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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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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 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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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 02, 2008

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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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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October 12, 2006

VO Recording: A Microphone Primer

This concise but informative article on VO recording covers a lot of ground; if you're starting out and looking for basics on getting your home studio going, this piece is a great place to start.

One thing I should note: the article spends a bit of time on microphones, but doesn't point out a key distinction between Dynamic and Condenser mics. While each is just a different method of doing what mics do (that is, take pressure waves from the air and convert them to an electrical signal, to then be converted back to sound), they're two different animals; each type will shape your recorded voice in dramatically different ways.

Dynamic mics have a limited frequency response; this means that they don't capture sound with great accuracy, but it also allows them to handle exceptionally loud sources like guitar amps, drums, and screaming disc jockeys (most of the talk you hear on the radio will be coming from a dynamic mic) .

Condenser mics have reversed characteristics, essentially; they've got a wide frequency response. This means, as you've no doubt figured out by now, that they reproduce sound accurately but can be overpowered (and even damaged!) by excessive sound pressure. Condensers tend to be more expensive than dynamics, and will require phantom power (available on most mixers, but sometimes an external power source is used).

Okay, I've prattled on enough. Go read!

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October 07, 2006

Free Production Music

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 song).

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