Archive for 2014 | Yearly archive page
Protect Your Hearing (and Your Voice-over/Audio Career)
By Mike Broderick
Of late there has been a spate of blog posts and articles about protecting your most important voice-over instrument, your voice, from everything from the impending cold-and-flu-season to the ravages of mis-use and “vocal fry”.
In fact, just this week, J. Christopher Dunn has published a helpful article in VoiceOverXtra about keeping your personal studio clean and healthy to help protect yourself from colds and flu. (You can find it at: http://www.voiceoverxtra.com/article.htm?id=UQ2ZKDJA .)
As distressing as having a sore throat, a cold, or the flu can be for a voice-over artist, there’s also another sense that is indispensable to your quality of life and the future of your voice-over or audio career: your hearing. And unlike sore throats, which tend to come and go, hearing loss is often permanent.
This has been brought home to me in recent weeks as I’ve been contending with infections in both of my ears. (For me this has been like a strange, unpleasant version of “Throwback Thursday,” as I’d suffered several bouts of “swimmer’s ear” when I was younger.)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately of both those past experiences and also how critical my hearing is to me and my burgeoning voice-over career.
As voice-over artists or voice actors we depend on clear hearing to perform essential functions like:
- Understanding and following verbal direction
- Performing proper self direction
- Editing and mastering audio files
- Hearing the nuances in other people’s reads and in copy currently on air
- Using our own vocal capabilities to their fullest extent, and
- Correctly pronouncing words and phrases.
I know from both professional and also personal experience that significant hearing loss can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to communicate in a hearing world and that it can lead to significant social isolation.
Early in my career I worked for the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I learned a great deal about the many challenges faced by people who suffer significant hearing loss and deafness.
Subsequently I’ve seen this firsthand as some members of my family (both immediate and extended) have suffered deafness due to age, occupational injury, and/or viruses.
Although I expect to fully recover soon from these infections, the thought of what would happen if I ever lost my hearing has been nagging at me, and for good reason:
Action on Hearing Loss, formerly the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, says of noise-induced hearing loss on its website (http://actiononhearingloss.org.uk):
“The damage builds up gradually, and the effects may not be noticed until years later, when it is too late – most hearing loss or tinnitus caused by noise exposure is permanent.
You can prevent deafness due to noise by taking steps to protect your hearing and by reducing the length of time you listen to very loud sounds.
Listening to any sound at a high volume – more than 89dB – for more than five hours a week can damage hearing permanently over time.”
The site also notes that more than 70% of people aged 70+ have some level of hearing loss – further impetus to do all we can to protect our hearing from damage caused by noise.
While there may be some exceptions (the human spirit and human resiliency know no bounds) it would be highly unlikely, at best, for a person to be able to carry on successfully as a voice-over artist (or in any audio-related profession) subsequent to significant hearing loss.
For these reasons I’ve begun taking some proactive steps to look after and protect my hearing (and, by extension, my voice-over career). I share them here in case they can also help other members of the voice-over fraternity and sorority, as well as audio engineers, and producers:
- I’ve gone to my doctor (twice). If you notice any change in your hearing such as infection, tinnitus (defined by Action on Hearing Loss as “the perception of noise, either in one ear, both ears, or in the head, when there is no corresponding external sound”), or if you have been having difficulty understanding conversation in crowded/noisy locations, don’t delay: book an appointment to see your doctor. At the on-set of my current infections, I didn’t heed my own advice to go to the doctor right away, which I now regret.
- I’ve booked an appointment with an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Specialist to further check the health of my ears.
- On the advice of my doctor, I’ve begun wearing ear plugs in the shower. Because I have naturally-narrow ear canals and have had previous bouts of swimmer’s ear, my doctor has instructed me to wear ear plugs to keep bath water from getting trapped in my ears and creating more infections.
This will also help protect me from exostosis within the ear canal, otherwise known as “Surfer’s Ear,” where repeated exposure to cold water causes additional bone growth in the ear canal, further narrowing the canal. This, in turn, can cause more infections.
From what I’ve read, the only treatment for advanced cases of exostosis within the ear canal is surgery, using a drill or hammer and chisel, either through the ear canal itself or through the back of the ear. While it feels a little silly to wear ear plugs in the shower, it sure beats the prospect of getting a drill or chisel in the ear.
If, like me, you spend, or have spent, a lot of time in the water and/or if you have been susceptible to infections like swimmer’s ear over the years, do yourself a favor and consider buying some earplugs to use when you shower, bathe, and swim.
I’m using some off-the-shelf rubber swimming plugs that appear to work fine, but you can also get some custom-made plugs designed to fit your ears, by contacting an audiologist or through sites such as http://www.surfplugs.co.uk. While I can’t vouch for the efficacy of their product yet, the Surf Plugs do look promising. Their website also contains useful information about Surfer’s Ear and is one of the sites that I used to research this blog post.
- I’ve stopped listening to podcasts and music in bed. As you may know from my previous blog post about voice-over podcasts (http://www.mikebroderickvoiceover.com/blog/want-to-learn-about-the-voice-over-industry-quickly-simply-press-play/ ), I like listening to podcasts like EWABS, VO Buzz Weekly, and the VO Cafe, amongst many others.
I’d gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts in bed, but on a couple of occasions I’d found that the volume had shot up after I’d fallen asleep, which was really dangerous. This was a useful reminder to look after my hearing in leisure situations as well. (I’ve also been thinking a lot recently of a young guy at my former place of work. I’d see him in the elevator/lift some mornings, white ear buds firmly tucked into his ears and his music blaring so loudly that even I could hear it. Unfortunately, I suspect that there will be hearing aids in his future.) Needless to say, I now do my podcast and music listening during waking hours only
- I consciously turn my headphones down. I don’t currently have studio speakers, so I use high-quality noise cancelling headphones when I edit my auditions and recordings. As I often have them on for long periods of time, I’ve begun turning the volume down to the lowest usable level as a way of further protecting myself.
