JIAM2012 Photo: 21

None of our performing services agreements, whether actual or implied, include special items on the order on Van Halen’s (in-)famous M&M clause; but there are certain things that some narrators want or need and, within reason the studio provides them. Some of these things have become a sort of ritual between the narrator and the studio staff and we are always willingly oblige for the simple fact that it makes the narrators happy and, ergo the sessions run smoother.

Some of the things that narrators have asked for have included, but are not limited to:

  • the same provisos that stage actors expect including water and scheduled breaks;
  • quarters (as in money) and company to the vending machines;
  • airfare, hotel, meals and/or snacks, and/or car rentals for guest narrators
  • transportation to/from the studio;
  • that the engineer pre-read the script to help them with figuring out what an author meant, if the typo is indeed a typo, or how a certain line might be read;
  • that the engineer not pre-read the script so that the narrator can read the engineer’s expression and thereby provide direct reactive feedback to the narrator’s performance;
  • chat sessions about the books and alternately, limiting or cutting the chatter and getting right down to recording (that the engineer shut up and just push the buttons or do lookups upon request);
  • use of an iPad, enlarged fonts on paper scripts; 
  • specific chairs, lamps, tables, stands and/or foot rests for the booth;
  • specific studio;
  • specific engineer;
  • room temperature re-sets;
  • pillows to combat stomach growls from being audible

I know of one engineer who prepared special snacks for his narrators: sliced apples and a selection of teas and, other engineers who have had to basically become a guest narrator’s personal assistant on and off the grounds of the studio. And, as I mentioned before, none of it is an inconvenience and we’re happy to accommodate.

That said, if you get me as an engineer, there are a couple of limitations I have and that you should know about:

  • I will not join you on a smoking break.
  • I cannot for the life of me make coffee. I don’t drink coffee and the mechanics of a coffee maker baffle me. Theoretically, I just need to pour water into one section of the machine and coffee magically comes out another part of the machine; but as anyone who has known me for five minutes will tell you, kitchen appliances (indeed kitchens in general) are a complete mystery to me and the results are never pretty :-/
  • If you need a ride in my car, my car has dog hair

As studio engineers we really only ask of the narrators four things:

  1. that you come in prepared (having done your homework) and ready to work;
  2. that you take care of your voice/person on a physical and emotional level;
  3. you not treat any of  the studio staff with contempt or in a condescending manner and;
  4. that you tell us what you want/need 🙂
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