Yesterday, I stepped into a recording studio for the first time. And I’m still on a high from it. It was a professional recording studio for starters. I also realised how much of an amateur I really am. I have been compering stage programs close to a decade. So I am aware of the tips and tricks. On stage. But I discovered a recording studio is another matter altogether.
I was recording for a corporate eLearning course, reading jargon, and pretending that I knew it all. After numerous takes, I got the hang of it. Who knew there was so much to it?
I did come to the studio with plenty of preconceived notions. I always found the idea of a recording (like an artist) very glamorous. The equipment the knobs, handles, sliding buttons, the sound lines that blip on the screen are completely a mystery to me, and therefore extremely sexy. The secluded room, the enclosed glass, the microphone lend a theatrical air to the process. The idea is almost like being on stage except you have a limited number of spectators; in my case, two. And they are frighteningly close unlike the stage audience. I could see them clearly whereas on stage the audience disappears behind the lights. Then you can pretend there is no one there and feel liberated enough to shed your own skin and take on another. For a short while.
I entered the performing space, as it were and sat down on a solitary chair in front of the old-world mic. I wore the headphones, placed the script on a wooden stand nearby, and got the shock of my life. That’s because—don’t laugh—I heard myself breathe. Very loud. It sounded like something straight out of Discovery Channel especially when the predator approaches the prey and everyone holds their breath except the predator, of course. My voice performance nosedived when I heard myself breathe. Questions such as, “do I sound like this normally?” went through my head for about 15 seconds before I realised the amplifier was at work. That’s when the technician asked me to take off the headphones so that I can concentrate on reading rather than listening. I could, finally, speak normally. I was so worried that I stopped breathing for a while! Till my colleague gently pointed out that I could breathe and read. I thought the technician didn’t give me enough feedback so I decided to step in and be the reader and the reviewer. Wherever possible, I rerecorded.
When I heard the final product, I was astonished. The voice—I’m sure that is the equipment at work—I heard was confident, bold, strong, and husky. I felt like A R Rahman himself had given me the go ahead. Much later my colleague went on to burst my bubble. He said the technician didn’t interfere because he thought it was for a sample whereas we were creating the final copy! By which time, our one hour allocated time was up. Which meant that, probably, the complete recording was not on the right track.
However, I enjoyed the recording thoroughly, and I’m willing to do it all over again.