This week on the VO School Podcast, we’re discussing studio connectivity. While this may not be the sexiest subject, it is an aspect of voiceover that needs to be understood in order to compete as a voice actor in 2018 and beyond.
What is studio connectivity? It’s the technology that allows you to connect your home studio (however modest) to the world. This enables you to be directed live in much the same way as a talent visiting a recording studio but from the comfort of your own home.
This can be a complicated subject and is often misunderstood, so allow us to strip everything down to the basics as we discuss the history of this technology, where we are today, and where this tech is going in the next five to ten years. If acronyms like ISDN, IPDTL, SPID, SIP, VOIP, or PRI hold little meaning for you, this episode is for you!
Joining us this week are Kevin Leach and Tim Friedlander. Kevin is the founding director of In:Quality, makers of the popular ipDTL studio connection service, and an engineer with decades of experience in radio for the BBC. Tim is a voice talent and owner of SoundboxLA, a recording studio in Los Angeles that specializes in recording voice talent.
We’re back with an all-new season of the VO School Podcast and for our first episode, we’re tackling a very popular voiceover genre: video games!
Working in the video game genre is both challenging and rewarding, and offers an opportunity for talent to become recognized for their work (a rarity for voice actors).
How does a voice actor make their way into this genre? Do they need to have gaming experience to be successful? What skills are needed to compete and where does one go to acquire them?
Joining us this week are three extremely successful video game voice talents, covering the union AAA and indie worlds, as well as gaining perspectives from both sides of the pond.
Dave Fennoy has been an industry heavyweight for over 20 years and has voiced major roles in games such as “The Walking Dead,” “World of Warcraft,” “Lego,” “Final Fantasy,” “Star Wars,” “Batman,” “Transformers,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Fallout 4,” “Minecraft,” “Infinity Blade,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Assasin’s Creed,” “Metal Gear Solid,” “Mass Effect,” and many, many others! He is also an in-demand voiceover coach and travels the world teaching and speaking about the craft.
Amelia Tyler is a prolific voice actor and motion capture artist from the U.K. She has voiced games such as “Divinity Original Sin II,” “The Spectrum Retreat,” and “Elite Dangerous: Horizons.” She’s also voiced multiple characters in “Star Wars Battlefront II,” “Forgotton Anne,” and “Frostpunk,” plus motion-capture work for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” This year, she’ll be appearing in “The Occupation” and as several characters in titles including “We Happy Few,” “Du Lac and Fey: Dance of Death,” and “The Bard's Tale IV.”
Jay Britton, also from the U.K., is a Voice Arts Award-winning voice actor and motion capture artist and has appeared in over 50 titles and 285+ roles. You will have heard him in “Divinity: Original Sin II,” “Elite Dangerous: Horizons,” “Total War: Warhammer II,” “Planet Coaster,” “The Turing Test,” and “Augmented Empire,” among many others!
This week on the VO School Podcast, we’re talking technology. Specifically, digital audio workstations or DAWs.
These are the software applications that voice talent use to record and edit. There are many options to choose from and many things to consider when making the choice: What is a DAW? What types of DAWs are there? Which DAW sounds best? How can a DAW speed up your workflow and allow you to get more work done?
Joining me this week are audio engineers and respected audio professionals in the voiceover world, Emmett Andrews and Tim Tippets.
Even if you aren’t technologically minded, this is an important episode for anyone looking to voice from home, as your DAW is one of the most important tools you have in your own studio.
The tables were turned on me this week on the VO School Podcast as students from Syracuse University pitched their questions about voiceover to me, in a Q&A covering a wide range of topics.
Tina Perkins teaches voiceover at S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and she invited me to talk to her students about my experience in the industry and my thoughts on where it is going next.
We run the gamut, covering subjects such as characterisation, accents and accent reduction, getting high profile commercial contracts, production value, finding your niche, audition technique, how to read conversationally, reimagining characters and career ending mistakes!
Many thanks to the students of Newhouse and course leader Tina Perkins for facilitating this Q&A.
Editor’s note: This article is written by Heather, Elizabeth, and Sara to shed light on the recent allegations of sexual assault and harassment against a prominent member of the New York voiceover community, Peter Rofe. For the sake of full disclosure, we feel it’s important to let readers know that Rofe was, at one point, affiliated with Backstage as a writer. Since learning of these allegations, Backstage cut ties with Rofe and he has not been associated with the publication since.
