Archive for May 2013

Lena Verwoord Interview

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I met Lena through the awesome Matt Cowlrick, who referred me to her as someone who does the same kinds of things I do, and after we’d talked I knew she would be a great subject for another interview!

1. How did you get involved in assisting voice over talent?

It was actually a lucky coincidence. I originally was going to go into the teaching profession, but decided that it wasn’t really for me (ie: I’d probably be terrible) So, I took a break from school to re-evaluate. One night I was chatting with Matt Cowlrick, an Australian voiceover artist who’s based in Victoria, and he told me that he had some extra administrative work that he needed help with. That’s what got the ball rolling, and I’ve been increasing my experience, skill set and client base ever since.

2. What kind of services do you offer?

I’m great with editing scripts, proofreading, & quality control. I also do live QC sessions via Skype for longer narration pieces such as eLearning. Those types of scripts can be tedious, so I listen and read the script as the voice talent records and let them know straightaway when I hear a mistake. It definitely saves time later so they don’t have to go back and re-record and patch stuff in. During these sessions I can also provide direction, if the talent requests it. I proofread audiobooks on a freelance basis, and also do basic sound and audio editing.

Another time consuming but necessary task for voice over is finding new clients. I do internet data mining via a variety of databases, tracking down the right names, numbers and contact info to send demos out to, in order to drum up future leads and gigs.

3. What is your background in, and do you feel that this helps in your work with voice talent?

My background in schooling is in editing and English. I have a natural and trained sense for pronunciation, grammar and pacing. I can work on any style of script because of my diverse education in the English language, making me incredibly versatile.

4. Do you have a favorite project or type of project that you’ve worked on, or a funny story to share?

It’s often a little difficult to explain exactly what I do for a living. When I first met my boyfriend I had just started editing audiobooks, and the project I was working on at the time was proofing a Harlequin Romance audiobook. I can definitely say it made for an awkward yet hilarious first date when he asked what type of book I was working on. Needless to say, he had a lot of questions!

5. What’s the best way for people to contact you?

I’m quick to answer email but a phone call is always welcome too!

Next week is the last interview in my series, with the up and coming Patrick Brady.

Cliff Zellman Interview

216713_4130138386308_1205795391_a1. You started out in music, right?

Absolutely. Other than my Dad being an incredible 1940’s style piano player (and at 84, he’s just as good as ever!), it started for me one day while walking home from school in the 3rd. grade. It was a Thursday and that meant trash pick-up day. A neighbor was throwing away a badly damaged no name acoustic guitar. The back and sides were split. I pulled it out of the can and poured about 2 gallons of Elmer’s glue all over it, let it dry for a few days. I sanded down the glops and rode my Stingray to Baxter Northrup Music on Ventura Blvd in the San Fernando Valley. I put on nylon strings thinking steel strings would pull it apart. I also bought a Mel Bay “Learn to Play Guitar” book. To my surprise, it actually did play, although the strings were about an inch from the fret board. Well, it lasted for about 2 weeks until it imploded. My folks felt so badly, they allowed me to buy my first real electric guitar. Yes, it was a Teisco del Rey. And like the Bryan Adams song goes, “I played it ‘til my fingers bled”.

2. How did you move from there to production?

By the time I was 10, I figured I was ready to start a band. The drummer played suitcases and used wooden soupspoons as sticks. We were not very good, but we were makin’ music! Mostly Monkee’s cover tunes and a few Chad & Jeremy tunes. As the years past, we got better and better and so did our equipment. And that’s when it really got interesting for me. I LOVE GEAR! The pedals, amplifiers, mixers, microphones, cables, buzzes and hums, I loved it all. And I loved the toxic smell of lead solder. By high school graduation, my folks wanted me to be an accountant, yeah, right… and I went through the motions but instead of attending class, I was knocking on every door of every studio in L.A. looking for an entry position. I wound up answering phones, vacuuming, cleaning toilets and emptying ashtrays for Davlen Studios, one of the best studios in L.A. Home to Hall & Oats, Alice Cooper, Toto, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Fleetwood Mac (Rumors) and other chart toppers. I worked my tail off 18 hours a day for 2 years. A stellar moment in my early career was during a tape inventory in the library, a wall apart from the main recording room. I put my ear to the wall and heard Steve Lukather cutting the guitar solo to Hold The Line from Toto’s first album. I was literally trembling knowing full well I was hearing music history in the making. Soon after that, I got my big break. They allowed me to wrap cables! Then came tape machine alignments and eventually second engineer. I was offered a better position at Fidelity Studios, a hard-core rock and roll studio in Studio City, Ca. I moved up from second engineer to chief audio engineer and head of in-house production. That lasted for 13 years. As far as “getting into production” I guess that happened silently at first as an engineer. I would create sounds the bands never thought of and because I could never keep my mouth shut, and being a pretty good guitar and keyboard player by then, I spoke the language.

