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May 30, 2011

New (Old) Music

For any readers who didn't know, I'm a musician as well as a voiceover talent. Here's a new recording of an acoustic instrumental I wrote years ago. Hope you like!




(It's available for download, too, for only $0.99. In the player above, just click "Options", then "Store". Thanks!)

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May 03, 2011

Cipher Complex

Get a gander at this great clip of a game I gabbed on, as a guard, grunter, and groaner. Got it? Good.



Cipher Complex isn't a fully developed game; in fact, it unfortunately didn't make its way into full production. This clip is a vertical slice, or a gameplay demo for the early development stage. I did my work under the direction of the fabulous DB Cooper.

Even though this title didn't see store shelves, I'm still thrilled to be in the company of great voice talents like Anthony Mendez (Cipher), Philip Banks (bad guy General Kim), and DB, who appropriately voices Mission Control. Kevin Genus also gets guard and grunt duty here.

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April 17, 2011

Neil Gaiman Audiobook Contest


Harper-Collins Publishers are sponsoring a contest to award a speaking role in the upcoming American Gods: 10th Anniversary Edition audiobook. The first round of finalists will be selected by user votes; I've thrown my hat into the ring and, apart from simply announcing the news, I'm rather shamelessly asking for your vote!

There are hundreds of entrants, so to hear my audition and cast a vote for me, just click here and do the following:

  1. Click the 'Vote' tab.
  2. Type "dhvoice" in the Search field and go.
  3. Vote!

Also, you can vote once a day, so I hope you'll return and give me a nod again. Thanks!

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March 31, 2011

That's Easy For *You* To Say.

This segment from Wednesday's The Rachel Maddow Show serves to remind that, even (especially?) for those of us who talk for a living, some words and names are more problematic than others:


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


I have to say, it's oddly comforting to know that I'm not alone in my regionally-specific social requirement to willfully mispronounce certain names and places: In Austin alone, "Manchaca" is "man-shack" and "Guadalupe" is "gwad-a-loop" (yes, even those who speak Spanish properly are compelled to use the "incorrect" but more common forms). I have fond memories of a novice newsman at a radio station getting his hand figuratively slapped over saying "Bexar County" just as it appears --- which is incorrect, as Bexar is properly said "Bay-er".

Rachel, I thoroughly and completely feel your pain regarding "procurement". I can say it easily and quickly now, but that's because it once gave me the same fits, prompting me to practice it over and over again until it sounded natural. (Yes, folks, this is what voiceover performers do. All of us have the occupational hazard of our own collection of a few relatively basic English words that mangle our tongues and make us sound like we're still learning the language.)

I use the Merriam-Webster pronunciation guide myself quite a bit; it's not only a lifesaver for tricky "everyday" words, but the handy "Medical" tab seems tailor-made for those of us who do a lot of medical narration.

(Voice talents --- and anyone else interested --- here's the link to the Voice of America pronunciation guide.)

RELATED POST: Y'all are Fixin' to Git an Education.

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March 25, 2011

A Compact Lifespan

I still remember vividly when CDs were introduced as a sonic savior for music, promising to obliterate forever the crackle-and-pop of the vinyl album, and along with it the hiss and limited frequency range of the cassette tape.

I'm dating myself, to be sure, but my first introduction to the new format was on MTV in 1983, when Martha Quinn held up a prototype shiny disc and touted its promise. At the time, CD players weren't readily available in my area --- and those that were cost hundreds of dollars. I could be wrong, but as I remember it, there weren't even any commercial titles that I could go and buy.

Here's a promotional video, likely from '84 or '85, produced by Philips.


Before I got into VO as a career, I worked for a few years at a CD production company. We didn't manufacture the actual disc, but we did take spindles of pre-produced artists' discs and assembed them with the cover art and jewel boxes --- a mostly automated process that required a large robotic machine that I babysat and occasionally had to fix. (It's probably why I can't get enough of TV shows like How It's Made and Factory Made. But I digress.)

Billboard reports that In 2010, sales of compact discs fell by nearly 20 percent. This takes me back to about 1987, by which time CDs had already taken hold in the marketplace, and also by which time the recording industry was well on its way to burying the vinyl album --- citing simlar sales drops.

The parallels of these stories, however, are only skin-deep. Vinyl was readily ditched by the industry not only because they could market the CD as sonically superior, but because the latter took up less space in shipping trucks and in retail stores (true enough if one forgets the brief existence of the CD longbox). The higher price of the CD ---usually at least double that of the LP and cassette --- was defended by the industry as owing to higher production costs, which they promised would fall and take retail prices with them. As the 90s rolled on, they made good on the first part of the promise but not the second.

These days, CD sales are diminishing because the price was kept high, not because the industry was in love with the mp3 --- an audio format that didn't have its own dedicated physical conveyance (at least, not one they could directly control) and which the industry was slow to figure out how to monetize.

This history lesson is brought to you by my own melancholy, and also the assumption that you find this as interesting as I do. Even if only mildly so.

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March 15, 2011

PSA - Red Cross Japanese Tsunami/Earthquake Relief


Broadcasters / media producers / webmasters: Here's a free Red Cross - Japan tsunami/quake relief PSA from Peter O'Connell.

From the audioconnell site:

The American Red Cross is now taking donations on behalf of the Japanese Red Cross – helping those people impacted by the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami in the Pacific.

This PSA, written and produced by audio’connell Voice Over Talent from content taken directly from the American Red Cross web site, is available here from audio’connell Voice Over Talent for free download and general public use at no charge by any media outlet wishing to rebroadcast this audio clip only in its entirety.

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March 12, 2011

Getting Inside the Script


When presented with a VO script, it doesn't have to be Shakespeare to warrant bringing your best acting skills to the table. In my article Getting Started in Voiceovers, I pointed out: "Whether it's a ketchup commercial, an instructional tech video, or an animated Pixar blockbuster, the skills you need to bring to the mic are those of an actor."

Dan O'Day shares this clip of Christine Coyle demonstrating just what I referred to, teaching the kind of text analysis skills needed to get inside any script. (My friend Bob Souer is one of the participants.)

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March 08, 2011

New Tools (And a Warning Label)


Having quick access to handy tools is a must for any profession, no less so for VO artists. Voice talent J. Christopher Dunn has compiled a list of Five Must-Have Online Gizmos for Your Voice-over Toolbox that you'll want to check out.

I'm no lawyer (and I won't even play one here), but I would like to add a caveat regarding item # 4, "Save the Video". It's true that services like the one mentioned can grab online video, giving you the flexibility to post it to your site/blog/YouTube etc. However, just because you can grab it doesn't mean you should. Moreover, one shouldn't assume that a client's lack of response equals a "yes" when requesting a copy of the finished item. There is some debate about this; YouTube's own user agreement essentially states that once a video is uploaded, that clip is fair game for anyone's use. However, many of the content providers have legal decrees stating quite clearly the opposite. Unless you want to be potentially caught in a legal crossfire, your best move is to stick with content for which your client has given you the go-ahead.

Okay, enough finger-wagging. Go check out the toolbox and enjoy.

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March 07, 2011

Choosing the Right Talent


While they erroneously left hiring Yours Truly off the list (*ahem*), this article does contain some excellent tips for businesses looking to hire voice talent for their projects.

Additionally, Paul Strikwerda adds comments addressing the real value of hiring a genuine VO pro; it's required reading along with the main piece. (To paraphrase Paul here: to suppose that having a nice voice can make one a voice actor is to suppose that having an attractive pair of hands qualifies one to be a concert pianist.)

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February 20, 2011

Getting Started: Another Take



Wondering what it takes to get started on the right path to a career in voiceovers?

I've gotten a lot of nice feedback on my article about getting one's feet wet in the voiceover biz. Voice actor Smith Harrison has written his own superb piece on the subject of getting started in voiceovers, so I recommend you add it to your reading list if you're interested in laying the groundwork.

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February 19, 2011

Dudley & Bob



Earlier this week, I decided on a whim to slap together an intro for Dale Dudley's upcoming off-air podcast. This one won't be the "official" intro; however, Dale liked it enough to not only play it on the morning show, but to give my site a plug at the same time. This was really nice to hear, not just as a VO artist grateful for the publicity, but also as a longtime fan of the Dudley & Bob show. Here's a clip of that show segment:


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February 14, 2011

VO Scam Alert: Update

Voice talent Dave Courvoisier recently alerted the voiceover community about a scam artist, one who's been reportedly soliciting radio imaging liners and not paying for the work. Here's an update on the matter.

I had a minor exchange with this person last year. Ultimately, he didn't actually scam me out of anything (except the time taken to respond to his e-mail inquiries and provide a rate quote), but his behavior was suspicious to say the least. He contacted me requesting a quote for fully-produced liners to be used on his radio program; I gave him the quote and made it clear that partial payment up front would be required before any work was done. No reply. I followed up a month later asking if he was still interested. He replied saying he'd sent payment, which I knew was false (if for no other reason than a month had passed with no word from him). The reply was complete silence when I asked him to provide some kind of confirmation of the payment.

Dave's report seems to confirm that this guy is not to be trusted. This sort of thing is precisely the reason why, with some exceptions, several voice artists (myself included) request at least a partial payment up front for new clients.

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February 07, 2011

Free Production Tracks - No Catch.

Producers/voice artists/et al.: Need new production backing tracks without handing over the proverbial arm and leg? 

Stock20 creates high quality music for media production. If you create a free account, they'll give you a $7 store credit (which will get you one free song). I've used their music beds, and the quality of the tracks is comparable to the more expensive services.

If you use my referral link (below), we can both get an extra $7 in free music--you'll get a total of $14.

Here's how:
1) Click this link, then create a free account (it takes about a minute):

http://www.stock20.com/gvr.php?rc=65xl2nv4056asd5v2x

2) Your new account will automatically be credited with $7 (enough to get a free track).

Then you'll get an additional gift certificate by e-mail, just for creating an account. That's a total of $14 in free production music.

Note: You can be assured that Stock20.com will not give away your info. They send out one e-mail per month when they release their new songs.


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February 02, 2011

Disclaimer: Not Responsible If Your Face Gets Rocked Off.

Updated Rock Imaging VO demo. (DISCLAIMER # 2: use method for becoming cool at own risk.)

Rock Imaging VO Demo

(If the Flash player doesn't work, you can download the mp3 here.)

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January 31, 2011

The Right Coach

Excellent insight from Bob Souer on finding the right voice coach for you.

How to evaluate voiceover coaches


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January 08, 2011

Publicity, Pipes, and Perilous Thinking

So much has been written about Ted Williams in the last few days that this entry certainly appears late to the party. But, hey, this is still a voiceover blog, and the formerly-homeless baritone's story continues to unfold and gain steam.

