Podcasts Mission Audition Audio Production 101 with Bradford Hastings
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Audio Production 101 with Bradford Hastings

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On Today’s episode of Mission Audition, we are joined by Bradford Hasting of HastingsVO, to discuss the do’s and don’ts of Audio Production. Bradford is dialing in on how to make your audio sound more natural and polished rather than overly processed, which is vital in today’s Voice Over market. With his help, we hope that you will understand more of what to listen for in your audio and how to fix it using various post-production tools and mic techniques.

Participant #1:
I try and avoid the selly parts of spots as much as possible. And when they give me an opportunity to interact with the listener like a question does, I want to jump all over it and then the Selly stuff doesn't have to be sold anymore.

Participant #1:
Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Mission Audition. I'm your special guest co host, Juliana Jones and Kyle Flynn. Alright, so today our topic of discussion is related to audio production. But before we get into the auditions, let me introduce you to our amazing guests. Bradford Hastings has been a highly successful voice of her talent for many years now and has had the pleasure to help guide many talents to success as well as a coach. Brad's voice has been heard by millions in narrations and commercials. You may have heard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, Bradford is the voice for the Doctor Strange audiobooks. He's also worked for brands such as Publix, Mastercard Labat Brewing Company, Pyramids, and the WWE. With over 20 years experience, Bradford focuses on authenticity, conversational reads, and who the talent really is. Bradford is also a professionally trained and accredited sound engineer, so he knows a thing or two about audio. And we're so happy to have you on the show. Welcome, Bradford. Welcome. Hi. Hello. How are you? Pretty good. Looking forward to listening to some of these and finding some gold with that. That's going to lead us into talking a little bit about today's job spending. Mortgage Brokers is a company that prides itself on offering low interest rate mortgages to first time home buyers. The listeners should feel that they are listening to a trustworthy voice. The voiceover should not pressure the listener into a decision, but rather invite them for a chat on how spending mortgage can help them. Voiceovers should be in a playful and friendly but trusting voice. So let's go ahead and kind of dive on in and see what we get. Absolutely. Let's listen to audition number one. If money were not a factor, what would your dream house look like? Picture it now. Would it have a large wrap around porch and a lot of green space for a garden? Or would it be a modern condo in the heart of the city? Wherever your mind goes and whatever your dream consists of, spending, Mortgage Brokers can help you get there. Come on in and speak with one of our agents today to see what we can do for you. Strong start. All right, Bradford, take us through it. Okay. So, I mean, my first reaction is audio wise. It's super bright. I would say that a good roll off point with a low pass filter at ten K, twelve DB per octave will solve that problem. And it's a common problem that people call me up and they're like, there's too much mouth noise, that high end sparkle in there. And the solution is quite simple. Just roll off some of the high end, not too much because you want it in there. But the reality is that it solves that problem. The other problem I'm immediately hearing is either an aggressive gate or bad editing. And there's a spot in the middle where she stops talking and you can audibly hear it either a bad editor or a click from the gate. She has a gate on there, so let the gate do its job. You shouldn't have to edit then, if your gate set properly. But aside from that, it seems a little scooped in the middle. People seem to be afraid of one K. They seem to be afraid of that fundamental frequency of the voice. And it's such a dangerous frequency to play with because if you cut too much, you'll lose all the energy and it'll scoop out and then it won't push through. In a mix, if you add too much, it'll start sounding too in your face and too sharp. So it's one of the frequencies I kind of usually just leave alone. To be honest, I try not to touch one K, because messing with it too much, two or three DB in either direction can really affect your performance. Not your performance, but can affect the sound, which can make the performance, no matter how good it is, just knock people off. So remember that how you sound in your audition is how people are going to assume you're going to sound absolutely right. There's no fixing it later for them. They're going to go, okay. And if it sounds really bright, or if it sounds really scooped or it sounds deficient in some way too noisy or X, Y or Z, that's how they're going to think you're going to sound. So I would say if you're going to use a gate, trust your gate and use it properly. And if you're not going to use a gate, that's fine. But then