It's been an an interesting year. Lots of challenges balanced by unexpected gains.
The biggest challenge and change was moving my studio in the middle of the year. I've welcomed a more relaxed (and quiet!) space for my studio and a (slightly) bigger voice booth and the pleasure of finally being able to offer clients a cup of tea! (the previous studio had no kitchen facilities).
I've missed working in Shoreditch more than I thought I would and although I've gained an extra 1.5 hours which used to be commuting time, I've lost a gym I loved (it's too far to justify a daily visit now) and a reason to get out of the studio! It's taken a diagnosis of severe Vitamin D deficiency to realise this is a bit of an issue. 2015 goal: more time outside, more sunshine.
I did a lot less travelling than I hoped (none, save a trip to Hebden Bridge to host a workshop), and I also gained more friends than I expected.One of my 2014 goals was to make more of an effort to get out and meet people, and joining The Voice Over Network was one of the best business decisions I made this year. Thanks to all the voice over people I've got know this year, there's too many of you to list and you're all awesome.
I also joined Sound Women, which has been on my list for a while, and I'm planning to get more involved in their events next year.
Voice over can be described in one word for me: steady. I've added a few bigger names to my client lists (IKEA, Cap Gemini, Swiss Post, Bank of New Zealand) and I've had more work in Australian accents, which is something I've been working towards after deciding to embrace Antipodeaness in general. I've finally accepted that outside of Oz & NZ (and it hurts to admit this) we sound the same to most people.
Voice reel production has really taken off for me this year. I reached my 100 voicereel milestone in October and it makes me proud every time I've heard about a voice reel client signing to a great voice agency, or landing a great contract with an audiobook agency, voicing a character in a video game or being chosen to voice a national commercial campaign. I'm flattered that Loud and Clear Voices have chosen to work with me this year as a preferred supplier, and I look forward to working with them (and United Voices) in 2015. And I wrote a bit for Actor Hub.
Schedules and locations moves meant I produced fewer Sounding Wilde shows than I wanted, but we've built a solid foundation for expansion next year, with our show about voice agents proving our most popular one yet!
I had a bit of a focus on passive income this year, which led to the creation of my Create Your Best Ever Soundtrack Ecourse, aimed at performers who want to learn how to edit their own music for their acts. I poured a lot of time into it and I've added new skills and learned a lot about marketing, so in terms of my personal growth alone, it was worthwhile.
It's the Christmas edition of Sunday Sound! Now, as you might expect, businesses & blogs across the country are winding down for the year so internet pickins' have been a little light this week. But fear not! We'll be back with a pre-New Year's/last of 2013 special next Sunday, and if you need a bit of breathing space between turkey dinners, have a gander at this week's distractions.
To all my readers out there, I hope you have a very happy Christmas & general festive season!
SOUND DESIGN & MIXING
Sound designers & mixers Steve Boedekker, Ben Burtt, Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Andy Nelson and Randy Thom all make it to The Hollywood Reporter's list of 25 film artisans who dazzled in 2013
I made it back to the UK and aside from lingering jetlag and a missing cat (crossing fingers he'll be back before Christmas), all is well. I'm doing an intense burst of voice reel & voice over work before taking a few days off over the Christmas period to do not much at all. As should we all be doing, unless you're in an on-call job and you'll be paid loads more to be available! I hope your seasonal preparations, whatever they may be, are progressing as planned, and that you can take the time to enjoy this week's roundup.
BeatzbyGirlz is an IndieGoGo campaign launched by electronic soul producer Erin Barra. The money raised will help create a female-powered beatmaking and mixing web series and release a group of recordings produced by Erin. Here's why you should get behind the campaign
It's all gone a bit seasonal in this week's roundup! You can blame my briefly captured and soon-to-be-lost holiday feeling as I say goodbye to the sunny New Zealand skies and prepare for my return to London town. Plus the fact that you can't move round the internet for celebration and gift-talk. It's all interesting, unique stuff round these parts though, naturally. If you manage to snatch a break between the round of office parties, do have a read.
Hello from Hamilton, New Zealand! Today's Sunday Sound is slightly subdued, I have succumbed to travel lurgy and am currently snuffling my way through bits of sightseeing and family time while trying desperately to keep up with the constant stream of social media and blogs. Needless to say, something has to give, so apologies in advance for this week's edition being a bit reduced, and hopefully I will be back on full form for next week.