I also try to consciously turn the volume down at the start of an editing session, so that I don’t forget. (Recently, with my hearing temporarily dulled by the infections, my wife noticed that my headphones were very loud while I was editing a job. I hadn’t even noticed, because I wasn’t hearing clearly. This, quite simply, was a recipe for further potential hearing loss.)
- I now do more of my editing by sight. It’s usually possible to see mouth clicks and other noises visually in the wave form (not to mention through “spectral editing,” which is something I hope to learn how to do soon in Audacity). I’ve been trying to do as much visual editing as I can get away with to cut the amount of time that I’m using my headphones. I’ve even found it possible to edit down breaths visually by reducing the decibels during pauses between words, although I’ve learned that you’ve got to listen carefully to the finished product before sending it to the client to make sure that no syllables or words have dropped out.
- I intend to buy studio speakers to further cut my need for headphones.
One of the great things about being voice-over artists and entrepreneurs is that we don’t have anyone looking over our shoulders, and we don’t have to worry about certain forms of corporate bureaucracy and regulations – particularly if we do most of our work from home. But it also means that there’s no one there to advise us as to whether our work stations and equipment are set up correctly to protect us from things like eye strain, repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, and hearing loss. It’s down to us to look after our own occupational health and safety.
I hope that the steps I’m taking, and that I’ve shared with you here, will help protect both me and you from potential hearing loss, so that we can have good hearing and clear communication into the future, and so that we can continue to “work the mic” for many years to come.
For more information on hearing loss, its causes, and prevention, please see the websites of: Action on Hearing Loss (http://actiononhearingloss.org.uk) and The Hearing Loss Association of America (http://www.hearingloss.org). Action on Hearing Loss also has a “Check Your Hearing” app available on its homepage and in the Apple App Store.
With a Little Help from Our Friends
How Meetings on Google Hangouts are Enriching the VO Journeys of 6 Voice-over Artists
By Carrie Afrin, Debby Barnes, Mike Broderick, Mel Elliott, Steve O’Neill, and Guy Slocombe
Beginning in April this year, a group of four of us (Debby, Mel, Mike, and Steve) started meeting once a month on Google Hangouts to talk about all things voice-over, share our experiences, and offer each other support, encouragement, and advice.
The experience has been tremendous – one we’d recommend without hesitation to voice-over artists and voice actors everywhere.
We thought we’d share with you how we started our group, how it works, why it works, and what it means to each of us.
How it began
The four of us had a shared connection: We’d all taken part separately in Gary Terzza’s VO Masterclass, and subsequently met each other through Google+ and Twitter, although to this day we’ve never met in person.
We got along well and found ourselves sharing tips and advice on social media. Mel had experimented with Google Hangouts with a couple of us to test it for use with a client, and then Mike suggested meeting regularly in a Google hangout, as he’d had a good experience taking part in meetings of the VAU Mic Check.
After a flurry of emails and diary checking we settled on a set date and time to meet once a month, with Steve taking on the duties of sending out the meeting invites on Google+. (Thank you Steve!)
How it Works
We meet on the last Friday of each month at 11a.m., and the meetings run from 60-90 minutes. Because we’re all based in the UK and in the same time zone, it made it easier for us to find a time when we could all meet.
(If you’re inspired to use Hangouts for your meetings, one thing to consider when using Google+ to send invitations is that it seems to apply different time zones to different accounts, even if you select the same time zone (such as GMT) for the meeting. This is something we learned when our first Google+ invite requested we meet at 4am!)
There is no set agenda or formal structure, although we generally start each chat with an overview of how we’ve each done over the month.
From there the discussions can flow across a wide variety of topics from pre-screening Debby’s brand new commercial demo (which is superb), to hearing about booked jobs or interesting auditions over the past month, to learning how Steve’s sharp, new marketing videos are being received by his local business community, to the tricky issues of dealing with awkward foreign translations, or setting voice-over rates.
All discussions take place in a safe, supportive environment, and everyone has time to speak and ask questions.
It’s worked so well that we’ve even agreed to cross-refer each other to potential clients when our individual voices and skill sets don’t suit a given project.
Why it Works
To a person we’re all positive, supportive, and helpful people who ensure that the group remains an open, non-competitive forum. This is critical to the group’s success.
We take a professional approach to voice-over and are dedicated to mastering the craft (none of us would touch Fivver with the proverbial barge pole). We’re generally new to the industry (with our individual experience ranging from 6 months to three years), and most of us have come into voice-over after a career change – with the majority having worked in corporate or business – support positions.
Our group also has gender balance (with three females and three males), decent geographic coverage across the UK (the Southeast, Midlands, and North of England, as well as Scotland), a bit of international flair (with 4 Britons and 2 UK-based Americans), and varied voice styles and unique selling points.
What started as the VO Fantastic Four (a tongue-in cheek effort to “Marvel-ise” our little group) has recently grown to the VO Super Six, with the addition of Guy Slocombe who joined us for the first time in August, and Carrie Afrin who will join us in September.
We’ve decided to cap the group at 6, as we feel this would give us the maximum amount of wide-ranging input and advice, while allowing each of us enough time to speak and ask questions.
What it means to us
Carrie Afrin (http://www.carriesvoice.co.uk/) – Female Scottish Voice-over Artist (Scottish Highlands, Scotland)
“I am very new to the group, but I am loving it already! Everyone has been so supportive of each other, and it is great to have the guys on hand for some feedback on a voice file or a marketing idea.
