Wednesday, March 23, 2022

"I'm not Oprah, but here's my voice-over 'book club' recommendation"

 As I'm sure you've noticed, there are a ton of how-to voice-over books out there. Yesterday, I was doing some tidying up in my storage room and found a copy of "Voice over. Voice actor. What It's Like Behind The Mic." It was stuffed in the bottom of a cardboard box under a table. I had forgotten I bought a copy some years ago on Amazon. It's written by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt--a very talented husband and wife team who are A Listers in the animation voice-over world. What I love about this book is their sense of humor and its easy to understand advice and information about all things voice-over. This book will answer many questions you may have.

In it you'll find:

Ins and Outs of auditioning

Voice warm-ups

Tips for reading copy

How to stand out

How to market yourself--demo production

Agents (Their mindset and getting one)

Union vs. Non-Union work

What to expect when you land a voice-over job

The book is mainly geared toward beginners- intermediate, and it's a solid read.

I highly recommend. You can grab a copy on Amazon. It's 5 star rated by readers and has been updated.

Trends and business practices change quickly in the voice-over world.



Sunday, March 20, 2022

"Heavens to murgatroyd!" The Maury Show has been cancelled.

 Well, I'll be! After 31 years, the Maury Show has been cancelled; they're pulling the plug. Somebody hand me a tissue. How many DNA/paternity cases ("Sam is NOT the father!') can they show? I can think of a million other things I'd rather watch or do than Maury with all that false, made for TV drama; like go clean my shower stall. But this IS America; the home of the lowest common denominator, daytime TV sludge that poses as entertainment and "must see/guilty pleasure TV." 

Obviously, Maury had a big following. Since the show has been cancelled, I'm sure another show is in the works to grab those lost souls who got their daily dose of theatrics. What will they do? Many viewers have undoubtedly thought-- "My life was a shambles until I watched the Maury Show and saw all those crazy people onstage pathetically trying to sop up their 15 minutes of fame."  

My interaction with The Maury Show was limited to a millisecond, as I channel surfed for something informative and entertaining to watch. Silly me. That's like going to my local butcher shop expecting to find gardening tools. Oh well, there's always the Travel Channel. Oh, wait. My bad. In case you haven't dropped by there lately, the Travel Channel is mainly ghost/paranormal shows, NOT travel/adventure offerings. They DO have some non-ghost/non-bigfoot shows,but that's for very limited time slots.  One show features Ozzy Osbourne and wife Sharon, with producer son Jack, rating paranormal/scary videos from a no frills set with upholstered chairs. Ozzy looks like he's bored to tears and taking a nap, as Sharon teases him to wake up and participate. Another episode, their "behind the scenes" feature, was about how many times Ozzy had to go take a pee during the show's taping because he drank too many cups of coffee. I kid you not. I believe I heard the show has been cancelled after one season, as Ozzy's salty, off-the-cuff language was not acceptable to TV affiliate audiences around the country.

As always, with TV programming, follow the money. Whatever makes the ratings soar. Big ratings= big advertising $$$. That's the way it's always been and always will be. Outrageous behavior is the norm. "How low can they go?"is to be expected. As the old saying goes, "It smells but it sells."

I would say to Maury, "Hey, 31 years hosting a TV show is an amazing feat on daytime TV. Many shows get the axe after one season. Job well done." But I just can't bring myself to offer full-blown congratulations. So, I'll split the difference. "Enjoy your retirement Maury."

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The amazing Morgan Freeman and his voice tip

 So I was online the other day and stumbled on to an interviewer and the incredible Morgan Freeman talking about his big, deep, distinctive, authoritative voice. The interviewer, who was sitting back to the camera and not anyone famous, asked Morgan how he, the interviewer, could get a deeper voice. Morgan said something I have never heard before. He said, "yawn a lot." Yawn... really? He went on to say that yawning is one effective way to RELAX your vocal chords which will give you a deeper, richer pitch to your voice. I had heard about relaxing your vocal chords for effective voice-over, but never heard about using yawning to go deeper with your voice.

 I yawned a lot in junior high school as the teacher lectured on and on with a topic I was zoned out on, my eyes glazed over, but I don't recall my voice getting any deeper. But when Morgan Freeman speaks, people listen. So, I'll definitely take him at his word. Just be careful not to yawn when your other half is speaking to you at the end of his/her day with another all-important, drama filled story from work. Full attention please. Yawn at your own peril.

Then from an article in Time Magazine there's this...

"But there’s something deeper going on with the appeal of Freeman’s voice—literally. In scientific experiments, people consistently perceive low-pitched voices in men as stronger and more physically attractive than male voices with a higher pitch. “It’s not surprising that Morgan Freeman is used for a lot of voiceover work, because his voice is perceived as that of a dominant, strong male figure,” says Casey Klofstad, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami and researcher of how society and biology influence the way we make decisions."

