Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Congratulations Anne Ganguzza, newest member of SaVoa!


We are very proud to announce that our coach and producer, Anne Ganguzza, has recently been accepted into the Society of Accredited Voice Over Artists (SaVoa)!

SaVoa is an accreditation program for voice over artists. Now in it’s 6th year, SaVoa is an international Guild of seasoned voice actors that sets standardized criteria for vocal and technical delivery.

SaVoa believes the voiceover business benefits from a set of conforming quality standards that define the voice performance excellence that clients should expect. When such criteria become the standard, it reflects on the voice over community as a whole.

This acceptance into SaVoa means that Anne has exceeded the minimal standards of performance, audio quality, technique, and technical expertise that define the quality of this group.

Anne will have many familiar faces at SaVoa. She is greeted by Such A Voice colleagues: Jesus Blanco, Heather Costa, Lisa Foster, Scott Pollak and Brian Thon!

Anybody can apply to become a member of SaVoa. The accreditation criteria can be found on their website: http://savoa.org.

SaVoa recommends that you review both the Standards and Accreditation Criteria before applying. Once you become a member (as long as you adhere to the established code of conduct), your membership will last 4 years. The fee for that period is $75. SaVoa is a non-profit organization and uses member fees to modestly promote the Guild.

An active membership in SaVoa entitles a member to freely use the shield logo attesting to accreditation status on a website(s), voice over profile pages published on the internet, business cards, demo CDs, and print ads strictly and solely advertising your voice over services. Members may also provide written notice of their accreditation status in other acceptable content.

SaVoa is constantly growing and bringing greater value to its members. The Guild currently offers discounts from audio software, equipment vendors, educational materials, coaches and workshops. Also, a member can list their commercial demo next to their name on the SaVoa member site. SaVoa also encourages its members to join the exclusive online community of voice-actors that display the SaVoa shield. This group discusses various issues and openly shares advice. Members are also encouraged to submit questions to the group, as well as answer questions posed by other SaVoa members.

SaVoa prides itself on the outstanding list of already active professional voice actors who are “raising the bar” for all VO’s everywhere.

Becoming accredited at SaVoa is definitely something you should aspire to in your voice over career!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Carl Martens


"The time I spent in the recording studio with Anne Ganguzza was the most meaningful, educational and intense time I could possibly have encountered – she was one of the best mentors/coaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with."

Carl wasn't unfamiliar with the world of voiceovers when he enrolled to train with Such A Voice, he had been involved in voiceovers many years ago (due to his experience with music and theater work in the past). Even though he held a passion for the voiceover industry 15 years ago, his career path shifted toward the non-profit corporate world, and he put those desires to the side (only temporarily).

With such expansive experience under his belt, Such A Voice complemented his (already strong) foundation. "Such A Voice offered me exactly what I needed to transition into a more professional understanding in the pursuit of VO work. I believe the time I spent in the recording studio with Anne Ganguzza was the most meaningful, educational and intense time I could possibly have encountered – she was one of the best mentors/coaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with." Carl also attends quarterly meetings with a group called VO PEEPS in Irvine, CA, which is hosted by Anne, and these have provided tremendous insight into the intricacies of the industry.

Carl doesn't attribute his success only to Anne, he is quick to talk about his positive experience with the other Such A Voice staff members he worked with as well. "The quality and professionalism from the first contact, Nancy Halpin, really set the stage for the entire experience. Following up through interaction with Anne Ganguzza and the recording engineer (where the demo was recorded) added immensely to the learning process. However, it seems that the most to be gained came from tapping the knowledge of some of the professional VO talent that is presented in the Members Only area of the Such A Voice website. I particularly enjoyed Rob Sciglimpaglia’s marketing audio and Heather Costa’s marketing video. I believe the one thing that many newcomers never complete (and this refers to any new business) is a general business plan. Your business plan sets the tone for the entire life of the project/business, and can be updated any time deemed necessary. It also serves as a track upon which to refer when confronted with challenges."

