It seems like an absolute age since I last wrote my "weekly" blog about projects I've been working on.
I've taken on more regular clients recently so finding the time to document things is becoming harder. So... it's with a heavy heart and typing fingers, that I've decided to put this part of my blog on hiatus.
After this one.
I've really enjoyed the process of keeping this diary of sorts. It's allowed me to review work I've done (it's important to reflect) and it's given me another creative outlet. I love writing - finding the words that replicate how I would say things in real life.... wait.... 'ow I wood say fings in reaw life. It's a challenge and really rewarding, especially when I get feedback that people have been entertained with the writing style.
GET ON WITH IT MARTIN, THIS IS A VOICE OVER BLOG.
All the projects here span several weeks this time, but have been condensed to the ones I found most interesting, exciting and what might be most beneficial to the reader. Aren't I kind?
E-learning voiceover projects become more fascinating to me each time I work on one. I have a really great client in Poland who sends me conversation scripts to record for people learning English. I've been a weatherman, a historian, a news reporter, board members and the list goes on.
A few days ago, it turned even more attractive to me as a genre (see previous post about why I had a pre-conception that e-learning is dull), when I was asked to play a robot. That's all I really need to say about it. But I'll say more. It is the last blog after all.
Becoming a robot was of course fun, but working out intonation patterns for this made it even more enjoyable. The word discordant comes to mind - finishing words and sentences with notes that would normally sound strange, suited perfectly. You can all imagine a robot voice - like the screen reader on your computer. Well, that was me for a while this week... and I loved it!
In the past couple of years I took up reading graphic novels. I like the darker ones - death, destruction, grit and gore. Don't judge me!
So it was an absolute pleasure to be asked to voice the first episode of a web comic called RPG:Island.
My character was drumming up interest for a new "game", whilst reminding the population that their lives were pretty much void of hope in the post-apocalyptic world. Read the prologue if you get the chance - that's who I was. Getting very animated and loud.
It's amazing when you get so deep into a role that you can feel the adrenaline, the shiver up your spine the moment you finish the script. I had goosebumps when I stepped out of the booth and that's the exact word the client used - "goosebumps" - when he heard it. I can't wait to see the finished product and I'll definitely be adding it to the site when it's released.
Something else I've been concentrating on recently is increasing my range - the different tones, emotions and styles I can express with my voice. This involves a fair amount of research. Not by looking into my throat to see what the vocal folds can do but listening to other artists' voice over demo reels. It's important to say here, that you shouldn't copy anybody - you still need to be you! But you can certainly be inspired by them, the same way musicians or artists can be inspired by their peers.
So I've been doing that and seeing what part of my voice I can open up next. I picked a style I want to work on and I aim to get it down by the end of the year. I've written scripts to practice it with and I think I'll probably end up using it on a new reel or for a video sample.
The importance of creating media with me in it, I know, so arrogant, has been something I've come to embrace recently. I'm a voiceover artist, so people need to hear my voice. LinkedIn has been my target with short clips about how to do certain things related to voice work but also to promote me me meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
I always make sure that my personality comes across in the script or style of read when I post to LinkedIn as I think it's important that people want to work with ME first and my voice second.
Here's a recent clip I posted there.
A first for me this month was being asked to provide the voice for a stop motion animation. I've previously worked on explainers, white boards and films that have all been animated, but until this point, not stop motion. AND THE VIDEO LOOKS AMAZING. Or at least the draft version I saw did, which means the final cut will be even better! Again, I'll definitely be spamming it everywhere when it's released.
(Edit: and here it is!)
I tried making a stop motion video once that involved a Lego knight on horseback setting up as if he was jousting but doing the pole vault instead. I gave up after about 30 photos.
The types and styles of video are so vast and just like voice-over, surprise me on a regular basis. It's a privilege being able to see such stunning media productions AND being part of them.
As usual, there's been a whole bunch of telephony work.
Back in January I recorded some IVR prompts for a group of vets in Vietnam. So when they needed them updating recently, they came back to the same voice! It would sound strange if different people were on different stems of a phone system. I've witnessed that a few times when phoning insurance companies and it's a bit of an odd experience!
Another service that I provide is adding music to on hold messages. It might seem a simple thing but not everybody has the software or time to do it.
There's a process called "automation" where you dip the music down when the voice starts and then you bring it back up again when it's finished the message. I'm geeking out. I don't know why I even mentioned that. I'm just an audio nerd ok.
Anyway, a recent client needed music adding and I guided him through the whole process. What messages would be appropriate, type of music, how long to play music between voice segments and what format his phone system could take. It was extremely satisfying to work that closely with someone who had full trust in what I was advising.
Getting back to animation... and yes, I should have put this with the other mention of animation... I nabbed the part of Leon, in a short animated film. I found this one an enjoyable challenge as I had to go through a whole range of emotions in a short period of time. But that's one of the things that first grabbed me about the art of voice over - expressing emotion and meaning in scripts from 1 word to 1 million. What a great thing, to be able to affect an audience with one word, vocalised a certain way.
The artwork for the film looks incredible and my character is quite handsome, OF COURSE. I think I'm probably going to need an animation section on here when all these pieces get released.
Something that has run throughout my voice over career has been learning of new innovations that are coming to market.
Here's just a few things I've seen since the last entry:
Software for a restaurant where the customer browses and orders from the menu on their phone. The order goes straight to the kitchen and is prepared without the need for a waiter. Sounds unsociable, but it's a product of the times.
A new way to learn Spanish through a MMORPG. The teacher adds all their students to the game and they fight each other! Brilliant. But, along the way they must answer vocab and grammar questions to upgrade skills and weapons. Where was this stuff when i was at school in the 1920s?
An app where you can hire cleaners, give them instructions, leave reviews, pay them and tip them.
There really are apps for everything, yet somehow, people still keep coming up with new ones!
Voice over artists benefit from all this innovation. New products need marketing, marketing means videos and ads, and that of course means a voice.
Ok, well, umm this is it then. Goodbye old friend, old buddy, old pal. We had a good run but you just consumed too much of my life like a... I guess... a leech.
/END DIARY BLOG
It definitely would have been better ending on part 20 but whatever.
Oh, I should probably mention, there'll be other blogs about voice over work, projects, etc, just not in semi regular diary format.
/OK THIS TIME IT REALLY IS THE END