In my opinion, ADR and dubbing is often overlooked by the sound media (as in reporting), in favour of the sexier realms of sound design, film composition and re-recording mixing, but it's a detailed and precise sound art, as is evidenced in this article about ADR and loop groups for Boardwalk Empire
As you read this I will be at the tail-end of my sister's wedding celebrations, cheeks hurting from smiling, feet hurting from dancing in impractical heels and probably head pounding from too much champagne. Not that this has anything to do with sound, voice over or anything I usually blog about, but life is full of surprises and sometimes this blog is too! This Sunday, I hope you get to let your hair down a little as well and experience something that reminds you it's not just all work.
This week's Sunday Sound comes to you from Melbourne, Australia! I wish I could say I've been lounging in the sunshine and enjoying a few drinks, but it's been jersey-and-a-coat weather here since I arrived, so it's been more of an inside trip so far. Which has meant that inbetween the errands I've been running for my sister's wedding (the main reason I'm here), I've had lots of time to look out fun stuff on the internet for you all.
Enjoy this week's roundup. Sunshine and beers not included, sorry...and I'll probably have to wait till I get to the Gold Coast for mine.
Top 10 things you need to know about voice over agents - part 1 & part 2. Be aware that this is written from a US-market perspective so although most of the points are salient and well worth considering, some points might not apply for your home market. Three points I picked up on are the commission percentages will differ, most UK agencies are not listed on voicebank.net, and I'm not sure UK agencies have a "house reel."
This week I've set up and mixed the same show (The Secret Garden musical) in four different venues, on four completely different sound systems, with only a few hours tech time in each - by myself.
From meeting an unfamiliar sound desk and venue to balancing a musical five hours later has been a hardcore experience. I've learned a lot about my skills (and levels of fatigue & tolerance) and about trying to make a West End show fit into a fringe budget (there's a whole other blog post coming on that). Sometimes it's great to have a very intensive, pressured experience to keep your skills & ears sharp - but it's not one I want to go through on a regular basis.
Suffice to say, I'm a bit surprised that today's post is even happening. Have I developed the ability to blog in my sleep? if the quality of today's links seem a little dream-like, you'll know why.
Is it just me, or did every soundie in the UK and US (and further afield) seem to be at AES this week? One day, people, one day I shall scare up enough funds to go myself, but until then, there's this great roundup from Sonic Sound to read, and of course, this week's links for all of us to get stuck into.
So what does a "studio chef" or head of studio do, exactly? Meet Linn Fijal, studio manager and house engineer for Stockholm's RMV Studios, which has hosted The Hives and Celine Dion, among many other musical luminaires.
The term "vocal fry" has been bandied about a lot recently in the voice over realm. I'm not sure if it's just something that we hear in American voices? It's not a trait I've ever associated with the British English accent, for example, (I'm based in London), but I was very interested to learn more about it in this video
Happy Sunday everyone. I'm in the artificial reality of 2am in a hotel room in Leeds as I write this so my beginning-post ramblings are on track to be even more random than usual...so it's probably best if I keep them short. Enjoy these week's links like the final sip of the cider made from the final apple harvest of the season. Yes, nostalgia and even a bit of poetry! Again, it's 2am where I am right now. I suggest not following my lead, and instead, read this week's links in an awake, post-breakfast stimulent (coffee or otherwise) state to make the most of them.
Is it Sunday again already? I've been in theatre-land this week, tucked away in yet another sound box checking levels & programming desks for the first dates of the UK concert tour of The Secret Garden. Every good sound designer/engineer/sound no.1/sound no. 2 (I am all of these on this show) needs a break now and then again to shake the frequencies out however, so I present to you...this week's lovely links.
Howdy campers! Not that it's really camping season anymore in this hemisphere, more's the pity. Some lovely warm days still but ooh, those cooler evenings and nights! Kinda the perfect time to settle in with a glass/mug/bottle of something warming and your favourite sound/voiceover/music roundup, huh? Oh yes, here we go for this week...
If I was in New York, I would definitely be exploring this work by sound artist Janet Cardiff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: "The Forty Part Motet" is an "eleven-minute reworking of the forty-part motet Spem in alium numquam habui (1556?/1573?) by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis (ca. 1505–1585)" through 40 high-fidelity speakers. Have a listen to the audio snippet in the link, it's beautiful
Hello, all. I'm on the road again this weekend, up north on Saturday then straight back down on Sunday and into the studio with my workshop co-tutor Becca Stewart to get started on a project we've been planning for ages! It's a busy life and boy, I do appreciate those quiet days when they come! Here's this week's roundup for when you manage a quiet day yourself:
This is Mietze, the furriest of my hosts while I was working in Edinburgh. Even though she's not in a studio (and not technically my pet), I think she'd definitely be in with a chance for Tape Op's Studio Pet of the Month...I did mix with her in the same room...tenuous link anyone? Yeah, it's Sunday, I'm allowed it.
