The Room Where it Happens

Time after time I hear or read comments from voice actors and voice class teachers regarding “the people in the room”. It’s generally framed as a negative bunch of sushi eating, gourmet latte sipping people who are hell bent on making your life difficult as an actor. But is that true? The answer is no. Everyone in the room- and you in the booth- have the same goal: make the clients happy. So who are those people staring at you on the other side of the glass?

Your Engineer

If your lucky, your engineer has been doing his job long enough to navigate, negotiate, translate and steer the session in cases where it goes off the rails. A good engineer in the commercial world is not just a competent mixer- they are a conduit to the rest of the people in the room, helping to make sure everyone is getting what they want while keeping the session on schedule. Over time, you’ll probably get to know your engineers pretty well. Very often my relationship with the actor in the booth is solid enough that I can send them a text to keep them posted on all the commotion in the control room while they’re waiting patiently for feedback. In other cases, you can have back channel communications to see how it’s going while you’re waiting for your time in the studio.

The Producer

The best of them are buttoned-up, bullet-proof, and unflappable. While it’s not their job to be a creative force in the room, often times a good producer will bring creative solutions to project challenges and client concerns. At minimum, they will handle contracts, and help negotiate the creative team’s wants, account teams needs and client demands. Their job is to keep it all together- and keep an eye on the clock.

The Writer(s)

So many sessions begin with an apology from the writer. “I had a great concept, but the client killed it”. Or, “we had a bunch of mandatory copy points that took up all the time, with no room left for the fun”. This is all part of that balance of keeping everyone happy. The writer didn’t mean to pack 45 seconds of copy into a 30 second script. It’s more likely that the client or the legal department mandated changes at the last minute, making your job as a voice actor a little more challenging. Usually after a couple of long takes, there will be a pause in the session while everyone in the room figures out what can be cut and what has to stay. There is nothing unusual about this, and they most certainly didn’t intend to make your life as a voice actor difficult.

The Creative Director

Depending on the job, this person may or may not be at the session. If it’s a radio spot that’s been ongoing for a p