Tag Archive for people you should know about

Jeff Bowden Interview – Rerun

jeff1. You have an amazing 40 years of experience in media related fields. How did you get started along this path?

Karen, it has been a very interesting path. I actually started my career as a newspaper reporter after graduating college with a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia. I worked for several newspapers, the last being the Tampa (FL) Tribune. But after my first daughter was born, I felt the need for a change and moved to the arena of public affairs for a multi-county planning agency. There I began to be involved with graphics, speechwriting and photography. This provided a background for an eventual transition to jobs involving the production of multi-media presentations.

I had started in 1969 by recording a speech and adding slides (early multi-media?). After several years and jobs, eventually I was developing multi-image presentations with up to 5 screens, 25 projectors, and computer control that featured elaborate soundtracks. And that last bit, producing sound design, was what eventually captured my attention. I was fascinated in the studio with what the engineers could do and I finally gave in and went to night school to study the craft while maintaining my day job. I felt that know what engineers did would help me to communicate with them more effectively. Little did I realize that I would eventually switch chairs.

After a three-year foray into video production in the late 1980s, I returned to book and bible publishing to launch an audio book library for Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville. Interestingly, the first full-length book I directed and produced was a Charles Dickens story and the talent was – wait for it – Ben Kingsley. My first session was even in a London recording studio. Not bad for my first outing. Of course, that was a mountaintop experience and most of my subsequent work was in the valleys.

I produced a total of 12 books that first year (1991) as the fledgling audio book industry (cassettes) was getting underway. These products were two-cassette abridgements, and seemed to find some traction. But while at Nelson in the early 80s I had produced 36 titles as single-cassette highlight audio books that went nowhere. And of course, eventually, the public made their desire for the entire book content, not abridgements, known.

After three years and more than 50 books, I was invited to come to Michigan to Zondervan Publishers, where I spent the rest of my career retiring in 2008. I am not real sure of the final numbers but I probably worked on more than 400 books and eight editions of the Bible during those years, as well as a dozen video-based curriculum kits. It was a fantastic way to spend one’s career. I loved going to “work” everyday.

 

2. You have done production work on an astounding 400 + audiobooks and eight editions of the Bible. How can your experience be of benefit to talents in the creation of their audiobooks?

While I did edit and master most of the titles I worked on, I also spent a lot of time as producer in recording sessions in studios across the country directing authors and professional voice talents. We had a studio in the building, but it was not always convenient for the narrator to come to Michigan, so I went to them. As a result, I spent quality time with some very fine engineers in studios in Tennessee, Florida, California, Colorado, Texas, NY and Washington. And those engineers were always willing to teach me tricks of the trade, which I have always tried to pass on and share.

In my current role as an editor/proofer, I am happy to offer any assistance I can in helping the talented people I am working with to produce the finest audio product. Since I am not involved in the recording, my suggestions frequently involve quality issues such as ambient noises, microphone placement and level fluctuations among others. Most times these suggestions will help on the next project, but I have been asked about many technical issues like microphone choices, use of plugins and outboard devices, noise control, etc.

While on the subject of noise, perhaps you will allow me to get out my soapbox. I have become dismayed over the public’s apparent acceptance of “poor audio”. I was always ticked when a beautiful, high quality video project would have a lousy soundtrack. Money was always spent first on lights and sets, and lastly on the audio. Come on folks, the first word in Audiovisual is – AUDIO.

But in recent years, with the advent of podcasting and Youtube, there is some real crappy audio circulating. I understand that the goal is to get the content out there, but I hate to see this lack of concern over quality spill into audio books. And I have listened to some books from major NY publishers that had some noisy artifacts that I find objectionable. I guess my philosophy is that if one is going to spend hours recording an author’s work, make it the best possible audio you can. And now that many, if not most, books are being downloaded at low bit rates, it is more important than ever to start with some good clean audio. To quote a famous Nashville personality, Mack Truck, “That is my opinion. Ought to be yours!” Nuff said.