I like the idea of sharing our marketing efforts and ideas. Sometimes when you try something different in your campaign it can take up quite a bit of time and effort. I’m working on quite a big marketing project at the moment, and I’ve discussed it with the team. This way I can test it out, and if it is successful then maybe one of the others could do it for their campaign. On the other side, if it turns out to be unsuccessful then it is only my time that is wasted rather than a few of us, and the rest of the group know not to bother with that particular activity.
As a group we can test out a lot more marketing strategies than we could individually. The way I see it, increased marketing can only make our individual businesses stronger.”
Debby Barnes (http://www.debbybarnes.com/) – Female American Voice-over Artist (Oxfordshire, England)
What I’ve experienced in this particular posse can never be underestimated. Sharing lives, stories, experiences, values, and views has been profitable, uplifting and comforting as well.
The individuals involved are marked with the same kind of open, honest, affable and gracious qualities that the Voice-over Community as a whole is marked with.
And because I haven’t enjoyed the luxury of getting to one of the coveted VO conferences yet (…though I’m panting for the day I can!), this Google+ circle has been such a boon.
Voice-over professionals all over the globe share an isolated, home-studio/ “cave-dwelling” lifestyle, so this is a welcome hangout. After all, it gets lonely inside our “caves”.
Mike Broderick (http://www.mikebroderickvoiceover.com/) – Male American Voice-over Artist (Essex, England)
“For starters, all the members of our group seem to be very good and nice people, and I’m so glad to be getting to know them.
They are incredibly generous, helpful, and supportive. Each has gone out of their way to help me, and I’m very appreciative.
Mel has pointed me in the direction of some sizeable auditions (which ultimately connected me to the Voice Realm and auditions through Marc Cashman) and also recommended me and Steve to a video producer. Steve has shared his tips for creating great voice-over marketing videos. Debby has informed me of an excellent demo producer (Anthony Reese) to consider when I need a new demo, and Guy has offered to master music into some of my audio files.
In addition, my compatriot Debby and I have discussed the special challenges and opportunities associated with being American voice-over artists based in the UK.
Every month I’m inspired to hear how the other members of our group are booking jobs and chasing their VO dreams with gusto, and I’m very happy to be a part of their journeys.”
Mel Elliott (http://www.melsbritishvoice.co.uk/) – Female English Voice-over Artist (Leicester, England)
“A request from a client to direct a session using Google Hangouts resulted in my first ‘face to face’ meeting with Steve & Mike.
Having only hooked up on Google+ via the Mighty Mr Gary Terzza, it was a bit of a punt to be honest to ask them to test it out with me before I met with my client for real.
I was astonished how readily they both came to my rescue – fully kitted out Superman style with their pants outside their trousers! Well, they may well have been for all I could see! Up until then, other than Gary’s support, I’d pretty much followed the solitary VO journey using the endless streams of information online … and I can tell you I’ve never looked back.
With the infectious enthusiasm of Debby to add to the mix, our first Google Hangout was a breath of fresh air for me – an excited sharing of experiences, pearls of wisdom, and a realisation that we have something special here!
With Guy and Carrie on board now, too, we’re a force to be reckoned with! The breadth of background, knowledge, styles and skills coupled with a willingness to share it with each other is, without a doubt, a recipe for continued success and growing friendships for us all! And I for one am delighted to be part of it!”
Steve O’Neill (http://www.steveoneillvoice.com/) – Male English Voice-over Artist (Hampshire, England)
“When I first set out in voiceover, I found the VO community to be the most supportive, accessible, considered, and balanced group of people I have EVER worked with. Whilst we all want success, it does not come at the expense of other VO artists – a truly refreshing balance.
Having the benefit of being able to video conference with like-minded VO people, the monthly hangout is invaluable. It lets me catch up, have a laugh, learn and find out how other people solve the challenges I’ve been faced with, without fear of criticism or ridicule. I find myself being totally honest (a little too much sometimes!)
It also enables me to test my ideas with a group of people who can offer a balanced, considered and – most importantly – real world viewpoint.
At first we had considered various lengths of time, but monthly seems to work, and they don’t half come around quickly!
I love being able to share, critique, giggle and generally keep in touch with reality each month.
- Debby is our voice of experience, and one of the kindest people I know.
- Mike offers a truly rounded viewpoint, and loves the ‘tech’ side of what we do.
- Mel perhaps has the most similar background to me, and defines the word ‘professional’ – she keeps me in order too!
- Guy brings a wider spectrum of experience, and has some fab tips!
- Carrie is a tornado of ideas, enthusiasm and energy – can’t wait for our next session and for her to join us.
I would thoroughly recommend meeting up with your own group of peers/colleagues/friends using Google Hangouts, particularly if you’re looking for something informal and straightforward.
I’m looking forward to the next session, gang!”
Guy Slocombe (http://www.guyslocombevoiceover.com/) – Male English Voice-over Artist (North Yorkshire, England)
“After 20 years working in the corporate sector, I decided to change my life and follow my dream of becoming a professional VO artist and actor.
I hooked up with Gary Terzza and then went for it (and continue to do so) at 100mph, with the result of now having clients in the USA, UK, Europe, and India in addition to being on Spotlight.
It was through a conversation I had about ipDTL (Yes, I know, but at least it’s not about the weather) that led me to Mike Broderick’s door. We were able to help each other out and get a connection via ipDTL in advance of any clients wanting to use this medium.
To me that sums up the ethos of the members of the VO community I have met so far. We are all in the same boat, locked away in our acoustic-tiled cell with optional bass traps (stop it!) loving what we do, wanting it to be the best and of the highest quality.