learn how to fade your edits. You know, either cross fade them or fade their tops and tails however you want to do it, meaning the beginnings and ends? Absolutely. And is that something that you help your students with? Absolutely. Oh, yeah. I mean, all of this stuff, this is stuff that, you know, this is stuff that everybody comes to me with. Again, it's mouth noises, breathing. That's the one that a lot of people come at me with. I can hear my breathing and I go, you're a human being. Of course you breathe, right. But what I find most of the time with mouth noises and breathing is not a thing that Gear is going to fix. It's mic technique. If I'm sitting next to the mic like this, you're going to hear every breath, every mouth noise that I make. Whereas if I pull off about three or four inches now all of a sudden, my breathing isn't such a big deal. My mouth noises are smaller, but I still haven't fundamentally changed anything else. I've just backed off the mic a bit. So it can really go a long way to being a piece of gear. That's not a piece of gear. A plug in. That's not a plugin. Right. Is Mike technique is being able to know where to place yourself with a microphone. So, yeah, all of that stuff, everything we're going to talk about today, I talk about with my students, everybody has audio issues. Everybody has audio questions. I have audio issues. Right. Every day I'm like I have to assess my audio because I'm that guy. I'm never satisfied. It is something that. Yes, I absolutely address with my students. Wonderful. And just to take things back a bit, when you said the word bright, can you define for us what that means? Yeah, sure. I can define it in a couple of ways. Brightness means sort of the high frequencies, the high frequency spectrum. Brightness is air. Again, high frequency supersonic frequencies. Right. Anything above 4K. Right. If I were to go like this with my EQ, this is bright. All of a sudden it's gotten very bright. And all I did was push eight K. And those are the frequencies I'm talking about. Anything sort of above eight K. When you get up in here and then you push 1216K, all of a sudden you see all those s start popping out and all of the mouth noise and things starts popping out. When that happens. Right. If it's there, it can destroy an audio. It can make it really difficult to listen to, and especially if you have a lighter voice, if you already have air in your voice. So for me, EQ is great. Picking the right mic is also something to think about. A lot of the Neumann microphones are brilliant. They're great mics. But the TLM 103 that a lot of people like to use is a pretty bright mic. The MKH 416 can be a little bit bright. The Nt one a I don't think it's a very bright microphone, and it's reasonably priced. So finding a mic that works for you, some people just go and grab what everybody else is using. But remember, the microphone is a tool. It's like a guitar, and every guitar sounds different. Gibson sounds different than Fenders and then sounds different than Paul Reed Smith's. So finding the mic that fits your voices also can also help in that arena. Much like many audio engineers say, you got to fix it at the source, right? Yes. And I feel like that's one of those areas where having the mic that fits your voice and the nuances of it is at the source. Right. And it can't be easy for a lot of people. Some people look, they've got a budget and they've got to get what they can get and they want to get started, and that's perfectly fine. And a lot of people buy the Scarlet with the at 2020, which is the one I recommend I recommend either the Nt one a bundle or the at 2020 bundle, because they're good. I don't like the focus. Right, Mike? It's not great. And it's because it is very mid range heavy and it's very hard to sort of fix after the fact. But yeah, I usually tell people in the beginning, if you're going to budget it out, put most of your budget into your microphone because you will get what you pay for. And a crappy mic in a brilliant room is still going to sound like a crappy mic. It doesn't matter. You could take a garbage mic and put it in a multi million dollar studio and it'll still sound like a garbage mic. So the room is fine, put some money into your room, but that can be super cheap. So that's my philosophy, and it goes against what a lot of people believe, and that's fine. Everybody has their way of looking at it. Absolutely. I've heard of talent going into music stores and renting mics from them to figure out which mic works best for them. Is that something that you would recommend for listeners as well? Absolutely. If you can do a shootout, do a shoot out, and I know that Guitar Center will let you come in. You can call them ahead of time and say, I want to come in and I want to try some mics. They'll set them up in their quiet room. You bring your own headphones because you know them, and then you try out their mics. The other thing is I know that Sweetwater also. Yeah. They'll let you try a bunch of mics. They get it. They get that. If you explain to them, hey, I want to shoot out some microphones, they'll let you. Absolutely. And yes, if you have the time and you have the gumption to do it, that's