Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why Smartphones Really Are Smart...

On November 21st, I embarked on a 3 week trip that would take me from Florida to Texas to California. As a full-time voice actor, this meant packing up the laptop, MicPort Pro, and my Lawson microphone so that I could continue working while I was away from my studio.

Prior to packing for my mega-trip, I took a day away from my studio to drive across Florida and watch a NASA shuttle launch (something everyone should do at some point in their life- wow!). I wasn't expecting much to happen that day, which is why I was shocked when I returned to my studio and discovered I had missed a very important e-mail from one of my clients. It seems he needed me to record a couple of radio spots and when I hadn't answered him, he was forced to get another voice. In our business this happens, but it's never fun when it does! Here's the kicker..he would have been able to record the following day if only I had been able to let him know I would be back in my studio by then.

Enter the Smartphone! I remember looking at Smartphones when I first moved to Florida and deciding I really didn't need one because I worked from home and rarely left my house during normal work hours. Shame on me. What I didn't realize is that not having access to e-mail 24 hours a day actually tied me to my computer, and therefore made it difficult to ever leave...for fear I might miss something. Had I had a Smartphone on the day of the shuttle launch, I would have been able to schedule the session for the following morning and kept my reputation for always being reliable.

So, what did I do? I bought a Smartphone the following day. Specifically the Blackberry Storm 2.

OK- back to my mega-trip (which I am currently in the middle of). I was on the road last week somewhere between Dallas and Lubbock, TX in an area so rural I hadn't seen a building for over an hour. 'Ding' goes the Blackberry. It was the SAME client from the shuttle launch day asking if I could record 2 spots the following morning. In a matter of minutes I had Googled studios in Lubbock, booked the studio time, downloaded the script, and confirmed with the client. All on my handy little Smartphone, and all in the most remote area imaginable.

Needless to say, the Blackberry had more than paid for itself with just one booking.

In our business it is vital to always be as accessible and reliable as possible. It isn't enough to travel with all of our recording gear, we have to be able to put it all into action in a matter of moments. Because I was able to book a studio and because I had my own microphone with me- I was able to ensure the same consistent quality my client had come to expect of me.

I may have been slow to grab onto this new technology, but I am ever so glad to have joined my smart friends by getting my own Smartphone.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Confession and A Thank You

Confession time...I've been a very, very bad blogger this summer. Please accept my apologies. We all go through times where life requires so much of our focus that other things must fall by the wayside. Two things I have neglected lately are this blog and my own website. It is what it is, and I will try to do better in the future.

Running a business is more than a full time job. Freelancers don't 'clock in' or 'clock out'. We don't have scheduled breaks or lunch times. (I can't tell you the number of times I've worked straight through a meal...sometimes more than one meal in a day!) What we do have are deadlines and clients to keep happy. We have marketing to do and auditions to record. We have networks to be social with and e-mails to send. We have invoices to create and money to collect. It's a big, big job- and it requires a lot of attention to detail.

Then, life happens. It happens to us all. That's when we batten down the hatches and take care of the things that must be taken care of. Our focus becomes targeted, and it's easy to let the small things slip through the cracks.

Now, if I've learned anything in the last few years that I've been a business owner, it's that things always happen at just the right time. If we keep our eyes and ears open, opportunities to improve are all around us. Improve our business, our craft, ourselves. We just have to find a way to keep the ups and downs of life from interfering with our passions and willingness to be better.

And sometimes, something comes at just the right moment and reminds us that what we do really does matter.

Today, my something was a beautiful blog written by an old friend and former co-worker Kyle Whitford. To say that I am flattered doesn't do it justice. I am humbled.

Kyle's words came at the right time, I'm not sure if he knows that. He reminded me how lucky I am to have the joy that comes with doing something I am meant to do. So, thank you Kyle. And thank you to everyone that reads this blog and becomes a part of my world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Enjoying The Walk

My dog, Macy, loves to walk. Wait, that doesn't describe it quite right...she LIVES to walk. She breathes, eats, and sleeps in anticipation of her twice daily walks. Each morning she follows me right at my heels waiting for the slightest hint that I might be reaching for my shoes...or pulling my hair into a ponytail...or better yet- grabbing her leash. These things can send her into a fit of hysteria unlike anything you've ever seen. Say the word 'walk', and Macy will spend the next three to five minutes running at top speed in clockwise circles with her little tongue hanging out the side of her mouth...which I swear forms a smile twice a day.

Ironically, Macy could care less how long her walks are. I could honestly take her half a block down the street and back and she would be happy as a clam (which I've always assumed must be quite happy, right?). If I feel like walking a couple of miles, it's no problem. My 9 lb puppy will keep up with me just fine.

Are you wondering yet why I'm writing a blog about my dog and her walks? Well, lately I've been doing some soul searching. I have very big goals for my life and my career, and it can at times seem more than a little overwhelming figuring out how to best accomplish these goals. Over the last couple of weeks, I've spent hours and hours researching ways to get where I want to go. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture to help me. In my head I know what I want the scene to look like when I'm finished, but the shapes of the pieces keep changing.

I'll admit it, I get a high off of the day to day workings of my business. The greater the challenges- the more inspired I feel. Some days I feel powerful, some days I feel helpless. But each day I feel something, and that is powerful in and of itself. There are days that I get to walk for miles, recording and producing for hours on end. Some days I barely make it to the end of the block, with only a short job or two to finish. On these days, it is totally up to me if I'm going to give up and head home- or keep pushing myself to take that next step and create my own walking trail.

Now, back to the dog. When my dog goes for her walk, she never stops to ask her doggy friends if they've been on their walk that day. She doesn't care. She doesn't worry if it's hot, or cold, or raining. If something blocks her path, she crosses the street and keeps moving forward. When her walk is cut short, she happily goes home to her favorite ball and a cold bowl of water. And then she waits, patiently, for the next walk to come.

Thanks to my Macy, twice a day I am reminded how wonderful it is to live for the things you love.

Kara Edwards, Voice Actor

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Seizing an Opportunity

"Opportunity is what you make of it." I try each day to live by this theory.

Sometimes an opportunity just lands in our lap, sometimes we have to spend months- even years- to make one happen. With the day to day struggle of trying to make things happen, it is so easy to let our fears and doubts keep us from grabbing hold of an opportunity and making all of our dreams come true.

OK, this isn't breaking news- I realize that. So, let me tell you a story about how I turned one trip to LA into a week filled with opportunity.

Last year I attended VOICE 2008. I knew there would be great opportunities to network with my fellow voice actors, learn some new things from the various coaches and pros in attendance, and enjoy some time with my VO friends. But, seeing a chance to milk a little more opportunity out of my time in LA, I extended my trip a couple of days past the end of the conference.

