Monday, December 18, 2006

Microphone Check

I apologize for my absence. I'm working on our annual end of the year DVD to send to all of the relatives and editing it's been a bit of a bitch. I get a little anal about these things so it's important I get things right, lest I'm up all night worrying over whether or not I've picked the right title or the right transition or what have you. As it is, I'm concerned the audio levels aren't correct as Premiere Elements doesn't have a way of picking all of the audio in the project and equalizing it out. At least version 2.0 doesn't. The little it I watched on Sunday morning, after burning a rough cut caused my laptops speakers to explode at one point, so I'm thinking some reworking will be in order.

In other news, rather than continuing to brave the barren wasteland of Christmas shopping traffic in search of additional Transformers, I took my business online and scored a Classics Deluxe Grimlock and Mirage from Apparently in the rush to shop at all the cool online places like Amazon and Toys R Us online, folks have completely forgotten all about good old KB Toys. Not me though, and because of this, I have reaped the rewards. The completest in me is clamoring to pick up the Classics Deluxe version of Bumblebee and Astrotrain as well, but the rest of me knows how unbelievably lame both of those Transformers are and is repeatedly giving said completest wedgies until it shuts the hell up.

This is what I spent part of my day looking at today. As my company is a small one, it relies on employees to wear multiple hats. Today I wore the "voice talent for a marketing flash demo" hat. Yes, that's right, your humble host here has made his first tentative steps into the high flying world of Hollywood voice over work. Soon the world will know me by name, well, by voice anyways, and all of America will be in the thrall of the man who voiced random post closing dude in our company's flash overview thingy.

As I'm not one for the flash and pretentiousness of a limousine, I opted to drive myself and my costar to the studio where all of the magic happens. It's a pretty damn big place and they do all sorts of audio, video, post production, effects work and other A/V wizardry. Being that I'm a creative type, I can't be bogged down with all of that Poindexter mumbo jumbo. I just show up and shine.

And shine I did. When we arrived at the studio, I was dismayed to see that they had neither the Peruvian spring water I requested, nor the green almond M&M's, nor Kristen Bell's home phone number. In the future, I'll have my agent speak to these people ahead of time to ensure that my demands are met as I can't be bothered with worrying that I'll have neither adequate beverages nor snacks. Doing voice work is extremely difficult work, and if I have to be concerned where my water came from, well the performance just won't be genuine.

I managed to say my lines without completely screwing them up, and while I won't be winning any awards for my work, I think I did OK. I could tell that there's a pretty big difference between reading a line with the proper inflection to get a point across, which is what I did, and actually acting using only your voice, which is what people who do this for a living do. I mean, sure, I got across the feelings of loss and loneliness that comes with not having an integrated document management solution and the eventual triumph and exultation that comes with obtaining such a system, but really, anyone could have done that. I was hoping to provide a layered performance of vulnerability touched with strength and a hint of whimsy but that's kind of hard to convey in two lines. Lines about software no less.

One thing I learned is that if someone asks you to say a line with an emphasis on a certain word in the line, it is then impossible for you to not emphasize the same word in subsequent readings, even when asked to no longer emphasize the word. In my case, the last few words were something like "we even lost points at funding." Here's how it went down.

Me: ...we even lost points at funding.
Marketing guy: Ok, that's great, but let's put an emphasis on the word "lost".
Me: Ok...we even lost points at funding.
Marketing guy: Good, good, try it again.
Me: ...we even lost points at funding.
Marketing guy: Umm, let's go back to before. Don't emphasize "lost" any more.
Me: ...we even lost points at funding.
Marketing guy: Great, but let's not emphasize "lost".
Me: ...we even LOST points at funding.
Marketing guy: Again, let's not emphasize "lost" any more.
Marketing guy: Alright, cut!

Try it yourself at home. It's impossible. I managed to nail the second line in 3 takes, so I felt pretty good about myself, despite me committing the recording faux pas of having my phone ring twice, during the recording session. Some people don't take the hint of being sent right to voice mail. Amateurs.

I don't expect to ever have to do anything like this again, but I would in a second as it was a ton of fun and certainly a nice change from the monotony of software testing. I've always admired people who do voice over work, as in games anyway, the difference between good voice work and shitty voice work makes a tremendous difference in the game playing experience. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be act with nothing but a script and a microphone while someone gives you directions like "your character is feeling ennui with a bit of prideful lust." Those people probably take years of specialized deemphasizing training. Years.


CatSpit said...

Pretty cool yo. I expect riddlin' B to be bustin dem hits straight into 2007 with a flava.

CatSpit said...

my previous comment was so piss poor it even made +me+ groan.

Bones said...

I can see it now...Batman the Animated Series 2007 with Surburban Binky as the voice of the Bat! I'd buy it! I already knew you'd be great at this, you do a kick-ass Moon Knight.

By the way, you guessed correct. I'm totally ignoring the fact that you dissed Bumblebee in this post.

suburbanjoe said...

Dude, the Classics Deluxe Bumblebee pulls a trailer with a jet ski that turns into a jet pack with wings. I mean, how lame is that? And don't even think about defending Astrotrain. That dude was lame from the start.

George said...

Hey that is pretty neat. I always though the same of radio sports casters. Growing up in ALABAMA as he would say Keith Jackson is a fav....and also the guy from Leonards Losers but nobody remembers him.