If you're considering home studio setup, this post on how to choose mics and preamps is a good starting point. It's aimed at audiobook recording but it holds true for general voice over recording and it's very straightforward for any VO who thinks of themselves as "non-techy"
I've been working away from my usual London base this week burning the candle at both ends in slightly more glamorous work environments than normal (see above), but I've still managed to find time to collate this week's round-up of sound, music & voice over links. I know, you're very lucky to have me....
Happy Sunday everyone! If you're working this weekend, I hope you make up for it by taking some time off later in the week. If you're not working, I hope you make the most of it. Modern life is very busy, sometimes we need to take space just to appreciate all its unique bits. And speaking of unique bits, I have lots of those for you this week.
Regular readers will have noticed that there was no Sunday Sound last week (gasp!), primarily because I was in a tent (above) in a field in Canterbury, Kent being Chief Sound Monkey for Boom & Bang Circus at the Lounge on the Farm Festival. It's hard to blog from a tent! I hoped you all coped without your weekly dose of sound happenings, rest assured we have now returned to scheduled programming.
Hello there, how's your week been? I've had a rush on voice demo recordings, a bit of soundtrack mixing and then spent Friday doing the sound for the London Theatre School graduation show at Arts Theatre in Soho. Busy with lots of variety...just like this week's roundup. Enjoy!
SOUND DESIGN & MIXING
"It’s sort of a dance to make sure that you’re letting each thing play in it’s own space" (Nathan Johnson)
This is well worth a read for anyone interested in getting into voice acting: voice casting for video games part 1, part 2
If you're considering signing up to a P2P but wonder what's out there aside from Voices.com and Voice123, start with Dave Courvisier's list, which (I think) is pretty comprehensive and offers no judgement!
I was desperately trying to write an intro this week that had nothing whatsoever to do with the weather...but it's too hot. Insert your own "hot news" pun here...or just skip to the links and enjoy.
SOUND DESIGN & MIXING
Loving this photo tour of EastWest Recording studios in Hollywood. In the 50s - 80s it was called Western Recorders and produced hits for such stars as Frank Sinatra, Elvis, the Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas as well as TV & film theme hits for M*A*S*H and The Godfather, among others. Read more about its history here
What should your next studio upgrade be? The chaps at Sonic Scoop have some good answers
If you're a Pro Tools user you're probably already considering the move to Pro Tools 11 (I know I am - offline bouncing!). With over a year since the announcement of a new Pro Tools version, there's been plenty of speculation around what it can and can't do. Pro Tools Expert has 5 common misunderstandings about Pro Tools 11
WOMEN IN SOUND
Recently, Sound Women, working with Creative Skillset, undertook undertaken a snapshot study of UK-based female presenters on-air. The findings are kind of staggering (read more about the report here)
Electronic Composer of the Week:Alice Shields, vocal electronic and cross-cultural opera composer and former Associate Director of both the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and the Columbia University Computer Music Center
Amanda Palmer vs The Daily Mail. Amanda wins.
Read more about the background to the song on Amanda's blog here and the Guardian here
How's your week been? I have been all about the busy this week with voice overs, live sound for Mat Ricardo's London Varieties, voice demo recordings and starting the sound design process for touring musicals. It's a varied life, a bit like this week's round up! Enjoy!
It's my birthday tomorrow (hence today's header picture) when I will probably not be receiving dream presents of a U87 or Korg MS20-Mini (I do live in hope though....) but I am at least taking some time off from work! So in the spirit of celebrations, get yourself whatever beverage floats your boat, take a rest and enjoy this week's slightly whimsical roundup.
Above is the new artwork on the side of the building where the Sounds Wilde studio is located - pretty arresting stuff! With this in mind, I hope your weekend has been filled with colour and of course, sound. Hopefully this week's links will round it all off nicely. Enjoy!
Hello! Have you had a good week, a hard week, or a long week? Whatever the case, I'm sure there'll be something in this week's roundup you can sit down and enjoy reading while having a cuppa - or a pint, if the sun's shining in your neck of the woods! Enjoy.