3. After you moved back to Tennessee, you described yourself as retired. What led you back into the world of audio production?

After I left Zondervan, I worked under a contract for a year and produced 180 titles using over 25 voice talents across the country. My daughter worked with me, handling scheduling, scripts, proofing and invoicing, while I did the editing and mastering. She trained several proofers and after I finished my contract, she continued to proof for other publishers.

Things slowed down for me and work almost stopped completely after that. I was producing the odd book, taking long motorcycle trips and enjoying “retirement” but I started feeling that there had to be more to it than that. Then last September, I got a call on a Sunday afternoon from a narrator I had never met, but who knew me by reputation. He had three books due and his editor was not able to keep up with recording and editing. I agreed to edit/proof two of them for him. It was exhilarating to be back in harness and under a deadline again.

Then this new friend introduced me to his broker, who also knew of me, and the rest is history. He put my name out to his suppliers and now I am honored to have more than a dozen new friends that I am able to edit/proof for. Since that first call, I have worked on more than 25 books and as of this writing, I am committed for 7 more. Needless to say, I am not riding the bike as much now as before. And that is ok.

4. Do you prefer long form projects – audiobooks – or are you available for other work as well?

While I have produced other audio and video projects over the years, such as radio theatre and audio sales catalogs, I prefer the long form projects if given a choice. I am still doing full production on several titles for one publisher, but I am really fond of my “new career” as an editor/proofer.

5. What is the best way for people to reach you?

I can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (615) 995-5296.

As a post script, if you know anyone who you think would fit in to my ‘techie’ interview series please email me at [email protected] Also, you can check out previous interviews with Morgan Barhart of SociableBoost.com here, Dan Friedman here, Jeff Kafer here, Eric Souer here, George Whittam here, Dylan Gamblin here, Louanne Frederikson here, Dan Lenard here, and Zak Miller here.

And next week I’ll be talking to another audio professional Jake Walther, that I met on Linkedin.

Blogger Profile: Bob Souer – Rerun

bob_souer_professional_story_tellerThis series came to mind before the new year, and I knew one of the first people I wanted to feature was my father–and not just because he’s my Dad! I can’t count the number of people over the years who have mentioned Dad’s blog and how much they’ve enjoyed it, learned from it, and valued his words. They usually start out by telling me how awesome my Dad is, and then mention the blog, but still… 🙂

Dad has been blogging since May of 2005. He doesn’t post on a regular schedule, but I know that his readers find him worth the wait. His posts cover a pretty wide range of topics, but one of the first things he told me when he and I were discussing blogging, online content, and how you should present yourself was that he made a point of featuring other people whenever possible. Not only does it generate goodwill, and make you look good, there is also a lot of cool stuff going on out there that people should know about! In that vein, Dad also keeps a pretty lengthy blogroll of everyone he’s ever been able to find who blogs about voice over in some fashion.

In short, I would venture that my Dad is one of the mainstays of the voice over blogging world, and someone that is always interesting and valuable to read.

