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0886 – Studio Stress

Season 3, Ep. 886

2023.06.05 – 0886 – Studio Stress

Stress may be seen as ‘extreme nervousness’. It too is triggered by a ‘presenting situation’ and is usually short-term. If controlled appropriately, a rush of chemicals in your blood can lead to a heightened state of awareness, and a more powerful performance: a stressful person may be loud and energetic, seemingly thriving on the pressure (‘nervous energy’ or ‘nervous tension’), with symptoms similar to nervousness: a raised heartbeat and faster breathing. But stress can also show itself as irritability or even anger, nausea and a feeling of being overwhelmed.


Pressures in the news production process can be hourly, and largely unavoidable. Live ‘to time’ programmes, breaking news, altered running orders, no-show show guests, lost links to a reporter in the field, a frozen autocue, a producer in your earpiece as you present…  and you’re the ‘name and the face’ of this output… . Some people seem to love these kinds of settings, at least in the short to medium term and with the knowledge that there will be an obvious end to the pressure, say when an election programme comes off the air, so some kinds of stress isn’t bad.

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  • 998. 0998 – The Diction-ary of Voice – T

    2023.09.25 – 0998 – The Diction-ary of Voice – T**TTag (or ‘slogan’) – the branding phrase at the end of a commercial Take (as in ‘go for a take’) – a recording. Also see ‘pickup’Take a level (or ‘take a bit for level’) – the instruction given by an audio engineer to a presenter to ask them to say some words so the volume on a mic channel can be checkedTalk back – the push-to-talk microphone in a gallery/production area, via which a director / producer will talk to you while in the studio.Tape - recorded audio, almost never on tapeTempo - the rate of speechThin – a voice which is weak, with a lack of air, energy and resonance. It may be trained to become stronger and fuller with exercises in the areas of posture, relaxation and breath controlThoracic cavity - the area enclosed by the chestThrow – a passing link made from one presenter to another, “And now with the latest weather here’s Susie Celsius”Throwaway (as in ‘a throwaway line/word’) – when a speaker gives little or no emphasis on a word or phrase, reducing its significanceTonal quality – the overall timb re, resonance of a voiceTrachea – commonly called the ‘windpipe’, along which flows air from mouth to lungsTrack – a layer of recorded audio (or an empty ‘lane’ where recorded audio will sit), which can be adjusted independently of other layers before being mixed (or merged) together in a final mixTransients - very short sounds, such as the beginning of a drum hitTX – used to mean ‘transmission’ **UUnidirectional microphone – one that only picks up sound from a single direction
  • 997. 0997 – The Diction-ary of Voice – S

    2023.09.24 – 0997 – The Diction-ary of Voice – S**SScratch Track - a temporary recording that is a ‘place-holder’ for the final voice-over. Not ‘broadcast quality’ it is used to help producers feel the pacing and style of a project before a final voice over is addedSelf op (‘self op studio’) – when the presenter controls their own technical equipment, they are ‘self operating’Session – the single block of time (say, an hour or a day) spent recording with the voice actor, who is often paid ‘per session’SFX – short for ‘sound effects’Shock Mount - a microphone mount that tries to minimize handling noise by using shock absorptionSibilance – excessive ‘s’ sounds (fricatives) while speaking which are prone to becoming unpleasantly loud in audio recordingSing-song delivery - when a speaker’s voice rises and falls in cadence in a predictable ‘nursery rhyme’ type fashionSoft-sell commercial – a script that is read with low volume, low emphasis and in a natural, low-key styleS.O.T – ‘sound on tape’, what’s been recordedSound-alikes – these voice actors are similar to celebrity impersonators, but whereas impersonators usually perform exaggerated and comic impressions of the star, sound-alikes create the vocal tones and mannerisms (style, cadence and inflection) for short retakes or dubs in movies, tv and radio, and commercials. This saves the cost and time implications of getting the original star in the studio to re-record just a few words. Sneak - to slowly fade up or outSpeech personality – one’s individual speaking-styleSpilling over – a distortion caused by too loud a noiseSplit-track – audio with different content in the left and right channels, to allows for independent control of levels during production, for example, two guests. Audio must be ‘mixed down’ before it can be broadcastStand by – the verbal ‘get ready’ direction given just before a programme or recording startsStraight-read commercial – a script presented without flourish or over-emphasisStroboscopy - an advanced way to view the vocal folds. This usually involves a scope that goes through your mouth to properly identify and define vocal problemsSupercardioid - a microphone pick-up pattern that is most sensitive to sounds in front of the microphone, even more so than a cardioid
  • 996. 0996 – The Diction-ary of Voice – R – Part 2

