People, Voiceover People Who Need People – Post-COVID Edition

Chief Engineer Cameron Fitzpatrick At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Soundtrax Chief Engineer Cameron Fitzpatrick overseeing another successful voiceover recording session in Raleigh, NC (July 2021)

What a great treat recently to get back into SOMEONE ELSE’S voiceover studio with other real voiceover people.

Look, it’s always nice to be cast in any voiceover project because….money.

But this recording session was even MORE fun because it involved not just going to somebody else’s studio but it was a GROUP session with anywhere from 2 to 5 people safely recording TOGETHER in the studio!!!

Voice Actors Peter K. O'Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Voice Actors Peter K. O’Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad at Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Now, if you’re reading this and not very familiar with voiceover, all this excitement may seem rather silly. I get that.

But if you’ll remember back some weeks and months ago…when maybe you went back to work or celebrated a holiday with people you hadn’t seen IN PERSON in months or a year…you were excited and happy.

It’s like that.

Voice Actor and Soundtrax General Manager Becket McGough

Voice Actor and Soundtrax General Manager Becket McGough in session

It was great to see my VO pals again, in person.

Even better, I didn’t know all the voice talents I was working with. Some of them were new to me. New friends, yay!

One of them I had worked with remotely….they were in one studio and I was Source-Connected in from my voiceover studio. When I heard her voice today in person right next to me, I thought “where have I heard that voice?” 🙂

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell And Male Voice Talent Chadd Pierce At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell and Male Voice Talent Chadd Pierce At Soundtrax Recording Studio In Raleigh NC

Look, whether pre-COVID or post-COVID, often there are not that many group voiceover sessions outside of NY and LA (and those are becoming less frequent too). It was great fun to see, visit with and work with my voice acting peers again  – in person!!!

Voiceover people are FAR from normal under the best of circumstances 😉 but this voiceover session was a taste of normalcy for us.

The way life used to be.

I’m thankful.

Learning from Kim Handysides

Learning from Kim HandysidesIn spite of my vast voiceover knowledge, expertise in all things broadcasting, immense superiority in marketing and tremendous humility (tongue firmly implanted in cheek) there ARE other people who know some stuff about the business of voiceover besides me.

You’re shocked, I know. 😉

Truth be told, in spite of my actual experience I am always learning from other voiceover talents, most of whom are brighter than I am.

So while it was a pleasant discovery, it was not a surprise to come across some very concise yet encompassing voiceover advice and helpful links in two blog posts by Canadian voiceover artist Kim Handysides.

I agree with most all of the suggestions and references she offers* and think the read would be worth your time.

*I disagreed with the note that said short, fat, Irish voiceover talents are less useful than poutine…I happen to know we have a value EQUAL to poutine. How dare she!!! 😉

From a blogging perspective, I will also compliment her on her smart links to her own past blog posts about the topics she is advising readers about. That’s just SEO goodness right there. Well done.

Oh…you probably want the links, don’t you. Man, you are demanding!

35 Ways to Really Help You Crush It As A Voiceover Actor

37 More Ways to Really Help You Crush It As A Voiceover Actor

 

7 tips for marking up your voiceover script

VO Script Markup Peter K. O'Connell

I was playing substitute teacher last week for one of my voiceover friends who teachers a regular class for voiceover beginners.

We talked about a lot of different ideas that are involved in voiceover performance but one that seemed to resonate the most with them was marking up your voiceover script.

Because I have been doing voiceover for nearly 40 years, knowing that you can and should markup your voiceover script is second nature to me. But working with this class, it reminded me that it is NOT second nature for everyone.

So for any poor soul (who is not a bot – do bots have souls? I think not) who has fallen down the Google rabbit hole of voiceover searches and come upon this lowly blog, I share with you now some of my voiceover script marking up pointers.

1. YES mark up your script. You can and should do it It’s a pro move and more importantly it is a smart move

These Peter K. O’Connell Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent pencils can be found in recording studios across the country.

2. Use pencil not pen – the reason I have Peter K. O’Connell Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent logoed PENCILS is for marking up voiceover scripts….it’s also a nice leave behind in recording studios so that remember that they worked with me. 🙂

3. Whether it’s in a studio or remote from your studio, write somewhere on the script the names of everyone on the session (client, engineers, etc)…people find it both professional and satisfying when they are called by their name — which leads to my next point

4. Almost always, note the first time in the script the client’s name is mentioned….hit that vocally with whatever emphasis the script allows; clients love to hear their name/brand in scripts; also the first time it’s listed, it also establishes the brand within the script

5. Hopefully you have a little time before the session – with that time, read the script out loud; that’s one of the ways I find the script’s “voice” and then MY voice for the script – the client may send me in another direction in the session (and I will that direction without fail as that’s my job) but give yourself a starting place

6. Are there specific markings I should use (like proofreader markings)? Use whatever works to you, your thought process, your creative process that lets you understand whatever shorthand you noted to be able to convey that in the read – you will not get to re-type this stuff so make it clear for yourself…try not to rush your notes

7. Especially when you are at an outside recording studio – don’t take the script with you; scripts often contain promotional or operational details companies do not want shared before publication or even externally…leave the scripts behind or destroy them after you’re done with them

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Script Markup Breathe Mark

8. BONUS TIP (no extra charge): Besides an underline on key words or points, my favorite voiceover script mark is the upside down “T” that I use to tell me where to take a proper breath when periods are nowhere to be found. It also helps me pause and slow down…unless I actually write “pause” or “slow down” on the script.