Paul Strikwerda has written a piece on Williams sufficiently insightful and thought-provoking (and ultimately about far more than the man himself) to warrant a more dignified label than “blog post”, and I won't be attempting to top his efforts here. Nevertheless, here are a few thoughts.

After the story broke --- even before the subsequent media reports detailing Williams' less-than-angelic past emerged --- VO artists filled up boatloads of bandwidth with reactions ranging from effusive praise to grapes oh-so-sour. To that latter group, I say: debate over the various aspects of his story is fine. However, regardless of how one feels about his talent or whether he deserves the announcing jobs he's been offered, spending even a moment worrying about any voiceover career other than your own is to get on a speedy treadmill to nowhere.

After Williams was offered an announcing job by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was supposed by some that he'd taken the place of an existing employee, who was probably cast aside callously so that the franchise could garner a share of the growing publicity. I'm confident that, were this the case, ESPN and other sports media outlets would be all over it like the fatigues sported by Williams in that first viral video. So far, I haven't seen any such reports.

For any still concerned that Williams may have unjustly taken (or, if you prefer, been granted) any jobs that might have gone to a “more deserving” VO artist --- ones equipped with an agent, a home studio, lots of C-notes spent on training and coaching --- consider something for a moment. It's already happening. It's been happening. It's going to continue to happen. “It”, of course, is the hiring of voice talents who might just not necessarily be ideal for the job. “It” occurs at all levels of the industry, from small-market radio to multimillion-dollar TV campaigns. These jobs were already being “taken” by others, and not for a moment did it ever mean that there wasn't still work to be had.

I say, hate neither the game nor the player. Embrace both and see what happens.

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December 01, 2010

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays from David Houston Voiceovers!


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November 25, 2010

Have a Great Turkey and Football Weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving from David Houston Voiceovers


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October 28, 2010

FaffCon2: Atlanta 2011!

The success of the first FaffCon event in Portland has led to FaffCon 2, coming to Atlanta in 2011. Early registration begins November 1st!

FaffCon is a voiceover "unconference"; instead of being locked in to seminar or workshop content dictated by others, you get to choose what aspect of voiceover work gets discussed/worked on/et cetera. Congrats to FaffCon's organizer, Amy Snively, on the success of the (un)conference!

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October 26, 2010

A Good Cause and a Great Voice

The concept and execution would be awesome even if it didn't feature my good friend George Washington III and his at-once-georgeous-and-authoritarian pipes. Luckily for all of us, it does. Read his blog post, then look & listen...


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October 25, 2010

JewelBeat - Free Music & Sound Effects

There aren't many dedicated sites featuring production music that's both free and royalty-free; JewelBeat.com is one such site, and there's a nice selection of short SFX as well. Definitely worth a visit if you need production elements for a quick job.

Free Music, Free Sound Effects - JewelBeat
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October 23, 2010

Political VO Demo - Updated


Click the Play button and give it a listen.

(If the Flash player doesn't work, you can download the mp3 here.)

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October 15, 2010

I'm Not an Octopus

Nor am I running for Senate in Delaware. Jury still out on witch status.

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October 01, 2010

A Top Tip Twofer from Philip Banks

In one fell swoop, international voiceoverist Philip Banks teaches you 1) how not to be a cinematographer AND 2) the elusive, magical secret to getting VO work.

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September 24, 2010

New Client: Learning House

Thanks and welcome to new client Learning House!

 

 

 

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September 20, 2010

New PSAs for National Voice Over Appreciation Month

Check out all three new PSAs for National Voice Over Appreciation Month! Dave Courvoisier put it together with 16 voice actors, including David Houston, Tricia Basanyi, Linda Ristig, Liz de Nesnera, Lee Gordon, Jody Krangle, Justin S. Barrett, Lindsay Martell, Ken Maxon, Rowell Gormon, Mike Coon, Doug Turkel, Melanie Haynes, and Daniel Wallace. Also included: David Atwood, Mahmoud Taji, Jay Sawyer, Jim Barton, Ken Maxon, Morgan Barnhart, Dan Roberts, Trish Basanyi, Andy Boyns, Bob Souer, Dave Courvoisier, Mike Roberts, Edo Peters, CC Petersen, Jodi Krangle, Ralph Hass, and Michael Schoen.

PSA 1

PSA 2

PSA 3


More info at http://www.nationalvoiceovermonth.com!

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August 28, 2010

New Client - Univision

Thanks and welcome to new client Univision!

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August 04, 2010

Animation Nation: Nailing The VO Audition

(Hat-tip to voice actor Kyle Hebert for the link.)

In this Backstage.com article, award-winning casting director Sarah Noonan and animation voiceover actor Bob Bergen (the voice of hundreds of characters from Porky Pig to Luke Skywalker) offer tips on nailing your animation audition. Required reading for anyone with an interest in cartoon VO!

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July 21, 2010

Edge Studio's Microphone Selector

While there's no substitute for trying out different mics by actually using them, the folks at Edge Studio have come up with a way to help narrow down your options before putting them to the test.

Their Microphone Selector tool lets you compare mics in various price ranges and characteristics. You can select various criteria to pare your choice down from 59 different makes and models.


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July 20, 2010

Sometimes They Let Me Get in Front of the Camera

Here are a couple of scenes I'm in, from ALTITUDE FALLING. Released today on DVD, it's set in the year 2029; I play an overworked government agent. For the full story, feel free to check out the whole film.


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July 18, 2010

The Voice of Cool

Hat-tip to Bob Souer for posting this clip, a new TV spot voiced by Donovan Corneetz. Donovan bills his work as "The Voice of Cool", and lives up to it in this spot.

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July 12, 2010

Peter Rofé on Analyzing Commercial Copy

Voice Talent Peter Rofé breaks down the art of analyzing commercial copy in this edition of the Voices.com Voiceover Experts Podcast series. Originally posted in 2007, it's a valuable resource for getting into the core of a commercial script.
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July 08, 2010

Ed Asner & Cats

When actor Ed Asner helped groom his neighbor Pat Fraley's cat, he never knew it would launch the following campaign...

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April 30, 2010

They Call Me the Working Man

I'm not going to call out anyone by name or dwell on it, nor am I going to go into any great detail about what prompted this post; still, it must be said:

If you're a voice actor who's landed several high-profile gigs, that's great.

If you're proud of the feeling that you've become your own boss in the process, that's good as well.

If you want to use those things to extol the virtues of self-employment to others, more power to you.

However, when you go about that pursuit by maligning everyone who still works a regular job for a regular paycheck --- by labeling them as morons and failures --- then you've crossed the line that separates confidence from arrogance. (That's about as politely as I can put it.)

Not only are some people simply unsuited for a life spent walking the tightrope sans net, they're also undesiring of the accompanying spotlight. The vast majority of people are content to perform the kinds of unglamorous work that keeps the engine of society moving --- cooking meals, repairing roads and bridges, explaining long division to young minds, stabilizing an injured patient, et cetera. Without these people, there'd be very little for ambitious voice-talkers to jabber about in front of a microphone. Denigrating the former reveals a stunning callousness and lack of empathy from the latter.

To recognize the value of those peoples' work is also to realize that true "self-employment" is something of a chimera: it exists as an ideal, and while it can certainly be realized to varying degrees, the truth is that we all have bosses. When I take on the job of voicing a medical narration, I'm the employee of the talent buyer. Sure, I can call myself an "independent contractor", and I'm not going to be listed on the employee rolls of that company's Human Resources department, but the simple fact is that I'm performing a service in exchange for monetary compensation. No matter how you finesse it, that's employment --- and by definition, no employee exists without an employer.

I'm reminded of a line from comedian Stephen Colbert's recent book I Am America (And So Can You): "I won't be satisfied until every American is in the top one percent".

It's a joke. Written by a comedian. Its irony is evident. Yet, it seems there are those who not only sincerely espouse it as a philosophy, but are willing to unapologetically insult those who remain in the ninety-nine percent.

For those of us with aspirations toward independence, escaping the drudgery of the day job can be a great feeling --- and I speak from experience. I remain astonished that anyone who's made that transition can somehow look back with derision and scorn at those who remain in the workaday world. Indeed, we who are possessed of the need to leave that realm should have a healthy respect and admiration for those not so cursed. To have no more complex or far-reaching a desire than to do what's needed to take care of oneself and one's family is not a condition to be mocked or ridiculed.

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April 21, 2010

Voice Actor Voices Activism

Government Employees Insurance Company (doing ...Image via Wikipedia

Didn't expect to see this today:

Sometimes you have a headline that makes the rest of the story superfluous, but here's the background. Actor Lance Baxter, otherwise known as "D.C. Douglas," currently known as the man who informs you how much GEICO can save you on car insurance, left a message last month with FreedomWorks in which he asked the group how many "mentally retarded" people it had on staff and what it would do when a tea partyer "killed someone." On April 14, FreedomWorks put his voicemail online.voices.washingtonpost.com, GEICO voice actor fired after insulting tea parties, Apr 2010

However you feel about the issues raised here, I hope we can all agree that it's a good idea to spell-check your press release. "Achilles heal"?

 

UPDATE: In-depth discussion and commentary here, and that's putting it mildly. It is, as they say, on like Donkey Kong.
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March 27, 2010

Ro' Keeps the Faith

In a previous post about my experience working on the film "ExTerminators", I included a pic of my fellow 'police officer' Ro' Black with the caption "Smart, opinionated and funny. You saw her here first." After working with her and getting to know her a bit, I had a feeling that bigger and better things were not far away for my new friend, and I don't mind bragging that I was right.

Ro' takes the lead in Keepin' the Faith: Momma's Got a Boyfriend, an indie film from Lightyear Entertainment. Serious props to Ro' on this gig; with her work ethic, talent, and personality, I suspect she'll be going from DVD releases like this to the big screen with a quickness.

Keepin' the Faith: Momma's Got a Boyfriend, starring Ro' Black
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March 24, 2010

Ninny or Ninja. You Choose.

We've all been there. Whether it's an acting audition, a presentation in front of a group of people, or any important task we want to (or have to) accomplish, all of us have confidently stepped forward only to fall firmly on our faces --- although, few of us have done it quite as firmly as actor/stuntman Mark Hicks. Observe:

If you didn't watch the clip, or even if you did, read on. You might know Hicks better by his unintended nickname "Afro Ninja". (I confess that I hadn't seen the astonishingly popular clip until the Current TV piece aired recently.) The great thing about Hicks' audition isn't that it inadvertently led to publicity and an indie film --- though those things certainly aren't bad for him --- it's that after the spectacular face-plant and subsequent crashing stumble, he got up, gave it another shot, and landed the gig. Few could have blamed him if, after the disaster, he'd left the audition while apologizing for wasting everyone's time. Instead, he managed to forget about the mistakes and deliver a performance that earned him the job.

