In the past, I’ve always recorded the audio narrations for my exhibits myself, using the microphone on my headset. The results were passable, but not professional. I’ve really come to appreciate the difference professional audio equipment can make. One option is to get a pro microphone, mixer, and audio software, but it didn’t take me long to realize that would quickly add up to a lot of money. Then I’d have to figure out how to use it all!
There are some recording studios in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, so I might try some of them, but there’s another option that I wanted to try first. One can write a script and send it to a professional voice actor to record. They have all the pro audio equipment and know how to use it, or at least the good ones do. Also, they are professional actors. They record things like radio ads, movie trailers and audio books all the time.
Voice actors are often associated with talent agencies; you can tell the talent agency what you’re looking for and then they find someone appropriate. For The Earl and the Leviathan, I asked for the voice of an older male Irish gentleman tour guide.
One of the agencies I contacted was Vox Talent, which is based in Canada. They replied to my inquiry email in seven minutes! They suggested an Irish fellow who’s been a voice actor for over 15 years, and even gave me a sample of his work (an audio recording) — which sounded great. I heard back from other talent agencies, but decided to stick with Vox Talent because they seem to have the best customer service and rates (and are Canadian too). They normally have a turn-around time of 24 hours but it turns out that the actor they recommended was ill, so they sent me recordings from two other actors — reading my actual script! I told them I’d wait for their originally-recommended actor to get well, within reason (i.e. if he’s still ill in a week, then I’ll re-evaluate my options).
My only concern with hiring a voice actor is that they’ll have great voice quality, but won’t sound like they know what they’re talking about. For example, Burl Ives might have sounded cool, but if he pronounced DNA to sound like "dnahhh" then that would be bad!
Photo Credits: Recording studio (man with whice shirt) by Wilson-Fam on Flickr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.