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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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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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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 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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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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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 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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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 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 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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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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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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HearTheBill.Org Press Release

Voice Actors Record Senate Online Version of Health Care Reform

Unique, Non-Partisan Reading of Health Care Bills Brings Critical Issue Directly into American Homes   

A group of volunteer voice actors from across the country and around the world has now recorded the Senate version of health care reform legislation making its way through Congress. The recording, available at www.hearthebill.org, follows a successful recording of the House version that is fast approaching a million hits online.

The recordings are keeping pace with changes in Congress, and have now made it possible for voters to hear the Senate bill proposed by U.S. Senator Baucus (D-Montana). All modifications to the bill, including those adopted in the September 22 hearing by the Finance Committee, are updated on the site, as will subsequent changes in both the Senate and House versions.

The audio is free online at the site created last month as a public service for the visually impaired and those who prefer audio to text, such as the tens of millions of people who listen to audio books. Since its launch September 3 with the audio book version of HR3200, the House health care reform bill, the site has had nearly 1 million hits.

“We have made a firm commitment to track any health care reform legislation proposals and get them out there on audio as quickly as possible," said Keesling. "It’s important that as the country debates this issue that everyone – from those who are visually impaired to those who want to learn more while driving in their cars or folding their laundry – have the option to learn what’s in these bills."

The site is a nonpartisan, educational project. The 84 volunteer voice actors come from all across the country, and some from Canada, the UK and Australia. They come with diverse political viewpoints – but also with a commitment not to share those viewpoints on the site.

"There has been a lot of back-and-forth on this issue. While each of the voice actors who have participated have their own opinion, our goal is to provide information so people can make up their own minds based on what’s actually in the legislation,” Havens said. “We want to provide a starting point for a truly informed discourse on one of the most important issues of our time."

Contact: Diane Havens  (201) 819-6405
Contact: Kathleen Keesling (970) 769-0006
  


 

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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 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 21, 2009

Wayne Allwine: R.I.P

I'm late in posting this, of course, but I'd be remiss in not mentioning the passing of Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse for the last 32 years. Our fondest wishes to his friends, family, and all whom he entertained as the thoughtful caretaker of an animation icon.

Allwine, voice of Mickey Mouse for 32 years, dies

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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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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 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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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 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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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 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 03, 2008

Money for Nothing?

 

 

 

 

I'm sure the reporter meant well, but an otherwise informative and well-written news article on the VO world is marred by the phrase "getting paid just to talk".

To its credit, the piece does point out that being a voiceover artist means running your own business --- a task not suited to everyone --- and that a single introductory VO class, promoted in the article, isn't enough to launch a voiceover career. Still, it'd be nice if the piece didn't promote the "anyone can do it" attitude right off the bat...unintentionally or otherwise.

 

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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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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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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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January 28, 2008

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 24, 2008

OmniTraderPro - Video Clip

Here's a TV Spot I did last year. Just now got the clip from the client.
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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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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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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 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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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 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 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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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 03, 2007

SouthEast Film Association

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

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

 

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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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October 16, 2006

Keri Tombazian, Steve Harris, Al Chalk

Thanks to Dan Nachtrab for the heads-up on this article. The three above-named voiceover artists are profiled at, of all places, CourtTV's website.

All three are hugely successful and sought-after, but the interviews do illustrate that voiceover success is different for each of us. 

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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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September 16, 2006

Movie Trailer Voices: Endangered Species?

Recently observed by one of the VO-BB members: a string of movie trailers, seen at the Apple Trailers site, with no "traditional" voiceovers. The only voices used, when at all, were character narratives provided by the film's actor(s). This begged the question: " Has that revenue stream dried up altogether?" ("That" being movie trailers as voiceover work.)

It's a good question, but it seems that the answer is a qualified "no". As another VO-BBer pointed out, it may be that the Apple Trailer site doesn't carry certain trailers which would require them to pay royalties to the voiceover artist*; this doesn't necessarily mean that the same trailer shown on the big screen is without a voiceover. It seems likely that studios are producing voiceless trailers for Apple and other internet sites in order to comply with these stipulations and still promote the film. Considering that Don LaFontaine remains as busy as ever doing trailers, as do other top artists in that field, rumors of trailer-voiceover demise seem to be exaggerated.

Here's the caveat: there has been something of a trend away from the gravelly "In a world..." style of movie trailer. Standup comics have been lampooning it as a cliche for years now, and so have the trailers themselves. It's a tendency that mirrors a shift seen in radio imaging and commercials as well.

A while back, I decided to have a little fun with the official trailer for Clerks 2. The original features text in place of a VO announcer, making it perfect for an exercise in voicing a trailer in the right style. The irony, of course, is clear; I'd never have been able to use the trailer for that exercise had it not followed the trend away from traditional VO in the first place.

Lots of TV commercials follow that same style, but I don't think there's much danger of voiced spots disappearing altogether, nor is DLF's trailer-voice career in any real jeopardy. As I joked on the VO-BB boards: even if major-movie trailers were to completely forego voiceovers, the odds were against 99% of us voice talents ever being in that club anyway.

Not to say that we shouldn't try, just offering a bit of perspective.

 

*It's not yet clear what Apple's policy is on this. If you have additional information, feel free to let me know... 

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September 03, 2006

And Before That...Just One

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...But Before That, There Were Five

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And Then There Were Three

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August 09, 2006

Get Rich Doing Voiceovers!

...then again, maybe not.

"But Dave", you say, "don't those voice actors on animated shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy make six figures or more?" Some of them, certainly. The voices of principal characters like Homer and Bart, or Lois and Peter, do make serious money.

On the other hand, you've got actors like Maggie Roswell. Unless you're among the twelve people on Earth who have never seen a Simpsons episode, you've probably seen Maggie's name in the end credits several times. She's provided many voices on the show, including Maude Flanders (wife of Ned) and Helen Lovejoy. Surely having even a supporting role on TV's longest-running sitcom is enough to ensure a superbly comfortable living, right? Think again:

 

Prior to the 11th season, actress Maggie Roswell left the show after a contract dispute. She had reportedly been making only $1500 an episode, even after 10 years on the show. To add insult to injury, Roswell lived in Colorado and was being forced to commute to Los Angeles out of her own pocket.

The network offered her a measly $150 extra per episode, which wasn't even enough to cover the cost of air-fares. Roswell balked. "I wasn't asking for what the other cast members make," she said. "I just wanted to recoup all the costs I had in travel. If they'd flown me in, I'd still be working."

 

$1500 may sound like a lot, but not when your minor character(s) can easily be absent from any given episode. (It's worth noting that her initial departure prompted the writers to kill off the character of Maude.) Also, it's not as if Maggie was a rookie; she'd been appearing in TV shows and movies for over twenty years before getting the Simpsons gig. 

She did eventually return to the show in 2002, so she presumably was able to work out a more equitable contract. Still, it's safe to assume that her salary didn't approach the seven-figure sums of her more famous costars.

It's been estimated by longtime voiceover pros that only 5% of voiceover artists (everyone from animation actors to narrators to radio-imaging folks) will ever make "serious" money in this business. To some degree, this mirrors the SAG statistics which state that about 10% of actors make about 90% of the money. That's not to say that this business doesn't provide a comfortable living for many; there are people who are doing quite well voicing commercials, promos, narrations et al. in relative anonymity and are quite happy. For each of those, however, there are many more who are struggling, fighting for gigs, maintaining a day job while trying to get to the "next level" of their VO career.

There's money to be made, or not made, in this business. Either way, you'd better be in it for the love of the work. Me? Still head over heels with no plans to stop. 

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