Friday, 31 May 2013

Be prepared!

Sound editor Al talks about audio book preparation....

This time around, I thought I would touch on how important it is for audio narrators to have done their homework prior to arriving at the recording studio to record!

As I have mentioned many times before, audio recording is a team effort and in the normal course of events, the producer will have liaised extensively with the narrator and sent them a copy of the script well in advance and sorted out any queries on pronunciation - for example names and places - something particularly relevant to plots set in non-English speaking countries. Beware the narrator who has no questions on pronunciation/characterisation or even worse, no questions at all... (it does happen!). A smooth recording will make life a whole lot easier for the narrator, producer, engineer, editor and ultimately... the listener.

The best narrators will read through the script and will have worked out accents/voices for each character - then they'll have a clear idea of the plotlines - also any "oddities" (e.g. a character might have a "nasally" voice that is clearly stated in the text). The worst narrators don't bother to read the script in any great detail or at best skim-read it, hoping that their acting and reading skills will save them...unbelievably, they think they can just turn up on the day and breeze through the narration without any problems - unsurprisingly, this has a very low rate of success and inevitably causes frustration for all concerned.

I am currently working on a title which is (brilliantly) narrated by a female reader and which has several characters (male and female) and interestingly, is written in the first person, with the main character also having a specific accent..! There is no way in the world that this would have worked if the reader hadn't prepared meticulously. Another HUGE help is if the narrator loves the book they're reading - which was the case with this reader/title.

There is possibly one exception to the rule of uber-preparation that comes to mind and that's when narrating works of non-fiction where there are minimal (if any) characterisations to consider (although I recently worked on a non-fiction title that included several quotes from American icons - the narrator was well up to the task though and in this case had prepared very well).

So there really is nothing like being prepared - especially when narrating audio!- Al Muirden

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