I won't go into great detail here- as to save you a little reading time- but I do want to illustrate my point. These are just a few of the opportunities that landed in my lap that week. I was able to tag along with VO pro Wally Wingert to a few of his voice sessions one day (which gave me a chance to meet several folks at some of the top LA studios). I got to have a private, in-person lesson with my long-time coach Nancy Wolfson (something everyone should have the opportunity to do!). I had a private lesson with Cynthia Songe- and then randomly bumped into producer Chuck Duran following my lesson (what a cool guy he is!). I met an LA agent that now sends me auditions on a regular basis. I met folks for the first time who are now considered dear, dear friends. This list could continue, but I think you get the point.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the VOICE conference in and of itself, I chose to make the absolute most of my time in LA. I try to do this each and every time I travel somewhere for voice over.

Sometimes opportunities are obvious. Sometimes we have to work to find them. But there is never any excuse to ignore them. There will be many discussions in the next 10 months as to whether you should attend VOICE 2010. I don't plan to participate in those discussions. Why? It's a decision each person should make for themselves. To be successful in voice over, you must decide which opportunities make the most sense for your business. None of us will follow the same path- but we all will hopefully reach the same goal of a successful career!

In 2 weeks I'll be headed to Austin, TX for the Austin GDC. I have no idea what to expect, but you better believe I'll be seizing every opportunity that comes my way while I'm there!

Now, if you'll excuse me...a few opportunities just landed in my inbox :)

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Both Sides of the Glass

We've all heard the phrase 'working from both sides of the glass'. For anyone not familiar with that phrase it describes (in relation to voice over) a person who works as a talent and an audio producer (the 'glass' being the wall that separates the talent and producer during a typical session).

I was so fortunate to have been trained many years ago as not just a voice actor, but also an audio producer. I spent several years producing radio shows- my job included producing liners, sweepers, features, commercials...you get the picture. I've always thought knowing both sides of the job helped me understand, as an actor, what the producer needed from me.

If you've ever read my blog before, you know I like to draw parallels between different parts of my life and voice acting. Recently, I had just such an occasion.

My photography instructor invited me to the studio this week to stand in as a live model for one of his other students who was learning about portraits. (I'm using the term 'model' lightly- I was really just a warm body) I jumped at the chance, because I always try and see the bigger picture. The way I figured it, I could listen to everything my instructor said to this other student and apply it to my own photography.

While I did learn a lot about the technical side of photography, what struck me was how important it was for the photographer and me, the talent, to be comfortable with one another. Here was a relationship in which we both wanted something from the other (both of us wanting the pictures to turn out well), and the best way to achieve this was to communicate clearly, and relax around one another. (The instructor pointed this fact out on more than one occasion!)

In voice over, we don't always get to see the people we are working with. We don't get to make eye contact and shake their hand. So, we have to find ways to communicate and relax while over the phone, over ISDN, or over e-mail. As voice talent, if we aren't relaxed- it will show in our voice, just like stress will show in our face during a photo shoot.

So, how to relax and get comfortable with a stranger you can't see? It's easy- It comes down to something as simple as having the confidence to be yourself. If you are confident in yourself, the producer will be confident as well. When you are both confident, you can then establish trust- trust that the other will do their job to the best of their ability. With trust and confidence, magic can happen!

Now back to that 'glass' I mentioned earlier. Knowing how the audio will ultimately be shaped, being able to respond to producer lingo in an educated manner, offering suggestions when the director is 'stuck'- all of these are examples of how having experience on both sides of the glass will make you a better voice talent.

Does this mean you have to be trained as a producer? No. But, taking an afternoon to go to a local studio to see how things are done will certainly help you as an actor! The more we understand about each aspect of the business, the more equipped we are to be wildly successful!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do You Still Get Excited?

A short post today.

As voice actors we often record a file, send it off (or disconnect the ISDN line), invoice, and move on to the next project. I find that I rarely see or hear the final product, unless it's an on-line project or I happen to hear it on the TV or radio.

Earlier this afternoon, one of my clients sent me a 'preview' of a TV spot I voiced a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited to see it, and couldn't wait to show my family!

It's funny, no matter how many projects I voice- big or small- I still get excited to see the finished product. The excitement is still as strong today as it was 13 years ago when I heard myself for the first time.

I truly hope it's a feeling that never goes away, and I suspect that it never will.

So I ask, do you still get that giddy feeling when you hear a finished product? What other things help to keep your spirits up in the world of voice over?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Try Not to Miss an Open Door

The morning began early- I had a lot to get done. There was music and SFX to be chosen for one project, voice tracks to be recorded for another project, files to be rendered and uploaded, e-mails to answer, calls to make, etc. I knew my afternoon was full - I had an appointment that would likely take until 5pm- so I was wasting no time getting everything done. At 1pm I received an e-mail asking if I could do an ISDN session at 5pm- and I knew it was going to be a very tight squeeze. Unfortunately, the client couldn't push it back any further. So- I gathered my belongings to head to my appointment early, in the hopes it would be over early- getting me home well before my 5pm session.

As I juggled my purse, my cell phone, my car keys, and my bottle of water (I like to always stay hydrated!) I made my way to the door. That's when a nice looking man in a dark suit caught my eye through the window just as he rang my doorbell. I had been spotted- there was no ignoring this visitor. I knew in an instant he was there to sell me something- I could tell by the little notebook he held in his hand. Plus, it's a billion degrees in FL- why else would someone wear a suit?

I cracked the door slightly and before he could say anything I blurted out, "I'm really in a rush- I'm sorry!"

Undeterred, he went straight into his spiel, "Hi- I'm starting a new business in the neighborhood- and doing a survey- do you have time to answer some questions?"

"No, I really don't." I said.

"It will only take a couple of minutes."

"I'm sorry- I'm really running short on time right now, do you think you could come back another time?" I asked.

He grimaced for a moment before replying, "It's only five questions."

"No, I'm sorry I really have to leave." And I shut the door.

Driving to my appointment moments later, something struck me. I had given this man a metaphorical open door- and he failed to use it! I asked if he would like to come back at another time, and he chose not to accept my offer. Whatever his mission may have been when he first knocked on my door was doomed to fail because he wasn't willing to go a little out of his way to make it happen. However, he was more than happy to have me go out of my way! A sure-fire recipe for failure if you ask me. Had he done as I asked, not only would he have had my complete attention, he likely would have won me over by showing me- and my time- a little respect.

Whether cold calling, e-mailing, or writing letters- I always like to end with, "Thank you for your time." Time is valuable and we have to respect it. Especially when asking someone for something (in this case, business). The big lesson here, however, is to never miss an open door. If someone is willing to hear you out at a later time- by all means be available! Jump though whatever hoops necessary to make it happen- you will be glad you did.

