The Magazine on the Internet for Voice-overs
A little later than anticipated but... here it is. The work barometer has been going up and down like the proverbial yo-yo over the last couple of months and some voice-overs are reporting a much lower turn-over compared to last year. A rather startling rumour involving Alfasound and JMS turned out to be a non-runner while the Mercury/IRG shift to Peterborough rates very highly in the unexpected stakes. Those stations searching for new writers don't seem to be finding what they want as quickly as before: the available talent is slim on the ground, hiding or just reluctant! Far from settling down the CP/VO side of the industry seems to be becoming ever more unsettled, with some of the blame being laid at the doors of the ever more powerful PLCs which have devoured the radio system we used to know and a distinct lack of training, and that's observation not paranoia. Either don't give up the day job or find one! Ed.
|CLEAN SWEEP FOR METRO|
Kim Galvin & Tim Craig
Metro Commercial Production cleaned up at the annual NEPA creative awards on May 30th, winning every radio award on offer. Kim Galvin won Gold for her commercial featuring Penelope Keith and Neil Morrisey for the Environment Agency, while Tim Craig won Silver in the same category for his ad for The Hoppings, featuring two talking goldfish! Metro Group Creative Director, Mike Bersin, was also honoured with the "Walter Smith Memorial Trophy", which is awarded annually to an individual in recognition of creative excellence in his/her field.
|THE MOTOROLA BITSURFER PRO - ISDN OFFICE SOLUTION|
As the voice-over becomes ever more dependant on his or her ability to function in an efficient and stress free environment, investment in the best available technology is a growing necessity. To that end, The Voice decided to test the Motorola Bitsurfer Pro to see how it shaped up as a useful (or otherwise) addition to the Home Studio. The MBP pack, billed as the ISDN Office Solution, comes with everything you need except a Service Provider. The Terminal Adapter itself is an attractive, streamlined unit and is uncomplicated. It has a power connector, a Data Port socket, an ISDN port and two analogue phone ports: there is also a small 4-way dipswitch panel which I had no need to alter. On the face of the unit the indicator lights are kept to a minimum: there is a Link Status light; one for each of the analogue lines; one for the connection of the Data Link; and one each for Receipt and Transmission of Data. Included with the TA is a power cable and transformer; a DTE cable with a 9 to 25 pin adapter; an ISDN cable; and two Local Telephone adapters. The software consists of a single Configuration Manager/Set up Disk; a single HyperAccess Lite programme Disk; and a 3 Disk set of Netmanage's Internet Chameleon 4.6. I didn't bother with HyperAccess Lite as I am more familiar with Windows95 Hyper Terminal for direct file transfer. The Internet Chameleon I already use and enjoy with my analogue modem, so I did not load this either. Using the Configuration Manager, I was able to complete the set up process in a very short space of time and with no great difficulty. The only stage which led me to thumb through the User manual and to scratch my head was the entering of telephone numbers into the relevant boxes for Data Port and the two Voice Ports. The difficulty, as I discovered after a phone call or two to help Lines, lay in the fact that I have a separate phone number for each of my ISDN lines (as opposed to a single number with Channel 2 working as an auxiliary or to Multiple Subscriber Dialling). This was the only problem I faced during the trial and I will cover that again later. Once the set up process was complete it was time to go on-line. As my own provider, Mercury, had not yet finalised their ISDN connection tests, I decided to try Demon Internet's 30 day trial. Once connected I found my next major question. Being used to voicing with two channels and the full 128k bandwidth, I wrongly assumed that I would automatically be connected via two channels through the bitsurfer TA. Several phone calls later, to the Demon Help Line and to a couple of technologically wise friends, I established that, while some providers give two channel ISDN access, Demon do not. This then allowed me to stop worrying as to where on the TA or in the software I could find an indication that I was connected via both lines. Misapprehensions out of the way the business of surfing, downloading and file transfer was a doddle: appreciably faster and smoother than my 28.8 Modem. At more than twice the speed of the US Robotics 28,800 the access response times and picture retrieval were impressive. The mind boggles at the thought of the speed of surfing and transfer using 128 k two channel access and, what's more, should a call come through to either of your voice ports while connected on both ISDN lines, the TA will simply halve your bandwidth for the