This, naturally, is not to say that every producer or casting director will overlook mistakes of such dangerous magnitude. I'm sure some would have crossed him off the list no matter how superb a second try he turned in. But if he hadn't given it another shot, with all the confidence and skill he could muster, he'd never have known.

Remember this the next time you find yourself going blank or mangling words at an audition. If that guy was able to put that beginning out of his mind and start over, surely you can do the same. Probably without even smacking yourself in the face.

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February 19, 2010

King Lear in a Cupboard

 

 

In this Telegraph story on audiobooks, more compelling than the facts and figures on audiobook sales are the actors' insights into performing for the medium. It's a nice glimpse into the process from a decidedly British point of view, but certainly of value to Yanks and other species of voice talent.

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January 20, 2010

Help Stock20 Raise Funds for Haiti

Some readers of this blog may have seen my posts touting the virtues of Stock20.com, a great production music resource for media professionals. Now I've got an even better reason to give them a plug.

Site owner Daniel Rudd is donating $40 directly to the efforts of the Red Cross in Haiti for every "Complete Production Library" that is sold. If you're in the market for a broadcast-quality production library, now's the time to pick one up; not only is it a terrific deal for you, it will help give the people of Haiti the assistance they desperately need right now.

Stock20 will run this until Monday morning (Jan. 25th), so as not to delay the donation. Feel free to repost, share and/or blog this yourself to spread the word.

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January 14, 2010

A Pioneer Passes

"Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!"

The style may be passé, but it set the standard for announcing car shows, monster truck events, and even concert promos for decades. Jan C. Gabriel, the originator of the high-energy voice delivery for those formats, passed away this past Sunday.

He couldn't have timed it better.

Story (Chicago Tribune)

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January 12, 2010

This Bond Thing Just Won't Go Away

Just when I started to think my near-gig experience with the 007 franchise had firmly settled into the archives, a funny thing happened.

Without going into details that can't be revealed (for various official purposes): a good friend of mine and his wife were in London recently on a mini-vacation. There, she met up with a friend who works in the same rather important line of business. The talk somehow turns to my Bond near-gig, and it's learned that the London friend's boss communicates directly with Daniel Craig on a fairly regular basis.

My friend, tongue firmly in cheek, asked that Mr. Craig be informed of his inadvertent burgling of a nifty gig from a poor, hungry actor. While I have no doubt that he delivered the request properly, the way these things go, by the time it gets to Mr. Craig --- if and when it actually does --- he's likely to have been told that some sod named Davis in the city of Houston has invited him to go on a dig.

That would be in keeping with my luck regarding the whole affair.

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January 11, 2010

Objects in this Entry Less Evil Than They Appear

Voice-talker and tea-biscuit-dispenser extraordinaire Philip Banks is a lovely fellow, really. It's just that the news team putting together this story on Philip were in an incredible hurry, and managed to print a photo that would unnerve even a Bond villain.

At any rate, the piece talks up Philip's appearance at VOICE 2010, coming in June to a massive voiceover conference near you. Congrats on the press, Philip, and I promise I'LL TALK! I'LL TELL YOU WHERE THE MISSILES ARE!!!

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Jeffrey Kafer Talks VO on TV

My friend and VO colleague Jeffrey Kafer appeared on Mike Huckabee's cable show this past weekend, to talk about making the transition from day-job exile to full-time voiceover artist. He shares the segment with another guest, but Jeff is the far more telegenic and compelling of the two.

It's a great bit of self-promotion for Jeff, and it underscores the fact that working to market your VO business can pay off. Jeff had issued a press release on his blog about his jump from layoff-world to an audiobook career, and it caught the eye of the show's producers. Here's hoping it leads to more gigs for this talented voice-talker.

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December 07, 2009

Merry Christmas from the VO-BB!

It's here! Several voice actors from the VO-BB forums, including yours truly, got together to read a classic holiday tale for you. Big yuletide props to Jeffrey Kafer for initiating, organizing, and finalizing the whole shebang. Enjoy!

CAST: Philip Banks, Bob Souer, Todd Ellis, Bobbin Beam, David Houston, Peter O'Connell, Bruce Miles, DB Cooper, Donna Postel, Michael Minetree, Mandy Nelson, Dave Courvoisier, Andrew Frame, Jeffrey Kafer, Justin Barrett, Connie Terwilliger, Pam Tierney, and Tony Impieri

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November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, VO-BB!

 

 
Happy 5th Birthday to the VO-BB forum, from David Houston Voiceovers!
 

 

 

There aren't enough superlatives to describe what a tremendous online forum the VO-BB is (and nobody likes an overwritten script anyway). Therefore, I'll just ask you to join me in a hearty Congrats and Happy Birthday to the site, born five years ago today.

My pal (and creator & manager of the site) DB Cooper also deserves more thanks and salutations than I can adequately express here. Here's to many more!

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September 30, 2009

DB & Me

My good friend and VO colleague DB Cooper was in town a couple of weeks ago for the Austin Game Developers Conference. We've worked together long-distance, via phone and e-mail, but this was the first time we've actually met up in the "real world". DB and other conference-goers wrapped up the week at Guero's, so I happily crashed the party. With permission, of course.

 

Voiceover artists David Houston and DB Cooper wrap up Austin GDC '09 at a post-conference get-together.
 

 

Earlier in the week, DB shared her expertise for technology company Level 3's Red Couch interview series:

 

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September 14, 2009

Hear The (Health-Care) Bill - UPDATE

The HearTheBill.org project is getting more and more media attention, including this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC:

 

 

I also added this quote to my download page:

"It's immensely gratifying to be part of a project that takes on an important political issue without taking sides or muddying the waters. In fact, it's my hope that this will help cut through much of the misinformation about health care reform legislation. While some have criticized the project for presenting an audio version of a bill that's likely to undergo changes, to my mind that makes it all the more important to allow people greater access to the political process in real-time."
~David Houston

You can hear my contribution here.

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September 04, 2009

Hear the (Health Care) Bill

 

 

 

It's complete! HR3200, also known as the health-care reform bill that's dominated the news of late, has been put into audio form with a little bit of help from yours truly. HearTheBill.org is a project started by voiceover artists Diane Havens and Kat Keesling, and it allows those interested in the debate to hear the entire bill word-for-word --- or even just the parts they're concerned about. It's a non-partisan project, and whatever your feelings are about the proposed legislation, it's a great resource for anyone interested.

You can hear my nine-page contribution here

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July 10, 2009

New DHV Promo Video

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June 24, 2009

Audiobook Wisdom

Voiceover greats Marc Cashman and Pat Fraley lend their insights on audiobook performance to a new article at Backstage.com. Highly recommended reading!

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June 21, 2009

"Land of the Lost" Audition

 

Land of the Lost (2009)
 

 

This past January, I auditioned for a voice role (Library Skull) in the Will Ferrell movie Land of the Lost. I didn't land the gig --- that honor went to voice actors Adam Behr and Daamen Krall --- but it was fun to give it a go.

Here's my original audition if you're interested. (mp3)

 

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June 18, 2009

Joan Baker Endorses Neumann

 

Veteran voiceover artist Joan Baker
 

(from Voice Over Times)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 2009: As the manufacturer of the high-end vocal microphones that have been integral to the voiceover industry since its inception, Neumann is pleased to announce its endorsement of Joan Baker.

In an amazing career that now spans two decades, Joan Baker has been “the voice” for hundreds of programs, promos, and commercials in TV, film, and radio. Her clients include ABC News, American Express, and ESPN, among countless others of equally high profile.

Read More...

 

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June 10, 2009

Saving Money with Cheap VO? Think Again

This clip is presented not for purposes of poking fun at amateur VO performance, but rather to show that a good concept can fail when poorly executed:

Hiring a voiceover pro, in my humble opinion, would have made this presentation an unqualified success.

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May 27, 2009

Deliverin' the Funny

The 2nd episode of Mutha Mae's Bringin' the Funny is up! The miracle of childbirth probably shouldn't be NSFW, but we made sure of it this time. Hold your applause, please.

Like our comics? Check out Brad Meehan and Kurt Ramos at their sites.

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May 26, 2009

Audiobooks Silenced?

 

 

 

 

Audiobooks have been hailed as an ever-expanding market for voice artists to tap into, but recent numbers are telling a disturbingly different tale. A recent AP article notes that audiobook sales for 2009 are down 20 per cent from last year, with publishers seeing a whiplash-inducing 47 per cent drop in revenue from the medium.*

What's causing the audiobook to lose ground? Clive Young at ProSoundNews cites the ever-growing list of alternate media options, combined with popular titles' higher price tags compared to their paper counterparts. However, Young also suggests ways in which social media could play a role in reviving the format.

Information and entertainment mediums of all types are undergoing radical changes these days, and the audiobook appears to be no exception.

 

 

 

*The article notes that the Nielsen scan data used doesn't take digital downloads into account, but publishers are still not optimistic about the overall trend.

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May 22, 2009

Press Release: Professional Voiceover Talent David Houston Signs with Ryan Artists Talent Agency

Professional voice over talent David Houston has agreed to be represented by Ryan Artists talent agency.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


May 22, 2009 – Professional voice over talent David Houston has agreed to be represented by Ryan Artists talent agency, it was announced today.

Ryan Artists, Inc., is the only full-service union-franchised talent agency in Oregon, operating in the Pacific Northwest since 1981. In addition to voice over, the agency represents models and actors in the areas of fashion, lifestyle, and on-camera, working with numerous regional and national clients in a variety of markets.

With this new partnership, Mr. Houston adds to his representation in Texas, California, Louisiana and New Mexico by The Atherton Group (TAG) Talent Agency.

"I'm excited to be partnering with Ryan Artists. Already having the strongest and most active representation in the South and West regions of the country with TAG, I wanted to expand my marketing and business opportunities to other areas as well", said Houston. "With Ryan, I can rest assured that my representation in the Northwest is being handled by top-notch professionals."

David Houston (davidhoustonvoice.com) is a voiceover artist, actor, and audio producer based in Austin, TX. He has been heard on numerous national TV and radio commercials, and also performs voiceovers for animation, corporate narrations, documentaries, broadcast voice imaging, audio books, podcasts and messaging on-hold (MOH). Houston was originally cast as the voice of James Bond in Activision's "Quantum of Solace" videogame. Also an on-camera actor, David Houston has appeared in episodes of the network TV series "Friday Night Lights", and will also appear in the upcoming feature films "Ex-Terminators" and "Temple Grandin".

