"Cutting room floor?"
by Bill Brophy
I used to own a small 8 track studio that specialized in radio and TV spot work. I also worked as a VO talent in that room and various other studios. I landed a gig for a small one-line role in an animated spot for a regional restaurant chain. I arrived for the gig just as the main narration for the piece was being laid down. The control room door was open as I listened to the engineer, the assistant and the director of the spot run the talent through take after take of the spot. Each one slated ... 55 ... 56 ... 57. They all sounded good. 75...76...77.about the same. Finally at 112 the director was satisfied. I knew the talent was good ... very good, and I dreaded going into the studio for my part knowing I was not that good, nor that patient having already spent an hour there.
ENGINEER ON THE PHONES: "give us a level" so I read the line in character. ENGINEER: "can you do it smaller and shave half a second". I read it faster and smaller. ENGINEER: "once more just a little less character". I read it again, smaller. Through the glass I watch a 2 minute conversation take place and then on talkback I hear " OK that's it ... thanks! "
To this day I don't know if I was really good enough to satisfy the picky director in three takes or if the conversation in the control room was something about getting that no talent clown out of the studio. The spot didn't run in my market, so I never saw it, but I DID GET A CHECK!
From then on, when I worked with talent in my own studio, I left the Talkback open all the time so the talent could hear our conversation just so he or she would not feel paranoid.