Like many of our students, Carl has numerous reasons why voiceovers appeal to him so much. "I can't narrow down one reason why VO's are so appealing. I'm happy to be able to work independently, keep my own schedule, getting to do something I love, do it well and incorporating my entrepreneurial work ethic." Being that Carl does have an entrepreneurial past, he has a great grasp on formulating a working business plan, and has strong marketing & sales skills. This is a strong foundation to a great future in voiceovers! Although he marks his weaknesses as the more technical side of the industry (computers are not his forte), he has been doing as much online research as possible. He has also been reaching out to the support staff at Such A Voice to utilize their wealth of knowledge on the VO business.

Less than 24 hours after assembling his home studio, Carl was recording his first VO job! He booked a job voicing (and writing the script for) a wedding video. It made him realize how wide the spectrum is for people looking for a professional voice over artist, which makes him excited for future opportunities!

Carl takes a very smart and carefully planned approach to the voiceover industry. The biggest piece of advice he can give is to write a business plan. Much like Heather says in her marketing video "Review it every week, revise it, learn from it and follow it". It also only benefits you to do your research, follow the industry and learn from it and above all else "Assert your individuality, you are one of a kind!"

Congratulations Carl, we can't wait to hear what you do next!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meet Our Staff: Brendan Coyle

Once a month, Such A Voice will be highlighting a member of our staff to give you a little insight into who they are & what they do here at Such A Voice to help you get to know the people behind-the-scenes!

Meet Brendan Coyle. Brendan is the head of our post-production department, and is the one that ensures that your demo meets the highest quality standards. He has also been praised by many students as one of the most patient people to work with in the studio! Brendan was born and raised in Saranac Lake, NY (in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains), but now lives with his wife in the beautiful town of Shelburne, VT (just outside of Burlington). If you ever have a question about your demo, he would be your point of contact.



Brendan has always held an interest in music as well as audio production. Although he always held a passion for audio production, he started out in the industry as a drummer and studied with people such as John Riley and Richie Morales. Brendan has also worked with Neil Sedaka and (2-time Tony Award Winning Producer) Tom Kitt. At that point, he went back to school and earned his Master's Degree in music technology and has worked at Such A Voice ever since (starting as a producer and recording engineer and working his way up to the head of post-production).


We sat down to learn a little bit more about Brendan:


What are a few of your passions?

All things music! Writing music, drumming, audio production and playing piano. Yes, audio production is my job, but it's also a way of life for me! I'm also a history buff. American history, world history AND the history of music (of course). My passion for music and history also carries over to the genres I enjoy reading. I'm currently reading Paul McCartney's Biography Many Years from Now by Barry Miles and 1942: The Year that Tried Men's Souls by Winston Groom.


Where is your favorite vacation spot?

As far as places I've already been, I loved Hawaii, Ireland and the Civil War battlefields down in the south. My next vacation destination will either be London or Rome.


What's on your playlist right now?

It always seems to be changing! Right now I'm listening to the Beatles, Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band Live from New York (thanks to a student) and the Jean-Michel Pilc Trio.


Do you have any advice for aspiring voice-over talent?

No matter what your schedule is like, or what kind of time you have to commit to your voice over career, do something EVERY DAY to work towards your goal. It doesn't matter if it's an hour or 3 hours. It doesn't matter if you're working on your technique, technology or your marketing plan…do SOMETHING! Practice a bit of copy, set up your studio or play with your recording software. Send out a couple of auditions, e-mails, or just make a few calls. When it comes to growing your business, you win by inches, not by miles.


If you ever need to contact Brendan, he can be reached by email at brendan@suchavoice.com or by phone at 802-275-0151.


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Technique Tip of the Month-Master Articulation!



It's interesting what we can get away with saying in regular conversation that you can't necessarily get away with when you're recording. If you're swallowing words, or phrases, it's going to be harder for your listener to understand what you're saying. It is definitely important that your read sound natural and conversational, so therefore, over articulation is not ideal either, so you want to find that middle ground.


There are certain words and phrases in voice over that every talent knows is a challenge to say. For example, www at the beginning of a website URL. Luckily, most businesses today will leave out the www all together in commercials, but not everyone! The trick is to not get tongue tied on the "www". Instead of saying "double you, double you, double you" try abbreviating it to "double ya, double ya, double ya". When you say it quickly the abbreviated version sounds correct and is much easier to pronounce!


