You Didn’t Go?

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August was a busy month, and many voice actors found they couldn’t afford the time or the expense of VOICE 2008.

S’alright, here’s your chance to see and hear most everything that happened at the big event.

Follow the links below to order your DVD of this landmark event in Los Angeles in August of 2008.

CourVO

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VOICE 2008 Pics are in!

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OK, you've seen the photos WE all took of the VOICE conference.  Nice, but…well….amateurish.

James Alburger and Penny Abshire secured the services of two top-notch professional photographers to chronicle the events of that long weekend, and now you can obtain those pics yourself.  (Hint:  they're waaaay good, dude!)

Click below for the info.

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What now?

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VOICE 2008 is still rummaging around in my brain.

I want to put it to bed.

I can't.

I shouldn't.

After all, I attended to learn…to shake-up the business-as-usual routine…to network…to be challenged…to find "aha!" moments.

All that I did.  But it's not settling into a form I can use….

Yet.

You see…all was not consistent across the board of VO experts.  What one said is not necessarily the wisdom that came from another; direct conflict, in fact.

I had a therapist once who laughed at my notion that all experiences should settle into a nice, comfortable pattern of predictable and safe eventualities.  "A rut" he called it.

His more preferred take on the world was that there is a "tension" we live in…or should want to live in (even though we're never completely comfortable there)…that sits between two distinct possibilities which are not congruent or compatible, or even reconcilable.

Humans actually thrive better in the tension over time.

So what now? 

Like most any other challenge in life,  I'll analyze, sniff, swish thoughts around in the wine glass, weigh the pieces of silver, and compare the relative merits according to the book of life I've been given so far…and come up with:  a result that is uniquely Dave Courvoisier's… wrong or right, good or bad doesn't fit into that equation.  It just IS.

Oddly enough, a concensus of opinion at VOICE 2008 DOES support the "unique" thing.  My voice is uniquely mine, and while it may sound like others, no one else brings THAT voice with MY set of experiences, and MY attitude…. a combination the next client may be just dying to find!

So let the thoughts bang around in your head.

Just…not taking any eventual action…now THAT would be the crime.

CourVO

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Epilogue

The mind is full to overflowing.  Packed.  Jumbled.

Monday at VOICE 2008 began like all the others…waking up wishing I had about 10 more hours of sleep.  But as always, the event itself quickly erased any doubts that waking early was the right thing to do.

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Have I mentioned yet that Pat Fraley is a genius?  Oh, you knew that?

Well, how 'bout erudite, enabling, helpful, and gracious?

He's just a wonderful teacher, and took extra time in his presentation on 'dialects' Sunday morning.

Pat was the perfect finale to a wildly successful VOICE 2008.

This is where you might say something like:

"It's to soon for it to be over!"
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"I wish there was more!"

…but I'd be lying. 

The length, depth and breadth of the event was just about right.  Sometimes I felt overwhelmed, other times I wanted more.  In the end, I felt fulfilled…even though my mind's cup runneth over.

On top of everything that happened at VOICE, I finished my LA weekend with a one-on-one visit with Nancy Wolfson.  That was a welcome time of sifting through everything I'd heard for the past several days and winnowing it down to the essentials.

I have much to do in the days and weeks ahead.  I'm energized, inspired, determined. 

HOWEVER, I am looking forward to decompressing several days at Tahoe with some friends…that is AFTER I get past Primary election day here in Nevada, today.

To all my old VOICE friends and now VOICE new friends who may happen upon this blog:  I'm grateful for the time I spent with you.  You enriched my experience beyond measure, and I hope to be in touch with you soon.  Please know I'm here if you ever want to contact me.

CourVO

Promo-licious

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Joe Cipriano rocks!  He was the moderator of a panel today that was flat-out awesome.

But whoa horsey!  I'm way ahead of myself.

Let's back up to the first AM session

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Being that we are all part of a P1020026business that lets us work in our PJ's, James and Penny decided to celebrate by having a "bunny slippers" day.  I had trouble finding a pair that would fit my 13 EEE's, but about 80 other people showed-up in fine form for the first general session.

 The entertaining Marc Cashman was the keynote speaker today, and afterwards, a select team of voice coaches performed a live radio play written by Cashman. 
 It was a hoot!!!   P1020016

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After that, breakout sessions began.  P1020031I tried to get around to all of them, and ended up missing key points of some of the presentations, but here is a pic of Larry Maizlish, speaking on what voice-seekers look for when dealing with voice-actors and the auditioning process.  

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Joyce Costellanos on the unique niche area of promos and trailers, and the differences between them.