Pronounceology Interview – Rerun

Hey guys! Adam Verner, a very fine audiobook narrator and a fellow Faffer has come up with a great tool for narrators called Pronounceology. As soon as I saw him post about it, I knew I had to get the lowdown on such a great idea and how he came up with it! Here’s all the details about this site, which will make your future research way easier!
1. Pronounceology! What is it? (And where did you come up with the name?)
In a nutshell, Pronounceology is a tool that hooks into the backend of major online dictionaries and pronunciation resources like Merriam Webster, Oxford, and ForVO to provide bulk pronunciations and definitions.  It also acts as a kind of “home base” for research on the web, allowing you to save reports or words you’re looking into, the source URL for pronunciation, phonetic spellings, and any research notes.  I’m hoping it will be kind of like a Swiss Army Knife for research, with as many import and export options as possible.  Right now you can import a spreadsheet or CSV with page numbers, simply paste in a list of words, or import notes from iAnnotate (it’ll pull out just your highlighted terms).  Other PDF sources can be supported in the future if they’re popular enough or in demand.  Other dictionaries can be added down the line, as long as they have an API (Application Program Interface), which is a way for programs to access databases.  Those will form the core functionality of the tool, since that’s the way to search for a whole list of terms at one time.  There are also prebuilt search links for you to go find an obscure pronunciation.  For example, a lot of proper names and places aren’t in standard dictionary databases, so I’ve included links to a search in YouGlish.com or YouTube interviews.  If you’re looking for how to pronounce Richard Cytowic’s last name, for example, clicking a link will take you to a YouTube search for “Richard Cytowic interview.”
The other cool component will be exporting just the phonetics you need back to you source PDF or manuscript.  I know all narrators work differently, and my hope is that the tool is flexible enough to cover many different types of workflows. I’ve always kept my research in a spreadsheet as it’s easy for a proof listener to follow along, but that’s meant I’ve had to cut and paste by hand every set of phonetics back into the appropriate page of the PDF for seamless narrating. Pronounceology will do that for me, though I may want or need to go back through the script to adjust the placing of the text.
As far as the name goes, “ology” means “the study of,” and I often find narrating challenging titles is almost like a study of pronunciation.  Other times, it’s like a Sherlock Holmesian tracking down of elusive vocabulary!
2. Where did you get the idea to create Pronounceology
Basically, I’m a total dork.  But really, I love words, automation, and optimization.  If there’s any way for me to save keystrokes and time and get back to what my true passion is – narrating books – I go for it.  I’m always writing macros on my computer to automate invoicing or perform repetitive tasks.  I’ve longed for something like this to exist for years, and finally decided I should just build it!  There are plenty of great resources out there for pronunciation, but as far as I could tell, no tool that allows you to import in bulk, or multiple terms at a time.  For some titles I would be spending hours and hours tracking down pronunciations, and not every publisher pays you for that time or helps you with it.
3. Are you running the back end yourself? 
No, I’m working with a great developer, formerly with HP.  After interviewing many, many different freelance programmers and full development firms I finally found a great fit, someone who “gets it,” and brings his own ideas to the table.  As of now we’re running in Node.js and totally boosting the runtime environment with a flux capacitor.
4. From what you’ve posted, I see that it’s primarily intended for audiobook narrators, but have you ever thought about elearning pronunciation?
Oh yes indeed!  I’m starting with the audio book industry since that’s my full time job and the community I know the best, but this tool could be useful for literally anyone that needs pronunciations.  eLearning, other voice over, and most importantly, the ESL and language learners market are next on the list.  I’m even hoping to partner with schools or universities to provide “enterprise” accounts for any students learning English.
5. Do you have a place where people can check back or sign up for updates about the site? 
I’m so glad you asked!  Check out the teaser video on Pronounceology.com and sign up for the email list to be notified of updates.  I’ll be releasing more videos with more details in the months to come, and I hope to launch later this year.  You can also contact me at [email protected] with questions or feature requests!  In addition, I’ll be at APAC (audio book conference) in New York City this week and can do live demonstrations if anyone is interested (assuming the pesky WiFi cooperates!).

Audiobook Narrators need Narratic!

I try not to write posts that are too restricted in content, but when I saw the neat tool that Craig had developed for narrators, I knew I had to sit down with him and capture the details and story behind what Narratic was and how he came up with it. I love to connect with innovators and see how they do what they do. If you’re a narrator and interested in your reviews, this is a great aggregate service! Hope you enjoy!

1. Narratic! What does it do? 

Narratic tracks your audiobook ratings and reviews automatically. New reviews are sent in a daily (or weekly) email digest, or you can view all your recent ratings and reviews on one page on the site. No more sorting through all your titles individually on Audible! Narratic can also notify you of new releases, and report detailed statistics on your titles (e.g., how many five star reviews you have total). Besides checking in on listener feedback, it’s a great tool to compile review quotes for marketing.

