Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

January 30, 2016

Blog moved to www.voiceover-talent.com

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:32 am

I have integrated this blog into my regular website. If you are following me, please hop on over to www.voiceover-talent.com to keep up with my latest musings.

This one will not be updated any longer and eventually, I will shut it down.

See you over on the other site!

Connie Terwilliger, Voice Talent

July 7, 2014

June Came and June Went…

What the heck just happened? The month of June just sort of disappeared in a vortex of VO work. Which is a good thing, but makes it hard to find the time to compose something interesting, relevant or amusing as a blog post.

And that is the goal of keeping a blog – at least as I understand it.

My class blog is easier to keep up to date, but can become a tad boring and even repetitive for people who are not active students in the class. If there was a way to filter OUT the homework assignments, and only keep the interesting videos and articles that would be different, but I haven’t figured out a way to do that yet.

One of the things I talk to my introduction to voice acting students is that just because you are hired to record something for someone, you don’t have to put it on your demo. Especially when you are first starting out in the biz and your first client is a hard sell local radio spot written by the sales exec on the back of napkin during lunch. It is hard NOT to crow about the fact that someone paid you to do something that you have been wanting to do for a long time, but at a certain point, you have to start using your common sense about what to promote.

As a performer, there are many times when the take you thought was the best was not the take that ended up on the project. Shrug it off and if you really don’t like the take that made the cut – then you don’t have to put it on your demo, or showcase it on your website.

Promote the heck out of projects that have it all – great script, great visuals and music, and that great VO – if you can get copies. Periodically I do a search on YouTube for finished versions of projects that I have recorded. Marketing pieces will almost always end up on YouTube. eLearning or small audience proprietary informational pieces will not. Other projects come with NDAs, so even if you did get a copy, you couldn’t talk about it.

So, to finish this blog post with something interesting, relevant or amusing…hmmmm…I know, how about a small collection of videos that may live forever on YouTube. (I hope. I suppose I need to download them for safekeeping.)

Let’s start with a joke. “A Swede, a Canadian and a South African walk into a bar…”

OK, that wasn’t really a joke. Maybe something interesting then…about soybeans…


Now, relevant…well, I guess the soybean video could cover both interesting and relevant…how about this cartoon then. It is from a few years back, but still feels relevant to me…


Now, I just found out that a documentary I did a narration for won a Silver Reel at the Nevada Film Festival in 2011. That one is not on YouTube, so no clip to see!

January 19, 2013

Excellent Advice for Self-directing Audio Book Narration

Filed under: Techniques — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:16 pm

One of the things that a professional voice talent MUST have to succeed is the ability to self-direct. We do so much of our work – at least initially (and in many cases most of our work) – alone. Alone with our doubts, our insecurities, our patterns.

When we are auditioning, the ability to self-direct can be the determining factor in getting the gig. We don’t want to send out the “same” read that 95% of the rest of the talent is submitting. We want our audition to leap off the mp3 and straight into the “book that talent” column.

Last year, I tried my hand at fiction audio books for the first time. I am finishing up the 3rd. And while the verdict is still out on if I actually like this area of voice work, I have greatly enjoyed the process. Discovering how much time it REALLY takes. Is it better to have a proofer and an editor – or some combination of both? Do I like the stipend with royalty option, or just the royalty, or just a flat fee.

The first book was entirely self-produced – $100 pfh (per finished hour) stipend, plus royalties. It is coming up on a year since the book was released and the pfh has bumped up to about $175 pfh. The second book I did was a fluffly little Harlequin romance  with a pfh of around $125 – but I didn’t have to do the proofing or the editing. No royalties on this one though, so the one check is the only check I’ll be getting for that one.

I have 3 more chapters to go on the third book – a sweet southern story with a stipend of $150 pfh, plus royalties. So far I am self-producing this one. I sort of liked the team approach, but at the same time, I am used to doing everything myself – the artistic and the technical. I could be persuaded to hand off the technical, but the artistic is all in my hands. That part of the project is almost entirely in our hands. No one is listening to me as I read page after page – chapter after chapter.

Paul Alan Ruben is a Grammy award winning producer/director of audio books and he has written a wonderful article about the art of self-directing during that artistic phase of recording an audio book. He calls his directions – “techniques.”

And technique is defined as an actable performance tool whose purpose is to cause compelling storytelling.

