Man, if only I could tell Jeffrey from six months ago what was in store for 2020. I was gearing up for VO ATLANTA 2020. It would be my first major Voice Over conference and a huge opportunity to meet industry people, get to meet my mentor, and really dig in. My business cards were coming in. I was working with my coach and mentor and prepping to take some classes and really make the most of my experience.
Then the reports of COVID-19 started trickling in during January and February. Events started to cancel slowly. Every day I woke up and checked if the event organizers had made a decision. It wasn't surprising when they finally called it off. In fact, I was also relieved because I was looking at making a hard decision. Should I still go and risk it, just to keep the opportunity alive? Thankfully that decision was made for me.
It was a bummer, for sure. We all were excited to get to meet one another and spend three days mired in Voice Acting and learning.
Then my day job made the decision to let us work from home and we were furloughed for one week out of the month. We packed up our company computers and hauled them away with us. That is when something magical happened. Being able to work from home and having a full week off I was able to take on more freelance work animating. Which then afforded me the money to do the one thing that's been in my way for a long time. I finally was able to get a professional demo produced.
I contacted my mentor Cliff Zellman, producer at A-Mazing Demos (seriously, if you're needing a Commercial Demo go to Cliff!) and we got to work. In just a week we had amazing spots recorded and then he produced an incredible demo for me. I also took that time to revamp my website and branding.
COVID-19 has been devastating. It's taken its toll on my family relationships as I haven't been able to visit with many of them for a long time. But I am certainly grateful for the extra time I have been given to work on my career. I am pumped to really jump start to the next level.
Here we are, the end of 2019. Like many of my friends and colleagues, I have started to take some time to reflect on this past year while also looking forward to 2020. I've had some incredible life changes moments this year. The first being the birth of my daughter Nova and the second the choice to really focus on my Voice Acting career. You see, with that choice came a steamroll of great things.
Deciding to make voice acting a focal point of my life meant really stepping out there. I bet on myself and joined the World Voices Organization (which I've blogged about previously). There I've met some amazing people and found two incredible mentors. They have been guiding lights in this crazy career, helping me navigate the many pitfalls that can befall a new voice actor.
Now, I live around the Atlanta area and I've heard about VO Atlanta a lot. It's one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) VO conferences in the country. I knew it was something that I'd want to attend. However, the ticket prices are something that wouldn't fit within my budget. So I set attending VO Atlanta as a goal for my future. I would make it happen, but just not in 2020.
Then something big came around the corner in November. I saw a Facebook post from Anne Ganguzza of VO Peeps calling out for submissions to win a scholarship to VO Atlanta. The Coral Joy Memorial National Scholarship. Seeing it, I knew I had to take a shot. And they weren't messing around. To win, you had to write an essay, PERFORM the essay, and also record one of two spots for the conference. It was a lot, but I was determined.
I spent three weeks writing the essay, getting input from friends and colleagues. The first draft I ended up tossing all together as it ended up feeling too impersonal. So for my second go-around I dug deep and really laid it out there. Even the recording I worked to make it as honest a delivery as possible. The night came to send it in. I checked and double-checked that I had everything ready and exactly as they'd asked. And thank god I double checked because I nearly forgot to include the WRITTEN portion of the essay. How devastating that would have been. With everything ready to go, I hit send.
Oh god, the waiting.
You see, normally I'm very good at "Send it and Forget it." But not with this. I couldn't get it out of my mind. They were going to announce the winners (there was an International winner as well) the day before Thanksgiving. As time got closer to the announcement I got it in my head that I hadn't won. I figured that they would have already contacted the winner so that when the day came to send out the tweets and Facebook posts they'd have their marketing ducks all in a row.
Then the call came. I heard Anne's voice on the phone and I knew it before she said it. I can imagine I didn't sound very grateful or excited because I was so stunned.... I was also driving! But man I couldn't have been more thrilled. I called my girlfriend, the mother of my newborn daughter and let her in on the thrill. It had happened.
Now a new waiting has begun. March can't get here fast enough for when I have a chance to meet all of these wonderful people in voice over face-to-face.
While that was amazing, I haven't stopped moving forward in my career. I haven't started working with Marc Cashman on a weekly basis to really dig deep and learn the craft of Voice Acting. Each week he kick's my butt and I feel stronger and stronger. He and I will continue working on into the new year, getting me ready to take on 2020.
And that's where I am as I go into this New Year. Working on my craft, building my connections, and getting prepped for VO Atlanta. Today I name 2020 as the year of my career. I will look back on it in the future and be able to say that's when it really boomed.
I can't wait to share it with you all.
Have a safe and happy New Year and a 2020 that makes all other years look like a joke.
