Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
OK boys and girls, it's time to open myself up to you, bare it all, to "show you the goods." Yep. It's time to pull back the curtain (literally) and give you a sneak peak into my ultra high-tech voice-over home studio!
Now I warn you, if you are a beginner to voice acting and doing voice overs, then you may have images of sleek and sophisticated studios complete with effects cabinets twinkling with little LED lights, microphones that cost more than some cars, and mixing boards longer than many people’s hallways. If that’s the image you hold in your mind, then prepare to be disappointed. But hey, at least after reading this post you’ll have a better idea of what many home studios look like!
My studio fits in a room that isn’t even big enough to hold a twin bed. I’ve got my old, old, old midi keyboard on the left, then my desk complete with iMac and studio speakers in the middle, and then my practice area on the right.
To the right of the computer I keep my mic on its stand along with a whiteboard on the wall to hang scripts. This allows me to practice anytime without the hassle of setting up my “sound proof booth” (which you’ll see in a minute.)
When it’s time to do an actual recording to send off to a client, I gotta set up the “sound proof booth” (for lack of a better term.) I simply open my closet door, push aside some of the clothes hanging there, and place my mic stand right in the middle. I use a highly sophisticated system to attach my printout of the copy to the blanket covering the back wall (a.k.a. cellophane tape). Take a look:
The movable wall I place around the closet was constructed out of parts I bought from the local hardware store. I think in total it only cost about $50 (excluding the blanket I drape over it — that was a freebie.) I took photos when I built the thing to be used in a future post, so stayed tuned. In the meantime, here are some pics:
And that’s it!
As I said before, if you are a beginner to voice overs, then your image of what a home studio consists of might be skewed a little. Of course, if you’ve got the money to buy some really good stuff then by all means, go ahead. But since I’m the type of guy who tries to find the path of least financial resistance, this set up works perfectly for me! (And if you think my studio is a little “barren” then be sure to watch this video I posted a few months ago.)
David Radtke has been an active performer for over 20 years. His experiences include storybook reader for young children, radio DJ and announcer, part-time TV actor, and English language speech therapist. He currently broadcasts at his local FM station, where he does imaging and promos, commercial spots and various other creative jobs.
Check out his blog at: http://www.voiceactorsnotebook.com/
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Where You're From: The Green Mountain State of Vermont!
Job Responsibilities: Evaluating voices, offering insight into the industry while offering answers to many of the basic questions posed by those looking to get into the industry. Most importantly, I help students and talent reach their goals in the world of voice-overs!
Favorite Food: Tiramisu is a food that always goes down so well, but honestly any dessert or chocolate will do! If you mean the stuff I eat before dessert, I've always been a big fan of lasagna, sushi, and anything that has 'sandwich' in its name.
Hobbies: I love to see music performed live, since I have little realized musical talent myself. I'm into the outdoors and being active - I hike, occasionally run, go on short distance touring trips on my motorcycle 'Elwood.' I also love snowboarding (but can ski too) and the best of all - spending time with my kids and our dog Jake!
Destination Vacation: St. John, USVI. Best place ever (besides Vermont)!
What are you listening to right now: Cake, "Stick-shifts and Safety Belts"
One piece of advice for aspiring voice over talent: Play to your strengths! Don't try to be everything to everyone, especially when starting out. Retain your individuality and unique sound. If you sound just like everyone else, then there's no reason for someone to hire you. Last but not least, if there's something you know and enjoy - medical terminology, computers, or technical knowledge about anything - then go after companies who can use your knowledge in keeping them on track with their voice-overs!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
1. Spending too much time building your contacts database and not enough time making the cold calls. A red flag that indicates you are procrastinating is when you spend more time organizing something than doing it. No one likes making cold calls, and it takes most people a while to become comfortable making them. While your Excel sheet of potential contacts might be up to 50 or 100, they are getting out-dated just sitting there! As a rule, keep no more than 12-15 new potential clients in your database a week. Each day that you dedicate looking for new voice over jobs, make sure that you call 3 of those new contacts. Spend at least one day a week working on your marketing plan, and don't forget to follow up with new contacts the following week. Eventually cold calls will be no sweat, and your network of new clients will hit a growth spurt in 2010!
