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Audiobook Narration Workshop

Audiobook Narration Workshop

Learn what it takes to be an audiobook narrator

February 16, 2014 • 1:00 – 5:00 PM

Join us for an audiobook workshop held in a nationally acclaimed full-service recording studio, presented by two experienced professionals currently working in the field. This is an opportunity to work on your skills in a recording session, not merely a classroom experience. If you’re interested in audiobook narration, this workshop is for you.

The Audiobook Workshop offers:

• Reading and recording using real narration scripts
• Receiving direction, playback and feedback
• Personalized advice based on your skill level
• Learning how audiobooks are produced
• Tips about production protocol
• An overview of the current state of the audiobook industry, and ideas for breaking into narration

If you are NEW to narration, you will:

• Learn the basic techniques of mic work
• Learn the basics of equipment for audiobook narration
• Learn and practice reading and interpreting scripts
• Gain practical experience behind the microphone
If you have experience with acting and/or voiceover, you will:

•  Learn how audiobook narration style is unique
•  Discover how to adapt your skills to this medium
•  Increase and refine your skill level

This half-day (4+hour) workshop is limited to 8 participants.  Deposit is required to secure your seat.

$200 per workshop, 50% deposit required. Credit card, check or cash.

Contact Don:  541-343-2692 or eugenevoclasses@gmail.com

Presenters:

Don Ross is a Grammy-nominated recording engineer.  National clients include: Sony Music, Universal-Motown, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, New Line Cinema, Walt Disney Company, Fisher-Price, NPR, Yahoo!, and DRAFTFCB, Chicago. Don is a veteran engineer, producer, professional musician and voice talent. He was inducted into Oregon’s Music Hall of Fame in October 2011.

www.donrossproductions.com

Heather Henderson is an audiobook narrator and voice talent with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. From her home studio and Don Ross Productions, she has recorded books for Harper Audio, HighBridge, Blackstone, Oasis, eChristian, Audible.com, and others. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan, and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won an Earphones Award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. She holds a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama and is a SAG-AFTRA union member.

www.heatherannehenderson.com

Voice Over Workshop – October 13 1:00-5:00

Voice Over Workshop – October 13  1:00-5:00

Do you have an interesting voice & want to explore the world of Voice Over work?

What makes this Voice Over Workshop unique?

The workshop is held in a nationally acclaimed full-service recording studio and is presented by two professionals currently working in the field. This is not a classroom experience, it is an actual recording session. If you want to be a working voice talent, this is the workshop for you.

The Voice Over Workshop offers:

  • Reading & recording using commercial advertising/narration copy
  • Listening to your playback and receiving useful feedback from two working professionals
  • Personalized advice based on your skill level
  • Learning recording studio protocols and terminology
  • Tips about how to work with recording engineers & producers
  • Updates about the current state of the voice over industry

If you are NEW to Voice Over you will:

  • Learn the basic techniques of voice over talents
  • Discover the secrets to read and interpret scripts
  • Gain practical experience behind the microphone

If you have experience with Voice Over you will:

  • Practice cold reading & interpretation
  • Discover gaps in your experience & learn ways to overcome them
  • Increase your skill level
  • Improve your ability to take direction

This one day, 4+ hour workshop is limited to 8 participants. Deposit is required to secure your seat.  We accept credit cards, checks, and cash.

$200 per workshop

50% deposit required

Contact Don @541.343.2692

eugenevoclasses@gmail.com

Presenters

Don Ross is a Grammy nominated recording engineer. National clients include: Sony Music, Universal-Motown, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, New Line Cinema, Walt Disney Company, Fisher – Price, NPR, Yahoo! and DRAFTFCB, Chicago. Don is an experienced engineer, producer, professional musician and voice talent. He was inducted into The Oregon Music Hall of Fame in October 2011. For more info: www.donrossproductions.com

Bill Barrett is a voice over talent with over 30 years of experience. His client base is local, regional, national and international. A two time Country Music Association “Broadcast Personality of the Year”, Bill’s New Country 93.3 morning show, Barrett, Fox & Berry has remained Lane County’s #1 rated morning show for over a decade.  Bill has an incredible range of voice talent….from hard sell retail to guy next-door friendly.  He’s equally adept at voicing narration for video as well as knocking out outrageous character voices.  For more info: www.billbarrett.info

