Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Top 20 things I Learned About voice Over in 2008

A few weeks ago I started making a list. I wanted to write down 10 things I learned this year about voice over. I quickly realized 10 just wouldn't cut it. If I was to be honest with myself, the list would likely be closer to 1000 things I've learned this year!

I decided to stick with the number 20.

While I actually learned a few of these items prior to 2008, they were at the very least reinforced in 2008- and therefore worthy of my top 20 list.

So, in no particular are the Top 20 Things I Learned About Voice Over in 2008...

1. Trusting your own instincts with voice over work is always the way to go.

2. Social networking (VOICE, VO-BB, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc) is vital- you never know where your next job may come from, and you never know when you may have a job to offer!

3. If you want to install ISDN at home, it helps tremendously if you are incorporated. They will want your tax ID#, incorporation date, state, etc. Otherwise, expect to wait at least 6 weeks for instillation.

4. It is possible to keep deadlines regardless of what happens behind the scenes.

5. Relocating is no fun, but building a new studio is!

6. Creating a budget and sticking to it will help you be successful.

7. To have a home studio- you need an engineering degree. If you don’t have an engineering degree, it is important to have smart friends.

8. Receiving feedback from clients on your work really helps you improve!

9. It’s not how many clients you have; it’s how many relationships you develop that counts.

10. Saying no to work is OK.

11. Saying yes to fun or meaningful work at slightly lower rates is also OK.

12. Regular, monthly work rocks!

13. Unexpected, last minute work rocks!

14. I don’t do hard labor for a living; therefore it isn’t the end of the world when a client asks for major revisions. I can do them, and I can find a way to not be insulted by them.

15. Pilates helps with a stiff “I’ve been producing for 8 hours straight” neck.

16. When you are up against a deadline, and the creative juices just aren’t flowing…take a walk and have a conversation with your dog. Both will clear your head and inspire you.

17. When a project feels overwhelming, focus on recording the first line…the rest will then flow right out of you. Just getting started can be the hardest part.

18. You have a thousand chances to win over a client, but only one chance to lose them. Once they are gone, they aren’t coming back (said as a customer who will no longer give my business to a certain company- that blog will come later).

19. It is always best to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.

20. The greatest people in the world are in our line of work. Those who may be your competitors will likely also be your best friends. Pick up the phone at any time and call tech support for any of the audio equipment suppliers, they will be the most helpful folks around.

So, there you have it...the top 20 things I learned about voice over in 2008! One thing I've always known is how truly blessed I am to have a job I completely love. Waking up each morning, walking into my studio, recording the best audition I can, and solving my client's problems make each day unique and special.

This New Year's Eve I will be looking forward to a 2009 that is even better than 2008, though I'm not sure how that could be possible! I'll also be wishing the same for you.

Feel free to leave a comment telling us the top things you learned in 2008! And, for a look ahead at 2009- be sure to check out "The Report On The Voice Over Industry in 2009" by!

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Few Places to Find My Voice Before The New Year...

I've just returned from a fantastic vacation in VA for the Holidays, and discovered a package had been delivered while we were gone. In it was a videogame I voiced earlier this year for a great company called Kutoka.

The videogame is called "Didi & Ditto: Mother Nature's Visit, Preschool Edition". I had the honor of voicing Didi for the game. Now, as I understand it- the Didi & Ditto videogame series has been around for a while, but this was my first time voicing this character. I originally auditioned to voice another character when I received an e-mail asking me to give Didi a try. I instantly loved the character, and hope I am able to voice more in the future!

My husband and I broke out the game and installed it on my MacBook. I must say- it really is a great game...and I promise I would not say that if it wasn't! The graphics are gorgeous, and I can only imagine how a preschooler could spend hours clicking on all the different trees, flowers, and animals while playing all the games. Kutoka really did an outstanding job!

