Thursday, July 28, 2011

Demystified Studio Jargon!


For those that are new to the voiceover industry (and even those that have been in the industry for quite some time), there has likely been a time or two where a term has been used and you've frantically searched on Google to find out what that term means. We've all been there, which is why we've compiled a cheat sheet of studio jargon for you to reference! Below is a short list of some of the terms you might hear while recording in a studio or when referring to recording.

ADR: Automated Dialogue Replacement; also, “walla walla” or “looping.”

Anechoic: Free from echoes.

Animatic: The "rough draft" of the commercial (not finished, no music).

Announcer: This is the person selling the product (could be the voice of the entire spot or just a few sentences with other people).

Axis (on-axis, off-axis): On-axis refers to standing right in front of the microphone with it level to your mouth. Standing off-axis is slightly to the left, right, top or bottom of the microphone.

Bleed-through: Noise from headphones that are being picked up by the placement of the microphone. Your headphones may be too high or you may be standing in the wrong place.

Cans: An old term for headphones.

Condenser Mic: A microphone that has a higher frequency and transient response than most. This gives it the ability to reproduce the speed of your voice easier than other microphones. It also has a louder output and is more sensitive to loud sounds than its counterparts. They also require their own power supply.

Copy: A script.

Copywriter: A person who writes copy.

Cue up: Sound engineer is lining up your voice to the visual and timing of the spot (may also be lining it up to music).

Cut: Stopping a take. Used more for looping and ADR work.

Donut Spot: When copy is inserted between segments of music or video.

Dubbing: Anything you have to record over what has already been there.

Dynamic Mic: More rugged than condenser microphones, but their frequency response can sometimes be less than that of a condenser microphone. They also tend not to respond to the attack point of a sound source (i.e. your voice) as well as a condenser microphone. Does not require a power source.

Feedback: When a loop exists between an audio input and an audio output. When the output signal of monitors or speakers gets fed back into the input of a microphone it creates feedback. This can be dangerous to your hearing. Never have your mic and monitors on at the same time if they are in the same immediate space.

FTP Sites (File Transfer Protocol): One of the most common methods for sending large audio files between two computers. This is one method you may use to send audio files to your clients. Yousendit.com is an alternate method to FTP and there are other companies as well. Think of an FTP site as a digital drop box for you to put files that are too large for email to be picked up by the client.

Hear More Live: Hear more of yourself in your headphones by turning up the volume.

Input: Something that sound is going into, like the input port on your M-box (for those of you recording with Pro-Tools).

Insurance Take: When you have all the takes you need, but you get one more just to be sure. Or, when you record one more take to have fun with.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) Line Codec Box/ Source Connect: This service allows you to digitally transfer data to and from the Internet in real time. This allows you to record at a studio without having to be physically there, or to interface with your client from across the country.

Iso-Booth/Voice Booth: A small enclosure that isolates its occupant from exterior sound or is acoustically treated to record or broadcast a sound source with as little noise from walls as possible.

Looping: Re-recording dialogue that was missed or didn't record properly the first time. Done in post-production.

MP3 File Type: Common audio format for consumer audio storage. It is a lossy format (meaning some digital information may be lost), designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording, while still sounding like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio for most listeners. MP3 is a popular audio file type because it is a manageable file size for most users.

Music Bed: The music that will be used in the back of a spot.

Output: Something that sound is going out of, like headphones, speakers or monitors (which are speakers).

Phone Patch: The producer, client, director and writer are patched in from another location to where you are recording.

Plosive: A sudden release of air from the mouth generated by the hard sounds of such letters as B, P, K, C, G and TH sounds. The air can hit the diaphragm of a microphone pretty hard and distort the broadcast or recorded signal.

PSA (Public Service Announcement): This is a type of advertisement featured on television, radio, print or other media that's intended to raise awareness of an issue and bring the public to action. There are no residuals with PSAs if you’re a member of AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).

Push: Emphasize, punch it using inflection, dynamics, pace or all of the above.

Slating: Reading your name aloud prior to performing the audition copy so that the casting director, or decision-maker, knows who they are listening to. A slate can also be the identifier for what part of the copy you’re reading.

Spot: A commercial.

Tag: A label associated with something for the purpose of identification. The end of a spot that usually includes the client’s name and catch-phrase or slogan. For example: “LG: Life’s Good”.

Track: A separate sound recording that can be combined with others to be heard at the same time. You could have a vocal track, a music track, a sound effects track, etc.

Track Sheet: A physical or digital document to keep track of what has been recorded.

V-O: Voice Over: V/O: voice-over: Voice-Over: VO: a live or recorded broadcast of spoken word by an unseen commentator.

Watermark: Placing an undesirable sound effect on a V-O mix in order to render it unusable until final payment is made by the client.

