Patches Are For Pants. 4 Reasons to Re-Record Your Narration Track
By JoJo Jensen
Audio pickups and script patches are part of a project’s life. Within a few days of the voice talent submitting the completed narration, as a producer, you might discover mispronunciations, goofy inflections or even small script changes that need to be addressed.
For voice talents, pickups and patches come with the territory, even after the words “FINAL SCRIPT” are emboldened on the header. If you work with a professional VO talent, they are prepared to make changes within a week or so after submission.
However, it becomes much trickier when patches to the narration are wanted a year (or more) later.
A lot changes in a year.
But instead of recording a spanking new track, someone decides that a few patches here or there would be a much better idea, not to mention cheaper.
Here are four reasons to suck it up and pay for a fresh, new narration if it’s been a year or more since your last recording.
1. Tech Changes
During a patch session for a spot that I had recorded 16 months earlier, the engineer asked, “Was this the microphone that we used last time?”
How the hell would I know? I’m just here to read the words.
You see, in my studio you have the choice of exactly one microphone. Whereas at my esteemed colleague has a collection of microphones that would make an audiophile cry with envy. He also screaming busy so it’s no wonder that he can’t be 100% certain which microphone was on the stand 16 months ago.
If you keep track of exactly which equipment was used in each and every session and never throw out that information, then you are indeed a God among mere mortals. Most of us humans aren’t as awesome as you, and things get tossed. There is only so much room for notes about recordings that took place three years ago, so changes happen.
Audio junkies change and add new equipment constantly.
There are updates for software, cables wear out and gear gets broken. This is life in a studio. To have the expectation of “it needs to sound exactly like it did two years ago” has a bit of the crazy in it.
If you want your narration to sound exactly the same from beginning to end, it’s easy.
Simply re-record the entire script.
2. Environmental Changes
One might think that studios are static. Once a studio is pulled together, what could change? Better quality soundproofing. Differently configured absorbers.
In a period of six months, I built new sound proofing walls for my studio, added another absorber and slapped up some sound tiles to the ceiling.
Not to mention the new, fluffy carpet I placed underfoot.
Ah… studio, sweet studio.
It’s true my studio is now an agoraphobics dream, but it hasn’t always been so.
I’m always on the hunt for the next slab of soundproofing to add or cutting edge gizmo to buy to create the studio of my dreams. And when I purchase, I have to purge. If I get into a mood, I sometimes rearranged the furniture. My studio environment is the study of flux.
The sound is still solid – but it does change.
Our environments change from season to season, one year to the next, so do recording studios. This is reason #2 to skip the patches and go for a shiny new narration.
3. Vocal Changes
I understand the desire to update spots and projects with a limited amount of hassle and expense, but trying to get a dead-on voice match after six months is a crapshoot at best.
Physically, all sorts of fun things can happen that alter the tone and timber of our voices. From a sinus infection to vocal strain; yelling at a sporting event to simple modifications in dental work – all these things can change a voice talent’s sound. And let’s not even talk about aging.
It true, most professional voice talents will work their cords off to match the sound they gave you two years ago, but it’s important to keep it in the back to your mind that voices, like all things in life, change.
Hope for the best, but don’t be shocked if the patch you receive after two years isn’t a perfect fit.
And that’s reason #3 to simply commission a sparkly new narration for your project.
4. It’s Not Cheaper
On paper, it might look cheaper to just patch a sentence here and change a word there to keep the cost of revising a project to a minimum.
But if the stars are not aligned and any of the above changes have happened, you will spend more money trying to get the patches to fit, then if you just ordered a new narration in the first place.
Here’s the biggest reason.
If any of the patches are off… the narration will sound weird. And when a narration track sounds weird you know what happens? Your client or potential client will get yanked out of the being one with the project and it’s message and think, “that was weird. Did anyone else hear that?”
And that’s the moment you lost them. Good-bye new customer.
See you later big contract. Adios sale.
See… not cheaper.
Corporate messages evolve. Target audiences shift. A company strategy is revised and narrations need to reflect the new campaign. Makes perfect sense. But trying to cobble together a modified narration after six months, a year or more is just plain crazy.
Too many things change and the chances of getting your “easy fix” become more distant with each passing day.
So, to keep your message, sound and brand consistent, just ordering up a new narration for your updated project and call it done!
Say something – please comment or ask me anything below in the comments section below!