Category Archives: Voiceover

Threat Alert Thursday: Bad Check Voiceover Scam

With great Internetting comes great scumbaggery.

Alas, just as email has allowed voiceover artists to connect with producers that much easier, it has allowed scammers to try make the world a worse place.

This article detailing a voiceover scam was written last year, but I understand that these delightful maggots have been hitting the DC area in recent weeks.

Be aware!

(thanks to Steve Ray and Diane Samuelson for alerting peeps in posts elsewhere).

Voiceover Update: Ripcoil (VR Game)

Since some of my previous voiceover updates either have no audio online or have audio that has been removed, I figured I’d point to another bit of voice work I’ve done in the past year.

Ripcoil is a game for Oculus Rift. I can’t help but think of Tron — and one reviewer deems it every college freshman’s dream come true.

I got to be the stadium announcer you hear during the matches, which required me to record roughly 147,000 different responses depending on whether the players triumph or fail. Here’s a video review with some game play. You can see the match and hear me at about 1:30 in the video, but he actually responds to one of my quips at 3:10 or so, which I love. It makes me feel like I did my job as a voice artist (NSFW Caution: the reviewer uses some profanity).

Those of you who find the announcer really annoying may be slightly gratified to know that my voice was bit hoarse after the multi-hour session needed to get every variant line laid down. Of course, that was only the case for this Sunday, SUNDAY, S U N D A Y ! ! !

Voiceover Update: Virginia Lottery (& Corvettes)

I grew up with all sorts of creative Virginia Lottery spots, so it was fun to be a part of one.

Much like my recent work for the highway safety spot, I can’t find a link to the specific ads I’m in online, but if you hear a Smithers-sounding flunky in the radio spots for Virginia Lottery’s Corvettes & CA$H scratchers… yes, that’s me. The radio spots started around June 6th and should still be going until the end of the month.

Voiceover Update: Our Roads, Our Safety

You may have heard my voice in a DOT spot last year for road safety. Well, the spot is hitting the airwaves again with a slight tweak.

Update: Dang it, they removed the video with the voiceover, but hopefully you’ll still be able to hear the spot on the airwaves.

You can learn more about the Our Roads, Our Safety campaign on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s web site.

Recommended Reading: Artistry & Entrepreneurship

A certain cavegirl reminded me of a long article in The Atlantic by William Deresiewicz charting the evolution of “the artist.”

I first read it a couple years ago, but it remains quite relevant in 2017 — perhaps more so. It delves into what it means to be “a creative” in the world today and even touches on the commodification of “being creative.”

Commodification isn’t the only concept in the article that triggered memories of my anthropology studies. There’s also the whole aspect of how institutions have grown and changed in respect to supporting artists — or, perhaps it would be better characterized as how institutions and their support have both shrunken in respect to artists. They’re hardly the only group in our modern economy where that’s the case — though that is one of the reasons reading the article was so relevant. How does one make a living as an artist? What’s the new paradigm?

The safe, if selective, employment of artists and artisans by institutions (such as it was) is now all too clearly being replaced by entrepreneurship (again, not something unique to creatives and something people have noted for some time). So unless universal basic income becomes a reality (an unlikely event anytime soon), we all must become our own “brand ambassadors.” And chief cook and bottle washers.

And that’s something I’m not altogether happy with, not just because the term “brand ambassador” makes me mildly nauseous. I mean, it’s not like I’m not painfully aware that brand management is important (hello! you’re reading this on BjornMunson.com). However, the entrepreneurial vision pitched is that now we must all manage our own brands, pump our own gas, and possibly be our own tax attorneys. I’m not always happy about doing two out of three of those things — and I’m often concerned about getting it wrong… or not right enough.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy being a jack-of-all-trades. Anyone who’s spent enough time in filmmaking has learned you need to know at least a little about a lot of things. But I’ve been at this for a while. So although I’m by no means terrible at either camerawork or editing, I’d be a fool to ignore that some of my peers have done both of those tasks for a few thousand more hours than I. So just because one can do it all, maybe they shouldn’t. This is not to say you might not use a project to improve a particular skill (e.g., I’m going to edit my next project to maintain/improve my mad editing skillz). At the same time, if one wants to use a given project to improve, say, their camerawork, maybe they shouldn’t try and also improve their editing, directing, acting, and screenwriting on that same project.

So that brings us back to our networks of people. That’s the part of the equation no one writes articles about… or I’m missing them (feel free to put suggestions in the comments). Luckily, there are certainly organizations and sites where one can find networks. There’s TIVA and WIFV here in DC as well as Facebook-based groups. If there’s others, let me know.

In the meantime, I need to go clean out some bottles…

So Long and Thanks for all the Lutefisk

This past weekend, while I was dealing with schoolkids and stormtroopers at Escape Velocity, Garrison Keillor hosted his last episode of A Prairie Home Companion, as described here and here (and countless other places on the web).

As mentioned in Chris Barton’s piece for the LA Times, the approach on one hand was that of simply another show. But so many of us would like that option for yet another show. After 40 years, you can be assured some people find you to be a “mainstay.”

“Nothing gold can stay,” notes Robert Frost… and Garrison Keillor will note him and many other poets on the Writer’s Almanac, the daily podcast which I believe he’ll voice for a while longer. He’ll also be working on some more writing… probably for the rest of his life frankly.

