Monday, August 30, 2021

Saying goodbye to the brilliant Ed Asner

 Ed Asner, actor, activist, audio book narrator, and much more, has passed away peacefully at the age of 91 with his family by his side.

He was best known for his role as boss man Lou Grant on the much Emmy awarded Mary Tyler Moore show, based in a TV news station in Minneapolis. Mr. Grant was gruff, straight forward, grouchy, argumentative, no nonsense, and sometimes warm a puppy. (Sounds a lot like my late Dad). A good number of folks may not know Ed Asner had success on TV before he took the role of Lou Grant on MTM. The bond he had onscreen with his talented castmates was undeniable. What an ensemble! Ed went on to do a spin off drama in 1977-"Lou Grant."

Mr. Asner was  a terrific audio book narrator and taught classes in L.A. with Pat Fraley of TV cartoon fame. Even though I don't specialize in audio book narration, I was tempted to enroll in one of the weekend classes just to meet him in person and have him critique my work. How cool that would have been.

Ed was part of one of the funniest TV moments - "Chuckles Bites the Dust." You can see and hear a clip of it here. You may have tears coming down your eyes when you're done watching it. Grab some tissue!

Hear Mr. Asner  narrate  books found on Audible. That's here.

Job well done sir. R.I.P.


Friday, August 27, 2021

A question I never get asked

 I've been doing voice overs for quite some time now. And like many, I tend to look at other voice over websites to hear demos, read information, and see how other talents are presenting themselves.

From time to time, I'll see an overly lengthy description about what gear they are using-microphone, pre-amp, etc. In all my years of doing voice over, I have never had a client/customer ask me what microphone I'm using. Or frankly, about ANY equipment I'm using. For the most part, they don't care! So when I see all the specifics about equipment on a voice over website, I consider it wasted space. Here's what clients/customers want and expect. A good, clean audio file with no background noise in the format of their choosing (MP3, WAV, AIFF) with no or very limited processing, delivered on time. As a voice over talent, it is the client's decision as to how the audio will be processed in post production. Whether it be the amount of compression, if any, volume, possible light reverb, de-essing or any other effect they desire. I have a Neumann TLM 103  and Sennheiser 416 in my studio. They are two of the most popular microphones for voice over work. They get the job done and satisfy my clients. But nobody ever asks about them. And I'm OK with that.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The importance of having a good recording space

For many voice-over artists, especially new ones, dealing with unwanted sound reflections off of walls and surfaces, as well as outside noise, is a common challenge. You can have an expensive microphone, but if you're not in a good recording environment, your voice-overs are going to suffer. It's sad to see so many new/unaware voice-over folks having their auditions or work rejected not necessarily because of how they voiced the copy, but because of negative sound related issues. You don't have to build an exceptional recording studio, but get into a space where you're not going to have your voice-overs sound like they were recorded in an echoing cave or tiled bathroom floor.  You Tube videos are full of awful audio; hum, hiss, a way off mike voice, distorted audio, "cheap microphone sound" with lots of sibilance-you name it. 

Foam, sound blankets, and baffles are just some things that can be used to improve the sound quality of your  voice-overs. Do some research on Google about this or go to You Tube and do a search about setting up a solid recording space before going out and spending a lot of money. And don't forget that large walk in closet that you might have could be a very good option to record in! You'd be amazed at some of the adequate, but not eye appealing recording spaces, voice actors use at home. Remember, the people who are hiring you to record don't see your recording space. They just want good, clean audio that adds value to their production. And check with headphones on to make sure your computer fan isn't heard in the background of your recording. If it IS, create some space between your laptop and the microphone.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

"Hello. I'm Johnny Cash." (A surprise throwback pic)

 This picture of me and Mr. Cash was totally unexpected and not planned.

It was my day to host and emcee on behalf of our radio station WIRK from the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach. Typically, you'd have a matinee show under the big tent at 4 PM and then an evening show at 8PM. We had an RV off the midway with a live microphone back to the main station so we could go on the air from the fair and yack for a minute or so to get people to come out to see the entertainment;most of it Country music stars.

A station photographer and friend of mine was at the ready and yelled, "Hey John!" as we were going up the stairs. We both looked over and he snapped this wonderful picture of the two of us. I forgot all about it until Sam the photographer brought it by the station a few days later and gave it to me. I was honored to be on the same steps with "The Man In Black." A  real treasured photo.                    


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

"Set It and Forget It!" and "Mr. Microphone"

 So, I hadn't seen Ron Popeil in a very long time and thought he had moved on to that big infomercial lounger in the sky a while back.  That is, until he passed away recently. Some of you reading this are very young and asking, "Who's Ron Popeil?" I would say one of the most successful marketers of all time. Everything he touched turned to gold. (OK. He had a few flops, but not many). He was known for inventing and TV marketing unique products; many of them in the over millions sold category. In case you've forgotten, here's a partial list of some of his hits:

1. Veg-O-Matic

2. Pocket Fisherman

3. Mr. Microphone  (The TV commercial for this one was absolutely hilarious. Hey, he sold over a million of them! I have the link to the commercial at the very bottom of this post. ) 

4. Smokeless Ashtray (Just what my Mom needed when Dad broke out his cigars in the living room.)

5. Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler 

6. Dial-O-Matic

7. Automatic Pasta Maker

8. GLH Formula Number 9 Hair System

 9. Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ Oven  ("Set It and Forget It!")

10. Electric Food Dehydrator

11.  Solid Flavor Injector

I took a few moments to check out some of his old TV infomercials on You Tube, and not only was he an inventing genius, he was quite funny in how he pitched his products on air.  As a kid, I watched many of his TV infomercials over and over again that just kind of drew your attention in.

I read his thoughts on being successful with his sales pitches and he said "Find out what people need and want and market to that."

Many of today's infomercials have taken their cue from him as to how to produce their shows. He seemed to always have a bonus to throw in with the deal. Famous for, "But wait! There's more!" (If you're desperately dating someone, say that at the end of the night.  OK, maybe not.) 

It's estimated he sold over a billion dollars of products through the course of his career. That's a lot of Veg-O-Matics.

Here's a link to the very funny "Mr. Microphone" TV commercial.