To sum it up- I made it to my appointment a bit early (Ironically it was for a 'stress test'- pretty sure I failed!), and made it home with time to spare for my ISDN session. All in all a good day- and one more valuable lesson realized!

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Sunday, August 2, 2009

So, What's Your Job?

Last week, following my photography class, I was invited to join my instructor and a few fellow photographers for lunch. At one point during the meal, conversation turned to business, and the different aspects of marketing, networking, etc.

We all agreed that one of the most difficult parts of owning a business is prospecting for new clients. We admitted that we had all lacked a time or two in our follow up with potential business.

I remarked that as creative professionals, 90% of our time seems to be spent trying to get work, while 10% of our time is spent actually doing the work (something I've said many times before!).

That's when Chris (yes, that's his real name) explained a different way of looking at things. He said that prospecting for clients IS the job. All of the calling, e-mailing, researching, networking, marketing, advertising, accounting, paperwork, etc- that's what our job is. Now, getting the work? That's one of the perks of doing business!

Since I had never really looked at my business from that angle, I thought it was important to share. Perhaps you've been looking at it all wrong as well? I often say, "I love my job!" What I mean is, I enjoy the perks. From now on, I plan to change my attitude and embrace the job as a whole.

So- starting first thing this Monday morning, I am excited to get to work! And, I'll make a point to relish the 'perks' that come my way!

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

11 Reasons Your Voice Over Business Will Be A Success

I try to spend an hour each morning reading interesting articles about business and voice over. It helps to start the day with fresh ideas, and I like seeing what people are up to. This week, however, there seemed to be a very negative energy in the air...at least with the articles I've come across. The one that put me slightly over the edge was the article that explained in detail the 9 ways my business would fail. Ok, it didn't target me specifically- it was written for anyone who owned a business.

The way I see it, there are plenty of unhappy things going on in the world today, so why contribute in any way to the negativity?

So, without further ado- here are the top 11 reasons I believe you are going to be a great success:

1. You care about your product. You've invested time and money into proper training, ensuring you can handle anything that comes your way.

2. You are trust worthy. You deliver your product on time and in the way your client asks you to (note: please check out my friend Caryn Clark's great blog on integrity).

3. You have the proper tools. Your studio sounds great, and the files you deliver are clean (no hum, mouth noise, unnecessary compression or EQ).

4. You are professional. From the first phone call or e-mail to the final invoice, you are up-front with your turn around time and rates, and you deliver on your promises.

5. You are likable. Relating back to a previous blog I wrote, your clients call you again and again because they enjoy you as a talent- and as a person. Other talents admire and like you as well, and aren't afraid to refer you to their own clients.

6. You are honest. If there is something you can't do, you are upfront about it. If the project is going to take longer than expected, you call your clients to let them know as soon as possible.

7. You are consistent. You take care of your voice (your tools) so that you are always able to deliver the same great product.

8. You value your services. You don't drop your rates to get the job, or 'beat out' someone else. You know you are worth the money the client will spend.

9. Your pride never gets in the way. You realize this job isn't about you, it's about providing a great product. You don't worry about auditions you didn't book, you don't take it personally if the client decides to go another direction.

10. You are innovative. Your studio is always up to date, and you are always researching ways to better yourself and your services.

11. You are a positive inspiration. The most powerful word in the English language is 'choose'. Every day you choose to say positive things, think positive thoughts, and be an inspiration to those around you.

So, there you have it. 11 reasons I know your voice over business will be a great success! I am quite sure there are many, many more reasons- so feel free to leave a comment and tell us about them!

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Monday, July 13, 2009

Outside of Voice Over...

Any full-time business owner would say that they have a 24 hour a day job. Voice Acting is no different. Have you ever recorded an audition past 11pm? I have. Have you ever just finished dinner, had the phone ring, and the next thing you know it's 8pm and you are in your recording booth doing a session? I have. Have you ever woken up with the sunrise to make it to your studio for an early morning session? I have. In fact, I'm guessing most of us have done these things many times!

When you truly love your job, it never feels like you are going to work. So, the late night or early morning sessions never feel like a burden. Auditioning can be fun, and great practice- so it never gets old. The truth is, passion is a great driving force, and success can be a little addictive. The question is, when was the last time you allowed your business to take a backseat?

Trust me, it's something I can easily write about in this blog, but it isn't so easily accomplished! I recently asked myself a few important questions: When was the last time you took a vacation without your travel studio? When was the last time you didn't look up the nearest studio to your hotel? When was the last time you took two hours out of your workday to do something you love?

And most importantly...When you work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- don't you think you deserve the break? Yes, I do. So- I enrolled recently (after some serious encouragement from my husband) in photography classes. Now, I am someone who loves to learn, so I've taken many, many classes over the years. Yet, somehow they always relate back to voice over. Acting, Spanish, Improv, etc...they all help me with my job. But photography has absolutely nothing to do with voice acting- and that was little scary for me!

Friday was my first class. It was only two hours out of my day, and my business held up just fine in my absence. I managed to complete my class 'homework' this weekend, and yet still made it into my booth first thing this Monday morning to complete a recording. No one suffered, the sky did not fall...but I grew. As a photographer, and as a person.

So, I ask you...outside of voice over, what will you do this week?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Importance of Being Likable

Last week an 'anonymous' LA Agent put a comment on Twitter that actors should always remember the importance of being likable. I couldn't agree more! We've all worked with someone that came across not so likable, and it can really leave a lasting impression.

Now, imagine being the client with a job on the line! It makes everyone's lives easier when we act professional, reliable, and yes...likable.

However, you don't want to ONLY be likable when you are behind the mic. As I always like to say, you never know where your next job is coming from.

Case in point- a couple of weeks ago I was in an airport in NC waiting on a delayed flight. I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me after I had helped her plug in her computer charger (the outlet was behind me). We chatted for a bit before she asked me what I do for a living. I'm a voice actor, I explained. I was expecting to have to offer more of an explanation (as I usually do), but she surprised me when she knew exactly what that meant! As it turns out, she works for a company that creates online tutorials, and regularly hires voice actors as part of her job. She asked if I had a card, and well- I gave her two :).

A different example happened just yesterday. I stopped into the local Pier 1 to see what things they might have on sale for the holiday weekend. I was contemplating a set of patio pillows when the sales girl asked if she could help me. We chatted a bit before she asked if we had ever met before. According to her, she 100% knew my face. I didn't recognize her at all. She asked if I had ever lived in South Carolina. I told her I had recently moved to Tampa from North Carolina. No, that wasn't it. I asked where in South Carolina she had lived. She said Florence, SC. Well, I knew instantly why I looked familiar to her. I've been the on-camera spokesperson for a car dealer in Florence for a couple of years now. That was definitely it, and we had a good laugh about what a small world it really is!

