Friday, September 29, 2017

Three Reasons Why You Need Voice Over In Your Marketing

1. Customers Become Familiar with Your Brand
According to a study by the Department of Psychology at Washington University, adults are more likely to remember words when spoken by a familiar voice (Yonan and Sommers, 2000). For marketing purposes, it is extremely important to continually use the same voice for branding your product. Customers are more likely to remember your product and its benefits in their lives when they hear the same voice again and again.
    • Do this: Use a professional voice over talent over and over to build familiarity for potential customers.
 2. Customers Learn Your Brand Faster
U.S. scientists from Boston University and UCLA say their study demonstrates that stimuli involving both vision and hearing can be combined to produce speedier learning of visual information (Current Biology, 2006). When creating a marketing video, commercial, eLearning video or any other kind of video, it is best to target multiple senses (i.e. visual and auditory) at the same time so customers can learn your brand faster.
    •  Do this: Use visuals and a professional voice over talent to help customers learn about your product more quickly.
 3. Customers Have Short-Term Memories
An average person can store between five and nine items in their short-term memory. The more times a piece of information is repeated or learned, the more likely it is to be transferred into long-term memory and retained by the customer or employee. With so little time to get your message across, you must take full advantage of the time you have. By following the first two reasons above, you can fully engage your customer or employee. They will be more likely to remember your message for months and hopefully years to come.
    •  Do this: Keep it simple and to the point. By doing this and using a professional voice over talent and visual stimuli in your projects, customers and employees will be more likely to store your message in their long-term memory.

Question for you: What companies have branded their product well with a consistent female or male voice over talent?
Yonan, CA, and Sommers, MS. “The Effects of Talker Familiarity on Spoken Word Identification in Younger and Older Listeners.” Psychology and Aging 15.1 (2000): 88-89. Web.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Best Business Books of 2017

 The Best Business Books of 2017
The must-read business books of the year according to McKinsey and the Financial Times.


 Yes, the last quarter of the year often means a manic sprint to reach your business and personal goals, but at least this season offers one big compensation for the crazy end-of-year scramble.

  'Tis the season for best-of lists rounding up must-read books, unmissable movies, and game-changing journalism. To kick off this feast of great content, one of the first (and best) lists of the season has just come out: McKinsey and the Financial Times's list of semi-finalists for the best business book of the year. Each year, a panel of luminaries selected by the two institutions combs through the year's best titles to pick a dozen or so finalists, then narrows it down to around half as many semi-finalists, before finally crowning one book as the best of the year.

   Here are the semi-finalist picks from this year's impressive line-up of judges, including Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker, and Allianz chief economic adviser Mohamed El-Erian. The ultimate winner will be announced November 6th.

 1. The Spider Network by David Enrich Wall Street Journal editor David Enrich's detailed account of the Libor rate-fixing scandal "takes a complex financial story and makes it read like an accessible thriller," enthuses Business Insider.

 2. Janesville by Amy Goldstein For this one, Washington Post reporter Amy Goldstein embedded herself in Janesville, Wisconsin, where General Motors recently closed a plant, to explore why it's so hard for so many people to make ends meet in America these days.

 3. Adaptive Markets by Andrew W. Lo Are markets rational or irrational? MIT professor Andrew Lo enters this perennial debate among economists, offering "a new framework, the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis, in which rationality and irrationality coexist," according to Amazon.

 4. The One Device by Brian Merchant Marking the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the first iPhone, this book by Motherboard senior editor Brian Merchant gives readers a look at the inside story of how the world-changing device was developed. 

5. Reset by Ellen Pao This is the much-chattered-about memoir from Pao, the Kleiner Perkins VC who initiated a high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit against her firm and lost. This long piece by Pao for The Cut offers a sneak preview of what you're likely to find in the book.

 6. The Great Leveler by Walter Scheidel In The Great Leveler, Stanford historian Walter Scheidel traces the history of income inequality throughout the world and comes to a less-than-optimistic conclusion: Huge gaps in income usually end in violence, he cautions, giving readers cause to worry about how today's vast inequality will play out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Understanding Point of View in Film and Video

Point of view determines how your audience experiences your visual world. Take control of your project with these storytelling approaches.

