spent four years of my life traveling around the country working with voice talent and I loved every minute of it! My family was with me (my husband and our first son - the second wasn't born yet), and of course my travel studio.

It didn't matter where I was since my clients were all virtual anyway.

I recorded remotely from hotel rooms, rest stops, parking lots, even from the side of the road. The stories I have from those days - the places I recorded where my clients had no idea - those are some of the best memories.

So if you find yourself living out of suitcase, or heading out of town for a long weekend, there's no reason you should have to give up those voice over jobs!

WHAT TO BRING?

Do you need to bring a lot of equipment?

Nope, not at all. Actually, I'm envious of all the recording options now. When I started traveling in 2005, I didn't have as many options.

Today, all you need is an iPad and an Apogee mic and you're all set!

I hauled around my Digidesign MBox, laptop, mic, tabletop stand (with the SUPER heavy base), pop filter, headphones and cables. A couple of years later I discovered the Porta-Booth by Harlan Hogan and it made my life so much easier!

I downgraded to a mini mic stand and brought along the Porta-Booth everywhere I went.

IT GETS EASIER

The more I became familiar with recording in odd places, the easier it was.

I'll never forget the night I woke up at 2 a.m. freaking out because I thought that someone was standing over me in the hotel room! Once my eyes were able to focus, I realized it was just my mic and pop filter sitting on the mic stand that I had left on the desk next to the bed.

As you can imagine, it took quite a while to calm my nerves and fall back to sleep. But other than the occasional work hazard like that, it's the perfect job.

ADVENTURES IN ACOUSTICS

What do you do about acoustics?

The very first large job I received while traveling (a 7,000-word narration) arrived when I was teaching in Michigan. I saw the email come in and at that moment I was both ecstatic and terrified.

I didn't have the Porta-Booth at this point, so I flipped up my mattress on the bed, rested it against the wall, sat on the box spring and created a fort of pillows around me - it was perfect!

I was comfortable and the acoustics were great. The client loved it and had no idea!

HOTEL HELPERS ...

If you're at a hotel long enough, you start to notice the patterns of housekeeping and when they're vacuuming the hallways. Those are of course, moments to avoid recording.

I made it a point to tell the front desk what I was going to be doing in my room (which usually fascinated them!), so they tried to keep me separated from other guests whenever possible. And I have:
  • recorded while wedged on the floor between a hotel bed and those heavy curtains,
  • sat in walk-in closets where I surrounded myself with blankets and towels, and
  • created forts of hotel couches & chairs (housekeeping never really liked me after they saw my redecorating).
Hotel desks are usually good if you can cover them with enough towels and prop up pillows and couch cushions around you.

SPECIAL REQUESTS ...

Although you can make a less-than-glamorous space sound great with pillows, blankets, curtains and piles of dirty laundry - there is still the occasional issue that will arise.

Whenever we checked into a hotel, I always requested a quiet room on the top floor. That way, I only had to worry about people walking below me, not above.

I also requested to be far away from the elevator and pool - especially if there was an outdoor one! - and a corner room whenever possible.

One time during our travels I got stuck in a hotel glass elevator for over an hour with my son, a cooler full of food and my recording equipment. The firemen arrived all dressed to save me from a burning building and I just laughed and said - I'm fine, I have the baby, a snack and my mic!

TRULY 'ON THE ROAD'

Then if all else fails - you always have your car!

I remember driving back to New York from Georgia when a job for PetSmart arrived in my inbox. At the time I didn't have a smart phone, so I always traveled with a broadband Internet card for my computer.

My husband was driving and the baby was fast asleep next to me, so we pulled over into a Walmart parking lot. I grabbed my equipment from the trunk and set up the Porta-Booth on my lap. (I always had a lap desk, so I put a book on top of the desk and then the Porta-Booth on top of that, creating the perfect height).

I set up my mic and MBox, hit RECORD, and 15 minutes later the job was recorded and edited.

As we pulled back onto the highway, I hit SEND and it was on its way to the client!

ABOUT HEATHER ...

Heather Costa is a full-time voiceover talent and also Director of Operations with the voice over training company, Such A Voice. Her voice over credits include Finish Line, Clear Channel, PetSmart, Chase Banking Corporation, Comcast, Prentice Hall, Carrier, the Educational Testing Service, the Village Voice and eBay.

Web: www.heathercosta.com
Email: info@heathercosta.com
Such A Voice: www.SuchAVoice.com

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Comments (9)
adrian
3/10/2015 at 11:27 AM
Anyone having success recording on the road with Auria app?

I've heard great things about this iPad app that is very affordable and apparently, does fine recordings!

Cheers
AdrianBellVoiceovers.com
Anne Ganguzza
6/28/2012 at 9:08 PM
I got my Apogee at sweetwater.com I think they have super competitive prices and I love that they have free tech support - I have used them for years! I also use the Twisted Wave App on my iPad to record and edit my audio, and Dropbox for file storage. I love it for on-the-go recording - super light and portable with great sound!
David Ellsworth
6/28/2012 at 5:21 PM
Christine,

Let's see, for a 64GB iPad that's $699 and a 13-inch MacBook Pro $1199.

As a tech person, I don't really see the allure of using an iPad for voice over. I know you CAN do it. Getting files out of the iPad has annoyed me. I can shove a USB thumb drive in the MBP and move files as well as have full editing using whatever software you want, TwistedWave, GarageBand, Logic, etc. Yes, you can edit in GarageBand on the iPad, but it's just not the same as a Mac.
Christine
6/28/2012 at 2:37 PM
Thanks for an informative article... I would like more info on using the iPad with that Apogee mic.
Wouldn't there also be some sort of software needed? Where is the best place to get the apogee mic?

Thanks!
Heather Costa
6/23/2012 at 5:58 AM
Thanks everyone! Those are good suggestions Bettye & Jerry, I'll keep those in mind for myself too! Glad, you recorded in a kiln room - that's exciting :)
Terry Daniel
6/22/2012 at 1:57 PM
Great article, Heather!
Bettye Zoller
6/22/2012 at 11:50 AM
Good article. Yes, I have been on the road a lot, too, all these years and there are tricks. One trick is to ask the hotel desk if anyone is using conference room and if not, record stuff down there.
Glad Klassen
6/22/2012 at 11:33 AM
I love your stories Heather!
My most recent travel VO tales include recording a documentary in my hotel room last week (Stratford, Ontario) - and voicing a short promotional video in a kiln room at the home of a friend who's a potter.
Love love love my work!
Cheers!
Jerry Pelletier
6/22/2012 at 11:32 AM
Senn 416, i-Phone w/twisted wave and this:
http://tascam.com/product/iu2/

Doesn't get much more portable....
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