If you don’t work in the audiobook industry, you may not know that there are a couple of different ways of recording: there is ‘fluff and repeat’ and there is ‘rock and roll’ (or ‘punching in’ as they say in the States).
Fluff and repeat does pretty much what it says on the box: you read along until you make a mistake, at which point you stop and then just say it again. Or swear, and then say it again, if you’re me.
With the rock ‘n’ roll method, if you make a mistake, you stop and the engineer ‘rolls’ back (I’m assuming the name comes from the Jurassic days of tape!), replays a line or two, and you jump in at the right point (hoping you don’t make the same mistake again).
I’m told the advantages to rock ‘n’ roll for the producer are:
1. Less time spent editing, so fewer editing costs – but surely there is an increased studio cost, because I think everyone agrees that recording with the rock ‘n’ roll method takes longer.
2. The reader ‘matching’ the previous tone seamlessly. Um... hire the right readers! A good reader should be able to pick up the same tone, particularly as s/he is saying it again straight away.
The advantage of rock ‘n’ roll to the reader is, in my opinion - nothing!
The thing I like least about rock ‘n’ roll is the psychological effect. I’m a pretty fluent reader. When I make a stumble, it’s usually something that I’ll stumble over several times in a row (why is “special space telescopes” so hard to say?!). With fluff and repeat, I just run at it and get it right after a couple (or seventeen) goes, leaving the editor to remove all evidence of my shame. If I have to be played in, it can turn into a nightmare – I’m like a skittish horse approaching a hurdle, and I tense up each time.
Also, I think rock ‘n’ rolling breaks the flow. I find it much easier to keep the mood of whatever’s going on if I don’t have to wait for the engineer to reset. And heaven help you if you have a slow engineer! That can be very crabby-making.
I’d love to know what other narrators think and which method they prefer – am I alone in this?
photo by Motomboe
photo by Motomboe