Writing Tools To Help You Communicate Better

Writing Tools To Help You Communicate Better

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When it comes to writing style I don’t consider myself a “traditionalist”. Two things that I insist on when writing is spelling and punctuation. Both of these things have improved by using two apps on a regular basis: Hemingway and Grammarly.

If you’re writing a script for a commercial, a TV promo, an ebook, blog post or any form of online social media, these two tools will make sure you stay on track.

Grammarly – is more than a spell checker. It checks your grammar, spelling and plagiarism (premium version only)! You read that right. According to their website, “Grammarly’s plagiarism checker crosschecks your text against over 8 billion web pages, detecting plagiarized passages and highlighting sections that have been previously published elsewhere”. Another plagiarism checker is Unplag. Learn about their free plagiarism checker here.

The web browser plugin checks that comments or posts are grammatically correct.

Grammarly is available for free as a plugin on Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Hemingway – is a web tool where you simply cut and paste your document and get instant feedback. Sentence structure and phrasing, even passive voice alerts are included.

My personal preference is running my text through Grammarly and then taking it to Hemingway for final touches.

Try them and let me know what you think!

BONUS: If you’re writing a timed text for a commercial or explainer video try the David Tyler Script Timer by clicking here.

6 Tips to Setting Up Recording Studio Reference Monitors

6 Tips to Setting Up Recording Studio Reference Monitors

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Whether you work in a radio production studio, post production sound studio, TV edit suite, a bedroom project studio or world class music recording facility, the placement of your reference monitors matter.

When making critical decisions about EQ and stereo placement…if your studio reference monitors are not placed correctly your audio mix will not translate outside of your studio environment.

I’ve put together these 6 tips to getting your reference monitors properly setup and placed so you can get the best out of your studio recordings.

1. Don’t Use Consumer Speakers

It must be said straight away that using so called “consumer” speakers as a way to mix your audio is a mistake. Most consumer speakers are made to enhance the sound coming out of the speakers, to make it sound more pleasing for the casual listener. In your recording environment you want the flattest, most neutral sound possible to help you make the right decisions for your mix.

Studio reference monitors come in many sizes and price ranges. Here is a Top 10 list of the best recording studio reference monitors from Attack Magazine. If you’ve been mixing with home speakers and want your mixes to sound their best, it’s time to invest in proper recording studio reference monitors.

I use Behringer TRUTH B2030A reference monitors in my studio…no, they didn’t make the list, but I like them.

2. Stay Away From the Walls

I remember many years ago when shopping for a pair of new speakers for my home, the salesman placed the speakers right up against the wall, going as far as to cram a cassette tape box between the speaker and the wall to “bring out the bottom end” as he put it. When you place a speaker against a wall it gives it an accentuated bass response…something that may sound cool in your living room, but simply won’t do in a recording studio environment.

Freestanding placement of your reference monitors is ideal. See my example below.

Free-Standing Placement of Studio Reference monitors

Free-Standing Placement

Most studio reference monitors come with recommendations to compensate for your room if you need it. My Behringers let you adjust low frequency, high frequency and give an option for room adjustment (see photo below). Read the manual that came with your reference monitors.

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3. Keep Them Symmetrical

When you place your studio reference monitors keep them positioned symmetrically. The distance from the speaker to the left and right wall should be identical. Likewise the 2 monitors should be the same distance from the back wall.

symetrical-placement

4. The Ideal Angle

Putting your reference monitors too close or too far apart from each other will  give you a false sense of the stereo image you’re trying to create. Ideally, place your speakers about 3 feet apart and each speaker 3 feet from your sitting position. The ideal angle for your reference monitors is 60º…or 30º to the left and 30º to the right of your listening position.

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5. Watch Out for Reflections

To get the most out of your reference monitors you’ll want to have as clean a monitoring environment as possible. This means minimizing the amount of reflective surfaces in your room. Keep in mind that reflections don’t just come from the walls but also from unavoidable surfaces like your mixer or table top, maybe even a TV screen. Minimize the amount of reflective surfaces directly between you and your monitors as much as possible by laying down a thin rubber mat on your table tops, perhaps lift up the rear of your mixer to change the angle of any reflection bouncing up at you from it. You’ll also need to think about your ceiling…reflections will be bouncing down towards you unless you place acoustic treatment up there also.

Don’t forget reflective surfaces behind and/or to the side of your listening position. They will add longer (delayed) reflections and influence your mixing choices.

Don’t try to create a completely “dead” room like the anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis, meaning no reflections anywhere, because that is a completely unrealistic listening environment.

6. Control Your Volume

It goes without saying that working in your studio at high volume levels is not good for your hearing over the long term.

In the short term, mixing at loud levels will give you bad results when your mix is listened to at average, lower levels.

It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your reference monitors, it’s a scientific fact that the louder you listen to music the more the lows and highs drop off. Trying to EQ the low end of your project while blasting your speakers will leave the bottom sounding flat when listened to at normal volume, the same goes for the high end. The phenomena is best explained through the Fletcher-Munson curves.

If you want to get the most out of your reference monitors use them at a reasonable volume in the range of 80-85 dBspl.

Conclusion

Setting up your studio reference monitors properly will enhance your recording studio environment and ultimately the audio output of your studio.

I hope these tips have helped you. Do you have any tips to add? Enter it in the comments field below.

 

It’s Not About the Medium Anymore…

It’s Not About the Medium Anymore…

How to Choose An Advertising Agency

How to Choose An Advertising Agency

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It doesn’t matter what business you’re in as you grow, eventually you will face the challenge of hiring an advertising agency.

Now, for clarity when I say “advertising agency” I’m also talking about any kind of creative agencies that offer creative marketing services like PR firms or even commercial or video production houses.

Creative People Are Strange People

In the 25+ years I’ve worked as a voice over artist I’ve had the privilege of working with some seriously innovative, imaginative and sometimes strange creative people who were a real inspiration to me. I understand how sometimes these “creative types” can inspire apprehension more often than confidence. But trust me when I say they’re harmless and when you decide on the team to help you get your brand message out there, they will amaze you!

How ‘Spec’ Work Can Help

Spec (speculative) work has become the default decision aide in the quest for an advertising agency to help create and spread your message…while the ethics of doing work for free amongst creative companies has come under question…it will help you see what a prospective advertising agency can do for you and more importantly HOW they do it…how they work together as a team.

Choosing Is About Feeling

Unlike in episodes of Mad Men, or Robin Williams short lived TV series “The Crazy Ones” it’s not always the most creative idea that will win your contract, it’s more about the feeling you get from the team chemistry and how they work together to come up with ideas.

Choose the advertising agency who you see has the ability to produce amazing ideas as a team.

It’s All About (Losing) Control

The Dudley Moore film Crazy People (1990) showed that best…the crazier they were the better they were at generating ideas like “boxy but they’re good” for Volvo [video].

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So don’t be afraid at what may look like an uncontrollable bunch. Truthfully, if you can control them, telling them what to do, they probably aren’t very good…or that creative.

How To Know For Sure

If they can understand your brand message and communicate it to your audience in a way that generates sales, you’ve found your advertising agency!

Conclusion

Meet with a shortlist of agencies, see what they can do for you and then pick the one who can do what they do, best!

Let me know how your search goes, I’d love to hear back from you and who you chose.

Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out

Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out

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