Voice over training can cover many things depending on the level you are at, and whether you are in Portland, Eugene, or even Timbuktu for that matter, it all comes back to believability. Conveying the voice over script in a way that completely convinces the listener that it is coming from your mind and mouth and not from a piece of paper is one of the most critical things you can do. Now let’s get back to the title and the word “Wonderland.” It’s a lovely word, a lovely concept even, so let’s expand on it.
One of my favorite books of all time is still Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll not only created some incredible characters and an even more incredible “universe”, but really taught us what it means to suspend our disbelief. What we see through Alice’s eyes is this place where no sense of logic exists, and where the only limit is your imagination. We see Alice’s struggle as she constantly fights against accepting the way this world has strayed from “normal.” The relevance here comes from how we analyze and accept the voice over script as its own universe. As long as we keep an open mind and allow ourselves to actually understand what the writer’s intentions are for the script instead of applying our own preconceived notions then we are one step closer to booking the job. If only Alice had embraced this lunacy, this upside-down thinking, she might have remained in this “wonderland” and even become ruler of it.
During your voice over training in Portland or elsewhere, before you ever read a script out loud, UNDERSTAND it first. ACCEPT it. Then BE it. If you allow yourself to embrace the universe that this script has created, then you are one step closer to being a resident of it, rather than an intruder. The sound of a welcome guest is much more pleasant than that of an intruder, so make sure and sound like you’re invited . http://www.voiceovergurus.com/

This is not a discussion of how the mic picks up sounds like a leaf blower down the street or the rumbling of your stomach. I’d like to discuss the moods, emotions, and personal qualities of the voiceover actor and how dependably the microphone picks them up.

Let’s start with the obvious. The mic picks up your gender, general age, health, regional dialect, and how well you are performing. It can also pick up quite accurately how much you are or are not enjoying yourself. Fatigue, anxiety, boredom, distraction, joy, energy, and living in the moment–it’s all there. As voice actors, our job is to adjust our personal mood and connect with the listener. Some days are better than others. That’s life, that’s acting.

But let’s talk about authentic character traits, the qualities you just can’t fake. For example, the funniest voice actors are genuinely funny people. The best sportscasters genuinely love the sport. Have you ever been listening to some voiceover guy and decided you don’t like him? It may have nothing to do with the quality of his voice or what he’s talking about. It’s just an instinctive reaction to ‘a certain something’ the mic picked up.

Isn’t it fascinating how much the human voice can convey? I once asked a voice coach to listen to my demo and give me career guidance. In my voice, he said, he heard ‘kindness’. I was so shocked I repeated it back, “Kindness?” I knew my demo backward and forward and never considered any of the clips to be particularly ‘kind’. He identified a quality behind the acting. His comment started me thinking about everything that comes across, both obvious and subtle, in voiceover performance.

The mic doesn’t lie. That’s a provocative idea, and it can be a little intimidating. (I admit I have qualities less flattering than ‘kindness’.)

What qualities do you possess that the microphone picks up? Examining who you are as a unique individual may be the best way to determine your specialties in voiceover. http://www.voiceofvicki.com

Creating an eLearning program by JoJo Jensen

Creating an eLearning program takes planning. A lot of planning. Development teams have hours of pre-productions ahead of them. They must determine the scope of their project, establish their target audience, and settle on a budget before one line of code is written or scripts are printed.

Each of these project elements are clamoring for attention and it’s easy to delay one critical piece of a success presentation until the end. We’re talking audio narration and production.

Some project producers might wait to finalize a script, hire a voice talent, and secure a studio to record, edit, and sweeten the project until everything else is complete. But with all the time and money spent in producing an engaging and compelling eLearning program, the last thing you want is a sloppy audio and narration.

“You can save money and time if you involve audio professionals in the planning stages of the project,” said Don Ross, an award winning audio engineer at Don Ross Productions. “We can help make your eLearning program sound as good as it looks.”

Hiring a professional voice talent and audio engineer before you start winding down your eLearning project makes the difference between a cohesive presentation and uneven one. When you have an audio team in place, they can help with your scripts in process, even record scratch tracks so you can hear how it will sound. A professional narrator can work with you on pacing, tone, and style of read so your program keeps your target audience engaged. The audio engineer can help you determine the best levels and output and can give you the heads up on any issues with formatting before the project is put to bed.

As your production team sits down to start planning the next eLearning program, consider lining up a professional voice talent and audio engineer to from the start to bring your project to life.

For more information on JoJoJensen: http://www.jojojensen.com
For more information on Don Ross: http://www.donrossproductions.com

Thinking of adding audio narration to your e-learning, computer based training, online learning, or marketing presentation? There are real benefits in hiring a professional voice talent for your project

Professional voice talents bring flat text to life. We create mental images for the viewer with the pitch, speed and timber of our voices, keeping your audience engaged throughout the presentation.