3. What made you decide to start the Dallas Voice Acting Meet Up Group?

I have always loved to teach. I’ve made 6 trips to Taipei teaching music production and engineering for BMG Asia, Music Impact and Friendly Dogs Records. When a new studio opened or a big Taiwanese artist was about to cut an album, I’d get an offer to engineer and teach their engineers how to run the room and make “Big American Rock & Roll Music Sound”. I also studied Mandarin for many years at UCLA while employed at Fidelity.  I LOVE Taiwan, the people, the food, the culture and the amazing talent I found all around me. That really fueled my love for teaching.  Skip ahead a few years to RadioVision, a full service Ad Agency in Dallas…. After ten years of directing Voice Talent for commercial/retail production, I wanted to add some new “local talent” to our roster. So I created a place to have talent meet and audition.  What I ended up with was a room full of absolute newbie’s. Not my intention. The meet ups became so popular I was having up to 40 people show up at each one. I wasn’t getting anywhere. Every meet-up was a Newbie’s Night. I took 3 months off and began writing a syllabus, scripts, exercises and techniques both voice & technical. I broke it into 8 “spokes” of the VO wheel. Now, every new member MUST attend Newbie’s Night first, where I spend an hour trying to talk everyone out of this career path. I speak of no glory, no cash windfalls, no fame, audition rejections etc. I stress talent, commitment, practice, education, technical knowledge, solitude and countless hours scouring the Internet for every ounce of VO information. I give URLS and stress the importance of not spending a dime until absolutely ready. We have spawned many a successful VO career and kept some folks from wasting their time. 116 meet ups later, I think the DVA, with 702 members could be the largest VO Meet Up Group out there. It is my passion beyond passion. It takes a lot of VERY hard work and please let me express my extreme gratitude for the incredible talents of Brad Venable, Jim Schrecengost, Amy Snively, Neil Kaplan, Bob and Stephanie Day Carter, Nazia Chaudhry and others that have helped to make the DVA what it is today. I believe that the success of the DVA, and Brad’s Super Hero University has helped to bring incredible talent to Dallas, such as Marc Cashman, Pat Fraley, Rob Paulsen, Bob Bergen, Marylynn Wissner and others. Please allow me to also send a shout out to Susan Bernard and her Dallas Area Voice Over Actors Network Shuffle for keeping VO social & creating a relaxing and sharing environment for anyone involved or interested in VO.

4. Tell us about winning an Emmy! (I did not know this about you and my jaw dropped when I read it!)

The Owner of Fidelity Studios was an old school N.Y. music man. He was beyond brilliant, an incredible producer and very difficult. I was his personal engineer. He had an idea to take popular TV shows (CBS) and create soundtrack albums based on the theme of the shows.  We did “China Beach” (60’s), “Dallas” (Country), Murphy Brown (Motown) and Beauty and the Beast (classical & poetry). For Beauty and the Beast, I recorded the 103 piece orchestra at A&M Studios reproducing the music written specifically for the TV show by Don Davis and Lee Holdridge, under the watchful eye of the great Armin Steiner. Wow, THAT was nerve-wracking! Once the music was recorded, I took the tracks back to Fidelity and recorded Ron Perlman (awesome) reading classic works of Shakespere, Rilke, Woodsworth, Byron, Shelley and others. That was my first real taste of voice over. The project lasted 4 months! We took the main theme from the show and created a “pop” music version. I oversaw the writing of the lyrics and hired the musicians and produced the track from scratch at Fidelity. It was aired during a special segment of the series. It won an Emmy for “Best Original Song in a Prime Time Series”.  A few years before relocating to Dallas (post ’94 earthquake) I began recording live dialogue for Animated TV series’ for Disney, DIC and Saban. Some of these show included, Power Rangers, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, Little Mouse on the Prairie, Pro Stars, Sonic the Hedgehog and others. It was a semi difficult transition for me from the hard core daze of Rock & Roll. During this time, I was fortunate to work with Jim Cummings, Townsend Coleman, Rob Paulsen, Pat Fraley, Bob Bergen and other superstars of today. I learned from legendary animation directors. I was hooked!