Through Mike I have joined the group, and it has been a real pleasure to spend time with fellow VO artists. We can share our knowledge and experience to help each other, and you know what…we are all unique and bring our own skills to the table.
If someone asks me now whether I can recommend a genuine American voice…Yes I can, y’all!”
For more information about our Google Hangouts group, or if we can assist you with your voice-over project needs, please contact: Carrie, Debby, Guy, Mel, Mike, or Steve via our websites. We’re always happy to help!
Welcome to the UK: ACX
By Mike Broderick
I heard some news last night, oh boy, that really made my day. The behemoth, the leviathan, the 800 pound-gorilla of audio-book publishing and narration Audiobook Creation Exchange, better known as ACX, is now open for business in the UK.
I’d been hearing for months and months about the flood of audio-book narration opportunities that had created a new genre within the voice-over industry over the last few years. And the principal player by far was said to be ACX, a platform of audio-book publisher Audible, an Amazon company.
Excited by the opportunities, I went to the ACX website a few months ago and started reading. There were opportunities to audition and provide a per finished hour rate or to take a royalty share option. It all sounded great, and I couldn’t wait to get started. But there was a problem: I’m an American living in the UK and ACX wasn’t available in the UK. (As I understood it, as an American I would have had to submit an IRS W9 form, which requires a US address, and I don’t have one. After yesterday’s announcement ACX now says that if I can provide either US or UK tax and bank information, I can participate.)
I then sat on the sidelines, watching as one of the biggest opportunities in the voice-over industry was passing me by. I was bemused by a number of ironies: I am American but couldn’t access opportunities offered by an American company; I was new to the voice-over industry after a career change, but for all intents and purposes, couldn’t take part in one of the most fertile voice-over genres for newcomers; authors, producers and voice actors based in the United Kingdom (home to three of the biggest phenomena in the history of publishing – William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, and E.L. James (of 50 Shades of Grey fame) – couldn’t participate, and Simon Vance, one of the industry’s most prolific and award-winning actors and narrators, is British and lives in the United States.
So, yesterday’s announcement comes as a welcome relief to me and presumably others who live in the United Kingdom.
I’m by no means Pollyanna about the opportunity. I’ve read Paul Strikwerda’s seminal blog post on audio-book narration rates (http://www.nethervoice.com/2009/10/24/breaking-down-audio-book-rate/). I know audio-book publishers have very strict audio and submission requirements. I’m aware that intensive and extensive editing time is required, which limits availability for other voice-over opportunities. I know that audio-book narration pays less on an hourly basis than other forms of voice-over and that the voice-over industry was roiled by ACX’s recent cuts in royalty rates. I also understand that some voice-over veterans wouldn’t touch audio-book narration with a 10 foot pole (or a barge pole, as they say here in the UK).
Those are all considerations for another day. Today I am no longer that kid with my nose pressed against the window of the candy store (or sweet shop) dying to go in, but unable to enter.
If I may be so bold (and we Americans are nothing if not bold) let me take this opportunity to welcome ACX to the United Kingdom. As Tom Bodett used to say in those old Motel 6 commercials, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
 Apologies to John, Paul, George, and, of course, Ringo (“Peace and Love. Peace and Love.”). For information on the announcement see: http://blog.acx.com/2014/04/09/acx-is-now-open-to-uk-authors-and-voice-actors/
In Business, Be Forward In Coming Forward
By Mike Broderick
In recent weeks, as I’ve been marketing my new freelance voice-over business, a fantastic British phrase has been popping across my synapses.
The phrase, which I think can be helpful in both business and in life, is “backward in coming forward”.
Formally, it means “to be shy and not often express wishes or opinions,” as defined by Cambridge Dictionaries Online.
In common usage, though, I’ve always heard it expressed in the negative: “Jane’s not backwards in coming forward. She’ll always complain if her restaurant order isn’t just right.”
It also seems to have a somewhat negative connotation. My wife Suzanne, who is English, said it might be viewed as a slight pejorative, with a meaning akin to pushy.
Certainly in this context it’s germane to business: It’s never really a great idea to be pushy or rude, and certainly not to potential clients.
But my American brain, steeped in a culture that prizes individuality, self-reliance, and moxie (and marinated in success literature from the likes of Brian Tracy), sees the phrase differently.
For me, “not being backward in coming forward” is positive. It’s a call to action. It’s a rallying cry to take on the marketing and running of my business (including the less pleasant tasks) with gusto.
As entrepreneurs we all face a range of challenges and hurdles that can stop our momentum if we let them. This is particularly true if we hang back and play it safe or give in to the very human temptation to do that which we want to do instead of that which we ought to do.
For some, these hurdles might be making cold calls, organising a direct mail campaign, meeting potential clients, or even invoicing and doing the taxes.
On the marketing side, the challenge is to put your best foot forward, to trumpet your unique selling points, and perhaps, most importantly, to put across your authentic self – all in the face of potential rejection.
The key is to do so confidently and in faith, despite any fears of rejection that may arise.
In voice-over, where auditioning is required, rejection is a regular part of the job even for the most successful voice actors and voice-over artists. It still doesn’t make rejection or running a voice-over business any easier, and a positive attitude and self-generated momentum are critical.
That’s why I like the phrase “not backward in coming forward” so much. It speaks of movement and momentum and action. It even holds within it the business truism that if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward.
An American phrase which was coined by former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Hightower, has also been pinging around my brain. When I lived in Austin, Texas years ago, Mr. Hightower was fond of saying: “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”
While Mr. Hightower was speaking about not riding the political fence, I think it reflects that in life and in business you can play it safe, and even be safe, but you won’t necessarily get where you want to go.
