Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

December 12, 2015

Eyeballs! How many eyeballs are seeing your video?

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:09 pm

extraterristrial-eye-plant-1000pxHow do you know if the video you just created is getting seen and (probably even more important) getting the results you want? View count? Reach? Engagement?

First you have to know what you want your video to do and who you want to see it. When I was producing videos for General Dynamics, we had to be the sanity check for so many of our internal clients who came down to our “hidden film factory” wanting a video. After a detailed conversation to establish the what and the who, many times the client didn’t actually need a video to get their message to their particular audience. But when a video was produced, we spent a lot of our pre-production time hashing out these details.

This was in a time period before the Internet, so collecting data on the effectiveness of  the video (or film) was difficult to track. You had to have very detailed calls to action or other tests to determine retention of the information. Today, it is a different story.

Any video you post on a website today will start to collect data. Lots of data. Maybe too much data if you don’t have a plan.

Things like views, engagement, social, comments, play rate. With all the possible metrics, you have to figure out which data will give you the answers. But as with so many things in life you need to ask the right questions.

As a voice talent, in order to figure out what to charge, I look at things like eyeballs and shelf-life. How the video will be distributed and for how long.

To arrive at a fee, I then combine this usage estimate with the amount of time it will take me to do the job, the kind of finish work needed, any special file format requirements, if a directed session is needed, etc., etc.

Of course all of these are estimates and happen before the video is produced and collecting actual data. But it is important for both the producer and the talent to think about these things during the pre-production phase – or even before – during the bid phase. (See my blog post from earlier this year – “How Much Does It Cost for a Voiceover?”

I found a great article from Wistia that helps break down some of the Metrics and which ones are best for which goals.

  • Do you want to measure reach – they recommend view count.
  • Relevance? Find out who actually clicked on your video.
  • Want to measure word of mouth? They suggest tracking your social sharing.

A lot of really good ideas here – these are just 3 out of the 8 they discuss. Wistia is professional video hosting with analytics and video marketing tools.

Time to visit my own stats to see what people are looking at, why, when, for how long…oh my, I can see that this is going to take some time.

 

 

April 10, 2012

Ask a Busy Person – They Tend to Say Yes

No matter how busy I am, I seem to find time to say yes to people. Actually, as I get older and time starts looking shorter, I’ve actually begun to learn how to say no, and I do use the word – mostly on the business side of things – when I can see that the ROI isn’t really going to pay off.

But when it comes to the stuff that isn’t work related, I do say yes a lot – maybe even if I don’t REALLY have the time. STOP THAT! I have the time. I don’t have kids or grand kids. I have cats. My niece is an adult. Some stuff simply won’t get done – like defrosting the ice maker. And cleaning up the mess behind the garage. But, in the grand plan – for things that really matter – I have the time!

So a few weeks ago, I was at a function at Junior Achievement BizTown here in San Diego and was transfixed by the facility. I had to know more, so I started asking questions. Every day 150 5th graders show up in this functioning mini-city and take over!

BizTown is a simulated city made up of 21 shops on two levels, sponsored by local and national businesses. Students can experience working in a bank, a television station, or a retail store, to managing personal finance such as writing checks and working as a CFO. With a variety of hands-on activities, students have the opportunity to realize the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in a simulated economy.

I was so impressed by the facility, I called them up and asked if I could volunteer in some capacity. They set a time for a briefing and handed me a bag stuffed full of completely organized lesson material for the JA Personal Finance class for 9th graders. This program is in a high school and is one of about 10 different in class programs for middle and high school students.

It will take about 5 hours or so in the actual classroom over 5 weeks. And the prep work involved in understanding the lessons and concepts so that I am ready for the classroom will take a few more hours. This program introduces students to the importance of making wise financial choices – something I sure wish I had learned when I was young. Each class has projects and games to help students explore the role that money plays in achieving personal goals throughout life.

Junior Achievement provides financial literacy education that empowers young people to own their economic success. Serving K-12 students in San Diego and Imperial County since 1950.