Ever wondered what it's like to record at Abbey Road Studios? Avid are releasing a series of videos as up-and-coming UK band Strangefruit record a song at Abbey Road Studios. Register here to watch the series and find out more about the role of producers, what it's like to record in the same studio as The Beatles and how home recordings can make it into the final mix
Lake Bell's movie In a World... about the relationship between a struggling vocal coach and her movie trailer voice over father is probably going to be on every VOs viewing list this year, owing to the subject matter! It was in competition at Sundance, where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, and I've heard from friends who saw it at Sundance London that it's pretty funny. Here's Lake talking about the film
Corporate voice over work: it might not be the most interesting or exciting VO work, but there's a lot of it out there and this useful article tells you how you can get it
Film accessories company Zacuto have published a series of educational videos with producer, engineer and sound lecturer Clinton Harn designed to "to educate and inform filmmakers on how to record exceptional audio for film and video." Here's their video on choosing devices for portable recording, full list of videos and articles here
Shaun Farley is fast becoming one of my favourite writers about sound design theory. His 2-part article on semiotics and how it applies to sound design is a clear and enlightening look at an interesting but quite dense subject: read part 1 & part 2
How do you book 20 voice over jobs a day? UK voice artist Guy Harris (all the voices of the game Worms!) shares his secrets in this interview.
John Goodman & Billy Crystal insisted on recording in the same booth together for the first Monsters Inc film and have done it again in the new film Monsters University - though animation voice over artists working in the same booth isn't as rare as the writer seems to think.
If you've been tempted to offer your services on Fiverr (no judgement from me in the current economic climate) read this first: what will $5 cost you?
It's London Marathon day here in the UK and while I would normally love to be cheering on the sidelines, I will be instead pandering to my freelance lifestyle (i.e. working) in the studio. Whatever you're doing this Sunday, take a bit of time out to relax, enjoy the sun if you have it and have a gander at these lovely links...
Aurora Halal is a New York electronic musician recently mentioned in a video from Vice Magazine's project Thump, about Brooklyn's electronic music scene, their "meditative creative space of Body Actualised Center and Music Dreaming" and the Mutual Dreaming events. That's a direct quote from the video, watch it to see how they combine yoga with ambient and electronic dance music, and have a listen to some of Aurora's work below.
No dancin' shoes for me this week, it's all work and no play in the Sounds Wilde studios. Hopefully by next Sunday I will be slightly more relaxed, until then enjoy these links put together in my slightly frazzled state.
Short & sweet post from Mix magazine about the essentials you need to find when facing an unfamiliar console for the first time
WOMEN IN SOUND
I don't know much about the contemporary DJ scene and I'd only vaguely heard of Nina Kraviz before reading this article, but this is a really interesting (and disappointing) insight into a side of dance music that I hadn't considered.
Advice from Patti Smith (entitled "to the young" but I think, really for all of us)
Poppy Crum has a cool job: she looks at how the brain perceives sound and other sensory input and how that can inform the design of Dolby products, and she wants to give you sensory superpowers. (Side note: my music degree was in early music performance, I understand how weird it must be to have absolute pitch at a semitone below modern music)
MUSIC & PERFORMANCE
Leon Theremingets his own comic book! Though I completely agree about the missed opportunity to base it on Theremin's own, fantastically odd life. (Sidenote: I properly ROFL'd at the Stockhausen/Xenakis joke in the first linked article. If you did too, we'd probably get along)
British electronic composer & sound designer Scanner on the intersection between sound and music. I first heard Scanner when he performed a live soundtrack to Alphaville back in 2002 at the 34th Auckland International Film Festival in New Zealand, he was just as thoughtful and interesting then.
RIP Andy Johns, producer & engineer for Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and many others
Three useful master classes with Voice Master Teacher Steve Memel on breathing: Part 1, part 2, part 3
These videos of top LA voice overs talking about their home studios are incredibly useful for any VO artist looking to build or upgrade their studio, and so is Jordan Reynold's review of the videos
Something I often say to my voice reel clients and what Becca and I say to our workshop attendees is: if you look after your voice, you can do voice over work for the rest of your life. I'm happy to say we've been proved right by game producers Capcom who have hired the original voice cast from the animated TV series of DuckTales - including 94-year-old Alan Young, who voices Scrooge - to voice their new game DuckTales Remastered game.
Happy Easter Sunday! I'm slowly catching up with blogging after laptop death and replacement. Hopefully this will see you through the public holiday tomorrow if you have one, and the start of a new working week if you don't.
I love a bit of practical recording advice. This excerpt from The Recording Engineer's Handbook is about selecting the right microphone
WOMEN IN SOUND
Last week I posted about the first three women feature in Pre Sonus's Women in Pro Audio series - here's the fourth: Cookie Mareno, producer, engineer and founder of Blue Coast Records
Awesome short documentary on French electronic music composer Eliane Radigue
..who shared a studio while at NYU with one of my favourite electronic composers Laurie Speigel. Speigel's work is now probably best recognised by the wider public as part of the soundtrack to the Hunger Games. Love the bit where she mentions having to keep her fridge turned off to keep her Electrocomp 200 in tune. Ah, vintage analogue synths.