duration of the call or fax and then resume two channel data connection. Due to the problem of having a telephone number for each ISDN line I was unable to satisfactorily configure the Voice Ports. When on line via the Data Port (which uses Channel 1 as default), a call to my Fax machine (also connected to Channel 1) would reroute to Channel 2 (a second phone). While not using the Data Port my calls via the Fax and second phone connected to the correct device without error. Obviously this would not have been a problem with Multiple Number Subscribing. All in all I got on very well with the MBP and was impressed with it's capabilities. You would obviously need to consider very carefully who to select as a service provider in respect of whether or not to go for the option of dual channel ISDN connection: even with dual channel connection you may only rarely achieve the full 128k capability. On the bright side you could enjoy single line file transfer and Internet activity at twice the normal speed but for no greater cost and, into the bargain, add a fax machine and telephone (or two extra phones) to a system for which you are already paying the line rental. On the down side... it is not designed to work with ISDN2 which has a separately prescribed numbers per channel (although this is not a major problem), and it has a user manual which blinds with science and is not user friendly to the technophobe. At just over �200.00 the unit represents extremely good value for money and certainly increases your office or Home Studio capability. THIS TEST WAS CONDUCTED USING A PENTIUM 120 CPU. MY THANKS TO HARVARD PA & MOTOROLA FOR THE LOAN OF THE UNIT.
Make sure you've got 6th June 1998 free in your diary - 'cos that's the night we're gonna do it all again - but better! Chateau Impney, Droitwich, is the venue and it's only going to cost �5.00 more than this year. If you're connected, check out http://members.aol.com/tonyaitken/ vox98i.htm for more information. If you're not on the net, don't worry, The Voice will keep you updated.
|MOVES 'N JOBS|
Simon Rushton has joined Radio Aire as Senior Writer.
Tim Craig is leaving Metro to join Commercial Breaks at the end of the summer. There is no news, as yet, on a new appointment at B.R.M.B. Maggie Rigby has taken IRG Creative Services from Radio Mercury to Creative Audio Productions in Peterborough. Keith Dunn (also ex Sound Station) will not now be joining her as producer/engineer, switching at the last minute to take up post at Sonoptics. All current voices will continue to be used. Voices should fax Maggie at 01733 704127. Don't telephone unless it's vitally urgent. Maggie is specifically looking for genuine Scottish voices available via ISDN - showreels to her at C.A.P., Peterborough. Rob Arenstein, in addition to duties at the JMS West One studio, is now available for freelance writing work. Rob's Home number is 0181 444 6367 - his mobile number is 0836 558896.
CDQ PRIMA 120 - Ace Studios in Northants has a Prima 120 for sale. The unit has a built-in TA front panel and is as good as new: it was only purchased in February. The asking price is �2,950.00 plus VAT. If you're interested - contact Malcolm Rivett-Carnac on 01604 831800.
CDQ PRIMA 110 -Prima 110 (with all cables and introduction pack, a Minx mixer, Behringer XM2000 Super Cardioid microphone and Koss TD/60 headphones.
The package, worth �4,400, but can be had for �3,500.
Contact Paul Martin Davis on 01467 629289
|THOUGHTS FROM ACROSS THE POND|
by Chris White
Radio commercials don't have a lot of time to develop a setting which is why they rely on stereotypes so often. Stereotypical situations such as driving in a car, sitting in a restaurant, talking on the phone are used frequently because they connect instantaneously with the listener with little or no explanation needed. But occasionally stereotypes can be confusing. I was sitting in the studio here in the States ready to do a spot for the UK. The director tells me to read the spot like a New York cab driver. I'm confused because I don't do a Pakistani accent. The director is confused because he doesn't understand what Pakistan has to do with cabs. But as anyone who has been there can tell you, New York cabs are operated by an enormous number of drivers newly arrived from mid eastern countries. Last week I was getting ready to do a voice over for a TV spot in Singapore. The director was a Chinese lady who speaks better English than I do. She tells me to read the script with a heavy Yank accent. My natural Yank accent wasn't thick enough. So I tried a New York cab driver (no, not Pakistani). Nope. Then I tried a Maine fisherman. Nope. Then I tried Southern. We were getting warm, but it still wasn't right. Then in exasperation she says, "A Yank accent... you know, like Ben Cartwright!" Ben Cartwright was a lead character in the TV western "Bonanza" which was played by Lorne Greene... a Canadian actor without a trace of any particular regionalism in his speech.
