Session Planner

With a cumulative 30+ years of experience in the recording industry, the staff at Babble-On Recording Studios offers the following tips to make your recording session a smooth and productive experience.

Booking a Session

Here’s the scoop on booking a session at Babble-On Recording Studios:
Call Babble-On Recording Studios at 612.375.0533 to hold time or book firm a session with our engineer. If you don’t want to immediately book the time (to give you time to organize voice talent, client and agency schedules) you may hold the time for your session up until the day before without officially booking it. When you book firm a session, you are responsible for paying for the studio time. If a particular engineer that you request already has a hold on his or her time, you may request a second hold on that time. We’ll keep you informed on the status of the client that is in the first hold position. If that time slot becomes available, we’ll contact you as soon as possible to book firm your session.You may challenge the first hold client for the engineer’s time, if you’re able to book firm your session when you call initially. The first hold client has a first right of refusal on the engineer’s time. If the first hold client cannot book firm the session time that they’re holding, you win the challenge, and you may book your session with our engineer. In this instance, you have booked firm your time, and you’re responsible for paying for the session time for which you challenged. In the event of unforeseen circumstances that force you to cancel a booked firm session, we will do our best to re-sell that session time. If we’re able to do so, we’ll work with you to waive some of the session fees associated with your booking. If we’re unable to re-sell the time, you’ll be charged for the session time that you’ve booked.
To hold or to book a session at Babble-On, we’ll need to know:

  • How much time you need
  • Your agency’s name
  • Your client’s name
  • The project or product name
  • The producer’s name and direct phone number
  • The writer’s name
  • The nature of the project (a radio or TV commercial, audio for the Web, an industrial voiceover, etc.)
  • How many spots you are producing
  • Who will be attending the session
  • The names of voice-over talent you’ve hired
  • Whether or not you require a digital patch or phone patch to record voice-over talent at another studio, and, if so, how much time you will need for the patch
  • Whether or not you need a pad for your session or your patch or possibly for both

A pad is a half-hour time block that is used as a cushion on the end of a session or a patch. You’ll be billed for the pad only if you use it. Studios typically don’t allow pads longer than a half hour.

Music

Consider what style of music you might want to use for your project and be sure to communicate your music direction to your engineer ahead of time. You may want to send us a sample of the style of music that you’d like to use or mimic.

Although we have plenty of stock music at Babble-On, some styles may be difficult to match exactly. But, with our long list of vendors and our affiliation with facilities that specialize in creating original compositions, we can usually get just about anything you might need expediently. However, having ample lead time is always a big help in obtaining the best results.

We can help you budget for a music search and music licensing fees for your project. In order to help you estimate costs for music, we’d need to know:

  • how the music will be used (in broadcast commercials, a corporate project, something for sale or promotion, etc.)
  • the media buy (local, regional or national for a broadcast commercial)
  • how many copies will be made or distributed (for corporate, sales or promotional audio or video presentation)
  • what time-frame the music license needs to cover (one-time usage, 13-week or annual run, or, in-perpetuity usage)

If you decide to do a music search in advance of your session, our rule of thumb is to budget an hour two per genre of music. For example, if you intend to produce three radio spots, and you need country music in one, techno music in another, and salsa music in the third (we’d be extremely interested in knowing what kind of campaign you’re working on!) but that aside, we’d recommend budgeting three to six hours of search time.

Accurate music search budgets allow us to really comb through our extensive music libraries to find numerous, good options for each style of music that you need. See our rate sheet for details.

Have you considered the benefits of original music versus stock music?

One of the benefits of original music is that you own that piece of music; so, you won’t ever hear it on other advertisers’ spots. You can’t guarantee this kind of exclusivity with stock music.

Typically, original music is more expensive than using and licensing a piece of stock music from an existing music library. However, that’s not always the case. You may wish to check out a company that specializes in custom scoring for TV, radio, video and film.

If you want to explore the option of original music for your project, the staff at Babble-On Recording Studios can help you find a custom music facility that will be a good fit for your project.

For more information, e-mail us or call us at 612.375.0533.

Talents

Once you’ve booked your voice-over talent, be sure that you have talent contracts to bring with you to the session (if you’re using union voice talent).

Pass along to your voice actors a map or directions to Babble-On.

If you conducted talent auditions for your script(s), it’s often helpful to e-mail, or post those auditions ahead of time for Babble-On. We’ve found that writers and producers will frequently reference talent auditions either when directing the talent or for clueing in the engineer on the direction of an ad. It’s much more efficient to do this, if you’ve sent the talent auditions to our studio ahead of time. Our engineers can then re-play them when necessary.

Materials & Accessories

Think about what materials you will need to walk away with at the end of your session (an audio CD, a data CD or CD-ROM of the audio files, a DVD, electronic deliveries of MP3 files, or maybe .WAV/.AIF files posted). Your answer to this question will help us determine what types of gear or accessories we’ll need to have set up for you. Please let us know what you need before your session, and we’ll be sure to have everything ready to go for you.

