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July 15, 2007

Fancy yourself a writer?

At times, I do. I've published my article Getting Started in Voiceovers at This Is By Us.

Here's an opportunity to get paid for your scribbling; simply click the link below, set up your account, and start publishing your best work.

thisisby.us. Write for the World. Get Paid.

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July 05, 2007

Passing the Savings on to You? Part III

A final thought on this topic (for now, anyway). Here's a quote from John Rushkin, a British Author, Critic, Philosopher and Artist, from the late 19th century:

"There is hardly anything in the world that someone can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper - and people who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey."

As true now as ever.

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July 03, 2007

SouthEast Film Association

The fine folks at SEFA, or SouthEast Film Association, were kind enough to list me as one of their featured Voice Talents, and even whipped up a nifty YouTube video featuring my demos.

If you don't mind staring at my mug for three minutes or so, go check it out...

 

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Passing the Savings on to You? Part II

My previous post, and its topic, reminded me of another online article I'd read recently. Talk It Up! is a busy, well-written blog helmed by Heidi Miller, a professional speaker who gives in-booth presentations at trade shows for clients all over the world. In the post in question, Heidi (ahem) talks up a website which offers free voiceovers to podcasters and others.

To be fair, Heidi isn't trying to sell anyone on the notion that it's useless to pay big bucks for VO talent when it can be had for free; she's careful to point out that the site in question is performing a kind of "public service" by offering voice services gratis to those who may simply not have a budget for professional VO.

Which, I say with no facetiousness or sarcasm, is all well and good. Still, I felt compelled to toss in my $0.02; while I know that Heidi isn't out to hurt the voiceover industry, it occured to me that a blog piece titled "Free Voiceovers!" ought to be counter-balanced. My response at the blog:

Just weighing in on this topic.

First off, let me say that as a professional VO artist, I have no problem with others in our business who occasionally work gratis or "pro bono" when it suits them. Sometimes scripts are just too much fun to pass up, sometimes one may believe strongly in an organization's message or cause. Still, most pro VO folks know that our business isn't like retail; loss-leaders don't bring in more traffic.

Non-profit organizations were referenced earlier as a kind of entity worthy of free VO services, but --- just to take things a step further --- even non-profits have budgets, even if they may be relatively smaller. In those cases, a VO artist should be willing to work at a reduced rate, but not an unreasonable one.

Most VO artists I know, myself included, make it a general rule not to work for free unless
everyone involved is also going unpaid. I've worked on projects like that, especially when it appeals to me personally.

Voice artists at the "beginner" stage can help alleviate this problem by...well, not being beginners. That is, they need to be ready to provide professional-value service before opening up shop. As Stephanie mentioned above, there are plenty of ways for the VO to gain experience without giving away the store.

I'm not here to condemn RD or any other outlet that provides free voiceovers; however, I think that the words "caveat emptor" are important to remember --- both for voice artists and their clients.

Many thanks for the soapbox!

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July 02, 2007

Passing the Savings on to You?

I recently happened across this instructional video at Digital Juice, aimed at giving video producers some pointers on getting the best possible VO recordings. 

It's worth viewing, in that it has lots of good technical tips on basic recording techniques. Unfortunately, the entire theme of the video is summed up at the end: "[Your clients] will probably be pleasantly surprised by your results, and happy not to have to shell out any extra cash for voiceover talent."

To a voiceover artist, the preceding quote evokes this initial reaction: them's fightin' words.

Producers at whom this video is aimed need to realize that hiring professional voice talent is money well spent, and that it will actually save money in the long run. Those producers who are experienced in this arena will tell you that it ends up costing even more money (by way of lost time) when the initial VO is sub-par, because then you're under the gun to complete the project, you've got to find a bona fide VO who just happens to be available immediately, and you end up paying established rates anyway.

Another thing for producers to realize is that it doesn't take a "Hollywood-sized budget" as mentioned by the instructor. There are professional VO artists who will pro-rate their fee after a certain number of pages, and may even offer a kind of "goodwill discount" if asked nicely enough. (This doesn't, however, make it okay to offer $50 for an hour-long narration, as suggested in one of the comments on the page.) 

Having said all that, the video does have solid information on noise reduction, the way a voice track fits into different kinds of projects, and --- this is crucial --- finalizing the script. Unfortunately, pieces of advice like "make sure you understand how to read the script" and "don't drink a milkshake before recording your VO" are unnecessary; professional voice artists show up already knowing this information. (Using a pro VO also makes it unnecessary to use "4" in place of "for" in a script --- an actual suggestion from the video.)

Finally, on a geekier note: the caption next to the graphic of the EV RE20 mic lists it as a "condenser", even though it's a dynamic mic. (The Neumann U87, shown previously, is correctly identified.)

 

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