Between thoroughly Midwestern parents and a steady diet of folk music growing up, it’s hardly a surprise I enjoyed Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion (which, let’s just abbreviate to APHC for the rest of this). I came to appreciate APHC more as I got older, because by then I had traveled around and lived in a few more places than “home.” That’s when the small-town Americana and wry storytelling inherent within the Lake Wobegon tales came into greater focus. As Scott Simon notes in his remembrance/appreciation at NPR, having his final performance being on Independence Day weekend, a time of intense Americana, is entirely appropriate.

The fact that APHC was old-fashioned when it first debuted may explain some people’s ambivalence about it, which Robert Lloyd explores in the LA Times here (though this is the first I’ve ever heard the word “polarizing” applied to it). I’m curious how the new, younger host and the presumed new focus on music will affect APHC’s demographics. At the same time, I’m not sure how often I’ll tune in myself.

There’s one other element to APHC that theoretically could continue even with a music-centric version. For the past few years, my family has been able to see APHC when they come to Wolf Trap and be some of the “wolves on the lawn” that Keillor would always reference in the broadcast (which invariably elicited wolf howls from the lawn denizens). Keillor would warm up the audience before the broadcast started by walking around the audience –including up and through the lawn– leading everyone in song. Not a unique show tactic to be sure, but the particular 70-something in suit and red sneakers owned it. Lord only knows if my kids will remember any of this when they’re older, but I will.

And that’s one thing I’ll miss.

APHC_2016-05

Garrison Keillor at Wolf Trap, 2016

Remembering Ed Walker: Saying Goodbye to an Era

A couple weeks ago, I learned that longtime host of The Big Broadcast and even longer-time radio figure, Ed Walker, would be retiring. He was doing so to spend more time with his family and battle the cancer with which he had been diagnosed. His last broadcast would be Sunday, October 25th.

Like many other longtime fans, I was determined to tune in at 7pm this past Sunday. This may seem strange in the age of streaming and content-on-demand. I even knew that it would be pre-recorded, not live. Still, it felt as close as one could get to a communal event.

Ed picked a smorgasbord of radio that he counted among his favorites to fill the four hours. He had the Stan Freeberg show, a production of Three Skeleton Key, a particularly emotional Dragnet, a gritty, unsentimental episode of Gunsmoke, and even some selections from the Joy Boys, his own creation with Willard Scott that ran locally for about 20 years. It was a great “Best of” showcasing all you could do with the “Theater of the Mind,” Ed Walker’s playground and calling for over 60 years. I mean, the guy helped start the very radio station where this show was broadcasting from!

You could hear his voice was a bit slower, without quite the vigor you’d remember as he introduced shows and songs from broadcasts back. But the warmth was there, all the more so when it finally came to sign-off. It was a great note to end on.

But then I joined many other longtime fans learned Monday that, even though the Big Broadcast would continue, it really was the end of an era. After listening to the final broadcast with his family on Sunday night night, Ed Walker passed away peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning. It really was the end.

I was going to post here earlier in the week, but I’m glad I waited, as WAMU has put together a splendid web page, listing over a dozen great links to articles and interviews… plus Ed’s final show.

Also,  one might expect, many local media outlets published their obituaries/remembrances for Ed Walker on Monday, often linking to interviews with him in recent years:

It’s still very sad to say goodbye, but I’m glad he got to spend his final days with the whole region celebrating his life and career as well as being with his family at the end. RIP, Ed Walker.

The Brothers Chaps Return!

Okay, so it’s not exactly Homestar Runner –unless you’re thinking of some of the alternate realities Strong Bad emails visited, but there’s an interview and clips of their new surreal Disney XD cartoons in this Vox article.

Update:
And for those of you who miss Homestar and Strong Bad, there are some wonderful new ‘toons as well, including this particularly meta one.

 

 

Why am I a voiceover guy?

Why am I a voiceover guy? Because even though having this much fun should be illegal, it isn’t.

But my love for voiceovers and voice acting goes deeper than simply having fun. While I collected a lot of the same comic books and Star Wars toys of my generation, I also collected old radio tapes with wild and reckless abandon, even to the extent of getting a working radio that looked like an old-time radio, albeit with a hidden cassette player. (Young ‘uns will need to ask their elders what a cassette tape is).

Not only that, my brothers and I tore through no end of audio dramatizations of classic tales like The Hobbit or Treasure Island from the sadly defunct Mind’s Eye. And I got a taste of just how good modern audio drama could be with Bradbury 13.

(There appear to be places you can listen to the latter, but I’m not sure if the creators licensed those locations, so I’m not linking to them at the moment).

Alas, as I got older, I learned there simply weren’t the opportunities to do radio theater like there was back in the old days. But still, how could I not be tempted to do voiceovers?

Besides wanting to emulate the golden-throated announcers of yore, think of all the wonderful cartoon voice actors out there! (And de facto media historian Mark Evanier has been working on a great list).

Granted, much of the work I do is for associations and commercial interests. The opportunities to make really creative audio are still sparse, so I try and make my own (and the same digital tools that have helped indie filmmaking flourish have aided indie audio theater).

So as long as my voice holds, I’ll be a voiceover guy. It’s just too much damn fun.