Happy marking up!

 

Senseless Marketing Is Occasionally Worthwhile

T-shirt Advertising Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover TalentEvery micro-business owner (like me) will tell you that you need to have an expectation of a return on investment (ROI) for the marketing dollars you invest.

Why?

Because while many micro-businesses don’t have unlimited marketing dollars, most have barely ANY marketing dollars…we have to make them count.

Which of course is why I just dumped multi-hundred o’dollars into my neighborhood swim team’s sponsorship program from which I am sure will lead to almost zero ROI.

Yup, no ROI and no charitable write off

Ain’t I a marketing and business genius? 🙂

Let me explain.

I’ve written so many marketing posts over all these years I’m guessing I must have mentioned Gut Marketing. It’s a highly technical business term which means marketing that may not make business sense but feels right.

Whether you as a business owner mean to support or straight out donate to an event or group, it’s your gut that tells you that you CAN make this one community investment…you have confidence in your other targeted, ROI-focused, customer-centric marketing programs that WILL build your customer base and your branding efforts.

When you know, you know.

Don’t go crazy BUT trust your gut.

Introducing: Bucky the Voiceover Superdog

Bucky Voiceover Superdog audioconnell Peter K. O'Connell

Follow the adventures of Bucky the Voiceover Superdog on Instagram

We’ve no way of knowing if Bucky the Voiceover Superdog came from another planet.

We’re not even sure if the “V” and “S” in Voiceover Superdog should be capitalized – but we’ve decided for a dog of such importance, it shall be capitalized.

We are pretty certain he came from many breeds, yet to be fully determined.

What we do know is this…Bucky is a super dog.

His Da does voiceover.

Thus Bucky, named by his siblings after a certain character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is now his own kind of Super Hero.

As a Super Hero (and now Super Dog) is wont to do, Bucky is Instagram official and you can follow all his #studiobeast adventures there.

Is this indulgent? Possibly.

Is this obnoxious? Probably.

Is this all for fun and full of love? We certainly think so.

Bev Standing Her Ground Against TikTok

(If ever there was a name that was ripe for a headline, it’s my friend’s name: Bev Standing. That’s a writer’s gift, right there.)

(L-R) Voice talents Glad Klassen, Peter K. O'Connell and Bev Standing

Voice talents Glad Klassen, Peter K. O’Connell and Bev Standing in 2018

Professional female voiceover talent Bev Standing is one of those voice talent friends where I cannot remember the exact time we met…it’s like she’s always been in my orbit. Part of that comes from her proximity to Buffalo, NY (where I used to live) and her home across the border in Welland, Ontario Canada. I was blessed to see her many times in our various VO meetups. She is a total pro, lovely to be around and work with and…certainly knows her stuff.

Anyway, Bev Standing is defending herself against what I consider a pretty egregious misuse of her voice files by the social media company TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

Bev, who in addition to being a VO also runs the VO Watercooler page on Facebook, did one text-to-speech voiceover project involving Chinese translations for the Institute of Acoustics, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 2018.

More recently, though, her voice was being used by various videos on TikTok from that recording session. These additional uses, as I understand it, were not part of her agreement with the Institute of Acoustics. That kind of unauthorized use is actionable, so Bev lawyered up and filed suit recently in the US. District Court, Southern District of New York.

See, here might be another GREAT headline: the case might be known as ‘Standing vs TikTok’. These things practically write themselves!!

Text-to-speech, if you are unfamiliar, is a process where voice actors read a large script of sounds (think “-er”) and specific words that can be manipulated by computers into sentences that – in some cases – sound very much like a human voice, resulting in full human voice sentences.

The full story on this suit is much more completely reported by John Florian at Voice-Over Extra.

I had gotten wind of this problem some months ago but didn’t know until today that the suit had been filed. I think this is a very wise move on Bev Standing’s part…and brave, because such suits can be emotionally and financially draining. But it must be done.

Text-to-speech (TTS) jobs for voiceover talents became a very enticing proposition around the time Apple introduced us to Siri…the most famous TTS project since “Hal” into 2001 A Space Odyssey (except “Hal” wasn’t actually TTS).

But I’ve always been wary of TTS projects for the very reason Bev is bringing suit…reckless usage of entire voice files that can be close to impossible to contain once the files are released.

Basically, a voice talent is sharing their entire talent (their speaking voice) with a client for unlimited use – supposedly for a specific project. But if that entire file gets out to somebody else or is used for other purposes (for which the talent SHOULD be made aware of and compensated for) the talent has very few resources to stop that abuse.

It will be left to the courts to decide this – but if it sounds bad, looks bad and smells bad…it usually is bad. This sounds like TikTok has created a problem for itself that my friend Bev rightly aims to correct with her legal action.