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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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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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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 11, 2010

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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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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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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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 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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February 29, 2008

In The Interview Chair - VOD Edition

After several weeks of false starts and reschedules that just couldn't be helped, I finally got together with Terry Daniel and Trish Basanyi as their Voice Overs On Demand Podcast guest. (Here's a direct link to the mp3.)

Honestly, I don't stammer and stutter like that on most days. (Note to self: caffiene is b-b-b-bad for you.) I had a great time nonetheless, and they have my continued thanks for the invite.

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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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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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April 29, 2007

Ay Caramba!

This blog isn't intended solely as a repository of YouTube videos, but I couldn't pass this one up. I'm commemorating the receipt of my autographed Bart Simpson print with this clip of Nancy Cartwright herself. Enjoy.

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March 20, 2007

Rodney Saulsberry

VO great Rodney Saulsberry talks about movie trailers, his new book, and getting started as a voice artist.
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October 20, 2006

Guyver!

I confess I know relatively little about the vast world of anime, but I'm also somewhat fascinated with it. One aspect of the genre that lends to that fascination is the fan support; not just for the films and TV shows, but for the voice actors. While actors like Chris Patton are far from household names in the entertainment mainstream, you'd never know it to observe the adoration heaped upon him and other anime actors like Monica Rial.

Given the skills necessary to be a successful anime voice, this adulation is well-deserved. This Interview with Patton is worth reading for any fan of voiceovers, or acting in general. Here he discusses his latest role as Sho Fukamachi in a new production of Guyver. (Note how the conversation is geared toward the characters and story moreso than about mic technique or voice inflection.)

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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 10, 2006

Nor Does He Live in a Pineapple...

Absorbent and yellow and porous, is he? Nope, but he's a superbly talented voice actor. Check out this piece on Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants.
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