2. How did you come up with the idea?

As a narrator myself, I’m a compulsive review-checker. As my list of titles grew, it became really time-consuming to look through all my titles and search for new ratings and reviews. I have a tech background so I decided to make my computer do the hard work. I’ve been using a simpler version of Narratic just for myself for a couple years. When I mentioned my system to other narrators, they expressed interest in using it. So I worked on and off for a year to fully develop it into a website and make it public.

3. Do you run the back end yourself?

Yes! I’m a one man band. I’ve always been a bit of a hobby software engineer.

4. You’ve got quite a good array of features already, do you have any plans for expansion?

Yes, absolutely! The next big feature is adding Audiofile review notifications to the site. More features are also in the works.
5. A lot of your fellow narrators have mentioned marketing to authors, is that in the works?
Narratic is definitely aimed toward narrators and other audiobook industry folks, since it only tracks audiobooks, but authors who have a strong audiobook presence would absolutely find it useful.

The Faffcon Community

I wrote this a while ago. By the time this posts, registration for Faff 9 will have already happened, but I wanted to share the love of my ‘tribe’ here on my blog. 

Every time Faffcon approaches, I can’t help but find myself thinking about my history with this unconference, and everything it has meant to me. Faffcon was the spark that started my business, the reason that I’m sitting here writing to you, and one of the catalysts that changed my life.

Six years ago, I was working in a grocery store chain in NC, living with my brother Eric Souer. To make a long story short, this was a store that put profits over people, and although I made okay money, I was never happy there. I’m not their ideal type of worker-physically fast and efficient-so it was not the best situation all around. Our Dad, Bob Souer came to visit, and he said, “Eric and Karen, you’re coming with me to Faffcon.”

I had no idea what this Faffcon thing was. And I remember feeling very uncertain about the whole situation, I was going to a place where I didn’t know anyone, had no idea what was going to happen, and Dad had just said that maybe people would hire me to do the sorts of things that I had always helped him with. (A little writing, a little editing, that kind of thing.)

My biggest memory from that first Faffcon (Faffcon 2 in Atlanta) was the kindness that people showed me. None of them knew who I was. (Some people had met Eric, but I’d never met any of them.) But all greeted me enthusiastically, and were interested in who I was and what I had to say. I remember going home from the event, on fire and excited to see where I could take this brainful of ideas that I had. Fast forward to the present day, and I am a different, much happier person, enjoying a reasonable amount of success.

But over the years, the thing that truly astonished me was the community that developed from the conference. Friendships were created, businesses grew one another, many people lifted one another up through challenges in both work and personal life. There are strong divisive, dividing elements in our society today, and it has been truly astonishing to see the kind of strong, communal vibe that has developed.

In 2012, after Faffcon 5, Lori Taylor created a Facebook group, Faffcon friends. This group has had a strong element in keeping the community together, and bringing folks together to tap group knowledge, share, or to ask questions. It gives people a place to talk to one another between events, and it’s been a pleasure to watch all the positive interaction. Lori eventually turned the administrator role in the group over to me, and it’s been an interesting job, to say the least!

I decided early on to limit the group to people that have already attended a Faffcon. The reason for that is the intensely personal stuff that is often shared in the group-health struggles, life issues, and the like. I wanted anyone in the group to understand the nature of a Faffcon, the lowering of barriers, to keep it unlike other groups, to folks that “get it”.

One of the phrases often used at Faffcon is ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. The community is proof of that, and it has been a valuable experience to get to watch it grow over the last five years, and change with the addition of new members with new ideas. My hope for the future is that it can continue to be a place where the good of the group is a big part of what goes on. Through Amy and Lauren, Connie and Pam and everyone who’s ever attended, we have created something unique, in terms of the community, and that it should be nurtured and taken care of, even 2 years from now when the event is no longer happening. Our industry doesn’t have water coolers or company picnics, so what we have is something to hold on to. May it always endure, and continue to spread and bring in new people.

