Learning from Bad Voice Over

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Learning from Bad Voice Over

There’s a lot of bad voice over on TV.

But rather than just cursing at the screen, I decided to turn my pet peeves into a learning experience.

Below are a variety of terrible voice over performances, and the lesson that each can provide:

1) The EmPHAsis on the Wrong SylLAble (or Word)
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but a lot of this problem seems to happen in medical commercials. I’ve even seen some commercials that were re-cut because the problem was so glaring… only to have some other problem in the new version.
Here’s a few examples and why they’re wrong:

  • INcreased risk (this should have an even emphasis over the entire phrase: “increased risk”)
  • Routine lab MONITORING (“Lab Monitoring” is routine. The lab is not.)
  • Upper respiratory TRACT infection (similar to the prior. You have an “Upper-Respiratory-Tract”, and it has an infection.)
  • I have ASSmah (Not sure why you’d pronounce asthma this way. Just wrong.)
  • Gr-EASY (Greasy rhymes with “Fleecy”. It’s not pronounced like “easy”.)

Lesson: Be certain of your word pronunciation and phrase emphasis.

2) Amateur Hour
For many local businesses, politicians and public service spots, “real people” record the spots themselves. I get it. Money’s tight, and professionals are expensive. But they might be “Penny Wise, and Pound Foolish” in the long run.

When “real people” (ie. Amateurs) speak on camera, they’re often not the same as in real life. The microphone and camera can be intimidating if you’re not used to them. This tends to bring out odd qualities in folks. Primarily, it’s a flatter tone, lower energy (or worse: pushed excitement).

Here’s a couple examples:

  • ENtroducing (the word is “INtroducing”)
  • I could lift mah son… high over my head… again (no need for all those odd pauses)
  • I COULD LEAVE AGAIN!!! (too much excitement. And it’s “Live” not “Leave”. Watch that accent)
  • The best smahl in mah lahhff. (Accent. Again. It’s “The best smile in my life”)
  • Even fahr guys dat don like ta cahk! (fake excitement. Should be “for guys that don’t like to cook”)

Lesson: You can actually pick up some excellent accents and regionalisms from watching “real people”… just be sure you don’t pick up their low energy or fake excitement.

3) Product Misplacement
The most important thing in most commercials is the company or product name. Yet in some, they are mispronounced. Odd how that can make it past so many approval layers, and yet… There it is.

In some cases, it may be due to having different pronunciations in different countries. Car brands Hyundai and Jaguar are prime example.

Other brands may have names that are unfamiliar or spelled in odd ways such as Xfinity or Ghirardelli.

Lesson: Take the time to research the correct pronunciations when you audition. If there are still doubts, ask your agent. And in sessions, listen carefully and defer to the client’s pronunciation.

4) Vile Vocals
It’s like fingernails on a chalk board… Vocal Fry. Bad Singing. Missing letters (“buh-uh” instead of “button”). Slurred speech. Mumbling. Over-Articulation.

Few of us get coaching when we first learn to speak. Just learning a language can be a monumental task for a child. However, when you choose to speak as a part of your career, it needs to be one of your priorities.

Lesson: Proper diction is essential to good voice over work. Consult with a speech coach and address any issues that may hamper your future success.

5) Wanna Be Voices
Cartoons were a big part of my childhood. Anime characters also have a very loyal fan base. I’d watch, laugh, memorize and imitate the voices. Lots of kids do that. It’s fun, and sometimes you can get a laugh from your friends, or when you’re older, the people at a party.

However, it’s a gigantic step from having fun imitating voices to a career in voice over.

With cheap microphones and easy access to editing software, it’s become very common for people to make their own videos for YouTube (read: YouActor), and think that that’s the way to break into Cartoons and Anime.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m definitely not talking about audio drama. I’m with several stellar groups, and there are many fine actors who contribute their time and talents to create compelling stories. But they have put in the effort to be trained on stage, or have taken classes or been coached.

Lesson: We all start somewhere. For many people, that may be imitating voices they admire. But a voice over career takes a lot more than just mimicry. Do yourselves a favor and get training in acting, improv and singing. Perform for live audiences. Get direction and coaching. If you wanna get the jobs, you gotta put in the work.

 
So, the next time you hear some really bad VO, step back and take the time to see why it bothers you. It may alter the way you approach your own auditions and performances.

 

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

 

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Bacon and You!

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Bacon and You!

Bacon and You! Joe's Dump

Ever wonder who you’ve worked with in the entertainment biz? If you’re on IMdB, then the Oracle of Bacon can tell you that and much more…

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
It all begins with Kevin Bacon. The idea is that everyone on the planet is somehow only six steps away from Kevin Bacon. For example, if I know Kevin Bacon, I’m one step away. If I know someone who knows Kevin Bacon, I’m two steps away… and so on. By the time you get to six steps away, that’s a lot of people – maybe even everyone on Earth!

The Oracle of Bacon
The Oracle of Bacon web site finds the shortest connection between any two people listed on IMdB. The default is Kevin Bacon and whoever you type in. As an example, my Bacon Number is 2. I’ve worked with someone who’s worked with Kevin Bacon. But the site has some other very useful tools…

3 Ways To Use The Oracle of Bacon

Be sure to play around with the advanced search options. They’ll let you include things like video games and TV series.

Once you’ve found your Bacon Number, be sure to post it in the comments below.

