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Punch and Roll

Why I Never Punch And Roll for Voice Over

Punch and Roll for Voice Over

When the voice over talent makes a mistake, using non-destructive recording in DAWs like ProTools, Cubase, or Reaper, one can roll back a few seconds before the flub and then ‘punch in’ the recording starting where the mistake was made. On Adobe Audition CC 2017 and 2018 it’s possible with this new Add-On created by Travis Baldree.  That’s “Punch and Roll” recording. It’s been around from back in the analogue recording days, but it’s a prevalent technique for Audio-books and matching sound to picture. Every voice over talent should be experienced in working in such recording sessions, and it takes extra concentration to work in this non-linear fashion. An on-camera talent can’t ‘punch in’ on the video or film quite as quickly, as the whole studio needs to reset: the camera, lighting, dolly, grips, etc.

Does Punch and Roll Save Time?

The idea in voice over is that Punch and Roll saves editing time. But does it? Yes and no. Depends on the production workflow and application.

If the talent makes a mistake or does three takes, you can either:
1.) Make one edit quickly as you review the files.

2.) Set up a Punch and Roll recording for each of the three takes.

My experience has been that Punch and Roll takes a bit longer than recording and then editing. Even when doing a session with a dedicated engineer running Punch and Roll on the DAW, those sessions can take much longer than if the client just keeps a log of the keeper takes. However, when it’s an issue of having to hit precise timing, Punch and Roll is great when working with a dedicated audio engineer in the voice over studio. And then it does save production time considerably. I’m comfortable and experienced with working in this fashion.

How I Record for my Voice Over Clients

If you or your hired editor doesn’t have time to review the whole file, then I suppose Punch and Roll is the only option. I only send files to a client that have been listened to from beginning to end (even if at 2x speed for long E-Learning Narrations). When a client is paying for a finished audio file, it must be reviewed and proofed comprehensively. There is also no guarantee that the new Punch and Roll take is done seamlessly in a way that sounds natural. It should still be reviewed afterward. In the case of full-time Audio Book narrators that have the process down cold, I defer to their ability to work this way.

However, there’s another big reason why I don’t Punch and Roll when recording at my studio for my clients. And honestly, it’s the deal-breaker for me.

Are you hiring a voice over talent or an engineer? If a talent is critiquing everything they record as they say it, they’re not in the moment as a voice over talent. Talents catch the obvious mistakes and pick them up. And I know how to make pick ups with the exact tone and volume on the fly. Headphones are for the talent to listen to direction, not to themselves! While today’s voice over talent should be competent in being able to record and edit their own work for clients, simultaneous multitasking is detrimental to solid voice acting performances. And I write this from my experience as full time audio engineer before becoming a full time voice over talent.

Punch and Roll sessions can be a fun challenge and I enjoy working that way with a dedicated engineer; but in my own recording studio, that’s just not how I (punch and) roll.

All the best,
Lance