A professional voice talent can also make audio production faster, easier and more cost effective. Many talents have their own studio and deliver mp3s or .wav files to email or an ftp site.

Here are the top 5 reasons to hire a professional voice talent!

Professional Voice Talents…
1. Add polish and professionalism to the finished project or presentation

2. Bring natural and conversational tone to script; narration won’t be stilted or stiff

3. Allow viewers to focus on the presentation instead of being distracted by uneven narration

4. Simplify audio production; have ability to send quality audio files right to your inbox

5. Engage the audience through the end of the project allowing you to get your message across clearly

Professional Voice Talents enhance any project or presentation, bringing your text to life!

JoJo Jensen is a professional voice talent with more than 15 years experience. Listen to her demos or request an audition at vo.jojojensen@gmail.com

So -You Want to Be a Voice Talent by JoJo Jensen

So -You Want to Be a Voice Talent

By JoJo Jensen

Have you ever heard…                       

  • Wow…you have a great voice! You should do commercials.
  • With all your crazy voices you could be on the Cartoon Network.
  • Are you on the radio?

That’s how many people get started, but it takes more than just a good voice to get work as a voice talent.  It takes hours of practice, killer reading skills, and the ability to accept feedback with grace. 

One of the easiest ways to begin building your VO career is to take classes (one class isn’t going to cut it).  In classes, you can get behind a microphone and read.  Learn to listen to playback with an objective ear.  Gain critique from industry professionals so you know what’s working and what isn’t.  Sorry, your mom giving you the thumbs up does not count.

The Internet has opened up a world of opportunity for voice talents, but the competition for gigs is fierce. An in-demand voice talent has to be consistent, focused, and not make a ton of mistakes. That’s where training comes in.  With hours of practice behind a microphone supporting them, a good voice talent is able to read one sentence or paragraph over and over with different intonation or make it sound exactly the same each time.  They can read long form text for hours and maintain their focus.  A well-trained voice talent can take the feedback from a director or producer and re-read the script to give them exactly what they were looking for. 

Becoming a voice talent takes commitment, practice and more practice.  If you take the time to master the skills it takes to become brilliant voice talent, you can compete in the global market.  Take a class. It’s a great first step.

JoJo Jensen, a professional VO talent with 15+ years in the industry and Don Ross, award winning audio engineer and owner of Don Ross Productions lead voice over classes in Eugene, Oregon.  To get more information on the classes email eugenevoclasses@gmail.com

On The Road With a Portable Studio by Dave Brower

On The Road Again” With My New Portable Studio
One of the incredible things about being a full time voice actor is the ability to work from the road. This is the 3rd year in a row that my wife Karen and I have taken a long Motorcycle trip and by taking my portable studio along I can work every night and/or early morning and never miss a gig. How cool is that?

So, with that said, here’s my ‘how to’ of putting together a portable studio for the road. Many of my VO friends have MAC’s in their studio and on the road and love them, but I’m still a PC guy. One day I’ll join the MAC crowd, I’m sure…but just not today.

POPPA’S PORTABLE STUDIO VER.1
This was my first portable studio and it served me very well for the 1st couple of years on the road. There are a lot of options for an affordable basic setup that works well. Mine is but one example and you can put this together for around $500.

Virtually any laptop
I bought one used, with a warranty, for less than $280

Editing software
Choose from Audacity, Sound Forge, Wave Pad and many others…anything that’s free can work.

Microphone
I chose the MXL 909 with a USB ‘mic mate’. It’s clean, simple, sounds great and is around $135 for both pieces.

Pop filter
Yep you gotta protect from those plosives and you can get a good one for around $50 but keep reading because the “Sharpie Fix” can save you this $50.

External hard drive
You can pick one up on the Internet along with a PCI card and a fire wire cable for $100

Headphones
Grab a pair of ear-buds out of an old junk door or maybe that pair of headphones you stole from United.

Sound proofing
This can be done with a pillow fort – yep, it’s what you think…for no cost.

DONE and you are good to go on the road and your total investment is right close to $500 if you work at it.

POPPA’S PORTABLE STUDIO VER.2
Well I decided to upgrade my studio for this latest road trip. I wanted to be able to use Pro Tools and have access to all my studio files and projects so that if I needed to change any existing projects, while traveling, it would be easy to get that done. You just never know what a client will need or when, so being on the road can’t be an excuse for not being able to deliver.

This time it took a lot more brain power and resources to put VER.2 together but it’s slick and I’m thrilled with it.

NOT JUST ANY LAPTOP
The trick with running Pro Tools on a PC laptop is you have to have 3 things in place: 7200 RPM hard drive with at least 250 GB of memory; an INTEL processor (be sure your motherboard has an INTEL chip-set); and at least 3GB of RAM. So I bought the HP Pavilion dv4i for $750.

