Welcome to the Pozotron Spotlight Series, where we showcase remarkable individuals in the audiobook and voice-over industry who are making a significant impact.
Below, we are getting to know George Whittam from GeorgeThe.Tech.
1. To start, please tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I'm originally from Pennsylvania near the Philadelphia area. I have a music degree from Virginia Tech. I also studied communications, media production, and audio technology. So, I have a very diverse background in audio. I also spent years in studios doing live sound events.
I then moved to L.A. and started doing film production sound. I tried a bit of everything and eventually, voiceover was really what stuck after getting a few key clients. They made it clear that this should be something that I should be doing since no one else was. That's what I've been doing since 2005 and this is when I got serious about it.
The branding has changed a few times over the years, but since 2017, we’ve been known as George the Tech. I say “we” because we're a team of technicians and we consider ourselves to be performer-friendly techs.
We are people who work well with performers of all kinds, voiceover actors, narrators, podcasters, and other types of performers who rely on a home studio.
2. Can you share a bit more about how you've gotten to be one of the leaders in technology for voiceover and narration?
With the variety of things I was doing, I was trying to find a niche in a field that was going to be a business that I could grow.
I was also a broadcast engineer for a major radio station in Philadelphia that covered the Eagles football games for a few years. I was at all the games, running the sound from the booth, and dealing with ISDN technology, which became a staple of voiceover studios for many years, until a couple of years ago.
I became very familiar with all these different elements of the technology that was used in voiceover studios for many years.
The bottom line was learning about how to make it sound great in a home environment. And oftentimes, that home environment required being in a really small space, like a closet or a small isolation booth, where the quality of the audio was always a compromise.
I've spent years now trying to get a great-sounding recording when people are stuck in small spaces. I've helped well over 4,000 people with various things from checking the audio quality or the recordings to designing the studio completely from the ground up.
For me, technology has always been a part of all of it, more from the audio-engineering side. Such as making the audio engineering not intimidating for the performer, the audiobook narrator, or whoever it is that has to self-record and make that as simple as possible.
So, that's been a big goal. It's easy to geek out and we have fun talking gear, but at the end of the day, it has to sound good and it has to be easy to use. Otherwise, it will just get in the way.
3. How has your knowledge influenced your approach to narration and voice-over work?
I'm one of the few people in my business who doesn't do voiceover work myself.
I've just been hyper-focused on this role of being this technical advocate to the narrator and voice actor. Having worked with so many different people, I've gotten to understand what it's like to be them and listen to their troubles.
I would say my approach is making sure the technology is always supporting what the end goal is but never is there for the sake of it. We're not running commercial recording studios. We're not trying to impress clients with a big impressive rack of equipment. That is not what an actor needs.
They need a way to capture their audio cleanly, efficiently, and reliably, with as few steps as possible so that they can get that audio produced and send it off to the client in whatever form they want. That's influenced the way I work with people because I just want them to get a direct route to a solution.
I don't want a lot of extraneous learning. On the technical side, I will always find ways that avoid as much technical training as possible. There's no good reason to learn all the finer points of audio engineering that I've spent 25 years learning and mastering, especially when their job is the overall performance.
I like to fill in all those gaps either the knowledge or tools and techniques that I can build for them that solve their problem.
We all know about the home studio revolution - that's already happened. But there are more and more tasks being expected of the voice actor or the narrator in this climate where they have to do more things. Including, being a producer, editor, or engineer. We need to take the frustration away from as much of that as we can.
4. Can you share some resources that have been particularly helpful throughout your career?
I learn through many different mediums.
Beyond going to Virginia Tech, where I went to school and studied audio, I learned from some great books over the years, most of them pretty technical.
Nowadays, I’ve learned through some very common methodologies, which would be finding people who have tried or done things before me on YouTube and other video streaming platforms.
I also interned and worked for other people to support them. That way, I was able to learn from them on the job.
I will also learn from other people by having meetings with them, consulting with them, and even hiring them to solve problems for me. That way, I can learn how they solved it.
Finding mentors in areas where they were 25 years ahead of me in learning very specific skills has probably been one of my most powerful ways to advance.
Also, spending time in professional forums where highly skilled people tend to congregate and figure out who are the experts and listen to those folks.
Now, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I'm on a few myself. And that's really where I would say I learn the most on an ongoing basis.
5. You have expertise in helping people with their home studio setup. What is one piece of advice you would give voice actors when it comes to setting up their studio?
I always start with acoustics. My analogies are that acoustics is for recording audio what lighting is for photography. You're not going to get a good image without good lighting. You're not going to get good audio without good acoustics.
Lately, I've been talking more about ergonomics. The key to having a good, consistent audio quality and recording technique is getting the script in the right place first. That means making sure it's at the right height and making sure it's easy to read at the right distance.
Once you figure that out, then know where you need to look. It’s more natural when you're not craning, bending your head, and looking down or up too much.
So, start with the script first, then figure out where the microphone needs to be, so it will still capture clean audio without obstructing your view of your script or getting in the way.
This is such a huge confusion. People see stock photography, and pictures of people in studios every day, with the microphones right in front of the singer's or performers’ faces. They're seeing all this stuff that's not in context with what real professional voice actors and narrators do.
Once your script is in the right place, then your microphone placement will become more apparent because now it's not about the mic, it's actually about the script. You have to be comfortable and it has to be something set up that's there consistently.
That way, each time you do an audition or do a recording, there's consistent sound quality. That's what's going to get you a lot of repeat work.
6. When it comes to your business, is there anything you are excited about in the near future or anything you’d like to share?
I'm most excited about being able to support people because we have a growing team here. It’s not just me anymore. We have a bunch of folks who specialize in a lot of different areas.
I have learned that I don't necessarily want to learn a lot of new things. So, I bring in folks who have learned certain things and have them supplement my knowledge.
I feel like we are, as a company, still scratching the surface because almost everybody is only English-speaking. We have one person on our team who is trilingual. Our goals are to be able to reach a larger audience in multiple languages and support more people.
I have a partner who speaks English as her second language, so I'm more sensitive to folks who speak other languages. I just want to support them. There are millions of people out there who don't know about our services yet and could benefit from them.
I think that's what I'm excited about. Reaching more people, figuring out more ways to help, and providing more unique services. There's just so much more we can do.
7. And finally, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
My name is my address. I try to make it pretty easy. GeorgeThe.Tech is the company website.
There are a couple of ways to reach out to us. We just have the basic Contact Us form, but we also have a first-timer area on the website. If you go there, you can provide us with more details about what your needs are. We have a member of our team, named Rich, who reads every single one of those submissions and decides what you need. It's almost like a concierge for support.
Lastly, if you just have emergency technical issues, we have 24-hour phone support. If you call our phone number, 1-424-226-8528, you will get a live human dispatch that takes your call, gets your info, and then directs you to some of our most talented techs. It's an incredible service. We have helped a lot of people through this platform.
The bottom line is we are GeorgeThe.Tech and we're also that on all the socials. So you should always be able to find us and reach out.