Now, imagine if I had been rude to her. She could have called her family and told them that the infomercial girl was not very likable. And believe me, I'm from a small town and I know how word can spread!

So, should we all be likable in the hopes of scoring a gig, or impressing someone that knows our work? No. We should all be likable because it's the right thing to do- and it makes the world a better, brighter place. Everything else is just icing on the cake!

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A New Demo and a Valuable Lesson!

I've always been a big 'do it yourself' kind of girl. I like to make things, paint things, fix things, etc. Several years ago I tried to create my own website. It wasn't such a smart idea, which is why I ultimately had a website done professionally. (by Village Green Studios)

In the past 13 years that I've been a voice actor, I have never had a demo professionally produced. I've always done them myself, using real material and adding little bits on my own here and there. They've always served me quite well, but I've always wanted to have a demo created by a pro.

And now, a quick story if you don't mind. When we moved into our new house late last year, I knew I wanted the entire interior repainted. Florida homes are famous for their high ceilings (it helps with the heat) which are extremely difficult to paint. Still, I wanted us to do it ourselves. After putting 12 different samples on the walls in the past several weeks, I finally settled on a beautiful shade of beige. And so we painted, and painted. Proud of our accomplishments, we went off to bed. The next morning we awoke to a house that quite clearly had turned pink overnight. And not a very pretty pink at that.

Thankfully, one of our neighbors is a color expert. He runs a company that matches car paint after body work has been done. As he puts it, he knows color like I know voices. He came over, knew immediately where we had gone wrong, and accompanied us to the paint store to find the color we had intended all along.

The moral of this story? It's always better to go with a pro if you want the job done right.

Which brings me back to my new demo. I recently worked with the great folks at Voice Hunter to create a fresh new TV promo demo. I'm very happy with how it turned out! The process was a blast and there were ultimately so many cuts to choose from, it was difficult to get the demo down to a minute (a good problem to have!).

If you have a minute, please check out my new demo here! You can also hear it on my website at http://www.karaedwardsvo.com/. Then, if you have another minute- please let me know what you think!

Kara Edwards, Voice Actor

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm a Voice Actor, Not a Gambler

No one can deliver a punch line quite like my grandpa.

This past week when I was in TX for work, I took a 2 day flight to Lubbock to see my grandpa. He asked me how work was going, and I said good (I'm not quite sure he fully understands what I do for a living, so I didn't go into many details). He told me the following story.

"I once knew a farmer that was often accused of being a gambler. One day he decided to look up the word gambler in the dictionary. It said a gambler was a person who took a chance. That farmer knew he wasn't a gambler, because in farmin'- you haven't got a chance!"

My grandpa came to Lubbock in a covered wagon at the age of 7, in 1922. He retired from cotton farming this year, at the young age of 93. He saw many good years and many bad years on his farm, but he kept at it year after year.

I've spoken with many voice actors over the past year that are frustrated with how their business is going. Some want more work, some want different work, some are questioning if this is the right business for them. The truth is, voice acting is a profession that not everyone can succeed in. You need a thick skin to weather the storms, perseverance to keep planting seeds, and trust to just let mother nature take her course. You have to take the tough times, and turn them around.

And if there is someone in your life even half as wise as my grandpa- don't forget to stop and listen...you just might learn something that can change your perspective forever!

Kara Edwards, Voice Actor

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memories of a Disney Legend

Currently, I'm about 41,000 feet in the air flying to Raleigh, NC for an anime convention. The past couple of days have been quite hectic as I've wrapped up a few jobs, packed, and rushed around doing this and that. You know, just going about life. Yesterday, I was on the phone when I glanced at my computer screen and saw the news.

Wayne Allwine had passed away. For a moment, everything just stopped.

For a few of you, this name will seem unfamiliar. I promise you his voice is not. Wayne provided the voice of Mickey Mouse for the past 30 years or so, along side his wonderful wife Russi Taylor, the current voice of Minnie Mouse.

Yes, Mickey and Minnie were married in real life.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Wayne and Russi on two occasions while working at Radio Disney and later, for WSSS radio in NC. To say they impacted my life would be an understatement. They are two of the biggest reasons I knew I wanted to be a voice actor.

The first time I met them was in 1998 at the grand opening of The New TomorrowLand at Disneyland. I was working with my partner, Kyle Hebert (AKA: Squeege) doing a live broadcast. I've always considered myself fairly quick at coming up with questions on the fly- so I wasn't particularly nervous when Wayne and Russi came walking toward us. As soon as they both began to speak, my heart began to pound. I was instantly and completely star struck.

Kyle and I began the live air break introducing our special guests, Mickey and Minnie. I vaguely remember stammering out a few comments and questions before Wayne and Russi (thankfully) took over. Wayne strummed his little guitar singing songs while Russi giggled and sang along. It was perfect. It was magical. They were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

I'm embarrassed to say I still get tears in my eyes to this day when I think back to the impact those two had on me. I knew right then and there that creating characters would be my own life long passion. I've often thought about what it must feel like to provide the voices for such well known and well loved characters. Perhaps it was easy for Wayne and Russi, as they are such well loved characters themselves.

The second time I met Wayne and Russi was no different. I was producing a morning show in Charlotte, NC and had been sent to Walt Disney World by myself for a live remote. When they finally made their way over to my broadcast booth, I shook their hands and announced, "You won't remember this, but we met once several years back." Russi smiled and said she did remember that, which honestly made my day. I recall the on-air DJ at the time saying I only had a couple of minutes to do the break. I knew he would change his mind when he heard them on the air, which he did. I don't remember how long that 'interview' was, but it was much longer than 2 minutes. That's what Wayne and Russi did- they captured your imagination and made you smile.

A couple of months ago, I went online to try and find an e-mail address for Wayne or Russi. I had an overwhelming desire to tell them how much they had inspired me all those years ago, and how much they inspired me still. Of course, I wasn't able to find an e-mail address, and now I wish I had tried a little harder. Someday, I hope to find a way to let Russi know.

I've been surprised at the effect Wayne's passing has had on me. The reality is that I met him twice, and for only a few minutes each time. He wouldn't have known me from any other stranger on the street. I guess it shows the impact that one person can have in a very short time. I'm not, however, surprised by the stories I've been reading online. So many were touched by Wayne. The joy just radiated from him.

My thoughts and prayers are with, and will continue to be with, Russi, their family, and their friends. Death comes to us all, it just seems that it shouldn't come to our heroes.

Wayne, thank you for the inspiration and for the memories.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Not To Succeed in VO

Rarely will I ever start a blog with a negative word...in this case, 'not'. I believe in striving to always stay positive, avoiding words like, 'not, can't, won't'. However, 'not' became a very valuable word to one talent agent who wrote an article on Voice Over Xtra called, "How Not to Get an Agent". OK, it's not so much an article as a transcript- but it's lesson is very valuable!