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Joe Klein spoke on new media paradigms, and then it wasn't long until we all filled the room for the event's final incredibel panel with Joe Cip.

First, let me just say that the three professional panels that were scheduled over the last two days were by far the most worthwhile, fulfilling, and information-packed elements of the event.  All offered the best application of practical suggestions from the mouths of the people we would all die to have access to.  And there they were!

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They included Joe Cipriano, Townsend Coleman, Kat Cressida, Paul Pape, Beau Weaver, Stew Herrera, and Melissa Disney. 

Don LaFontaine tried to call during the session, but being as we were two floors down from street level, the call was never successful.

Regardless, the personalities on the dias constituted some of the top names in promotional voice talent in the US today.  CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Cable, Cartoons…you name it, they were all represented several times over in this panel.

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Personally, I was surprised that almost all of them began in radio in other parts of the country, but only found their voice in network promotions after moving to Southern California.

Much was said about how they each made their own opportunities, but also found mentoring, luck, and serendipity contributed to the formula for their success.  Beau Weaver, particularly seemed articulate in explaining how he had to drop old ideas about broadcasting to redefine his skill-set in acting to adapt to voice-overs.

That particular sentiment was echoed by all on the stage.  Constantly seeking ways to push their talent envelope by taking acting classes and voice-coaching was repeatedly mentioned. 

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  The discussion led into an analysis of the changing scene of the industry brought on by advancements in technology.  Every single one of the actors have elaborate home studios which they use to audition and fulfill network promo commitments…but each one also made the point how they often did their best work in the network studios, and often sought to work in the company studios because they just craved a more relational work environment.

The dialogue also veered into each inventorying their audio chain.  By far the microphone mentioned most often was the Sennheiser MKH416.  Most use Pro-tools (with the exception of Weaver, who called it a "bloated pig"), and all have ISDN boxes — the most frequently-mentioned being the Telos Zephyr.

They all agreed that they each audition almost every day….most have a minimum of an East Coast and a West Coast agent.  All belong to SAG and AFTRA, and they all agreed that once they rose to the level of being "regulars" in the promotional rotation of network programs, it also severely limited their free time, or their vacation time, as the networks were constantly demanding quick turnaround on promotional copy with little advance notice.

Townsend Coleman's story of how he came to be the promotional voice of Jay Leno's tonight show underscores the luck of being in the right place at the right time.  Paul Pape was the least of the promotional voices on the stage, but had a much wider set of marketable skills on the Hollywood voice-acting scene, particularly in ADR.

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Rounding out this amazing day was an evening banquet  where everyone dressed up in their Sunday best.  Special guest stars Dick Orkin and Christine Coyle of The Famous Radio Ranch were the feature.

Dick made his fame beginning in the 60's and 70's with the radio-syndicated "Chicken Man", then "The Tooth Fairy"….followed by years and years of an exceptional string of Emmy and Addy-awarded radio spots.

Their remembrances were golden.

Oh…and Rick Party got the first annual "VO Community" award for launching the incredibly successful VoiceOverUniverse website.  He humbly accepted, mentioning only that his original intention was to bring together some of his friends.  He did — now over 1200 strong!

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'Hard to believe this inspirational, informational, relational weekend was drawing to a close.

Pat Fraley rises to the stage Monday….then we're all off on our separate ways… much the richer for it.

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To the right, Denise Chamberlain of James Alburger and Penny Abshire's staff, posing with LA studio production guru Marc Graue

I'm drained, emotionally and physically.  I narrated another 30-pages of long-format copy after the banquet tonite, and fall into bed happy but spent.

CourVO

Voice Actors Are The Nicest People in the World!

No…really!

I'm not sure why…but they seem about the most helpful, willing, relational, and genuinely approachable set of people I know.

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After my blog from earlier today, I finally got a short nap….very short.  But I didn't want to miss this afternoon's sessions.

Milling around the foyer, waiting for the doors to open to the general session, and who do I run into, but Joe Cipriano!

Approachable?  You bet!  He greets me by my first name, and I say:  "YOU… know ME?"

"Of course!" he says….

Luckily I had my camera ready.

The big names here seem equally enamored of all the other lesser-known voice-actors — either to encourage, engage, or enable in some way.

There are no big heads here.  We're all sharing openly, trading secrets, and enjoying stories of each others' successes (or near-misses).

The earlyP1010980 afternoon session had Randy Thomas and friends.  Randy has a long radio background, but is generally credited for opening many doors for the female gender by being the first woman to announce 
for the Emmy's, the Tony's, and the Academy Awards…not to mention many other "firsts".

