Audio Books

My Audio Book Recording Method, Part 2

Welcome back!  This time I'm going to talk about what I do when I'm actually recording a section of an audio book.

First and most obvious is that I'll have my manuscript handy.  I have mine printed on physical paper.  Tablets or computers could be used, but I don't have a tablet and my setup doesn't make reading from the computer convenient, so it's paper for me!  I'll grab just the section I plan to record.

Then I'll scan through it for logical break points in that section of the manuscript.  If the chapters are shorter (like they were in Nebulous), then I break it up by chapter.  If the chapters are longer (like they were in The Atomic Sea), then I'll try to find 'ellipsis' breaks.  If there aren't any of those, I'll just section it off into groups of three pages or so.

Before I actually start recording, I'll do a level check.  I'll record a paragraph or so and check the sound level on my laptop to make sure it's where I want it to be.  The idea is that you want to record as 'hot' as you can while still leaving some space for processing after it's done.  If it's too soft, you can lose quality when having to bring up the level to it's final point.  If it's too loud, you might 'clip' while recording, which is lost data at the extremes of the waveform.  That can lead to distortion in the recording.

Clipping is when the waveform goes beyond the bounds of the graph.

Clipping is when the waveform goes beyond the bounds of the graph.

Once I'm sure my recording level is good, I'll start recording for 'real'.  Before I say anything, though, I record about 10 seconds of silence.  This is called 'Room Tone'.  I'll use a nice, even piece of this (about a half-second's worth) in the editing process later on.

As I'm recording the text, invariably I'll make a stumble.  It could be a word that I read incorrectly, a character voice that I don't quite hit, or even just a line that didn't quite sound the way I think it should have.  When this happens, I stop the recording, go back to the start of the previous sentence and delete the bad take.  Then I start the recording and pick back up with the chunk I just deleted.

When I'm done, I should have a section of the book that is clean from the perspective of the text and of the performance.  However, there will be long breaks where I stopped and restarted my recording that need to be removed, as well as other mistakes that I may have missed while I was recording.  I'll get into how I deal those in my next blog entry.

Thanks for reading!