I am often approached by people wanting to get into the voice over business. Because of this, I wrote up a little thing I like to pass along with a few helpful tips to help them get started. Hey, I've had a lot of help along the way and I try to pay it forward as much as possible!

Occasionally I am approached by someone not just wanting a few tips, or a few questions answered- they are wanting me to put their entire career in motion! Trust me, if I had the power to make everyone with a voice into a successful voice actor, I would! But, unfortunately it just isn't possible. The best recommendation I can give is to research, ask questions...and be prepared to do LOT of leg work!

Most importantly, don't e-mail an agent asking for representation until you are truly ready! If you haven't had proper training, or recorded a professional demo- you aren't ready. Also, make sure to approach everyone in this business (or in any business for that matter) with a 'Here's what I can do for you' frame of mind, NOT a 'What can you do for me?' attitude. You'll find more doors are opened by being kind, humble, and prepared.

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Zap Cap

I knew that moving to the lightning capital of the country, FL, would be interesting on many levels. First, I am very afraid of lightning. Having grown up in West Texas, where the storms can be pretty bad, left me with a great respect for Mother Nature. Second, I was very worried about my expensive studio equipment. Should we be hit by lightning, or affected by a bad power surge- I could lose a lot!

We initially invested in very good surge protectors for my studio. This made me feel a little better. Then, my neighbor told me about something interesting. It turns out our local electric company offers a contraption known as a Zap Cap. I had never heard of such a thing, so I looked it up.

It's a meter based system that offers protection from high-voltage surges. Is it foolproof? No. But I figure it's better than nothing! For about $7 a month we rent the unit that attaches to our meter. For about $12-$50 per strip we buy the plug in protectors that we plug all our electronics and appliances into.

Our Zap Cap was installed yesterday, and I am in the process of converting all of my electronics to the approved power strips. It will be interesting to see how it works, but hopefully we'll never have to!

Every section of the country has their own 'natural disasters' to consider, and as voice actors and producers we have to take every step we can to protect our equipment and file archives. If you have a special system you use, I'd love to hear about it!

Kara Edwards Voice Over

Monday, May 4, 2009

Taking Your Surroundings Into Account

In 2001 I moved to North Carolina to take a job as a morning show producer for a local radio station. Part of my job was to do 'live' announcements from various locations (for example, car dealers, malls, etc). These 'live' breaks were always pre-recorded- and for the first year, I would write out my entire script and read enthusiastically for 60 seconds or so.

However, one awful day I was at a remote (and getting paid to be there) and was delayed from writing out my little script. As I was trying to gather my thoughts to jot something down, a call came. It was the on-air guy telling me there had been a mix- up and I needed to go 'for real' live in 10 seconds. "NO!" I screamed, but he was gone...and I heard the commercial currently airing come to an end as my time began. I sputtered and stammered...holding my mic as I flailed around in circles trying to remember where I was, why I was there, and what I was supposed to say. Yup, it was a disaster...and one of my more embarrassing moments on-air.

So, what did I do wrong? I was relying so heavily on the written word that I hadn't taken the time to absorb my surroundings. If I had been less concerned about having a script, and more concerned with knowing my purpose, I would have been able to work my way through the break. Instead of being in panic mode, I would have been just fine.

After that day I always made sure to answer the important questions (who, what, when, why, where) prior to worrying about copy points and scripts.

Now, as a full-time voice actor, I often think back to that day. Especially when a challenging script lands in my lap with no obvious plot or direction. I like to take the time to answer those important questions and center myself. Once I know the writer's intention, it becomes easier to 'perform' the script instead of just 'reading' it. Who am I, where am I, what is my intention, etc.

Knowing where you are headed as you navigate through the words will raise your confidence, which also leads to a better performance. I am also never afraid to ask the client or producer if there is something I am unsure about. It's our job, as actors, to bring the words to life and make them believable. Knowing your path will allow you to follow your instincts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day 2009!

Earth Day is always a special day in my home. It was 3 years ago today that my husband and I were married. We always find it funny that a meteorologist and a nature lover were forever joined on Earth Day (which was actually a coincidence, we didn't realize it was Earth Day until shortly before the wedding).

My love of nature began at birth I'm told. I recently came across some old photos from my childhood, and I don't believe there was a single photo of me without an animal of some sort. Yup, I was- and still am- a tom boy. (In the above photo is a famous Texas 'horned toad'- I was told recently that they are now endangered, which just breaks my heart.)

That's why no one is more thrilled than me to see how 'Being Green' is becoming more the norm. It's easier and easier to make environmentally conscious choices that will benefit generations to come.

Two years ago I wrote a blog about how we, as voice actors, can make 'green' choices with our business. I know when I relocated my studio recently, re-using and re-purposing was top of mind. I re-used all the same Auralex and sound dampening materials in my new studio. I also re-purposed several of my furniture pieces to make them work in the new studio. When I had to buy new equipment, I turned to Ebay for many items (and saved money too!).

For those that are new to my blog, I thought you might enjoy reading my 'Voice Actors Are Green People Too' list from 2007.

Several items on this list came from the book "1001 Little Ways to Save Our Planet" by Esme Floyd.

1. Add a potted plant to your studio for each piece of electric equipment you own. It will help counter the negative effects of radiation while freshening the air you breathe.

2. Use a fan. Our equipment is hot, so add an energy conserving fan to your studio to avoid having to crank up the AC.

3. Add a fresh bowl of warm water to your studio each morning...this will help maintain humidity that is depleted by electronic equipment.

3. Set up near a window if possible. This way you can use natural light during the day instead of turning on a light. It is good for your eyes and your spirits to look outside!

4. Power down. Turn off your mic and pre-amp when not in use. Shut down your computer at night. If possible, unplug as well. Even when items are turned off, 5% of electricity is still being consumed.

5. Use envelopes from junk mail as scrap paper for your notes. Conserve paper.

6. Dust and vacuum! Keeping your equipment and vents clean will increase their overall efficiency.

7. When possible, buy used equipment. Just make sure it is in proper working condition!

8. Don't throw out old equipment. Sell it or find a place that will recycle it.

9. Did you know it can take hundreds of years for a compact disc to degrade? By sending audio through e-mail, you are saving our planet!

There you go, a few simple steps to help better this beautiful planet we call home! Thank you for reading, and feel free to leave a comment about the many ways you help the environment every day at work!

Happy Earth Day! (And to my husband, Happy Anniversary!)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Highlights High Five

For the past year or so I've been voicing and producing a cover to cover monthly audio version of Highlights High Five, a magazine aimed at preschoolers. Thus far this audio piece has only been heard in the Korean market, but starting with the May edition of 2009, it can now be heard on the Highlights website!