NOTE: This is not cast in stone information, this is only my experience, so please get with a tech savy person that you can trust (like I did) before you commit to a laptop.

WINDOWS 7 – OOPS!
Everything I’ve read said that even though there is a beta out there of Pro Tools for Windows 7 not everybody was happy with it. Since I knew my systems work well with Windows XP I bought the WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL software…it has a “virtual Windows XP” option…so you can run everything off Windows 7 and those few programs that only run on Windows XP you can do that too. It’s like having two computers in one. It’s weird and it’s a pain and I’m sorry to say that it didn’t work for me in trying to set up Pro Tools. Too many shared memory issues. Sooooooo I thought about what another friend had said “why not give Windows 7 a try?” So I did. I followed the Digidesign instructions for the Beta install to the letter and it worked perfectly the very 1st time. Sa-weet!!!!

NOT JUST ANY MIC
I have a RODE NTK for my studio mic so I wanted a comparable sounding mic but a quiet mic as well. One that would be better suited for the road. The RODE NT1-A was the perfect choice. $229

PRO TOOLS
I needed an Mbox 2 mini for the road and Pro Tools software so I picked up both from my friend Robby Resnick at Sweetwater Sound for less than $300 and it included everything I needed.

PLUG INS
My home studio has the Wave Arts Power Suite 5 and I wanted that on my laptop…Oops again. You see, Wave Arts didn’t like Windows 7 either and so after some advice from my friend Allan at Southwest Recording Studios I bought a VST to RTS adapter from FXpansion.com It is software that allows you to “wrap” different plug-ins into Pro Tools while using Windows 7. $99 is all.

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
The same exact one as I had before. That way I can take every Pro Tools session off my studio hard drive and drop it on my external hard drive. Simple. Only difference was because of the new HP laptop I needed a different PCI card for my fire wire connection. $29 at the local PC shop.

HEADPHONES
In my studio I use the Sony MDR-7506 stereo monitor headphones. I found a great pair of “road” headphones on sale at Guitar Center. Sennheizer HD-280 pro’s only $80. (They are currently on sale for $99.)

SOUND PROOFING
I’ve tried Harlan Hogan’s original Porta-Booth and while its works great for many…for me personally, I didn’t care for it. I took it on one road trip and used it and quickly realized I’m too big and it’s too small. I am, however, going to buy his New Model. There was one session on this trip where I could have used it and so one is good enough for me to order it. Other than that one session, with my small triangle Auralex piece behind the mic; my Sharpie; and my pillow fort I was very well set up. YES you heard right…while I do have a Pop filter for the road my friend Allan told me the Sharpie trick works just as well and takes up no space. Just rubber band a sharpie to the exact center of your mic and you are golden. Who knew, huh? So the Auralex piece and the Sharpie…less than $20.

WHY NOT?
Back in the day, I used a portable printer when I was a Marketing Manager for the 8th largest automotive group in the country and traveled to 29 different dealerships in 12 states. Man, it came in handy, so I decided to add this to my portable studio as well. Candidly there is something about being able to actually hold the script! An HP H470 mobile printer for $168.

DONE and you are good to go on the road with VER.2 and your total investment is easily under $1500 if you work at it. That’s without the printer option, of course. Here’s four different photos of my VER.2 –

One option for either VER.1 or VER.2 is an “air card” so that you are guaranteed of having Internet service no matter where you are. I know many folks who use that but for me its $60 a month for 2-years plus the gear itself, so not worth it. When I travel I just confirm that every place I stay has high speed Internet available…period.

Oh and one other thing…Be sure to check with your tax adviser first…but for the right scenarios it’s possible to travel, do voice work, and write it off. Need I say more?

Hope this post helps you to get on the road, traveling, working, and having all the fun in the world that I am having. My goal since I started doing voice work full time, on May 1st 2008, is to never ever have a real job again. So far, so good!

Have a comment? Subscribe to my blog and then join the conversation…and if you have an idea for a blog, please email it to me Poppa@PoppaUnplugged.com

With gratitude,
David Brower

copyright 2010 Dave Brower

Why should you advertise? by Jack Barry

Advertising is all around us. The average person is exposed to thousands of advertising messages every day. Think about the number of radio and television commercials you hear and see each day. Take a look at the number of ads in the newspapers and magazines you read, the mailman brings you tons of advertisements each month. Every place you look you’ll find messages saying “buy me” from the clothes you wear to the pen you write with. To top it off national advertisers spend billions of dollars a year on advertising. All of these things are competing for your attention.