Have fun!
Joe

 

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

 

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Singing Impressions

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Singing Impressions


A new demo from Joe J Thomas

13 Voices in 60 Seconds: Singing Impressions by Joe J Thomas

… and the LP Audio Version for those that want to hear more:

      Joe_J_Thomas-Singing_Impressions(long)

More information at: JoeActor.com
Singer: Joe J Thomas
Audio Producer: Mike Finkel
Voice Coach: Charles Ion

Copyright Joe J Thomas (JoeActor.com) 2016
All Rights Reserved
Not a Quinn-Martin Production

How This Demo Came To Be…

As a bit of background, I’ve been singing for several decades. Musical theatre, choir, stage performances with bands… Even traveled with an Elvis impersonator. All of it laid a great foundation. However, it had been a while since my last public performance. Most of my singing now is in the car or for the occasional animation audition.

So, I’d decided to brush up on my singing early in the year, and sought out a new vocal coach. Turns out there is a great guy who teaches at a local college and also gives private lessons.

After getting some of the cobwebs off and learning some new techniques, it was time to put my training to work.

In early August, 2016, I started working with my voice coach and an audio producer on the tracks for the finished demo. The idea had been rattling around in my head for quite some time, and I was already adept at several singing impressions. My voice coach was crucial in getting me to find the right placement for each singer and song.

I recorded a full or partial take of each song (vocal only), and sent the voice track and backing track to the audio producer. We’d also worked together in the past, so he was familiar with my voice and able to give precise feedback on what needed to be tweaked.

Once the base tracks were in a rough edit phase, I enlisted the ears of my wife, and several of my good friends. Each of their feedback went into my decision on which tracks made the final cut.

The last step was for my audio producer to assemble the tracks into a balanced, finished demo.

As a side benefit, I also picked up a lot of new knowledge and techniques.

Now… On to the next challenge!

See you in the booth,
Joe

 

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

 

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Other Than Me… Joe

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Other Than Me… Joe

“Joe Thomas” is a fairly common name.

When I first moved to LA, I even had a producer look at my headshot and ask me “Hmmm… Joe Thomas – What’s your real name?”

So, I was wondering how many other notable Joes there are out there.

(thankfully, Google ranks my pages first for “Joe J Thomas” or “Joe Thomas Voice”)

Here’s a short list of some of the other Joes out there:
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Bad Business

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Bad Business

What a horrible dessert can tell you about running a good business

After a recent sushi dinner, my wife and I decided we wanted to grab a little dessert… something other than green tea or mochi ice cream.

We chose a new branch of an iconic LA eatery known for good pancakes, pies, etc.

It did not turn out as we had hoped.

But from the ashes of this nasty experience rose some truths about customer service and quality products.

The Dessert Debacle

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What Is Marketing?

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What Is Marketing?

Is it your brand? How about mass emails? SEO? Blogs? Cold calling?

These may be pieces of an overall marketing strategy, but they are too often mistaken for all of marketing. Or, worse yet, “marketing experts” may sell you classes and consulting about one of these… but not really help you with true marketing.

Let’s take a look at how the American Marketing Association defines it:

Marketing:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
~~~ and ~~~
Marketing Research:
Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information–information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications.

I’ve included both of the above definitions because they are a related and integral part of an overall marketing plan. Much more than any single effort, true marketing involves knowing your product, your audience, the target segment, how to reach them, etc. Perhaps most importantly, it includes all of the follow-up needed to know if your campaign is working, and the data needed to tweak your efforts or scrap them and start fresh. It is an involved ongoing process, but if you’re not doing the research and follow-up, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks.

Recently, I was involved with several colleagues in an in-depth discussion about social media and marketing. The conversation was fascinating, and provided a number of different perspectives. I’ve quoted much of it below, along with my thoughts on each quote…

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Graphic JoeActor!

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

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Graphic JoeActor! Part of the job of being self-employed is letting people know what you’ve accomplished. Since I normally eschew traditional marketing methods, I decided to get a bit graphic instead. Below are some iconic graphics featuring characters that I’ve … Continue reading

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Dump Gold! (2014 Edition)

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Dump Gold!

(2014 edition)

Joe's Dump Store - Memorial Day Sale!

Joe’s Dump has been around over 2 years. With more than 100 posts, it’s time for a bit of Dump Digging to harvest out some of my favorite posts from the past year…

Organized by category for your convenience below – Enjoy!

Business:
V321.ru – The Story
Moth or Flame?
Technology Rising, Quality Sinking
You Actor
Good, Fast, Cheap – A New Take
Branding Versatility
The Myth Of Conversational VO
Silent Computer
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Branding Versatility

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Branding Versatility

Swiss Army Brain

“Pick a Type…”

“Discover your Brand…”

“Find your USP (unique selling proposition)…”

“… Then, market the hell out of it!”

Whatever you call it, this is the marketing advice most experts give to actors.
And there’s a good reason for it: It Works.

Except when it doesn’t.
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Good, Fast, Cheap: A New Take

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Good, Fast, Cheap: A New Take

by Joe J Thomas

Good, Fast, Cheap - Pick 2
There’s an old project management saying that states: “Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick Two”.
The implication is that it is impossible to have a project that embodies all three qualities (good, fast and cheap).

Using this saying, we are faced with the following possibilities: Continue reading

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