And lucky you! April is Financial Literacy Month! You can help by donating a little bit of money to help raise $30,000 to support 30 JA classes in 30 days! Just $40.00 can allow the JA to serve an additional student and give them the opportunity to learn essential financial responsibility skills.

Just say “yes!”

April 9, 2012

FaffCon 4 is History, but the Memories Linger On

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:01 pm

It has been two weeks now since FaffCon 4 in Ventura. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t have some sort of memory pop into my head. Starting with Thursday night helping Pam and Lauren write questions on blow up soccer balls. We got so good at the task that we actually did more than we needed to. We laughed a lot in the process – which is something that a lot of us did a lot during the weekend.

One of the most amusing memories was the debate over what color walkie-talkies went to whom. The sunglasses decided it.

Pam, Lauren, Eric and Amy pick out just the right color walkie-talkie

Later in the evening, I met up with a few of the early arrivals in the hotel bar – hugs all around (and my dear friend Liz bought me a nice glass of wine!).

Just a few of my good VO buddies!

Friday morning memories of endless hugs as friend after friend came up the stairs to pick up their badges, meal tickets, water bottle, tee-shirt and tote bag. Then, Friday afternoon, the boat trip on the open seas with my friend Steve Savanyu doing the Titanic pose on the bow. We saw a big bunch of dolphins, but no whales. As it turns out, a pod of killer whales popped up after the morning trip and the big whales skedaddled.

Steve Savanyo does the Titanic thing

Friday evening after the opening circle – “auditioning” for Dean Panero of Abrams during the Voice Registry Live Weekend Workout. Here is Natalie Stanfield Thomas up at the mic. If she was quaking half as much as I was, she sure didn’t show it!

Natalie auditions for Dean

Saturday was simply a blur – but oh, those adorable dolphin cookies! Audio-Technica sponsored that much needed afternoon break. Was it Saturday when Eric and Devin made a shark swim over our head’s during lunch? The mad scramble as I took pictures of door prize winners at the FaffCon Shower Curtain backdrop is forever etched in my mind.

Saturday Afternoon break sponsored by Audio-Technica

Sunday flew by too fast and suddenly it was over – until the next time. Thank goodness our friend Dave Courvoisier sponsored the notebooks in our tote bags, or I would forget all the great things I learned during the sessions even before the faffterglow wears off.

The word faffterglow was coined by someone shortly after FaffCon 1 and will soon be entered into the lexicon. I don’t think anyone leaves a FaffCon without that faffterglow. And it has a way of sneaking back into your mind long after the event is over. If you were there for the first time, just see what happens when your little postcard to yourself arrives. Like a magic carpet, you will be back in Ventura.

My faffterglow hasn’t been all warm and fuzzy, it included losing my camera somewhere between Anaheim and my house. I either lost it on the train somehow, or it ended up in the trunk of the gypsy cab that I managed to take from the train station. So all of my Sunday pictures are lost. But we will survive. The event has been thoroughly documented. Check out the FaffCon Facebook page for right now, but the FaffCon 4 Gallery will be up on the website in a few weeks.

Set your computer clocks to remind you about FaffCon 5 in about three months. That is probably when past Faffers will start getting notices to be ready for our early opportunity to register. With four of these under our belts now, and the pool of past Faffers growing, there is a good chance that FaffCon 5 will sell out in the pre-sell!

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

 

December 7, 2010

Blogs and Blog Stats

Filed under: Announcements, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:30 pm

I have been a bit busy the past few weeks – not counting a trip to New York for the VO Mixer that Erik and Lindsey threw this past weekend – and have not updated my personal blog in the past week or so. I have been on my class blog, because I post homework assignments there.

In checking stats for this blog a moment ago, I noticed that I didn’t have ANY hits at all on November 28th. And only a few here and there in the days since.

It begs the question of why do I blog at all if no one (or very few are reading) it. Perhaps I will re-evaluate who I am blogging for or how I am promoting my posts.

