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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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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Top 10 VO Scam Signs

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Top 10 VO Scam Signs

Scams are rampant in the Voice Over industry. So how can you spot one?

Here are my “Top 10” signs for VO Scams (in no particular order):

  • Promises you’ll make millions (or even billions)
  • Gives you a “professional” demo at the end of a very expensive class
  • Tells you all you need is a microphone and their exclusive secret method
  • Claims to be famous but only has 1 IMDB credit (and it’s a short film where they’re the director/producer/star/etc.)
  • Runs a “Pay-To-Play” site
  • Their website has misspellings.. a *lot* of misspellings.
  • Lists student success stories, but you can’t find any of the students online
  • Has their own demos on a free Wix site, Soundcloud, or V123
  • All of their “insider industry connections” are pictures of them with famous people at conventions
  • You can’t find anyone who admits being trained by them

The best protection against being scammed: Do your research. Ask around. Be cautious.

It’s your responsibility to protect your money, career and reputation.

Good luck out there!
Joe

 

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

 

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The Power of Voice Over – Part II

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The Power of Voice Over – Part II

Time for another slightly altered commercial!

As voice actors, we often get caught up in the process, and forget the impact that our voices can have on a production.

I’ve been seeing a new commercial for United Health Care and AARP with people navigating a hedge maze aptly named “Navigate the Medicare Maze with UnitedHealthcare”.

I wondered how much the feel of the commercial could be changed just by adding some background voices (aka. “Walla”). Aside from the new Walla, everything else (video, music) is the same.

Here’s my take on the commercial: “Beware! The Medicare Maze!”

… and for your reference, the original is here:

What other ways could you interpret this spot? How can your voice breath life into the productions you’re involved in?

Stay creative, my friends!
Joe

P.S. Here’s the first commercial I altered “Olivia’s Evil Wish”

The Power of Voice Over

 

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

 

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The IMDb 100 Club

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The IMDb 100 Club

My IMDb listing stands at 99 credits.

Joe J Thomas - IMDB 99 - JoeActor
Joe’s IMDb Listing (click here to see)

I may pass 100 this year.

Now, those of you who know me might recall that I’m not very hot on awards.
So let’s call this a Milestone instead.

Rituals and Milestones. Rites of Passage.

Although it doesn’t change how I pursue my career, it is nice to see some measure of real-world progress.

What are your personal Milestones?

What things in your career help you to appreciate the strides and progress you’ve made?

 

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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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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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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Pay-2-Play Parody Song

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Pay-2-Play Parody Song


by Joe J Thomas

(parody of “If I Could Read Your Mind, Love” by Gordon Lightfoot)

… and if you like this one, you might also enjoy this:

Alone Again, In The Booth

~~~ Lyrics ~~~
I joined a pay-to-play site
‘Cuz I got my voice to sell
They send me lots of auditions
And I’m doin’ really well
Then I reach the part where the paycheck comes
A dollar ninety three
Are you frickin’ kiddin’ me?!?!?
This headset mic is really boss
It’ll take me twenty bucks to pay it off
~~~
If I could read your copy
For a product you’d like to sell
Be on a national commercial
The kind that pays my bills
Maybe I could be on a cartoon show
And be famous on TV
Or a hero in a game
The Simpsons or an Anime
Can’t you see I only need a break
~~~
My fans would think I’m a movie star
With a mansion on the beach
Or maybe even two
With lots of green, I’m on the scene with paparazzi crowding all round me
But for now I should be real
I never learned how to act on stage
And I’ve got to say that they just don’t get it
I don’t know where I went wrong
But my money’s gone and I just can’t get it back
~~~ (end) ~~~

 

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

 

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The Power of Voice Over

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The Power of Voice Over

As voice actors, we often get caught up in the process, and forget the impact that our voices can have on a production.

Recently, I saw a car commercial from Lincoln named “Olivia’s Wish List”. It was a very cute spot featuring a girl in a car who makes wishes on a snow globe. She wishes for snow, toys, dancing. The audio track is only music (The Philadelphia Orchestra “Suite for Variety Orchestra No. 1: VII. Waltz No. 2”).

I wondered how much the feel of the commercial could be changed by adding a voice over track. I chose a more sinister take than the original, but everything else (video, music) is the same.

Here’s my take on the commercial: “Olivia’s Evil Wish”

… and for your reference, the original is here:


(old youtube was watch?v=_0LseZ5BlnI)

What other ways could you interpret this spot? How can your voice breath life into the productions you’re involved in?

Stay creative, my friends!
Joe

 

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

 

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