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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Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 3)

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Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 3)

Afternoon Tea Adventures presents a brand new Doctor Who audio drama in 3 parts.

Chapter Three: Marching as to War
Welcott prepares to march his undead army to 1950’s England, to wage war against the Establishment. VTI Security Forces have been ordered to destroy The Space, and all the colonists living there. Julia Shahid is losing her mind. And the Doctor is finally opening her eyes to what’s going on.

Doctor Who - Widen Your Gaze - chapter 3

Listen to part two here:

Also available on iTunes (click here)

And on YouTube:

(did you miss part one or two? here they are 😉

Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 1)

Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 2)

Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze – a science fiction ghost story.

“The mind is its own place, and in its self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
–John Milton, Paradise Lost.

Palestine 1975: The Doctor’s companion, under surveillance by CIA agents, writes a letter to her younger sister in New York City.

England, 1955: a grieving father obsessively searches for the ghost of his dead son.

Hyperspace, the 22nd Century: Something is threatening a community in thrall to an ancient alien technology, shrouded in myth and legend.

As all three events collide, the Doctor finds herself in a bloodied life-or-death race to piece together an inter-dimensional mystery that threatens to tear open the divide between sanity and madness and the living and the dead.

In a spectral, hostile darkness, sometimes the best thing you can do to survive is to widen your gaze.

Chapter Three: Marching as to War
Welcott prepares to march his undead army to 1950’s England, to wage war against the Establishment. VTI Security Forces have been ordered to destroy The Space, and all the colonists living there. Julia Shahid is losing her mind. And the Doctor is finally opening her eyes to what’s going on.

CAST
The Doctor … K. Woo
Julia Shahid … Valina Cutler
Welcott … Joe J. Thomas
Fair Hair/Soul … Justin Fife
Lupez … Lisa Michaud
Selina … Fazia Rizvi
Cruz … Al Gordon

Written by Vince Stadon
Doctor Who logo by John Callaghan
Art by Valina Cutler
Many thanks to freesound.org

Afternoon Tea Adventures‘ Doctor Who series is a free, not-for-profit fan production and is in no way associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation. It was created as a celebration of the series, without intent to supersede or infringe on existing copyrights or intellectual property. Doctor Who, the TARDIS, and other registered sounds and concepts remain property of the BBC.

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Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 2)

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Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 2)

Afternoon Tea Adventures presents a brand new Doctor Who audio drama in 3 parts.

Chapter Two: The White Light Divine
As the Doctor sets a very dangerous trap, Julia finds herself in a strange empty place where madmen tell their stories, and there’s a ghost in the machine.
Doctor Who - Widen Your Gaze - chapter 2

Listen to part two here:

Also available on iTunes (click here)

And on YouTube:

(did you miss part one? here’s a link to it 😉

Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 1)

Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze – a science fiction ghost story.

“The mind is its own place, and in its self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
–John Milton, Paradise Lost.

Palestine 1975: The Doctor’s companion, under surveillance by CIA agents, writes a letter to her younger sister in New York City.

England, 1955: a grieving father obsessively searches for the ghost of his dead son.

Hyperspace, the 22nd Century: Something is threatening a community in thrall to an ancient alien technology, shrouded in myth and legend.

As all three events collide, the Doctor finds herself in a bloodied life-or-death race to piece together an inter-dimensional mystery that threatens to tear open the divide between sanity and madness and the living and the dead.

In a spectral, hostile darkness, sometimes the best thing you can do to survive is to widen your gaze.

Chapter Two: The White Light Divine
As the Doctor sets a very dangerous trap, Julia finds herself in a strange empty place where madmen tell their stories, and there’s a ghost in the machine.

