Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

January 27, 2011

When Software Burps

Filed under: Business, Recording, Technology — connieterwilliger @ 10:32 am

Workflow is a time sensitive thing. We have delivery dates for the work we do and part of our job is to anticipate potential time-sucking issues that may impact a timely delivery.

I am getting pretty good at balancing my daily forays into Social Media, but we all have other areas that need attention.

  • Family (my increased time with my mom needs to be figured into the equation)
  • Exercise (oh, brother, this is high on my list of things I don’t get around to – do my weekly tap classes count?)
  • Home and Garden (my yard is a MESS – my counters are getting mightly cluttered – and there is a leak in the big bathroom that needs to be attended to – not to mention I am stripping an old door for a remodel project)
  • Volunteering (my work with MCA-I has increased recently due to some major changes in the association requiring more time as webmaster, singing in the church choir is fun and challenging – and there is a play I’d like to audition for next month)
  • Personal Business (refinancing too a huge toll on my time this fall)
  • Marketing (just started up my quarterly enewsletter again after more than a year in hiatus)
  • Bookkeeping
  • General attention to email (how is it possible that there are still 200 emails in my In Box with all the sorting and filing I did this morning?)
  • Actual Work

These are all things that we can generally anticipate. The things we can’t plan for are the little burps when your software (and/or hardware) doesn’t work the way it should.

Suddenly your delivery schedule looms when you can’t get your software to do what it is supposed to do. Is it the software? Is it your computer? Is it a networking thing? With each question comes more questions – more time spent – more time passing as the deadlines grow closer.

Somehow it manages to work itself out in most cases – especially if you have a backup plan – which is something that probably  needs to be on that first list of things to do!

I have multiple recording options if one fails, and have rarely, if ever actually missed a deadline, but it sure does put a kink in the workflow when something isn’t working the way you expected it to work.


November 1, 2010

Free Music

Filed under: Announcements, Recording — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 8:35 am

Is there such thing as a free lunch? Occasionally. And occasionally there is free library music suitable for production.

Just got the information about a Free Royalty Free Music website, where right now everything is Free. They just want a link on your website somewhere. They will have stuff for sale at some point, but there will always be some free stuff too.

A quick look at the titles on the first page shows some pretty dark themes! Angel of Darkness, Armies of Doom, Attitude Gone Wrong, Bad Consequences and so on. But dig a bit deeper and there is a lot of other stuff with some Country, Beautiful, Clubbing, etc.

They have some free “sound effects” too – which are mostly little musical stings using various instruments.

So enjoy some free music – and go buy someone lunch.

October 3, 2010

Car Noise Reduction

Filed under: Recording, Technology — connieterwilliger @ 8:56 am

Controlling random noise in a studio is a constant challenge if you don’t have a heavy duty floating walled recording space. Even if your space is treated acoustically and your tracks end up clean and noise free, sometimes there is a lot that ends up on the cutting room floor to achieve that result.

While it may sound a bit odd, I have two recording spaces. One inside a small closet in the main house is primarily for my ISDN projects. The other – the spot where I do most of my work – is out in the back yard in a separate structure. There is a small recording space and another larger area for the rest of the work we need to do when we are not recording.

I’ll tell the story of the two spaces sometime, but right now a growing noise issue is on my mind.

The bulk of my work is short form spots, short marketing pieces, IVR prompts and eLearning projects with lots of individual files. I have been able to work around the “noise” that passes by in the alley behind my studio – not completely frustration free, but successfully.

Lately though, the noise has been increasing. New neighbors? Different work schedules? Am I recording at a different time of the day? Don’t know, but I have noticed more cars passing – which takes just a second or two, but it does interrupt a take.

And now, on those occasions when I am recording a longer form project – when I want to record as many paragraphs as possible in one take – the noise from the alley is starting to be a bit more obtrusive. Recording an audiobook in this studio would require much more work and perhaps not as spontaneous a storytelling result.

The solution is probably relatively simple and not very expensive. Add a PC to the inside studio so that I can record. This would also be a value added service to my ISDN work.

 I don’t want to be in the main house all the time – I need a place to “go” when I go to work in the morning. I know myself well enough to know that the 25 foot walk from the back door to my outside office is enough to help me focus on my job.

The walk also reminds me to water the garden.

