Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

July 31, 2009

End of the month paperwork

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 1:17 pm

I have time this month to work on my end of the month paperwork – making sure that I have converted open sales orders to invoices – sending the invoices – checking on overdue invoices – making sure my bank statements balance with my ledgers.

Having the time to actually do all this in one concerted effort, means that work slowed down a little bit for me this week. How convenient that it would be at a time when I actually could use the time.

Of course, I am working on other things as well, and I have noticed other voice talent doing the same thing. A lot more podcasts being produced, live video chats and classes being introduced around the country. Ed Victor’s come out with several video podcasts and he’s working on a new reality show for about the voiceover biz. People are training and marketing and bookkeeping and organizing – and some are going to the beach! It is summer after all…

It’s all part of doing business when business is slow(er than usual).

July 30, 2009

Time and Technology

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:25 pm

This goes back to an earlier post talking about being addicted to the computer and email. I have a serious habit. From the moment my little eyes pop open in the morning to just before I shut them again in the evening, I am jonesing for email.

If it doesn’t come into my Inbox in a steady stream, I start to click that Send/Receive icon – sometimes repeatedly…thinking that I must have just missed downloading something important.

The BlackBerry was supposed to help me get away from my office and in a way it has. I can go to coffee in the morning or run over to my mom’s or out to the store and not feel like I am going to miss an important email. But I do constantly look at it to see if the little red light is flashing.

Yesterday my email host was having problems and I didn’t receive email for several hours. This was almost too much to bear. But I tried to fill my time doing something productive. I had already finished my actual paying work for the day by the time this disturbance occurred, so I decided to try to record some promos for transcription using the new DVD/VHS recorder-player I picked up “out of the box” at Best Buy for a killer deal. Of course, I had already had to buy a new remote to make it work and that afternoon, I then spent the next hour and a half downloading manuals to the player/recorder, printing out the specific pages referring to hooking up the TV to the recorder and digging out the TV manual.

Nothing seemed to work – I tried Line 1 – then Line 2. I flipped each switch this way and that. Pressed a multitude of buttons in various order. Then I thought the problem must be that I had my Bose system in the middle of it. It wasn’t until I had exhausted every possible combination of connections, switches and buttons that the fine print finally popped out at me. “Note: The DVD/VCR cannot record programs if you have cable with no cable box.”

Sigh….

The good news is that by the time I figured out that the only thing my “new” DVD/VCR combo will do is play old VHS tapes and DVDs, the little red light on my BlackBerry was flashing again…email was flowing!

July 26, 2009

The Added Value of Local Tech Support

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:19 pm

Spent another big chunk of a day on the phone with India – tech support for my mom’s computer this time. She paid for the Extended Service Plan which is unlimited time on the phone with someone who is supposedly quite skilled at figuring out computer issues.

Well, even the best of them have a hard time when BOTH the mouse and the keyboard show intermittent behaviour problems (mostly the mouse).

After turning the darn thing on and off about a dozen times, doing a system reset to a few days ago to no avail, the tech guy decided that it must be a nasty virus and suggested a system rebuild – back to the day it was made. This of course required that I use keyboard commands to try to copy a previously saved folder of data to a flash drive. I did a system restore – or whatever the heck it is called – the thing where you roll back to a previous date – in April, so that was already there. And since she doesn’t get 200 emails a day and is not adding to her contact database on a daily basis, I think if we ever get this sorted out, she won’t feel the effects of lost email too much. Eh.

After wiping the machine clean, the mouse and keyboard still don’t work right and NOW the guy suggests sending her a new keyboard and mouse. If I had been thinking, I would have run home and brought over a mouse and keyboard to test. But I didn’t.

If those items do not work – THEN then we have to send them the computer and they will fix it.

This is why I have a local tech support person who comes to my house if I get in a jam. I just can’t spend the time! And time is money. I pretty much lost most of Sunday due to this issue at my mom’s house.

Ask everyone you know for recommendations on a good computer tech. If you are in San Diego, I recommend Annie Blevins at http://www.ibannieb.com. She is great and was originally recommended to me by my fellow VO buddy and current San Diego MCA-I President, Jeff Gelder – http://www.gelderhead.com.

July 24, 2009

Do Not Count Your Chickens…

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:08 pm

OK, I auditioned for what could be a large national campaign and got past the first cut. Not sure what the next cut entails – further auditioning or just simply being passed by another set of ears, but I was quite stoked to know I didn’t suck. ;-) Actually, I initially felt really good about the audition, so getting this feedback helped reinforce my self-evaluation abilities.

How cool is that!

No matter what happens with this particular audition (Audition and forget. Audition and forget. Audition and forget), it reinforces why I am stepping up my marketing, working on new demos, remaking the website, getting some additional coaching and making the big push to land a top agent in a top market. It’s because when I do get a chance to audition with the cream of the crop, I compete.