I have a client who hires me to voice radio & television spots for air conditioning and heating systems. Every script is guaranteed to have the following line: "...THAT CAN HELP LOWER YOUR UTILITY BILL." Try saying that 3 times fast! Or even once clearly! It's phrases like that, where a talent not only needs to practice saying it over and over again, but they need to figure out tricks to help it flow more naturally. With that particular sentence, I take a tiny beat of a pause (barely noticeable) after "lower" and kind of bounce on the word "your" to springboard me to "utility". Breaking down the sentence like that, definitely helps it to flow better.


I took a survey among my voice over colleagues and found a few more trouble words and phrases that many talent struggle with in a script:

Data

Community

any word that ends in "er" - like Burger

"Please leave a message."


Those may all seem easy to read right now, but when you're behind the mic and you come across one of those words or phrases, don't be surprised if you have to do a couple takes to get it right!


In addition to practicing saying the particular sentence or phrase that is causing you problems, make sure that you're positive that you're pronouncing it correctly. Sometimes when words flow together in awkward sentences, you run the risk of mispronouncing something. A wonderful resource for pronunciation is http://www.thefreedictionary.com. Not only can you see the IPA (phonetic notation) of the word, but there is also an audio sample of the word as well.


One of the best ways to strengthen your tongue and cheeks to master articulation is by reading fun tongue twisters!! This exercise is great for loosening up your tongue, mouth and cheeks to make those 8,000 word recordings read just a little bit easier... Here are a few you can try!


Crisp crusts crackle crunchily.

We surely shall see the sun shine soon.

Twelve twins twirled twelve twigs.

Can you imagine an imaginary manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie?

Another articulation exercise, is what we call the "cork exercise" or "carrot exercise". We have devoted an entire article on this exercise that you can read here.

As you can see, there are a lot of fun ways to make articulation exciting! So grab your mic, pick a tongue twister and a wine cork and go for it!

Written by:

Heather Costa

Voice Talent, Producer, Coach and Such A Voice Operations Director

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SCAM ALERT!


Does this email sound familiar to you?

"Let me just assure you that if we close the deal and they chose you to be their official VO (let me be completely honest with you) that’s the only time that we can send payment for your VO. If this is ok with you then I’d be so glad and look forward to be working with you. Can you also calibrate your rates for me… that means, if you will be chosen this wouldn’t be a one-time deal… it’s gonna be on a regular basis (So please do give me a special rate… lower than those one time deals that you have. So sorry for being so brutally frank, hehe).
Again if this set-up is ok with you then hit the record button and give it a shot (sorry too for the rush but need this by monday, meeting with the client is wednesday)."

We've been seeing this scam more and more in the voice over market. Below are a few warning signs to look out for, and a breakdown of how the scam turns out.

How the scam runs:
The contact finds you through an online talent search (through various talent banks) and you are asked to send a price quote as well as a read of the script attached to the email. Once you have responded to the contact, they then let you know that you've won the job and they'd like to pay you with Western Union (or sometimes Cashiers Check). Typically you actually DO receive a check, but for quite a bit more (usually upwards of $1,000) more than your quoted price. Exciting, right?! Unfortunately, it really IS too good to be true. The contact apologizes for the overpayment and asks you to send back the overpaid amount via Western Union. You take the check to the bank and deposit it, and send out the overpayment amount as requested. Later on, the bank finds out the check is counterfeit, and you not only DIDN'T get paid, but you are also out the money that you sent back to the contact.

So, how do you prevent this from happening to you?

Warning Signs:

*Contact tends to be very casual in the email, uses some VO terminology, but misspells quite a few words and doesn't use proper English (you could almost chalk it up to be an error in literal translation)
*Contact is usually from a foreign country; Philippines, India, etc.
*Western Union typically seems to be used as a preferred format of payment.

To prevent falling victim to this common scam, there are a few precautions you can take to safeguard yourself:

*Never wire funds via Western Union, Moneygram (or any other wire service)
*Never provide direct financial or sensitive information (bank account number, social security number, etc.)
*Always research the company you're doing business with, and try to get as much information from them as possible (phone, email, address, website, etc.) to ensure they are a legit company, ESPECIALLY if anything seems "fishy" about the company.