Million Dollar Piano: the live sound setup for Elton John's latest show at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
This behind-the-scenes video of the voice actors working on ParaNorman is worth watching on its own, but even better is this accompanying blog post from voice artist Jordan Reynolds on why he loves watching other voice artists at work
INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF
Like many creative people, I suspect, I am intrigued by TED and envious of the privileged few "thought-leaders" (really, what does that mean? People who have good ideas and a better grasp of how to wield social media than the rest of us?) who are invited to speak there. I found this article Inside TED illuminating (and relieving). I still really want to go.
Madness played the last live gig from the iconic building in a 2-hour special brodcast in the UK on Friday. I worked at TVC for almost 4 years of my 8-year stint working at the BBC and like many current and past BBCites, I have many fond memories. It's odd to think it won't be there anymore and it's interesting to consider where TV goes next.
In 1958 composer György Ligeti wrote Artikulation, one of his only electronic works. In the 1970s, Rainer Wehinger created this "visual listening score" to accompany it.
To me, it seems incomplete as a sound design representation (there's nothing to signify changes in the spatial field as the sounds are positioned left/centre/right, for example - although it's probable that Wehinger never intended it to be read in this way), but it's quite fun to see how Wehinger chose to represent the various sounds. It also gets you thinking what might future digital notation look like?
Sound design theory can seem off-puttingly dense - especially when your article has the title "Sound Spheres - a psychospatial model" - but this is a fascinating read and, for me, codifies a way of approaching sound design that I've been aware of but never fully explored
WOMEN IN SOUND
Electronic music pioneer Bebe Barron (who died in 2008) created the soundtrack for Forbidden Planet with her (then) husband Louis. Here's an extract from the tribute documentary about the classic film which talks about their work
NPR wrote a great article about the Barrons and their music (they continued to collborate after their divorce in 1970), which includes extracts from their compositions.
There's much debate in voice over forums at the moment about the life span of ISDN and its possible replacements. If you don't want to commit to any one remote solution at the moment but need to be able to provide a remote service for clients, consider using Skype. This article gives you the basics & benefits of Skype, read this for more for more indepth information about ISDN (bear in mind the cost will differ between countries) and have a look at alternatives to ISDN explored in this VoiceOverXtra post and this post
If you're interested in getting into voice overs for gaming, check out Game Voices. They feature monthly interviews with video game voice artists - this month's is with Lee Boardman (Assassin's Creed, Fable 3 and loads of TV & film credits as an actor)
Another interview with a video game voice artist: this one with Roger Craig Smith (pic above) - voice of Sonic the Hedgehog! In the interview below he talks about other voice over work he's done and more about the specific recording process for voice over for games, including facial motion capture
Good afternoon noise monkeys! How's your Sunday going? Here's a few interesting bits & pieces to lighten your day.
SOUND DESIGN & MIXING
This month's focus for Designing Sound is the intersection of sound design and music. As a sound designer I'm often asked if I'm a composer, or if I "do music too" and my answer varies as much as the question, so I'm really looking forward to reading what Designing Sound has to say on the topic - starting with this interview with Randy Thom.
As a companion piece to the analogue vs digital debate mentioned in the reviews of Sound City (under Music & Performance, below), this article looks at the value (monetary and otherwise) of vintage audio equipment compared with what's being produced today
If you're baffled by sample-rate debates, or if you just want to know what all the fuss is about, this well-written article is for you
WOMEN IN SOUND
It was International Women's Day on Friday. In celebration & recognition, here are a few of the great international organisations promoting women in sound & music.
GIRRL is "an international organization that supports and promotes new work by women working in the sonic arts and digital media." I'll be keeping an eye on them and hoping they update their site with events for 2013
Women in Music celebrates "women's music making across all genres of music. We raise awareness of gender issues in music and support women musicians in their professional development." Their site's What's On? section is regularly updated with upcoming musical events of interest to their readers.
Sound Women is "a network of over 900 inspirational women working in audio. We are committed to raising the profile of the women who work in the radio and audio industry, and celebrating their achievements". They're holding an Ebay auction to raise funds for their (very popular) training events, workshops and schemes which they launched on International Women's Day - have a look at the awesome prizes on offer!
Have you seen Dave Grohl's directorial debut Sound City yet? I haven't, but I enjoyed two thoughtful reviews about it - one from Sonic Scoop and the other from Tape Op. If you've seen the film, what do you think?
If you live in or have ever visited London, you will have heard the famous London Underground "Mind the Gap" announcements. This lovely story tells how one of the announcements has been reinstated so the widow of the voice artist can hear her late husband's voice again.