CAST
The Doctor … K. Woo
Julia Shahid … Valina Cutler
Welcott … Joe J. Thomas
Fair Hair … Justin Fife
Cruz … Al Gordon
Lupez … Lisa Michaud
VTI Computer … Stan Endvico
Lawyer … Glen Bartram

Written by Vince Stadon
Doctor Who logo by John Callaghan
Art by Valina Cutler
Many thanks to freesound.org

Afternoon Tea Adventures‘ Doctor Who series is a free, not-for-profit fan production and is in no way associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation. It was created as a celebration of the series, without intent to supersede or infringe on existing copyrights or intellectual property. Doctor Who, the TARDIS, and other registered sounds and concepts remain property of the BBC.

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Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 1)

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Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze (part 1)

Afternoon Tea Adventures presents a brand new Doctor Who audio drama in 3 parts.
Doctor Who - Widen Your Gaze - chapter 1

Listen to part one here:

Also available on iTunes (click here)

And on YouTube:

Doctor Who: Widen Your Gaze – a science fiction ghost story.

“The mind is its own place, and in its self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
–John Milton, Paradise Lost.

Palestine 1975: The Doctor’s companion, under surveillance by CIA agents, writes a letter to her younger sister in New York City.

England, 1955: a grieving father obsessively searches for the ghost of his dead son.

Hyperspace, the 22nd Century: Something is threatening a community in thrall to an ancient alien technology, shrouded in myth and legend.

As all three events collide, the Doctor finds herself in a bloodied life-or-death race to piece together an inter-dimensional mystery that threatens to tear open the divide between sanity and madness and the living and the dead.

In a spectral, hostile darkness, sometimes the best thing you can do to survive is to widen your gaze.

Chapter One: The Ghost Train
The Doctor and Julia are being followed by something inexplicable and inhuman, and in a deserted station along a lonely coastal railway line a ghost train is waiting for them.

CAST
The Doctor … K. Woo
Julia Shahid … Valina Cutler
Welcott … Joe J. Thomas
Fair Hair … Justin Fife

Written by Vince Stadon
Doctor Who logo by John Callaghan
Art by Valina Cutler
Many thanks to freesound.org

Afternoon Tea Adventures‘ Doctor Who series is a free, not-for-profit fan production and is in no way associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation. It was created as a celebration of the series, without intent to supersede or infringe on existing copyrights or intellectual property. Doctor Who, the TARDIS, and other registered sounds and concepts remain property of the BBC.

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Talent and Training vs Tools

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Talent and Training vs Tools

I’ve seen way too many newbies to the world of Voice Acting ask the following questions:

  • “Which microphone should I buy?”
  • “Do I need ISDN?”
  • “What’s the best porta-booth?”
  • “How can I make my first VO demo?”
  • “Who knows a good agency looking for new talent?”

Arrrrggghhh!!!

First things first: Know the capabilities and limits of your own talents.

Second things second: Get the training need to fully utilize all your skills.

Before you spend a dime on tools, booths, mics, mixers, demos, etc… Put in the work needed to be an excellent Voice Actor. Theatre. Improv. Singing. Coaches, classes and even conferences.

Many people find that the answers to many questions will reveal themselves if you’re​ on the right path.

Shortcuts are extremely rare. Take the time to build a solid foundation and you’ll greatly increase your odds of success.

Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Joe

PS: here are all the answers…

  • The one that works best for your voice and space.
  • No.
  • Pillow fort, or rental car.
  • Hire a pro… Only when you’re ready.
  • All agencies want new talent, if you have something they need.

 

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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Singing For VO

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Singing for Voice Over

Singing offers a lot of tangible advantages to anyone in Voice Acting.
For those of you who sing, I know I’m preaching to the choir! (rim shot)

But how long has it been since you’ve had a refresher?
And if you’re in VO and don’t sing, why not?

Although I’ve been in many musicals, sung with choral groups, and even performed musical improv, it had been a few years since I really sang.

Time for a tune-up!
I recently started taking lessons with a new teacher, and it’s given me a renewed sense of confidence in my vocal abilities.

