Indiana Voices produces audio books for the blind and visually or physically-impaired citizens of our state and would not exist were it not for the active participation by numerous dedicated volunteers. The purpose of this blog is to share the details of their roles that are critical to the success of this program.
Our narrators are the “voices” behind Indiana Voices. At present, there are 14 individuals who come in to our studio at the Indiana State Library for a least an hour a week to read a title that has been assigned to them. The books that are chosen by the director of the program must fit within the criteria for books to record for our program. The titles, which can be both fiction and nonfiction, are either written by a Hoosier author, are about our state in some way or may have a plot that places the story in Indiana.
Individuals wishing to narrate for Indiana Voices must complete an audition in order to be evaluated for suitability to read for the program. A good narrator needs to have a natural ability to convey the material that they share with our patrons in an interesting, and engaging manner. Narrators must be willing to make a long-term commitment of time, as producing an audio book can often take weeks or months to complete. It is also important for the narrator to be willing to research the text they have been assigned in order to understand the pronunciation of words and the pacing needed to enhance the patron’s listening experience. The best narrators are those that are able to “disappear” during the recording so that the listener is able to lose themselves in the text.
Audio monitors serve another critical role in the production of audio books for Indiana Voices. These volunteers learn how to operate the specialized software that is used to record the narrators they’re teamed up with as they read through their assigned text. The monitor’s job is to confirm the audio quality during each recording session and they are also responsible for maintaining a consistent sound level throughout the narration.
The audio monitor also serves another important role by providing a high level of quality control. To accomplish this, this volunteer reads along with the narrator to assure that the recording is as true to the written text as possible; listening for errors such as missed or added words, mispronunciations, awkward phrasing or other such inaccuracies. When these do occur, it is the monitor’s job to see that these mistakes are corrected.
Audio Book Reviewer
This book reviewer position works independently of the studio setting, but is just as important as any of other roles of Indiana Voices. The reviewer is the final step for assuring the accuracy of the audio book recording.
Reviewers are provided the initial recording of a completed audio book along with a printed copy of the text and an edit log. The reviewer then listens to the audio recording and follows along with the text noting on the log sheet any errors or inaccuracies that may have been missed during the original recording and then returning it to Indiana Voices. Using this log sheet as a guide, the recording can then be corrected and finalized into a finished audio book.
The audio editor reviews audio files for errors that have occurred during the recording process and makes needed corrections to these files. Once this adjustments have been made, the edited titles can be moved along to a final review and to their ultimate completion as a finished audio book. Audio editors must learn the software needed for editing, have an ability to multitask, possess strong reading and listening skills and be detail oriented.
The role of audio editor requires more than just technical skills, but also an ascetic ability. Good editors are able to compose a recording in such a way that corrections are able to match so well with the original recording that the integrity of the natural flow of the text is maintained.
Indiana Voices is always looking for variety of different volunteers to fill openings as they occur. At present, possible volunteer opportunities are for narrator/monitor teams (two individuals are needed to apply together), audio monitors and audio editors.
This blog post was written by Linden Coffman, director of Indiana Voices.