WAV File Type: A larger audio file type than MP3. It is a better representation to the original work or audio. It is lossless and uncompressed unlike its MP3 counterpart, but because of its size, MP3 tends to be more common.

What other terms would you add to this list that you've heard in the studio?

Written by:
Bethany Baker, Such A Voice Marketing Director and
Brendan Coyle, Such A Voice Post-Production Coordinator and Producer/Coach

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Paul Michael Kennelly

"Tom Force was so great to work with, he was very helpful and incredibly patient. He told me that he wouldn't let me out of the studio until my demo was perfect and because of that, my demo is AWESOME!"


Some might say that Paul was destined to be a voiceover actor, that it was "in his blood". Paul's father was a sportscaster on TV & radio and Paul would tag along with him to work whenever possible. As Paul grew up and his voice started changing, friends and colleagues would ask him jokingly when he was going to "take the old man's job". Paul never really considered it seriously until his father passed away in 1999. Paul had a reawakening at that time, a fire reignited for his passion of voiceovers and he started to wonder if people heard something in his voice that he just took for granted all of these years. He started asking around, his dad's former coworkers bluntly told him that if he didn't at least try to pursue voiceovers that he would be wasting the greatest gift his father ever gave to him, his voice. "People told me for years that they can close their eyes and hear my dad when I speak, how could I not give it a shot?"


Paul decided to try to take a shot on his own and he went into a NYC studio to record a demo. Unfortunately, he found out very quickly that agents don't want to work with you unless you're already working. He would audition here and there but wasn't getting anywhere. He had his first break when his cousin Chris moved east. Chris worked at a production company in downtown Manhattan and he would call Paul anytime there was a casting call for voice work. He landed his first big job with the company Mike's Hard Lemonade. "Three minutes in the booth and $750 in my pocket! It was so great and I realized this WAS something I could do". Unfortunately it wasn't long lasting, only a few months down the road, Paul's cousin Chris passed away and Paul's connection for a steady stream of auditions disappeared, along with a much-loved relative. Soon thereafter, Paul and his wife gave birth to a little redhead and Paul placed his voiceover work on the back burner to focus on a more steady career in the sheet metal industry.


Paul's dream of working in voiceovers never faded and he always wondered in the back of his mind what might've happened with his voiceover career, until one evening when Paul came home and his wife had bookmarked up a web link she thought he may be interested in looking at. "I pulled it up and saw that it was for Such A Voice, and I instantly knew I was going to do it. I had put this dream on hold long enough".


Paul worked with Tom Force and is incredibly pleased with the way things have turned out so far. "Tom Force was so great to work with, he was very helpful and incredibly patient. He told me that he wouldn't let me out of the studio until my demo was perfect and because of that, my demo is AWESOME!"


Since receiving his demo, Paul has been diligently auditioning for work and has been working on other aspects of his voiceover career as well. "You need to market yourself to make it in this business! Also, I love to work with Pro Tools and am just super happy to follow my dreams after this time". We have no doubt that Paul's passion and determination for voiceovers will take him far!


As far as a piece of advice from Paul? "You have to want it! Don’t think this will just fall into your lap. Just don't quit, somewhere out there is someone looking for YOUR voice!"

We look forward to seeing where your journey takes you next, Paul!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maintain your focus (and life/work balance)!

One of the perks of working in the voiceover industry is the flexibility to work from your home at the hours you wish. As gas prices climb, rush hour approaches and the rain (or snow, or hail) falls outside your window, you can sit back with a cup of tea and wish all of those commuters well! With that being said, it's very easy to end your day and wonder how you managed to squander away that much time. It's also very easy to realize that the sun has set hours ago and you're still sitting at your computer working! Thankfully, we've brought you our tips to ensure you make the most of your day (and still get to sleep at a reasonable hour).

Set up a designated work area: Office, closet, corner of a quiet room, etc. It's much easier to focus on work if you create a dedicated space for a home office that's free from distractions and provides you with all the tools of your trade close by and easily accessible. It's even suggested that you close the door (if you have one) to your working area. This indicates to anyone sharing your living space that you are unavailable and it also creates a more serious atmosphere for yourself. Think about it, how easy is it to get distracted by noises outside of your working area if the door is open? Before you know it you're venturing outside of the room and getting sidetracked! It is also a good way to separate your work and personal lives. That way, when you enter your designated work area, you know consciously what you’re there to do: go to work. It changes the state of mind from “I’m at home” to “I’m at my job”. It also makes it much easier to "wind down" from your day once you leave that designated space.

