Monday, December 27, 2021

Another handy guide for your voice over toolbox

 As you record scripts for clients from your home studio, you may come across a proper name or foreign word that you can't find on You Tube for pronunciation help. A favorite audio pronunciation site I've been using for years is called "Forvo." There are many pronunciation guides online, but what I like about this one is you'll have many "real world folks" saying the word for comparison. As mentioned in another post on this blog, never go on just one person's pronunciation. Listen for multiple ones to make sure you'll be able to record it correctly and save time. 

Now, there are exceptions that you may encounter that can lead to frustration and confusion. I recently voiced a video narration for a large Mexican supermarket called "Chedraui." It's a very popular chain and they're expanding into the U.S. Ever heard of them? Me neither. So, I went online to check, and many of the pronunciations were being said in "mother tongue." Frankly, it was hard to understand, as the pronunciation varied. Many times it comes down to how the client wants it said. I found out Chedraui is a family name that goes way back in the supermarket's history. I went on You Tube and searched Chedraui videos and heard no less than 3 or 4 ways people were saying the name. So, checking with the person you're recording for and asking how they want the word pronounced may well be the way to go. Of course, if you're out of your home studio and being directed in a recording session, the director/producer should certainly be able to tell you on the spot how they want it said.

Forvo is quite extensive and useful--most of the time. And I find they often have pronunciations that other sites do not. Check them out here. Then bookmark them. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

My Dad the "voice over man"

 Christmas certainly brings back many fond memories; going out with family to a tree farm in the cold Ohio snow to find that just right one, and hauling it back home to set it up and put on tinsel, lights and decorations. The aroma of a freshly cut tree in the living room was wonderful. You knew Christmas had arrived.

I was thinking the other day, it's hard to believe, Dad has been gone for 12 years now. Gone... but certainly not forgotten. He was bigger than life, had boat loads of charisma, and enjoyed a good joke and cigar.  He  possessed mad, pro-level bowling skills (Once bowled a 299 in league competition! The alley gave him the pin that refused to fall) and despite all efforts, I could never beat him at pool. He was a master of the bank shot and showed no mercy to his opponents. 

Years ago, his brothers, sisters, and cousins, started a family tradition of getting together at Christmas time and having a nighttime "party for grownups." In other words, no children allowed. A big part of that was Dad's funny tape recording where he would mercilessly roast all those in attendance with bawdy, inside, family humor. He worked all year on recording funny bits, then played it at the party. (Think Dean Martin celebrity roast and you're on the right track). It drew big laughs, and those in attendance couldn't wait to hear what he had drummed up that year, even if the cringe factor was off the charts. I'm sure it was kind of an honor to have him roast you.

He had one of those old reel to reel tape recorders and a microphone set up year round in the bedroom, and when the inspiration hit him, he'd fire it up and use homemade sound effects, and his own devilish vocal delivery, to tell a funny story or joke about some unsuspecting family member. I remember him laughing hysterically as he put the whole thing together at home, and I could tell he truly enjoyed creating that year's comical masterpiece. It was, as they say, a labor of love. 

These days when we need a sound effect for a production, we can instantly find it online with the click of a mouse. Dad did it the old school way. And had a helluva good time doing it.



Monday, December 13, 2021

Is perfectionism ruining your voice over auditions?

 So you work from a home studio and do your fair share of auditions for voice over jobs. You preview the copy for clues as to how to audition; trying to zero in on what they are looking for. Perhaps you read the specs the client has provided as to what they want. You crank up your recording software, and with copy in hand, head into your booth, or wherever you do your voice work, to record the audition. Being a fairly new, enthusiastic voice talent, you aim for perfection. At this point, I'd like to step in and ask your permission to kindly offer you some advice. And here it is...   STOP trying to be perfect with your auditions! Aim for good or very good. Perfect? NO. Perfection is a very subjective thing. One man's perfect is another man's "Just OK." Trying to be perfect is a fool's game you'll never win. If you're standing or sitting in your booth recording an audition and wondering how you're doing as you're recording the copy ("Hmmmm. Does this sound right?") there's likely  going to be a disconnect. In other words, you should NOT be self critiquing as you're voicing the audition. 

Merriam-Webster dictionary has this definition of perfectionism:

"a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable"

Trust your voice! Try to bring something unique to your audition. Maybe a take on the copy that they would not expect. Strive to be DIFFERENT. And definitely forget about trying to be perfect. That's a waste of time, and you'll drive yourself crazy in the process. In my humble opinion, if you can't nail a solid audition in no more than 3-4 takes, you probably shouldn't be auditioning for the job. Too many takes and you'll be second guessing yourself as to what take to submit for the audition. You'll get lost in what I like to call, "Audition Hell." Be selective in what you audition for. And again, drop the need to be perfect. It's a myth. No voice actor markets himself/herself as a "Perfect voice talent." No voice actor is right for EVERY job. Even the greatest of the greats. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The tale of George Foreman and his mighty grill

 I was watching TV in the afternoon recently and almost fell off my chair when George Foreman came on a TV commercial for one of those Medicare benefits companies. According to celebrity net worth, and other sources, ol' George is worth somewhere around $300,000,000. In the commercial, with bubbling enthusiasm, George says, "Do like I did! Call the Medicare Helpline at the number on the screen to claim your extra $1700 a year in benefits!" I don't know about you but the idea of a guy who's worth 300 million dollars (good for him by the way) calling a helpline to claim an extra $1700 a year, is a bit laughable, and I dare say, unbelievable. The cynic in me thinks, "C'mon George. You didn't call the helpline and you know it." LOL. No issues with him doing the commercial at all. And I hope it genuinely helps people who could use the extra money. It's just that the premise makes me chuckle a bit. Oh well, when did TV commercials stop stretching the truth.

So, where did George earn the bulk of that fortune?  If you guessed boxing,guess again.

According to trusted sources...

"George was being paid  about 40 percent of the profits on each grill sold, earning him $4.5 million a MONTH in payouts at its peak, so it is estimated he made a total of over $200 million for the endorsement, a sum that is substantially more than he earned as a boxer." Ya think?

The kicker is, the grill endorsement was originally offered to Hulk Hogan (Terry Eugene Bollea), the wrestling god, who turned it down, and the endorsement was then offered to George.  Instead, Hulk endorsed the "Hulkamania Meatball Maker"which failed in the market.

So, just a common sense warning. If you ever run into Hulk Hogan, don't bring up the George Foreman Grill. He's likely to body slam you or put you in a nasty choke hold on the spot. That could be really embarrassing. And it might mess up your really expensive shoes.


Saturday, December 4, 2021

A cool piece on the late VO legend Don LaFontaine (The movie trailer guy)

 I miss seeing Don LaFontaine on funny TV commercials and recording movie trailers as only he could. I didn't know him personally but heard he was extremely generous in helping others with career advice.  Here's a video of him talking about his rise to international fame as a movie trailer superstar, and how as a kid, his voice just changed one day to a deep "growl".This clip has over 5 million views on You Tube! A fun watch. Don's great sense of humor comes through loud and clear.