    2023.09.23 – 0996 – The Diction-ary of Voice – R – Part 2Riding the gain (or ‘riding the mic’ or ‘riding the levels’) – the constant adjustment of the input levels as the sound unexpectedly (and often unprofessionally) varies in volume dramaticallyRoom Tone - the ‘indoor ambience’ or background noise in a room, which should be as close to silent as possibleROT (‘rot’ or ‘R.O.T’) – a recording of what went out on air: Recording Of/Off Transmission Royalty Free Music – music that can be used (with varying restrictions) after paying a one-off feeRP – Received Pronunciation (‘The Queen’s English’, ‘BBC pronunciation’, ‘Standard English’) and English accent without ‘perceived’ regional accent, usually of the type heard in south east England
  • 995. 0995 – The Diction-ary of Voice – R – Part 1

    2023.09.22 – 0995 – The Diction-ary of Voice – R – Part 1**RRate – the speed of someone speaking or readingRate – the amount paid to a voice-over for a day, hour or scriptRaw audio - unprocessed recorded audioRead (or ‘take’) – a recording of a script (or the ‘copy’)Reaper – a DAW Red-line the meters – to push the audio volume level to the maximumRender – saving and/or converting your audio so others can access itResiduals – payment over and above the initial payment, based on the number of times a commercial is runResonance – a full-bodied voice (not necessarily a deeper voice), achieved through the sound of one’s voice vibrating in different parts of the body such as the mouth, throat, nose (sinus) and chest areas – collectively known as ‘resonating chambers’Resonant cavities – the parts of the body which enhance sound and in which resonance develops. Ribbon microphone – the mic type which picks up sound by the use of thin (ribbon-like) metallic elements, suspended between magnets. These vibrate when sound is detected, and converts it into electrical energy
  • 994. 0994 – The Diction-ary of Voice – P

    2023.09.21 – 0994 – The Diction-ary of Voice – P  Polyp - usually unilateral (one vocal fold) mass that grows off the surface. Can be hemorrhagic (filled with blood) or not, and’s usually due to voice misuse or overuse. Pop – when a plosive sound is too close to the mic and causes distortionPop guard (or ‘pop screen’, ‘pop shield’, ‘pop stopper’) - a fabric, foam or metal shield between the mic and the mouth to help disperse ‘breath blasts’ from plosives and so reduce the likelihood of distorted sound being recorded  Post - the point at which a voice appears, or the start of a sound or part of a sound, for example, a specific drum beat in a ‘bed’: “make sure you hit the post”, that is, stop talking a beat before the drum comes inPost (‘post-production) - the final step in a recording process, including the editing, mixing. “It’s OK, we’ll fix that in post”Predictive eye – the name given to the process of scanning ahead as you read to give prewarning of what's coming upPre-produce - to mix or record a piece or interview in advance of a live show, perhaps for technical or timing reasonsProducer - the producer can have more than one role (much like a director), but usually the one who hires the voice actor and other staff, and liaise with clients and agenciesProduction master – a final, ready audiobookProduction studio – where programmes are recorded rather than go out liveProduction value – the ‘effort’ (including duration, complexity, and post-production) put into the making of an audio or video show. One lasting an hour with several guests, archive footage, and theme tunes would have ‘high production values’. A single presenter ‘read’ lasting just a few minutes is likely to have a ‘low production value’Pronunciation - a general term for the way a word is spoken (see: ‘enunciation’, ‘diction’)ProTools - the accepted professional standard for a DAWPSA - Public Service Announcement such as a government or charity appealPTC – Piece To Camera: style of a video presenter, looking directly at ‘the viewer’ Punch – an energetic reading style Punch and roll - a form of ‘continuous editing’, where you scroll back and record from a convenient break, and then start re-recording where the mistake was made
  • 993. 0993 – The Diction-ary of Voice – P - Part 2

