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Delivering Your Information With a Fun Soundboard

Voiceover Soundboard ScreencapMy schedule these days is busy enough that I’m not always able to take part in the weekly eLearning Challenge over on the Articulate Forums. But there have been a couple recently I couldn’t resist as a voiceover artist.

For one challenge, the task was to create a simple example of a soundboard; in other words, a single slide that offers various soundbytes when you click on objects. The other challenge was to create a voiceover portfolio.  I decided combining the two challenges would be a perfect way to create a little reminder of the variety of voiceover styles I offer.

Creating the Soundboard:
I sourced some fun graphics from the various free icon sites, gave them all the same kind of shadow in Powerpoint, and then used Articulate Storyline 2 to put together my simple soundboard. In Storyline, it took me all of two minutes to select all my arranged icons and convert them to a button set–meaning only one button can be clicked at a time. Storyline automatically created my “Selected” and “Visited” states for each button. To the viewer/listener, everything happens on a single slide. On the back end, I’m actually housing each audio clip on its own sublayer.  That way the audio will automatically stop when the visitor clicks a different icon to explore a different audio clip.

I also decided to forego the traditional “player” frame, designing this sample to appear frameless instead by making the player elements transparent.  The result is simple and clean.

Think of all the creative ways you could present a lot of information on a single slide this way in your next eLearning project–for example, a series of motivational clips from your company’s senior executives.  It’s interactive, it’s fun, and if you have good audio clips, it can also be memorable.  And isn’t that what you want your eLearning to be?

About my VO Work:
When I’m asked about the “quality” of my voice, I generally respond: it depends on the project!  For typical eLearning narration, my voice is warm, confident, and encouraging.  For other projects, I can provide a much more quirky, character-driven voice.  I always suit my VO to the project.  I love recording in studios with an engineer running the booth.  But for a lot of my projects these days, I work out of my home office/studio.  I keep things simple: I start with a high-quality MXL USB.009 mike, which has a headphone jack on it.  That way I can listen via headphones as I record without dealing with the half-second audio playback delay that USB causes.  I use a foam soundproofing box, a pop filter (to minimize “popping” from plosives like “b” and “p”), and Audacity or a similar audio recording software.  When it comes to finalizing my VO clips, I always use a noise removal filter to take out any subtle room sounds, and of course I cut out any background clicks or other noises I might have made while recording.  I take out some breaths, and leave others in–I find that removing all the breaths make the recording sound less human and immediate.  I also normalize all the tracks for consistent final sound levels.  I believe strongly that the better performance you give, the less editing you need to do–and that translates into better-sounding VO!

Click the image on this post to have a listen–and if you need my voice in your next project, you know where to find me!

Enjoy.