Top image via Shutterstock.
POV generally refers to a shot that directly represents a character’s viewpoint; we see only what they can see. (You can read a descriptive PremiumBeat article on that style of shot here.)
However, there is another form of point of view in storytelling — the point of view from which we see the character’s story. All films and television shows present their stories from a certain point of view, and if that changes, it can completely alter the story — or at least how the audience feels about a character or situation.
Desperate-Housewives-NarrationImage via Desperate Housewives/ABC.
Consider the following example. We are in an open-plan dining room, and a husband and wife are arguing near the kitchen sink. The woman’s sister is also in the room, but she is further away playing with a newborn baby boy. On the stairs, listening out of view, is a young girl, who is the daughter of the husband and wife. The argument is about the possibility of the man losing his job because of his negligence at work. If the camera captures both actors in the frame, you can say that the scene is objective — there’s no bias toward a particular character. We’re watching everyone react, and the camera itself isn’t too close to the action.
However, if the camera focuses primarily on the man, and also includes a shot of him looking at his sister-in-law then cutting back to his reaction, the shot starts to become subjective. We’re focusing more on the man’s point of view rather than the woman’s. The director is telling us to care more about him than her. A fully subjective shot would be from the man’s eyes, revealing only what he sees. While this rarely, if ever, happens in feature films, with the rise of sports cameras, many YouTube filmmakers have created action videos using this point of view that mimic this technique in video games.
Each shot in a film expresses a point of view, which changes often — sometimes with each new shot. The point of view, or narrative stance, mostly goes unnoticed by the audience. However, altering the point of view can profoundly affect the way the audience interprets any scene and character.
For example, consider the fountain scene from Atonement.
Then watch the same moment from another point of view. (The video has no audio.)
Think about all of the possible points of view there are for your scene and how they can affect your story. Determining the point of view is one of the biggest contributions the director makes to a film.
Let’s have a look at the different points of view you can use in your film.

First-Person Point of View (Subjective)

The first-person point of view restricts what the audience sees to the viewpoint of a single character. Extensive use of this subjective viewpoint can be problematic because we can never see our point-of-view character’s reactions. Films (and there are not many) that use first-person POV usually focus on the characters that we can see rather than the character who sees them. However, it’s incredibly hard to connect with a character without seeing their face. This is why many superhero films ultimately remove the hero or heroine’s mask at one point or another.

Third-Person Limited Point of View (Objective)

The third-person limited point of view presents the action from the perspective of an ideal observer. It is the style of narrative most common in TV and film. An example would be an over-the-shoulder shot or a mid-shot of two characters in a dialogue. Most of the time it appears in combination with subjective passages (like the husband arguing with his wife example). The term “limited” refers to the idea that we only know the feelings and thought processes of a few characters, rather than the entire ensemble. When we start to know more about supporting characters because of a narrator, the film moves into omniscient point of view.

Omniscient Point of View (Objective)

An omniscient point of view reveals what the characters are thinking. This requires some type of narration, voice over, or graphics. An omniscient narrator or POV will tell the story without attaching to a single character or group of characters. As you can imagine, it’s not a popular choice because a film audience needs a visual representation of a character to form a connection. This point of view was very successful in the television series Desperate Housewives, as the narrator, Mary Alice Young, died at the beginning of the series. Young, as an all-knowing god-like figure, knows everything that happens and often recaps information the viewer might have missed.
Filmmakers can combine and alter these perspectives to create more intriguing projects. For example, you can categorize The Shawshank Redemption as an omniscient narrative since Red tells the story as an all-knowing narrator who knows the ending. However, Red appears in the story and negates the core principle of being an omniscient narrator.

6 ways to improve your VO performance, away from the mic

Edge Studio
September 8, 2017

 If you keep busy at your mic and computer, you may have no reason to leave your studio, other than to go to the kitchen and to sleep for the night. But unless you get out and about from time to time, you could be losing more than muscle tone. That lack of variety could leave you short-sighted, figuratively, and maybe even literally. Here are six ways you can improve yourself as a voice artist and strengthen your business, while you're away from your mic.
 We've all seen articles by "efficiency experts" who say to, oh, buy stamps online instead of at the post office. Heck, these days you could do the same with groceries and half the other stuff you need. But go there anyway. You can get more than stamps at the post office.

 1. Get acting inspiration. In just about any stable crowd, you can find acting inspiration -- because you see and meet other people of every sort. So if there's a long line of customers when you get to the post office or supermarket or wherever, don't view it as a negative. Use it as an opportunity. Look at each person around you, and imagine what they're thinking. Come up with a word to describe whatever emotion each person seems to be feeling at that time. In fact, do this with everyone you come across. This mental exercise (or let's call it a game) has been proven to be an effective technique in enhancing your ability to empathize (to know what other people are feeling). Empathy is part of a voice actor's stock-in-trade. Imagining and understanding the thoughts of your audience is helpful, especially considering that your audiences are people you can't even hear or see. 

