Get to know Chris Rain!
I started my audio career in 2007 where I went to The Institute of Production and Recording in Minnesota. I learned the trade at first to become a studio engineer working with musicians and recording my own material. Since I played guitar, the idea of recording my own music professionally was appealing to me. And I enjoyed working in all the studios at the school, learning how to edit, mix, and master audio using all sorts of different software and hardware.
After I graduated college, I had trouble finding work without going to the extent of doing some internship in New York, or something completely unrelated to audio. After a time of doing less fulfilling jobs, I had a friend suggest to me that I try narrating audiobooks since I already know how to record, edit, and mix my audio, and I have the audio equipment to do so. I gave it a try, and after a year of narrating, I realized I could edit, proof listen, and master other narrators’ work, giving them more time to focus on narrating instead of having to waste their time and effort on the technical side.
I have been working as an Audiobook Editor for about 3 years now, and working with audio in general for the last 10+ years. I have worked with dozens of narrators and have worked with some amazing voice actors with whom I have been working for about 2-3 years of that time. Just like anything, it is not easy, but it is very rewarding, and I get that rewarding feeling every single time I finish a chapter in a book.
Now I find myself continuing to work with narrators and helping them produce the best product possible, as well as consulting for narrators and audio recording artists to help explain certain devices, software, and processes to go through in order to sound the best and to make the process as smooth and quick as possible for each individual client.
I love my job.
Your official title is an Audio Engineer. What does an audio engineer do?
Audio Engineers take the voice actor’s or artist’s recordings, whether that be Audiobooks, music, or podcasts, etc. And we edit, mix, proof listen, and master the audio to the best of our ability to make it sound as good as possible and to get to any specifications needed.
How did you get into this field and what kind of training did you have to do in order to be qualified to do it?
I got into this field by trying the narrating myself, realizing I really enjoyed editing and proofing the books, and starting to ask narrators if they would like me to take over the post production work that needs to be done to get the audio ready to listen to by the customers.
And I went to audio production school to learn my skills. I worked in many studios, originally to work on recording and mixing music before realizing that I did not want to work under someone in a studio environment. But that was still a great experience, and I learned a lot.
One of your roles is to proof listen to books. When you are doing this, what are you looking for?
I am specifically looking for any noises, which I edit out. I find misreads and anything that does not match up with the script and the narration.
How do you correct errors made by narrators? What methods do they use to signal to you that they need you to fix something?
Some of them use a finger snap or clap into the microphone, leaving a spike in the audio, which I can visibly see without having to listen to the audio first. Then I figure out why the spike is there, and usually it’s a quick misread that needs to be re recorded, and I move that good take over on top of the bad take.
A book you worked on, Dirty Deeds by Armand Rosamilia and narrated by Jack de Golia (see here for our recent interview with him), recently won the prestigious Earphones Award. What kind of work did you do to create this audiobook?
A process of proper spacing and carefully following the script to make sure the narrator is always following the script word for word. I did the same work I do on everything for Jack de Golia; he does great work and it’s always a pleasure to work with him. I actually enjoy working with all my narrators.
You have narrated a few audiobooks yourself. Does that experience help you in your audiobook editing?
I think it does. I was very new to the audiobook world when I started narrating, and I had experience in the audio production side of things. So I felt I had an advantage over a lot of other narrators at the time. It was a ton of work and I am happy I did it. I know the troubles of recording and the quality that needs to be achieved with the audio quality and the acting. I find the narrators I work with are on such a higher level than I ever could be in the narrating, so I appreciate all their hard work.
An important part of your job is mastering the recordings. Tell us about what that is and how you do it.
So mastering is bringing the dynamics and frequencies to a level that the listener is content with. Originally mastering was involved in music and mastering an entire album to make all songs on the album sound like they are coming from the same place and have very similar levels and quality to the tracks.
With audiobooks I would say the mastering is very similar from chapter to chapter and usually book to book if you have the sound exactly where you want it. Mastering usually entails your taking the low volume moments and the high volume moments and crunching them to be more even. So when you whisper and then scream right afterwords, the listener is not having trouble hearing the whisper and then hurting their ear when the scream comes.
You are self- employed, so how do you find clients to work with? Who hires you? The narrator? A producer? Someone else?
The internet! Sometimes I respond to Facebook posts with narrators who have questions. And sometimes I make posts discussing possible solutions. And sometimes I have narrators refer me to others.
Do different companies have different requirements you have to meet (intro/outro, file type, quality)?
With audio books, it has always been very similar, such as while getting into the file type and quality, there are specs some sites ask for, and usually they are a pretty understandable (some would say low) quality that you need to achieve so that the listener can enjoy the experience and not hear noise in the background. Also I ensure that the narration is full as well as not too loud at some moments and then becoming too quiet.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love that I can listen to wonderful narrators who all have different styles and qualities to their work, and that I can support myself on my work and be proud of what I accomplish daily. I think about everyone whom I know in the real world, not on social media, and I see I am the only one who goes to his office in the room next to his bedroom. The feeling I get is not something I take lightly. I know just like any other job/career or anything else, it can end in a moment. So I will always appreciate this right now.
I work with a lot of talented narrators such as Paul Stefano, Audrey Lusk, Rick Gregory, Jack de Golia, Barry Shannon, Henry Gray, Chante Mccormick, Melissa Moran (And many more).
These narrators all have a different style and all make my job interesting in the best way possible. I could not be an audiobook editor, without their audio. So thank you.
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