|IN THE SADDLE - WITH SAVIN|
Brian Savin, Commercial production Manager at B.R.M.B., has already topped his appeal target of �2000.00 by at least �500, ensuring the success of his August 450 mile/eight day cycle-ride from St Petersburg to Moscow in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind. At least a quarter of the money raised has come from voice-overs.
Which FVO, after VOX97, called an Independent Producer to say how nice it was to have met him, clearly hoping they might work together in the future . Nothing wrong with that, except the Producer wasn't at VOX 97.
Talking of VOX... Is it modesty or lack of interest which led the Radio Magazine to report on VOX97 eight weeks after the event? The 5th July Issue was also conspicuous in containing it's first ever mention of THE VOICE, one year and ten months after first publication.
Beware! On two occasions a particular northern producer has dialled into my ISDN, unsolicited, while I was standing-by for a link. Disbelief has prevented rudeness, so far, but disbelief can be suspended!
[Part of a campaign devised by Chris Denning for British Actors Equity Association]
|SALESMAN BALLS - GREATEST HITS
Supplied by Tim Craig, Metro Comm. Prod. + additional material courtesy of Red Rose & Radio City
"That film with Eddy Murphy - Beverley Hops Kill."
"I'll see that when I believe it."
"When Julian found out, he hit the wall."
"At the end of the day, I've only got two pairs of hands."
"Are you going to the Manchester-Derby? - Who are they playing?"
"Don't keep playing the same thing over and over again.. it's so repetitive."
"Is he a born again Christmas?"
"I don't think that's the right pronuncination."
"Spring only starts when summertime ends."
"He looked at me as if I'd jumped off a foreign planet."
"That makes my blood curl."
"The ripping sound of crushing bones."
"I feel like I'm in a goldfish."
"You dug yourself into a battering ram."
"This man works from home, you know - that's no hard feat."
"It's no skin off my toes."
I was tickled to see your site today... and amazed at how much voice-overs love to write. I am full time here and my region is the entire country. In addition to being a voice, I am a producer of custom-written comedy and musical shows for corporate video and live events. I love reading the too familiar war stories and, since I lived in England from 1983-85 (Isleworth, Middlesex to be exact), I am particularly enjoying the style of each of your articles.
I'd be happy to share one story of a recent run-in with a producer that I have known for 20 years... since high school....but who has never hired me. I always wondered why.. .after all I can be heard on American airwaves portraying everyone from Cher to the voice of a telephone wire eating squirrel.. but he informed me that he was thinking of me for the voice of a nurse for a Cleveland Clinic spot but didn't know if I could "sound" like a nurse. #@$&A%$&~%)*!! went through my mind.... not because I thought he didn't sincerely mean what he said.. but because he DID! Learning that a very BUSY producer lacked the most rudimentary imagination made me realise that there had to be more of him out there and therefore I HAD to become a producer myself not of radio but of something tangible that guys like Tom could 'see to believe".
So- in addition to sounding like a lot of celebrities and characters, I dress like them too! I have the pleasure of delighting 100's of "starched t-shirted" fortune 500 corporate types for a lot more than a comedy club gig, but more personal satisfaction than a 30" tag!
Thanks for your ear I hope it always enjoys the sound of our voices.
Publisher & Editor
Stephen Lyons, Cwmcaddon, Ochrwyth, Risca, South Wales NP1 6EL