August 30, 2010

The Audiobook Journey

Filed under: Musings, Recording, Techniques — connieterwilliger @ 8:00 am

Well, this is a bit after the fact, but I had the opportunity to take a journey with Pat Fraley and Scott Brick this past weekend here in San Diego – a journey to discover my potential recording audiobooks.

I’ve been keeping my eye on Pat’s workshops for a while, but just wasn’t able to carve out the time to spend the weekend in LA, so when they were looking for participants for a workshop in my neck of the woods, I jumped – as did 11 others from around the country – including Hawaii.

My focus was Fiction – looking for the right kind of pieces for my voice and brain. Long form non-fiction is something I do on a regular basis, but Fiction has been on the back burner. So getting a chance to work with two pros on several excerpts and ending up with a good marketable fiction demo was worth the money. (And being close to home was a good thing too.)

Getting a chance to be directed by both Scott and Pat was inspiring. I will admit that I didn’t spend a lot of time preparing for the workshop – work and life got in the way. I went through my books and pulled 4 or 5 off the shelves and leafed through them looking for something that I thought would work.

I needed to end up with three pieces that included a dialogue piece with a man and a woman, a third person delivery and a first person delivery. But I was supposed to have transcribed it – not try to read from the books. So we photocopied the pages, bumping them up in size a bit and I worked from that…which was actually good because I was able to start earlier in one segment than I had initially planned and continue on after my stopping point in another.

Part of being in a group workshop is stealing – uh learning – from the rest of the participants. It is always interesting to hear what someone elses’s brain will do to a sentence. You learn a lot by just listening to other be directed and watching their journey.

Most of the people in the class were not working voiceover professionals – but there were many with acting backgrounds, including a working on-camera actress. But everyone was smart and articulate and literate – and watching them take direction and move forward was a real pleasure. There were a couple of times where nerves took over and a particular selection to a long time to come together. But those same people bounced back for their next selection.

Pat refers to this process as the “journey.”

I’m looking down the road now to the next stop on my personal journey toward landing a fiction contract. After that? Who knows. But one of my goals would be to impress the teachers with an Audie.

July 2, 2010

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Recording — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:24 pm

So, this trip to Europe that I just took – two weeks traveling around Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland – was part pleasure and part business. I was visiting my brother in Munich, but was headed to Italy to meet with a client. My mic and pre-amp were not on my packing list, because I knew I was going to be traveling quite a bit, and didn’t think I would have time for jobs or auditions.

As it turns out (see earlier post), my brother’s practice room was actually a sound booth, so I could have worked while I was in Munich – and a good audition did appear in the In Box. But there was a lot so see and do there before I headed off to Italy to meet my business associate.

I did check for jobs and auditions each day – had a loaner BlackBerry with global service – and was able to postpone most of the projects that popped up until I returned. However, one regular client needed something right away and as good luck would have it I was in Reggio Emilia that day and was able to record the project in MediaPiu Studios. Even managed to get an audition in as well.

Connie Records at MediaPiu in Italy

Connie Records at MediaPiu in Italy

 After the session, we chatted about the voiceover business in general and I was able to recommend a couple of American male mid-range voices for a project. While I was there, the studio recorded well over 100 video spots for an Italian Internet “Yellow Pages” type site. Studio owner Paolo Tonetto does the voicework for those spots and Jerry Kay edits. I also chatted on Skype with one of the studio’s regular British Voiceoverists and listened in on another Skype call working with a German talent on an upcoming script. 

Paolo Skyping

Paolo takes care of business with Skype


Jerry editing

Jerry Kay editing one of about 100 or so spots recorded that day


May 3, 2010

VO Booth on Wheels

Filed under: Announcements, Recording, Technology — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:43 pm

My virtual good friend Philip Banks posted a video recently of his VO Booth on Wheels (he calls it the Voice and Go), but I think the technology in this article from Studio Daily tops it.

Perhaps a bit more pricey, but seems to be working for those busy celebrities who need to do some VO work in between takes on the set of their latest series. Complete with ISDN, this mobile recording studio helps prevent those pesky and expensive “no show” sessions.

It’s called Voice Over There.

Here is the article about it –

April 27, 2010

Sense of Direction

Filed under: Recording, Techniques — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:14 am

I remember a session very early on in my career where I was just NOT producing what the director wanted. It was a horrible experience – and I was dismissed knowing that I had not been able to understand and deliver. I knew this because I heard the producer on the phone with my agent asking if she had to pay for me. Really horrible experience.

