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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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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 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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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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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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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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July 10, 2009

New DHV Promo Video

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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 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 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 10, 2009

Callaway Spots

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

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December 16, 2008

The Santa Sessions

A lump? I think the director's getting the entire coal mine this year.

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December 14, 2008

New TV Spot

This one's for Right Wireless.

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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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November 17, 2008

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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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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May 06, 2008

Mmmm, Donuts.

My friend DB Cooper whipped up this clip, with a wee bit o' yakking from yours truly.

Other fine voice talents featured on this clip are Maureen Egan, Philip Banks, Connie Terwiliger, Jeff McNeal, Dylan Guptill, and Mary McKitrick.

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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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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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July 02, 2007

Passing the Savings on to You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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June 18, 2007

James Alburger Webinar

Here's an excellent voice-acting resource: a full-length web seminar (or "webinar", if you prefer jargon) with voice actor and producer James Alburger, originally presented by Voice123.com. Here, James discusses 'The Seven Core Elements of Performing', studio stories, and "tricks-of-the-trade".

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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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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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December 23, 2006

All-Star VO Christmas

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