2. Get ideas for voice characters. Leave your earbuds at home. Listen to the voices of the people around you. Now and then you'll hear a voice or notice a mannerism you've never encountered before. Maybe someday you can use it. And don't just listen for odd voices. Listen for the way people phrase things, intonation, etc. "Character" is in the way they talk, not just how they sound.

3. Also get away from people. Studies have shown that a walk in the woods is better for you than walking down the sidewalk (even discounting the effect of heavy traffic). It's not just that uneven ground provides more exercise. "Forest therapy" is said to change the brain, reducing risk of anxiety, depression and stress-related issues. Is it the solitude? The sounds? The aroma? Simply the contrast? We suppose it's all of these and more. Is that an acting tip, or is it a health tip? Both. Because your physical and emotional health are important to the health of your business. And being more relaxed can help you sound more relaxed. (For another thought regarding physical health, see below.)

 4. Listen to Nature. As noted in our article, "Listen, just listen, to all the people all around you”, acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton says that listening to nature can help you be a better listener to people. But if there's no forest near you, a walk in the park -- or even down that sidewalk and around the block -- must be better than sitting at your computer all day.

 5. Use a noisy spot to exercise your voice in peace. Consider finding a personal place that is NOT necessarily quiet, but is away from other people. For example, the middle of a large bridge's walkway, or next to a busy expressway. What can you do there that you can't always do at home? Shout your lungs out! (Important clarification: We don't mean literally shout, and certainly don't strain your voice, or for that matter your lungs.) If you have been taught vocal exercises (by a voice teacher, singing coach or acting coach), this can be a great place to perform them, to improve your vocal stamina, tonal range and control. You won't be tempted to artificially hold back, yet you won't annoy anyone around you. Heck, if saxophonist Sonny Rollins could practice on New York City's Williamsburg Bridge, why not you? And wherever your private spot, it's another destination -- for when you don't happen to need groceries or stamps.

 6. Promote your physical health. As we've mentioned, you can get some exercise along the way. You also get sun. In fact, you might even get better eyesight. Researchers are looking into data that suggests kids who get outdoors more often are less likely to become nearsighted. Some suspect it's the benefit of sunlight, some see value in varying your "focal plane" (not focusing on a close-up computer all day.) That subject is outside our expertise, but we do wonder, can it be good never to focus farther than the other side of a room? So include time in your schedule to get out and about. Just remember to budget your time and head home again, and if the day isn't done ... get back to work.

 Do you have a comment or suggestion? Please send to

Monday, September 18, 2017

25 Ways to Market Your VO Business

25 Ways to Market Your VO Business It's been said several times, but I’ll say it again: the voiceover business is 5% about your voice and 95% about how you market that voice. The way to truly be successful in voiceover is to be able to market yourself effectively and consistently.
   You can have a fantastic voice with years of professional training under your belt, but if clients don’t know you exist, you’re dead in the water. The only way to gain new clients and get more work is to make sure your voice bounces off the eardrums of the right people at the right time. This is the heart of marketing: It's the art of convincing others that you are the perfect person for their particular needs.
Below is a collection of suggestions on how to successfully market yourself. Some of these are pretty basic, but some may be things you haven’t considered. I’m not suggesting that you employ all of these, but these will definitely help you develop a strategy that will get you noticed and bring you more work. Get a professional website. - There’s a lot you can do by yourself, but if you’re a complete neophyte when it comes to HTML, there are plenty of ways to get a decent site together on the cheap. Ask friends. Ask peers what, or who they used. Whatever you do, don’t just rely on a free listing on one of the P2P marketplaces. If you do, you are sending your potential clients to a place where 100,000 of your competitors are just one mouse click away. You want to be the client’s ONLY choice.

