Setting up your Vocal Talent to Record in front of a Microphone!

There are literally hundreds of documents out there giving detailed descriptions of how close the mouth should be from the microphone, how close the pop filter should be from the microphone, and what  

There are literally hundreds of documents out there giving detailed descriptions of how close the mouth should be from the microphone, how close the pop filter should be from the microphone, and what kind of room to record in, etc. I don't in anyway want to tell you that all of the suggestions are not important, they absolutely are!

However, I'd like to introduce you to a train of thought that a college instructor of mine turned me on to, that has served me all too well over the years. Take care of your talent!
A comfortable vocal talent is a productive vocal talent. Meaning that, if you take care of them, they will give you performances that will either convince an Eskimo to buy ice cream, or melt the hardest of hearts.  And, also, just some practical tips for keeping those crazy vocal talents (including yourself) from creating more line noise!

Step 1 - A Glass of Water

Always keep a glass of water for your vocal talent in a handy, yet safe place. Reading, singing, and yelling for extended periods of time does affect a singer, or actor's ability to render the best possible performance. Also, nothing interferes with the clock more than those dry gasps and voice cracks. Keep in mind, when a voice goes with some talent, it can go for the whole day, and sometimes week. I've worked with some vocalists that sing with such intensity that once their voice started to crack, it would crack for the rest of the day, no matter how much water they had. However, if you took care of them from the moment the session started, they could go for much longer periods of time.

Also, consider hot ginger tea as an alternative. Ginger tea has long been a favorite of opera singers for it's ability to stimulate and tickle the throat. Mixed with a little bit of honey, that hot tea can have your talent going for hours... Also, avoid dairy at all cost! Phlegm build-up is gross to edit later! Yikes!

Step 2 - Paper?!

In the modern climate of dwindling natural resources and heavy production costs, do you really want to keep printing scripts and lyrics?! Not only does the turning of a page come over very loudly during a vocal recording (take it from one who's edited plenty of page turns out, thanks Sound Forge!), it is also a clumsy act that can deter from the overall performance of your talent.

Consider an iPad instead? Try emailing, or transferring a PDF of your scripts, lyrics, etc over to an iPad. Not only is the turning of a page within an iPad, undetectable to a recording device, it's also saves you the need to keep printing, and printing. Think of how much you'll save on ink, paper, etc?

Step 3 - A Comfy Chair...? Perhaps...

Most vocal talents will perform best when standing, as the diaphragm is mildly impeded when sitting, cutting off valuable air flow. My best advice is to always have vocalists stand, but have actors sit when there's a really long amount of recording to be done. Granted, both types of talent can be divas in their own right. Often times, however, if you explain this principal, you can win them over it's just 6 minutes of recording. If it's 30 minutes of dialog? Get the damn chair! Some vocal talents will insist on a chair within their rider, and then you better have the chair, or you will be explaining why you have no recording to the director. Good luck on that one!

Closing Thoughts

All in all, these are a collection of tips I've learned the hard way. They may seem small, but a well looked-after talent leads to a good performance. And we all want that, right?

NOTE: Title Picture is by Girl With Microphone by Petr Kratochvil can be found here.

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


Want to join the discussion?

Create an account or login to get started!