where you want to spend some time. In the beginning, I think it would pay dividends in the end, for sure. It also helps to if you know what you're looking for, that also becomes a problem. Most people that start out don't know what they're looking for. So they look to what everybody's using and go, well, if that works for them, I'm going to use it. And most people are going to be okay. But then it's sort of knowing what to do after you've gotten it. And again, for me, the first thing I do with almost anybody's audio, including my own, is I roll off from 80 Hz down with a high pass filter, and I roll off about ten K up with a low pass filter at twelve DB per octave. That's where I start. I don't necessarily stay there, but that's where I start, because that's going to solve a lot of those first issues that people have breathing and mouth noises. Can you explain what roll off means? Sure. Like, let's say what a low pass filter does is you pick a frequency say ten K high frequencies. Right. It's allowing the low frequencies to pass. It's the worst naming of any device I've ever heard in my life. Because you think it should be the other way around. But it is a low pass filter cuts highs and a high pass filter cuts lows. And it allows the high pass allows the highs to pass and the low pass allows the lows to pass to keep going through. And you can set it at X decibels per octave. Because when you're talking about frequencies on an EQ, you're talking about notes on a piano. This is how you can look at it. When you tune a guitar, you tune a guitar to a 440, which is 440 Hz. Well, if you look at an EQ, you can pick 440, cut 440 Hz. There's a note attached to that. There's a sine wave attached to that. So when you start looking at your EQ, you'll see that things are decibels per octaves. These high and low pass filters. And an octave is simply doubling. So 440, an octave below 440 is 220. An octave above is 880. So you know that if you cut something from twelve decibels per octave at ten K, then what that means is by 20K, it will have reduced by twelve decibels. Right. And you can shape it, you can make it six decibels per octave. So from ten K to 20K, it'll reduce by six decibels. It'll be a softer shoulder, if you will, more gradual roll off. And then as it continues, it will get quieter and quieter. Obviously, if you do it too sharply, it can become aggressive and you can start to hear it. And my general rule with tools, either at a compressor EQ gate, if you can hear it, you're using it wrong. I don't want to be able to hear it. I just want it to do what it needs to do. The one thing it needs to do, which is manage my high end. I don't want to hear it affecting T's, DS, PS, SS, that sort of thing. It just needs to affect those supersonic frequencies that are getting in the way. Wonderful. Thank you for such a thorough explanation. Sure. We talked about her audio quality. What did you think of her delivery? Sure. I thought her delivery was great. She's definitely one of my favorites. I think she sort of. It kind of fails where everybody fails in this as far as conversational and realism. So when you're looking at the direction of no pressure, playful, and you're talking to first time buyers, that's where I'm going to Hone in is on first time buyers. Because that's going to tell me how I want to address these things, like asking them to imagine something. Right. Because if there are people that have bought houses before, I'm going to go. Yeah, imagine it. You've done it before, whatever. But these are first time buyers. I want them to have that feeling of whimsy, that feeling of possibilities, anything can happen. So when I ask them to imagine something, I don't want to gloss it over. I don't want to just go imagine it because that gives them nothing. But if I join them in that journey, if I join them and start imagining myself going, I can't imagine that house. And as somebody who bought a house a little over a year ago. Right. I know that feeling. There's always that potential. Even when you move into a new apartment, there's that feeling of, oh, man, I'm going to put this here I'm going to do this year. Right. There's possibilities capture that. Don't just ask a question. Think about who you're asking and how you want them to feel. That's our job is to make people look in the places we want them to look and also feel the way we want them to feel. And when you ask a question, there are three fundamental ways that you can ask a question. You can ask the question as if you know the answer already, you're going to explain it. Or you can ask the question is if you have no idea what the answer is and you genuinely want to know the answer and they know it, or you both know the answer to the question. It's rhetorical for both of you. So the line is the question is, what would your dream house look like? Right? So if I know the answer to that question and I'm just going to explain it, it would be the way that everybody seems to have done it in this, which is what would your dream house look like? