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Special: Voice-Overs 1,168 views Nov 19, 2013
Voiceover Recording:How Many Hours To Produce A 'Finished' Hour

By Xavier Paul

Voice Talent / Coach / Audio Producer

I’ve been an audio producer for various media for 15 years. After speaking with several authors on the topic of producing their audiobooks, the question came up,
”Actually how long does it usually take someone to produce one finished hour of an audio?”
The answer surprised everyone in the room. I believe this is due to the "anybody can do it” mentality that pervades in society about the true nature of what’s entailed in doing voice over work.
People think, "How hard can it be? You just stand there, or sit there, and talk. Easiest job in the world."
The truth is that it generally takes a total of around 6.2 hours for a producer to complete one hour of an audio.
"Six and a half hours!?!” they exclaimed as their jaws hit the ground.
They picture, "Well one hour on the page, one hour of reality in the studio right?”

Here’s how you get to six hours of work to produce one completed hour of an audiobook.
It takes about two hours to narrate what will become one finished hour.
After the narration is recorded, it then takes an editor (who might be the same person as the narrator) about three hours to edit each finished hour of recording.
After that, you’ve got to do what’s called a quality control (QC) pass over the finished project. This means spending time re-listening and suggesting words, sentences, or sections to re-record.
If anything is off or wrong, we’re going back into the studio to get it right. And that takes about 1.2 hours for every finished hour.
So based on this, authors - especially new authors - need to realize that you get what you pay for when it comes to qualiy audiobook recording.
That means that reasonable rates for one produced, finished hour begin at $200 - and that's not including the talent fees. Yes, talent fees.
Why should it be assumed that "audiobook production" be quoted at one rate that "automatically" includes narrating, preparing, engineering, editing, proofing, file rendering, delivering the huge file via FTP or mp3, and re-records if the author or publisher isn't happy?
Of course all of this is predicated on the fact that you have a professional, seasoned narrator who understands his/her instrument and knows how to be consistent and work fast.
Some narrators like myself who are also producers know how to self direct and deliver accurate audio that is broadcast-quality consistently and quickly.
When I get behind the mic, I’m not just thinking as a talent, I’m really three people: talent, producer and director.
Perhaps this is because before I started doing audiobooks I worked consistemtly (and still do) in the area of national commercials for major national brands.
These recording sessions are some of the most difficult in the business, requiring that the talent have a solid technique in order to have a career.
I wish the "anybody can do it” mentality and perception attached to doing voice over work would cease and give way to the appreciation of the reality of what voice over work really is: a highly refined skill that only an elite group specialize in globally.
How can it be any other way with all that this skill set entails?

Xavier "X-Man” Paul is an internationally-known voice-over talent with extensive credits in all voice over genres, as both a specialist and producer. Most recently, he is the new on-air promo announcer for the NBA, narrator for the History Channel’s UFO Files, performs characters for the Grand Theft Auto video game, is a new character in the animated series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and performs TV spots for clients including Merck, Gatorade, Burger King, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal, Colt 45 Malt Liquor and Foot Locker. He is also a voice over coach and provides full-scale audio and radio commercial voice-over production services. Email: 

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