Media Contacts:
David Houston, David Houston Voiceovers, 512.659.0013
Liz Atherton, The Atherton Group, 512.930.9301
Sarah Catherine Sorensen, Ryan Artists, Inc., 503.274.1005

# # #

Actor and voiceover artist in Austin, TX. Warm and rich baritone/tenor, pleasant yet authoritative; from friendly, smooth, and sophisticated, to commanding and powerful, to hip and upbeat; from Guy-Next-Door to Voice-of-God.

Companies like Activision, Dell, Callaway Golf and OmniTrader have chosen David Houston Voiceovers to voice their projects.

Other clients include: Saberex, Kinetic Concepts, Inc., Powered, Inc., Rove Mobile, KFLW-FM Radio


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May 19, 2009

Bringin' The Funny, Pardo-Style

Happy to announce my debut as part of the cast of Mutha Mae's Bringin' the Funny! Enjoy:

This text will be replaced

P.S. I recorded my parts well before Saturday Night Live's Don Pardo announced his retirement from that show. Consider this a tribute of sorts.

P.P.S. Note to prospective clients: I'm not really that expensive.

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May 14, 2009

You're Doing It Wrong

 

 

 

Getting an agent to represent your voiceover career requires the following: talent, persistence, professionalism, and at least the ability to gain the slightest understanding of what a Voiceover Demo is.

Then again, this is just my opinion. Maybe you don't really need any of those things. In fact, if you're bereft of all four items, I urge you to plow forward regardless with all haste and fervor! Oh, you certainly won't land an agent, but you'll provide bloggers like me with plenty of compelling material.

By way of example, the fine folks at Voice Over Xtra bring you an e-mail transcript of a recent exchange between VO agent Roger King of PN Agency and "an aspiring voice talent". I won't spoil it, but let's just say that the latter description is probably a bit generous.

 

How NOT To Get An Agent

 

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May 13, 2009

An Appeal to Voice Overists, by Philip Banks

Don't worry, he doesn't mean you.

On second thought: yes, he does.

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April 30, 2009

Looking and Leaping Into Voiceover

Actress and author Deborah Puette gives an in-depth, first-hand look at taking the plunge into her first VO demo. Her work with producer/voice actor Ed Cunningham is also documented on video. Highly recommended!

(Courtesy of Backstage.com)

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Number Ten With a Bullet

CNN's list of "10 jobs cooler than yours" places Voice Actor at the bottom. I personally think it belongs at least in the top five.

The article lists the average annual salary at $47,000. CNN would have done well to include a disclaimer; I'm not sure how they arrived at the figure, but it's a little misleading. These are just my own estimates: about 80% of union voice actors pull in a tenth of that amount (or less). Only 10 to 15% earn the $47K listed, and the six-figure range goes to an exclusive 2%. Plenty of non-union work is available, but I'd wager that the disparity is about the same --- and since most non-union work doesn't pay residuals, the overall pie is probably smaller.

All in all, I'd still take this gig over "Storm chaser" at number 8.

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April 15, 2009

Jennifer Hale VO Showcase

My previous post referenced gaming & animation fans who can be more than a little critical of voice actors in those mediums. It's nice, then, to see fans go to the same lengths to recognize excellence in voice acting. A YouTube user compiled this series of clips featuring the exceptional work of voice actor Jennifer Hale:

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April 14, 2009

Still Think Voice Acting is Easy?

 

 

 

You may change your mind after reading this excellent article from gaming site 1up.com

Hardcore gamers are notorious for attacking "bad" voice acting in games; some of the vitriol is deserved, but a sub-par voice performance usually isn't due to a lack of talent. Working videogame actors discuss the challenges presented in this unque genre of VO.

 

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April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas: 1936 - 2009

Harry Kalas 

 

Much of today's news coverage on the passing of Harry Kalas focuses on his longtime announcer gig with the Philadelphia Phillies. For this football fan, however, it's the NFL Films productions that will never quite be the same again. He turned the narratives of week-in week-out games into grand epics, all in that signature baritone that seemed as old as the game itself (but never lost its love of the sport).

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April 10, 2009

Callaway Spots

Here are the Callaway Golf TV commercials referenced eariler this week:

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April 07, 2009

Press Release: Voiceover Artist David Houston Chosen for New Callaway Golf TV Spots

 

NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Austin, TX, United States, 04/07/2009 - Professional voice actor and audio producer David Houston provides voice in new TV spots for Callaway Golf's "Comparison" campaign.


   
 

Professional voice actor and audio producer David Houston was chosen to voice new TV spots for Callaway Golf's "Comparison" campaign.

Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY), a global manufacturer of professional-grade golf equipment, worked with Austin, TX-based multimedia company FG Squared to produce the spots. Voice actor David Houston was chosen to provide the voice for the campaign.

In the spots (which include a series of :15 and :30 second TV commercials), Houston's voiceover advises customers on Callaway's Buy-Back Guarantee and 12-month warranty when purchasing pre-owned Callaway clubs. The commercials will run on The Golf Channel™ and various outlets during the Masters Golf Tournament 2009.

Callaway Golf Company manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf accessories, under the Callaway Golf®, Odyssey®, Top-Flite®, Ben Hogan® and uPro™ brands in more than 110 countries worldwide.

David Houston (davidhoustonvoice.com) is a voiceover artist, actor, and audio producer based in Austin, TX. He has been heard on numerous national TV and radio commercials, and also performs voiceovers for animation, corporate narrations, documentaries, broadcast voice imaging, audio books, podcasts and messaging on-hold (MOH). Houston was originally cast as the voice of James Bond in Activision's "Quantum of Solace" videogame. Also an on-camera actor, David Houston has appeared in episodes of TV's "Friday Night Lights", and will also appear in the upcoming films "Ex-Terminators" and "Temple Grandin".



Link: http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/49102/
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March 02, 2009

Voiceover in Film: Yea or Nay?

Film critics may tend to frown upon VO narration in films, but The Independent's Chris Maume defends the rightful place of narration in a screenplay. It's a brief but insightful read. The author cites the film Heartburn as an example; off the top of my head, onscreen narration works well in films as diverse as 300 and Little Children.

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February 25, 2009

In a World of Inexcusable Oversights...


Actor and voiceover artist Don LaFontaine, who created and perfected the art of the movie-trailer voiceover, was inexplicably omitted from the 81st Academy Awards' montage of deceased luminaries.

 

I watched the montage of deceased luminaries on last Sunday's 81st annual Academy Awards, and couldn't put my finger on just what seemed to be missing. When it dawned on me a few moments later, I was stunned; the Academy had omitted the passing of the man who literally invented --- and then perfected --- the art of the movie-trailer voiceover. Don LaFontaine voiced over 5,000 trailers in his long career, and became the standard by which all other trailer voices are measured. He was, quite literally, the voice of the art form celebrated by the Oscars.

It's too late for the Oscar telecast, of course, but I urge you to let the Academy know how you feel about this glaring omission.

UPDATE: There's now a Facebook fan page dedicated to finding 1 million fans who believe Don should be posthumously awarded an honorary Oscar. If you agree, join up and let them know.

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February 22, 2009

Anime Voice Acting 101



Bang Zoom! Entertainment has been running a series of voice acting workshops around the country, answering the eternal question: “how do I become an anime voice actor?”. Anime News Network sat down with workshop teacher Tony Oliver, a longtime voice actor, director and producer, to find out what it's all about.

Link

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February 15, 2009

You Oughtta Be In Voiceovers

Ever been told you should be doing voiceovers? Ever told someone they should be doing voiceovers? Here's a brief but must-read article on the reality behind what the next step actually entails.

UPDATE: A fellow voice talent shared her experiences, in a response to this post in another forum. Here are her thoughts:

 

My reality: $14,000 later with a professional demo and directors, agents and actors telling me I'm competitive and the top student in the working professional classes, agents all told me "I have that niche filled." and "I'm sorry, you're too old to portray children. You can't possibly understand their motivations."

An audiobook startup is happy to use me for character work in exchange for copies of the books and a small mixer board they outgrew. My voice is on another "resume job" display in a museum of coin-op amusements.

I return to working on advancing my day job career with dreams of building a studio of my own to record the antique children's books I've collected.

For everyone who makes it big, how many are working with broken dreams?

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February 06, 2009

A Top-Notch Audiobook Debut

 

 

Ten Mile River

available at Audible.com

 

Congratulations are in order for my friend and VO colleague Joe Rodriguez, whose debut audiobook performance is now available. Ten Mile River is also the first novel by author Paul Griffin, and Joe delivers a compelling reading of this gritty, realistic tale. Kudos to Joe, and I expect this will be the first of many terrific audiobook narrations from him.

(NOTE: The audio sample contains strong and potentially offensive language; it occurs within the context of the novel, of course, but be advised.)

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January 28, 2009

Breaking Into Audiobook VO

Scott Brick is arguably the audiobook industry's greatest voice talent working today, making his How to Break Into Narration blog post an absolute treasure. Having all of Scott's insights put into text is reason enough to dive in, but he's gone the extra mile and narrated an audio version of the lesson --- as only he can.

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January 26, 2009

Press Release: Voiceover Artist David Houston Launches 'Do That Voice!' Podcast

 

 

 

Austin, TX, United States, 01/26/2009 - The first episode of a new podcast from David Houston Voiceovers is now available.
       
David Houston, actor, voiceover artist and producer, has launched the Do That Voice! podcast. He has appeared as a featured guest on podcasts by voiceover artists Terry Daniel and Peter O'Connell. Sharing the same name as his voiceover blog, the Do That Voice! podcast's first episode opens with several character voices performed by Houston; however, as he makes clear later on, the podcast focuses more on the broad world of voiceover than on "funny character voices".

Episode 1 also features the voice actor reporting on presidential inauguration parade announcer Charlie Brotman --- far from a household name, but decades-long holder of one the world's most prestigious voice announcing jobs --- and also covers Podcamp Toronto 2009, a free conference for all those interested in all things podcasting, blogging and new media. Future episodes will feature more news about voiceover and the entertainment/media industries, as well as interviews with prominent voiceover artists. Suggestions, comments, and other inquiries regarding the podcast can be sent to podcast [at] davidhoustonvoice.com.

The podcast is available on iTunes, as well as the Do That Voice! blog.