As performance artists, we are taught by teachers, coaches, and directors to tap into our own vulnerability, something that requires an enormous amount of trust. In the case of New York voiceover coach Peter Rofe, that position of power and trust was exploited for decades. Until now.
On Feb. 8, 2018, CNN published an article detailing the accounts of many of his victims, the healing they’ve found from connecting, and finally outing Rofe as a sexual predator. Since the story broke, more women have come forward. A total of 57 victims have connected and told their stories, finding solidarity in their traumatic experiences.
While the dates of the assaults span from 1999 to 2017 and every woman’s story is unique, the calculated tactics he employed to groom, coerce, and manipulate his victims are eerily similar: His choice of overtly sexual scripts, hammering that “sex sells,” repeatedly pointing out that voice acting is “no different” than stage or film acting, and shaming women for not going far enough outside their instinctive comfort zones are some examples of what he routinely employed. Rofe’s acts range from sexual harassment and verbal abuse to sexual assault of his female clients, including groping, forced kissing, exposing himself, stripping naked, demanding that clients strip naked, barricading himself nude in a locked office or sound booth with clients, masturbating in front of clients, and many more acts of unwanted physical violations.
As Heather Costa shares, “My story began in 2008 when I went to Peter Rofe after a glowing recommendation of his abilities as a voiceover coach and demo producer. It was a turning point in my career and I was ready to take that next step. Looking back on that experience with Rofe, he was very calculated and manipulative and over the course of multiple sessions together, he became bolder in his actions until he went too far, and his boldness turned into sexual assault. In the moment, my brain was telling me something wasn’t right but it didn’t make sense as to what was actually happening. It felt almost as if time slowed down and all the while I’m thinking I’m not reciprocating this, I’m in control. In hindsight, I wasn’t. It took years for me to fully understand what happened in that room, and to stop blaming myself for what he did. When you experience a situation such as this, you’re left to question and doubt yourself. Then when the predator acts as if it’s normal or you’re at fault, you quickly believe it. Now, we are taking that power back.”
The day #metoo happened, everything changed. In October of last year, Elizabeth Laime posted her story on Facebook about Rofe assaulting her in 2005. From her came others; soon there were ten, then sixteen, then thirty, then nearly sixty. They believe there are many more, too. They created a private Facebook group where the women Rofe sexually assaulted were invited to share their stories, find support, and work toward stopping this from ever happening to anyone again.
The group has had an enormous impact on many women who thought they were alone. Sara Asselin explains, “For many of us, Peter Rofe came as a glowing recommendation from agents, friends, teachers, and people in the industry. We were told he would produce a great demo for us and coach us into a lucrative VO career. This was a turning point in our careers, a next step, someone we were investing a large amount of money, energy, and trust into. Because of this investment, Rofe’s increasing manipulation and disgusting behavior over the course of our coaching and recording sessions was often overlooked. Questions like, Is this normal? Is this really happening? Did I bring this on? Am I the only one he did this to? plagued us. We didn’t want it to be true. We didn’t want our own sense of reality and instinct to come into question. But here it had, and here we were, all of us physically and psychologically hurt and blaming ourselves for what were the actions of a man out only for power and his own arousal. Today we are taking that power back.”
The New York Police Department is investigating these accusations and searching to find someone within the statute of limitations. Despite multiple attempts by media sources, Rofe has declined to comment. It is the women’s hope that by sharing their stories, it will give other women he has sexually assaulted the strength to also come forward, and warn others who may have unknowingly become victims of his in the future. If you have a story you’d like to share privately with them, please email email@example.com. If you believe someone has acted inappropriately towards you or someone you know, you can find available resources here.
Jamie Muffett of VO School Podcast has offered to help warn others about this sexual predator. Below is the latest episode of the podcast featuring five of the incredibly strong women Peter Rofe assaulted, sharing their story.
This week on the VO School Podcast, we’re looking at vocal health, and how keeping your voice in tip-top condition is one of your highest priorities as a voice actor.
