The Impossible VO Machine!

Share

The Impossible VO Machine!

Is it possible to build a silent, portable DAW that’s powerful enough for gaming?

That was my quest… and I’m up and running on that impossible system!

Requirements:

  • Light Weight
  • Portable
  • Silent
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
  • Powerful Enough for Gaming

Selecting the Components
I decided to start with silent and portable. For that, I’d need a fanless laptop with enough power to record and edit audio without getting bogged down. That narrowed the field quite a bit. Aside from Chromebooks and tablets, there were only a few machines that met my specs.

Dell XPS-13 2 in 1 Laptop
I chose the “Dell XPS 13 2 in 1” for the base system. Please note: only the 2 in 1 model is fanless and truly silent when running. Very important when I’m in the booth. It also has 2 USB-C Thunderbolt ports, which will come into play for the next parts of the “Impossible VO Machine”.

To handle the demands of a true gaming box, I’d need a higher power graphics card than any silent laptop could offer. For this, I researched External Graphics Processing Units (aka: eGPU). They’re basically a high-end graphics card with a power supply and fans in a separate box. Most also require a high-speed interface. This is where the Thunderbolt ports come into play.

Aorus GTX-1070 Gaming Box
I chose the “Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box 1070” with an included Nvidia graphics card built in. It works best with machines where the Thunderbolt port runs directly to the main processor (as opposed to thru the chooser). The laptop I picked is just such a machine.

With all the essential components in place, I still needed some additional ones to round out the system.

Plugable USB-C Docking Station
The “Plugable USB-C Triple Display Docking Station” works through the Thunderbolt port to provide power and adds usb ports and external monitor interfaces for daily use.

I already had an external HDMI display, USB hub, wireless mouse and keyboard.

Add to that the audio components (Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 interface, microphone, monitors) and the total package was complete.

Using The Impossible VO Machine
For my daily use as a DAW, I’ve got the USB hub connected to the USB-C port, with connections to the mouse/keyboard, Focusrite, etc. The USB-C Thunderbolt port is connected to the Plugable docking stations, which provides power and access to the external monitor. When recording, I use Sony Sound Forge and Sony Music Studio. Video editing is done with Sony Movie Studio. The system runs like a champ. Silent and powerful.

When I want to do some gaming, I disconnect the Plugable docking station, and plug the Aorus Gaming Box into the Thunderbolt port. It also provides power to the system and connects to the larger external monitor for gaming. The fans are not bad, although too loud for recording. But the eGPU has more than enough power to run all the games I’ve tried so far without lagging behind. Truly awesome!

I’ve also used the eGPU when editing video and rendering animation. It really cuts down on the time needed by taking the load off of the laptop cpu for any graphics operations.

To switch back to DAW mode, I need to select “Disconnect GPU” from the tray app, then swap the Aorus out and plug the Plugable dock back in. Very easy to do.

Issues
No system, especially one with this number of components, is without problems. Early on, the Dell Laptop had 2 issues that I’ve found work-arounds for. The first has to do with using Hibernation mode. Dell was initially not happy with it, and would periodically shut down without notice when in Hibernation. I managed to find a fix for that online that involves clearing out the old Hibernation data.

The second issue was more problematic for recording. The laptop internal speakers would sometimes make burbling noises even when nothing was playing. I suspect this has to do with a driver or design issue. Since first purchasing the system, there have been several driver updates. This seems to have corrected the problem. Should it re-occur, I did find a work-around: just disable the internal speakers. (I wasn’t using them anyway – just my monitors and headphones).

Conclusion
So… “The Impossible VO Machine” proved to be quite possible. There are some compromises, but that is always the case. The pricing for all the components is also higher than a normal DAW. Overall, I’m very happy with the end result. It allows me to record, travel, and game… all on one system.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Battle With Me!

Share

Battle With Me!

As I type this, my back is not comfortable. That’s generous, since I needed a cane to get out of bed this morning.

But I’m not complaining. I’ve been here before. And I’m not giving in or giving up.

Everyone has problems. Some are of our own making. Others are just the unluck of the draw. Either way, it’s our choice how we deal with these issues.

I choose to do battle… Won’t you join me?

Battle With Me! 55 YO JoeActor

This Is My 55

I’m far from perfect.

I battle depression,
been overweight,
intestinal issues,
back problems…

Fuck all that.

It’s not stopping me.

Do the work.
Get help.
You can succeed.

Battle With Me!

(the sword’s name is “Lobera”)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

The Genius of Donald J. Trump

Share

The Genius of Donald J. Trump

Those of you who know me probably aren’t used to hearing anything positive about Trump.

However, there is something that he seems to do better than anyone else. His “Genius” trait.

Trump never explains anything he says or does. He lets others do it for him.

Can it be that simple? Is this the key to his success?

Republicans in government and his supporters constantly “explain” what he means when he does or says something stupid, ignorant, racist, weak, etc.

His detractors “explain” what is wrong with him. Mentally. Strategically. They even try to figure out if he’s “playing 3-dimensional chess”… and in doing so, freely give him his next move to make.

His lawyers “explain” away his legal problems.

His accountants “explain” away his money problem.

And behind it all, Trump explains nothing. Ever. No apologies. No explanations. No reason for his insane, bizarre, mental meltdowns and verbal diatribes. Nada.

And why should he explain anything he does or says? He’s got all of us doing it for him.

He is, in essence, the Schrödinger’s cat of politicians: simultaneously a “Stable Genius” and a “Babbling Imbecile”.

