After 15 years of voice acting gigs, it’s time for a little celebration!
Here’s a collage of a few of my roles so far… Looking forward to many more:
(click on the image for FULL-SIZE!)
Joe J Thomas: Characters (JoeActor.com)
Top Row: Loken & Krik’Thir & Arcurion (World of Warcraft), Leoric The Skeleton King (Diabol III & Heroes of the Storm), Professor X (X-Men Live!)
Middle: Raven/Schwann (Tales of Vesperia), Tibarn (Fire Emblem), Stormtrooper (Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge), (me!), Ch’Gren (Star Trek Online)
Bottom: Nobunaga (Hunter X Hunter), Professor Oak (Pokémon), Lex Luthor (Mortal Kombat vs. DCU), Namor The Sub-Mariner (Marvel Ultimate Alliance) Yodeling Pickle (Archie McPhee)
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com
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…
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.
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!
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.
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!
The take-away: It’s better here. I’m glad I followed my wife’s instincts.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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?)
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.
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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