Why is voice health so important? What parts of your body need to be in good condition to perform your best? How can diet affect your performance? How soon should you start building up liquids prior to a session and why is alignment so crucial for developing stamina?
We also walk listeners through a typical preparation routine for a major session, including vocal warm-ups and tips to keep you at peak performance throughout a long or strenuous recording.
Joining us this week is Nic Redman, a voice actor and voice/accent coach hailing from Northern Ireland and based in Manchester, U.K. As a coach, she specializes in accents and dialects, breath, articulation and resonance, voice and text, and character voicing. She has taught at some of the U.K.’s most prestigious institutions including RADA, LIPA, Arts Ed, East 15, ICAT, The Actors’ Guild, and The Actors’ Lab, with her recent accent and character voice coaching work heard on BBC Radio 4.
This week, we’re taking a deep dive into the world of promo with one of its most experienced practitioners, Joe Cipriano.
As a 40-year veteran of the voiceover industry, Joe’s extensive resume includes many years as the voice of networks such as NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, Disney, Sony Television, The Food Network, and many more. He has also worked extensively in commercial, live announcing (including the Emmy and Grammy Awards), imaging and radio. But he’s best known for his work in promo.
What is promo? How does one get into it? What does a typical day look like for Joe? How important are mentors? What are the skills needed to compete? And how do network and cable promo fit into SAG/AFTRA? We answer these questions and more with this week’s VO School Podcast!
This week on the VO School podcast, we’re celebrating our 20th episode by honoring Black History Month with a show devoted entirely to diversity.
This episode is guest hosted by Doug Melville, chief diversity officer for the international advertising agency, TBWA. As a vocal proponent for diversity in all its forms both day to day in his role within TBWA and via his personal outreach on social media and public appearances, Doug brings a wealth of knowledge to this episode.
Joining us this week on the podcast are power couple Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins, founders of SOVAS (the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences), a not-for-profit organization that helps educate and advocate voiceover around the globe. They organize and present workshops and learning opportunities across America and curate That’s Voiceover and The Voice Arts Awards, a voiceover convention and voice awards show, respectively.
In this episode, we learn how Joan and Rudy established themselves in the industry, how they advocate for talent that come from diverse backgrounds, where they believe the industry is heading, the importance of the human voice, and how the collaboration of technology and voiceover presents new and exciting opportunities for voice actors.
This week on the VO School Podcast, we’re doing something a little different. A few weeks ago, I asked listeners to submit a recording of themselves reading a commercial script and then we’d assess the performance on the show.
Jim Kennelly, producer and casting director of Lotas Productions, along with engineer Sam Ufret and myself played through a selection chosen at random. We get a behind-the-scenes peek at how reads are assessed and why some are picked to be forwarded to a client and why others may not be.
We learn the importance of reading and understanding specs, using your imagination when you read, how pace and energy are critical to garnering or losing attention, the importance of audio quality, and some dos and don’ts that will help you to stand out from the crowd.
The microphone is the centerpiece of any voice actor’s studio setup and this week on the VO School Podcast, we put this piece of technology front and center. Join us as we geek out over an exalted but often misunderstood piece of technology!
Do you need an expensive microphone to be a professional voice actor? How much better is a $3,000 mic compared to a $200 model? How do you use a microphone to get the best out of it? Do they require maintenance? And how long should a mic last?
Joining me this week are Dan Friedman and Emmett Andrews. Dan is an audio engineer, producer, voice talent and author from the mountains of Asheville, NC. With nearly two decades in the voiceover industry, he has produced, directed, and provided his voice to thousands of audio productions. In 2010 he published “Sound Advice: Voiceover From An Audio Engineer's Perspective.” A first of its kind in the industry, the book covers audio engineering and studio session etiquette as it relates directly to voiceover talent.
Emmett’s background includes over 20 years in commercial radio, with much of the time spent in St. Louis and Indianapolis. Additionally, he has worked for Sweetwater as both a sales engineer and tech support specialist. He is also a national voice talent with clients like Dell, Long John Silvers, Spalding, Lexus, and Pandora. He offers technical design services for home studio owners and ad agencies. Emmett currently serves as production director for Emmis Communications.
Blog and show notes for the VO School Podcast - produced by Jamie Muffett.