By taking a few precautions, you can safeguard yourself against scams and save yourself a lot of headache and wasted time!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Technique Tip of the Month-Stop Mouth Noise in its Tracks!

Mouth noise can be frustrating for a voice talent when you get behind the mic. Even the slightest sound that you don't necessarily hear in your every day speech, can be picked up by the microphone. The more you can be aware of it for yourselves, the easier it'll be in eliminating it during a voiceover recording. Please refer back to this list before you record.


To help eliminate mouth noise while you're recording, here are a few tips you can try:


1 - Keep yourself hydrated - drinking water when you already have a dry mouth won't necessarily remove the mouth noise, it might actually make it worse. The more hydrated you are before your recording, the less mouth noise you will probably have.


2 - Brushing your teeth and your tongue and using mouthwash right before you record. However, if your mouth is overly dry to begin with, sometimes using mouthwash can make it worse.


3 - Eating green apples, drinking cranberry or grape juice and/or using a hard candy to moisten your mouth (and then of course remove it when recording), a slosh of olive oil or eating a few greasy potato chips right before you record are also great tips!


4 - Using "Entertainer's Secret" or "Mouth Kote" to moisten your mouth while recording, are tools that many professionals use every day!


5 - Be well rested! Your body is your instrument, the better you feel, the better you'll sound.

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Phil Williams


"There are no limits on what you can achieve. Sure, it's a competitive industry, but what isn't these days? Every day you wake up to a new set of challenges, different content, different characters. What regular job gives you that kind of challenge?"


Phil has always been complimented on his voice and many people over the years have suggested he should go into the radio business, however, Phil always considered himself to be a "technical geek" and not so much a "performer". Therefore, voice overs just weren't on his list of goals or even on his radar.


With his wife's gentle nudging, he attended an intro class close to home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They specifically returned from vacation a bit early so he could attend this class and learn more about the industry in which people had been telling him he should get into for so long. "After the session I was really excited about the possibility of VO. I was offered a spot in the Such A Voice program and my wonderful wife encouraged me to move forward, so I signed up! I realized that this was a business I could definitely get into. I had a product that I had control over, and could take it to whatever level I wanted."


Phil worked with Anne Ganguzza, and really focused on the tips that were suggested by the staff at Such A Voice. "Everyone at Such A Voice was extremely supportive and helpful. I had begun purchasing equipment that was on the recommended list from Such A Voice shortly after I signed up, so I had been able to complete a few practice recordings before recording in the studio to cut my demo."


Anne definitely helped Phil out the most when it came to recording his demo. "I had anxiously anticipated the studio recording portion of the class, but Anne made the process very enjoyable! When you're standing there by yourself in the soundproof booth doing something you've never done before, you can tend to get a bit nervous. It was great to have Anne there who could relate to what I was going through and help to eliminate my fears. My time in the studio went by far faster than I had imagined. Time really does fly when you're having fun!"


Phil has a wonderful, very deep, rich sounding voice. He also has a good ear, giving him the ability to hear and mimic voices & accents. In addition to using his natural voice, he has submitted numerous "British" accent pieces and received interest from several companies. He signed up for voice123.com and voices.com soon after he received his demos, and after submitting a few auditions he landed his first job for a corporate video with a company based in California. "The job took about 30 minutes total, and I was paid $330. Probably the happiest kind of money I've ever made. My wife and I celebrated with a great dinner."


Phil is still working on honing in his talent. "I'm still challenged by reading very long passages without stumbling, and I'm still trying to develop my ability to deliver a natural conversational sound. I practice reading every day, and my progress is really showing. Hopefully soon, it'll become second nature."


Being that Phil has started a few businesses in his past, he found that the rules still applied to his VO business. Pay attention to your coach, absorb every marketing tip you receive, work diligently on your marketing, be patient, network (both online and in-person), and always remember "Every contact you make is a potential new client, so treat them with care!"



Congratulations Phil, we look forward to hearing more from you!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Meet Our Staff: Pete Pederson

Once a month, Such A Voice will be highlighting a member of our staff to give you a little insight into who they are & what they do here at Such A Voice to help you get to know the people behind-the-scenes!