Another fun project I voiced just before the holidays was for an up and coming web design company. It's called Involution Media and I was instantly impressed with their work. They specialize in web animation, and I had the opportunity to give voice to the company's mascot, Madeline. The video is still being animated (and you'll see that parts of the site are still under construction), but you can see a small sample by clicking here... It is my understanding that there will be many Madeline videos to come, so stay tuned!

Finally, my husband and I received a Wii from Santa this year. We've become more than a little addicted to the game system over the past few days, and went on a game shopping spree this weekend. While it's been out for some time now, I finally had a chance to play "DragonBall Z: Budokai Tenchaichi 3" on Wii. I voiced 5 characters on the game, and it was really cool to see it all come to life!

One of the first things I did with both of the videogames I mentioned was to check the voice actor list to see if any of my friends were also on the game. I always love hearing what my fellow voice actors are up to! So, if you have a new project that is just being released before the New Year- please feel free to leave a comment and let us know where to find you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Second Blog-o-versary Post with Studio Pictures!

Today is the second anniversary of this blog. It began with a post titled "Why Not Blog??" on December 21st, 2006. What an amazing 2 years it has been!

First, I want to thank each and every one of you who read this blog. Whether you are a subscriber, or you just stop by from time to time- you are the reason I keep this little hobby going. I've done my best over the past 2 years to give an honest portrayal of my life as a full-time voice actor. The good, the bad, and every little thing I've learned along the way.

The last several months have been a true learning experience as I packed up one studio in NC and moved to Tampa, FL to build a new studio. The move gave me an opportunity to build a studio the way I've always wanted to. I've added an ISDN line (just installed this past Friday!), a new Mackie mixer, a Telos Zephyr, Samson Resolv studio monitors, a studio rack, a laptop shelf, and more!

My actual recording space is larger than my previous one, and now that I can read scripts from my laptop I'm no longer going through 2 ink cartridges a month!

The most clever idea came when I discovered a metal shelf used by club DJs to hold their computers and drum machines over their turn tables. While I would love to claim the idea as my own, I owe the credit to a very nice man at Sam Ash. He suggested I anchor the shelf into my studio wall to hold my laptop. The best part is that it is designed to keep the laptop cool so the fan never comes on! It also has a cool little shelf that holds my bottle of Entertainer's Secret.

OK- on to the pictures I promised I would post...(Keep in mind there are still a few tweaks happening here and there- but for the most part, this is my new FL studio.)

My computer sits next to my recording area (behind the white door there)...

I love color- so I went with a blue/ green shade with one wall slightly darker than the rest. It was based off the painting I bought in Costa Rica this year (I'm planning to have it framed soon)...

All the Florida homes we looked at had these 'ledges' near the ceiling- perfect for action figures and stuffed animals of characters I've voiced!

Marvin the Martian is my favorite character of all time- I bought this statue 13 years ago in Mexico. He's my studio protector...

A friend drew this picture of the Lion King and the globe is a Disney Villains Globe I bought when I worked for Radio Disney.

The large frame is an uncut sheet of season 3 DragonBall Z cards. This was given as a gift to the main voice actors for DragonBall Z. Next to it are a pair of actual cells from the show, and to the left are 2 certificates of appreciation from our troops in Iraq. (One for the voice work I did for Freedom Radio, another for a 4th of July party I helped throw in Iraq when I was on the radio in NC.) Below it are my collections of Highlights Magazines I have recorded for the website.

On to my recording space...Here is a close up of the laptop shelf I mentioned earlier:

Where I spend much of my time...

My constant companion, Macy. She likes to curl up on the studio floor rug (Yes, my floor is polka dotted- I love color!!).

Above my computer is a digital frame (currently on a photo of myself with Randy Thomas and Caryn Clark). On either side are my 2 Voicey Awards. One for Best New Voice- 2007 and one for Best Voice Team along with Adam Fox- 2008.

A close up up that fabulous painting I found in Costa Rica...
Finally, a shot of the entrance to my studio...