But to me, the killer session of the day was the later afternoon panel moderated by Bob Bergen.

Bob is the nicest human being I know.  So helpful.  So genuine.  So professional.  The panel of about 7 included many of the people you'd just love to sit down and ask questions P1010993of…the kind of people who seem obscenely inaccessible…untouchable.  
You know, like, Hollywood casting agents, talent agents, producers, etc.  My gosh, the casting director for Disney was right there!

And Bob asked just all THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!  Like he was reading our minds, or something!

The hour-and-10 was over just like that!

Topics discussed:  branding, how to make demo's, when to make demo's, how to approach auditions, how to approach jobs, are demo's actually LISTENED-TO?, what is Radio Imaging?, what is TV imaging?, do agents seek new talent?, how to approach an agent, how much to pay for a professional demo?.  OMG, the dialog was RICH.  The tips were many.  The answers were golden!!!

Break for dinner.

Back to anotherP1020006 panel in the evening hosted by Pete Rofe'…one of New York City's most sought-after talent coaches.  Much the same topic-set was discussed again.  One of the same talent agents from the earlier panel came back to answer MORE questions.  Casting agents, an ADR talent, A radio imaging expert, a demo coach. 

Priceless!!!

What comes clear from both panels: 
1)  This is a business.  Be smart.  Work and do your homework.
2)   Have initiative
3)   Forming real relationships with these people in whatever meaningful way you can, creates your greatest opportunity for jobs
4)   The really good-paying Hollywood jobs come through agents.
5)   The really good-paying Hollywood jobs come to those who are Union.
6)   The really good-paying Hollywood jobs come to those who live in SoCal.
7)   Without (4),(5) or (6), you'd better at least have ISDN
8)   Even those who have "made it" are still expending considerable money and effort to continue to market themselves
9)   Most agents bail out of a demo if it doesn't grab them in 10-secs
10)  Agents don't actually listen to demo's.  Interns in their office do that, who then alert an associate agent, who then MIGHT refer it up to a talent agent.
11)  No matter what an agent tells you…if they think they can make money off you….they'll sign you.
12)  It pays to at least "look" like you're successful, booking work, and appearing confident.
13)  Radio Imaging is perhaps the trickiest sell, and the trickiest demo out there.
14)  Casting directors really depend on talent agents to bring them talent.  They don't have the time.
15)  Nobody has the time.  That's why instead of pouring through demo's, agents and casting directors will return to the tried and true when they're in a pinch.
16)  Hollywood talent agents get anywhere from 50-100 new demo's a week.
17)  ADR is perhaps the most overlooked, least crowded, and potentially lucrative job opportunity out there.  Just nobody coaches for it (except Pat Fraley).
18)  The more adept you can be at today's new technology, the better chance you have at getting work.
19)  Producing a really good, professional commercial demo is going to cost you between $1500 and $2000.
20)  DO NOT SEEK to have your demo produced until you're ready, practiced, confident, coached, trained, and seasoned.  You'll waste your money.
21)  Whatever your demo is selling, you had better be genuinely able to back it up in a live audition with an equal ability.
22)  Announcers are out…your real, authentic, genuine (but coached and trained) voice is worth more to voice-seekers than anything else.

So much more, but the night is late, and I am fatigued.  Under other circumstances, I'd call in sick.  But the energy here just buoys me to such a level that I don't notice.

And…..MORE tomorrow! 

Unbelievable!

CourVO

Excellence….

…is what it's all about here at VOICE 2008.  And when I say that, I'm picturing Garth from Saturday Night Live.
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…and I'm also thinking of the technically correct sense of the term. From top to bottom, volunteers to vendors, presenters to production — VOICE 2008 is a steep improvement on last year's nascent event.

This morning, VO-BB'er Caryn Clark (right)  bopped over to where I was sitting, and insisted on a picture.  Voice-actors are the nicest community of people in the world.

Voice artist Beverly Bremers made the keynote address this morning on how to take care of your voice.  Voicercise (which she has trade-marked), do's and don'ts, vocal exercises, relaxation techniques.   She had us all up on our feet stretching, saying "baby buggy bumpers" 3 times fast, and making us promise never to smoke.

After a quick break, it was off to the morning break-out session with Nancy Wolfson; branding expert.

Disclaimer:  Besides the fact that Nancy is drop-dead gorgeous, and I'm scheduled for a one-on-one with her Monday, I'm a big fan, 'cause she really tells it like it is, and has some absolutely provocative ideas that most voice actors REALLY NEED TO HEAR.