Meet Pete Pederson! Based out of Sartell, MN (about 70 miles west of Minneapolis), Pete wears a few different hats here at Such A Voice. He teaches intro classes, handles all customer service correspondence and handles payment processing. His positive attitude, infectious personality and willingness to always go above-and-beyond will always leave you feeling confident. If you ever have a customer service related issue, he's your first point of contact!


Pete is very active in the voice over community, being that he is an avid VO talent himself. He is the voice for such companies as: Kubota, Flux International, Cloudnet Internet Services, Action MBA and lends his voice to a multitude of local radio & TV spots in the Midwest. He's also the lead voice in the cartoon "Stickyman". On top of all of that, Pete has also stepped in front of the camera for appearances on Court TV with Joan Rivers, and on National Geographic's "Man Made".


We sat down with Pete to talk a little more about his life outside of the office, as well as here at Such A Voice.


What are a few of your passions?

Cooking. I love to cook! My new favorite recipe is homemade mozzarella & basil pizza topped with roasted tomatoes, it's so delicious and simple

Music. I play bass and sing in a band. I've been a performer all of my life, which is why voice-overs are such a natural fit for me.

Baseball. I am really into baseball, my favorite team is the Twins. They're not doing so great right now, but they're my favorite team!

Photography. When I'm not working in voice-overs I'm also a professional photographer. I love the feeling I get when I'm working on a photo I've shot and it takes my breath away. Whether it's a bride elegantly sitting on a bench, or the laughter of a child, capturing that moment in time is very special to me.


Where is your favorite vacation spot?

The North shoreline of Lake Superior in Minnesota is absolutely breathtaking and holds a lot of nostalgia for me. A dream vacation spot would be Bora Bora.


What's on your playlist right now?

My all-time favorite band would be The Tragically Hip. Right now I'm listening to Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons and Florence & The Machine.


Do you have any advice for aspiring voice-over talent?

Be positive and find your niche. Once you have found your place in the voice-over world, go for it and never give up!



If you ever need to contact Pete, he can be reached by email at pete@suchavoice.com or by phone at 802-275-0154.


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Marketing Tip of the Month -- Maintain a Unified Presence Online

You've taken your voiceover classes, you've recorded and received your demo, you've been auditioning and networking on a regular basis. Now it's time to branch out. For everyone, there comes a point in their voiceover career when they realize it is time to set up an online presence. For some people it's early on, for others it's a little ways down the road, but the time always comes! An online presence could include things such as: a website, having a Facebook page, a Twitter and/or a YouTube account, a blog, etc.

One thing that makes a big difference when setting up the various sites online is to maintain a unified presence across all of your sites. This will help your clients, peers & potential clients easily recognize which profile is yours. In turn, this will help them easily have access to your information, no matter which of your sites they are on at the time. Below we discuss a few of the ways in which you can unify your presence online.


-Make sure your sites all contain the same information.

You want to make sure you have the following information on all of your sites: your logo and/or headshot, your company name, location, a brief summary about your voice qualities and your contact information. This way, potential clients can find this information quickly to learn more about you and your voice. The easier you make this information to find, the more likely a client is to immediately know if you fit what they're looking for, and hire you for the job!


-Maintain the same overall design.

Try to match the basic design of your sites as much as possible. Search for a blog layout that's similar to your website. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook (which now uses FBML for their business pages, so they are customizable). If you cannot match the background or layout to each of the sites, at least try to maintain a unified color palette.


-Always use the same profile image.

This would be the image that appears on the homepage of your website & blog, as well as the image that would appear as your profile picture for all social media sites you are using for your business. This could be your logo or your headshot. I would not recommend that you use an image you may want to change frequently, as this will be the face of your business and you want it to be recognizable for a long period of time.


-Try to make your username similar to your website.

If your website is www.joesmithVO.com then I would recommend that you make your Facebook business page www.facebook.com/joesmithVO and your Twitter account www.twitter.com/joesmithVO. Likewise, your blog should be http://yourblogserver/joesmithVO.com. This helps organize and streamline all of your sites into one memorable name.



If you follow these small steps, it will make it easier for clients and potential clients to recognize you on all of the sites you are using. Also, when you organize links to your sites for various reasons (on your website or email signature, for instance), they will look very clear, concise, organized and well thought out.


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director