Here are just a few of the areas singing can help with:

  • Tone:
    The pitch of your voice… high, medium, low (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone Bass)
  • Breathing:
    Proper breathing allows you to better control your sound.
  • Timing:
    Learning musical rhythm can help in setting your pace for both segments of the copy and for the overall read.
  • Vocal Placement:
    Chest voice, Head voice, Throat, etc. Placement is especially useful in creating characters and accents.
  • Core Support and Strengthening:
    A strong core is related to your breathing, and can give you more power and energy in your voice.
  • Volume Control:
    Knowing when to sing soft is just as important as being able to belt out a tune. Having a solid control of your volume takes practice.
  • Conveying Emotion:
    Even in a language you may not understand, songs can elicit a great deal of emotion. Learning how to deliver that to your audience is directly applicable to VO work.
  • Communication of Ideas:
    Clear communication is another win for any voice work. Knowing how to form your words and phrases so that they convey ideas is the core of it all.

My friend Marc Cashman even has a chapter in his book “V-Oh! Tips, Tricks, Tools and Techniques to Start and Sustain Your Voiceover Career” dedicated to the concept of “Finding the Music in Copy”. Here’s a short excerpt:

“Copy or text is musical. It has ebb and flow and different keys. It has sharps, flats, rests, words that are held, chopped off, high or low, soft or loud, all the same emphasis or wild ups and downs, with dynamics and crescendos. Copy reads (or plays) like a story/song, with a beginning, middle and end.”

(Marc’s book is available on Amazon, or click here to order an autographed copy)

Sometimes, I’ll even sing the copy just to get a different feel for the way it flows.

Do you sing? If so, how long has it been since you performed or had lessons? It might be time for a refresher to tune-up your instrument!

To close, here’s a number that I’ve been working on.
It’s called “I Won’t Send Roses” from the musical “Mack and Mabel” – Enjoy!

      I Won't Send Roses (Joe J Thomas)

 

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

 

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How Do I Get Into Voice Over?

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How Do I Get Into Voice Over?

We hear it all the time… It seems like a simple enough question, but in truth it may as well say “How do I build a house?”

The answer depends on many things, including:

  • Who’s asking the question?
  • What genre of VO are they pursuing?
  • Do they have prior skills?

Here’s three possible scenarios:

Scenario 1: Albert
Background: Professional name screen actor in movies and tv. Would like to get into animated features.
Advice: Ask your agent or manager to start focusing on VO. Take some classes in mic technique if needed.

Scenario 2: Betty
Background: Was in radio for years, now retired. Wants to get into narration.
Advice: Take some acting or improv classes, along with coaching for a more natural VO delivery. Get a VO demo made when ready, and find an agent to represent you.

Scenario 3: Charles
Background: No prior acting experience, but can do some voices. Loves anime and would like to be an ADR VO.
Advice: Start with the basics. Take acting, improv and singing. Learn to build fully-fleshed characters, not just voices. Then move on to VO classes and find a trusted coach. They can lead you from there.

Too often, we rush into answering the question “How Do I Get Into VO?” without considering who’s asking or what they mean. In order for the advice to be truly useful, it must be targeted to the person asking the question.

In many ways, this is related to a prior post that you may also wish to read:
Joe’s Dump – Advice on Advice

So, next time you hear this question, maybe take a step back and consider before answering. It could be much more valuable to the person who’s asking.

Cheers,
Joe

 

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

 

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That’s NOT Voiceover!

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That’s NOT Voiceover

That's Not VO Logo
Last week, Backstage posted an article entitled “Do You Have the Right Stuff for Voice Acting?”. I was hoping for something thoughtful and in-depth covering the profession of voice acting. Instead the article struck me as being vague at best and very light on any important details. It left me with a new-age vibe from statements like “the question of whether you can succeed is best answered by the student” or “we strongly encourage the voiceover student to look within”… Meh.

At the end, I was directed to a rather disappointing Quiz on the “That’s Voceover” site. They encouraged the readers to answer honestly, and said that at the end I would “receive a general evaluation that may help you determine what’s next for your career”… Which goes counter to most of what the Backstage article posits. But what the heck – I’m game!
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