    2023.09.20 – 0993 – The Diction-ary of Voice – P - Part 2 Pharynx – the area between the larynx and the nasal cavitiesPhonation – the process of making sounds into words, which articulation turns into recognisable speechPhonemes – the different smaller sounds which when combined form a wordPhrasing – delivering groups of words within a sentence to enhance meaningPickup – when you go back to re-record a small section of content, such as a sentence, because of a slip, trip or mispronunciation. A ‘take’ is a longer piece of content. Whereas a Take may be annotated 1, 2, 3 a Pickup will be marked A, B, C, so you may have “Take 21, Pickup C”, which helps the producer keep track of the ‘best bits’.Pickup pattern – the three-dimensional area in which a microphone will best detect soundPitch - the relative highness or lowness of the register of voice, determined by the frequency of the vibration of sound: the faster the vocal folds vibrate, the higher the pitch that they create.Placement – where you put your tongue in your mouth to create certain word-soundsPlayback on smalls – playing back a recording on small sub-optimum speakers to replicate how people will hear the produced version, at home or in the carPlosives - the group of sounds in the English language which cause a small ‘explosion’ of air from the mouth, often at the start and end of words (‘stops’) such as b, d, g, k, p, t. (Put your hand in front of your mouth as you say these letters and feel that rush of air.) Plosives are sometimes called ‘breath blasts’, and travel from a speaker’s mouth directly into a microphone’s diaphragm, causing a moment of deep distortion
  • 992. 0992 – The Diction-ary of Voice – N and P

    2023.09.19 – 0992 – The Diction-ary of Voice – N and P **NName check – saying your name on airNarrative non-fiction – a true-story podcastNarrative voice - the voice you use for the storyteller/author part of the story, rather a character voiceNasal sounds – speech sounds heard in words with m, n and ng letters: ‘many nice singers’, when the back of the tongue is raised against the roof of the mouth (the soft palate) thereby closing off to sound the resonance chamber of the sinus cavitiesNatural – a delivery which in itself is not noticeableNodules (‘nodes’) - bilateral (both vocal cords) callouses that form on the vocal folds due to voice misuse or overuse. Usually these are reversible with corrections in vocal techniqueNPC – Non-playing character in gameplayNSV - Non-Scripted Vocals: any kind of vocals which don't actually contain scripted dialogue, for example, pain hits, exertions, breathing and so on. **OOmissions – when a speaker leaves out certain sounds in their speech omitted such as “cal-forn-ya’ (California)Omnidirectional microphone – one with a pick-up pattern that is equally sensitive to all directionsOptimum pitch (or ‘home tone’) – the tone at which someone is most comfortable speaking; their natural pitchOvermodulation (or ‘over-modding’) - distortion caused by too loud a soundOver-the-top – a presenting style for emphasis or excitement. Not always done deliberately or appropriately**PP2P – ‘pay to play’, online casting sitesPace – the speed of a readPad – extra talking usually ad-libbed to “fill for time” that is, until a pre-determined end-time is reachedPan pot – the ‘potentiometer’ is an additional dial (rather than a fader) on a sound channel. Turning it to the left or right (‘panning’) will cause more sound to come from (or be recorded to) the left or right channel of a stereo mixPatter – informal, adlibbed, unscripted talkPeak - the maximum instantaneous level of a signal or audio waveformPer hour – the hourly rate based on the length of time you spend at the studio (rather than ‘per finished hour’, when the level of pay is based on the duration of the finished production, which is usually much less especially in audio book production) Per project - a flat rate for a script, regardless of the time spent recording or producing itPer session - a flat rate for the time spent in the studio regardless of the number of projects recordedPer spot - charging a flat rate for each commercial spot, regardless of the time spent recording itPfh - per finished hour (see ‘per hour’)
  • 991. 0991 – The Diction-ary of Voice – M

