Our New Normal
We didn’t see this coming. Something as simple as turning a door knob, taking the train, or buying groceries could now land us in the hospital. We didn’t think to use hand sanitizer or gloves while pressing buttons on an elevator or pumping our own gas. But today, the “new normal” of our pandemic reality makes each of us re-evaluate the mundane things we once took for granted. As economies grind to a halt, industries and companies struggle to find ways to move forward and operate while keeping their employees and customers safe.
While our future has always been technology-driven, now it trends even more toward becoming touchless. As we work from home, conference on Zoom, and shift our focus to tools that help us connect digitally, the voiceover industry is well positioned for socially-distanced success.
Voice Over sits at a unique spot for most markets as it’s been a telework-friendly industry for decades. Home studio setups have been standard since the mid-90’s; now, in the throes of combating a virus through social distancing, these studios have become necessary. The close quarters of a recording studio, where multiple talent work with production teams, is an environment primed for viral transmission. Keeping each other safe requires keeping our distance, and the voiceover industry's trend toward remote recording & direction allows for a nearly seamless transition from our pandemic "new normal" into a safer and more productive future.
Addressing Challenges and Affecting Change
One of the biggest challenges of remote production is bringing together various branches of production, from voice actors & show hosts to guests & creative teams. Production teams who once facilitated in-studio casting and recording sessions are rethinking how they cast, direct, and record talent. We're embracing technology so that everyone involved can work safely and conveniently from home, while accessing and delivering high-quality audio.
“The Coronavirus was a turning point in how I record podcast interviews. Up to the middle of March 2020, the vast majority of interviews were held in a studio with the host and guest facing each other in the same space. While I feel that seeing someone's eyes is still the best way to make a human connection, the myriad of connection services now available have made that same personal connection possible, even across vast distances.”
- Jamie Muffett, Producer and Co-host of the Backstage 'In the Envelope' podcast
Experts see a future of continued vigilance toward health and safety, and home recording will help move our world toward those goals while providing even greater convenience for producers and brands. The technology we need to keep us safe is also the technology that voiceover producers already use on a daily basis. What was once an industry of close quarters and small rooms is now a wide-open field of global digital connnections.
“This pandemic has taught us many things. For instance, we don't need to be traveling as much as we were. While there will always be some merit to face-to-face contact, we can and should be aiming for a healthy balance. Sure there are additional challenges to working remotely, but I think it's clear now that they are outweighed by the benefits."
- Kevin Leach, Founding Director of ipDTL, offering live remote broadcasting in your web browser
Our Tech-based Voice Future
A successful touchless future requires the types of technology voiceover producers have been implementing for decades. Simple interfaces for remote sessions are important, especially when it comes to recording guests and clients within industries that aren’t familiar with recording equipment. While Zoom continues to be a flagship service for most in-person meetings, its audio is compressed and not often high enough quality for interviews, podcasts, or professional recordings. Services that use internet protocol recording software like ipDTL and BodalgoCall help create quality audio without the need for large recording spaces.
”During the corona crisis we have seen a massive shift towards using talent's own studios rather than inviting them to a hired one. Because of excellent remote directing tools like BodalgoCall, there basically is no difference between directing a client from the room next door to the booth or from thousands of miles away. It works exactly the same but at a much lower cost for the client.”
Even if clients aren’t using ip recording services, producers are still finding ways to connect with talents as they self-record. Eileen Schellhorn, Head of Voiceover at DDO Artists says sessions have skyrocketed, as clients have grown increasingly engaged:
"Jobs are being turned around faster than ever before and it is the safest industry to work in at this time. Everyone has remained in the safety of their own homes. As a voice actor, especially during the pandemic, it is a necessity to have a home studio setup, at minimum. To really be in the game you will also need some form of remote connection capability to ensure the ease and convenience for producers and clients to communicate with you. As soon as the pandemic hit we made sure as agents that we were fully educated on home studios, equipment, connections, setups etc and shared that knowledge with our clients to ensure they would continue booking. We have been able to provide producers with whatever they are looking for so that we can all continue working during this difficult time. This shift had already begun happening but now we are at lightning speed."
- Eileen Shellhorn, Head of Voiceover at DDO Artists
As we shift from the shock of shelter in place into more regular production schedules, we rethink our need to hold crowded recording sessions in metropolitan office buildings. Connecting clients with casting, talent, and audio services can be done completely online, and those businesses that are agile, inventive, and open to technological change will be best equipped to serve customers in a new, touchless market.