Category Archives: General

Can a Sennheiser MKH 416 Bring Down a Plane?

Sennheiser 416That’s what the TSA at the little airport in Roswell, New Mexico wanted to know.  I guess it looked like a pipe bomb to them.

I was returning from few wonderful days in the nearby mountain village of Ruidoso, having met up with the wife’s family, and had brought along the traveling voice-over rig.  The Sennheiser 416 was in the carry-on bag.  It went through the X-ray machine and caused a bit of a stir.  I was pulled aside and asked to explain.  Fearing this might happen, I had it in the original case with the windscreen and paperwork which included a photo of it with cable attached.

“It’s a microphone,” I told Miss TSA lady. “See, there’s a picture of it.”

“Oh..it’s a microphone,” she shouted down the table to her fellow inspectors.

“Ahh, a microphone,” they grunted. “We didn’t know what it was…OK.”

Funny thing is when we flew out of DFW, the TSA didn’t bat an eye.  Either they had seen shotgun mics before, or they didn’t care.

And yes, it’s THAT Roswell. Alien crash landing  museums, Big Bob’s Flying Saucer Burgers and all that.  Maybe I should paint the 416 green. Nah.

Creative Slating

My agents have a rule about slating which is short and sweet.

Name only. Not even the role. Put that in the file name.

The intent is to curb the behavior of some actors who think that rude noises, mini-biographies, or lame attempts at being funny during the slate will make them more memorable when in fact producers and casting people find them annoying and a time suck.

So what’s a voiceover performer to do? Especially with a name like mine. Two syllables.

Well, more than you might think. Pat Fraley has some notions on creative slating in his audio seminar “Quick and Slick Voiceover Tricks available on Dan O’Day’s website. You also get tips on how to add layers to your “triplets” or those three-in-a-row readings and a discussion on whether or not you should add processing or production values to auditions once in a while, assuming you are auditioning out of your home studio.

Pat has a very entertaining way of teaching and has some nuggets in there for you.

Disclosure: For plugging the audio seminar I receive bupkis. I just think it’s good.

Using Source Connect with Pro Tools

George Whittam of El Dorado Recording Services has produced a most excellent video tutorial for voice actors who use Pro Tools and need help setting up a Source Connect session.

You can also find session templates and written guides on the Source-Elements website, but I found that George’s video takes you through the steps quickly with less heavy lifting . Thanks George!

Picture This. Or Not.

There has been a debate over on the Yahoo! Voice-over forum on whether or not the voice actor should include a headshot with or on the demo packaging or other voiceover marketing materials.

Let’s be clear. Most actors have headshots and video demos for their on-camera careers.  The question at hand is about including a photo with your voice-over demo or your on-line profile.

My opinion? Only if your voice and your face are a most excellent match.  If you look the way you sound.  And local actors come to mind that illustrate the point. The late Harlan Jordan and John B. Wells.

Harlan was known for his “country boy” sound. The first time I met him was in a session where I played a banker and Harlan read the rancher role for a radio spot.  He was running late and the rest of us were hanging around the studio making small talk while we waited.

Finally the door flies open and in walks a big ‘ole boy who looked like he’d ridden to the studio in the back of a hay truck. He had on dusty overalls and a big straw hat.  Harlan stepped up to the mic with a voice and a read that sounded like Larry the Cable Guy’s dad.  A most excellent match.

On the other hand, we have John B. Wells. Those of you who know his work would agree that “deep” doesn’t begin to describe his voice. It’s about as low has a human voice can go and still be audible. It’s in the same category as the late Don La Fontaine, the kind of voice that can blister paint.

But John is relatively young and sports a handsome yet boyish face.  One of his former agents told me he studied theater in college and really wanted to have a film career.  However, he was told over and over again at film auditions that his voice just overpowered his “look” and to come back in , oh,  20 or 30 years, when he resembled the Sam Shepherd he sounded like.  Not a match.

So if you really really look like your voice (Harlan), then maybe include a photo. Otherwise don’t.

Audio Book Master Reader Dude

At least once a year the missus and I like to load up the motor car and drive to Ruidoso, New Mexico where we met and sparked. The drive from Dallas to the Land of Enchantment is long and stooopid dull with points of interest being giant electricity  making windmills and a statue of a white buffalo in Snyder, Texas.

One year we armed ourselves with some audio books to help pass the time.  One was Larry McMurtry’s tome on Crazy Horse.  Love Larry McMurtry.  Lonesome Dove, Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment and all that.  Man can write.

But as we were listening to Crazy Horse I was also  struck by how good the narrator is. In this almost quiet, unassuming way he is taking Larry’s words and painting pictures in my brain.  Who is this guy?

It’s  Scott Brick.

Tracy Pattin at Voice Registry has podcasts posted where she interviews Mr. Brick. If your voice over ambitions include audio books check out these clips.

Turning Strangers Into Customers

I can’t remember a time in my voice over career when I’ve worked with so many new people in the span of a few weeks. Faceless folks to me since I’m meeting them via ISDN or phone-patch in the home studio.  Names and voices in my headphones from studios in Los Angeles, Austin, Detroit, and Conneticut.

Besides doing the the best possible work for them, what else can we voice over performers do to increase the odds that these strangers ring our agents again. And again.

Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing,  puts it this way:

“The highest form of public relations is human relations. People buy from friends, so it’s crucial to make the human bond before you can make a lasting business bond.”

Read the entire Guerrilla  Marketing blog post here.  It’s well worth your time.

Pssst… Over Here… Need a Voice over?

I like to tell people that the “work” part of the voice over business is getting the work.  Doing the work is play time.  Unless the script is horrible and the director odious, but that’s not very often.

So how much of our time should we spend marketing ourselves as voice actors?  Business author and consultant Scott Ginsburg gives us a good notion.  (Hint: A lot)

It’s well worth the read.  Thanks Scott!