In this article, he is interviewing his co-director – himself – who details 7 Directions that he gives – uh – himself – when working his way through the story. Here they are in a nutshell – you’ll have to read the article to get the details.

Verbalize feeling; Hold back; Flat; Less; Big; Dispassionately teach, passionately; Up the stakes!

If you record audio books – this is a must read. And I know that my co-director will be barking out a few of these orders as I finish up the last three chapters of the Tea-Olive Bird Watching Society.

December 15, 2012

Advice for Producers is Also Good Advice for Talent

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:56 am

Just ran across this blog post by Marc Scott cross-posted on Voice123. It is aimed at the people seeking voice talent, however it is good advice for both the seeker and the seekee! In fact, as a user of the online casting sites myself, I have a similar set of guidelines as I decide which projects to audition for.

One of the biggies for me is a poorly written script. As a long time award-winning scriptwriter and corporate producer before jumping into voiceover full-time, I wrote many many scripts for other talent to read. A well-written script is ALWAYS easier for the talent to deliver. If you are new to the art of writing a script for someone to verbalize, put your words to the test. Record yourself reading the material aloud before you send it off for auditions. If you have a hard time getting the words out, try to figure out why? Are the sentences too long? Is the script simply a transcription of a white paper? There is a big difference between writing for the eye and writing for the ear. So, when I am deciding what projects to audition for, if I find that a script just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily in a logical and interesting way, then I am likely to pass on the audition. Other factors will come into play of course, but a good script will help you get good auditions from better actors.

“Why Am I Not Receiving Quality Auditions for My Project – Part 1” Part 2 is on his blog as well.

I’m just listing his points here – jump over to his blog to get the details.

  1. Poor Direction

  2. Unclear Budget

  3. Poorly Written Script

  4. Conflicting Information

  5. The Kitchen Sink

  6. Must Read Entire Script

  7. Unrealistic Budget

  8. Unrealistic Timeline

  9. No Pronunciation Guideline

  10. No Script

 

July 3, 2012

Am I on Twitter?

Filed under: Communication, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:00 pm

So, I keep seeing this question pop up on various social networking groups…

“Are you on Twitter?”

Well, yes, I have a Twitter account. @ISDNVoiceover

And I have people who actively follow my tweets. Or have at least clicked on the link to Follow Me. And many of them will probably see this post when it gets fed to the various places it gets fed to when it is published.

But am I ON Twitter? Not very much.

I still don’t get it. Unless I am using it all wrong, it seems like a pull website. Where I have to go to it and pull the information. OK, Facebook is that way too, but for some reason I WANT to go to Facebook and check out what is happening. I just don’t find myself drawn to Twitter the same way.

Perhaps I just need someone to break it down for me. Talk to me like I’m six years old. Wait, the six year olds probably don’t need to be told. It is now in their DNA.

 

May 21, 2012

Why Can’t People “Hear” Themselves?

Today it is easier and easier to get feedback on what you are doing. Why don’t people listen? Or perhaps, why – when given good feedback – why don’t people take action to improve what they are doing? Do they simply not hear themselves?

So many people these days have been told by endless “voiceover” coaches that they can make it – all they need is determination – and their signature on the bottom of that check paying for more classes. They stop listening to themselves and never develop their self-evaluation skills.

Most of the forums for voiceover people include critique areas where people can post demos for comments. I’m referring to demos from newbies, not updated demos from people who are making actual money doing voiceovers. You can get honest, yet sometimes highly conflicting advice. And if you follow the subsequent comments to a thread, this advice is often rejected by the person seeking the advice.

For a fee of $7 per month, you can join VoiceRegistry and do their Weekend Workouts, where actual working top agents and casting people will listen to your submissions and provide individual feedback – which everyone who submits can see as well. Scary thought isn’t it!

But what a great way to develop, not only a thick skin, which you need in this business, but a keen ear on what works and what doesn’t. What the agents/casting people are liking at a certain moment in time. While some of the comments are probably kept pretty tepid (the agent really wants to scream because the submission was so far off the mark, but instead says something “kind”), there is enough information for you to read between the lines and sort the best from the worst. Your own ears should be able to pick this up without their comments, but sometimes you can hone in on why they think one read was superior. And this is valuable information.

