In the Recording Studio

One of my favorite parts of the process of making our public television program, Rick Steves’ Europe, is the final recording of our voice track. We shoot to a script in Europe. The footage is edited to a “scratch track” (a rough recording of me reading the script). Then, when all the video clips are edited and the fine cut is ready, I spend four or five hours in a booth to record the final voice track of the half-hour program. My read has to be timed exactly to the video clips, but the hard work is getting the inflection just right to help the ideas flow clearly.

At Clatter & Din (the studio we use in Seattle), we have a very cool new technology that lets our sound engineer, Eric, edit the audio clips directly to the video. My producer, Simon, oversees the process, coaching me and making sure everything is to his liking. During this clip, Simon didn’t know I was multitasking on a job that requires and deserves all of my brainpower. But I wanted to share this fascinating part of the TV production process as we recorded the voice track for the 14th and final show of our new series.

This very clumsy clip was filmed on my iPhone as I was wearing a headset (which I later took off and put next to the phone for the audio).  You’ll see me  battling my way through one sequence from our script (about hop-on, hop-off bus tours), then stepping away from my mic and over to the window to watch Eric clean up my recording and patch the usable audio clips of my voice into a smooth rendition. Finally, he cuts that to the established video.

Check with your local public television station, as these new episodes are debuting all over the USA this month.

If you can’t see the video below, watch it on YouTube.