Fallout Equestria: Heroes
  • My own current project is Fallout Equestria: Heroes. I'm up to Chapter 14 and since it's by first project it's been a continuing learning experience. It's a lot of fun, most of the time, and I'm not ashamed to say I'm in love with the main character, Silver Storm/Hired Gun is my kinda gal, I think we would get along famously, lol.

    The biggest problem to date is the editing...it takes a good deal of time and I'm always looking for shortcuts to speed it along. To date I've found the best combination is - do not be too far away from the mic and have your gain set right coupled with Noise Reduction and Noise gate...this seems to work best but technique is also in play and something I'm still working on...all of this plays into the levels of the finished product...the actual finished audio always tends to be quieter than what I hear through my Scarlet USB device/monitor which drives me nuts... levels sound fine when I'm editing....only to found out that in the MP3 export it's half the volume....very frustrating and leads to inconsistent levels across the finished MP3s as I wrestle the levels up, although I seem to be able to keep them in generally the same range. Another big problem is simply my Mic. It's an AKG Perception 220 condenser and it picks up every tiny sound so I spend most of the editing time removing unwanted clicks (Picks up the dam mouse clicks), inhalations, chair creaking etc.. Easy enough to remove but when you have close to 2 hours to go through it can be quite a chore.

    Another issue I run into is remembering who sounded like what. I've seen professional Narrators comment on this when they are involved in a long series where they have to go back to hear what certain character sounded like when they come up in the next book etc.. Roy Detrice mentioned this for his narration of the Game of Thrones books. Coming up with NEW voices too is starting to be a challenge as well.
  • To address your sensitive mic issue, I think the biggest thing you can do is already done.  Keep the gain down and your mouth a few inches away from the mic.  If you are having problems with wind noise, offset your mouth's speaking direction from the mic so it points to the side of the mic.  You'll need to find the sweet spot between deadon center and to the side.  

    On the levels, you don't need to record at full decibels.  You can record at around -13db +/- 2db.  Then you compress with a 2:1 or 3:1 compression with gain to about -4 or -6db.  Tweak it from there, but don't do sound adjustments on the track itself (use a compressor).  You'll then want to play it and make sure it doesn't clip.  Tweak the gain on the compressor until you got it as loud as it'll go without clipping.

    Environment is a big make or break deal in recording (I've had to reject VA lines for too much echo from environment for example).  Listen around your room.  Does your computer fans make noise?  How much?  How close to mic?  Overhead fans and wind make a subtle noise.  Even just ambient noise from the rest of the house, outside, etc effect stuff.  The more noise in the environment, the more you'll need to compensate by gain reduction and closeness to mic.  Both of which effect the range of your voice.  Go inside a stuffed/cramped clothes closet or under several blankets.  Do a recording and see if it makes any difference.  For science!

    Inhalations are just something you'll have to deal with.  My technique to handle those (for editing) is to inhale, wait a fraction of a second, and then speak a sentence or partial sentence (seperated by comma).  Then you can inhale again.  Doing this will allow you to easily see the inhalation in the waveform and avoid inhalation noises from joining the actual line you were speaking.  It's still a pain, but when you just have to split->split->delete->merge, it gets rather quick.  The hardest part is not inhaling while you are reading a line. 
  • Thanks for the input, I typically use a compressor already to boost the levels but even then always seems that the final product tends to be more quiet that I would like...I'll use that advice to fiddle with the next chapter.  I don't have too much of a problem with wind noise, got a good pop filter, and I already do tend to speak off the side since I have to read while I'm doing the lines...and I have a big mic shield (sE Electronics Reflexion Pro) so room is not bad either.   Overall I have a pretty quiet recording environment so my biggest editing headaches are the breath noises and mouse clicks.  

    Using audition and the spectral analysis view makes it very easy to identify sounds...I'm just trying to find the best ways to minimize the amount of said noises to speed the process along.  One thing I've tried, but had limited success with, it using Audacity to mark the voice areas and cut and paste into a new track.. (have not really figured out how to do that in Audition with markers..) but that's never proved easy as there's always some word where it's cutting off the beginning or the end too much and if you give it too much lead/buffer before or after to make the cut you inevitably get unwanted sound etc.. 

    My last couple of chapters, latest not yet posted, I've started speaking closer to the mic so that I can get a clear recording that makes using a noisegate/noise reduction without too much loss or distortion.  Honestly the noise gate has been quite useful so far as it is really good at getting the very low level background noise (Computer fan and HVAC humm) Luckily I have a water cooled CPU so the fan noise is pretty low to start with.
  • Yeah, as The4thaggie said, compression is the way to go, even to the point of making use of a limiter. It might be a bit harsh on music, but with the right tweaking you don't almost notice any distorion on voice tracks.

    Breathing sounds are a thing I purposedly keep into the finished product, not <i>just</i> because I'm way too lazy to edit them out or avoid them when I'm reading, but because I feel they're a very important part of acting the text out. I'm not just referring to sighs and spoken dialogue, I feel everything gets more natural and fluid even as I'm reading narration, if I keep breaths into the recording. Kinda like if I had a real person reading the book beside me.
    I'm very aware this is not the standard and many people might find it annoying, but I don't. Probably because I'm doing more of a dramatic reading than an audiobook proper.
    I still get very obsessive about removing most mouth sounds, like lips smacking or little saliva movements.

    On the topic of keeping track of how everyone sounds, I've found it handy to export a few samples of each major character's voice, building a bit of a reference library.
  • As far as breathing sounds - I keep them in when it's a character talking, but try to minimize or remove them for the actual narration.  Probably one of my quirks I think.  I listen to a LOT of Audio books (Been a platinum member of Audible since 2003 ) and that's my personal preference when listening... oh to have the Voice of John Lee...lol.

  • Likewise with EN. When it's a character, and it fits, I try to keep them in, but for the most part I do my best to take them out of the narration. It's just my personal preference as well.
  • Just got chapter 15 out.  The idea of lowering the gain and pumping it through a compression (In addition to the noise reduction and noise gate) has worked quite well, finally got decent levels without having to fiddle too much!  Kind of counter intuitive at first glance but the lower gain gives you a lot more wiggle room. 
  • Well I just had to share this.  Got this today in my Youtube inbox:

    "I can't tell you just how much I'm enjoying your reading of Heroes! The work you've put into telling No One's story is amazing. The voices, music and audio effects have quickly made it my favorite audiobook. Thank you!

    Can you say SQUEE!! 
  • Hey, congrats.

    Certainly not something that happens everyday.

  • Welp, now I'm jelly :p

    Well done, man!
  • I'm still all warm fuzzied.  It's like narrating a Dark Tower fan fic and having Stephen King saying he loves it!  
  • Finally got the song I made for Heroes done by someone who knows something about music :3