Recording Sound
Recording voices and sound effects for your cartoon is a very easy process.

There are a few different options that you have available:
• Record onto or from a video tape using a video camera,
• Record onto or from an audio tape
• Record onto or from a CD or DVD
• Record onto or from an ipod
• Record onto your computer
• Download from a website

Of course this all depends on what type of equipment you have available.

If you have access to a recording studio at your school or College you can usually get it digitally recorded or you can go to a professional sound studio but of course, you’ll have to pay some good money for it.

You’ll either need to import the sound from an external source, record directly into the computer, or download it.

The key thing to be aware of is: quality is very important. Be careful about ambient sounds. These are sounds produced by things around you. If you’re in your basement recording the sound with a video camera and the furnace clicks on, the sound of the fan will be heard in the background. Same thing goes for other household appliances like the toilet flushing, dishwashers, stairs creaking, doors closing, or people talking in other rooms. Have you ever listened to a conversation in another room by putting your ear up to the heating vent? Try it sometime.

If you’re outside, you have to contend with things like the wind rustling leaves, birds chirping, airplanes flying over head or cars on the roads in your neighborhood.

I remember doing a recording for a cartoon in my backyard. We live about 15 miles from a major airport and the planes were flying overhead every 2 minutes creating the zoom sound that lasted for about 30 seconds each time. That gave me a small window of 90 seconds to record the dialogue and sound effects I needed.

Also be careful that your actor doesn’t “pop their P’s” when doing their lines. If you put your mouth too close to the microphone you’ll hear a popping sound every time the person says a word with the letter “P” in it.

This then brings up the issue of the vocal actor. You may think your best buddy is a real character and is always making you laugh at his wacky antics and vocal stylizations. Stop for a second and ask your self if you’re usually drunk out of your heads when he’s really funny. Chances are he won’t sound as funny when you listen to it sober. It's also highly unlikely that they’re going to be open to “direction” while you’re in the recording session if they’re blitzed.

Your voice will change when it’s been recorded. If you’re recording your own voice, be prepared to say, “Do I actually sound like that?”

Be prepared for multiple “takes” when you’re recording. People will forget their lines, flub pronunciation or mix up the order of words. There may also be the wrong emphasis on the wrong syllables or the enunciation might be off.

Kids are the worst. They have problems giving emotional readings and controlling their timing. Listen to kids talking and you’ll find that they have patterns to their speech. The common one is to end a sentence with an upward twist on the pitch. It can be really annoying. As I’m typing this, I have a news channel on the television and there’s this adult male talking to the host and he’s actually following this same pattern. It’s annoying in kids but incredibly annoying in adults.

Kids also don’t take direction well. You can read the lines exactly as you want them to say it with all the proper pauses and inflections but it may take the kid 10 - 20 takes to get it right. Kids have a low tolerance for these retakes. Sometimes they can start to break down around take 12. Don’t force the kid to do the lines. Take a break and let the kid settle down. You might even have to leave it for a day and try it again later.

Be sure to keep a log of the takes on paper. Specifically, which one you like the best. Have the voice actor “number slate” the take before they deliver the line. Have them say, “Dinky Duck line 14 - take 3”. This tells you who the line is for, which line it is and the take number. This info should be written on the script for their reference.

If you’re going to pull something off a CD or DVD you need to be aware of copyright laws.
Copyright Definition

Copyright subsists in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Literary works (including computer programs), musical works, dramatic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, and sound recordings are all protected by US copyright law.

The rights of the copyright owner are limited by the “fair use” doctrine, which allows reproduction of copyright protected materials under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut rules for what is “fair use.” There are no “safe harbors” such as a specific number of words or percentage of content. Rather, there are factors that are used to determine “fair use:”

Purpose and character of the use
Is the use commercial or non-profit? Commercial use is less likely to be “fair use.” “Fair use” is more likely when the use is to illustrate, comment, criticize, or educate.

“Fair use” includes activities such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching and research.

Many schools use sound bites from various films in their lip sync assignments. The students then use these assignments in their portfolios when applying for jobs.

You definitely can’t turn around and sell the assignment to anyone.

Transferring Sound to the Computer

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