5. So, not only do you do all kinds of production awesomeness, but you also do coaching and teaching?

My main gig is RadioVision. This is my dream job. The one I have been working for 20 years to get. I always wanted to be Darren Stevens from Bewitched. I’m going on my 18th year with RV. Heck, we must be doing something right. I moved out of RadioVision offices a few years ago and they allow me to work exclusively from home. I told them if I had my studio at home I’d probably end up working 18 hours a day… I was right. When it come to direction, I strive to bring musicality to VO as well as the obvious all important interpretation, intonation, ownership of copy, believability, script deconstruction and cadence. Teaching is simply an extension of who I am, what I’ve learned that works and what the client really wants. Coaching is the same way for me. I feel that directing IS coaching and believe me, working with some of the best commercial/retail talents in the business has taught me volumes. I am grateful for each one of them. I am doing more and more Skype coaching when time allows. After an hour of a Skype session, I am exhausted! Good times!

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time… many times. But most important, I am incredibly grateful to the amazing talents and generosity of so many wonderful people who believed in this goofy surfer dude from the Valley.

Next week I’ll be sitting down with Lena Verwoord, Canadian Virtual Assistant!

Keenan Gaynor Interview

kg21. How did you get started in audio production?

I’ve been a drummer since the age of ~8 or so. By the time I reached high school (around 1999/2000) I began to experiment with home recording (in an effort to record demos of some of the bands/projects that I was involved with). Unfortunately home recording was incredibly frustrating back then, but certainly a learning experience… I recall using an old, fat PC tower and an Aardvark Aark 20/20 PCI interface (Photo here). I’m pretty sure I spent more time frustratingly troubleshooting my equipment than I did actually producing recordings, but all in all it was an excellent start into what would basically end up being my education and career in the years to come.

2. So you’re in a band? Tell us about it!

As noted, I was a drummer for over 15 years. I used the term “was” because my drumset has now been sitting dormant in my childhood basement for nearly 5 years now. I studied at New York University for college (Music Technology major), so moving into Manhattan for ~4 years made it impossible to maintain the drumming habit (as there was virtually no space for me to store it). I of course kept up the hobby (and still do to this day), but my interests quickly shifted more towards electronic music and performance post high school (I blame this on home recording as well, as it got me more interested in computer music and electronic music in general). The “band” that I’m in presently is actually an electronic/pop project that I have had going since about 2005 (on and off) called “Declan’s Well.” It has changed faces several times throughout the years, and I have no intentions of ever “blowing up” or whatnot – it’s simply an incredibly satisfying / distracting hobby that I hope to continue for years to come (I absolutely love creating/tinkering with midi controllers and new software/plugins/synthesizers/etc).

Last year I actually used the service Kickstarter.com to raise funds (a bit over $2500) to put out a “real” album (real in the sense that I was able to afford better production, mixing, mastering and other various things such as album artwork and whatnot). The result was my latest release “Campaign Capsized” — completed last March. All “backers” to the Kickstarter project received various tokens of appreciation (such as Tshirts, advanced copies of the album, drinking mugs, stickers, etc). It was a LOT of work and I’m very pleased that it’s just about died down now 🙂

3. How did you get involved in The Great Voice Company?

I graduated NYU in June of 2009. Shortly thereafter I had an opportunity to do freelance editing with Great Voice (just several days a week when things were busy – doing audio editing for a myriad of voice-over projects – primarily telephony/IVR since that what 90% of Great Voice’s clientele is — founded by Susan Berkley, the voice of ATT and Citibank). After freelancing for a while, I kind of mutated into more of a production assistant to the (then) production manager at the time. The business grew a bit, and my manager actually moved to a new position as a result of that growth (taking control of web promotions and marketing and whatnot). Luckily I was right there as the most obvious choice to fill in for him and take control of the production department (and have now been doing so since).

4. I see that your degree is in Music Technology, how did you go from that to voice over?

I chose the Music Technology program at NYU because it covered a pretty broad range (recording / engineering / live sound / electronics / music theory / etc). Being a drummer my entire life, the (surprisingly large) amount of music-based courses were a bit tough to get through, but absolutely rewarding. I honestly had no idea where I would end up coming out of the program, but I knew it was a safe bet to be doing at least something related to audio. My entrance into the VO world is entirely a result of working for Great Voice. I honestly had very little idea of how huge this environment was until I was introduced to it. It’s really quite unbelievable how large of a network it is (and how many different genres/niches there are). This REALLY helps me out in my own personal freelance life though (both in networking AND in learning all of the ins and outs of this world (i.e. interacting with both sides – clients and talents – as well as engineers).