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I'm going to explain it to you. If I don't know the answer, but they do, then all of a sudden that question takes on a very different tone, doesn't it? And all of a sudden it's what would your dream house look like? Right? I want to know what would your dream house look like? What would it look like? Because I want to know because I'm about to explain something and I need to give them a minute to answer that question. A lot of people sort of just went to town on this. What would your dream house look like? Well, blah, blah, blah. And then they just moved on, let it breathe, make up that time later. Because that question becomes so important because it's what draws that listener in. And then the third way would be if we both know the answer, which would be what does your dream house look like? Right. It's not very strong and it doesn't get used very often. It's more in the comedic reads. But because if you both know the answer to the question, what's the point of making the spot when you're looking at a question? There was three ways that automatically gives you two takes on your auditions, right? Two different takes. Because one is very confident and I'm going to tell you what's going on. The other one is sort of joining them in the journey of the commercial. So take that for what it's worth. But that's something that I did find with a lot of the Reds was they kind of just went past this question as if, let's get to the meat of the spot. I try and avoid the selling parts of spots as much as possible. And when they give me an opportunity to interact with the listener like a question does, I want to jump all over it, and then the Sellie stuff doesn't have to be sold anymore because I've gotten them to sort of join in by asking them the question. I think you've brought up a really interesting point where when people are marking up scripts, if people are still doing that or if they're assessing that script in whichever way they do, automatically, a brand name is going to pop out to them and they jump to that and they know. But it's the smaller nuances that people often overlook, and they just don't give the credit where credit is due on that line. And I think you bring a really great point in highlighting that, the importance of not necessarily just jumping to the more obvious spots, but really assessing the entirety of the script and leaning in on those really important little nuances that can really drag you in and bring it to life. Right. And when you give enough of the justice and enough of the emotion, you give enough to that question, you don't have to oversell the name. Now, the name needs to be put in sort of a marquee, put in lights a little bit. But if I'm not giving anything to the question, then, yeah, I'm going to sell. Then I'm going to make them look at the product name. But if I make them look at the question, then the product name doesn't have to be sold so hard because they're already in that emotional space that I put them in. What does your dream house look like at so and so? We do this, right? I've got them before that. Whereas if I go, what does your dream house look like? Because it's so and so. Well, now it's all about so and so. And that is not conversational. This is the thing. It's like in conversational reads a lot of new voice actors have been listening to a lot of radio spots by DJs who basically what happens because I worked in radio. You get off your shift. There you go. You got to read some spots really quick before you leave. You don't get paid for it. It's part of your job. So you go in and you read it and you read it in the radio voice. What's going on, guys? All right, cool. So here's the deal. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? So they hear that and they go, okay, well, that's what conversational sounds like. No, because they're missing out on the TV spots and on the other national spots that go on in between there that were done by actual voice actors that have more of a conversational feel to them. And what they'll find is just being able to listen to those critically and go, that sounds good. And keeping people at a distance. Yeah. I mean, it's a sales fundamental to sell the pain, not the product. And we're very much talking about an example of that here. Well, that was wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for explaining all that. Bradford. Let's listen to audition number two. Hello there. My name is Corey Hart and I'm auditioning for your mission audition project. If money were not a factor, what would your dream house look like? Picture it. Now. Would it have a large wrap around porch and a lot of green space for a garden? Or would it be a modern condo in the heart of the city? Wherever your mind goes and whatever your dreams consist of, spending, mortgage brokers can help you get there. Come on in and speak with one of our agents today to see what we can do for you. So a couple of things. Let's address the big glaring problem. That's not an audio problem right out of the gate, which is that slate is completely wrong. And there are very few things in voiceover that are wrong. But that slate is bad. It's bad practice. And unless they ask for a slate, do not slate. Just don't. Number one, here's the thing. When we're auditioning, time is money, right? Time is potential money. But the