Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"This copy stinks!" (A warning for you). And an Orson Welles drop by

 I don't think there's a voice actor who's been around for a while who hasn't received copy from clients/producers that lacks proper punctuation, misspelled words, or awkward phrasing. 

It's very frustrating for you, as the voice talent, because your goal is to make your read "sparkle." But that little voice inside your head says "I'm never going to be able to make this sound professional. Just too many errors." 

When in a recording session with a client, although tempting, never make fun of or mock the copy. The person directing you may have written it! He or she may not appreciate your on the spot critique. They may think it's a masterpiece.You feel otherwise. Keep it to yourself.

The best thing you can do is to roll with the flow. But you might want to politely say, "Where it says _____, do we want to say_____ ?" Defer to the client. They're paying you. If you're recording from your home studio without direction, you might want to email the client and ask about certain things before you start recording. Sometimes the client is "English second language" and they may be counting on YOU to smooth it out. This is common with overseas companies.

When I lived in Carolina, I use to drive down two times a week to a well known music service company that also produced on hold messages galore. I would sit in a booth for an hour and read message after message as the audio engineer captured my voice over in another room. Almost every session, there was  a piece of copy that would come up that looked like no one had bothered to proofread it. More than a few times,  I had to bite my lip. (And I have broad lips. Ouch!) Sometimes, the audio engineer would chime in with "Let's try it this way..."

Now, because you've read this post this far, I want to share with you an entertaining, old school recording session with the late, great, actor/producer/director/writer Orson Welles of "Citizen Kane" and "War of the Worlds" fame. He was recording a voice over for frozen peas and burgers, and to say that he was critical of the copy would be a huge understatement. Listen to how his anger builds with every mistake, and then he explodes before walking out of the session. It's a true classic. And funny too! Here's the link.

Friday, January 14, 2022

"Let's Get Ready To Rummmble!" (No, this is not about your family's last holiday get together)

 Years ago, I received an email from a gentleman who wanted me to record a TV commercial for him. As I remember, it was for a small/medium sized market. I asked him to email me the copy before I committed to recording it for him. I immediately noticed the copy contained the phrase "Let's Get Ready To Rumble!" I had read somewhere that the phrase had been trademarked by boxing announcer extraordinaire, Michael Buffer. If you watch sporting events, you've no doubt heard his over the top announcement at the beginning of a boxing match.  (Pic down below). He gets between $25,000 to $100,000 to say those five words, depending on the match! Yep. How sweet is that? He had the phrase trademarked back in 1992, and since then, it's been used in movies, TV shows, video games, Washington political hearings and beyond. (OK. I made that last part up, but it IS fitting).  In fact, it's estimated he's made $400,000,000 to date off the phrase. He and his company vigorously enforce the legal use of it.  He's actually made more off the licensing than ring announcing. 

Back to that customer who wanted me to say the phrase in his TV commercial. I emailed him back and clued him in. He had no idea it had been trademarked.  We went with some variation of "Let's Get Ready To Rumble!" and all was well.

This reminds me of the Wendy's TV commercial back in the 80's with Clara Peller-the onscreen, feisty, grandma known for her gripe, "Where's the Beef?!" Humorous, to say the least. Back then, the phrase caught wildfire and was being heard and seen everywhere; including on a huge bunch of tee shirts. Wendy's trademarked it back in 1984. I interviewed Clara on my radio show when I was on in West Palm Beach . She and her manager son were in town that weekend for a Senior Olympics event. Clara was extremely hard of hearing, and the story goes that when she was taping a TV commercial, with a few other grandmas standing behind a counter with her, a producer hidden down below tapped her on the ankle to bark those famous words "Where's the Beef?!" right on cue.

Now all you and I have to do is come up with another catchy marketing phrase that everyone wants and trademark it. I'll give you 50 percent. You in?