If you're a fan of radio drama, Neil Gaiman or great storytelling in general, mark March 16th in your diary for the release of Neverwhere as a 6 episode BBC Radio Drama. Listen to a preview clip below, more preview clips here
When Marina met Ulay. Read about their story first, then watch the video. Heartbreaking, moving, human.
"Surround yourself with people who love music and are supportive or people who stay quiet." I love Canadian DJ/producer Tiga's six golden rules for producers. I've just been introduced to his music (love it when I meet new music), here's a sample(Note: the styling on this video is insane)
More Oscar congratulations, this time for to Karen Baker Landers for her Best Sound Editing win at the Oscars for Skyfall, along with Per Hallberg (also for Skyfall) and Paul NJ Ottosson (for Zero Dark Thirty). Read about the challenges faced by sound editors in this in-depth article from Inside Movies
Here's the NAMM panel "Women Behind the Console" that Mix refers to in the Jeri Palumbo interview. Jeri Palumbo is around 14mins in talking about working in the rain, wireless comms and RF for the Superbowl - the amount of feeds she had to manage was insane. The panel also includes Brenda Russell (The Colour Purple, Stevie Wonder), Marcella Araica (Timberland, Britney Spears) and Sylvia Massy (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Tool, REM, Prince) and what they say abou the role of a mix engineer and of a producer is worth listening to.
This is Amanda Fucking Palmer's TED talk rendered comic-style by Fever Picture (have a look under Inspiration below for links to more of their TED-renderings). Her talk, which focussed on how we pay for music, isn't out as a video yet, but click on the picture to read about it on TED blog.
Music in the (actual) round: More Bowie with Beck's re-imagining of "Sound and Vision" as part of the year-long "Hello, Again" project. The project "invites contemporary icons to transform classic works of art, fashion, film, and music into a fresh, new creation." Part of Beck's contribution was the 360-degree concert, watch an excerpt below (wish I'd been there, looked amazing) and read about how it came about with the director Chris Milk
Beck's in a collaborative mood of late. For more reimaginings, have a look at the work he did remixing Philip Glass, which I covered in Sunday Soundhere and here.
Phils Book is a wonderful resource for classic UK recording studios of the 60s - 80s. It's packed with details & pictures of kit and lists of artists who recorded in each studio. The picture above is from Trident Studios, of particular interest to me as one of their consoles was eventually sold to the Music & Audio Institute of New Zealand in Auckland, NZ - where I trained as a sound engineer. My tutors were extremely proud of the fact we trained using a console that had been used to record Bowie, although I think it's likely we had one of the copies that were built & sold to the public, rather than the original. From my memory, it looked almost identical to this one in use at Soma Studios.
How did you learn about synthesis? I had a whole module on it in sound school, culminating in the hardest aural exam I have ever done, where our tutor played a single sound on a Korg MS-20 and we had to write down the exact settings (waveform, filter, oscillators, everything) he used to create that sound. If only I'd had access to Moog's excellent series on the fundamentals of synthesis! Here's the first video, the whole series can be found here
The Wrap has an awesome series of interviews with the sound mixers (re-recording mixers) nominated in the Best Sound category in this year's Oscars. Each precis links to a full article (the link to Deb Adair's article is below) and every one is worth reading. I especially love how much these talented people emphasise that silence and subtlety is as important as big explosions.
I first read about Björk's cancelled Kickstarter project on Amanda Palmer's blog. Read the news report about it first then Amanda's take on it, it makes for interesting reading about people's assumptions about the purpose of Kickstarter and how it should be used.
And because it's lovely and sad and therefore appropriate for a Sunday, here's the video of The Bed Song by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra. This is different from the original album version - AFP wasn't happy with the original recording and went back into the studio to redo it after the album was finished.
Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern: these videos of their live performances (8 albums over 8 nights) slightly make up for not being there. Check out the video under Inspiration... below, as well. Here's the video for Autobahn, see more here
I've just found 3 posts by Grammy-award winning audiobook narrator & producer Paul Ruben about quick-fix techniques he uses to improve performance when narrating audio books. Ruben's approach is fascinating and his techniques are very useful, although his writing style is more whimsical than factual! Start with part 1, then look at part 2 and part 3. You do need to read them in order otherwise that 3rd part with the "You" really won't make sense at all.
Following on from my post in last week's Sunday Sound on the Million Dollar Voices in the US, here are the Australian versions
This fascinating article about America's new National Recording Preservation Plan will interest anyone who's been involved with the preservation or restoration of sound. My first job at the BBC was as an audio archivist so I've experienced the challenges of trying to create useable digital copies of audio captured on deteriorating analogue formats, but I've never considered how varying digital formats, and profit-focussed corporations, might also be hinderances in sound preservation.