Pronounceology Interview

Hey guys! Adam Verner, a very fine audiobook narrator and a fellow Faffer has come up with a great tool for narrators called Pronounceology. As soon as I saw him post about it, I knew I had to get the lowdown on such a great idea and how he came up with it! Here’s all the details about this site, which will make your future research way easier!
1. Pronounceology! What is it? (And where did you come up with the name?)
In a nutshell, Pronounceology is a tool that hooks into the backend of major online dictionaries and pronunciation resources like Merriam Webster, Oxford, and ForVO to provide bulk pronunciations and definitions.  It also acts as a kind of “home base” for research on the web, allowing you to save reports or words you’re looking into, the source URL for pronunciation, phonetic spellings, and any research notes.  I’m hoping it will be kind of like a Swiss Army Knife for research, with as many import and export options as possible.  Right now you can import a spreadsheet or CSV with page numbers, simply paste in a list of words, or import notes from iAnnotate (it’ll pull out just your highlighted terms).  Other PDF sources can be supported in the future if they’re popular enough or in demand.  Other dictionaries can be added down the line, as long as they have an API (Application Program Interface), which is a way for programs to access databases.  Those will form the core functionality of the tool, since that’s the way to search for a whole list of terms at one time.  There are also prebuilt search links for you to go find an obscure pronunciation.  For example, a lot of proper names and places aren’t in standard dictionary databases, so I’ve included links to a search in YouGlish.com or YouTube interviews.  If you’re looking for how to pronounce Richard Cytowic’s last name, for example, clicking a link will take you to a YouTube search for “Richard Cytowic interview.”
The other cool component will be exporting just the phonetics you need back to you source PDF or manuscript.  I know all narrators work differently, and my hope is that the tool is flexible enough to cover many different types of workflows. I’ve always kept my research in a spreadsheet as it’s easy for a proof listener to follow along, but that’s meant I’ve had to cut and paste by hand every set of phonetics back into the appropriate page of the PDF for seamless narrating. Pronounceology will do that for me, though I may want or need to go back through the script to adjust the placing of the text.
As far as the name goes, “ology” means “the study of,” and I often find narrating challenging titles is almost like a study of pronunciation.  Other times, it’s like a Sherlock Holmesian tracking down of elusive vocabulary!
2. Where did you get the idea to create Pronounceology
Basically, I’m a total dork.  But really, I love words, automation, and optimization.  If there’s any way for me to save keystrokes and time and get back to what my true passion is – narrating books – I go for it.  I’m always writing macros on my computer to automate invoicing or perform repetitive tasks.  I’ve longed for something like this to exist for years, and finally decided I should just build it!  There are plenty of great resources out there for pronunciation, but as far as I could tell, no tool that allows you to import in bulk, or multiple terms at a time.  For some titles I would be spending hours and hours tracking down pronunciations, and not every publisher pays you for that time or helps you with it.
3. Are you running the back end yourself? 
No, I’m working with a great developer, formerly with HP.  After interviewing many, many different freelance programmers and full development firms I finally found a great fit, someone who “gets it,” and brings his own ideas to the table.  As of now we’re running in Node.js and totally boosting the runtime environment with a flux capacitor.
4. From what you’ve posted, I see that it’s primarily intended for audiobook narrators, but have you ever thought about elearning pronunciation?
Oh yes indeed!  I’m starting with the audio book industry since that’s my full time job and the community I know the best, but this tool could be useful for literally anyone that needs pronunciations.  eLearning, other voice over, and most importantly, the ESL and language learners market are next on the list.  I’m even hoping to partner with schools or universities to provide “enterprise” accounts for any students learning English.
5. Do you have a place where people can check back or sign up for updates about the site? 
I’m so glad you asked!  Check out the teaser video on Pronounceology.com and sign up for the email list to be notified of updates.  I’ll be releasing more videos with more details in the months to come, and I hope to launch later this year.  You can also contact me at [email protected] with questions or feature requests!  In addition, I’ll be at APAC (audio book conference) in New York City this week and can do live demonstrations if anyone is interested (assuming the pesky WiFi cooperates!).