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Her demonstrations of how branding a person is different than branding a physical product — her admonitions not to get the cart before the horse (get good first, THEN start marketing) — and her insistence that your brand MUST represent the inner person, could not be more spot on.

Talking to Nancy should be something you could claim on your mental health medical claim form.  She's a quick and astute read of people and their personalities.  She cuts through the onion's tough outer husk, and drills right down through every layer.

There's only one afternoon break-out session today, which means after this blog, I'm going to take a quick power-nap, 'cause Lord knows I need one.

Don't forget to check out other VOICE 2008 bloggers Bobbin Beam, Kara Edwards, Bob Souer, and our aggregator, John Florian's VoiceOverXtra.com.

CourVO

Overload….in a good way

Woo-Hoo…what a day! 

Smiling is an endless pursuit here at VOICE 2008.

Today the keynotes, and the break-out sessions began.  Susan Berkely was called away to her father's funeral,P1010929 so James Alburger and Penny Abshire stepped in with a full program they threw together in about a day. 

It didn't look thrown together.  It looked good.

The general session room is elegant, well-equipped with A/V and is nicely accomodating.

After J & P were done, the first break-out sessions began….three rooms, three expert speakers. 

I introduced Beverly Bremers, a SoCal talent who brought us all into a realization that to sound natural, real, or conversational while reading from copy takes a lot of practice.  She had great tips, and like all the presenters today, she had attendees come to the microphones readied throughout the audience for cold reads from copy she provided. 
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At the same time, right in the next break-out room, I could hear Canadian-based talent and coach Deb Munro rallying the troops who came to hear her speak.  I'm sorry I missed Deb's presentation, but a guy can only be in one place at a time, and besides, I got a great photo with her a little later.  She's such a great gal!

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In the afternoon, probably the most well-attended break-out session was Marc Cashman's.

The SoCal-based Clio-award-winning writer, producer, talent, casting-director, general all-around voice-acting expert led a lively session that seemed like it was over before it started.  The most fun was his prompting talent to do cold reads on copy that feels like cramming :40 secs-worth of copy into :30 secs.

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 I was shocked when he pulled a name out of a hat, and it turned out to be Scott Brick…one of the top, if not THE top audio-book narrator in the country.  I told Scott later in a private conversation that HE should be doing a break-out session, and if he did I'd be sitting in the front row!  BTW, the woman kinda blocking the view of Scott's right arm in this photo is none other than Connie Terwilliger.

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The two distinguished gentlemen in the pic on the left with me are two of the many volunteers who are single-handedly making this conference about the smoothest it could possibly be.  (I'm terrible with names, but I know the guy on the right is Stan, and he was at the 2007 conference in Vegas.)

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Denise Chamberlain there on the right is one of the paid staff.  She's a character, but knows how to take care of business,

AFTRA hosted the evening soiree' of wine and cheese.  The President of he local AFTRA then presented the panel discussion which featured the voices of all the cartoon characters who populate the "Land Before Time" animated show.  As you can see, they're mostly quite young, but wise beyond their years if you know what I mean.P1010959

Bob Bergen is the guy with the orange shirt and the white baseball cap sitting on the left end of the table.  The guy is a voice-acting legend… the voice of Porky Pig, Tweety, and many many others.

I had to leave that session early, 'cause my big narration job that I mentioned yesterday was still sitting there waiting to be done.

I started at roughly 9:30pm and finished at roughly 3:00am.  54:00 finished, edited, and sent off.  (pant pant).

Now it's almost 4 am, and I'm going to try to get a couple 2 or 3 hours sleep.  I'd be despairing of the long hours, but I'm having too much fun. 

I'll just have to collapse at a later date.

CourVO

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8-8-08

The number "8" is considered superlative good luck in Asia, especially China (why else do you suppose they chose today to kick off the Olympics?).

P1010925 That ho-hum event over there in smoggy Beijing, though, can't compare to our convocation here in smoggy L-A!

VOICE 2008 begins in earnest this morning with presenters Julie Williams, Deb Munro, Beverly Bremers, Gabriele Nistico, Raleigh Pinskey, and Marc Cashman.  Susan Berkely was scheduled to give the keynote today, but was called away unexectedly by the death of her father two days ago.

To the right: our general session hall, which also doubles as the home for one of the break-out sessions each day.

More later, and I promise a better selection of pics today.  Also, a reminder that you can find wonderful narratives on this event and the Dan O'Day summit on Bob Souer's Blog, and more about the escapades of all attending at VoiceOverExtra.com, as well as the blogs of Bobbin Beam, and Kara Edwards.

We're all havin' too much fun!!

CourVO

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