2. Spreading your talents too thin. There is a fine line between marketing your talents for niche you are in, and advertising a niche you would like to be in. While it is important to continue exploring your voice over talents and shooting for new voice over jobs, careful about how you advertise yourself to potential clients. Don't promise something you can't deliver. Be honest about your experience doing work in a particular niche to avoid getting a bad reputation among clients you would like to build professional relationships with. Your demo should speak for itself. Take a look at your online profiles and see if there is a disconnect between how you are pitching your voice talents to clients and what you actually sound like. This is what you sound like to clients.
3. Going into business with shady clients. There are certainly more legitimate clients out there than shady ones, but be careful who you send your auditions to. If the client is not clear about the type of voice they are looking for, or if the advertised spot is not from a reliable source or client, take heed. It is not unheard of that a dishonest client will use a demo for a spot without telling the voiceover artist. Protect your auditions by leaving a watermark somewhere in the audio of your demo, either in the form of a beep or by leaving off the last sentence of the audition. Also, be hesitant to continue working for a client who has yet to pay you for work you have already done for them. Stay polite and friendly, but it is appropriate to remind them about past fees due before doing more projects for them.
4. Not following up with clients. This is a big no-no for when you are trying to establish new contacts and for keeping in touch with old ones. Especially if you talked with a new client about potentially working for them, you do not want to make the mistake of falling out of touch with them. Be persistent without being annoying. After all, they have more going on than thinking about your voice over work, and there is nothing wrong with sending a friendly reminder -- as long as it sounds friendly. Keeping in touch with previous clients is the only way to get repeat business! Set up alarms and reminders in your database to follow up with happy clients 4-6 months after a project. This time of year is the perfect opportunity to send them a holiday newsletter, letting them hear about your recent achievements and reminding them that you are available for future projects.
After analyzing your voiceover marketing approach, set a new goal for 2010. Whether it is being more organized or marketing yourself for different voice over jobs, set a goal and write it down somewhere. Print it out and post it somewhere near your work station and again in your home, like on your fridge. In the voiceover industry, only you are going to hold yourself accountable for your triumphs and failures. Stay on the ball in 2010 to continue growing into the kind of successful voiceover artist you want to be!
Monday, January 4, 2010
I once heard that the actress and voiceover artist Kathleen Turner uses two marbles tucked somewhere in her mouth to help her create the sexy, sultry voice that helped make her famous. I'm not sure if that's true, and I'm even less sure of how she would have discovered that to begin with. Urban legend or not, voiceover artists have been known to try techniques that are just as whacky as the marbles to create a certain affect with their voices.
Certain technique tips will work wonders for some, and not produce a hint of difference for others. Hopefully you are recording your voice-over technique practices and playing them back to see what you sound like. (I repeat: Hopefully you are recording and playing back your voiceover practices!) If when you listen to recordings of yourself you find that you are cutting off certain syllables or swallowing others, then a carrot can be your best friend to help you enunciate more clearly. I personally have a subtle Southern accent, and despite my best efforts to neutralize it, I often hear whispers of an accent at the ends of certain words. Of course I don't hear it when I'm speaking, but it screams out to me when I play back my voiceover!
The technique is simple enough: take a carrot and hold the end in between your two front teeth. Practice reading a copy aloud -- keeping the carrot there the whole time! Record one of your voiceover scripts and listen to yourself. At first, you'll get a good laugh listening to playbacks of your voiceover while holding a carrot between your front teeth, and I congratulate you if you are able to discern even half of the words that you read! Repeat reading through the same script while keeping the carrot in place without biting through it or dropping it. Your mouth will learn have to learn to work around the carrot, and you should start to produce the words more clearly.
Finally, remove the carrot and read through the script without slipping back into old habits. You'll notice that you are enunciating words more clearly, and your accent should be considerably watered down. The best part about this technique? It's cheap, it's easy, and you even get a healthy snack out of it!