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audio’connell in boston

voiceovers in Boston

While on business for the past week in Boston, I had the opportunity to visit with my voice over colleagues Deirdre Cooper and Mary McKitrick who live in the area. “Area” is a vague term because both were at least 90 minutes away from my location near Boston Harbor.

But bless them both, they took the time to travel and have dinner with me in the city and boy did we have a grand time. I’ve known them both “virtually” for some time on the VO-BB and through some voice projects that we’ve collaborated on.

It is said you can’t really know someone until you’ve spent some time with them and these two voice actors are great ladies in addition to being amazing voice talents. While one might imagine conversation coming easily to people who talk for a living, our conversations were the very definition of effortless, full of both professional insight and shared challenges. Social networking at its finest.

There is no 12-step program for voice over talents because we can call our shared addiction a profession, but it’s nice to be able to discuss similar trials and tribulations with people with whom you can both commiserate with and learn from. And I’m not sure who was the first to pull out the pictures of the family first (usually I’m guilty on that count) it was very funny to learn again how parenting challenges are universal.

My sincere thanks to them for taking the time to become my friends in addition to my colleagues and making Boston an even more hospitable place.

voiceovers from around the world

firecracker 500 logo

The Armed Forces Network in Iraq recruited audio’connell Voice Over Talent to help with their July 4th weekend production of “The Firecracker 500” countdown. You may recall we were enlisted originally via the VO-BB for their Memorial Day countdown…so I guess we all did such a good job we got invited back.

Appreciating the enormous response from the voice talents of VO-BB but realizing such a large team was becoming unmanageable, AFN kept the team small using five voice talents (audio’connell’s DB, Diane Maggipinto, Bill Elder, Frank Frederick and Bob Souer) and two producers (Todd Ellis and your gentle author). Pairing up producers and voice talents made the production work flow smoother and it was great from my prospective cause it was one less job for me. I was paired with Deirdre and Frank.

It was during this process I had an idea (always a bad thing because my ideas are always complicated to execute and usually involve bothering others). Since the efforts in the Middle East are international in nature, why not craft a more international station promo (one that could be used all the time, not just during the “500”). So I chatted with Frank Frederick via Skype about my idea, he had some great ideas, and I put the call out on VO-BB for multi-lingual voice talents.

The response was overwhelming and amazing (thank you all) and final product sounds pretty good if I do say so myself (oh, the client liked it too).

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it’s time to stumble upon

stumbleupon.com logo

TV was at one time considered the penultimate time-waster. The “boob-tube” was where one went to zone out (translation/clarification: for people who were too much of a boob to read a book or be active….a modern colloquialism has changed the term “boob” to mean something not intended here).

It stands to reason, then, that as TV loses its strangle hold on viewers, the main culprit leading people away from television would itself create its own special time waster (no, no…the internet itself is not a time waster). The internet’s relatively new and certainly more popular eye candy is called Stumble Upon .

Based on votes, unique and popular web content (sites, particular pages etc) in fields of interest chosen by you (the viewer) will pop up on your screen with the press of a button you have installed on your browser’s tool bar.

It is a fascinating look at some amazing content that, unless you spend a lot of time surfing specifically for such things, you simply won’t come across anywhere else.

Purely as research (ahem) I have compiled a few sites I found on Stumble Upon that interested me. I hope you will too.

By the way, as you’ll notice in the icons posted beneath this story, you can vote for this blog story as worthy of “Stumble Upon” by clicking on the SU logo.

Enjoy!

25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips

Five Lesson About How To Treat People

Buddy Networking

Computer Enhancers

The History of Branding

Telling Time in A Different Way

The Art of Schmoozing

South Park Create A Character

Another Cool Way To Tell Time

The Pattern Game

Learning Sign Language

Storms

Type Tester (picking the right font for your web site)

The Blue Ball Maze (Note: avoid this if you are on some mind altering drug)

audio’connell in…..dansville, ny

audio’connell_favicon copyright2007

I will grant you that Dansville, New York is no Miami but sometimes you go places, not so much for the city as for the people (and I’m not sure Dansville is big enough to be a city anyway).

But such was my reason for visiting Dansville today as it was sort of a half way point between my studio and where voice talent and fellow blogger Bob Souer was visiting while he was handling some impressive audio production duties for a project in Binghamton, NY.

We had lunch at the world renowned Sunrise Restaurant (its where all the beautiful people in Dansville meet. Their rinforzi il tortino et broodje was to die for! Simply heavenly!)

