VO Business Posts! (New Menu)

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VO Business Posts! (New Menu)

All of the Business, Voice Acting, Studio, and Voice-Over advice onJoe’s Dump, in one place! See the top menu on the site for the new “VO Business” option!

Find out:

  • How to get into Voice Over
  • What equipment I use in the studio
  • Tricks in the Voice Acting world
  • Advice on running your VO Business
  • Funny Voice Acting stories
  • … And Much, Much More!!!

Over 80 posts to help you find your path in the amazing world of Voice Acting!!!

So, what are you waiting for? Just click the link below, or get there any time from the “VO Business” option on the top menu!

Joe’s Dump: VO Business Posts! (clicky clicky…)

 

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

 

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VO and Tablets

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VO and Tablets

Many voice actors take a tablet into the booth to read and markup their copy.

But what if you could run your entire studio on a tablet?

Samsung S5E Tablet and Monitor: Joe's Dump

What you see in the above picture may be the future for home studios. At the bottom is a 10″ Android tablet. It’s connected to the top screen, a mouse, keyboard, external drive, microphones interface, mic and speakers.

It could run everything you need for a home recording studio. And it costs around $400.

In this test, I was running a Chrome browser with two tabs, a Google spreadsheet, a Microsoft Word document, and Lexis audio recording/editing software. Recording quality was the same as on my laptop.

So, what exactly makes this possible?

The tablet is a Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e – here are the specs:
OS: Android 9.0.
Display: 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED, 287ppi.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Octa-core processor (2×2.0 GHz & 6×1.7 GHz)
Memory: 4/6GB.
Storage: 64/128GB + microSD up to 512GB.
Cameras: 13Mp rear, 8Mp front.
Ports: USB3.1 (Type C)
Plus! Very thin and light: just 5.5 mm thick, and weighs only 399 g (0.88 lb)

The USB-C port is an OTG (On-The-Go) type. This means it allows USB devices, such as USB flash drives, digital cameras, mice or keyboards, to be attached. Also microphones and speakers and screens. No drivers to install, or software to update. All I did was plug in a USB-C hub and everything worked.

The processor has 8 cores, and is pretty fast. The new version of this tablet (the S5) is expected to be even faster.

Battery life is 14+ hours, but you can also have it plugged in while you’re using it.

The final piece of the puzzle is the windows like interface on the big screen. That comes from Samsung. It’s called “Dex”, and is one of 4 modes on this tablet:

  1. Normal Tablet Mode (one app takes up the whole screen)
  2. Split-screen Mode (two apps share the screen equally)
  3. Pop-up Mode (one app appears in a pop-up window; any second app appears behind it, full screen)
  4. Dex Mode (full window and icon interface)

When you put all of this together, you can easily see the potential… and where we all may be headed.

I used the setup exclusively over the weekend, just to see how easy it was. It’s definitely good enough for auditions, or for the central component of a travel rig. To run a full home studio, I’d probably want better recording/editing software available. It may already be out there…

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

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Weeding Your Voice Acting Garden

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Weeding Your Voice Acting Garden

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of our businesses. Or to spend time dreaming about a possible future career. But Voice Acting, like all businesses, requires regular maintenance to ensure we’re operating at peak proficiency, not being wasteful, and still on the path to success.

To that end, I think it’s important to “Weed Your Voice Acting Garden”. Taking a wider view of where you’re headed and what might be standing in the way can help make the long journey to a career easier and more enjoyable.

Here are some areas to consider…

Weeding Yourself:
A clear view of yourself, your abilities and limitations, can be invaluable in a business where you are the product. Asking a few trusted friends or family members may help to identify key areas of potential improvement.

  • Speech Impediments:
    These may range from a minor annoyance such as sibilance to more severe speech issues. Best to get the help of a doctor or professional speech therapist to address them early in your career path.
  • Accents or Regional Dialects:
    A natural accent can be an advantage for local ads and work, but if you’d like to expand your range, this is an area to work on.
  • Health Issues (Physical and Mental):
    You’ve got to be healthy to be at your best, so if you have known issues, seek out a professional who can best put you on the road to a more healthy life.
  • Finances and Housing:
    The basics have to be taken care of for you to be able to build a solid career – even if it means putting voice acting on hold while you build up a reserve.
  • Relationships:
    Our friends, family and loved ones are the support net we all need to thrive, so resolve any issues as best you can to ensure your emotional security while you’re hard at work.