May's High Five will arrive on all of our doorsteps in the next week or so, and on the front page will be an announcement about the free audio edition!

Highlights has done a wonderful job making the audio easy to access as both a full version, and as individual stories.

I am very excited to see this project continue to grow, and hope you and you're children enjoy listening to it!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Are Your Kitchen Cabinets Stocked?

During a recent teleseminar with Nancy Wolfson and Anna Vocino (Acting For Advertising Part 8), Nancy made a comment that really hit home for me. Nancy and Anna were taking questions, and several people were very curious about ISDN, which Anna had recently added to her studio. Someone mentioned that they heard ISDN was on the way 'out' and asked if it made sense to go through the effort of hooking it up. Nancy made the comment (and forgive me for not having exact quotes, as I'm trying to write this from memory- scary!), "When your kitchen cabinets are fully stocked, you feel more confident about the future."

Nancy really touched on something so valuable here! Those that truly know me best know that I have a fear of not having food in the pantry. For me, food is security. As long as my family can eat- I know we will be ok. To be honest, I've always been a 'be prepared for anything and everything' kind of girl. Which is why I think Nancy's comment made such an impact on me.

Of course, Nancy wasn't talking about food, she was talking about our preparedness as voice actors to be able to handle anything that comes our way. The more prepared we are to meet any challenge, the higher our confidence will be, and ultimately the better job we will do for our clients.

So, how can we prepare? First, by making sure we are up to date on current voice over trends through extensive training with top notch coaches (Nancy is one of my coaches, and I highly recommend her!). Regular practice with a coach and on our own can help develop good habits to be called upon at a moment's notice.

Second, we can prepare by making sure we have the best sounding studio possible. Everyone is different, so the equipment that gives me the best sound isn't what will give you the best sound. Research and explore all the possibilities. I love having ISDN. It's not only helped me maintain the clients I had prior to relocating to FL, it's opened new doors for me as well! It's just one more 'can of food' to add to my 'pantry'. Are you an audio producer? That's something great to add to your resume! Do you have a wide selection of royalty music and sound fx? If not, it may be something for you to look in to!

Next, we can prepare by making sure we are marketing to the right buyers. Is your current marketing campaign working for you? If so- yay! If not- change it! Voice over is often 90% working to get work, and 10% actually doing the work- so make sure your 90% is well spent!

Finally, we can fully stock our 'kitchen' by surrounding ourselves with positive, like-minded people that want us to achieve our goals. These are the folks you turn to after a bad day that pick you up and dust you off. They might be fellow voice actors that send you job leads, or point you in directions that might help your business. As long as you are careful to give as much as you receive, your voice over kitchen will be bursting!

When I e-mailed Nancy to ask her permission to use her wise words, she told me about a great book relating to this very topic. You can find it in her online store...it's called "Talent Is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin. I plan to read it soon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm Me, Only Slightly More Reigned In

A couple of years ago I made a decision to change my lifestyle. I decided to eat right, exercise more, and do all the things we are always being told to do. For the most part, I've been very disciplined in this new lifestyle...with a few exceptions. I have two major weaknesses when it comes to food. The first is candy, the second is cheese. I LOVE cheese! I think every meal is better with a big old heaping helping of cheese on top! I don't discriminate between my cheeses, I love each and every one of them the same. The same goes for candy, I love candy! I have my entire life.

So, what to do? I don't want to change who I am, and I certainly don't want to deprive myself of the things I love (a sure fire way to fail at any new diet!). So, I eat fat free cheese and I do an extra set of leg lifts during pilates...I eat some Smarties and add 10 sit ups to my daily work out.

The point is, I allow myself to be me, only slightly more reigned in when needed.

Now, this is a blog about voice over- not diet and lifestyle. I share my eating habits with you to help illustrate a point. I spend a lot of time listening to my fellow voice actors. I visit sites like Video Voice Bank, I listen to the commercials between songs on the radio, I google voice actors and listen to their demos. I do this because I want to make sure I am up with the current trends, that my demos still compete with the best, that I can offer what the best can offer. However, I don't listen to my fellow voice actors so that I can be them.

Truth is, I like me. I like that people giggle when I answer the phone and tell me my voice makes them smile. I like being told I sound like a real life cartoon. I like when a new client's first question is, "how old are you?" I like being told I remind them of a happy young mom.

If you are a fan of American Idol like I am, you know that the one thing the judges look for each and every week is an artist who knows who they are. We've all heard Simon give the criticism that someone was too 'sound-a-like'. It's the same in voice over. You want to be the voice your client thinks of when a project presents itself that fits your sound. You don't want to be so many different things, that the client isn't sure where you best fit in...or worse, forgets who you are completely!

So, be you...only be willing to compromise. Sometimes a producer will hire you because he/she sees your voice going somewhere you haven't thought of yet. I like cheese, but I'm willing to eat fat free cheese. I like doing zany character voices, but I'm also more than happy to play it straight. I bring 100% of me to every session, but sometimes the client prefers me to be sugar free. :)

I am the only me in this world. You are the only you. Figure out what makes you unique...what you have to offer that no one else can. Then, be proud of all the great things that came together to give you your unique sound. Take that into each and every session...just be ready to reign it in when you need to.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pot Holes on Confidence Rd.

When a business is based on creative interpretation, there are bound to be major ups and downs in levels of confidence. Voice over (along with acting, art, etc) would likely make a top 5 list for jobs that truly test your self esteem.

Take the last 6 months for example...I never knew relocating a voice over business would test me to the limits that it did. There were times that I knew everything was going to be just fine, that my clients would stick with me, and that my studio would finally come together. Then there were days I was ready to pack it in and head to Walmart for a people greeter application.

Of course, you don't need to look back over months or years to see the roller coaster of emotion our job can bring. Here is a little of the feedback I've received just over the last 12 hours for a variety of projects: "Very good! I don't know if we could afford you though.", "very nice job", "Thanks! I think it was just written a few words too long but you made it work and sound great!" Not bad, right? Well, here is some feedback I received for a mock audition I recorded for fun for a voice over message board..."Sorry, but the young girl sound may not fly for this purpose", "Perhaps not the right voice for a dramatic read with “bold, driving” music, maybe too young sounding to be the voice of wisdom. But could possibly work well with softer, more Hallmark-type music. " Hm, not so good huh?

I share these examples simply to illustrate my point. Along Confidence Rd, we will all encounter speed bumps and pot holes. It's the way life goes. The important thing is not to ride too high during the good moments, and not to fall too low during the not-so-good moments.

How do you do this? Here are a few of the tricks I like to use. When I'm feeling especially self conscious or nervous, I picture my resume in my head. Seriously! I think back to all of my successes, and all of the projects I've had the great privilege to be a part of. If it's a particularly bad day, I will go back and read my client testimonials. Truth be told- I did this so many times over the past 6 months to help keep my confidence up, I actually had the 'Kudos' section of my website moved to the front page to make it easier for me to get to! Hah!