Mostly I write the blog because I like to write. But for a blog to be seen, the writing must be a bit more consistent – and promoted well to build loyalty. On the class blog, I have a somewhat captive audience. On this blog, I have a few followers – much like I follow a few as well.

The class blog – http://sdccd106.wordpress.com/– was just featured on the onlinedegrees.org website as one of the Top 100 Classroom Blogs. So I guess someone is reading that blog besides my students!

Now, to study what needs to be done on this blog to attract readers. Or should I? Should I be focusing on my primary job – marketing my voiceover services and doing good deeds for friends, family and the community…

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.”

http://babble-on-recording.com/babble_blog/?p=849

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.

February 24, 2010

Paul Strikwerda Bursts the Audition Bubble

Filed under: Marketing — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:06 pm

Paul is one of my favorite bloggers. He can stir up the pot a bit at times, which is fun. But usually, he has something brilliant to say about the business.

I’ve been ruminating on auditions lately. About the fact that I haven’t auditioned so much as I have since we moved into a remote casting era. But what I didn’t say (and that Paul says so well in his latest blog post), is that I am extremely picky about what I audition for. I checked my “stats” for the past 6 months at Voice123. I have deleted more than 1050 audition opportunities – and sent in auditions for about 75. Number of actual jobs? Very few from V123. Same basic ratio at Voices.com, but with far fewer audition opportunities.

http://nethervoice.com/nethervoice/2010/02/24/bursting-the-audition-bubble/

Something I talk to my introductory students about is learning to practice so that you actually improve – and not build in bad habits. 

Pauls says, “In my mind, you practice to audition. You don’t audition to practice.” Great stuff Paul!

August 5, 2009

Getting the Right Results from a Voiceover Session

Filed under: Communication, Techniques — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:21 pm

(Updated June 24, 2015)

Professional video and multimedia producers know there is a lot more involved in a successful voiceover than simply recording the voice and slapping it into a time line. You need to connect and communicate with the audience.

Picking the right “talent”
The process starts with the initial selection of the voice talent for a particular project.

Start early and try not to scrimp on the budget for the talent. You want a voice that will be able to get the “right” read in the shortest amount of time. If you have questions about what to budget for talent for a particular project, make a few phone calls (to another producer, to talent you respect or best yet, a talent agent) and see what the going rate should be. You can usually find someone to do the job for practically nothing, but very often what you end up paying in extra studio time to get mediocre results will more than offset the cost of hiring a professional at a fair rate.

Before you actually start listening to talent demos, reflect on your audience and your concept. In some cases you may already have an idea that you want a very young sounding hip male voice with an edgy attitude. Or a warm and friendly, yet knowledgeable mature female voice. On the other hand you may not have any idea – “you’ll know it when you hear it.”

  • Listen to demos – either from an agency house CD or their website, or demos from individual talent. It gets easier and easier to find demos, but it can be hard to determine if the person you like can deliver the goods. Not everyone’s demos reflect their actual capabilities these days. Visit their websites. Listen to additional actual projects other than their generic demos. Ask for an audition if needed. If using an online automated casting site (commonly called Pay-2-Play by the voice talent because of the fee required to receive auditions), be prepared for a flood of auditions ranging from great to horrible.
  • Another approach is to talk to an agent and describe the voice in your head. If you are casting for several voices, consider a casting director. These people know their talent and will be able to assemble a more focused set of auditions rather than the avalanche of right and often very wrong demos you will get with the automated systems mentioned in the previous bullet. There are also more personalized online casting services/audio production companies who will listen to your requirements and send notices out to a short list of professional talent who have been invited to be on the website.
  • Make sure you are listening to the right kind of demo. If you are seeking someone to narrate a 20 page script, listen to narration demos. If the talent only has a commercial demo, chances are they may not be used to reading long form material and may not be able to wrap their brain around your 20 page script without a lot of direction. Some talent agency compilation demos only feature commercial demos, so be sure to keep this in mind.
  • If you are listening to a custom demo using a portion of your script, do yourself a favor and narrow down the field to the top 5 or 6 and then hold another casting session with some specific direction. If you are using one of the online services to get your initial demos, you can do this step remotely as the talent responding will have their own/or access to studios. This will help you discern whether the talent can be directed or not…always a good thing to know even if the talent is going to “self-direct” and send you clean tracks. It will also help you determine if the talent’s studio is up to your professional standards.