5. So you’re listed in several places as an ‘Abraham Lincoln enthusiast’. He is pretty awesome, but how did you get interested in him?

This is a question that I always have a tough time answering 🙂 I’m really not a history buff by any stretch. He was also my favorite president, and it was more of a hobby to collect memorabilia than it was studying or reading up on him. Unfortunately friends and family caught on though, and only made it progressively worse and worse (buying me peculiar Lincoln-related memorabilia as birthday gifts and whatnot). It just seems to keep growing and growing…

Next week Cliff Zellman, creator of Done by Six productions, audio master, producer and coach is the subject of next week’s interview!

Theo Mordey Interview

theosstudio_21. You’ve been involved with sound and music since you were a small child. What led you from drum playing into sound production?

Well, I started playing drums when I was seven years old. When I was fifteen, my friend bought me studio time as a Birthday present in one of the local studios. That is when I started to write and record multi-tracked percussion compositions. Recording and Mixing always fascinated me. I was always very creative with Orchestration. Sometimes, I would use up to fifty tracks to get my ideas across in the studio. A lot of bouncing and track management had to be done since, back then, we were only using a sixteen track reel to reel recorder. To make a long story short, that was my first experience with recording, and soon, I found myself in the studio on a regular basis either for personal reasons, or to record a drum track for a client.

2. Do you feel that the variety of your background-ranging from music production to musical theater and including audiobooks and film gives you a great ‘toolbox’ when it comes to working with voice over professionals?

Oh. Most definitely. Actually perfecting Audiobook Editing has helped a lot with my ability to clean up vocal tracks in Music, and do Dialogue Editing for film. I use the same techniques for all three platforms. Good mic technique and placement has to be used for for Vocalists/Narrators/VO Pros for Music, Audiobooks, and Film. Music mixing has helped a lot with setting levels for Dialogue and Sound Effects in film projects. My Musical Theater and live performance experience has helped a lot with being sensitive to all of the nuances in Music Mixing, and also it enhanced my creativity with Producing of Music and Audio Dramas. They all work hand in hand. There are many tricks and techniques that cross over to each other.

3. You’ve taken classes with some of the audiobook greats, has this helped you with a wider understanding of the world of audiobook production?

Yes. Definitely. I learned a lot from Scott Brick and Pat Fraley about the Audiobook Industry and Narration. I would definitely recommend their classes to Narrators who are interested in perfecting their trade. In their classes, I learned a lot about pacing, phrasing, projection, and many other important topics. Not to mention the business side of Audiobooks as well. Honestly, most of the tricks I learned for Audiobook Editing though came to me out of frustration. Audiobook Editing can be a very tedious process. Many of the problems that have to be fixed with Editing keep on coming up throughout the Audiobook. I came up with some techniques that fix all of these problems right on the spot before listening to a single chapter.

4. Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on? Or perhaps, since you’ve done a lot of music and film as well as voice over work, a favorite per project type?

I am blessed to have worked on a lot of great projects. In Audiobooks, I really enjoyed editing “Games Of Thrones And Philosophy.” I am currently Producing the Audio Drama Version of “Agent 13 (Flint Dille(“Transformers”) and David Marconi (“Live Free And Die Hard”)” for “The Colonial Theater On The Air (Sirius 80).” The movie, ” Agent 13″ will be coming out in, I believe 2015. For Music, I enjoyed working with Julie Brown on “The Homecoming Queen’s Gotta Gun” and I will be writing drum parts for her Musical, “Earth Girls Are Easy.” Also, I recently did some mixes with singer, Jean Michel Byron (Toto). I think performing with The Musicals, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Tommy”, and “Evita” were also great experiences.

5. What made you decide to offer a Karaoke demo as one of your services?

ANSWER: There are a lot of singers who are on a budget or who can’t afford musicians to play on their material but they want to have a demo of their singing. Karaoke Demos are less expensive to Produce because there are only two tracks involved per song generally. You have the Vocal and The Music Track. They do not take long to Record or Mix and Master.

For more info about my Services etc., please see my website at:

http://www.theomordeysound.com

Keenan Gaynor, Abraham Lincoln enthusiast and audio professional is the subject of my next interview.

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