    2023.09.18 – 0991 – The Diction-ary of Voice – M Marking copy – different markings on a script (underlinings, arrows, circles) to show which words require different voice presentations such as inflection, characterisation or changes to volume or speed, difficult passages, odd pronunciations and character thumbnailsMask – using sound to cover a bad edits or to smooth a transitionsMastering - the process of preparing and transferring an edited and mixed audio file from which all copies will be producedMic fright – the fear of talking in an audio or video situationMic level – the volume of the microphone input channel Microdynamics - the difference between the loudest moments and the quietest moments over a short timeframe, usually referring to transientsMicrophone – the device which picks up sound and turns it into electrical energy so it can be broadcast or recordedMix - to combine several audio sources into a single finished pieceMixed audio – see ‘dry’ audioMixer – the equipment that allows various inputs of audio or video to be broadcast or recorded at different times and levelsModal voice- your usual speaking voiceMonaural (or ‘mono’) - sound on one, single channel, that is, not stereoMonitor speaker (or ‘loudspeakers’ or simply ‘speakers’) – used to hear studio or playback outputMonotone – when a person talks with little or no variety in their pitch, volume, and speedMontage - several pieces of audio combined sequentially to create a single sound elementMonthly retainer - an agreement in which the voice-over is paid a set amount each month for ongoing work, based on the average amount of recording minutes or scripts per monthMouth axis – the direction of your mouth in relation to the microphone: ‘slightly off axis would mean that you are not speaking towards the mic and so you will be heard slightly indistinctly Music bed (or simply ‘bed’) - music played underneath a voiceMute button – the manual switch which significantly quietens an audio feed, maybe completely. This is automatically activated on studio loudspeakers when the microphone goes live, to avoid feedback
  • 990. 0990 – The Diction-ary of Voice – L

    2023.09.17 – 0990 – The Diction-ary of Voice – L **LLabiodental – very few sounds use the sound created when the upper teeth rest on the lower lip, but say ‘very’ and ‘few’ and you will hear twoLapel (or ‘lavaliere’ or ‘lav’) microphone - small microphone attached to clothing of a presenter or guestLaryngology – the study of the professional voice. An ENT is not a laryngologist, who can give sophisticated diagnosis and treatment of voice disordersLaryngoscopy - the process of using a flexible scope in your nose or a rigid scope in your mouth to see your larynx (or ‘voice box’)Larynx – connecting the trachea (windpipe) and the pharynx (between the mouth and nose) this area is the location of the vocal foldsLevel ('volume') - the amount of audio signal strength usually measured with negative numbers “-12db” means it could be 12 decibels louder without distorting. See “Clipping”Limiter - a really fast compressor designed to reduce the level of loud peaksLingua-alveolar – the speech sound created when the tip of the tongue (lingua) is against the upper gum ridge (alveolus). Ironically it is very prevalent in the phrase ‘tip of the tongue’ (and not heard as much in those who speak with a glottal stop in words such as ‘butter’)Lingua-palatal – a really rare sound when you say ‘r’ noises (such as in “really rare”) when the tip of the tongue nearly touches the roof of the mouth.Lingua-velar – if you have done phonics with your child you will be familiar with the ‘kicking k’ – and this is how you make that ‘kicking k’ sound: with the back of the tongue up against the soft palate (the velum) at the back of the roof of the mouth, and the tip of the tongue on the mouth floorLip mic – a microphone designed to be used very close to the mouth to cut out extraneous noise, for example at a sports event