I’ve had a chance recently to work with some established national talent, picked from the avalance of really great auditions. So I know the time I spend auditioning is gold! Always something to challenge my creativity. Usually something to force me to step it up a notch. And with the variety of sources for auditions that we have these days, we can be picky and submit when we truly know that this is something “right” for us.

But to really maximize my effort in selecting and producing great auditions, it would be nice to have more great opportunities.

July 23, 2009

Working on another role play for eLearning

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:46 pm

It is interesting to see how work evolves and how people hear you. When I started in the business, I did primarily corporate narration and straight commercials with a lot of “sell.” Now, in the past few years, a large percentage of my work has turned to more role playing than straight narration.

eLearning characters make up a big part of that – being cast in multiple roles within programs – ranging from some nebulous African accent, to redneck homophobe, to tough Boss Lady. I have had more than one casting as Tough Boss Lady – working on one right now which sort of prompted this post. But I have also been cast as “soft young Asian woman learning to speak her mind at work.” So I while I do a good tough boss lady, please don’t pigeon-hole me there.

A lot of my radio and TV spot work has also been as a real person, rather than an announcer. With several dialogue radio spots for regional clients such as Meijer and SouthernLINC. And more as the concerned mother (young and old).

Probably the most fun has been the multitude of little old ladies, moms, teachers, secretaries, little boys, animals and inanimate objects for Ring Tales collection of animated cartoon strips (New Yorker, Dilbert and Cul De Sac).

The delightful irony of this transition is that it bleeds back over into my annoucing and narration work, allowing me to bring more me to the session.

July 22, 2009

It’s not even 8AM and the AC is blasting…

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:44 am

We’ve been having a heat wave here in San Diego. And most of us in older homes do not have central AC. I do have a tiny old airconditioner that I had someone build into the wall of my studio during the initial rennovation. It manages to cool things down a bit. But of course when it is on, it is impossible to record anything….projects or auditions.

It is also difficult to get to – I have to climb on the counter to reach the knob – which leaves bruises on my upper shins. So I’ve been so reluctant to climb up there that I’ve been letting the projects and auditions pile up a bit – then scrambling up to turn it off.

Amazing how fast the temperature rises! So, during this heat wave, I am wearing natural fibers – as little of them as I can get away with – no makeup – and taking lots of cool showers. I’m revaluating the idea of holding off until I get a bunch of things to record and change the process to – chill it down – turn it off – record a bit – turn it on – edit – and repeat.

This will simply require finding an easier way to get to the AC knob. There’s a perfect step-stool in my closet. If I snag it from there, it just means I won’t be able to reach some of my clothes during this heat wave. Bah – who needs clothes.

July 21, 2009

Today’s Casting Reality – Speed and Quality

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 11:03 am

Stephanie at Voices.com is a prolific writer with many excellent Blogs and Podcasts and Articles on Vox Daily. Her thoughts today on the speed at which casting is done these days is a good one for any voice talent to take to heart. Add Nancy Wolfson’s (BrainTrax Audio)insight to the mix and you can see how you need to be ready (with speed and ability) to land the jobs.

July 20, 2009

Bookkeeping…part of the job – or something to farm out?

Filed under: Business — connieterwilliger @ 1:07 pm

Oh for the days when the agent did the negotiating and invoicing! I tell you, this is the hardest part of my job. I wrote recently about negotiating and some of the pitfalls there, but another area that takes time and creates a great deal of frustration for me is the Invoicing part of the process.

I switched to QuickBooks a couple of years ago to try to streamline this whole process – reducing what was a three-step process to one. I used to enter client data into FileMaker, create Invoices in Outlook and then reconcile through Quicken. Now it’s sort of all in one place, but I still find QuickBooks to be confusing. I am not an accountant.

Quicken is simple – it is a checkbook ledger. Not QuickBooks! Oh it has some interesting features, like the ability to set prices for each regular client as necessary and create lists of items to help make the creation of the Invoice simpler.

But it is more than the act of creating Invoices and/or Sales Orders. I usually manage to get one of those started. It is that I sometimes forget to convert the Sales Orders to Invoices and then I even forget to SEND them.

And ultimately a check comes in and needs to be entered into QuickBooks. First you have to Receive Payments and then you have to Record Deposits. And somehow I manage to mess that up too – and then try to UNDO something in QuickBooks!

Is it time for an accountant or a bookkeeper? Yikes that means spending money. But as I start my plan to step things up, perhaps that should be something to consider at the beginning of the plan.