How to Outsource?

When I started my outsourcing series, I knew I wanted to touch on the mechanics of how and why things could work. The classic ‘5 W’ questions appealed to me, because of both the structure, and also the fact that it was a simple way to cover everything I wanted to say.

Karen Commins and I met several years ago at Faffcon 2 in Atlanta Georgia. I remember being impressed with her interesting and very positive take on things, and since then have been continually impressed by the amount of useful, clever information that she collates and creates for the audiobook world. (Go read her blog, you’ll see what I mean.) Karen sent me a message when she saw one of my series entries and suggested, as she learned in Journalism school, to add a 6th question, ‘How’. How to Outsource? You can read her side of the equation in a blog post here. 

So, how do you outsource? As I’ve covered in other entries, it’s important to know what you’re looking for when you approach an outsourcing person. For me, the more information and solid ideas someone has about what they need, the simpler my job becomes. File names, formats, timelines, what do I need to look for in my proofing?

I also want to stress that I’d rather receive an email, and have to say no I can’t work on that than have someone assume I’m too busy and not send the email at all. I can often recommend another editor, or someone else who can possibly help you. (And I rarely say no anyway!) You can also see what projects I’m currently working on at my public google work calendar here.

There’s also rarely a project too strange or unusual for me. There are some things I can’t do (like graphic design) but I’m always willing to try anything within my skillset, or that can be explained to me. Unusual projects always teach me something new, or provide a welcome break in routine. And as above, if I don’t do it, I probably know someone who does. You can see a list of the services I offer here, or if there’s something you don’t see, shoot me an email at [email protected] and I’d love to talk about it with you.

Overall, I think the most important thing to remember is there are very few limits on what you can and can’t do with outsourcing. Yes, it does cost money, but with proper preparation and forethought, you can leverage the (tax deductible) expense as another tool to shape your business, and your future success.

Archive Thursday: Zak Miller Interview

ZakmillerThis week’s Archive Thursday was originally published on April 8th, 2013.

1. How did you get involved in audio production?
In my late teens and early twenties I made my living as a carpenter.  When I moved to Augusta Georgia after they put a moratorium on construction in the Florida Keys, there were no substantial paying jobs in the carpenter field.  As I was looking in the newspaper want ads the next thing below “Carpenter” was DJ.  Here is the funny part- Everyone always said that I had a good voice ~haha true story~ so I called to see what the deal was.  They told me they were a new radio station that had not gone on the air yet and they needed DJs.  They told me to send in an “air check tape” and a resume.  I called a buddy of mine that was in radio in Atlanta and asked what an “air check tape” was and he filled me in saying just read the area briefs in the local paper into a tape machine.  I dug out a cassette recorder that my father had since the sixties and went into my spare room and the end result was I scored the midday air slot on WCHZ 95.1!  A week before the station went live the production guy flaked and they came to me and said they would pay me five hundred more a year to be the production director, and I took the gig!  I had no idea what I was doing and the owner knew this to be the case.  He flew a friend in from New York that worked as production director at Z100 to teach me.  Four days of 16 hour work days and I made my first commercial.  It was for a horse show at the Aiken Square Mall in South Carolina.  I will never forget that spot!  All sound design was foley! Which came first, the production or the voicing?  I guess it would be voicing, but they kind of hit at the same time.