So where does your company or business stand in this maze of advertising? How does a small retailer compete for business? Competing for your share of the business takes planning and direction. You must have an effective advertising program, choose from the media available in your area, and most of all compare the costs of each to see which is the most cost effective for your business.

Where should you advertise?

Many advertisers mistakenly advertise on the station they listen to, or the station they watch or in the newspaper they read, not taking into account that these may not be the media their customers listen to, watch or read. You need to do some homework. You need the answers to these questions before you advertiser anywhere.
1. What is the age grouping of your customers? a. 18 to 49 b. 25 to 54
2. Are your customer’s men or women or both?
3. What is the annual income of your average customer?
4. How far away from your business do your customers travel for your products or services?
5. If you advertised outside your area could you attract more customers?
6. What are your customers’ shopping habits?
7. How do your customers perceive your store or business?
8. Identify your competitors.
9. What is your share of the business compared to your competitors?
10. Why do customers choose your competition over your business?
11. Do your competitors advertise?
12. Is their advertising effective? BE OBJECTIVE NOW.

Many of these questions may take some help from an outside consultant because it is hard to be objective about your own business or your competition.

Now you are ready to plan your advertising. Hold it just a second. Perhaps we need to define advertising first. Advertising is a paid form of calling attention to a product, service, or business to promote sales. The key words in the definition are “to promote sales.” When you plan your advertising budget make sure that the advertising you do promotes sales. For example, donations of money to the high school year book or to the sheriff’s annual ball generally do not promote sales. They should be included in your donation budget do not put them in your advertising budget.

Now that you have established your goals you need to begin working on a budget. No matter what the size of your budget it is very important to keep in mind that your advertising budget is a fixed expense, just like the rent, the electric bill and your own salary. Advertising is not a luxury to be cut when times are lean. Advertising must be consistent, well conceived and executed correctly. Your business cannot afford to cut advertising when the going gets tough.

How much do I spend on advertising?
A good method for setting your advertising budget is the percent of sales method. With this method you take a percentage of your total gross sales. The general rule is 5% to 7% of your gross yearly sales. Be sure to add in the percentage you feel your business will grow in this coming year. Your business cannot grow this year if you are using last year’s budget. You will also have to increase your budget for a period of time if you are:

1. Changing locations
2. Taking on a new line or changing products
3. Changing your name
4. Or starting a new business.
5. Any major changes you plan for your business

Set aside about 8% to 10% of your advertising budget as a contingence fund. This fund can be used for a special sale that you may not have planned for, it can help if the media raises their rates or better yet if the media has a special package that gives you a special rate on advertising.

How to plan your advertising monthly.
Grab a calendar and schedule your advertising month by month for the entire year. Plan out the promotions and your sales for the year. Don’t over do the sales. If you have a sale every month it won’t take the public long to figure out that your sales really aren’t sales at all. If you have to have a sale every month to do business, change your image to a discount store. Don’t plan a sale more than once a quarter. As you plan for the entire year keep in mind the swings in your business cycles. Advertise heavier during the months  that are generally good for you and cut back when sales are lighter. But be sure to advertise every month. Remember the advertising you do this month may not produce a customer for 2 to 3 months. When your customers need your product or service you want them to think of you. They may remember last months advertisement when they are ready to buy. In reality you are building a place in your customers sub-conscious and that’s the best place to be.

If all of this is a little overwhelming, consider the services of a well established advertising agency. Most advertising agencies get their commission from the media and so in many cases advertising agency’s services are free or are very low in cost compared to the expertise they offer. Remember dealing with advertising is all they do on a daily basis. They are experts at what they do.

Several years ago I owned an advertising agency and an audio video production company in California. One of our most successful clients was an office supply and office furniture store, Ken’s Office Supply. Ken’s Office Supply was the “Kleenex” of office supply stores. Let me explain. Kleenex is a brand name but they’ve done such a great job advertising, their name is synonymous with facial tissues. The same was true of Ken’s Office Supply. If you thought of office supplies, Ken’s immediately popped into your mind. Why? Because Ken knew the power of advertising his business. He aggressively kept his name in front of the public. When it came time for Ken to retire, he sold the business to one of his employees. The new owner decided to stop advertising. After all, everyone knew the name Ken’s Office Supply. Within two years the new owner was doing so poorly that he had to move from his excellent location to an out-of-the-way strip mall. One more year and he was out of business.

I realize that times are tough in this economy, but history has proven: businesses who weathered a recession were those who continued to advertise. Advertising is not an expense you can cut in hard times. Remember, don’t advertise and no one will notice.

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