If you missed out on Kraftwerk tickets at Tate Modern (the prices alone meant I didn't even try), The Guardian has created a cool Krautrock tour - get the "robo-Dada visionary landscape" for free!
The fact that women account for less than 5% of producers and engineers (or did in 2010, and Terri Winston from WAM think's that's a generous number) doesn't surprise me - I was one of only 2 female students in my year who graduated from sound school. This interesting article looks at how this could be changing - and tells a few sadly familiar stories along the way.
So who's making all the money in voice overs? In the US, it's these guys (or was, Don LaFontaine sadly died on September 1 2008):
"Take the feedback, and get better, right?" - I really appreciated this post from Dave Courvoisier. It reminded me that even the most experienced artists get negative feedback at times, and that all you can really do is take it, learn from it, and move on.
INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE GEEK STUFF
Lenny Kravitz hears his music being performed by a street choir, and joins in (via Messy Nessy Chic)
My latest inspiration comes from the Inside the Actors Studio videos on the cast of the Simpsons and the cast of Family Guy. Highly recommended viewing! We can all learn so much from these guys. Watch the Simpson's epsiode in particular to see what they do with their mouths, faces and bodies to create their specific characters. (NB: the black bits are where the show clips have been removed for copyright reasons, keep listening through these as the actors are still speaking)
Interview with Piper Payne, recording & mixing engineer and advocate for the Metric Halo ULN-8. I didn't know Mertric Halo made hardware so this was an interesting introduction to a potential new interface for me
All-star panel of professional concert sound engineers talk about everything from acoustics to the favourite outboard gear involved in running sound for the biggest music, entertainment, sports & TV shows around the world.
Insightful interview with Leslie Ann Jones, Grammy Award Winner & Director of Music Recording & Scoring at Skywalker Sound (skip to 14:21 for the interview). Around 48:35 she talks about women in the industry, interesting that she notes there a quite a few women working in film sound at Skywalker but their applicants seem to come mainly from men. There's a bit of discussion on conservative family values and gender roles at the end which seems a bit outdated (and patronising) to me...although I have had the "where's the engineer?" comment too.
I've personally never met a USB mic that impresses me but I'd be interested in hearing Blue Microphone's "Nessie" in action, particularly to compare the built in "adaptive studio processing" with what I would normally add to voice over recording
Should companies exhibiting at NAMM stop using booth babes? I've never seen the point of "booth babes" - every male engineer/music maker I've known is way more interested in the gear than the girls and in my opinion, as a female in the industry, it does continue to promote the idea that music & sound production is male-orientated. Companies: Let your products sell themselves.
If you're in London you should definitely make time to catch at least one of the incredible concerts, lectures and musivcal experiences being put on as part of The Rest Is Noise festival. And if you haven't read Alex Ross's book - do. It's brilliant.
A new David Bowie album is out in March! Have you heard the first single "Where Are We Now?" What do you think?
The East West Audio Body Shop is "the first interactive, online talk show for voice actors with their own voice over studios". It's free, a great resource and Dan Lenard has an awesome moustache. Thank god you can catch the replays online as well, for us voice talents based in the UK who don't fancy staying up till 2am. Catch the most recent episode here
Some great tips here about submitting audition proposals for any voice artists on Pay to Play (P2P) or freelancing sites
Marc makes the point here that you should always submit the best quality auditions possible as this is the first impression the client has of your work. I get his point, but I think the comparison with portfolios falls down slightly - it's more like a designer showing a client a mock-up.
There's also the concern that a client, especially when they're an anonymous P2P client, could use your audition as their finished audio, if it's that good. This is certainly a concern among aspiring voice actors here in the UK for voice acting & talent sites like Voices Pro, Casting Call Pro and Star Now. What do you think?
With the last voice over workshop of the year being sold out I thought it was a good time to tell you about our January workshops.
Becca and I have had a blast running these this year and we're excited about sharing our combined knowledge with more of you next year.
And because it's coming up to Christmas...we've got a special deal on too!
BOOK YOUR PLACE ON A JANUARY 2013 WORKSHOP BEFORE JAN 1 2013
AND GET 1 HR EXTRA STUDIO TIME FREE!
(excludes Home Studio workshop)
That's right, a whole hour's extra studio time to practice scripts with direction and feedback from myself and Becca - what an awesome kick-start to new skills and a potential new career as a voice artist for 2013!
Details of the workshop are below and at the Workshops page on this site. If you have any further questions, please just get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.