Weeding Associations:
Our associations with other industry people, companies, and groups are a key element in any business. Making sure you’re associated with ones that advance rather than impede your career can make everything run more smoothly.

  • Agents:
    Are you happy with your agent(s)? You should feel open to having a conversation with them if there are any issues. If you have one or more who aren’t working out, it may be time to move on.
  • Websites:
    Keep your personal website updated (you do have one, right?), and be sure that any other sites where you are listed are sites you’d be proud to be associated with. Otherwise, reconsider which ones are best for you and your reputation, and jettison the rest.
  • Groups:
    Voice acting groups can be a great source of information, support and camaraderie. However, if they’re full of ads or negativity, it may be best to trim those from your memberships.
  • Demos:
    Just like your personal website (you do have one, right?), your demos need to be kept up to date and show you at your best. Consider dropping any that are no longer relevant, or getting some new ones made to replace the older tired ones.
  • Genres:
    There are a slew of genres in the voice acting world. Although you may be interested in many of them, it may be best to take a hard look at which are working for you and your voice. The others will still be there if you’d like to pursue them, but that can be more of a back burner project.

Weeding Training:
Regular training keeps us sharp, but how much is too much? Every career and person is different, but it’s good to review how much of our time and money is spent on training… and if you’re still getting value from the investments.

  • Coaches:
    Having coaches for different specialty areas can help you advance more quickly. Be sure which ones line up with your current career path. Consider taking a break from those who are either not working out for you, or don’t match what you’d like to improve.
  • Classes:
    Much like coaches, classes can be addictive. Be picky which you’d really like to spend money and time on. If they can help you improve, great. Otherwise, it might be best to skip them.
  • Workouts:
    I attend a weekly workout group (although I do skip around a bit). Some of my friends even attend a few per week. Even if they are not a drain on your finances, you may want to think about if they’re the best use of your time. Less is more, sometimes.
  • Conferences:
    (old man voice) “IN MY DAY WE ONLY HAD ONE VOICE CONFERENCE EVERY TEN YEARS!!! AND THERE WEREN’T ANY PRIZES OR GIFTY BAGS!!! AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY!!!” (off old man soap box)
    I get it. Conferences have a lot of great things. Getting a sampling of training. Meeting others in the Voice Acting industry. Seeing the latest toys. They can be a real boost for your career (and ego). But too much of a good thing isn’t always good. Conferences can be really expensive – especially on an actor’s budget. Look carefully at what you’re getting before you buy the tickets to the conference… and the plane… and the hotel… and the dinner… and the…
  • Equipment:
    (seriously, dude… do you *really* need 12 microphones?)

Conclusion:
Taking time out of our busy schedule may seem counter-intuitive, but when you keep your Voice Acting Garden weed free, it may not only grow better, but give you more space to breathe in.

Being There Garden Quote: Joe's Dump

 

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

 

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The Impossible VO Machine!

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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

 

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An Education in Money from 1967

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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

 

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The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

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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

 

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Voice 2012: Joe’s Full Presentation

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Voice 2012: Joe’s Full Presentation

Agents, Demos, Marketing, Networking, VO Work, P2P, Unions…

Hear how I got into voice over, my philosophy on business, acting, much, much more!

The full 86 minute presentation is yours FREE!

(and stay for the questions at the end… very informative 😉 )

Thanks to everyone who attended, and those who asked questions at the end.

Joe J Thomas: Banana Baby

 

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

 

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Persistence

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Persistence by Joe's Dump

Persistence:
We Aspire to it in Ourselves,
Admire it in Our Friends,
and Abhor it in Our Foes.

But when is it appropriate?

As the saying goes, nothing feels better than when you stop banging your head against the wall.

Sometimes, knowing when to quit can be just as important as knowing when to push on in spite of the odds.

Only you can make the decision on if you should persevere or throw in the towel. Take the advice of trusted loved ones, friends and mentors into account. If they’re all saying the same thing, maybe it’s time to listen.

If you’re stubborn like me, that can be the hardest part.

Besides, that wall will always be there. Maybe just a bit of a break to clear your head…

Adapt, Adopt and Improve,
Joe

 

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

 

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The Path of the (Yodeling) Pickle

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The Path of the (Yodeling) Pickle

*** Updated June 4, 2018: The Pickle on The McPhee Podcast! ***

*** UPDATED 4/30/2018 STEPHEN FRY TWEET! (at the bottom) ***

Yodelling Pickle by Archie McPhee

      Joe's Yodel (Joe J Thomas)

How did learning to yodel lead to Weird Al, George Takei, The Today Show and Gorillaz?