And so he shall remain until the box is flung open…

Trump Genius combo JoesDump

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

Share

America: Sorry For Your Loss

Share

America: Sorry For Your Loss

America: Sorry For Your Loss

America:
Sorry For Your Loss

(Morals, Intelligence, Fairness, Culture, Sanity, World Standing, Children, Laws, Soul, Planet, etc…)

Get Well Soon

I’ve decided this will be my new greeting to fellow Americans. I really hope I don’t need to use it for very long…

But to be honest, both sides of this horror story are losing so much. But the difference is that one side knows what it’s losing. And the other remains terribly clueless.

It would be easy to call names. Stupid. Conned. Racist. But many are just ignorant. And the cure for that is education. Another thing sadly lacking in our country.

And those who refuse to listen? Who don’t want to know?

“Willful Ignorance” is far worse than any amount of stupidity.

Time to get out of our bubbles. See ourselves and “the other”. Mend the wounds. Heal the divide.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Stay sane out there.

Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

An Education in Money from 1967

Share

An Education in Money from 1967

Scrooge McDuck explains many of the basic concepts of money in this short Disney film from 1967.

Although it’s a bit out of date, I’d wager that there’s a lot of folks who don’t have a good understanding of the concepts presented here.

One of the main points I believe has been forgotten: “Money’s gotta circulate!

Arm yourselves with knowledge!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

June 25th Connections

Share

June 25th Connections

Opinion by Joe J Thomas

A great many things happened on this day in history, but these stood out to me:

  • 1798: US passes Alien Act allowing president to deport dangerous aliens
  • 1867: 1st barbed wire patented by Lucien B Smith of Ohio
  • 1943: Crematorium 3 at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp is finished
  • 1947: 1st version of Anne Frank’s diary “Het Achterhuis” published in The Netherlands

Coincidences? Almost certainly. But we humans assign meaning to many things, coincidental or not.

220 years ago, the USA was worried about “dangerous aliens”.

Now, we worry about “murderers and rapists” crossing our borders.

And want to enact bans against people based on their religion.

Over 150 years after the invention of barbed wire, we’re still locking men, women and children in cages.

Knowingly separating families.

75 years after Crematorium 3 at Auschwitz was finished, innocent men and women are still being killed in the streets.

And teachers and students fear for their lives in our schools.

Over 70 years after the Diary of Anne Frank was published, we still base our policies on a fear of “The Other”.

Anyone who doesn’t look like us, dress like us, speak like we do, or believe the same as us.

America can be “Great” again… But not if we stay on the the path we’re on.

And tolerate these evils… Or worse – support them.

Here’s one final event from 45 years ago that may give us some hope:

  • 1973: John Dean begins testifying before Senate Watergate Committee

45 … History is calling.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

(Source: On This Day – June 25)

Share

The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

Share

The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

There’s been a lot of talk in the voice over community about where the industry is headed. Unions, Pay-to-Play sites, Casting.

To be fair, the industry is changing. But that’s to be expected. There are many questions this raises…

How will the change affect us? What can we do about it? Should I even be concerned?

In this post, I will give my thoughts on three different perspectives on the changing voice over landscape. Read on below:

Perspective 1: Voice Talent
The voice talent’s perspective may be the most complicated. There are a wide range of genres, markets, and opportunities for work. Opinions vary on benefits of union membership, the role of pay-to-play sites, how to market (or not), etc. Each person’s situation is different, and because of that, it’s hard to present a unified perspective.

This also gets to the heart of a related issue: As a group, we can’t get what we want unless we can agree on what exactly that is. Some would appear to be easy. Fair pay. Safe work environment. Professionalism on all sides.

But even on the agreed items, there is no clear consensus. What does “fair pay” mean to each person? In each market? Are some willing to do work others would consider unsafe or unprofessional?

Because of all of these factors, it may be more beneficial to look at perspectives outside our own.

After all, we are selling something. It may be better to focus on what the market wants, and how we can best deliver it to them.

Perspective 2: The Union
For The Union (Sag/Aftra in the USA), the view is much broader than for any individual.

I am grateful for the benefits and standards that the union offers. And I’m grateful that we have some union folks as advocates for us all, but it seems like they are fighting an uphill battle on many issues.

Voice Acting is only a small part of what the union’s business is about. And even then, the lion’s share of their focus will understandably be on the largest prizes. These are often big budget features and high power talent. For the average working Joe, this often means not being heard at all.

Think about it: if given the choice to focus on one $10,000,000 project or ten-thousand $1,000 projects, which would you choose?

This isn’t an excuse, but it is a reason. There’s only so much time in a day. In order to keep up, the union has to stay relevant in the bigger game.

We do benefit indirectly from this. There are always roles in the big projects for the average working Joe. But we’ve got to be honest with ourselves: If you’re not famous, the union is less focused on your concerns.

It is about business, after all. As is voice acting.

Perspective 3: The Client
Although individual clients may vary, there are many common things they all want.

A voice that matches their ideas for the product or service. Professional behavior. A good price.

In some cases, they may know exactly what they want and how much they’re willing to pay. Others may require a bit more work on our part. Customer service has to include discovering the customer’s needs and fulfilling them to the best of our ability.

All customer’s time is valuable. They don’t want it wasted with idle chatter or by having to track you down for the job.

Hiring union talent may be important to some. To others, it may represent a hassle. Knowing the difference is crucial to landing the job, and getting continuing work.

Overall, customers want the whole process to be as easy as possible. It’s up to us to find out what that means for each one.

So… What Can I Do?

  • Be professional.
  • Deliver a solid product.
  • Quote fair rates for the work, and stick to them.
  • Focus on the client’s needs.
  • Take direction well.
  • Be friendly and easy to work with.
  • Work with other voice actors on the larger issues. Together, we are stronger.

Other Perspectives
Below is a recent town hall event sponsored by the VO Agent Alliance, Global Voice Acting Academy, and WOVO.

Lots of great stuff discussed, and great groups to follow if you’d like to work together to make a difference. #VoiceStrong

Enjoy:

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share