So the next time you’re faced with making that cold call, writing that letter, or staring at a great opportunity to market your business, remember, as I plan to, the phrase: “Don’t be backward in coming forward.”
Be confident, be bold, and be brave.
And stay away from those yellow lines and dead armadillos.
Creating Voice-Over Demos on YouTube (and LinkedIn) with Windows Movie Maker
By Mike Broderick
YouTube is becoming a very popular place for Voice-over artists to market their services and even pick up potential business and clients.
For a few weeks now I’ve wanted in on the action, but I couldn’t figure out how to get my demos into video format. I’d envisioned having to buy expensive video editing software for my PC or needing to dance with death and download free software replete with potentially spam-laden surprises.
Little did I know that I already owned the required software, and that the process to create YouTube-ready demos was simple, painless, and generally quick and easy.
A Google search of recommended software for creating YouTube videos pointed me in the direction of Windows Movie Maker. I’d never heard of it, but a quick search showed that it was already on my laptop.
Using Movie Maker
Full disclosure: my version of Movie Maker harks back to the days when Barack Obama was still the junior Senator from Illinois and the Palm Treo was the height of smart phone technology. Newer versions are available via free download from Microsoft for Windows 7 & 8. These are presumably at least as user-friendly as my older version, if not more-so.
I found Movie Maker to be incredibly intuitive, and I didn’t need to read any instructions to create my first video of my voice-over demo. (I think I read only one tip in the help section along the way.)
The software enables you to create a project, import your mp3 demo(s) and any photos or video that you want to use in your demo film, copy and paste the photos or snippets of video and sequence them where you want them on the timeline, and create an opening title and closing credit slide. Using a drag and drop approach, you can then create a YouTube-ready video of your voice-over demo in minutes.
In putting my films together, I:
1) Created a new project using the file menu
2) Imported all the demo mp3’s and pictures I wanted to use into the project dashboard at the top of the page
3) Opened a timeline view at the bottom of the page
4) Dragged the mp3 I wanted to use into the audio/music line of the timeline
5) Dragged the pictures I wanted to use into the media line above the audio/music line and sequenced them the way I wanted to by cutting and pasting them in the timeline
6) Saved the project file
7) Published my demo videos to the My Videos folder on my computer and then uploaded them to YouTube
• Save the project file before you publish the film. (The programme crashed on me a couple of times – but, luckily, it auto-recovered the files. I think this happened because I tried to publish the film before I had saved the file.)
• You can edit and re-use an existing project file, by for instance dropping in a different demo mp3, and then save the new project under another name using the File/Save As function. This was handy, as I was able to use the same sequence of pictures, with only a couple of minor tweaks, for two different demos.
• You can see how long each picture or snippet of video will appear on the screen and either shorten it or lengthen it by pinching or enlarging the size of the photo or video in the timeline.
• When uploading your completed demo videos to YouTube, do it in the reverse order of how you’d like to see them on your YouTube Channel. If you’d like your Commercial Demo to appear first on your YouTube channel, upload it last.
With just a bit of work I had my demos up on YouTube.
To see how my demos on YouTube turned out, please see:
Uploading to LinkedIn
Thanks to a helpful tip from voice-over artist Marc Scott I was then able to upload my YouTube demos to my main profile page in LinkedIn as well.
This was useful as I had been having difficulty getting the Soundcloud links to my demos to work on LinkedIn.
To see Marc’s instructions for importing your demos from YouTube to LinkedIn, go to: marcscottvoiceover.com/add-demos-to-your-linked-in-profile/.
To connect with me on LinkedIn go to: www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-broderick/24/742/969.
I hope that you’ve found this information helpful.
By Mike Broderick
When I changed careers last year and began focusing on becoming a voice-over artist, I decided to learn as much as I could about the industry as fast as possible.
I was under no illusions that to be successful in the voice-over industry usually takes years of hard work, learning, and dedication to the craft.
But I felt the time was right for me to step out in faith and go for what I had been thinking about for a long time.
So how could I learn the ins and outs of the voice-over industry in short order?
First, I turned to books. I also hired Gary Terzza, one of the best VO coaches in the UK, and I joined the VAU Mic Check, a weekly online work-out group in the States, which has been a fun and invaluable experience.
Without a doubt, however, one of the most useful tools I found for learning about the voice-over industry quickly is the podcast.
Currently there are no fewer than 8 active voice-over-related podcasts providing information on topics ranging from home studio development, equipment, audio editing and production, voice-over and voice acting, coaching, business topics, and industry genres such as promo, radio imaging, and animation.
Each of these podcasts brings its own unique angle to covering the voice-over industry:
East-West Audio Body Shop (EWABS) airs live on ustream (www.ustream.tv/ewabs) or via the EWABS website (www.ewabs.net) every Monday night at 9 p.m. Eastern U.S. time and is available on YouTube on Tuesdays. It’s also available as a podcast in Itunes and via other podcast apps. Viewers can watch episodes stream live and post questions in the chat room via the EWABS website. Viewers can also email Dan and George via the website to take part in Google Hangout episodes which air approximately once a month.
For my money, when it comes to podcasts, EWABS is the first place that VO newcomers should start.
Hosted by home studio expert and VO Dan Lenard and Edge Studios Director of Technology George Whittam, EWABS presents the broadest coverage of the industry by any podcast. Every episode is well-constructed with a “Whittam’s World” report on a technical aspect of voice-over equipment and a Tip of the Week (TOTW) by Lenard on home studio related topics book-ending an interview with industry experts.
Where else can you learn things like how to identify your noise floor and which recording equipment to take on the road, while also hearing from industry heavyweights like VO Coach Marice Tobias, Promo King Joe Cipriano, or the voice of the Brain from Pinky and the Brain, Maurice LaMarche? Nowhere. No other podcast covers so many aspects of the industry in a given episode.
