Barcelona Booth

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Barcelona Booth

Last week, my wife and I relocated to Barcelona.
(how we did it is at the bottom of this post 😉 )

Since we may be here for a while, I needed a new studio setup.

Here’s some photos (click for full size), and the details on the equipment:
JoeActor Barcelona BoothJoeActor Barcelona Booth doorJoeActor Barcelona Booth insideJoeActor Barcelona Booth bling

The Booth: StudioBricks One Plus (VO Edition)

Comes with lighting, ventilation unit, extra sound dampening, bass trap, table, mic arm, and copy arm.
Overall… Stellar! Super quiet inside. Door handle turns up to seal the booth, down to open. Ventilation has several modes, the lowest of which is inaudible. Lighting and copy arm fit the bill nicely. Can always add more lighting easily.
One added perk: Since they’re made in Barcelona, the manufacturer came out and assembled it (for a very low fee)!
Another added perk: the acoustic foam on the walls has built-in channels for cable runs. So. Damn. Cool.
The only thing I’m not sold on is the Yellowtec mic arm. I’ve adjusted the spring, but it’s a bit hard to get it to stay where I want it to. I’d also prefer something a bit smaller. Might replace it in time…

The Mic: AKG C214

Excellent microphone. Very low self-noise. Picks up every nuance of my voice. Some reviews peg this as being “too bright”, but in my opinion it captures a true representation of my voice. Of course every voice is different, and you may not get the same feel from this mic. But for me, it’s a step up.

The Interface: Motu M2

Beautifully designed. Very low self-noise. Works like a dream. Really like the built-in meters. Also has an on/off switch on the back, and a monitor switch on each mic input for direct monitoring. Recommended!

The Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm

What everyone says about these… yeah, they’re right. Solid choice.

The Cloud: Google Drive (Google One)

A final piece of the puzzle: Inside the Booth vs. Outside.
Google One gives you 2Tb storage for $99/yr.
My fanless laptop inside the booth shares files with my computer at my desk. Everything is backed up in the cloud and available everywhere I need it. Easy.

… And How We Got Into Spain During A Pandemic Lockdown!

At the time of this post (for those in the future), the Covid-19 pandemic is raging. Due to the horrible handling of… well… everything in the US-of-A, most of the world doesn’t want US citizens traveling to their countries. The exception is if you are a national of that country, or happen to have a visa.

My wife and I have what is known as a “Golden Visa” for Spain (mostly thanks to her). It allows us to live and work in Spain and the EU. Getting one is no easy feat, however.

So…

Step 1) Build a time machine.
Step 2) Go back to 2016. Be horrified by the results of the election.
Step 3) Jump through all the hoops needed for a “Golden Visa” (buy property, get health insurance, background checks, bank account, paperwork, visa, residence card, travel to Spain every time something is needed)
Step 4) It’s now 2-3 years later (yeah, lots of hoops)
Step 5) Due to the pandemic, jump through lots more hoops (call the embassy, consulate, lawyers, travel agents, airlines, etc.)
Step 6) Get an impossible Covid-19 test (nasal swab, must have results within 72 hours before flight)
Step 7) Discover Step 6 wasn’t needed (what?!?!?!?)
Step 8) Get baggage opened and everything touched by security to make you feel insecure.
Step 9) Congratulations! You’ve arrived in Spain!

Easy, right?

The take-away: It’s better here. I’m glad I followed my wife’s instincts.

See you in the (remote-er) booth!
Joe J Thomas
www.JoeActor.com

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WordPress: One Week to a New Website

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WordPress: One Week to a New Website

My old website had been neglected for a while. I needed a new, fresh look. And I needed the content to be easier to update. Maybe even have it automatically update!
JoeActor.com New and Old
One week ago I installed WordPress onto a sub-domain of my JoeActor site. This allowed me to work on the new site without disturbing the old one. Installation of WordPress was a breeze.

If you’re thinking “But, Joe, WordPress is only for blogging!” Well, yes and no. It has two types of content: Posts (used for blog entries) and Pages (static web pages). When you build a site using only Pages, it’s just another website. The advantages are it’s easier to maintain and updates automatically. Plus if you’d like to add a blog later on, it’s already built in.

Choosing a theme for my new site was next. For those of you new to WordPress, the theme is the look and feel of the site. Fonts, menus, etc. I selected the “OceanWP” theme. Very flexible, clean look, and adaptable to all devices (computers, tablets and phones).

The old site was a bit too complicated and required frequent content updates to stay relevant. To get around that, I decided to eliminate the “News” page. I also changed my “Resume” page to automatically display my IMDb information instead (there’s a plug-in for that!). This means that my new site will always be up-to-date on the resume and news, and it’s less complicated for visitors.

My final and most difficult task was to rewrite the home page. This is the first thing that visitors will see, so it’s very important. I worked with my wife and some friends for the “About” text. I also included my contact information and main demos. One new element is a rotating slide-show at the bottom. This shows companies I’ve worked with, projects, and major roles. New slides can be easily added as I land more work.

So, that’s it! The new site is up and can be viewed at JoeActor.com – take a peek and feel free to comment if you’d like.

And if you’re considering WordPress for your site, let me know in the comments as well. I’ll try to answer any questions here.

Cheers,
Joe J Thomas
JoeActor.com

 

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

 

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IMDb Study: Nearly 70% of Actors Have Careers That Last Only One Year

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IMDb Study: Nearly 70% of Actors Have Careers That Last Only One Year

IMDb Stats
A recent study in the journal “Nature Communications” provides some eye-opening statistics into the careers of actors and actresses in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com).

Data was collected from IMDb on the careers of 1,512,472 actors and 896,029 actresses as recorded as of January 16th, 2016, including careers stretching back to the first recorded movie in 1888.

Their model predicts with up to 85% accuracy whether an actor or actress is likely to have a brighter future, or if the best days are, unfortunately, behind them.

Some of the key findings:

  • 69% of Actors and 68% Actresses have careers that only last one year.
  • The unemployment rate for Actors/Actresses hovers around 90%
  • Acting careers run in hot and cold streaks.
  • Cold streaks tend to fade more quickly for Actors than for Actresses.

For a more detailed look at this study, please follow the links below…

Relevant Links:

 

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

 

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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 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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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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