David Houston (davidhoustonvoice.com) is a voiceover artist, actor, and audio producer based in Austin, TX. He has been heard on numerous national TV and radio commercials, and also performs industrial narration. Houston was originally cast as the voice of James Bond in Activision's "Quantum of Solace" videogame. He has appeared on-camera in episodes of TV's "Friday Night Lights", and will appear in the upcoming HBO film "Temple Grandin".

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January 19, 2009

The President's Announcer

 

 

 

 

It becomes available every four years. It offers no pay. It's one of the most exclusive and prestigious voiceover gigs in the world.

For 52 years, Charlie Brotman has served as the president's announcer for the inaugural parade. tomorrow --- Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 ---  Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, at which point Charlie will extend his streak to 10 presidents and 14 parades.

He's had the job long enough to be a little fuzzy on the details of landing it, but even Charlie has to "audition" each time the gig comes up:

 

Brotman isn't sure how he got the announcing gig in the first place, although he believes Eisenhower remembered him as the announcer at Griffith Stadium when the president threw out the first pitch for the old Washington Senators in 1956.

By now, one would think that Brotman's selection for the job every four years would be automatic, but he has to break through layers of bureaucracy to make his pitch anew whenever there's a change in administration. Once he had persuaded Obama's workers that he was for real — "I'm sure they Googled me and asked references and that type of thing," Brotman said — they invited him on board and even started asking him for help with the parade script.

 

Here's a salute not only to our new Chief Executive, but to the voice of experience that will help usher him in tomorrow.

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January 17, 2009

Who's That Voice?

 

 

 

 

Even if you're a fan of both fast food and videogames, you've probably never spent much time wondering just what connection exists between Spyro the Dragon and the Taco Bell Chihuahua. For those of you who have, this article will put your mind at ease.

The piece takes popular characters from games and other media, and reveals the voices --- sometimes with surprising results. 

(Hat-tip to voice talent Doug Turkel for mentioning this via Twitter. Thanks!)

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January 14, 2009

Commercial Technique

 

 

 

Backstage.com hosts an excellent article on Honing Your Commercial Technique. Authored by actor and VO artist Heidi Schooler, and featuring advice from top voice actor MJ Lallo, the article highlights four specific skills an actor should take into every audition. 

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January 06, 2009

The Mugs on the Bus

...are downtown-bound. (And elsewhere, perhaps.)

 

 

Actor and voiceover artist David Houston is pictured with wife Carla on Austin's Capitol Metro bus system.
 

 

 

Here's a bit of background on how we ended up there in the first place. The judges liked her story, which has the benefit of being 100% true.

I just hope it goes for at least a few days before someone spray-paints a mustache and gap teeth on me.

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December 30, 2008

Voiceover Opportunites for the New Year

 

Report on the Voice Over Industry for 2009, from voices.com
 

 

David Ciccarelli of Voices.com has published Report on the Voice Over Industry : 2009, a comprehensive look at recent trends in media with an eye toward the upcoming effects --- and opportunities --- for the voiceover industry. It's a free PDF download, and it's highly recommended reading.

 

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Here's to 2009!

 


 

 

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December 24, 2008

A Last-Minute Gift

 

 
"Black River", by Dean Koontz. Audiobook narrated by Scott Brick
 

 

 

Online audiobook store Audible.com has partnered with Zune to make a terrific free gift available, for a limited time. Award-winning voice actor Scott Brick reads Dean Koontz' Black River, in a free audiobook download. (And don't worry, it's not just for the Zune; you can tailor your download for your iPod, PC, Mac, or other mobile audio device.)

Click on the image above, or go to this page to get started. Enjoy!

 

(Hat-tip to Jeffrey Kafer. Thanks!)

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December 22, 2008

To All of You

Season's Greetings from David Houston Voiceovers


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December 19, 2008

Voice Actor Injured in Mumbai Terror Attacks Returns Home

(From IGN)

Actor Michael Rudder, who was shot three times in the Mumbai terror attacks, returned home to Montreal yesterday:

 

 

Montreal actor Michael Rudder, who was shot in last month's attacks in Mumbai, returned home late Wednesday after spending several weeks in an Indian hospital, saying he received a "great gift" from his experience.

Rudder was greeted by a cheering crowd of friends, fellow actors and supporters as he arrived at Montreal's Pierre Trudeau International Airport after travelling with the assistance of a nurse.

Speaking to reporters from a wheelchair, he said he owed a debt of gratitude for the "enormous outpouring of love" he received from people all over the world after the attacks.

"I'm going to get a sign that says 'World's luckiest guy,'" a beaming Rudder said.

He also offered a prayer for the people of India still reeling from the deadly series of attacks that rocked the country's financial capital and left more than 170 people dead.

"I hope they're protected," he said.

 

 

Rudder has voiced characters in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and several other videogames. He's also a TV and film actor.

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December 18, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry: R.I.P.


Majel Barrett Roddenberry
1932 - 2008


From roddenberry.com:

Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away this morning, December 18, 2008, at 12:27 AM in her Bel Air home. She died peacefully, in her sleep, and was surrounded by family and loved ones.

"My mother truly acknowledged and appreciated the fact that Star Trek fans played a vital role in keeping the Roddenberry dream alive for the past 42 years. It was her love for the fans, and their love in return, that kept her going for so long after my father passed away." - Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, Jr.



Given her visibility as Nurse Chapel (on the original Star Trek series) and Lwaxana Troi (Star Trek: The Next Generation) It's likely that most people --- even those in Hollywood and the VO industry --- didn't necessarily consider Majel to be a voice actor. However, for decades, she also provided the voice for one of the most iconic characters in film and TV history: the starship Enterprise itself. For that reason, her contribution not only to the Trek franchise but to the whole of the entertainment world should be held in high esteem.

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December 06, 2008

Narration: Dell Computer

I voiced these a little over a year ago, and was finally able to get them from the client.

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December 02, 2008

Survey Says...

 

 

 

John Florian at VoiceOverXtra has published the results of their “How’s Business Lately?” survey of voice talents, Conducted in late October 2008, the survey asked participants to compare their current job volume and income with what they experienced at the same time in 2007. 

There's a mixed bag of results, with many reporting an uptick in business but also expressing concerns about the future. Worth a look.

 

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Where It All Began

I fired up the scanner recently to get more of my old photos in digital format. A couple of them stood out; these are the production and on-air studios at KELI-FM radio in San Angelo, where I got my broadcasting feet wet:

 

 

KELI production studio, 1987

 

 

 

KELI on-air studio, 1987

 

 

Both are from 1987. (There! I dated myself.) It turned out to be an ideal place to learn about radio, from broadcasting to production and everything in between. I started out babysitting the semi-automated reel-to-reel machine, moved to doing top-of-the-hour news and weather, and got on the mic as much as possible without skewering the station's easy-listening format. I eventually took on production duties, and wrote ad copy as the Creative Services Director.

I went on to other air talent and production gigs at Top 40 and Country stations, but the above studios hold my fondest radio memories.

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December 01, 2008

Bill Drake: R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

Bill Drake, who helped revolutionize Top 40 radio and co-founded the radio syndication company Drake-Chenault, passed away on Saturday at the age of 71 from lung cancer. Drake (real name: Phillip Yarbrough) started in radio in the late '50's at WAKE/Atlanta, and ended up on the West Coast a few years later.

At KYNO/Fresno, Drake met Gene Chenault, and the pair helped create a tighter, more streamlined Top 40/CHR format, as well as the "Boss Jocks" and "Boss Radio" at KHJ/Los Angeles in the '60's. The programming pair brought more organization to on-air formatting, including tighter playlists of the current hits, less talk from jocks and musical production elements sung by the Johnny Mann Singers. Drake is credited as the first programmer to use market research as well. Drake and Chenault formed their own syndication company in the late '60's, which specialized in jingles and automated FM formats.

Drake also spent time in his career programming in San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Detroit Tulsa, Boston, Memphis and other markets.

 

(from FMBQ)

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November 29, 2008

Exploring a New Role

Caitlin Sanchez, the new voice of Dora the Explorer, talks about the excitement of the role and the challenges of voice acting.

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November 25, 2008

Satellite Radio on Life-Support?

 

 

 

 

According to columnist Mike Elgan, it hasn't got long. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, and how that outcome will affect voiceover artists.

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November 24, 2008

The To-Do List: R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

Time management is a necessary skill for VO artists, but it's crucial for just about anyone: freelancers in other arenas, students, professionals in any kind of business. Those skills can run aground when applied to the outmoded "to-do" list.

Jim Bird, CEO of WorkLifeBalance.com, lists getting rid of the to-do list among four key time-management tips in this article. A valuable read, if you have the time.

No pun intended. Honest.

 

 

(Hat-tip to Amy Snively. Thanks!)

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November 20, 2008

Notes from Berkley "No Auditions" Teleseminar

 

 

 

 

Susan Berkley's “Tons of Voice-overs Without Tons of Auditions” teleseminar earlier this evening --- referenced in yesterday's post --- featured some great tips, useful for novice as well as intermediate to advanced VO artists.

First of all, make no mistake: auditioning is a necessary part of the voice actor's professional life. The key is to remember that it should be only a part, and not the whole, of the search for jobs. I liked Susan's use of the term "slack adjusters" as one way of looking at auditions. The term comes from retail, in reference to big-ticket items that are expensive and don't fly off the shelves; however, just one sale of such an item can put a store in the black for that month. The problem is, no retail store can survive solely on that one big purchase, just as a voice artist can't afford to wait on landing that one magic job.

The focus, Susan drives home, should be on prospecting, marketing, and selling yourself. Instead of waiting for a buyer to pick you from among hundreds, seek out potential clients and make yourself the only choice when they need a VO. It's not as easy as staying on the audition treadmill, but it's far more rewarding.

Just to add my own $0.02: Landing a good agent --- you know, the one who sends you all those auditions --- isn't likely to happen in the first place unless you can convince them you're able to make money. Once you've got your own list of clients, having made yourself their choice, agents will look favorably on your pitches.

More information on Susan Berkley's upcoming seminars and classes at GreatVoice.com.

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November 19, 2008

FREE Training Teleseminar with Susan Berkley

Susan Berkley, founder and President of The Great Voice Company, is holding a free tele-seminar Thursday, November 20, 9 - 10 PM EST. Topic: “Tons of Voice-overs Without Tons of Auditions”. Register at GreatVoice.com. This is fairly short notice, so click now to register for any available slots.

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November 17, 2008

It's "Burnet", Durn it, Learn it!

 

 

 

 

I've griped about this before, but a new radio spot has prompted me to advise Austin-area businesses thus:

 

Howdy folks,

If you're going to hire out-of-town VO talent, make sure they can correctly pronounce names like "Burnet".

Or, you could just hire me and avoid the hassle.