As for those 'riding too high' moments I find that any time my ego starts to swell, life always has a way of putting me back in my place. When this happens, I like to consider what lesson I can learn from the negative comments, or low moments. How can I use those speed bumps and pot holes to better myself in the long run? For the above negative feedback, I learned that I need to consider not just the message of the script, but what the overall intent for the project is. Instead of doing what I do best, I need to stretch myself in new and different ways.

Voice over is always full of surprises. So, while you want to avoid the dips and peaks- sometimes it's good to head straight for them! Recently I was asked to audition for the role of a mom voice for a TV spot. This was way out of my comfort zone, as I'm known for my young sound- but I decided to face the risk of rejection and just go for it! I was shocked when I was cast, and I had the pleasure of recording the spot last week. I truly surprised myself when a mom emerged right before my eyes! If I hadn't risked falling into the pot hole- I wouldn't have discovered this great little detour in my journey! Now I know I can take that 'mom' road whenever I choose- and I can do so confidently!

So, how do you keep yourself safe on Confidence Rd? What do you do to avoid the obstacles, and how do you handle it when you inevitably find those obstacles in your path?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My ISDN Journey- for reals ya'll!

I've learned a valuable lesson about spending too long writing a blog...once you are ready to publish, it vanishes to the bottom of the list. Live and learn I guess :)

For anyone hoping to read my blog about my journey with ISDN, please click here- or scroll down the page a bit.

Thank you for visiting!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recession-Proofing a Voice Over Career

Tracy Pattin of Voicebank.net recently asked on her blog what voice actors were doing to recession-proof their careers. It's obviously a timely question, and I was happy to share my feelings on the topic.

I am honored that Tracy chose to publish my response to her question on her blog this evening.

If you would like to respond to Tracy's important question, be sure to leave a comment on her blog, as she will be publishing several answers in the weeks ahead.

Make sure to also check out Part I and Part II with my friends Caryn Clark and Bob Souer.

For me, 2009 has kicked off with a bang bringing in some new and exciting work! Already this year, I've recorded projects for Highlights, Raggs, Involution Media, Cartoon Network, Wii, Student Ambassadors, Florida Dept of Health, and more! Will this trend continue? It's impossible to know- what is certain is that I will continue to work hard and provide my clients with the best service I can. By not panicking, and staying consistent with my product- I believe I will continue to succeed. It's important to keep our confidence high and our talents fine tuned. What about you? What are you doing to recession-proof your career? If you prefer to leave your comments here, I am happy to pass them along to Tracy- just be sure to let me know!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When Life Gives You Bananas...

A couple of months ago, my husband and I decided to become members of BJ's as it was right down the road and we knew that they had some great deals on groceries, etc. As part of their 'thank you for becoming members' gift, we received a very large bunch of bananas.

Unfortunately, this large bunch of bananas was very green. As you may or may not know, green bananas rarely turn a lovely yellow once you get them home- they often go straight to an aged brown. Sadly, this was the case with our bananas.

I've never been someone that could easily throw out food (blame it on the 'starving children' routine we all heard as kids), so I decided to make banana nut bread- which actually tastes better when made with over-ripened bananas. Because of the overabundance of over-ripened bananas I had, I was able to make multiple loaves of bread and freeze a few of them.

Last night I was eating one of the last slices of the last loaf of bread when it occurred to me...if I was able to turn a large bunch of free (but seemingly useless) green bananas into multiple loaves of bread (which we were able to enjoy for two months straight) and I only had to purchase a small bag of pecans to make it happen...what could this mean for my voice over business?

All over the Internet, there are a thousand 'free' ways to get my name out there (Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, etc). Is there a way to add a dash of creativity and effort and turn a little social networking into lucrative opportunities that could be enjoyed for months and years down the road? While I have stumbled into some work just by being 'present' online, I haven't yet made a conscious effort to really use the tools I have at my fingertips.

As I look for new ways to market my business this year, I plan to find different ways to test my 'banana theory'. I know the tools are right here, but it's up to me to find new ways to use them before throwing something that could be great into the trash.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My ISDN Journey

Earlier today, I was speaking with my pal Erik Sheppard. I mentioned that I had tried on multiple occasions to write a blog about my ISDN experiences, but hadn't thus far succeeded. I explained that my journey was so lengthy, exhausting, and borderline traumatic- that even thinking about it brought back bad memories! OK, I'm being just a tad dramatic here- but it was an interesting process! However, Erik reminded me that people might have an opportunity to learn from my journey- and so...here we go! Instead of taking you step by step through the 6 month process of finally having working ISDN, I've decided to just list out a few things that I've learned that might make your own ISDN journey a bit easier.

First, a little of the back story...My ISDN journey began last August when my husband and I made the decision to move from Charlotte, NC to Tampa, FL. It wasn't possible for me to install ISDN in my previous studio due to location and several other factors. So, I had always used a local studio anytime I needed ISDN. However, I knew it was going to be imperative that I set up ISDN in my new studio in order to continue recording several of my regular projects. My journey began August 1st, 2008 and ended February 11th, 2009. I am thrilled to finally be able to say that I have working ISDN in my home studio and I am loving it!

Here are a few of the very valuable things learned from my own journey written with the hope that they may help your journey.

1. Before you spend a single penny, make sure you live in an area that can get ISDN. This is a very old technology that fewer and fewer companies are providing support for. We actually narrowed down our potential new homes based on which ones could get ISDN.

2. It may be necessary for you to be incorporated or an LLC. Residential ISDN is no longer provided in any area that I know of, only business ISDN. Therefore- you must be a business (and be able to prove so) to get it.

3. You are going to need to know a lot about ISDN before you even make your first call. 99% of the people you speak with at the various ISDN providers will have little to no idea what you are talking about when you say you want ISDN BRI. Why is this? Voice actors, radio, and TV stations are the only folks left in the world that use ISDN BRI (according to my contact at Verizon) therefore, there is little reason to train new employees on this technology.

4. Make sure you ask for the business ISDN BRI line and be very specific about what you need. Aren't sure exactly what you need? Then enlist a studio or ISDN expert to help you (such as Digifon). I enlisted the help of my friends at ProComm studios as well as several VO pals that really know their stuff!

5. You will need to decide what type of codec you want to use, or if Audio TX is the way you want to go. I chose to use a Telos Zephyr, as that's what I was trained on back in my radio days.

6. Should you buy a new or used codec? It's hard to say. I went the pre-owned route. I purchased a unit on Ebay after asking several questions of the seller. I originally paid $1100- a great price! However, once the codec arrived at my house I discovered it needed $600 in repairs. Yuck! Still, $1700 is a great price for an ISDN codec and it's working great now!