Set regular hours, and stick to a regular schedule (as much as possible): Obviously if you have a client that needs a project right away, you would divert away from this plan. However, in general, you should try to keep established hours for doing your normal daily tasks (marketing, networking, auditioning, etc.) and plan out your to-do list accordingly. This leads us to our next tip…

Make yourself a daily task list, and stick with it: Try to make three lists of threes. The first list contains three things that you WILL do today, the second list is three things that you WANT to get done today (but aren't essential), and the final list is three things that are long-term goals. Your long-term goals on your third daily list should be ones that you want to focus on that day, if you get through the first two lists. It's also a great idea to have an ongoing task list where you can pull ideas from to create your daily task list.

Reserve time at the end of your schedule to plan for the next day: 15 minutes should be plenty. In this time you'll want to make your daily task list for the next day, organize and file any paperwork you accumulated from your day, review your task list from the day and make sure you completed (at least) the three things in your "must do" category. Also, take the time to complete any other miscellaneous tasks to get your office/desk area organized for the next day (cleaning your desk falls into this category).

Find your best working hours: Does a train pass your house every day at the same time? Do you have jets flying overhead each morning? Is your toddler waking up at the same time every day? These are all things that are distractions and you should try to schedule your work day to be outside of these distractions. You should plan your day around your tasks accordingly. Make business calls during business hours, record auditions when your voice is at it's best, etc. You should fit in your other tasks (social media, blog writing, building your contact list, and more) around these time-centric tasks. Lastly, you also want to take your energy level into account. If you are an early riser, start your day early. Night owl? Go into the wee hours of the night. Whatever works best with your schedule!

Keep your desk and/or work area tidy: This helps keep your mind focused and on-task. With nobody around to hold you accountable for your tidiness, those piles of papers can quickly stack up until suddenly a client calls looking for a contract they asked you to sign and you can't find it. You tear apart the room finding the contract and before you know it your desk looks like the Tasmanian devil ripped through! Now you MUST clean your desk and it'll take you so much longer than it would have to just stay organized to begin with.

Be prepared to take notes as needed: Whether you choose a Word document or a good old fashioned paper and pencil, you need to be prepared to write things down as needed. Thoughts can enter your mind very sporadically throughout your day. For instance, you may get a great idea for a blog topic in the middle of editing an audition. You should be prepared to write down this idea (and any thoughts that go along with the main idea) for future reference without interrupting your train of thought on your current focus. These notes can be used to compile ideas for your third list of three (the "long-term goals" list) down the road! This can also be applied "after hours". If a great idea comes to you outside of your normal hours, write down a note and put it on your desk, do not go back to work once you've finished!

Give yourself breaks: Just because you work from the comforts of home doesn't mean you should be locked in a room all day long. For every 2-3 hours that you work, plan on taking a short 10-15 minute break. This gives your mind time to settle and refocus. It's a great way to improve the quality of your work!

Expect the unexpected: Inevitably, no matter how much planning one does, something can and will come up to put an unexpected dent in your productivity. The best you can do is to try to plan for these events by leaving yourself a small amount of leeway in your day. Worst case scenario is that you have zero distractions, in which case you can just tackle your long-term goals on list three.

Maximize your time (both professional and personal) by thinking outside the box: If you take an hour lunch break and are eating at home, you can easily do household chores (laundry, dishes, etc.) as you make your lunch. You can also (depending on your area) go to the local store to pick up anything you need for the day on your lunch break. Doctor's visits should be scheduled outside of your "working hours", as they can run over an expected time allotment. Alternatively, you should work your appointment into your day when planning out your schedule.

Don't lose your social skills: It's very easy when you are working isolated from the outside world to start to feel a bit secluded. Make sure you're getting plenty of social time so your work day doesn't feel so lonely. Go to the local coffee shop to work for a few hours, schedule a lunch date with a friend, participate in social networking events after hours, get in a quick workout on your lunch break, etc.

Although we look at working from home as a treat, it is still work. Use our guidelines to make the most of your workday and still have time to relax and enjoy your personal life without feeling guilty about having a less-than-productive day at "the office".


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meet Our Staff: Dave Tolar


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 David Tolar. Dave has had a long history in voiceovers working with various radio stations. Being an on-air talent, he always found himself in the role of having to do voiceovers within those various radio stations. Years later he was asked by a Boston studio to come in and lend his voice for a series of different projects. He was rehearsing with his band in one room and working on voiceover projects in the next and he loved every minute of it! He has had the pleasure of working with such clients as Hasbro, W Hotels, WNBA, McGraw/Hill and has also lent his voice on several independent documentary films. Dave is also a past student of the Such A Voice program and always admired the fun, patient and helpful demeanor of the staff members at Such A Voice through his experience as a student. These are just a few of the reasons why Dave was so eager when the opportunity arose to apply for the position of coach & teacher at Such A Voice. Dave is one of the people in charge of coaching our students to develop/refine their talent and to prepare them to record their demos as well as going into the studio to produce them! Dave is based on the east coast in the picturesque town of Millis, MA (about an hour outside of Boston) where he has lived his entire life.