How do you get the “right” read?
Remember the caution above about hiring talent for long form work who have a knack for long form work? Talent used to doing commercials may be able to understand the scenario that takes place in a 60 second spot, but may not be able to understand both the forest and the trees in a 20 page (or 100 page) script. Not only that, for scripts that will take over an hour in the studio, you need to know that your voiceover person can keep the same level of energy and approach from the first sentence to the last.

The right voice will be able to quickly read through the script (or part of the script), understand the overall approach and come up with a delivery style and pace that is pretty close.

It is always in your best interest to let the talent in on who the audience is and what you want them to do, feel, or think after watching the presentation. Let the talent know his or her role…fellow employee, a helpful teacher, or perhaps a trusted superior. And don’t forget to let the talent in on the level of audience understanding or interest in the subject matter.

ScriptA good narrator is digging into what really happened. They are reading under the words – around the words – between the lines. They look for the nuances of meaning that lurk beneath the ink on the page. They think about what might have happened just before they open their mouth to read a particular sentence. Was it funny? Is this a transition point in the video? You need to have all of this running around in your head too – so that you will know when the narrator’s interpretation wasn’t quite right.

As a director of voice talent, you need to be able to effectively communicate your desires so that the talent can make the right adjustments to their delivery. In general, the more professional the talent, the less they need to work with – a grunt, a look, one word – may be all it takes and the next take is starred. The best talent needs little if any direction, particularly if you have selected the right voice for the project, or if you have worked with that talent before.

Some talent may require a bit more finesse to understand what you are hearing. This is where your understanding of the script and having a large vocabulary of adjectives will come in handy. Oh, and the fewer people directing the talent the better…but you know that.

However, as a professional voice talent and scriptwriter, I have found that there are a few technical things you can do with the narrator’s script that will make the session go even more smoothly.

Technical SPECS for scripts
You may have the entire presentation in your head, but unless there is something on the script that helps the narrator see it the way you do, you will be working a lot harder than you need to. Be sure to let the talent have as much information as possible about what is happening. This may mean taking a few minutes ahead of the session to discuss it. Believe me, it is well worth the time.

It also helps if the script is easy to read. I’m not getting into the actual script writing here – that’s another topic for another time – these tips are for formatting your script to help the talent move through it quickly.

  • If your script includes sound bites, be sure to include a transcription of the words that the narrator will be leading into and coming out of. This will help overall continuity and flow.
  • Double space the script so that the talent has room to mark the copy.
  • Use at least 12 point font – Times Roman is good.
  • Use upper and lower case – ALL CAPS ARE MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. Think about it, the talent has no way of knowing if something should be capitalized if everything is capitalized. This could affect interpretation.
  • Try to avoid breaking a sentence in the middle from one page to the next. This will reduce the number of times you have to stop down for page turns, as well as possible page rustle.
  • If you are using a dual column editing script as a narration script, some sentences may be broken in the middle of a thought to show the editor where a new image is supposed to appear. While most professional talent can mentally take up the space and tie the sentence together, try to avoid this on the script you hand the talent.

The audio track is a critical element in your media project. By selecting the right talent in the first place, formatting the scripts for readability and then working with the talent to get the “right” read, your media projects will connect and communicate.

Terwilliger_Connie

Written by Connie Terwilliger for Studio/monthly. Copyright Access Intelligence, Dynamic Media Group, publisher of Studio/monthly magazine. To subscribe, go to www.studiomonthly.com

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