7. Once the line has been installed, you will need to specify a long distance carrier. Here is where things got VERY tricky for me! I went with MCI. They seemed to understand what I needed, and I was given a great rate per minute. Almost immediately, I began experiencing problems with my line dropping out. I can't explain why, but it has something to do with MCI's service. I'm not saying MCI won't work for you- it just didn't work for me. From what I was told, they no longer provide support for data lines. So- I cancelled the service and switched to Sprint. I've been good to go since!

8. Make friends with the person that installs your line, and ask for his/her phone number. A local construction crew accidentally cut my ISDN lines in the middle of one of my first sessions, and I spent 4 days waiting for my provider to find one of the very few people that know how to repair and test ISDN lines. I wrote his number down so I can call him directly in the future!

9. Along those same lines, write down the name and direct number of every competent and helpful person you come across! It's a good safety measure- as you never know when or if you may encounter problems with your lines.

10. Staying on that topic- keep your friends who have ISDN on your speed dial. When the repair tech arrived to work on my lines, my pals Bob Souer, Caryn Clark, Ben Wilson, and Philip Banks were all willing to help me test the lines. A couple of them tested with me several times over several weeks, and I honestly can't thank them enough! In fact, send me an e-mail if you need someone to test your line with you- I'm all about paying it forward!

11. Make sure to ask about all the costs associated with getting your line up and running, and what the provider charges for repairs. I was lucky that I wasn't charged for repairs (since my line was cut), but I was told they typically do. Setting up my ISDN lines cost $275. The monthly fee for me is about $70 for the line, and $5 minimum for long distance. I pay $.07-.10 per minute per line to dial out depending on whether the call is in or out of state. These rates will vary greatly city to city, so be sure to ask what you can expect to pay. You will rarely need to dial out, but it's good to know in advance what those rates will be!

12. Once your lines are working, ask some of your VO friends and studios you work with regularly to give you honest feedback on your overall sound. Philip Banks was able to pick up on a slight ring to my studio I hadn't noticed before. It was minor, but could have become major if a new studio didn't like the way it sounded! I was able to isolate and solve the problem, thanks to Philip's keen hearing! Make sure you are getting the thumbs up from people you know before seeking out new business. As voice actors, we often only get one shot to get it right- so don't waste it!

13. Finally, make sure to ask any questions you have of the codec company, line provider, etc, and keep good notes! Knowledge is indeed power, and the more you know the better your chances of success with ISDN!

I've heard so often in the last few months that ISDN is on it's way out. Perhaps, but I doubt it. If the studios that use ISDN are anything like me...I feel I've spent too much time and too much money to turn my back on ISDN now! However, finding support for ISDN is becoming more difficult- which is why it's good to prepare yourself for the journey. If there are ever any questions I can answer, I will do my best to help...or at least point you in the direction of someone who can.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Back That Thang Up!

I hope you will forgive my lengthy absence from this blog, I've been on that roller coaster known as ISDN. Thankfully, the ride seems to be over and I will soon blog about all the things I've learned over the last few months about setting up home ISDN.

In the meantime, I wanted to blog about a recent experience I had regarding backing up my audio files. I could easily be called paranoid when it comes to backing up computer data. Not only does my computer back itself up to an external drive at 2am every morning, I also save important Pro Tools sessions and finalized mp3's to a second external hard drive. I've always worried that someday a client would return to me needing a very old file, and I wouldn't be able to find it.

Starting this year, I've decided to purchase an external drive to hold all the files for each individual year. That way I know exactly where to go to find old files. I haven't decided yet how long I'll hold on to files- but I'm guessing around 4 years or so.

Now on to the story that prompted this blog. Last week I received an e-mail from a client I had recorded a character voice for last June. It was being used on a DVD animation for a children's product. The product is close to being released and they were making some final edits on the animation.

For some reason, their file of my audio had developed a glitch and they needed me to send a new copy of the original file. It took less than an hour for me to break out my 2007 external drive, plug it in, do a search for the file, and re-upload it to my ftp. Needless to say, the client was very pleased!

The way I see it, a 500GB external drive is around $120. One of these can hold most of my files for the year, and it seems more than worth it to me.

In fact, now that I've added ISDN to my studio, I've decided to record all sessions on my end as well. That way if they accidentally delete theirs, or have any problems- they've always got mine as back up!

As Julia Roberts once said in the movie, 'Pretty Woman'..."I'm a safety girl!" (Although this line was said in a little different context- I think it still works here- hah!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

What 12 Year Old Jake Taught Me About VO

I spent this past weekend voicing and producing an audio project for one of my regular clients. It's a project I've been producing every month for about a year now. I had reached a point in the story where a group of children say the words, "we do" and "we do, too". I couldn't find this in my sound FX library, and had made a decision to voice the children myself and overlap the audio to sound like a group.

I was needing a break, and decided to take a walk outside and see what the neighborhood was up to. I saw our new neighbors and their 12 year old son Jake outside playing football.

Now Jake is a supremely cool 12 year old. He's smart, funny, and honestly a very good kid. The thought hit me that maybe Jake would like to help me out with my little project.

Jake was MORE than happy to lend a hand, and we all headed down the street to my studio. Even though Jake had seen my studio before, it was a blast to see his face as he looked around. Jake was now looking at things as a soon-to-be voice actor himself! I spent some time showing him how I record, how the audio goes into the computer, and how I use editing, music, and sound FX to make the final piece.

Jake's parents were chatting with my husband in the living room while I gave Jake the little tour. He finally turned to be beaming and asked, "Can my parents come in and see this?" Of course. So- with our audience now in place- Jake and I made our way into the 'booth' to record.

By this point, I was about as excited as Jake- as his smile was more than a little contagious! I showed him the script and explained what I was looking for- then I let him do a few practice runs. I'm quite sure Jake had never heard himself speaking into a microphone before, so he got a big kick out of wearing my headphones during his session.

Since the two lines I needed had to sound like a group- I read them along with Jake. Looking up at me, Jake mentioned that I had a habit of moving my arms around quite a bit when I spoke. When I said, "We do, too" I actually pointed to myself. I didn't even realize I was doing it! So, Jake gave it a try and decided that moving around really did help.

When we were done, I played back the audio for everyone to hear, and e-mailed the family a produced copy of Jake's work. On his way out, Jake mentioned that he had seen video of actors doing voices for feature animations- but he never knew it was possible to do this job from an actor's house!

So, what did 12 year old Jake teach me? That every aspect of being a voice actor is cool. Sure, I've always talked about how much I love my job, but sometimes seeing things through someone else's eyes can help remind us how awesome technology is, how fantastic working from home is, and how neat it is to have our voices heard world wide.

Thanks Jake. I hope we can do it again sometime!