Part of the fun of EWABS is that Lenard and Whittam don’t take themselves too seriously. They often run into technical problems (particularly with Skype) because they choose to broadcast live so that viewers can post real-time questions.
The irony of two of the industry’s most technically adept masters having technical issues with the broadcasting of their show isn’t lost on anyone – least of all them. Two of the most played bumpers within the show are: “And now back to East-West Audio Body Shop, where every week it’s Apollo 13,” and “Now back to the only webcast done with two cans, two geeks, and a string.”
One to Try: Episode 118 with Joe Cipriano. Watch one of the best in the business take voice direction from his home studio as he does a promo for the Queen Latifah Show.
VO Buzz Weekly Top Hollywood demo producer (and Rock Sugar guitarist), Chuck Duran, and voice of Walt Disney World’s “Top 7 Must Sees”, Stacey J. Aswad, present VO Buzz weekly. Episodes air every Sunday night on their website (www.vobuzzweekly.com).
A user name and password will get you free access to interviews with the best actors, artists and directors in voice-over like Pat Fraley, Cedering Fox, and Charlie Adler. Most episodes are split into two parts with the same guest appearing over two consecutive weeks.
Chuck and Stacey get their guests to open up, provide great interviews, and dispense “golden nuggets” – inside tips to bring to your own VO work. They also provide helpful tips from their own many years in the business.
An endearing quirk of the show is that it has rock star attitude but discourages swearing by the guests. Chuck and Stacey will often remind the guests that the show is family-friendly and G-rated, when the occasional errant cuss word slips out.
One to Try: Bill Ratner, Part 1, Episode 49 to learn about his experiences winning the Moth Story SLAM competitions and his unique thoughts on marketing, perception, and running your voice-over business.
The Producers Podcast Radio producer, imaging producer, and voice-over artist Ryan Drean presents The Producers Podcast, which covers his three specialty areas. New episodes are posted roughly monthly and are available in ITunes and other apps, with all episodes available on his website (www.ryanontheradio.com).
Ryan’s podcast provides a lot of inside information about the fast-changing radio business, as well as interviews with top notch producers like Eric Chase, and promo and imaging talent like Anthony Mendez, Jeff Berlin, Harry Legg, and Brian Lee.
In addition, he provides detailed show notes (sometimes including additional audio clips) and a 91/2 questions feature on his website.
Of all the VO podcasters, Ryan has the strongest links with the voice-over industry in the United Kingdom and has had a number of UK guests on his show including BBC Radio 1 Producer Matt Fisher, Music 4 Managing Director Sandy Beech, and Voice-over Artist and Producer Dave Bethell.
One to Try: KellyKellyKelly, Episode 7, Part 1. Listen to Kelly Doherty (AKA KellyKellyKelly), a top radio imaging producer and VO imaging talent (and what her website describes as: “one of the only female voice/radio producers in the world”) talk about the industry and push the boundaries of radio imaging.
The Voice Over Cafe The VO Cafe is presented by Terry Daniel and Trish Basanyi with support from a team of VO professionals including Tom Dheere, Sean Caldwell, Peter Bishop, and Rob Sciglimpaglia, Jr. Airing approximately monthly, it is available through ITunes and also other podcast apps via RSS feed. More information is available at www.voiceovercafe.org.
The VO Cafe is, like EWABS, a very well-constructed podcast including features such as Tom Dheere’s VO stories “Totally True Tales” (Did you hear the one about the VO newbie who asked Dheere for his client list?), intros and imaging by Caldwell, a legal minute by lawyer and voice-over artist Sciglimpaglia, and a running motif that episodes are taking place in a cafe, with Bishop as a put-upon barista.
Episodes are marked by great chemistry between Daniel and Basanyi, the occasional rant by Daniel (tongue firmly-planted-in-cheek…I think), and excellent interviews with voice-over professionals.
One to Try: Episode 13 with Johnny Heller for an entertaining discussion of audiobook narration.
The Voice Acting Mastery Podcast Actor and voice actor Crispin Freeman, who holds a B.A. in theater from Williams College, and an M.F.A. in acting from Columbia University, presents this podcast. Episodes air approximately every two weeks and are available on ITunes, on other podcast apps, and on www.voiceactingmastery.com.
The podcast focuses on acting (and often acting for animation, video games, and anime) as well as industry tips, and includes interviews with working voice actors and directors.
One to Try: Episode 56 with Monica Rial (Part 3) for information about competing in the thriving anime industry in Texas.
Talkin Toons with Rob Paulsen Emmy-Award winner Paulsen, the voice of Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, Raphael of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among many other iconic characters, hosts this podcast, which is The Go-to-Source for discussions of voice-acting for animation.
Talkin Toons is available on ITunes, other podcast sites, via a Talkin Toons app in the Apple App Store, and Paulsen’s website (www.robpaulsenlive.com). New episodes are posted approximately 2 to 4 times per month.
Episodes of Talkin Toons Live! from the Hollywood Improv can be seen on ustream at www.ustream.tv/robpaulsenlive.
In a career spanning more than 30 years Paulsen has worked with the greatest voice actors and directors in animation, and most end up on his show for no-holds-barred and entertaining chats.
Listening to an episode is like enjoying a more detailed version of the new documentary about voice acting for animation: “I Know That Voice”.
Luminaries such as Bob Bergen, Tress MacNeille, Billy West, Ginny McSwain, Tom Kenney, and Nancy Cartwright regularly appear on his show.
Some episodes wouldn’t pass the VO Buzz Weekly cuss test and are marked Explicit.
