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The Audio Studio Assists the Utah Dept. of Health

By Robert Nelson

I was presenting on the Marriott Library’s Media Studios on behalf of TLT’s Faculty Forum. A group from the U of U Dept. of Health approached me about their unique needs for a video training tutorial on how to administer the opioid antidote Naloxone.

They had their script, they had their slides, but had no idea how to record the narration. My main responsibility within Media Studios, (Audio Studio & Video Studio in the Faculty Center plus the student scheduled One Button Studio on Level 2), is for audio projects.

I asked them: if they had a script, all they needed was someone to narrate the slides. We use professional audio microphones and record digitally in a soundproof space. I engineer any faculty/staff recording.

None of them wanted to do the narration. “I hate the sound of my voice!” was the response from all three Health Staff.

No worries. I mentioned that I have been a radio deejay on local community station KRCL for more than 30 years. (Smile Jamaica – all killer, no filler!) Once or twice a year I will lend my voice to a faculty, staff or student voice project. I offered to voice their tutorial.

I sent over a sample of a TLT ESL tutorial I narrated. They liked it. After several months, they were ready to go.

Here are the steps to add narration to visual content:

  1. Dept. of Health emailed me the slides and instructions for narration.
  2. I took a decongestant and drank 8 ounces of cold water. (Never soda or coffee: that dries you out.)
  3. I throw open the mic, set my recording levels and start recording.
  4. I voiced somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 slides.
  5. Any miscues: mispronouncing Naloxone as Naxolone for the first dozen slides; I had to listen to a YouTube clip on how to correctly pronounce buprenorphine = it doesn’t matter just keep voicing takes until I think I had it correct.
  6. Aim for conversational vocal rather than monotonous script reading.
  7. Take the 25-minute file back to my office and call up the sound editor Audacity.
  8. Chop, chop, chop sound into 30 individual .mp3’s labelled by the Slide Number.
  9. I “rinse” (sound production term) the final edits one last time by earbuds (the most likely medium by which people would listen to a video tutorial) and on my Mac computer speakers.
  10. I’m listening for any sound blemishes and “room hum”. I even remove breath intake. Every edit has to be at the same sound level.
  11. Upload individual files into a Folder and upload to Box. Send U of U Dept. of Health a share/edit link and they can now apply the audio.

They said they wanted it in a short turn around. I started recording slides Monday morning around 10am. I delivered the final edits before I left the same day. That’s what 30 years of working in sound add to Media Studios projects. Where my avocation has become my vocation.

Robert J. Nelson | Head of Media Studios & Audio Projects Librarian
Creativity & Innovation Services / Media Studios

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