Warmest,
Dave

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A Peek Inside the Wee Huttie

To call Philip Banks 'one of the top voiceover artists in the UK' is accurate, but probably an understatement. His voice is also heard frequently in the US and other parts of the world, and with good reason. Philip recently shared the results of his new camcorder purchase:

Note how he captures the essence of the copy in one solid take. Philip has pointed out that "performance is king" when it comes to VO; this clip displays a regal talent most of us can only aspire to.

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November 16, 2008

Simon Vance Q&A

Library Journal launches a new "Behind the Mike" regular feature, with a piece on Audie Award-winning narrator Simon Vance. It's a short but informative interview; here's hoping future installments will go even deeper.

(Hat-tip to voiceover artist Karen Commins for finding this one. Thanks!)

 

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November 14, 2008

Words Mean Things.

 

 

 

 

Seen today in a Craigslist ad entitled "Voiceover professional for my voicemail":

 

I would prefer someone with a good english accent (preferably Male)

Or an older/mature voice that sounds something like Anthony Hopkins.

If you call this number it should sound something like this: [phone number listed]

I need it for my office phone (regular greeting and on hold greeting) and my cell phone
   
   
    * it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
    * Compensation: no pay 

 

Professional.

If I may quote the inimitable Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

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November 02, 2008

FNL: Background Report II

Mark your calendars.

Friday Night Lights



Thirsty? Well, that's a shame.

Friday Night Lights


You can tell that funds for the Dillon Independent School District go to football, and not the facilities.

Friday Night Lights


I may have some face time in this one. They gave me a very pretty TV wife, then took her away. Kyle Chandler remains a pretty cool guy.

Look for this episode in about a month, if you have DirecTV; sometime next year on NBC if not.


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October 26, 2008

FNL: Report from the Background

I've had a few opportunities in the last year or so to work as an extra on the TV series Friday Night Lights, as much of it shoots here in the Austin area. Couldn't fit it into my schedule on most days, but last Wednesday I decided to get in on the action.

I'd hoped to work as a Coach, but the only slots left for my type and age were for Parents. I showed up at the ersatz home of the Dillon Panthers, ready to shoot a scene where parents rally for their "sons" as they're bused off to an away game.

We waited as Panther cheerleaders engaged in the shoe-polish ritual:

 

 

Panther cheerleaders decorate a car on the set of 'Friday Night Lights'.
 

 

 

It was cloudy most of that morning, until around 11 or so when the sun decided to remind us that it might be October, but central Texas doesn't really see Fall until at least November. Between takes and multiple camera setups, I tried to shield my face from the solar onslaught --- I'd left the sunscreen at home. By the time we were done waving and cheering (mostly in pantomime), I knew without even looking in a mirror that my mug was going to be lobster-red.

Just before the final command of "check the gate" from the 1st AD, things changed a bit:

 

 

Clouds loom over Hermann Field on the set of 'Friday Night Lights'.
 
 

 

Nice timing, cloud cover. Sure, maybe you looked threatening, but you didn't even produce any rain to cool us off.

On an up note, Kyle Chandler ("Coach Taylor") was kind enough to say hi as he hurried to wardrobe. Reports of his being an exceptionally nice guy are confirmed.

 

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October 03, 2008

A Crash Course in Political VO

Unless you live under a rock, you've probably noticed that we're about as deep into the political season as it gets. Campaign ads on radio and TV are ubiquitous, and they're meant to have an impact on undecided voters. A hat-tip to Stephanie at Vox Daily for finding and publishing this behind-the-scenes look at how it's done.

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July 14, 2008

Losing Steam?

 

 
 

 

 

My articles on getting started in VO contain information on how to get out of the starting gate, but what does a voiceover artist do to stay in the race? Actor and VO talent Wendy Braun lists Ten Ways to Sustain a Voiceover Career in the latest digital issue of Backstage.

A look at Wendy's extensive VO credits means she knows what she's talking about, making this list recommended reading.

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July 10, 2008

Helium Happenings

 
 

 
My article on Getting Started in Voiceovers is featured today on Helium's home page. A hat-tip from me to the Helium team.

Also featured are excellent VO articles by Natalie Nicole Gilbert and Doc Phillips. Give those a look while you're there, and take a look at the larger Helium community; it's a terrific resource for articles on just about any topic imaginable.

 

UPDATE (7/11/08): I received a message from a Helium user after yesterday's front-page showing:

 

I read your article on voiceovers (congrats on making the front page of Helium) - you have an excellent writing style, phenomenal understanding of words and their use in the English language, and easily share your knowledge without sounding pompous. Thank you for bringing your talent to Helium.

C.M.Erickson
Coffee sub-channel steward

 

C.M. didn't leave an e-mail address, so I hope it's okay if I offer humble thanks here for those kind words. 

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June 15, 2008

Not a bad Father's Day at all.

Wife and kiddo took me out for steak & eggs, then to see Iron Man. Apart from a plot hole or two, a highly entertaining film.

(It also had the added benefit of showing this trailer. Check out the opening gag and see if you can name that non-Don LaFontaine trailer voice.)
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June 13, 2008

Ouch.

 

 

 

 

Turns out I have more in common with Daniel Craig than just a similar vocal quality:

 

Daniel Craig Injured While Filming Bond 

 

The report states that Craig "sliced the tip off of one of his fingers during the shooting of an action scene". As it happens, years ago I sliced the tip off of one of my fingers during the shaving of an action figure.

"Huh?" You're no doubt asking. Long story short: Once upon a time, customizing action figures was a hobby of mine. An attempt to slice away some excess plastic from one such superhero resulted an errant slip with an Exacto knife. (If you've never had the pleasure, I can guarantee you that a brand-new Exacto blade is sufficiently sharp as to cut flesh without any pain --- at least for a few seconds, after which the pain pretty much leaves no doubt you've been cut. I do not recommend the experience.) 

An ER doc managed to sew the disc-shaped piece of skin back where it belonged, but it would literally be one year before the nerves healed completely.  

I'm sure you'll agree that all this is further proof as to why I'm a perfect substitute for Daniel Craig.

/sarcasm off 

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June 12, 2008

Still Has That New-Car Scent...

The main site has a new look and feel.

It may yet get a few tweaks here and there, but I think it works. It was time for a change. 

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June 04, 2008

More D'oh! for Homer.

...and for his family, too.

 

 

 

 

Per their new deal with FOX, the lead actors on The Simpsons (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria) will be paid nearly $400,000 per episode.

I haven't (and probably won't) check out the inevitable internet comments decrying them as overpaid, but I imagine they'll probably go something like this: 

"Voice acting is just talking into a mic! Besides, my brother's friend's cousin can do all the Simpsons voices perfectly and would be thrilled to do it for the low low fee of (A) a daily bag of Cheetos and (B) Jessica Alba's phone number."

Okay, I have to admit, I might do it just for the last item. 

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May 07, 2008

'Quantum of Solace' Videogame Site Launched

From MI6:

Activision today officially confirmed the videogame adaptation of the upcoming James Bond film "Quantum of Solace", and launched a teaser website to promote the title.

[The website] gives fans access to some early concept artwork from the locations featured in the game, as well as the opportunity to sign-up to the community to vote on polls and ask the development team questions. This site will serve as the hub of activity for the game and will be updated on a regular basis.

Development studios are confirmed as Eurocom, Treyarch, Beenox and Vicarious Visions. The game will be released this Fall. Treyarch are understood to be heading up development on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, with Beenox producing the Nintendo Wii version, and Vicarious Visions working on the hand-held platforms. Eurocom are understood to be developing the PC version.

Speaking about Activision's direction with the 007 licence, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said "Bond is one of the great videogame franchises of all time and that really was a result of GoldenEye 64. I think the key to re-energising the Bond franchise is going to be ultimately the highest possible game quality."

Last November, Activision confirmed a second 007 title was also under development.

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March 31, 2008

The VO Industry Has Arrived.

How do I know? Because we're now fodder for The Onion:

 

 


 

Gotta love that our fictional VO guy's name ("David Cavanaugh") is the name of a minor character on the series. (Very minor, actually, since he only appears in a deleted scene.)

 

It's a funny read in any case, but sometimes satire isn't really satire:

 

"It's a daunting task, especially since you can't rely on such actorly tricks as facial expressions and body language," Cavanaugh said. "All I have is my finely tuned instrument and its subtle tones of honesty and vulnerability that envelope the viewers and make them feel safe and informed."

 

 

It's 100% true, even if he's putting it in flowery terms...

 

For what it's worth, the real "Previously on Lost" VO guy is Andy Geller.

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March 17, 2008

Do That Resource!

 

 

 

 

This little ol' DTV blog gets a feather in its cap from Voices.com; it's listed as one of their 100+ Industry Resources for Voice Over Talent, the latest in their series of VO talent tools.

Thanks to Stephanie and co. for seeing fit to include me; if you agree that DTV has been a valuable resource, I hope you'll pass along my link and subscription information to anyone interested in voiceover.

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February 21, 2008

Voicey Awards 2008 Winners

Looks like I bet on the right horse, at least in one race; congrats to Jeffrey Kafer for his win in the Best New Voice category.

Jeff won, and deservedly so, but I get to keep the nifty new graphic (thanks, Stephanie!) on my web page:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a complete list of all the winners. Kudos all!

Best Child Voice: Brandi Munro

Best Teen Voice: Jesse Springer

Best New Voice: Jeffrey Kafer

Best Male Voice: J.J. Wilson

Best Female Voice: Debbie Munro

Best Foreign Voice: Lili Wexu

Best Voice Team: Adam Fox and Kara Edwards

Best Personal Branding: David J. Lawrence

Life Time Achievement: Pat Fraley

 

To hear the awards presentation, go to the VOX Talk page. Bow tie optional. 

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February 12, 2008

Voicey Awards

The Voicey Awards finalists have been announced, and big beet-red thanks is due to whomever saw fit to toss my name into the Best New Voice hat.

On the aforementioned list is my friend Jeffrey Kafer, a voice talent who embodies the "fresh and upbeat" sound like few others in the biz. A deserving candidate and a good guy. (Just don't tell him you heard that from me... ;) ) 

Be sure to subscribe to the VOX Talk podcast to listen to the awards show; it'll be published on February 21, 2008. 

 

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February 05, 2008

Bond Game Update: COD4

MI6 reports that the new Bond game will be based on the same graphics engine used in Call of Duty 4.

What this will mean for me is...actually, I haven't the first clue. I do know that the COD series has some of the most incredible-looking games I've ever seen, and it looks more and more like Bond 22 (VG) will fall into the same category.

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January 30, 2008

Y'all are Fixin' to Git an Education.

