Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Commercial Demo!

I'm excited to announce that my new commercial demo is finished! It's been uploaded to my web site demo page or you can just listen here.

It was produced by voice coach extraordinaire Nancy Wolfson with Rick Santizo engineering at Santisound in LA. I recorded via ISDN from my studio patched to Rick's Source Connect via Dave Immer at Digifon. Ain't technology grand?

Everyone was great to work with. Nancy hand picked copy for me and directed as the culmination of working with me for several months guiding me as she learned my strengths and inherent style. She is absolutely fantastic to work with! Her brand of "tough love" as she calls it is that and more, and it gets results! Her thoughtful, experienced insight into what makes a commercial tick and how to ferret out all the nuances of all types of commercials is amazing. When you hear what she has put together, you are both in awe of her at how she "gets" it and dumbfounded as to how you could have missed it! It's a practical step by step to breaking down and analyzing the copy when you've just been leaving it to "feeling it organically" all these years - and missing more than you ever thought. Tough love aside, Nancy is warm and funny, and truly cares about her students reaching their highest potential. She's not afraid of tackling the daunting task of teaching an old dog new tricks!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Voice Over Studio equipment

Just thought I'd finally add a new post. It's been a very busy summer with lots of work, kids home from school, family visits & celebrations, vacation, etc. The new studio project is slowly moving forward due to all the other craziness - I'd hoped to have it done by now! The good news is that the extra time it's taking to secure just the right contractors, designers, etc. has given me extra time to think about exactly how I want things to be done. So, decisions have been made that should help speed up the process once work actually begins.

To top that off, I've already started acquiring some of the new office equipment that will be in the studio - large screen monitors, new computers, ergonomic keyboards, shelving, chairs, etc. So, this weekend, that is being set up in my current studio to at least make it more efficient and comfortable until the renovation is complete and new audio booth is built - and we get to move everything again!

A new commercial voice over demo is in the works, too! I'll be working with Nancy Wolfson on that in early September - very excited about that as well!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What ever happened to ad agencies paying for client demos?

Gee, I'm sure someone has ranted on this before, but it just struck me again this morning as I viewed an audition that was sent my way via an online voice over site. The "voice seeker" specified, "If you have to place an audio watermark, please make it a small beep or noise, we can't show our client VO with another music bed underneath or wrong words. Thanks for your time! Good luck! "

Ok, we get tons of auditions like these, but obviously, the client intends to pitch his/her idea using at least one of the auditions he/she receives. We can protect ourselves by using a watermark to their specs to keep it from airing (hopefully), but sounds like it will still be used as a client "demo".

We used to get paid for client "demos". There are AFTRA and SAG rates in place for client demos and even non-union agents will charge a demo rate (I hope). I still do work for major agencies who pay demo rates for animatics, etc. But out here in cyberspace without an agent to follow up or in the case of non-union projects (which most of these are) without a union to enforce the rates, voice over talent are giving away free client demos on a daily basis. Sure, you can pass on the audition. Sure you can just give them a portion of the spot (which I often do instead of watermarking), but does that just cut you out of the running for the "real" spot right from the start? Probably.

It all boils down to our knowledge of and willingness to accept these types of auditions. I'm sure it's happened ever since talent agents created sound booths in their offices for auditions. What was delivered to the ad agency may not have been the most pristine audio, but it could service for a client demo - and I'm sure many have. The only way you know for sure is when the ad agency books studio time and your time specifically to record a demo. Otherwise, you, as a professional voice over talent, have to try to take care of yourself when sending out air quality audio auditions!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Audio Studio in the Works!

Having recently been inspired by Joe Cipriano's wonderful new studio , I'm on the road to a complete audio studio update, myself! This past winter, I was toying with the idea of getting a Whisper Room, but realized it would just be too cramped in my present studio. Joe's space reminded me so much of a space we have that was scheduled for a transformation anyway, that it became clear that it needed to become my new studio. The room has large picture windows and the plan is for a free standing custom built audio booth with at least one large window that will allow me to see outside so I can acutally see the sunshine while recording instead of spending hours in a black hole. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to be spending so much time recording voice overs, but having visual access to the outdoors during the process will be so good for my mental health!

There's a lot of work ahead of us on this project, but it is exciting and will hopefully be completed well before summer is over. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Voice Talent Advice #9 - Editing Breaths

As voice talent with our own home studios we engineer our own sessions; however, many of us do not consider ourselves to be true audio engineers. We have learned enough and purchased the right equipment to produce a high quality sounding recording, and some of us can even mix in a little music, but personally, I would not really call myself an engineer. I know my audio engineer friends would heartily agree with me.

There are, of course, voice talent out there who have as many years engineering as they do voicing. By that, I mean they have many years of both! What I'm about to share is not for them, but for those of us who have many more years voicing than engineering for ourselves. This seems so simple, but I hadn't really thought of it before. One thing that often bothers us in playback is that a breath may seem too loud or there is some other extraneous noise between words. Although some audio software (Pro Tools, I believe), does allow you to "soften" all the breaths in one fell swoop, others of us using different software have to manually deal with each offending instance.

There are a number of ways we try to do this. The breath can simply be cut, the area can be "silenced", the breath can be normalized to a much lower level, or you can record ambient sound and cut and paste it in place of the breath, noise, or gap between the words. Cutting works if there is enough space to allow for a normal pause between words, but if there is not enough space, the result will be a choppy, disjointed reading that will affect your normal timing. To highlight the offending area and replace it with silence can work, especially if music will be mixed with the voice eventually. However, if music is not going to be added, there might be a noticeable difference between the noise floor of your read and the space between the words. This will sound too abrupt - like a drop out - and draw attention to the fact that editing has been done. It could also possibly highlight the general noise floor of your recording - which, hopefully, isn't the case since you've learned to keep that noise floor low.

Lately, I've found what works best for me in the situation where I don't want to leave the breath at all or there is some other noise is to highlight that area and simply hit record. The space is automatically filled with the ambient noise floor of the entire recording. I'm sure some of you are having a "well duh" reaction, but I can honestly say this just occurred to me recently. It's so much simpler than cutting and pasting ambient sound into that space.

As I said, I'm sure many of you are way beyond this information, but I thought there might be a few other "non-engineers" out there who could benefit from my little "discovery". It's made a world of difference to me.