Many of the episodes should also be marked ‘H’ for hilarious. On several occasions while listening in bed with my headphones on, I’ve had to stifle laughs to keep from waking my wife. On at least one occasion, I simply failed.
One to Try: Episode 78 with the very talented Corey Burton.
The Amivos and Friends Super Funtastic Happy Hour VOdcast The newest VO podcast, or “VOdcast” as they like to call it, was started in 2013 and is hosted by the “3 Amivos”: Garnet Williams, Dave McRae, and Mike Pongracz.
Accomplished voice-over artists based in Canada, the 3 Amivos provide the low-down on voice-over from a “Great White North” perspective.
These “VOdcasts” pack a lot of laughs. The humour quotient is high and the banter is somewhat testosterone-tinged in a way that reminds me of both my fraternity days and also my favourite non-VO podcast: “Barbell Shrugged”.
It is available in ITunes, on YouTube, and through their website (www.3amivos.com).
One to Try: “The 3 Amivos Holiday Special!!!” which includes a list of the top 10 animated Christmas specials of all time. The episode is laugh-out-loud-funny.
Love That VoiceOver I just came across this podcast as I was concluding this piece, so I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to it yet.
Hosted by Rebecca Michaels Haugh and available in ITunes, with episodes posted several times per month, it appears to have a tremendous line up of guests and interesting topics.
I can’t wait to jump in!
Thousands of dollars (or pounds) worth of voice-over expertise is available to you for free at the touch of a button whenever and wherever you want it through these podcasts.
They’ve helped me learn about the voice-over industry’s standards, expectations, genres, and its movers and shakers in a fun and entertaining way.
I hope you learn from and enjoy voice-over podcasts as much as I have.
Oh, and if you know of any other current VO podcasts that I haven’t covered, please let me know.
Because when it comes to voice-over podcasts, I’m all ears.
 My VO reference library includes: The Art of Voice Acting, Voice Acting for Dummies, Voice Over Legal, How to Start and Build a SIX FIGURE Voice Over Business, Making Money in Voice-overs: Winning Strategies to a Successful Career in TV, Commercials, Radio and Animation, and Sound Advice.
Thanks to The Voice Over Herald for publishing this article as a guest blog on its opinion pages.
How I created a Phone Patch using my AT2020 USB+ Microphone.
Recently on Google+ I saw a link to a YouTube Video by John Wolfsberger, called Creating a Voiceover Phone Patch Using Skype, which showed how to turn your XLR microphone into a phone patch using a mixer, an inexpensive cable, Skype, and a pair of headphones. (I’ve provided the links to John’s video and a helpful video about phone patches by George Whittam in the technical notes at the end of this article.)
John’s video got me wondering whether my USB mic (the Audio-Technica 2020 USB+) could act as a phone patch as well, using just Skype, Audacity, my PC, and a pair of headphones. In just a few quick steps, the answer was a very clear: YES!
Thanks to John’s video, Jason Culver for posting it on Google +, and my AT2020 USB+ mic, I have a phone patch and can now be voice-directed remotely with no costly equipment.
1) Plug your AT2020 USB+ microphone into your PC and your headphones into the microphone (the AT2020 USB+ offers zero-latency monitoring through a headphone jack on the mic – a nice feature, and crucial, I think, to making this work so well).
2) Open Audacity
3) Check the audio settings in your computer and in Audacity respectively to ensure that the microphone and headphones are recognised as the recording and audio source in both.
4) Open Skype and make sure it recognises the AT2020 USB+ as the microphone and headphone source.
To do this, go into tools/options/audio settings/speakers and change the setting from speakers to headphones.
5) Go into your PC’s volume mixer and close any extraneous microphones. (You may find, as I did, that there were two open/active Skype mics. I closed one, which eliminated an audio bleed of the Skype test call instructions into my audio file.)
6) Hit record in Audacity, minimise the Audacity window, and start a Skype test call.
7) Turn the mixer dial on your mic towards Comm enough so that you can hear the Skype test call instructions in your headphones. You should be able to hear the Skype test call message through your headphones and be able to leave a recorded message via your microphone.
8) Stop the recording in Audacity.
9) Normalise the audio (I did it to -3dB), and play it back to ensure the Skype test call instructions and Skype automated voice haven’t bled into your audio file. (If it has, re-check your volume mixer for any extraneous mics and determine whether your headphones were properly positioned.)
Success: You should hear a clear recording of your voice from the Skype test call with no bleed through of the Skype testing service instructions into your audio file.
1) Links to John’s video and also to a “Whittam’s World” episode about phone patches can be found here:
Link to John’s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqFve9z1pR0
Link to George’s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqjVIqvZ5sY
2) You need to use headphones (closed-back or ear-buds) rather than speakers so the incoming audio doesn’t bleed into your microphone and into your audio file. I would think most studio-grade headphones for voice-over will do the job. My Editors Keys Studio Series ANX-10 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones worked fine.
3) Skype automatically adjusted the gain settings higher in Skype than the gain settings I had set in my computer. I tried unticking the automatic volume settings in Skype to lower the gain, but the volume was then too low. The higher gain settings in Skype seem necessary to get adequate gain for both Audacity and Skype.
4) I am unsure whether this will work with other USB microphones (the capability of zero latency monitoring is critical), but I found it very easy to do with my AT2020 USB+ and Audacity. George Whittam’s video provides a broader overview of phone patches and creating a phone patch via Skype. Both John and George’s videos are worth a watch.
 This article is a summation of the way I set up the phone patch and is meant to be helpful. It caused no harm to me, my computer, microphone, or software. That said, anyone undertaking this approach is proceeding at their own risk.