I always have to laugh when I see cheesy ads where the voice seeker puts in their ad, "MUST sound exactly like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones." And then you see they're offering $20 for the voice-over.  Comedy at its best.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Ditch the headphones...sometimes

Here's a simple way to make your voice-over reads more natural sounding; take your headphones off when you record. The problem with wearing them in your home studio booth is, too often, voice talents get use to listening to their own voice in the headphones as they record.  I've been taking my headphones off for years and have never regretted it. Especially for those jobs where they want a conversational tone, like e Learning. Overloading your ears with sound is not going to be beneficial.

Now, that said, sometimes you must wear them. If you're at a recording session, you'll need to have them on so as to be able to hear input from the director who is outside your booth; usually looking at you through glass. You can turn the volume of the headphones down a bit as you read script.

I know. I know! You like the sound of your own voice flooding through your headphones and into your ears when you record. You're comfortable that way. Let me ask you something. What exactly are you listening for when you put on headphones inside your home studio booth? While you stumble and bumble to come up with a legitimate answer, I would suggest you try an experiment; take your headphones off in your recording booth. If you're in love with the sound of your own voice with your headphones on, you'll probably be uncomfortable for a while. Stay with it! Your reads will benefit. 

If you're editing audio, of course, you'll want to have your headphones on to check for unwanted mouth clicks and any other undesirable sounds you can edit out. Sometimes studio monitors will not give you super accurate feedback. With your headphones on while editing, you'll hear things you won't hear on your monitors.

A good set of headphones is a must for any studio. I use Audio-Technica. But there are a ton of different, quality brands out there. Sony, Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser come to mind. Do some research online before buying. Stay away from "cheap" headphones. Not all are created equal. Over the years, I've used Broadcast Supply Worldwide to buy my studio equipment and have been pleased with the price, quality, and on-time delivery. Here's a link to their headphone offerings.

Monday, March 7, 2022

"Pssst! I have something really cool to share with you"

One of my favorite, top tier, A List voice actors is Scott Rummell; a terrific promo and trailer voice. He's a big league talent you've no doubt heard over the years. A Disney voice, Lee Jeans and much more. He also seems like a very generous and nice guy. 

Here's a link to Scott in an L.A. studio recording a new commercial demo. Watch the process. Much to learn from this. It runs about 20 minutes. You'll notice the session was "light and breezy." The guy producing the demos is Chuck Duran of "Demos That Rock Studio" in L.A. 

And here's a link to a really entertaining TED Talk Scott gave where he speaks about how he got started in voice acting. Very enjoyable. I highly recommend you watch it. It's truly inspirational and also runs about 20 minutes. If you've been sitting on the fence about getting into voice acting, maybe this will give you the kick in the pants you need. Even if you're not a voice actor, check it out. The power of persistence comes through loud and clear.


Friday, March 4, 2022

How is your stuff doing these days?

 In my early days of radio broadcasting, I was constantly moving to the next opportunity. U-Haul and I were the best of friends. I usually rented the smallest truck. I made it a rule not to hang on to useless clutter that I would have to senselessly move to my next town. Besides, most of the time when they hired you, they'd want you there in days...not weeks.

Which brings me to the fine art of clutter. Some folks are really good at it. I don't have a lot of that here at my place as I've never been a "things" person. I'm allergic to malls. A few months ago, I went down to my carport storage, unlocked the door for the first time in years, and saw a few big Tupperware containers which I had forgotten I had down there. Much to my surprise, there was a shoe box crammed with cassette tapes of my old radio shows. I took the box out and went back upstairs to my living room where I could see dates on the cassettes; some of them dating back to the mid 80's! Not having a cassette player, I called a friend who had one, and she gladly loaned it to me. Playing the tapes of my early radio shows was kind of weird. Some of my on-air antics were cool; others I was less impressed with. Time gives you a whole different perspective. I even had a recording of a couple of actors who visited my studio for a live, on-air interview from "Greater Tuna," a very funny show featuring Joe Sears and Jaston Williams; a comedic play set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas, the "third- smallest" town in the state.

After listening, I was going to put the cassettes in a closet, when it occurred to me, I would probably never be listening to them again. All of this was from my past, and it had very little sentimental value to me. I took the entire box, cassettes and all, and threw them in the garbage can for Monday morning pickup. See how easy that was? Something clicked, and it made me feel good. 

I went through my closet and found like new pants and other clothes I will never wear. Off  they went to my neighborhood Goodwill. "Ahhhh...much better now." 

 I was reading a book by one of my favorite British authors, Stuart Wilde, where he speaks about decluttering our lives and making way for the new and the good that's coming to you. I'm a firm believer. Less, not more, is the way to go.    

Some people just can't imagine throwing their useless junk away; they seem attached to it. And I'm not talking about hoarders.  Even though they've never touched it in years, there it sits taking up space and collecting dust.  And God forbid they should have to move. That'll take days to relocate all the stuff they never use. They'll have to rent out that jumbo sized U-Haul you see around town to get all that junk to a new location; and beg family and friends to help them move all that crap stuff into and out of the truck. Insane, I say. Get rid of it already! You'll feel much better. And "lighter." Out with the with the new!