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mart
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#1
27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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VO teleprompter discussion

first of all, my background is almost 100% music production, but I have a voice over recording in my studio soon, where two speakers will be reading a long script, approx. 1 hour of continuous audio, not synced to picture.

I would like to avoid having them read from printed pages of paper, so it seems there are basically three options: 1. two ipads 2. two lcd screens 3. one beamer
all running with some teleprompter software. Does anyone have any recommendations based on personal experience?

In my experience it is really hard to get the speakers up close in front of the mic, if they have to read off of a script. I had to back off the microphone on previous sessions to get any kind of consistency with the speakers heads moving from left to right as they read off of two pages of paper. Consequently I had to dig in with EQ (think smiley curve) to get a nice clear and appealing result, which could have been avoided if I'd had more freedom in mic positioning.
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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For VO you need a mic that works well off axis, try another mic.
I have used iPads to read off, works well especially if its synced with the producers laptop for script changes..
Talent generally like to use paper rather than an ipad, If you go with the ipad you'll need a good adjustable lectern
mart
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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thanks your comment! I am sure a wider cardioid pattern would improve the consistency, but what I'd really like to do is improve the text presentation in order to be able to move in a bit closer with the microphone. A general problem is that the speakers always talk with their heads nodded down to the paper and that I cannot place the microphone in this position as of course this would cover the text

interesting to know though that most people still prefer good old paper sheets!

oh yeah, just for information, currently using a pair of u87AI in cardioid pattern
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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If you place the mic too near you'll have to count the proximity effect and fight plosives with a pop filter, which makes your problem even worse. For a more natural sound, appropriate for a long narration, 40-50 cm distance is fine. Of course you'll have to record in a pretty dead room, but this leaves plenty of space for a mic behind/above a lectern.
In my experience, many speakers don't like to work without paper, because they use it to scribble their pronounciation notes, accents, pauses, etc.
We use a setup more or less like this:

Cheers
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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I've had a lot of success with VO positioning the mic up a little higher than you would think and angling it down toward the speakers mouth. This allows you to still be in pretty close with the mic but seems to minimize the tonal changes that moving the head around will give.

A lot also depends on the talent as well - good, experienced VO talent will know how to work the mic to get a consistent sound.

The majority of people I've worked with still do prefer paper sheets so they can take notes on it, scribble on it, etc. If you do go with a non-paper script I would definitely have something there for them to take notes on anyway.

Cheers!
-Mike
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
I've had a lot of success with VO positioning the mic up a little higher than you would think and angling it down toward the speakers mouth. This allows you to still be in pretty close with the mic but seems to minimize the tonal changes that moving the head around will give.

A lot also depends on the talent as well - good, experienced VO talent will know how to work the mic to get a consistent sound.

The majority of people I've worked with still do prefer paper sheets so they can take notes on it, scribble on it, etc. If you do go with a non-paper script I would definitely have something there for them to take notes on anyway.

Cheers!
-Mike
+1 . I work with mostly non-pro talent, and I like to get the mic totally out of their face, angled down from above. Then they can stand or sit up straight and look straight ahead @ their copy (if they have copy). I also still like paper for the notes aspect, and because I can tape 3 or even 4 pieces together and have a whole section or speech visible to the talent at once.

philp
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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The trick is to get the talent comfy with the script on the lectern, then position the Mic.
I usually add a bit of acoustic foam to the lectern to deaden it.
Make sure the talent reads the script before they head in the booth
Otherwise you could be in for a very long day.

Also make sure talent takes a pen in with them, for the many typos they will fix lol and notes, breath marks etc

Sent from my GT-N7000
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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Jay Rose is offline
Are you trying to run the mic so close that you get a proximity effect? I've always found that more trouble in the mix than it's worth...

Or is it a question of fighting your room acoustics, and bleed from one talent to the other?
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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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I would just give them an iPad and let them scroll through it themselves manually, rather than prompter software. There is a lot of prompter software on the iPad, but controlling it yourself means you will be required to control the scrolling (and it is an active job... you can't just set it at a specific speed and sit back).

I do both video work and audio work... and I run prompter for video work, but I've never felt the need to do it for vo.

People are indeed making good points when it comes to the vo talent need to mark up a script... most talent I've worked with will need to mark it up. Maybe there is some iPad software to allow this? I'm not aware of it.

As for microphones, it really depends on your room. If you have a good room, get a LDC and position it as others have suggested. If you have a bad room, get an SM7 and keep it off axis but very close to the talent. I generally have it at almost a 90 degree angle from the direction they are speaking, so it's off to the side. If they are right handed I put the mic on the left side facing in.
#10
30th December 2012
Old 30th December 2012
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ThisIsSka is offline
I've used Air Display to mirror a script running off a laptop and then onto an iPad for really LOOOOOOOOONG scripts, this is also handy when corrections are made by me or the producer as it's updated on the iPad instantly.

+1 on giving paper for notes and stuff as well though, I prefer to print out the short stuff because the talent will write notes and accents on it. It also might be a good idea to have blank ruled paper as well in case some sentences need a total re-write, or if you're going to ad-lib or riff some stuff off.
mart
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5th January 2013
Old 5th January 2013
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Thanks everybody for posting their opinions and experience, lots of food for thought!

after talking with the speakers (altogether five of them) it turns out that most prefer paper, even with scripts going over 16 pages. One thing I'd like them to do is use a lectern because until now they had been reading seated with their heads nodded down onto the paper laying flat on the table.

Maybe this will give me more freedom in mic positioning, I will gladly try the "angled down from above" method, interested to see how this will sound. The room acoustics are very dead and bleed is only a problem when the speakers flip the pages, so I could move out further with the mics. For the last session I had them at about 20 cm distance, but had to take out quite some mid to low mids in the mix. But the speakers are not professional, nor do they know how to work a mic and unfortunately don't have full voices :-)

I have a pair of SM7 but generally prefer the U87 for a more open sound, but I can try it out...
#12
5th January 2013
Old 5th January 2013
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Brent Hahn is offline
More food for thought -- you might want to stick with the table.

1. There's a lot of copy. Sitting is easier on your talent.

2. The talent can spread stuff out, have water handy, etc.

3. The chair keeps 'em in one spot. (essential with kids!)

4. Most people's voices sound fuller and more pleasing when their heads are tipped down a little, not up. It opens the throat, cuts down on nasality and in general warms up the sound. Not a huge difference sometimes with pros (who might not cooperate anyway) but with amateurs it can make an enormous difference. Try it on yourself.
#13
6th January 2013
Old 6th January 2013
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Jay Rose is offline
OTOH, you get a lot better breath control if your diaphragm isn't limited because you're sitting. If it's a long script, give them a barstool so they're only semi-seated.

The 'head up / head down' thing depends on where you put the script and mic, not whether they're sitting. I always let talent adjust the copy stand until they're comfortable, sitting or leaning or standing. Then I have them read a bit while I'm in there, and adjust the mic to them.
#14
6th January 2013
Old 6th January 2013
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I would agree with Celticrogue in that I find I can get good results by mounting the mic higher up and angle it towards the speakers mouth. If you have your lectern at the right height as well so that the talent can read comfortably without burying their heads down.

The other important thing to note is that I think you really do need a proper VO recording environment, in other words a well treated booth. If you have this in place you should be able to position the mic far enough back from the talent to get the desired sound without bringing in unwanted room tone etc.

Lastly, there really is no replacement for a professional voice talent who knows what they are doing.
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