It all began in 2006, with a contest by the Seattle novelty company Archie McPhee.

They were searching for a yodel.

I was a singer, but had never yodeled. So I consulted the internet and found YodelCourse.org

After some free lessons, I submitted my contest entry and forgot about it.

… until 100 rubber chickens showed up on my doorstep!
Archie McPhee - Deluxe Rubber Chicken

I’d won the contest, and the prize was 100 rubber chickens, plus my yodel in a toy.

Now, the first toy (Feb, 2007) was not the Yodeling Pickle, but instead was the “Remote Control Hopping Yodeling Lederhosen” (with a knockwurst remote, of course):
Remote Control, Hopping, Yodeling Lederhosen

Then in April of 2007 came the now famous “Yodeling Pickle”:
Yodelling Pickle by Archie McPhee

In December of 2008, the Today Show with Cathy Lee and Hoda reviewed the pickle:
Yodeling Pickle - Kathy Lee Gifford
Kathy Lee Gifford sang with it and said “Nothin’ beats the Singin’ Pickle!”

Sales of the Yodeling Pickle were great, and soon they came out with other yodeling products (more on those below).

On December 26, 2010, the Grammy winning band “Gorillaz” album “The Fall” featured the yodel on track 15: “Seattle Yodel”:
Gorillaz - The Fall - Front Cover

You can download the whole album for free at: Gorillaz – The Fall (at Archive.Org)

      Gorillaz - Seattle Yodel

 
On August 5, 2011, Archie McPhee released their own video of the track:

On March 26, 2013: Archie McPhee announced “International Yodeling Pickle Day“!!!

On May 22, 2013: George Takei posted his comedic review of the Yodeling Pickle on Amazon:

My latest Wednsday Weview. This item was NOT what I thought it was. At all. http://amzn.to/14Rz5aU

Posted by George Takei on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yodeling Pickle - George Takei + Weird Al Reviews

And on June 17, 2015: Weird Al Yankovic tweeted this (along with a review on Amazon)
“You can have my electronic yodeling pickle WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS.”
Yodeling Pickle - Weird Al Yankovic

On June 2, 2017: Gizmodo posted an article on Gorillaz and the Seattle Yodel Track:

On July 16, 2017, George Takei included the Yodeling Pickle in a video review from Knowable:

Weird Products From Amazon

Because who couldn't use a yodeling pickle? via Knowable

Posted by George Takei on Sunday, July 16, 2017

And on April 30, 2018: Stephen Fry tweeted:
 
“I don’t know what a Yodelling Pickle is, all I know is that I want one. And in an instant absolute and foot-stamping Veruca Salt kind of way”
Yodeling Pickle - Stephen Fry Tweet 20180430

New! June 4, 2018: The Pickle on The McPhee Podcast!
Archie McPhee – PODCAST EP 6: THE YODELLING PICKLE AND THE GORILLA(Z)

Other Yodeling products from Archie McPhee:

Gerkin for a living,
Joe “Yodelling Pickle” Thomas

 

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

 

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Additional Voices

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Additional Voices

If you look through my IMdB page you might notice a couple of roles that just say “Additional Voices”. Believe it or not, those are some of my favorite gigs. The other cast members on these productions usually tend toward the stellar. Here’s a few examples where you’ll only see “Additional Voices” in the credits:

  • Walla Work
    When movies and TV shows need filler voices and miscellaneous noises in the background, that’s called Walla. A group of people known as a “Loop Group” are all in one session and become all of the people in a restaurant, or at a county fair, or even running from a Kaiju. (Yeah… It’s a lot of fun!)
  • Minor Characters
    These may be characters in the script with only a handful of lines. They interact with the main characters and move the story along. The shopkeeper. The waiter. Old artist at the park. It’s a great way to play a variety of roles in one session.
  • Voice Matching
    When the original actor is not available for pickups in the post-production phase of movies and TV, an impersonator may be hired to fill in. This also happens when studios want to try a variety of different dialog as scratch tracks before calling in the star to record. It is a very niche field, to be sure. Always a challenge and really exciting to perform. Since the original actor gets the credit for the main role, the impersonator is often credited as “Additional Voices”

So… I’m proud to be “Mr Additional Voices”!

 

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

 

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