2. Where did the name 50 to 1 studios come from?

In May of ’09 I played the long shot in the Kentucky Derby.  Mind that Bird number 8.  I put a fist full of money down on a hunch that I was given a sign from above.  My nephew was staying at my house, and when he was closing the gate a lady drove by and flipped him off when he waived at her.  He came into the house and said in his 7 year old voice, “some lady flipped me the bird!”.  When the call sheet for the Derby came out the next day “Mind that Bird” was a 50 to 1 long shot.  Needless to say, I was the only one at the pay window after the race!  They had a police escort bring me to my car, and that was enough money to fund my studio equipment.  I had seen the writing on the wall at the studio that I ran and knew I had to have my ducks in a row.  Thankfully my passion for horses and sense of humor lead me in the right direction!

3. Tell us about how you race yourself editing.

While working at a studio that did a ton of long form I got bored.  My mother always told me as a kid, if there is a chore you don’t want to do, make game of it!  So, I decided to make a game of editing boring long forms by taking time to edit out pick ups and breaths, mouth noise and such for the first minute of the piece.  Then I would start playing the audio from the start, go to my last edit point, and listen to the piece as I edited by sight down the edit desk.  The game was to see if I could beat the cursor to the end and have a clean edit.  Most times I won, sometimes, depending on the talent, and how on point I was while recording after pick ups, the machine won.

4. Although you haven’t updated there in a while, were did you get the idea for voice actor-isms?

Voice Actorisms came about when I stumbled upon “Bro-isms” from Neil Patrick Harris.   I figured most people in the field could relate and it may bring a smile to someones day.  I have been lax on updating them because they were tied to a part of my life that does not exist any longer, and it is still just a bit to raw on the emotion side to be able to put my mind back in that space.  I hope one day to work past that, but for now, no one can steal the idea! haha

5. Surfing is a big thing for you, how did you get involved with that?

I grew up in Miami and I idolized my older brother.  He surfed all the time! If there were no waves, he was on a skateboard ramp somewhere.  I didn’t really know what it meant to feel the ocean, or the light that surfing can bring to your soul.  I just wanted to do everything he did since he was my hero.  We moved to Spain in ’79 and we had heard of Biaritz France being an awesome surf spot. ( back then, surfing hadn’t hit Europe yet and surfing was still a subculture rather than the mainstream sport you see today) My brother had read about it in Surfer Magazine and somehow got my parents to take us there for the weekend.  It was May, cold and no one was even on the beach. We had a camper van, and stayed right in the car park of the beach.  Tom and I got up early and he told me that “today is the day you learn to surf!”  He then put on his wetsuit, grabbed his board and paddled out.  I didn’t have a wet suit, and will never forget the gripping cold of the North Atlantic in May.  I was wearing a pair of gym shorts (no baggies back then) and a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt.  After an hour or so my brother called me out to the line up.  I swam out, got on the board, a set came in and he pushed me into my first wave.  I stood up and went straight down the line and felt like I had found Heaven.  When I looked back at the beach to see if my mom had seen my epic ride, there was a line of school kids standing on the break wall clapping and laughing at the spectacle of these two Americans playing on a board in the freezing water!  They had no idea what surfing was, and really I didn’t either until that day.  Just like a junkie, I am still searching or that feeling of the first high of riding waves!  There is nothing like paddling off the continent and leaving society behind while focusing on nothing but what is ten feet in front of you.  All the worlds troubles just leave you mind, and it is really only in that minute that I feel alive!

As a post script, if you know anyone who you think would fit in to my ‘techie’ interview series please email me at [email protected] Also, you can check out previous interviews with Morgan Barhart of SociableBoost.com here, Dan Friedman here, Jeff Kafer here, Eric Souer here, George Whittam here, Dylan Gamblin here, Louanne Frederikson here, and Dan Lenard here.

Jeff Bowden, a man with more than 40 years worth of experience in media related fields is the subject of my next interview.

Archive Thursday: 6 Questions for CheapVoiceovers

cheap voiceoverThis week’s Archive Thursday was originally posted on August 27th, 2014.