  Add a blog to your current website. Talk about what you know. Offer advice to people just getting started in the VO business. Offer anecdotes on mistakes you’ve made and things you’ve done right. This helps to make you look like you not only know what you’re doing (a subtle way to reassure a new client) but it gets you more well known among your peers in the business. But don’t blog for the sake of blogging. Have something to say or don’t say anything. Get a professional photo taken. You want to always convey the impression that you are a hard working professional. Using that picture of you 3-sheets-to-the-wind at last year’s St. Patricks Day party is NOT professional. Join your local chamber of commerce or local business meetup groups. ( They’re a great way to network with your local community. Plus you will probably have the most interesting job in the room. And when all those insurance and real estate agents need a local radio commercial done for their business, if you’ve done your job right, they’ll know who to contact. Create unique business cards and hand them out whenever you can. Make sure all your friends, family and people you meet know EXACTLY what it is you do. Your primary objective is run out of business cards to hand out. Your secondary objective is to NEVER run out of business cards! Prepare a clear answer to the question “What do you do?” - When I say I’m a voice artist, most people have no idea what it really involves. Educate them. You don't need to give them a history of the recorded voice. just a brief sentence or two about your industry and what you do is fine. Get a professional email address. "" says that you are serious about what you do. "" says you created this email account yesterday. Use this professional email address when emailing absolutely anyone. Also be sure to have the signature block of your outgoing email set up with all your contact information and website. It's free advertising and could help convince potential clients to hire you. Comment on blog posts and Linkedin discussions in your field. Make sure your commentary adds value to the post. You want to be seen as a professional. Not a whiner. Pitch story ideas to local newspaper and magazine reporters. - How many times have you read an article about a voice over artist in your local paper? I’ll bet not many. This helps build your credibility and is more free advertising. You should also offer yourself as a resource to local reporters looking for expert opinions. Write guest articles for other people's’ blogs or newsletters. - I’ve done this a couple of times and it's nice to see your words in something that isn't just your own blog. Give away a free report or eBook - (BTW, I have a great eBook for people just getting started in the VO business. Click here to learn more.) Join a professional organization - World Voices, for example, is a great one. They help you build more credibility and tell potential clients that you are not a college kid looking for beer money. You are a professional and take what you do seriously. Send out holiday cards with your business information on them.

   Do you live in LA or NY? Get smart looking postcards printed up and stick them inside Variety or AdWeek. Some may see this as a bit morally questionable. I see it as being passionate about finding new clients. Attend industry conventions and seminars. (Faffcon, VOAtlanta, WOVOcon, etc.) Attend industry conventions and seminars that your target market attends. Is there an advertising or radio convention nearby? Check it out. That’s a target-rich environment! Host a free webinar and give out solid, practical advice. Google hangouts is super easy (and free) for this sort of thing. Put together a presentation (know in advance what you’re going to say) and then spread the word that you’re hosting a way for new and aspiring voice talent to learn more about the art of VO for free. Remind clients of important dates. Does your client do radio commercials? Remind them that Halloween is just around the corner (followed by Christmas, or 4th of July, or whatever) Forward articles of potential interest to your clients. - this is a great way to keep yourself “top of mind” with a client without coming across as “spammy.” Make sure that the article you’re sending out is worthwhile information, and not something they may have already seen. Start your own local group for voice artists - networking with your peers is a good way to establish yourself in the industry. Plus a group of voice artists can share ideas and suggestions for improving marketing and business plans, discuss ways to improve voiceover skills and help each other to grow their businesses. By the way, if you are a voice artist in the Austin Texas area, hit me up! Cold Calling - Oh yeah! Who doesn't love getting on the phone and trying to convince complete strangers that they should hire you? WooHoo! PAR-TAY! OK, I know this is everyone’s favorite thing to dread, but it honestly works. Do a search for video and audio production companies that specialize in commercial production, medical narration or whatever niche of VO you are specializing in. Do a little research on each company to find the phone number and learn something about the company you’re going to call. Then call them up and ask to speak to the person in charge of hiring voice talent. Sometimes this person is known as the creative director, or casting director. Introduce yourself. Tell them that you’re a voice artist and ask if they’re accepting new voices for upcoming projects. If they are, ask to send them either a link to your website (where your demos are listed prominently) or your demo directly. Chances are that if this is a production company that uses voice talent, they will be more than happy to hear a fresh voice. If they say yes, send the info and follow up with an email a few days later with more info. It's a slow process to gain new clients this way, but remember: this is a numbers game.

  The more you call, the greater your chances of getting a client. Postcards - back in the days before the internet, this was the only way you could reach potential clients. Production companies and advertising agencies would get tons of mail from voice talent every day. Now that everything is done through email, the old-school method of a postcard has become unique again. An email can easily be deleted without even being read. But a potential client is much more likely to read a postcard. Who doesn’t love getting mail when it’s not a bill? Spend some time to get the postcard designed professionally. Include your website and basic info about yourself. Including a QR code isn’t a bad idea either. Chances are the potential client is going to have their phone on them at the time and can listen to your demo when they're away from their computer just by scanning the code with their phone. (your website IS mobile friendly, right? Make sure.)