I think we've all done our fair share of looking at Whisper Rooms, or similar branded sound booths. For us starting out that price tag is... yeah. So we start looking at other options. I'd run across one site that just sells the plans for a Whisper Room like construction for around $60. Not too bad, if you also have the skills or access to equipment and labor for the construction. With some more digging I ran across VocalBooth To Go.
I believe it was on YouTube that I found it, but there they have two videos showing how to build a PVC frame to hang their specialty blankets from. It's a super simple design and easy to construct with just the items you can find at a Lowe's or Home Depot. Seeing as how I needed to get away from the HVAC that I had setup near originally, I figured it was time to clear out the workroom in the basement to make room for the new booth.
First things first, off to Lowe's to get the materials!
I decided to buy 10 poles instead of 8, just in case I screwed up something. I did a lot of pre-planning and sketching but I always want to make sure I have what I need. It's always frustrating to be knee deep into a project and find out you don't have enough material.
Next I marked out the length of all the pieces I'd need to construct the top and bottom frames, then used the PVC Pipe cutter to get everything I needed. What's great is that you can get just about everything you need from the poles. I think I did have to dip into the ninth pole because I miscalculated one cut. Again, glad I bought more!
The first video provided by VocalBooth To Go makes a 3x3x6 booth. I wanted a bit more room than that to accommodate the arm of my mic, so I decided to make a 4x4x6 instead. I did some mathing and edited their original design (based off their video on how to expand the booth to anysize you need) to get to that size. Spoiler, I failed at the mathing and instead made a 4x3.5x6. Not sure how that happened. But, it worked out for me in the end so I can't complain.
Here is a list of all the lengths and cuts of material you'll need. (Note, this is to make my LxW booth. Some of your measurements may vary depending on what you need.)
And there it is. Everything is put together and in place. I put down some anti-fatigue mat foam to help my poor feet and to also combat reflections from coming off the concrete floor.
After this its as simple as putting in the grommets on the blankets and zip tying them to the frame. I put the back blanket on first and then for the front, slightly overlapped them, tying end grommets over one another in order to have a slit doorway. Once all that was done, I threw another, thinner blanket over the top!
I haven't been able to test it out just yet. But the location is what has been most important. It's in a finished basement with four concrete walls and underground. There is another door between the booth and the living area. I'm now several walls and dozen of feet away from the HVAC system and water pipes (which I used to be RIGHT NEXT to).
I'm pumped to see how it goes. Maybe I'll get a sample recording and put it up here. I'll need to, because I know for certain my FX stack is about to have some major changes to accommodate the new space.
If you've never heard of Red Light Syndrome, then let's turn to our trusty (as trusty as anything on the internet can be at least) friend Urban Dictionary: where a person has musical talent, but once they are being recorded, they fall to pieces. While the definition is taking about musical talent, I think some of us voice actors still can suffer from a varying degree of Red Light Syndrome. Speaking for myself, I don't fall to pieces, but something a bit more sinister happens.
I forget how to play.
For some reason I just clam up ever so slightly. As if I'm being constrained by the mic. And in so doing my personality, the thing that will sell a client on ME, gets diminished. I can even feel it. Before I start recording I'll do some runthroughs and find how I want to tackle the copy. I find where I want to go with it and then hit the record button. WHOMP! Just like that I feel like I start holding back. Which causes me to have to do more takes then I would like to get myself up to where I need to be.
Thankfully I haven't found my RLS to be debilitating. But instead just more frustrating. Because I can tell I haven't been able to be my authentic self. Which means holding back on my unique voice, thus holding me back on giving a potential client the voice they're looking for.
It's something to work on. Being able to identify the problem is the first step to fixing it. Do you suffer from Red Light Syndrome? If you do, how do you combat it?
Last month I took the opportunity to invest in myself, and invest in my career. I took the plunge and joined the World-Voices Organization as an Associate member. And man have I been blown away by this group. What an incredible resource they are and supportive group. I have already met some major talents in the industry and created -- what I hope to be -- lasting relationships.
My first career and still current day job is as an animator. I consider it to have been a side step on my road to being a voice actor. They are twin loves for sure. As I pursued that career as a young person it was late in that education that I learned how important a mentorship can be. Especially for the arts. A formal art education is... problematic. I have a full rant on that which I can save for later. But suffice to say it has become my belief that finding a mentor should be one of the top five goals for an artist.
There is something magical that happens when working one-on-one with another artist. The passion between the two of you is symbiotic. Having mentored young animators I have been on the other side. As you teach, you begin to solidify all the information you've taken over the years. Your knowledge of what you just do naturally cements further. There are times you can even have ah-ha moments as the teacher! And watching your mentee flower and "get it" is an amazing reward.
So no matter how far I go within WoVO -- and I do hope its far as they are an amazing group of voice over professionals -- I can say that even at this level I'm happy to have joined. I'm fired up having just hour long phone calls with incredible talents. Getting their insight, and already learning what I need to tweak in my work to take myself to the next level.