July 18, 2009

The Power of the Ping

Filed under: Communication — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:48 pm

My goodness. I pinged Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and MySpace about my new website and blog yesterday and in less than 18 minutes I had a dozen hits to the new blog. From zero to 30 in one day.

OK, that may not seem like all that many hits, but the immediacy of the response is what is amazing. Many many many of us are addicted to technology.

I read an article yesterday (I must remember to copy and paste the links for blog use!) about email – and making the leap – social media addiction. Ever since getting a BlackBerry, I find that I spend a little less time in my office in front of the main computer tower, but I have that phone with me everywhere. I have seen the signs of email addiction for quite a while now.

  • I respond instantly to email
  • I check every few minutes to see if new mail has arrived – even to the point of clicking twice in a few seconds if no mail comes in (there MUST be something WRONG!)
  • If there isn’t a lot of email overnight, then I start to worry

Unless it is charging overnight, it is next to my bed and if I wake up with a hot flash and the little red light is flashing (and when is it not?), I’ll do a quick check.

Wake up in the morning and check email and Facebook while making coffee – or while walking to coffee. I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating the sidewalk without looking at it.

I take it with me to the potty…taking great care to keep it far away from water sources. A few weeks ago, I watered my BlackBerry by not waiting long enough for the water in my Brita to filter down into the reservoir – it just dumped out the top all over the phone. Watering is not helpful to electronic items.

Eventually I do get out to the backyard to my office and even when I am online and can actively check email using Outlook, if I see that little red light start to flash, I will pick up the phone to see what it is.

In the evenings, I will fire up the laptop and multi-task while watching House or NCIS or Law and Order. That’s when I usually catch up on Facebook or the VO-BB.

The concept of the cloud and being able to update my blogs and the MCA-I website from anywhere – on pretty much any device – thrills the cockles of my little heart. I love technology. Excuse me now – must go – I haven’t check my email since starting this post.

July 17, 2009

Sight Readers Give Good Voice(overs)

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:50 pm

Let’s get this out in the open. All good stage, film and TV actors do not make good voice talent – and vice versa. If you are used to having your script days ahead of time, with hours or even days of rehearsal with a director, you may not be able to get into the VO vibe.

Using a studio session as an example…let’s say a session is scheduled for 9 AM. You get to the studio at 8:55 (or earlier). Someone asks if you want coffee. You’re thinking “A script would be nice.” Someone hands you the copy around 9:15. (Traffic was bad?) If you are lucky, they may spend a minute filling you in on what they feel you should do with the copy before hustling you into the booth.

At 9:17 you enter your padded room, adjust your headsets. Look for a pencil with a sharp point (or pull out the one you always bring to a session) and read through the copy once by yourself – in relative peace – until the engineer turns on your mic and the sound of your own voice brings tears to your eyes. Not from sheer pride in your magnificent read, but from the blaring volume in the headsets.

By this time, the engineer has a level on your voice and if the microphone is pointed basically at your mouth, they are ready to “try one for time.” Ensconced on the copy stand in front of you is 40 seconds or more worth of words that the clients needs to have you read in 25 (or so) seconds – without having it sound rushed. Obviously picking it up that much is not going to benefit anyone – even if you could do it. So copy will have to be cut. Now where did that pencil go?

The producer has a finger on the talk back button – rattling off copy changes. “Cut the 3rd word in the 2nd line and the 5th word in the 6th line and the first three words of the next line. No, on second thought, leave in that first thing we cut and cut the last sentence before the announcer comes back. Oh, and can you start the whole spot with the the second to last line? Great, that should take care of about 10 seconds, you just have to pick it up by 5 seconds. Got that?”

The true voiceover professional “got it” and in the next take will usually get it right for “time.” A few takes later, after a minor nudge here and there by the producer/director, and the talent is out the door. (Your mileage may vary and yes, there are times when it takes a few more than a few takes.)

“Hey,” I hear people say, “voiceover sounds easy! You don’t have to memorize!” True, but you have to be able to read the copy as if you have had a director coaching you and working through your “motivation.” You have to instantly understand what is going on and deliver the meaning of the word – not just reading the words. In the theater, hours, days or weeks may pass before an actor stops giving line reads and a character emerges. In the recording studio this needs to happen within a few minutes. Not every actor can pull off this kind of sight reading – especially if there is 10 pounds of copy to cram into a 5 pound bag.

In many ways, this ability to wrap your head around the copy instantly is like being able to sight read music – and more specifically Jazz. You must understand basic sentence structure…the way the language works. You need to be able to read the “notes” (so to speak), find the rhythm, pace and flow, as well as know how to improvize. And you must know the sound of your voice and how to get it to do what you want it to do in very short order – without rehearsal.

The best talent is creative, agreeable, flexible and willing to stretch. The voice talent must have those same qualities, but with an added element of quickness.

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