 

Texas Flag. Photo by Krystle Fleming
 

 

 

There's a spot running on local radio here in Austin, with the VO delivering the business' address on Burnet Road (one of Austin's oldest and busiest thoroughfares). The only problem? He pronounces it "bur-NET" instead of using the first-syllable emphasis commonly known to Austinites. Clearly, our intrepid announcer has the misfortune not to live in our fine city. It doesn't happen often, and I'm surprised that the client, a local business, didn't catch it straight away and order a re-take.

In Texas, it's not just our capital's street names that are stepped on by non-native tongues; glance at a map of the Lone Star state and you'll fall into one of our traps in seconds. The "x" is silent in Bexar, and Manchaca, despite appearances, is a two-syllable name, not three.

Relax, pardner. The fine folks at TexasTripper.com have created an audio guide to Texas' most notoriously mangled monikers. The next time you find yourself reading copy and are unsure of names like Boerne, Elgin, or Gruene, just click Play on the audio sample. Genuine central Texas accent thrown in at no extra charge!  Y'all take care, now.

 

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January 28, 2008

We Knew That, but Thanks!

 

 

 

 

The folks at MovieMaker Magazine have named Austin, TX as the #1 city both for making movies and residing in, if you're in the film industry. (It's not half bad even if you're not in the entertainment biz, either.) MMM hasn't quite updated their online edition yet, so here's a link to the story.

Austin's status as a TV & film hotbed has been a not-so-well-kept secret for years, but it's nice to have a measure of "official" recognition.

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WGA Strike Update

Since my last post on the subject, I've done a good job of refraining from any reporting on the status of the WGA strike. This seemed a wise move, given that my optimism at the time proved a mistake. Still, those with their finger on the pulse --- or at least those who talk to people who also talk to those who are close to others with their finger on the pulse --- are reporting positive things from the current informal talks between the WGA (the writers) and the AMPTP (referred to as "producers" in most media reports, although in reality they're the CEOs and moguls of the major studios).

Even if this should prove to be another false alarm, I maintain that the mere fact of informal talks taking place at all is a positive step, given that just a couple of weeks prior, neither side seemed interested in talking. Cautious optimism from here on out.

 

 

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January 17, 2008

Have You Hyrde?

Another pun? Mea culpa. Sometimes I just can't help myself. If we're still friends, though, let me tell you what's up:

In an earlier post, I mentioned the mobile-exclusive animated series The Hyrde. The first episode is now available for public consumption, no phone required. I confess to being a fan of the series, and happily admit my bias for its voice cast: DB Cooper brings the sassy to the role of Ghoul Gal, while Philip Banks is perfectly cast as the group's wizened leader, Inspector Spectre. Show creator Robert Feldman rounds out the cast. 

Check out Episide One for yourself:

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Have You Hyrde?

Another pun? Mea culpa. Sometimes I just can't help myself. If we're still friends, though, let me tell you what's up:

In an earlier post, I mentioned the mobile-exclusive animated series The Hyrde. The first episode is now available for public consumption, no phone required. I confess to being a fan of the series, and happily admit my bias for its voice cast: DB Cooper brings the sassy to the role of Ghoul Gal, while Philip Banks is perfectly cast as the group's wizened leader, Inspector Spectre. Show creator Robert Feldman rounds out the cast. 

Check out Episide One for yourself:

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January 16, 2008

Xtra! Read All About It.

Many thanks are due to John Florian and the gang at VoiceOverXtra for a terrific write-up on the NBC Voice-Off contest.

While you're there, have a look at the Home Studio section, and check out the wealth of other excellent VO articles.

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January 08, 2008

And This Little MI6 Agent Went...

Wii Wii Wii.

Okay. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me after that, take a look at the latest news in the 007 videogame saga:

Beenox Confirms Nintendo Wii Version

 

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January 07, 2008

Deep Thoughts on Attraction

I'm pretty sure that everyone reading this will be shocked to learn that among most humans, a deep male voice indicates greater masculinity; no doubt you'd be equally surprised to learn that water is wet. Still, this NPR article is of interest...


In the first phase of her research, Apicella invited a group of Hadza men into her Land Rover and recorded them saying "hello" in Swahili. Then she played some of the voices for a group of Hadza women, asking them which they preferred.

Apicella found the women preferred the men with the lower voices.

And that paralleled another of her findings. The Hadza men with deeper voices also had more children than their squeaky counterparts. But she says voice alone probably doesn't explain that.


...if only because of the twist on said conventional wisdom found in another article on the same study:


"We found that men with deep voices have more children than their high-pitched counterparts," Apicella told AFP.

"But those children were not necessarily healthier, so it doesn't seem like deep-voiced men are passing on good genes to their offspring, as has been hypothesized in the past, but probably has to do with them having greater access to women."


I'd be more worried about the implications of this question, except that I'm still struggling to figure out just what the heck the French babies pictured on the second article have to do with the Tanzanian men & women of the study...

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Final Week!

We're having a terrific run, but now it's crunch time.

Voting in the Unofficial NBC News Voice-Off ends on Friday, January 11, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. ET. If you haven't done so yet, click here and log a vote for your pal Dave Houston --- yes, that'd be me --- in the comments. Feel free to pick two other voices, but you know they don't love ya like I do. ;)

Once you're done, just do me one more teensy solid and pass this along...
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January 04, 2008

I Know, You're Sick of Me By Now. But...

...as long as we're in Massive Self-Promotion mode, I should announce that it's time for the Voicey Awards Nominations. Since I've officially got less than three years in the VO biz, I'm looking for a nod in the Best New Voice category. (Don't mind the "age 20 to 30" criterion; yes, that age range is fast becoming a fuzzy memory for me, but they've relaxed that criterion somewhat.)

Hey, it's not my fault that the contests fall so closely together...
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Don LaFontaine on the Mend

You may or may not have heard about Don LaFontaine’s recent health problems. Happy to report that the Voice of God is on the mend and itching to return to work. Thanks to Stephanie with Vox Daily for the update.
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January 02, 2008

Now that your New Year's euphoria has passed...

...you'll have an easier time going here and voting for your pal David Houston --- that'd be me --- to win the Unofficial NBC News Announcer contest. The cool thing is, you get to pick two other voices (so as not to feel guilty if you think my entry sucks.)

You have all year to call in the favor I'll owe ya, but voting ends soon. Snap to it! (Please.)

 

 


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December 26, 2007

Hi, NBC News? You've Got Mail.

Before I got into doing VO full-time, I spent many years as a guitarist and vocalist in rock bands. Of the many musician's jokes I've heard beat to death over the years, one sticks out:

How many guitarists does it take to screw in a light bulb? 12. One to screw in the bulb, and eleven to stand around arguing that they could have done it better. 

The irony is, sometimes at least one of them is right. This was the reaction among tons of VO artists upon hearing film star Michael Douglas' questionable work as the new voice of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Voiceover artist Peter O'Connell has taken the collective groans of the VO community and set up an absolutely unofficial audition for the job. Judging by the stellar quality of the entries, I'd say NBC would do well to make the auditions official. Head over to Peter's blog and judge for yourself.

In the meantime, here's my humble effort. (MP3)

 

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November 27, 2007

Progress in WGA Strike Talks?

Nothing is certain, of course, but there are reports that talks between the WGA and the producers have quietly resumed; and even if there aren't any major breakthroughs at the moment...at least both sides are talking without rancor. Here's hoping this is the start of a deal both sides can live with.

 


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November 22, 2007

Cat Officially Out of Bag.

Looks like the news is out elsewhere, so it might as well be out here as well:

 

MI6 News: David Houston to provide voice for James Bond in new videogame

According to several sources, voice-over actor David Houston will be providing the voice of James Bond in the upcoming 007 videogame from Activison. MI6 understands that Daniel Craig will be providing his likeness to the digital 007.  [More...]

 

 

Vox Daily has also published the news.

Seems there's some negative reaction among die-hard Bond fans at the MI6 forums. If I recall correctly, however, several fervent 007 fans were also dead certain that Daniel Craig was a terrible choice...before Casino Royale was released. He's now quite the fan favorite.

At any rate, I'm simply hoping the rest of the production comes off without a hitch --- according to the studio, the Bond 22 film won't be affected by the WGA strike as I indicated previously --- so that fans can judge the final product. Still very excited about the gig, and looking forward to the sessions.  

 

 

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November 02, 2007

Striking News

Looks like a Writer's Guild strike is imminent, with the most recent reports indicating only the slightest chance of last-minute talks to avert a crippling walkout. 

At first glance, the driving force behind this might simply appear to be a demand for wage increases. In fact, it's as much about the changing nature of entertainment delivery (DVD, streaming media, etc.) as it is about dollars and cents. From today's AdAge:

 

In the early '80s, the Hollywood's writers made what has become to be regarded as the worst deal since Manhattan was sold for some wampum and blankets: When the writers originally signed their pact with producers about how they would be compensated for work viewed on home video, they agreed that 80% of the revenue would immediately be kept aside for the studios, leaving only 20% of the revenue available for royalties. The upshot? While a film or TV show might sell for $19.99 on home video, a writer will typically receive less than a nickel from that sale.

"Welcome to class warfare," deadpanned Jonathan Handel, an entertainment lawyer at Troy & Gould who specializes in internet law, and who formerly was associate counsel to the WGA from 1994-1995. "The home-video agreement doesn't even make sense for home video anymore, let alone the internet."

Mr. Handel explained that the 80/20 split of home-video spoils might have been tenable in 1982, when video cassettes were a costly media to produce and often subsidized by studios seeking to create a new revenue stream. But the cost of manufacturing a DVD is now pegged at 25 cents; digital distribution is, he argued, even cheaper, because there is no physical media to produce at all. [I'm reminded of the 80s, when the music industry charged more for the "brand-new" CD format, even though production costs had plummeted fairly quickly after the format became a hit. --- DH]

Moreover, the studios are making more than they ever had before: Last year, all-media revenue from filmed entertainment -- money from home video, TV, theatrical release and pay TV -- grew 8% to a record $42.6 billion.

 

This is 100% speculation on my part, but there's a slight possibility that a writers' strike could push back the previously-mentioned videogame project I'm booked for. The game ties in with a movie release lated for 2008, but that film has (reportedly) already been delayed by script rewrites. I'll just keep my fingers crossed and continue to work as much as possible in the meantime. 

UPDATE: Well, per some information in the link (provided in the comments by my good friend Mary), it looks like my speculation was probably correct. The strike is hitting home, even here in Texas...
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October 24, 2007

This Time, Free is Good.

