Mixing audio for a TV commercial

As I have mentioned in other threads I live in the small pacific island nation called Samoa.

Recently I made friends with a nice local guy. He told me that he made TV commercials for a living and I mentioned that I like writing songs and am familiar with audio production. He has asked me for some help with his latest project.

I’m just wondering if anyone on here has any experience with TV audio TV and if they could offer any tips.

Just to give a little background…

Up until recently my friend was using a point and shoot camera to record both his video and audio. He still uses it for his audio but I have a condenser microphone.

He mainly wants help with voice over work. I am thinking I could at least help with cleaning up with some editing, a bit of EQ and some compression to level out the voice.

I’m almost certain there are no laws governing the audio standards for broadcast here. But I am curious about what is expected from TV stations regarding loudness.

And I am wondering if any of you have any ideas as to how I could turn this into a business and offer my services to other companies or maybe radio advertisers. Even as a beginner I think I could do at least as well as what I see here on TV.

Thank for any info you can provide.

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It can’t hurt to record the audio from both the camera + an additional mic. You can always choose one or the other later. I suggest trying to get the best sound from your condenser mic for use in the track(s). Is someone else doing the voiceover besides you or your friend? You’ll want a clean voice recording done in a ‘dead’ space free from inside reflections and outside noises. You can edit out breaths, or not, depending on what you’re going for. I like to take them out most of the time.

You can use compression to level out the voice, but also keep in mind it may need to really punch through as the featured element, so that might affect your compression approach. Some helpful tricks are to push the “music bed” (music soundtrack) out to the sides (stereo) to leave room for the voice in the middle. Voiceover should be a mono track. Also, you can control the balance with a side-chained compressor on the music bed which is side-chained to the voiceover track. Set it so that when the voice comes in the music bed dips in level a few dB or so, and when the voice stops the music comes back up. Keep it subtle and natural though, make sure your attack and release on the compressor make the transitions smoothly.

You should be able to get ‘specs’ from whoever is going to air the commercials. That could be someone at the TV station, or an intermediary like a manager or agent. My guess is they don’t want your track really loud or heavily compressed, because TV signals usually get some compression. Also, if you use pre-recorded music bed tracks, those may have already been compressed and you may not want to compress them further (just the voiceover track).

Work on a few projects to develop a portfolio that you can show them. Showcase your skills and talents, and whatever options you can offer. Figure out a pricing or rate plan for what you will charge. Set up your business structure according to local laws or requirements. Network with people that might want to hire you or may be able to help you, and be prepared to market yourself and what you are doing heavily. On an island, though, perhaps word of mouth and knowing quite a few people is enough.

You may want a website for your business, and do some advertising as part of your marketing.

Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising. If you anticipate doing this often you will want to familiarize yourself with the Waves R Comp, Waves C6, and Waves L1. The waves Trans X, or any other variable transient enhancer is also a very effective tool. You’ll also want to get to know your way around the izotope post and restoration product line. Given what I found about Samoa on google, I wouldn’t worry too much about metering. Just make sure your audio is consistent (not too loud in some areas and too soft in others), and you’ll be ok. Its not rocket science to blend a vocal with 30 seconds of background music. You’ll want to make sure the vocal is much further forward than if you were mixing music, and always always check for mono/stereo continuity.

Don’t try and turn yourself into a freelance audio business. Bad idea, and not the way to go about this. Your target buy is not the company that needs advertising services. Your target is the advertising agencies the need audio services. Don’t waste your time soliciting your services to businesses. Go to the agencies that are already servicing other businesses and oust the current audio techs.

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Wow!!! Thanks for all the great advice. Definitely things I had never thought of.

Thanks again

One other thing, feel free to post the voiceover in a bash. It doesn’t have to be a song. Even though its not one, some of us will still be happy to run it through our reference monitors and see if we spot any problems with the processing. If you do this, post both the processed and unprocessed if you can.

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Just out of curiosity :slight_smile: Why isn’t it a good idea. Not that I had the same plan in mind, but for future idea’s it might be good to understand more about this.

thanks :slight_smile:

I should have done a much better job communicating this. Here’s what I meant:

You have to decide weather you want to be a full blown add agency, or weather you just want to handle the audio end. Consider the original post:

Like MrLevy, I would want to work with this guy. Not compete with him.

