VocalID: give your voice to the voiceless

If you’re in the VO game, and want to really put your talent to good use, consider helping out via VocalID. You can donate your voice and help those who cannot speak and rely on technology to communicate. Here is an overview that I wrote for my day job at The Drum. And here’s how you can get started...

Now A Family (VO) Affair

A couple of years ago, my son (soon to be 6 years old) asked me about voice work. He had always seen the microphone in the office and fiddled around as I was rolling on few projects. It usually was a bit of yelling in the background, but he was having fun — and that’s all that really matters at this point. One day, after voicing a few things I just asked him, “is this something that you’d like to do?” Darn tootin’ the answer was “yes.” So we made a deal. If he booked gigs, a good chunk of it would go to his college fund. The rest of it? Legos. Since he’s just starting to learn how to read, we did some line reads or “parrot reads” where I fed him lines and he repeated them. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but he was incredibly focused and followed directions very well (now if we could get him to do the same picking up toys in the house). Now, I’m proud to say he’s officially part of the family business. And I hope he’ll enjoy it for a very long...

A Nifty Use Of Sound: Getting Some Zzzs

Quick note: Yeah, I know. It’s been awhile. But, WOW, did I have a great time at Advertising Week Europe. And it’s been really good spending gobs of time with the family after being back. We’ve had a little cold run through the house of late. Which ain’t exactly the greatest thing for someone who does voicework, right? So I found myself at Walgreen’s looking for kid’s Tylenol and DayQuil (my goodness, how many brands can I get into one sentence?). As I was walking down the cold medicine aisle, I heard snoring and paused to look around at where it came from. ZzzQuil display with motion detector that triggered the sound. Brilliant. But it wasn’t just because of the way it was set up and merchandised. It was how subtle the snore was — not too loud, but just loud enough that it caught my attention. Sure, this isn’t really about voiceover. But VO is about sound and when any sound is done well, snores included, it can enhance and transform. And make you stop and pay attention. I’d love to see a brand somehow work a little voiceover in to something like this (or learn about a brand that’s doing it now). I think if it’s done right, it could be very interesting and effective. And I hope I get that audition....

What Voice Talent Looks Like

Ever wonder what your favorite on-air personalities look like? BuzzFeed did something pretty funny on it — related to NPR reporters, based on the sound of their voices. The Ira Glass one is classic. It is interesting, though. We’re voice people. There isn’t much thought into what we really look like. Though I have been told I have a face for radio. What’s funny about this are my own experiences that I have mentioned before. I’m 43. With lots of gray hair. I usually get cast as a mid-20s/early 30s guy. Unless, of course, it’s the good-natured dad. I still get a kick out of walking into a studio with people I’m working with for the first time. In just about every instance, there is an awkward (funny to me) pause when they see the gray mane. Breaking the ice is pretty easy. “Not what you expected, is it?” After the obvious sigh of relief from the client, we get to it. Ever had this happen to you? Do you think you “look” the way you...

Voice Talent’s Worst Nightmare: The Winter Cold

Yep. It’s running through the Zanger household. The Winter Cold. A one-year-old and a four-year-old with the sniffles. And mom and dad ended up getting it as well. Not to be a baby about it, but I seem to have received the brunt of it. What makes this just horrible is that, as voice talent, a cold (and allergies) can absolutely obliterate opportunities. Unless, of course, it’s a read for cold or allergy medication. There is really no amount of digital wizardry (at least I don’t think so) that can cover up a cold. Trust me, I’ve tried. And failed miserably at it. Thankfully, the client had a longer than usual lead time so I was able to shake the icks and get the reads done well. I drink tea with honey. I try eucalyptus steam. I would even try a necklace of garlic if I knew it could help. Fortunately, as a rule, I only get these things once a year — around this time of year. Knock on wood. It’s a real pain in the tuches. But, alas, it looks like the cold wins the day today. What do you do when you get hit with the sick?  ...

More Practice = More Confidence

This one will be short and sweet. I’m noticing that my reads are getting better. Actually, I’m noticing that my auditions are getting better. Will they translate into bookings? Gosh, I hope so. But even if I don’t mine something out of this last batch, I am acutely aware that I am reading better. But it’s not so much just about a better read. It’s more about a confident read. What separates the two? Here’s what I’ve noticed of late. A good read is to spec. A confident read is to spec, plus the conviction that you can read it better and outside of spec (the lovely second and third takes). A good read is about being crisp and following the “rules” of voiceover. A confident read is about that same crispness, but with more presence. A good read gets the job done — that is, fulfilling the requirement for an audition. A confident read gets you on the short list — going past what’s expected. A good read means you just “read.” A confident read means you attack the copy, even if it is the “whisper take.” How to gain confidence? Keep reading. A lot. This little revelation has me going back to some auditions from months ago. I’m taking a closer listen. And, in some cases, I’m redoing them just to practice and improve. There is a noticeable difference. Not that the first batch sucked (in fact, I booked a few things from them), but I just knew that I could do it better. Practice does make perfect. In voiceover practice creates confidence. And that’s a currency any voice talent can...