Tips for the Ex-patriot and Global Voice-over Artist
To ‘Zee’ or Not to ‘Zee’…
by Mike Broderick
I am an American voice-over artist who has lived in the United Kingdom for nearly 10 years. As such, I am keenly aware of the well-known quotation, variously attributed to George Bernard Shaw or Winston Churchill, that: “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.”
In my professional writing I have had to remember that here it is “programme” and not “program”; “centre” not center”; “neighbour,” not “neighbor”; “recognise,” not “recognize”.
While this has become somewhat routine for me, and while other issues are trickier (Is it: “The team has won,” or “The team have won,” for example), I remain a Yank with a great fondness for the letter Z (or ‘Zed’ as they say here) and a parsimonious attitude to the letter U.
So it came as something of a surprise when I was finalising my business website (www.mikebroderickvoiceover.com) and found myself asking the question: ‘Should I use British or American English?’
I’d done all the hard work – researching the voice-over industry and the craft, joining a weekly work-out group, recording a professional demo, hiring a coach/mentor, and working with a web designer to design a clean, professional site – only to ask myself, when proofreading my bio, whether my Tufts University degrees were earned with “honors” or “honours”.
Ultimately I decided “When in Rome…,” and settled on using British English and spellings on my website. I reasoned that England is my current home and that my initial client base is likely to be British and not necessarily American (although I expect to have clients in the States and all over the world). In the meantime, I hope that my American friends and compatriots will understand.
Thinking of all of this raised some other language issues facing the global voice-over artist, such as:
The Problem of Pronunciation
Having lived here since 2004, I know that Chiswick, England is pronounced: “Chis – ick,” that Berwick-upon-Tweed is pronounced: “Bare-ick,” that Berkshire is pronounced: “Barkshire,” and that queue – those lines that Britons tend to arrange themselves into at shops, bus stops, etc. – is pronounced: “cue”.
For a voice-over artist sitting in their home studio anywhere in the world, indigenous pronunciations pose a potential problem: A voice actor in America recording an audition for a radio commercial for “Chiswick Tyre and MOT Centre” might struggle to land the job if they pronounce that silent W or read MOT as a single word rather than the letters M-O-T.
And the problem isn’t limited to pronunciations internationally. I grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, 45 miles west of Worcester (which we correctly pronounced as “Wuusster,” but which other Americans sometimes wrongly pronounce as “Wor-Sess-Ter”).
Even the pronunciation of Holyoke, my hometown, isn’t simple. Most people would read it as “Holy-Oak,” but we call it: Hol-Yoke (like “Whole-Yolk”).
Or what about Louisville, Kentucky – birthplace of both Muhammad Ali and also the famous “Louisville Slugger” baseball bat?
All my life I’ve pronounced it “Louis-ville” (as in the Louis of Louis the XIV), but apparently local residents pronounce it like something closer to “Lou-a-ville”.
At this point, one might ask: “Does it matter?” Simply put, “yes.” The essence of a successful voice-over performance is providing a read that is authentic, real, and true. Nothing will “cock it up” or “drop a clanger,” as they say here in England, more than mispronouncing the name of the client, product, or geographic location in a voice-over.
So what should the voice-over artist or actor do?
When breaking down the copy prior to an audition or read, look for any words or phrases that seem unfamiliar – paying particular attention to the name of the client, product, or geographic location, as well as any technical terms or jargon specific to the voice-over.
When directing yourself, look for any written direction regarding pronunciation that may be provided. If none is available and you have the opportunity to do so, turn to online dictionaries like Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com), Collins (www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english), both of which are free to search, or the Oxford English Dictionary (www.oed.com), which charges a subscription fee. Collins also provides a look up feature where you can choose either British or American English.
Online dictionaries, as opposed to hard backs, will enable you to listen to the correct audio pronunciation of a word.
Alternatively, look to Google, YouTube, Wikipedia (which sometimes has audio pronunciations of geographic names), client or company websites, internet radio stations, or even consider phoning the local Chamber of Commerce.
If you are being directed, and it’s possible to do so politely and professionally, don’t be afraid to ask for further guidance regarding the pronunciation and/or use of unfamiliar words and phrases.
The Issue of Idioms and Colloquial Phrases
Idioms and colloquial phrases help bring any language to life. As such, they may turn up in a commercial read.
Here in England there is a whole scheme of English phrasing known as Cockney Rhyming Slang, which was developed and is still used by people from the East End of London.
I’ve learned quite a bit of it from my Father-in-Law who regularly looks for stuff in his “Sky” (Sky Rocket = Pocket), goes out to the “Jam Jar” (car) or looks for the “Dog and Bone” (phone). (The non-rhyming word is used to signify the object, so an example of the correct usage would be: “Man, my “plates” are hurting,” where “plates of meat” = feet.)
While many idioms are the same on both sides of the Pond, I doubt that many Britons have heard the phrase “lickety-split” (really fast) or that many Americans have ever heard “My stomach thinks my throat’s been cut” (I’m starving/really hungry).
To better understand the context of a voice-over script or the motivation of your character when an unfamiliar idiom or phrase is used, turn to Google or other search engines. Cross-reference several results to determine whether the information is likely to be correct.
If you’re likely to be doing several voice-overs for clients in a foreign country or in a technical subject with a lot of jargon invest in a trip to your local library or bookstore.
One last tip: To be “down with the kids” and know the latest street lingo and jargon, I often turn to Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com). Like most things on the web, I treat what I learn there with a grain of salt, but it helps give me a clue.
So if you don’t know your twerking from your selfie (And how could you not?), turn there first.
I hope you’ve found my first blog post helpful.
Now I’m thinking about “Catching some zzzzz’s” (or should that be Zed’s?).