So instead of offering audio services for advertising, offer audio services to advertising agencies and firms. I stopped approaching local businesses and offering to record adds for them. I partnered with a couple companies that make hundreds of adds per year, and offered to do work for them instead. When I did so, realized I had wasted tons of time trying to explain to local small businesses that they needed to go somewhere else to ‘produce’ the add, and that I merely record it. And most of the time, as soon as they found out that I didn’t actually produce the add, I was just available to record it, I wasn’t the best fit for their needs anyway, because scripting, casting the voice talent, budgeting, and choosing the background music for the add, is all not stuff I want to be involved in. I’m also in no position to try and consult a customer, and try and figure out what exactly they need their add to communicate. So what I offered as a service (the audio) was actually the least pressing need. It really helped me control my customer flow because by the time an add agency called me to record the add, I knew all of the other leg work had been done.

Well it is…by large (sorry again for not being clear on what I meant). There is still a lot of money in broadcast audio, weather its doing EQing and normalizing for video bloggers, radio adds, local commercials, church programming, sports…those are all profitable audio services. So is instructional training/tutorial content, audio based educational resources, etc… You hear a lot about radio on decline, especially in the US, Canada, and Europe. But its still very popular and profitable in some foreign countries.

I do radio, TV, and internet. Its paid WAY more than recording music and bands. Enough to where I stopped tracking music all together. I still mix music on occasion, but I’ve pretty much done away with the music production unless it has something to do with video game, broadcast, or film audio.

No problem mate :slight_smile: Thanks for clarifying ! I understand what you mean, if you just want to be handling the audio side of the story it would be better to go for advertising agency’s directly.

But when you want to find customers for this, I guess you’ll have to go directly to the bloggers ? I can’t imagine there is a company that those bloggers contact, that then contact you for the job, or do I see that wrong ? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Perhaps a hybrid approach then. Jonathan has a point that it may not be the best approach to try to set yourself up as an ad agency of sorts. They will have had 20 years of experience doing that and many contacts and resources, so you might be better to support them than compete with them. Though in the case of ML in Samoa it could be such a small market that if he and his friend can bring an innovative approach they might start a niche market.

I still think you have to create your own business and figure out the niche(s) that you have, then market that to several different client bases. It might require several different marketing approaches depending on how wide you want to cast your net. Starting as a freelance business will have a degree of business structure, but not a corporation, and if you have a home studio to do the work from the business can start small and build.

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yeah yeah! Good point. The difference is that the bloggers already have their content packaged and ready for you. If you go after this market, I would snatch their content directly off their own video feed, polish it up, then send it back to them. Just outright solicit their own material back to them. I guarantee they’ll at least look at it what you did to it :smiley: We’re talking mostly about small independent companies or individuals who may not be tech savvy enough to figure the audio out themselves.

You’ll have to build that customer base one client at a time, and try to pitch to clients who’s video content benefits the most from pristine audio. The key to this search is looking for clients that are trying to portray a high degree of professionalism in their content (such as a wannabe newscaster) but their audio is holding them back. This market is neat because a lot of people don’t realize how much they need you. A non-local mixing studio works to convince an artist (who already understands the general concept of mixing) that you’re better than a competitor. Where as with bloggers, podcasters, and newsfeeds, if they have the budget to pay you, its can be easy sometimes to convince them that its worth it.


Good points guys :slight_smile: Sounds interesting ! I will remember this for sure. One’s I can realy start working on my studio I’ll need to come up with stuff like this to get something going, so again, good stuff :smiley:

How did I miss this thread?!? I’d love to hear any updates on this. @MisterLevy, did you get a chance to get started on this?

Sorry I’ve been really busy. All very good replies in this thread. Been meaning to reply but never get a chance.

So it’s still in the early stages of my local friend chasing up work. Will definitely post when we have something to work on.

Good business advice too. Thanks everyone

Awesome! Looking forward to seeing how it all works out!