The other weekly competition is over at Edge Studio. This one is free and probably because it is free and they are pretty high profile, their contest submissions run in the neighborhood of 200 per weekend. I have been listening to a few of the “winning” entries over the past few weeks and reading the commentary on why submissions didn’t win. Two weeks ago, they decided to record a teleconference discussing a dozen or so of the submissions and why NO ONE was selected to win that week’s competition.

That phone call was filled with people – a few of whom simply didn’t listen to instructions on how to mute their phones. That was distracting for everyone. And another example of people simply not hearing what has been said to them. The meat of the discussion showcased once again how this business is part subjective and part objective. People’s comments were wide ranging and often directly opposite thoughts. While I wouldn’t recommend that David do calls like this on a regular basis, it did inspire me to enter the contest the next week to see if I could make it to the Top Three.

I entered. Twice. With two different anonymous user names and two different styles of delivery. Then, when the competition closed and all bazillion entries were posted for review, I listened to them all. And most of the entries were really so bad it’s – sad? frightening? scary?

Obviously many of the people who entered are wannabe’s and some newbies, but what I want to know is if they thought that what they submitted was good!? While bad audio can be forgiven to a degree for an audition – there are no-cost ways to reduce background noise.  But to leave the TV playing in the background while you are recording something for a contest? Huh? Read the reasons why people didn’t get selected for the Contest ending Friday, May 18th.

Of the 200 or so submissions, I jotted down 14 names, including my two – for a total of 16 – that I thought were worthy of consideration. All of the top three were on my short-list. But listing only the top three may not be enough for people to understand BOTH the subjective nature of this business and get enough information to be able to apply it to their own submissions.

I fessed up to David Goldberg in an email that I had submitted not one, but two entries in the contest that week. We chatted a bit about the process. Apparently, his staff goes through all the submissions and creates a short list that he then listens to, jots down some notes and then picks first, second and third place.

I suggested that it might be even more educational to identify all of the top picks. From there, he could, for the purposes of handing out the weekly prizes assign the winners. But with auditions, it is usually the overall tone and pace and quality that the producer selects, knowing that in the session they can get a take that addresses those little nuances, like hitting a word just a tad stronger or warming up on a phrase. I live for my ISDN sessions (or actual in the studio with live human beings) where I get to actually interact with the director and make them happy!

So, hearing the whole range of what made it to the selects would be a great teaching tool – for those who will listen.

Enough suspense?

I made it to the Top Three with my BonnieK entry. And he told me that my other entry was in the top selects as well. I would have been very very surprised if it had not been. I was sort of expecting to pick up two prizes, but there you go! Another example of the subjective nature of the biz! If you want to hear the other, do a search on the page for KayT.

March 6, 2012

In Between Sessions

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:09 am

I wish I could say that I was so busy that I had back to back sessions every day and had to squeeze in the bookkeeping, marketing and plant watering. Well, I’m busy enough that I make a living doing this voiceover stuff without the back-to-back sessions. And even if I don’t have projects stacked up waiting, I still have a hard time getting all the other stuff done. But there is simply no way I can actually organize a day with any strict rules on when I am going to do anything.

The day started out like a typical Tuesday. Walk down to the coffee shop for my 7-8 AM solve the world’s problems group, but the phone rang and I had to race back home to get the car to drive out to my mom’s Assisted Living Community to call off the Paramedics. You would think after 7 months of seeing what a cold damp morning does to my mom’s hip pain, they would be able to figure out that she needs a pain pill, not a trip to the ER. By the time I got there, she was calm and on her way to breakfast.

So, morning email check and related paperwork was delayed for a while. So, what am I doing posting to the blog? Well, because I can. My time management theory is much like the chaos theory.

Through this seemingly crazy unorganized world I live in, I seem to end up getting things done. So, if I feel like posting to the blog, I might as well!

Getting back to my typical Tuesday. I have a session coming up at 11:30 today – a repeat client – a nice little project for a museum. We’ll do phone patch on this one and I just printed out the script to see if there are any surprises. But before that, I updated my class blog, did a little MCA-I work, read my email and got the notice that my first title on Audible has just been approved by the author, approved a couple of Facebook tags on some photos from a toga party this weekend, replied to a couple of emails and thought about watering my plants.

Next up, write some checks (personal and business) and get a couple of invoices out for February before we get too far into March. Oh, and then there is the tax appointment later today. I should probably do a once over on that stuff too.

So, I guess in a way, I am grateful that I don’t have back-to-back sessions. When would I have time to get everything done?