Since I took these photos at night, I was not able to capture my view from the window. It's of a pond surrounded by a small conservation. I love that view!
So- that is it! My new studio!! I still have to hang the studio monitors, and there are a couple of pictures that haven't made it to the walls just yet. However, the studio sounds fantastic- and I'll be testing my new ISDN lines tomorrow.
Again, thank you for reading my blog- here's to many more years of blogging!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our Past Lives

I've been a voice actor for 12 years now and each morning I wake up and walk into my studio, I know this is where I am meant to be. However, like most of today's voice actors this was not my first job.

In fact, if you've been a voice actor longer than say, 10 years, chances are you had never even heard of voice over until you were already doing it! It's become so much more main stream recently (thanks to amazing voices like Don LaFontaine, Joe Cipriano, Melissa Disney, Beau Weaver, and so many more!) that I often receive e-mails from children who one day hope to grow up and be a voice actor!

Last week, my dog became very ill with an unusual infection. Over the weekend, we had to make two separate trips to the emergency vet to get her some relief from the pain and put her on the road to healing. I'm thankful to say she has improved drastically, and we are nearly out of the woods. Since I'm a firm believer that the power of prayer and positive thoughts can work wonders, I turned to my friends and fellow voice actors to send healing thoughts for my little girl. (I don't have kids yet, so I'm guilty of treating my dog as if she was my baby!)

I was not one bit surprised by the kind e-mails and messages I received wishing Macy a speedy recovery (the voice acting community is incredibly generous). However, I was surprised by an e-mail I received from my friend, September Day Leach. As it turns out, September was a vet tech before she was a voice actor- and she offered to answer any questions I might have! Well, I sent her Macy's lab results- and she offered not only her thoughts- but some very practical things I could do to make Macy more comfortable (For instance- did you know that keeping the food bowl elevated helps prevent stomach pain?? It really does!)

I can't thank September enough for offering to help- she was (and is) an enormous comfort!

So, all of this got me thinking about 'past lives', A.K.A.: the things we did before we became voice actors. For me, my career began in radio. I spent 11 years co-hosting a variety of shows before moving to full-time VO. Prior to that, I leased apartments, worked as a waitress (boy was I terrible at that one!), taught TaeKwon-Do to children, and was a Sonic Carhop. Oh- I also taught an in-line skating class once, and dappled in ESL.

If you have a moment, I would love to hear what you did in your 'past life'! Maybe it's a job you still do in addition to voice over- or maybe it's something you still can't believe you ever did.

Feel free to leave a comment!

And again, thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Yeah, she's just a dog- but she's the best little dog I've ever known!

Oh- and as a quick side note...I promised recently that I would post pictures of my new studio soon. I still plan to- but I'm waiting on my ISDN line to be installed and my new studio rack. Then- there will be many photos :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Anthony Mendez Talks "Noise Floor"

My pal Anthony Mendez wrote a brilliant blog about lowering your 'noise floor'. Only this time he isn't referring to the noise in your audio chain, he's referring to the noise in our lives.

I'm as guilty as anyone of spending way too much time in front of a computer. I love what I do- and it's hard to break away at the end of the day! With social networking on the rise, there are an endless string of websites to hit, articles to read, things to learn...there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I try my best to make time each day to take a walk, sit and stare at the pond, or just read a good book. It can be difficult- but I manage to make it happen (note: I don't have kids yet...I expect this will change once I do- hah!).

While Anthony's blog is very relevant, especially during the holiday season- I've found this week that I'm more interested in raising my noise floor (to borrow Anthony's phrase)!

After a three month long relocation to Florida, nearly two months with no home studio, and more time spent watching TV than I care to admit...I'm bursting at the seams to be in my studio every second of the day!

Thankfully, there has been no shortage of things for me to record this week. :)

So, while Anthony is spot on with his thoughts today, for me- the noise is just right!