Self-producing At Home

What is the most difficult thing about narrating and producing audiobooks in your own home studio?

I am by no means a self-production expert, or any kind of audio production expert for that matter. I know just enough to sound as close to professional industry standards as I can with my equipment, my recording space, my signal processing, and whatever storytelling and acting skill I may possess. I couldn’t audio engineer my way out of a wet paper bag in a big studio. Now, two years into a serious effort to make audiobook narration my profession, achieving the ultimate goal of making audiobooks that evoke a compelling and satisfying storytelling experience for the listener is the primary and never-ending challenge. It’s a long road, but for people like me whose brain works a certain way, it’s at the very least fun and interesting. At best it satisfies my need to create in a big way.

I was a Radio-TV major in the mid-seventies and then I got my masters degree in directing for the theatre. I also started acting in stage plays my junior year as an undergrad. So I have at least a conceptual reminiscence of audio production, acting, and directing. I grew up splicing magnetic tape, ripping and reading news copy from the wire, producing and hosting live and pre-recorded radio, and envisioning, guiding, and being guided in the creation of theatre, the kind with a live audience. Throw into the mix a more recent and much longer career managing projects and it feels like audiobooks might be a good fit. Right?

One of the most satisfying things about self-producing audiobooks at home is having total control over literally every aspect of the effort to create an orally delivered work of literature that fulfills the promise of the story as only the spoken word can. While at the same time, one of the most difficult things about self-producing audiobooks at home is having total control over literally every aspect of the effort to create an orally delivered work of literature that fulfills the promise of the story as only the spoken word can. I am producer, director, audio engineer, and talent. This is not as easy as it sounds.

What do my directing brain and my technical brain do while I’m in front of the microphone attempting to reach my full potential as a storyteller? Do these two brains monitor the performance in real time, guiding and shaping theatre of the mind on a separate track as my storytelling brain delivers the best story it knows how? Or do the director and technician somehow take a break or at least objectively observe and simply wait for the storyteller to finish? So far, I’ve found the more aware I am of the director and technician in me while I’m speaking into the mic, the worse the performance. For me, this is the most difficult aspect at the moment.

When I go back and listen to my first audiobook, I am truly embarrassed. I have to think of that production and narration as my audiobook boot camp. In truth, I very nearly bit off more than I could chew as I reacquainted myself to mic technique and taught myself waveform editing, signal processing, and mastering on the job and on current technology platforms. The narration alone was a significant challenge with over fifteen characters, including teenage boys and girls, as well as four languages in addition to English, and three distinct European accents. What was I thinking? Add in my beginner level and slowly developing processing and mastering skills and the experience of completing my first audiobook nearly killed me. Well, not really, but it was very, very difficult. However, I learned a lot. As a result, my next project was a bit easier, as each successive one has been since.

At the same time, I become increasingly more aware that I still have more work to do to meet my own standards. I know I get better with each book, but I do have high standards where listening to someone tell a story for ten or twelve hours is concerned. So, I will continue to have more work to do as the most difficult thing about self-producing at home changes over time. And that’s a good thing. It means I’m making progress.

Celebrating Five Years of Audiobook Creation

Happy Birthday, ACX. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

I’m an old radio guy and also an actor like many narrators. I cut my teeth editing magnetic tape. But I left performing and media many years ago when my daughter was born. Now, after 3 decades away from the microphone, I’m acting again and narrating audiobooks. ACX made it all possible. I had to relearn everything about production in general as well as all the new tools as I built my home studio and my learning platform was ACX. My 6th audiobook was just released this week and is doing well. Thank you, ACX, for all the knowledge, resources, opportunities, and assistance. Your help desk is awesome too. Happy birthday from a happy camper.

Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX)

Way back in 2011, Audible launched ACX with a threefold vision: to help Rights Holders get their books into audio; to provide work for talented audiobook Producers; and to get more audiobooks into the ears of Audible’s listeners. Here in 2016, we’re thrilled to celebrate five fantastic years of fulfilling those promises made possible by you, the authors, actors, studios, and publishers that have created over 60,000 audiobooks through ACX.

Watch as ACX team members, past and present, take a trip down memory lane. Then head on over to ACX.com to see what we got ourselves for our birthday.

Share your favorite ACX stories in the comments below.

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How to Succeed at Audiobook Production: Part 1

This series was a great help to me as I was building my home recording studio and taking my first steps as a Narrator/Producer. Lots of important information. Thank you, ACX.

Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX)

Welcome to another installation of Andrew the Audio Scientist’s insights on audiobook production! Today, I present the first part in my four-week video series, How to Succeed at Audiobook Production. Week 1 addresses the preparation and recording of a new ACX title. Coming up, we’ll cover editing, mastering, and delivering your audiobook productions.

Andrew_250x320Achieving Consistency in Audiobook Production

Ask any member of the ACX Quality Assurance team what the most important aspect of audiobook production is, and they’ll all give the same answer: consistency. Your time on ACX should be spent acquiring new acting gigs, not tinkering with the technical details of last-minute production issues. To help you achieve consistency and avoid pesky technical problems that could threaten the success of your productions, I’d like to share with you my presentation from the 2014 Narrator Knowledge Exchange, which details a new concept I’ve dubbed “The ACX Mile.”

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How to Succeed at Audiobook Production: Part 2

Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX)

Greetings! Andrew the Audio Scientist here, back with more advice for ACX producers. Today, I present the second part in my four-week video series, How to Succeed at Audiobook Production. Last week, I introduced The ACX Mile and covered best practices for the preparation and recording of your audiobook productions. This week, I’ll address editing your raw audiobook recordings.

Andrew_250x320Editing and QC

Before we get to the video below, I want to remind you of the key to producing reliably great sounding audiobooks: consistency. Establishing a routine you can return to time and again will set you up for success in the later stages of your productions and result in high quality final audio.

Editing an audiobook can be as demanding a task as recording one, but optimizing your editing practices can greatly reduce the workload. Let’s watch part two of How to Succeed at Audiobook Production, and after…

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How to Succeed at Audiobook Production: Part 3

Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX)

Andrew the Audio Scientist here, and today I’m presenting part three of my How to Succeed at Audiobook Production series. Let’s dig into one of the most important, yet least understood aspects of audiobook production: Mastering. But before we tackle that, make sure you’ve done proper editing and QC passes on your raw audio. Check out last week’s post for more on those important steps, and read on for my advice on audiobook mastering.

Andrew_250x320Mastering the Art of Mastering

Before we get to the video below, I want to remind you of the key to producing reliably great sounding audiobooks, especially in the mastering stage: consistency.

Mastering is, in essence, the process of bringing your files closer to one another in terms of sound quality and dynamic range, so the listener will enjoy a book which sounds the same all the way through.

The most important thing to remember…

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How to Succeed at Audiobook Production: Part 4

Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog (ACX)

Welcome back to How to Succeed at Audiobook Production. If you’ve been following this series, then you’ve read up on The ACX Mile, which helps you perfect the art of narration recording, perform a complete edit and QC your recorded audio, and learn audio mastering best practices. If you haven’t perused these posts, I recommend doing so before continuing on.

NoAndrew_250x320w that you’re caught up, let’s move on to the fourth and final part of my series: encoding and file delivery.

Rounding The Final Corner

Upon a successful master, your audiobook production is not quite finished. Keeping that in mind, watch the final video in our series, and review the key points I discuss after.

The Home Stretch

I recommend you perform another final QC pass on your audio before moving on to encoding and delivering your audio. After putting so much effort into your…

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