We were excited to learn more about the life of David Tolar:


What are a few of your passions?

I absolutely love music and am surrounded by it in many ways. I have been performing since age 5. I'm currently working with the band AGONA (featuring the talents of Agona Hardison, you can check out her work at www.agonahardison.com). Her new album just came out, it is called "The Drive", and it's amazing!


I also released an album in October 2010 with a "songwriting collective" titled "LOOK! A PONY!". You can listen to that at www.reverbnation.com/lookapony. There were just two of us in my home studio for this collaboration.


My parents had very diverse tastes in music, which has given me the eclectic sound I have today. I can trace the root of my musical passion back to seeing The Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show". I really am the sum of all I have heard.


I'm also an avid photographer, audio engineer, DJ and writer/editor. You could say I have a bit of a creative streak running through me!


Where is your favorite vacation spot?

England and Canada are my top two destination areas. For some reason those two places just feel like home to me. It's hard to define why they feel like home, they just do. Vermont is another place that feels this way.


What's on your playlist right now?

My favorite band is definitely The Beatles, so they are ALWAYS in rotation on my playlist. Currently I'm listening to my favorite album from them, "Revolver".

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


Always remember that your listener comes first. Perform your scripts with that in mind. Also, if you think you've practiced enough…you probably haven't!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Friday, July 1, 2011

Insights from the Mentor Program: Susie Schwarz


"Never in a million years would I have been able to deposit a check to TalkonSusie Voice Overs without Michelle’s help. Susie Schwarz, student of the Mentor Program.


Susie first heard about our Mentor Program while working with Rob Sciglimpaglia. She realized how much she desired a career doing voiceover work while in the studio recording her demo. "Being behind the mic, talking with my hands and taking direction…it was all incredibly thrilling to me! It motivated me to want to put in the time, effort and practice to get to become the best I could be." Rob recommended the Mentor Program as a starting point after she recorded to set up her home studio and hone her skills. "I had such a positive experience with the training program that it just seemed the most obvious and logical choice for me".


Michelle Falzon was a great fit for Susie from the beginning. "Michelle was super motivated, highly-talented with incredible experience. She was just amazingly easy to work with." Susie didn't have any particular expectations going into the program, she was only hoping to improve in general, whether that was in technology, technique or marketing, she knew she had room to grow in all of those areas. Her positive attitude and persevering personality really made her squeeze the most out of the Mentor Program. "If I was willing to put in the sweat equity with Michelle's help and support, then I knew would get something out of it."


Michelle helped Susie in many ways. They worked on technique tricks to help with post-production, analyzing scripts, reading pace, voice projection, inflection and adding certain emotions when appropriate.


Even when Susie struggled with a rough script, it turned into a learning experience. "I was super frustrated with my delivery. I couldn't get it right between the timing, emphasis and tone. Somehow it seemed my brain had completely divorced my mouth, haha! Michelle helped me reconcile the two by working with me on repeatedly practicing the script until I finally got it right. She gave me the confidence to keep at it and not give up, and that was amazing."


Working together, Michelle and Susie have been able to help Susie deliver a more competitive audition. In fact, they work on auditions almost every month. "Never in a million years would I have been able to deposit a check to TalkonSusie Voice Overs without Michelle’s help, and I mean that! I’ll record a spot beforehand and send it to her. She’ll critique it during our session, we’ll practice and polish it so that when we’re done I can submit a more competitive audition. In fact, I had a phone audition right after one of our coaching sessions. The audition direction was to be conversational, emotional and approachable. Michelle and I had just worked on sounding natural and believable. After the phone audition, I felt like it was just a great extension of my training with Michelle, not thinking that I would get the job. BUT I DID!!!! The job was to play the voice of a mother for a military website that was recorded in a studio in New York City. That was a blast!"


Susie is happy to share what has worked for her, "practice, practice, practice!" She sets aside time every day to reach small goals, so the end goal doesn't seem so daunting. She submits auditions that are within her niche, even if they don't seem quite good enough for consideration, just to have the opportunity to hone her skills.


Even though every job is a chance for Susie to grow as a voiceover artist, that's not to say she doesn't have a favorite job! "Recording with Kognito.com, a company that creates interactive programs in NYC has been my favorite so far. When I was in the booth taking direction and recording with other VO talents it was so much fun & exciting, I didn't want it to end! When leaving the studio, I was told that the character I played might be a recurring role, so I’m hopeful I’ll being returning soon. Keep your fingers crossed!"


We will keep our fingers crossed for you, Susie! Can't wait to hear more from you soon!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director