   Participate in online chats and forums related to your subject area. Cross promote your business with someone who offers services that complement your own. (audio recording, music production, etc) Spell Check - nothing screams “amateur” like someone that doesn’t know the difference between “to” and “too." Take the time to read over everything with a critical eye before you hit send. There's a lot to this list, but every one of these tips has been tried, tested and proven to work.

   There are several other ideas that I didn't even mention. If you've got some suggestions for ways to market your VO business, I'd love to read em. Send me an email and let me know. If I get enough suggestions, I'll do a part 2 to this post. The key takeaway with this: Believe in yourself. Have the confidence to believe in what you do and share that belief with everyone. This is the secret to marketing. Using these suggestions above will help you to develop a strategic plan for success. Write out that plan and follow it. Stick with it. You can do this! ---------------------

--------------------------- About Rob Marley - A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin Texas

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

When Your 'Pickups' Don't Match The Original Recording - Prepare For Sound Matching

By William Williams
Voice Actor & Coach

OK, you finished a long, involved business narration.  

You've done the slicing and dicing and sent the client flawless edited files.  

Maybe you underbid this job a little, but you stuck it out and you finally uploaded the files, invoiced the client and breathed a sigh of relief. 

And then the dreaded email arrives. They love the delivery and the audio quality is spot-on ... but … you mispronounced several words - including the company name! (I'm not going to nag and tell you to check ALL pronunciations before you record.) 

No problem! You'll fix the mispronounced words with "pickups" of each sentence and replace the faulty sentences.  

You record the first sentence and … oh, oh ... it sounds completely different than the original! OMG!  

Now you have to re-record the entire job! Gasp! 


Never fear! You can fix this problem - and avoid it in the future - by sound matching.  

Here are some hints on how to set up your recording gear to get repeatable results when you record. And by understanding these concepts, you can also adjust your gear to get a recording that matches an earlier recording. 

Hint 1: Keep it Simple, Studioperson 

Yeah, the old "KISS" rule strikes again. Don't put a lot of strange equipment between your mic and the box that digitizes your signal.  

I've seen signal chains with compressors, EQs de-essers, and noise gates strung between the mic and the interface box.  

Each of those gadgets responds differently to both dynamics (loud and soft) and frequency. And they each affect the next guy in the chain. 

If you throw all that gear into the signal path you will never get the same sound twice. The clients want your basic audio to begin with. Not some de-essed, compressed, EQ'd, gated version of your audio.  

If you don't write down ALL the parameters of these boxes you've used, you'll never find your way back to the original sound. 

Hint 2: Set it and Forget it 

Use your creativity on your read, not your recording technique.  

Once you've figured out how to record at a good level, set any knobs and never touch them again.  

OK, I'll allow you ONE knob. The gain control. If it's a louder read, turn the gain down to get the right level. Quiet read? Turn the gain up.  

Then make sure your pickup performance matches the energy of the original performance and adjust the gain so the recorded audio is at the same level. 

Hint 3: Make Note of Your Mic Distance 

Here's a secret many beginning recordists don't know.  

Most voice over microphones have a "cardioid" pattern of sensitivity. That means they "hear" really well from the front but reject sounds from the back.  

This is good because it eliminates sounds from around the room from your recording. But cardioid mics also have a "proximity effect." The sound of your voice gets more "bassy" as you get closer to the mic. And a small change in distance can have considerable effect on the "tone" of your recording.  

If all the other things haven't changed and your new recording doesn't sound like your original, this may be the culprit. 

If it sounds too bassy, move back a bit and turn up the gain to match the original recording level. If it sounds to "treble," move a touch closer to the mic and turn the gain down a bit. 


To summarize, when you record pickups, the sound of the new recording must match the original.   

To make sure this happens start, with a simple signal path: USB mic into the computer or conventional mic into the interface box, then into the computer. 

Experiment with the level that will give you a good recording level, and then stick with it for most jobs. 

And pick a good mic distance - 6 to 12 inches for most condenser mics - and then stick with that distance. 

If you need to vary from these settings, then make a quick note-to-self: 
"I really had to scream so I turned the gain to X and my mic distance was Y." 
And then your pickups will match, you'll swap those sentences in the original, anD the fix will take minutes - not hours.
William Williams has worked for the last quarter century as owner of Aliso Creek Productions. As a voice talent, he has voiced national, regional and local commercials for AT&T, Apple Computer, Radio Shack, Princess Cruises, Chicago Tribune and many more. He has directed Nancy Cartwright, Michael York, Yakov Smirnoff, Jack Mayberry and other top voice talent. And he teaches commercial and animation voice over, offers private coaching and demo production in his studio in Burbank, CA and online.