CheapVoiceovers originated on Twitter, and quickly garnered notice for their stellar marketing efforts and unique take on the voice over industry. As soon as I saw them, I just knew I had to find out more and so I got an interview! You can find them on Twitter as @CheapVoiceover

1. So tell us how CheapVoiceovers came to be?

Cheap Voiceovers was set up to highlight a side of the voiceover industry that’s overlooked. Those clients that blow all their budget on the production of the video and leave the voice til the end. It’s dedicated to clients that love to sacrifice quality and the reputation of the brand by settling for any old voice. It’s here for clients whose emails start…”we don’t have much budget”.

2. What made you decide to accept all levels of talent? Do you have any standards?

Standards? Nah, we’ll accept any old rubbish. Our clients don’t care. They are more than happy accepting a voice with no experience. They don’t care if the quality of the voice sounds like it’s been recorded in a toilet either. So, we’ll accept anyone that has a microphone and a computer. After all that’s what makes you a ‘professional voiceover’ right?? Great acoustics optional, a bit of bedroom reverb never killed anyone we’re sure. We love NOISE. We just turn the music track up to hide it.
3. What drives your pricing standards? The purchase of tea or a sandwich?

Pricing is pretty much decided on how much the voice over needs to pay for their shopping. Or maybe they were thinking of buying a cake on the way to their regular job the following morning. So, it can vary from 45p up to £12. Some of our voices have F*** all to do of an evening so the thought of being sat voicing a 9000 corporate video doesn’t phase them. They just get excited, that the following morning they’ll have money for a Latte before signing on. If a client says they have very little budget, we say, bring it on.

4. How would you respond to criticism of the talent you accept and the fees they collect?

Our talent is the finest we can find from the bottom of the barrel. These are people that just want to be given a chance. Our talent roster will be full of people that want to tell their friends that they are a professional voiceover. If your mum said you have a good voice then that’s a good enough testimonial for us. There will always be client and a voice ready to dumb down the industry and join us. Hey, why have your production represented with a credible voice with years of experience working with well known brands, when you can have a butcher or a mechanic with zero experience to represent your company for a fraction of the price?

5. How much is it to join?

It’s free to join. Just direct message us and we’ll give you a link to send in your demo. If it meets our strict criteria, ‘the 3 H’s’, Hum, Hiss and Hinterference, then we’ll add it to the site.

6. What is your long term goal with CheapVoiceovers?

Our long term goal is to be the worst we can be. There is always a market for the cream of the crap. FIVERR may have given the industry a shake allowing professional voiceovers to charge £5 / $5. But we think we can beat that. Come on Big Brands, come and ruin your fine work here!!!

Book Review: Voices of Experience

VOTEbookHardBackCover1Doug Turkel is the author and compiler of this wonderful (free) ebook. It’s not new, it came out in 2012, but I recommend grabbing a download for some interesting reading. One of the most regular things I see on social media is people seeking the thoughts and advice of the ‘pros’. They want to know what other people are doing, what mic, preamp, DAW, cables, coach, or any one of a million things they are using or otherwise doing. This is totally understandable-I often wish for more people in my particular niche to compare notes with! 🙂

Looking through these pages, you can see dozens of fascinating stories from people who ended up in the industry from all walks of life. They all have different answers to Doug’s questions, and there’s a million “golden nuggets” sprinkled across those pages. Numerous luminaries such as Harlan Hogan and Bob Bergen have contributed their stories. Personally, I find it fascinating to read the sheer diversity of backgrounds involved in getting into this business-people have done just about everything before they did voice over!

Since the range of responses in the book is so varied, it’s a little difficult to sum up, but Doug has asked questions about people’s backgrounds, their likes and dislikes of the job, advice on agents, business advice, and humorous stories from their careers. I think it’s an interesting and informative read, plus offering good insight into people from the top echelons of the business.

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