 

If you've read any of this blog in the past, you'll know that I'm usually skeptical of things given away for free; in terms of value, one usually gets what one pays for. With that in mind, I'm pleased to be able to report a happy exception to that rule. (Many thanks to fellow VO artist Joe Rodriguez for finding this one first.)

Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks (you may have heard the name; it's the market leader in small business accounting software) has made their QuickBooks Simplestart 2008 accounting software available for free. While you'd be right in thinking that this package isn't as fully-featured as the paid editions, it's not a time-limited demo or a stripped-bare version either; it's a completely functional program that allows you to create professional-looking invoices and sales receipts, track customer and vendor contacts, and further organize your business expenses. I've started using it myself the past few days, and I'm glad to say it makes this aspect of the business less of a chore.

Oh, and while I wouldn't be opposed to the idea, I assure you that this isn't a paid endorsement. It's rare that "free" and "worthwhile" go together, so I'm more than happy to let everyone know when it does.

 

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October 02, 2007

Radio Days

 

 

 

 

Over at Vox Daily, the question was asked: What Attracted You To Radio? While not all voiceover artists necessarily have a background as on-air talent, it's no surprise that many of us do. My response at the site:

 

I'd grown up as a fan of radio itself, not just the music it played. I've always been one of those who liked to look inside and take things apart to see how they worked, and like a lot of radio listeners, I figured "I can do that!" Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found out I actually could.

No doubt like many others here, radio proved not to be a gateway to vast riches. Still, I made a bit more than your average mic jockey (at least in the small market where I worked) once I learned I could write ad copy and produce spots.

Being an independent VO artist is easily the most satisfying and fun job I've ever had, but my radio days rank a close second.

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September 26, 2007

In The Interview Chair

Over at the VO-BB, member Adam Bullock posted a list of interview questions for the more experienced VO talents there. Here are my answers, some serious, some not so much... 

 

1) How did you decide to get into this field of work?

Hawaiian Shirt Day at the office is just not as much fun as TV and the movies make it seem.


2) What’s a typical work day like?

Sometimes a typical work day likes to drag on, sometimes it likes to zip along. Sometimes it does both.


3) What do you like about the job?

The fact that I got hired for it. Credit to a smart boss. (For once in his life, anyway.)


4) What’s the worst part of this job?

Post-production on long narrations.


5) What’s the best part of this job?

The fact that the worst part (see above) still beats the best part of answering phones in a cubicle.


6) What kind of people survive and do well in this field?

To paraphrase PB (Philip Banks): those who take their work seriously, while taking themselves much less so.


7) What kind of training/education do you recommend as the best way to prepare for this career?

Let's see... go to college embarking on a Music Education degree, drop out, work in radio for a while, do some community theatre in the meantime, work in the medical field for a while, pursue a fledgling music career in the meantime, work in tech support for a while, then slap yourself across the face and do what you love.


8 ) What skill and background are needed?

The ability to spell one's name correctly, so that one can insist clients do the same on the paycheck.


9) Do you think this field is expanding, taking any new directions?

See DB Cooper's new animated series The Hyrde, coming soon to a mobile device near you. Hint, hint.

Ask any civil engineer: the more roads you build, the more the traffic increases to fill up the lanes. Wherever your voice can sell an idea, that's where you go.


10) What are the perks of this biz?

Yes.


11) Is there anything else I need to know?

Yes. "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." - Groucho Marx

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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

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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June 29, 2007

Voiceover from the Client's POV

As a voiceover talent, one's job is to serve the needs of the client. Some of us can lose sight of that at times, and a reminder from a different perspective can come in handy. 

A few months ago, I posted my articles on getting started in VO to Helium.com, a site that publishes articles both pro and amatuer, on a variety of topics. Looking around the site to see if any other voiceover-related articles had been published, I found a keeper by Robert Dwyer.

Robert's article is titled similarly to mine, but his piece adds some important information that no aspiring VO artist should be without: don't bite the hand that feeds. It's a bit of advice found all too rarely in beginning-voiceover articles, and it carries the extra weight of his status as producer and director of voice talent for TV.

If you're getting your feet wet as a voice talent, read Robert's article twice and keep it bookmarked.

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May 10, 2007

That's Easy for YOU to Say.

Another clip of Rodney Saulsberry, this time providing a superb set of vocal warm-ups to get your mouth moving. Some of these tongue-twisters will challenge even the most experienced VO artists.

Vocal Warmups with Rodney Saulsberry (YouTube)

 

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November 22, 2006

So, Where Do I Punch In?

I recently ran across a blog comment in response to Wil Wheaton's weigh-in on the SAG voice-actor pay increase in 2005:


"I don't agree with the voice actors getting paid more, They get paid roughly $130 an hour or more, thats a $270,000 a year job - which antiquates to more than most programmers and developers, who, as been pointed out, do tremendously more work on a day on average than ANY voice actor — nobodies voice is worth that much in my opinion and forming unions to go raise pricing is only going to cause more game developers to start using their own talent — with the diversity of a game company they could pull anyone off the street to do these voice overs, even their own developers and CSR's could accomplish this simplistic task. When you make less than $80,000 a year on average then come and bitch to us programmers. Spoiled little hollywood brats."



And here I am, all this time, railing against the misperception that voice artists work 50+ hours a week and get paid beaucoup bucks for every second; turns out we really are six-figure earners (who, incidentally, don't deserve it and are replaceable by anyone off the street at any time).

I can't seem to find the address of the company where one applies for this job, but it must be out there. He said so.

The mind, it boggles. It's one thing for your average person to carry the above assumption; the general public tends to think of "actors" only in terms of those they see and hear on TV and in movies. The huge salaries commanded by these visible performers are public knowledge in most cases, making it easy to syllogize "actors  = overpaid". Our dear blog-poster, one infers from the nature of the post, seems to be a current or former game programmer. While it may be true that nuts-and-bolts coders tend to interact relatively little with the post-production end of things, I still find it surprsing that someone who works in the gaming industry could be so willfully clueless about the nature of a voice actor's work. He's welcome to his woefully misguided opinion that voiceover work is "simplistic", but how on earth does he come to believe that any voice actor gets to ply his simplistic trade for 8 to 10 hours a day, every single day? (Even belonging to SAG or any other performing union only guarantees your hourly rate; it doesn't promise that much work, or any amount of work, for that matter.)

To the contrary: most voiceover artists I know --- whether they're union or non-union, or whether they work in animation, games, narration, commercials, or any combination thereof --- would be thrilled beyond words to annually earn $80,000 USD strictly from voice work. The reality, as I've noted before, is that 90% of voice actors make very little money --- and most of the remaining ten percent who do earn a living are still nowhere near the "filthy rich" category. Without wishing to turn this into a political piece, methinks our poster is engaging in a bit of union-bashing...and that this concern overrides any common sense or logic which might otherwise have been present. Regardless of one's stance on performing unions, willful stupidity is not an effective to way to make your argument.

P.S. In fact, many voice artists do work 50 or more hours a week...at marketing their services. At last check, however, none of these folks were pulling in $130 an hour at that particular job.

P.P.S. I also wasn't aware that "antiquate" and "equate" are now synonyms. You truly learn something new every day.

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October 06, 2006

Press Release

 

Voiceover Artist David Houston: A Quiet Guy Who Talks Up A Storm

Newswire Release 

 

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October 04, 2006

Great Voices Here, There...

...and everywhere, I tells ya.

Several members of the VO-BB have contributed to this nifty map, showing just where we're all located. (Scroll waaaay to the right to find a UK voice talent of, oh, some repute. ;) )

Getting all of us in one place would be no mean feat, but efforts are underway... 

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September 26, 2006

Moving...

...to a new home this weekend, along with the wife and kiddo. I may be out of pocket for a day or two while everything gets moved / disconnected / reconnected, etc. I'll definitely be anxious to get the studio set back up.
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August 05, 2006

Is the "Regular Guy" King?

This article (and others like it) pops up every once in a while. Sure, as a relatively deep-voiced sort, I miss out on some jobs, but I still get work. The whiplash move to "regular guys" has tempered a bit, as clients look for voices of all types.

To be sure, the trend is real. Austin's "alternative rock" station KROX features imaging voiced not by a cavernous-throated behemoth, but by a young guy who evokes a "Napoleon Dynamite" feel; he sounds not a day over 16 and likely grinds curbs on a skateboard --- at least, that's the image that one infers, and that's 100% intentional. On the other hand, album-rock station KLBJ-FM is imaged by the sort of mega-baritone sounds more typical of that format.

When clients began asking for guy-next-door in lieu of voice-of-God, what they were looking for was more of a delivery than a vocal quality; the skills needed to make ad copy sound like an everyday conversation belonged to trained actors as opposed to trained broadcasters. Nowdays it's pretty common knowledge, even among beginning voice talents, that acting training is essential for all voice work.

Very little point in voice-artists kvetching about movie stars doing voiceovers; not all advertisers, not even all of the major ones, are going to shell out triple scale for every spot. The rest of the work will still be there, and will go to those who've worked their way into a position to get it.


On a related note, the use of celebrity voiceovers has given rise to another trend; some famous actors have reported seeing numerous casting calls for a voice that "sounds like [insert celebrity here]" --- while the actor is available! From top imaging talent Dan Nachtrab comes this gem (which he credits to VO great Randy Thomas), the Four Levels of a Voice Actor's Career:

  1. Who is David Houston?

  2. Get me David Houston!

  3. Get me someone who sounds like David Houston.

  4. Who is David Houston?

 The trick, of course, is to get to level 2 and stay there as long as possible...

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February 27, 2006

Done.

It's up! The newly redesigned website, that is. Let me know what you think...
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January 13, 2006

New Digs

The website will be getting a complete makeover soon. Many of you have commented positively on the site, and most people seem to like it. However, I want everything about David Houston Voiceovers to continually improve --- including this site! Expect a cleaner and more organized look, yet still pleasing and fun.

Stay tuned!

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September 25, 2005

Voiceover Hygiene

I've written an article on voice-over hygiene for Voices.com. I hope it'll be of value to other voice talents, and a bit of an "inside look" for those who are just curious about the world of voice-over. Click here to read...


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May 15, 2005

Narration Work. Lots.

Completed multiple projects for Legal Media Inc., a multimedia company. A joy to work with! The company creates video and multimedia presentations for patent litigation and other legal settings. Francesca, Pam and Matt are dedicated and passionate about the work they do, and it's a pleasure to get a thumbs-up from such a talented team.

 

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May 01, 2005

And We're Off.

Hopefully not too far off, though.

Blogging about the world of voiceover, entertainment, media, and anything else I may feel like sharing to follow. You've been warned...

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