If your session is for a TV commercial, or it requires us to lock-to-picture, please provide Babble-On with a picture ahead of time. We encourage you to upload the picture as a QuickTime movie (dimensions: 1280 x 720, compression: H.264). It’s also always best for us to have an OMF file of the audio.

Scripts

We find it very helpful to get the scripts as far ahead of the session as possible. This helps to avoid any potential problems and also helps us to prepare ahead for particular sound effects or music choices that you may use during your session.

Please send your script(s) as far ahead of the session as possible via e-mail.

If you’re Patching (recording talent that will be in a studio in another city), you’ll want to send your scripts to the other studio as well.

BEFORE YOUR SESSION, BE SURE THAT YOU HAVE:

  • timed the script to know the overall length
  • timed the individual parts to know how long they are
  • accounted for the time that’s taken up in each spot by sound effects and music
  • accounted for the time differences that may occur if you’re doing multiple versions of the same spot (time each version)
  • prepared a list of words and phrases that can be removed from or added to the script if it comes in at the wrong time
  • verified all the proper pronunciations
  • listened to your script (you may want to record it with your own voice so that you can accurately judge the pace, flow, style, word choices, and rhythm)
  • typed your script in an easily readable font, at a readable size, using double-spacing for ease of marking and navigation (for the benefit of your voice-over talent, we recommend 12 point Arial)
  • checked all the phone numbers, names, addresses, and Web site addresses in your script for accuracy
  • run your script by your legal department

Sound Effects

Consider what sound effects you may want to use and be sure to communicate your sound design direction to your engineer ahead of time.

We carry an extensive number of sound effects and music libraries that are constantly expanding. Additionally, given the relationships that we have with our music and sound effects partners, we’re able to quickly get on demand unique and obscure sounds and music.

We’ve also made a significant investment in on-location recording equipment. If you need on-location recording or natural sound (from an on-location site), we have the means to do it.

Be sure that you budget accordingly for the sound effects in your spot(s). See our rate sheet for details.

Sometimes seemingly simple sound effects can be complicated. Bear in mind when budgeting that some sound effects, such as backgrounds, are composed of many layers and can be more expensive than the cost of just one sound effect. In addition, some sounds may require on-location recording, natural sound, or custom effects created in-studio or on-site.

To find out what your script may need, please send us your script ahead of time via e-mail

DigiPatch

DigiPatching allows studios to connect digitally in real time. This allows you to select voice talent from virtually anywhere to record your spot while you produce it from Babble-On Recording Studios in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Babble-On can recommend studios in other cities across the globe if you need to record talent outside of the Twin Cities market. We can also make the studio arrangements in the other city for you (as we’ll need to talk with the studio to get all of the technical details for connecting with them for the session). We can arrange to have the connecting studio bill their charges to us, so that all of the charges to you come on just one invoice from Babble-On.

If Babble-On will not be arranging the DigiPatch, you’ll need to take care of the booking and billing with the other studio directly.

We’ve found that $700/hr to $1,000/hr is an average “rule-of-thumb” for budgeting a mono digital patch between two studios. This generally covers the costs of both facilities’ studio time and the cost of the patch. Of course, there will always be exceptions to any rule. If you need exact figures prior to booking your session, you should provide us with enough advance notice so that the studios involved can put together an actual estimate for you.

See our rate sheet for details on DigiPatch pricing to help you estimate and budget accordingly.

And lastly, be aware of the time zone differences in booking your session and your patch.

Approvals

We understand that there are times when clients or agency people can’t be present at the session and you need to rely on other methods for approval.

Options we have for “approvals in absentia” are for us to post your spot(s) or project audio or e-mail the spot(s) or project audio (if the recipient’s mailbox will accept files larger than two megabytes).

Judging a mix over the phone is not an ideal way to have your spot(s) approved. The phone can only pass a limited range of audio, so critical assessments (e.g., the ratio of voice to music) can’t really be made over the phone. However, if this is your only option, we’re happy to provide a phone patch with the agency or client in order to obtain approval using this method.

Lunch

If your session is taking place over the lunch hour we’re happy to accommodate lunch requests for sessions lasting 3 hours (or longer) that take place during the lunch hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We often try to arrange your lunch order the day before your session, if possible. Arranging for lunch ahead of time allows us a greater number of options, and it helps us to secure a food delivery time that best suits your needs and wishes.

Lunch is typically provided for the agency personnel and clients present at the session. Talent is usually not included in the lunch order as they are often recording in the studio only for a short period of time.

Even if you are at the studio outside of our lunch hours, you’ll find plenty to eat and drink. Babble-On is well stocked in the snacks and beverages department and has a generous “help yourself” policy that tends to keep most people happily hovering around the fridge and snack bowls.

Directions & Parking

If your voice-over talent, client or agency personnel need a map or directions, please send them to our web siteDirections & Parking page.

Babble-On offers free parking for agency personnel, clients and talent alike.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Rates

Check out our Rates.

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