 A few years later, I was in a session with 6 producers – each offering different bits of “advice” for the read – and was able to find the “right” read that satisfied them all. Was it simply my added years of experience? Are there any standard words of advice that veteran voice talent can offer a director to help the session run more smoothly with successful results when all is said and done?

My friend and fellow VO talent Peter O’Connell sent a link out this morning that has a wonderful article from Babble On Recording Studios that covers the mysterious and often confounding issue of “directing the talent.”

Key messages I took from the post:

  • Maintain a rhythm in the session. I have been in sessions where, after a take, the talk-back stays silent for minutes – many minutes – leaving me wondering what was being discussed. The basic insecurity inherent in being “talent” starts planting seeds of discontent and we end up trying to find other ways to read something without any feedback.
  • Avoid references to famous people when directing. Famous to one person may not be famous to another. Rather, describe the “quality” that you think you want.
  • Steer clear of “line reads” if at all possible.
  • Replay the audition. Seems logical. We audition so much, we may not remember what we did to win the job.
  • Let us do “three in a row.”
  • Playback the reads as time permits.
  • If something is “perfect” and the client thinks it is “perfect,” why are we doing another one? It is nice to know if we are free to do something different, or if you want another read very much like the “perfect” read.

April 3, 2010

Technology Update

Filed under: Business, Recording, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 1:14 pm

Never reported back about the new Toshiba laptop. Working great! Except for some sort of Toshiba software that keeps opening up telling me I have messages, it has been a seamless transition. At some point, I will spend a few minutes and turn that off.

Took just a few minutes to get the audio chain set up so that I knew I could reliably record on the road. The first set up was with the dbx mini pre-amp I have been using for years, but early in the week a new MicPort Pro arrived and that was even easier to set up. I’m hooked on it, just like everyone else I know who has one.

The only thing I am missing right now is a single piece of Auralex acoustic foam in the 2″ pyramids – not the long wedges – the little pyramids. Need to replace the old foam in my portable studio. It is disintegrating and leaving little black specks all over everything.

March 18, 2010

Technical Troubleshooting

Filed under: Recording, Technology — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 10:20 am

Argh! Turned on the system the other day and there was a phased hum/tone thing going on in the background of my recordings. Nothing had changed (well, maybe the weather), but suddenly my output was unacceptable.

I was able to clean up the background noise well enough for auditions (and it didn’t affect my ISDN sessions), but luckily, I didn’t have any paying work that couldn’t be delayed until a fix was found.

Was it the Mackie? Was it the cable to the computer? Was it the mic cable? One thing at a time – one precious minute after minute – I eliminated and pondered. Finally, I packed up the Mackie and the cable to the computer and trundled them down to San Diego Professional Sound and Music.

Turns out the 2nd channel on the Mackie is kaput – or at least has a permanent hum. He cleaned all the inputs and outputs – basically every connection on the unit – and we didn’t hear any problems with the other 3 channels (one of which is for the phone patch).

Back in the studio – cables back in place – and voila! No hum. Thank you Shane.

January 30, 2010

Read the Manual

Filed under: Business, Recording, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:08 am

My inclination – when faced with a new piece of software (or pretty much anything) – is to install it and start using it. Read the manual? Not me. There are menus and a help button! (In the case of my cell phone, there is 611.)

Manuals usually have pages and pages of information that I already know and to find the bit of information I don’t know would require formulating a question that the Table of Contents understands.

However, in the case of Word 2 Wav, the manual is simple and short. Had I read the manual, I would have been able to save myself even MORE time this past year. Thank goodness Herve reads the forums.

W2W is a wonderful piece of software that I use at the beginning of my recording process for long form narration and IVR files. Although it is not a finishing program (I use Adobe Audition and Vox Studio for that), it sure saves time in several ways.

Before W2W, I developed a complicated workaround for Vox Studio that included converting a multi-column Excel spreadsheet to a comma delimited txt file, sending it to my Mac, using Text Wrangler to convert it to the format that Vox Studio uses (which separated the first field of information from the rest of the fields), then back to my recording computer, where I added two lines of text to the top and bottom of the file – and then FINALLY record.

After lamenting this time sucking process on a forum, Herve pointed out that W2W does ALL of this in one step (and doesn’t require the addition of the two lines of text).

This is very clearly explained in the manual – and (if I had been a bit more observant), clearly intuitive in the import area of the Setup screen.

Bottom line – there are wonderful tools out there for us to use as we work to meet our client’s needs and improve our ROI.

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