October 31, 2011

The 1% (or whatever it is) in the VO Biz

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:59 am

With all the talk about the 1% vs the 99% these days with regards to Wall Street and Jobs and Taxes, something crossed my eyeballs this morning that shows that this spread exists in other areas as well.

Voiceover actors have been chatting about the jobs being lost to “celebrity” voices for years now…ever since the animated Alladin was released featuring Robin Williams as the Genie. There is no doubt that Robin Williams stole that movie, but it paved the way for more and more celebrity on-camera actors being cast in animated features and fewer and fewer opportunities for working class voice actors.

Written by SCOTT MESLOW – an Atlantic contributor and a film and television writer based in Washington, D.C., who has also written for Campus Progress andWealthBriefing – this article highlights how the “A-list” actors are nudging out the “ubiquitous but nearly anonymous, traditional voice actors.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/10/how-celebrities-took-over-cartoon-voice-acting/247481/

His main question is whether there is any demand anymore in the features for the versatile voice actor who can create a “thousand” voices? Or has the “marketing machine” taken over and pushed the working class voice actor to the side to do background and voice matching for those features?

As a continual student of my craft, I watch animated features and study the characters and the voices, trying to figure out just what value has been added by bringing on a “celebrity.” They sound like they sound in most cases and the character on the screen ends up just being an animated version of the actor whose face we see on the big screen and on Letterman.

Multi-talented voice actors still do the bulk of the TV animated series and video games, but frankly even that group is still in the upper 5% (or whatever the number is – I am not a statistician). But from my anecdotal observations the vast number of true working class voice actors live outside the major markets and don’t have, or perhaps don’t want to have, the chance to compete for those jobs (series, games or features). If we did, we would probably make the move to where the work is.

That being said, I would LOVE a chance to voice a character or two in a feature. I don’t live THAT far from Hollywood. Where’s my sign!? I’m the 95%! Occupy Disney!

 

October 24, 2011

In the Online World, Context is King…

It is hard to get any work done these days because you follow links which lead to more links and suddenly you have forgotten what you went online to do in the first place, but it is almost always an interesting distraction. Sometimes pure silliness, sometimes thought provoking, sometimes good for business. I’m always looking for interesting tidbits that will help the bottom line.

One of the mantras of video has been “Content is King.” With the emergence and tsunami of online video, it may be that the context will be driving the dollars.

Today, I was reading a post from MediaPost and it led me to an article called “Context is King: How Videos are Found and Consumed Online” packed with information from a November 2006 study by Bear Stearns Cable and Satellite analyst Spencer Wang called “Why Aggregation & Context and Not (Necessarily) Content are King in Entertainment”.

The author of this article,  Ashkan Karbasfrooshan includes some great facts, charts and graphs to help illustrate the switch to context over content as a primary search function.

When I was born more than 30% of American households watched NBC during prime time. Check the article for all the attributions. You really could “reach everyone” if you bought ads on the major networks, but today, NBC’s prime time reach is 5% – behind CBS and ABC. None of the other networks are doing any better.

The same thing is happening online! More and more fragmentation. And more and more we are online on our phones or tablets or laptops.

So how to you reach everyone? Can you reach everyone? Can we effectively quantify the people we are reaching so that we can try to stabilize the money part of this equation?

I don’t know the answers, that’s why I spend time following links to other links. My goal is to keep providing my voice for media where ever it ends up and hoping to continue to pay my mortgage without having to take a second job at a fast food joint. So far, so good!

 

October 19, 2011

The Long Tail Keeps Getting Longer

The amount of work in media communications continues to grow. Most of it in the long tail where the dollars are not as high, so in order to build a business and stay in business, you need lots of business. The number of people wanting to jump into the business continues to expand as well. So in order to compete and grab the business, producers need to find those areas where they can produce good quality media at a reasonable price point.

Neil Perry, president of Poptent, formerly with McDonald’s in a number of key positions and a VP of marketing at Monster.com, just posted an article on MediaPost’s Online Video Insider that showcases an under-videofied (I just made that up to go with the word video-izing that he used) area for media communications producers. Video manuals.

People are producing short how-to videos of course, but with the growing use of smart phones and interactive websites, the need for this kind of content has to be growing. I’d like to hope that the production values for these videos will include well written scripts, great lighting and shooting and a professional quality voice track.

The title of his article is Why Marketers Should Take Ownership Of How-To Videos

 

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