For any of you who have had the chance to speak with or meet Bob, I have the same boring story to report about him: charming guy, smart guy, wonderful voice over career insights and selfless to a fault. In short (and I am much shorter than he) Bob is the exact opposite of me.

A great treat for me to connect with a great talent and even better man.

voiceovers in political advertising

voting_postage_stamp

Although we’ve got something like 500+ days left before the next United States Presidential election, candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties are already having debates on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The debates are summarily ignored by the majority of the voting public even though they are covered ad-nauseum by the networks. It’s a vicious cycle.

This Presidential election has gotten the earliest campaign start in history I have been told and yet I’m convinced more people vote for singers on American Idol than for a President. I’ve nothing to back this up, research-wise, it’s more of a “gut” thing. Yet what choice do candidates have, especially those running for president?

The branding and marketing of a political candidate, public referendum or issue has become a real art or a fascinating battle depending on your perspective. How would YOU create a brand (and hopefully buzz…positive buzz) about a candidate or policy while competing for the attention of an ever more diversified and distracted voting public? Oh yeah, and you have to do it on a budget based solely on how well your candidate can fund raise…assuming he/she can get enough people who know him/her as well as who thehave money to even contribute to a campaign. That is why I guess we’re starting so early on each party’s “horse race” for the presidential brass ring. In politics as in life: follow the money.

And with the election season comes the political ads…some good, some questionable (again, trying to gain attention) but always thought provoking. Political consultants will again do their level best to map out a salient strategy for their candidate clients. These strategies will include a “theme” or “message” that consultants and candidates hope will resonate with the voters. Likely, TV and radio political ad campaigns will remain the mediums of choice to spread that political message to the widest audience.

Voice over scripts for political commercials are a great deal of fun for most voice talents (for me I refer to some of these political spots as requiring “vocal summersaults“). But overall today’s political spots are really not that different than commercials for any other brand. Political advertisers need to gain the public’s attention, summarize a key message and elicit an emotion in anywhere from thirty to sixty seconds. Sometimes the audience is uplifted by the message (“It’s morning, again, in America,)” and sometimes some mud is slung (politics didn’t invent attack ads; a quick example: wasn’t “The Pepsi Challenge” mud slinging at some of its most famous?).

I’m looking forward to the coming political advertising season whether from a presidential, congressional, state, regional or local election level. It gets citizens more involved in the democratic process for a while and I just don’t see how that can ever be a bad thing.

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a logo flop of olympic proportions

2012_london_olympics_logo

Some things just strike me as funny.

That includes the minor misfortune of others and in this case, the “others’ happens to be the citizens of London, England.

London, you see, is home to the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, which I have no doubt will be a smashing success as Olympics go…great athletic achievements, dramatic stories of accomplishment, amazing new venues and some boon to the UK economy. All of it very impressive and deservedly so.

Except for the logo.

Every Olympics has a logo. Without it, you can’t sell Olympic t-shirts and mugs and hats and cups and lighters and bookmark and underpants and baby bibs and earrings…all of which add up to a sizable revenue chunk in any Olympic budget. So the logo has to evoke something positive about the Olympic experience, the flavor of the city the Games are being held in and ultimately be attractive. Or at least not unattractive. Or at least not suck.

Oh my but does the 2012 Olympic Summer Games logo suck…on a global scale.

The committee in London, led by Committee chairman and former British distance runner Sebastian Coe, paid the design firm of Wolff Olins over $800,000 to design the logo that all of London and eventually the world was to embrace and promote.

Except London didn’t embrace the logo. They hated it.

A BBC on-line vote with nearly 11,000 votes cast showed 85% hated the logo with 4% saying they really liked it. When introducing a new brand, these are NOT the numbers you hope for.

Need a few more facts?

This design, which comes in a variety of color schemes, when animated caused 10 people to complain about the animation of logo because some of them suffered seizures when they saw it on the official Olympic web site.

Are you going to buy a logoed product that may cause seizures?

Bless the government’s leaders as they stood by this awful design. Outgoing Prime Minster Tony Blair said “When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life.” Maybe it’s me but I don’t see having seizures from looking at a logo to be a positive change in my life.

The London Olympics branding web site has a gallery of “civilian” logo submissions and I think there are plenty in those galleries that would been a much better branding icon than the $800K klunker.

As an icon, there may be been uglier or dumber looking images, but from a branding stand point, London’s Olympics are not starting out well.

From a humor stand point, they are starting out great!

My advice for this logo or any others going forward can be summed up in two words: focus groups.

P.S. Here’s a link with some other more attractive logos (I especially liked the Paris logo…I think that would have been a huge hit, you know, had they…won the bid).