Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

A Chair Fit For a Narrator

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

August 9, 2010

Comments (9)

Simon Vance's chairDo you sit or stand when you record?

While most voice over talent prefer to stand to record commercials and shorter projects, what do you do when you have to sit and record an audiobook, a 75,000 word iPhone app or a training manual for a large corporation?

Standing does give you a number of benefits, however, sometimes standing for too long can be impractical and could possibly even affect your read.

Find out what some voice over professionals consider to be the makings of a perfect voice over chair in today's VOX Daily.

Standing VS Sitting

Although not every voice artist sits in a chair when performing, you may find that investing in a solid office chair is a great idea for a number of reasons especially when you consider how much time is spent editing, producing or going about your daily work outside of actual voice over recording.

That, and you might end up booking an audiobook!

What what might the ideal office chair embody?

If I had to choose, three of my top requirements would be that the chair is sturdy, comfortable and quiet.

For you, the criteria may look a little bit different. Perhaps a good chair is no chair at all!

What Many Voice Talent Are Doing

When I asked people in the Voices.com Facebook group about the kind of office chair they used while recording long form narration, this is what I heard:

"Whether a two minute gig, or a day long job, I always stand even if my feet are killing me at the end of the day. I love to stand and work. Sitting makes me edgy and I really like to use my body when I work. So it's no chair for me, just a nice fluffy sheepskin rug under my bare feet when I record."

-- Jonathan Tilley

Others favored the tall stool, including Robert Ready who said, "For ads and other short (under 5 minute) pieces I actually get the best results standing, better breath control. I use a tall stool for longer-form (audiobooks/narration) gigs."

"None for me. I stand. I'd like to sit, but I breathe so much better standing. Comes from years of singing, I suppose."

-- Donna J. Shepherd

"Well I actually stand. Right now I can't fit a chair in my closet, but if I could it would be one that could be raised high."

-- Earnest Johnson Jr.

"I prefer standing as well, but when forced to sit, the best chair is a quiet chair."

-- Diane Havens

"I'm a stander, too. Like with singing, it just allows for better control and technique. But for editing... it's all about a cozy seat with good back and neck support! Especially if you're spending hours between speakers or under headphones, you're going to need something that minimizes the inevitable fatigue."

-- Dana Detrick

"I played French Horn, so I can breath just fine sitting down. But you have to sit up really straight and can't lean back. You have to sit forward in your chair, or sit on a stool. I sit on an old wood piano stool. It used to creak a little if I shifted my weight too much, so I re-glued the legs and it seems to be ok now. My piano stool is padded. It was my wife's grandmother's piano stool and is older than I am."

-- Jerome Santucci

Not quite a stool or a bench, Greg Phelps shared that he prefers the Salli Saddle chair. I took a look at the site and can appreciate why it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but so far as Greg is concerned, "It's awesome... it may look a little different but the results are nothing short of incredible."

"Always better when I stand while performing a gig."

-- John Bigl

"At the radio station I sit during a shift but in the recording studio I like to stand. I like the bar stool idea for my home studio. I too have a great office chair for my editing time."

-- Eric Espinosa

"I sit in a nice comfy leather executive computer chair. It doesn't make any noise, and it's, well... comfortable."

-- Dave Smith

"No chair at all - standing always helps me breathe better!!!"

-- Anne Ganguzza

"I sit and stand, depending on what I am voicing. Otherwise I have a computer chair that my neighbor was throwing away that I took the back off of. It makes it easier for me to slide it right under my desk and give me more space to move around when voicing my scripts when I stand."

-- Brad Dassey

"Well, my main chair is one of those executive type high backed things with arms, BUT, some of my best work has been done on a 'ball.' Call it a birthing ball or an exercise ball! It's a big ball that lets you move... they are really good for posture! Just a tad difficult to get the positioning right in relation to the mic!"

-- Carole Richards

What Some Narrators Are Doing

As I sought answers to the question of what one sits on when recording long form narration, it occurred to me that sharing the views of the audiobook community would do us some good and prove interesting as well.

Sean Crisden shared, "Call me old fashioned, but I alternate between a wooden stool with a padded seat cushion (proper posture anyone?) to an armless padded office chair. Depends on my mood I guess, although my mood has been preferring the padded office chair for a while now. Granted, it took some time to find a chair that didn't favor adding its own background sound fx to a read. Chair testing and WD-40 are your friend. I'm waiting for the purists who claim that the only way to narrate an audiobook is by standing! I can do plenty of arm flailing and physical emoting sitting down with good posture, thank you!"

