Our production assistant, Darlene Sterling, sat down with our audio producer, Ok Hee Kolwitz, to bring you a behind-the-scenes interview. Read on to learn how Living Language courses are cast, recorded, and produced.
Written by: Darlene Sterling
I shadowed Ok Hee for a total of seven minutes to ask her eight questions about her role in the process of producing the audio portion of Living Languages.
Ok Hee, how do you teach strangers to pronounce your name?
It rhymes with Okey-Dokey. People mispronounce my name all the time. Once, I had a colleague call me O.K. Another time, I had a narrator call me Mr. Hee.
Does it bother you that people regularly mispronounce your name?
No. English is my second language. I was born in South Korea and moved to the US nearly two decades ago. Ok Hee isn’t a traditional American name. So, people tend to mispronounce it. It’s part of the learning curve when learning a foreign language. I’m familiar with this because I need to learn a new language, monthly.
Why do you need to learn a new language monthly?
I’m the Audio Producer for Living Language. And that means finding the right people for creating each language course, giving them the tools and information they need, facilitating the process, making it happen, letting it happen, and owning the final results.
What’s the most challenging part of your job? Ok Hee smiles before answering…
How long does it normally take to cast for Living Language?
That depends on the language.
This is the point where I explain to Ok Hee that playing coy isn’t allowed. Please elaborate…
Arabic took twelve weeks. Greek and Hebrew took six weeks. Hindi took three weeks to cast four fluent narrators. Happy?
Maybe… When do you begin casting for any given language and what do you look for in potential narrators?
I start the moment the language is announced for production. Casting is a challenge. I look for narrators who have a clear voice and great diction. I guide the direction of their voice too. I ask all of my narrators to project a friendly and energetic voice during recording. I like the casting portion of my job as I get to meet narrators from other countries.
What do you do the day of recording?
This morning, I’m meeting with Bruce. He will direct and engineer the session today. We will discuss logistics for Hindi, including: who’s coming in for the day, what parts they’re reading, the performance we want from them, and how I want the scripts to be marked for editing.There are so many components of Living Language. It’s important for everyone involved to be on the same page before the narrator arrives.
What happens after recording has wrapped?
As Audio Producer, my job doesn’t end. I listen to the previous day recording for quality control and manage post production. Another part of my job is to communicate with other members of the team. And I produce online audio assets for Living Language. It’s my top priority to release the best product.
Just for fun – do you have a favorite phrase? (Ok Hee tried to say “sim” which means yes in Brazilian/Portuguese but I wasn’t sure if “yes” counted so I asked the question again).
Domo. Sometimes it means ‘thank you’. Sometimes it means ‘excuse me’. Sometimes it means ‘I’m sorry’. It also means ‘long time no see’ in Japanese.