Becoming a Home Studio Voice Artist
Sunday January 13 2013 11am - 3pm
You don't have to have an agent to work as a voice artist! A fun and informative workshop focussing on how to establish yourself as a voice over artist working out of your own home studio.
London Varieties will be back in February next year with new and special stuff (which is as much as I'm allowed to say at this point...) Mat's also been nominated for an award as Best Speciality Act, double cabarati points!
Massive congratulations to all the artists, events, productions and venues nominated for a London Cabaret Award this year. I've had the pleasure of another year of being involved in London cabaret and variety and I hope to continue to be involved for many years to come.
I have very strong ties with the UK (and international) cabaret community and I am very proud of the breadth and variety (it's in the name!) of work produced by our scene. Our cabaret stalwarts fight hard to gain respect for an art form that is determined to retain the spontaniety of its underground roots while still aiming to attract (and convert) audiences more inclined towards mainstream entertainment.
Mainstream & cabaret collided recently over the use of "cabaret" as a derisive term by several of the X Factor judges, specifically Gary Barlow. Fed up of our name been taken in vain, the cabaret community produced the above video as a response. Vive le Cabariot!
Plus - I worked on the soundtrack of this awesome act recently with Josephine Shaker and I've just seen there's a video of it. Props to my voice artist Edwin Flay for his David Attenborough impression!
I've been creating soundtracks for burlesque, cabaret and live performance acts for a number of years.
They're mostly short, up to 10mins in length and vary wildly in terms of creativity and complexity, which I've found can lead to quite challenging work.
I've talked previously about a burlesque remix I did of Rhapsody in Blue, which involved a lot of musical creativity and the realisation that I actually understand what I learnt for my Music degree better now than I did when I was studying it. Must be one of the benefits of aging.
I've recently completed a soundtrack for a burlesque performer which used more of what I think of as my "sound" creativity - less notes and rhythm, though there was a bit of that, and more how I could realise what my client wanted (and actually anticipate what they might want) through sound.
When working with performers wanting soundtracks for live performance art of any kind, It's very important to understand the basic narrative or structure of the track and the "hit" points - the bits where the performer will take something off, or reveal a prop or piece of clothing or perform a big trick. So my starting point was finding out what this particular performer wanted to communicate to the audience.
The basic narrative of the act was that the performer was a zebra who was travelling from the African plains to Hackney in London, and ended up at a rave. As surreal as this sounds, this is not the oddest theme for a burlesque act I've ever come across.
The first part of the track was relatively straight-forward, a voice over in the style of David Attenborough over a suitably dramatic soundtrack, taken from a nature documentary, wich described the performer's journey from the African plains, across the oceans and Britain, to Hackney.
The next part was the complex bit. The idea was that the soundtrack would merge into this techno track:
So far, so fine, but the performer wanted different words in place of some of the other words to reflect more the nature of the act - so that "one night in Hackney" became "one zebra in Hackney".
Hm. Trickier. I knew I would have to strip the vocals (as much as this is possible - see my previous post on this) then add additional vocals back in, which was possible, but I was concerned about matching the original voice to the new voice. Without getting the original vocalist in to re-record or hiring a voice over artist who can mimic people precisely, this was pretty much impossible.
Fortunately, I was very lucky to have the services of Edwin Flay, a talented voice over artist with whom I work regularly, who is very capable of doing various accents. He was already booked to do the David Attenborough-style voice, and after chatting with him we decided that we would get him to record the whole of the vocals for the track, instead of separate words. This solved the issue of having to match the original voice to the new one.
After recording Edwin's Cockney-style voice, I then had to strip the vocals from the original track, add Edwin's voice on top, then process his voice to match the original as closely as possible.
In my Pro Tools session, I layered the stereo and mono tracks for the vocal stripping (using the technique in this video), below the stereo track of One Night in Hackney, then mixing between them to create as coherent and full a mix as possible. This required careful listening!
Here's an extract of the result:
For anyone interested, the processing on Edwin's voice is all Waves plugins: VEQ3, Vocal Rider, L2 Ultramaximiser, HDelay & TrueVerb. the Waves overload wasn't intentional - just what I have and what sounded best at the time!
I'm reasonably happy with the finished results (don't think I'm ever 100% happy with any of my work) ut most importantly, my client the performer was happy. And apparently the act went down a storm! I'd like to think my soundtrack was a part of that.
In February I created a 30 min soundtrack for couture designer Stephane St Jaymes for his first catwalk show for London Fashion Week. The brief was to create a soundtrack that reflected his fun, playful collection inspired by the film Les Demoiselles de Rochfort and followed the three parts of the collection: daywear, cocktail wear, and evening wear.
Above are three videos I found of highlights from the show, with the soundtrack I created and mixed.