Simon Vance added, "I used to use one of those kneeling stools as it prevented back ache... but somehow I got over the aching back thing (I learned to relax) and now I use an office chair. I did try a nice padded executive chair, but as another correspondent has indicated, those have a habit of developing a squeak. So now I use a VERY solid, standard, four legged, padded chair that will never develop a squeak in my lifetime... I hope. It was not expensive, around $100 from Office Depot I think, a couple of years ago."

If you've been wondering whose chair is gracing this article, it is the very same chair that Simon records in and described in his quote.

Ann Richardson remarked, "I use a cheapo tall wood-laminate chair from IKEA to record, and when I edit, I have to leave my recording space, and then I sit on one of those big exercise balls."

Dan Deslaurier shared, "As for me, I'm still standing in my 'sanctum' (fans of the Shadow pulp novels will know what I mean.) My goal is to design a studio space with the hardwood armchair we currently use at our computer table--very comfortable, with great back support which enables better posture for breathing and reading!"

Johnny Heller replied, "I have a swell desk chair that doesn't hurt too much but any chair bugs me after I've been in it for a long time. Sadly, I can't fit a La-Z-Boy in the studio. Today I was at a studio with a brand new office chair with padded armrests that squeaked every time my arm hit them... so don't get armrests!"

While the scent of WD40 isn't everyone's cup of tea, your chair may require some oiling every now and then.

Andre Stojka offered, "I'm usually leaning toward the mike so a really comfortable chair doesn't do me any good. What I need most is a QUIET chair... something that doesn't squeak or make any noise if I move slightly. I've solved the problem in my own studio with a liberal dose of WD40. I used to stand and I still stand when recording commercials at studios but I have taken to sitting for most animation and audiobooks."

Enter the Comedians

"I always use an up-ended orange crate studded with nails pointing up. Keeps me alert."

-- Yuri Rasovsky

"I alternate between standing and sitting--mostly standing because of better breath control and freedom of movement... and when sitting I choose a chair with an extra wiiiide bottom for my extra wiiide bottom."

-- Herb Merriweather

"I stand up! Haven't gotten a gig yet... Maybe I should sit down! When editing, I sit in a comfortable executive chair, much like the one you're in right now."

-- Steve Easley

What About You?

Do you stand or sit? If you sit, what are you sitting on and why?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

Photo courtesy of Simon Vance

Related Topics: acting, animation, audio recording, chairs, French, iPhone, Narrators, radio, sitting, standing, voice overs


Comments


    For me, a kneeling chair works best. It encourages you to find your natural balance line which runs in a line from your ear, to shoulder, to hips and ankle when you are seated.

    I especially like the fact that it enables the diaphragm to move efficiently, and it promotes better breathing and blood circulation.

    This chair also relieves compression of the spine and its discs as well as tension in the lower back and leg muscles.

    Most people have to get used to a kneeling chair because they're so accustomed to sitting on more traditional chairs. I love it because it gets me in the perfect position, somewhere between standing up and sitting down.

    Posted by:

      I like my big soft executive chair for editing.....might as well be comfortable......but if I sit recording it's a solid wood chair.

      Posted by:
      • Fred Corcoran
      • August 10, 2010 10:07 AM

        I'm a stander too, even for long narrations. I have a foam anti fatigue mat. I find I can breathe better when standing.

        Posted by:
        • Kim Somers
        • August 10, 2010 3:27 PM

          Thanks so much for using my quote in the latest VoxDaily! I was so psyched to see it! WOW! Glad that I could help:-)

          Have a great day and keep up the great work. It is so good to get all the updates and never stop learning!

          Best,

          Jonathan Tilley

          Posted by:
          • Jonathan Tilley
          • August 10, 2010 3:51 PM

            I have a bad hip, so sitting in a comfortable chair is the way for me. Besides, I am working toward a career in long form narration such as audio books, documentaries or e-learning.

            Posted by:
            • Darla Middlebrook
            • August 11, 2010 6:25 PM

              I find I have more energy can give a better performance when I stand. I tend to get a bit lethargic when sitting, especially over long periods of time.

              Posted by:

                I'm pretty new to VO, well new but not pretty... anyway I agree with others: movement helps. My Ikea swivel chair argues noisily with this, despite WD40, so it will be stand-up comedy for now, then a bar stool or a tall kneeler (any such thing?) when bookings get longer. Oh, and probably a headset mike so the body-language is not so derriere-centric if you picture what I mean.

                Posted by:

                  Standing seems to work better -- so I always stand for normal sized work.
                  It's not just for breath control -- but also allows for move arm and body movement, which sometimes helps the performance.

                  Really long form material -- a long narration for a medical study comes to mind, I sat on a solid but standard folding chair.

                  I did a film narration recently --long form but I stood -- and did it in sections.

                  Posted by:

                    Standing while letting it roll.....in front of my computer just to read the script. I kneel while I edit.

                    Posted by:

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