the great voiceover fear – silence

Maybe it’s because I talk for a living.

Whatever the cause, when I was in an ISDN session this week (and I don’t do too many of them, much to Dan Friedman’s chagrin) the commercial producer at the other end had me do my line readings (literally two lines) in sets of threes and sixes (or until I lost count) and then turned off the mic after saying she’d get right back to me. So I stayed on hold, in the announce booth, waiting.

Why they didn’t have the instrumental version of “The Girl from Ipanema” playing in the background while I waited, I’ll never know.

All I heard was….silence. For minutes.

While I made small talk with my ISDN host, in my mind, I’m imagining a conversation across to the other codec as the silence continued.

Producer: Why was this guy chosen again?
Assistant: We can probably still get some of the other voices, it’s not too late.
Engineer: Can we just fire him so I can go to lunch now?

Now, in fact what they were likely doing was listening back, matching my reads with the female voice talent whom they recorded earlier, Catherine Sheehan, whose sentences I was finishing as part of the script.

Mr. Everyman Voice wins again!

Anyway, then everything was fine and they said thanks and I went on my merry way.

But for a brief moment, inside this only occasionally paranoid voice actor’s head, the silence was deafening.

Did this ever happen to you?

14 Responses to “the great voiceover fear – silence”

  1. Peter,

    I think the big difference today vs. 15 years ago is that actors are far more vocal. Whether it’s the fact that we’re communicating more often with our fingers clicking away, or perhaps the virtual vacuum we often find ourselves in, or a number of contributing factors, the one thing that seems to pop up is that we are not alone in our thoughts, insecurities, mistakes and deeds.

    Its been going on for years, although in the past, with the exception of one or two trusted confidants, very little would ever be communicated regarding our deepest fears, secrets or even the projects we might be working on.

    It still goes on today, as there are many talent who don’t do much if any online participating.

    Whether its the silence on the end of an ISDN line or Skype patch or the silence when they’re on the other side of the glass, it’s hard to know whether the harsh tones are from them getting mayo on their pastrami sandwich or something you’ve actually done.

    And I suspect many of us have these thoughts pretty often.

  2. Yes this happens to me too! I don’t do many ISDN sessions either but when I do, and I get the “silence”, sometimes these thoughts go through my head. Some sessions more than others…..if it’s a repeat client I tend to relax a bit more when it happens. I think it’s only human of us to think the worst because ours is such a performance (and, frankly, opinion) based industry…….but the doubts happen less often the more you experience it.

  3. Wow, Peter. Timely subject. This just happened to me Friday. 😉

    I’ve come to recognize it as a feature of ISDN sessions and try not to get too much inside my own head. Generally when the client comes back to me, they’re all pleased as punch – which puts my fears to rest. I know, for instance, that often a wait like that is because the engineer is actually putting together a rough version of the spot so the client – who sometimes needs to be called up separately as he or she isn’t a part of the actual session – can hear it and approve or disapprove.

    But you’re certainly right that that utter silence can be very daunting. 😉

  4. Put your worries to rest, Peter. There were discussing what a great combination we are and how they can use us more in the future!! I am taking the lead from you…big houses…pools…ahhh!

  5. I know Jodi, but a little on hold music go a long way in calming our (or at least my) mild paranoia? 😉 thanks for visiting and congrats on your latest gig.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  6. Trish the funny thing is I’d not had this much silence before and I really did have a sense they were editing parts together for time and sound but those little demon thoughts crept in and made me laugh at myself. Thanks for visiting Trish!

    Best always,
    – Peter

  7. Catherine – you must have had a better ISDN connection than me! Hope your session went well. Hope we get to work together (sort of) again.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  8. Well JS, I would guess by the feedback from this post you are 100% correct – these thoughts DO run through the minds of our peers. It’s nice to know we are not alone and that we are also not (completely) nuts.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  9. I do sometimes sing to myself while I’m waiting. 😀 So far, a client hasn’t caught me though. 😉

  10. Jodi if I start singing through the silence I’m pretty sure I’ll find out quickly what sound a Telos Zephyr makes when it abruptly disconnects. 😉

  11. Todd,

    Don’t discount bad singing

    I’m afraid more than a few engineers have had to suffer through me singing “Fly Me to The Moon” and “That’s why the Lady is a Tramp”, the last few months I forget the game, but I played a rather sick character and they used some of my bad singing in the game. Of course I had no idea they even recorded any of it.

    Oh, and if you get some of the higher levels in LOTRO, you get to hear me as a drunken Dwarf, doing some pretty bad singing.

    In fact, when Ned Lott (formerly of Dinsey) cast me for the first time, when he was at the Learning Company, he said it was because of my lousy Dylan impersonation which made him laugh his head off.

    You might be missing out on another facet of your career.

  12. Peter – LOL! Hee! Cool, J.S. I actually *can* sing (I have singing demos on my site, if you’re interested. :D). But I don’t usually go overboard with that because I’m not sure how much I’m disrupting their mixing and such on the other end of the ISDN line. 😉

  13. Peter,

    Occasionally I feel the same uncertainty when in the role of talent. When in the role of engineer (and still I don’t often hear the clients discussing), I seem to know exactly what is happening, or what they are thinking.

    I guess a good bit of it has to do with perspective.


  14. BTW – It is to my chagrin that you don’t have ISDN!