fact is time is money. And the amount of time that you're wasting by putting a six second slate in is money. You're losing number one. Number two, the only thing they want to hear is your voice in the context of their spot. These people, they don't care who you are. They don't care what spots you've done. They don't care where you live or what your name is. They want to hear your voice with their words. And if that works, great. If it doesn't, they're going to move on. And it sounds heartless. But that's the fact, right? There are things that we have control over and things we don't. That's one of the things we don't have control over. But they're going to listen to you and they're going to move on. And I promise you, the minute they start this and they're going to be annoyed the second it starts. So don't do that bad practice. Don't do it. The other thing I would say is, again, with the direction, I'll address the audio in just a second. But the direction was playful. First time buyers, no pressure. And this is so just trying to be intense. And he's got that softer thing going on where he's like what would you do and what would this and it comes off less playful and more super intense. There are a couple of questions in here as we talked about in the previous one. Right. When you're asking the question, would it have a wrap around porch? How do you feel about that? Because that's a playful outdoorsy that has a personality. A wrap around porch has a personality. The second question is, would it be a downtown car that has a personality? They're two very distinct people that want both of those things. Your voice can play to that. And the more you can play to that, the more they're going to go along with you, the more subtext that you can put in there. Keep it playful. Would it have a wrap around porch or maybe downtown? Right. And now I just went from playful to a little more, hey, matter of fact, these lines need to have a personality. You're not just asking a question, you're planting seeds. Right. But you want them to participate. And if you ask the person who wants the wraparound porch, do you want to wrap around porch? Right. It's that whole argument, like subtext is when your mom says to you as a kid, you didn't come home after midnight, did you? Oh, you know the answer she wants, right. Whether it's true or not or what time did you come home last night? Oh, there's so much subtext there. You know how to read that person. And the same goes with a commercial. So you need to be able to you should want to be able to have a really clear picture of this is something too. Have a very clear picture of who your audience is. And that's such a cliche. And it's absolutely cliche. And don't ever stop there. Then that person has to react to you. They have to have agency. They have to have animus if they're just standing there faceless like a mannequin, you're not doing your job. But if that person is nodding their head, if that person is furrowing their brow, if that person is wondering about what you're doing or if they're about to question you or argue with you or agree with you, you need to know that because conversational as I like to ask my students, the difference between a conversation and a conversational read is the other person is there when you're having a conversation. In a conversational read, you're responsible for that person. And the more you can give that person to activate you and make you react. Because acting is reacting, the easier your job is, the easier it is. The more that they're coming at you with facial expressions or they're talking to you while you're in the commercial, the easier your job is. And you know when you're winning them over because you're going to feel it. So there's that I think with his audio, I find it again, a little scooped. It sounds number one like he's kind of far off the mic. It sounds like he's more about right here, about a foot away. And when you do, that proximity effect is what happens when you get close to a microphone and all that low end comes in. And as you back away, you lose low end, low frequencies. They start to die because of the proximity to the microphone. So it can lose its life. It can lose its sort of vitality if you pull off of a mic too far and also you're going to pick up more of the room that you're in. So, again, my technique is finding that balance of this is too close. This is too far. So let's split the difference and sit in the middle. But his just sounds a little bit like he's just a little too far off the microphone. And if you're too far off a microphone, that can also make you sort of punch your gain up a little bit, roll your gain up too much. And gain is, to my way of thinking, one of the most important pieces of one of the most important tools, because if not set properly and not thought about properly, gain can kill your audio. People often mistake gain with volume. And gain is not volume. Gain is voltage. Gain is electricity. Okay. The byproduct of that is not loudness. The byproduct of that is sensitivity. So what you're doing when you increase gain is you're making the microphone more sensitive, which means it's going to pick up more stuff around you, which, yes, translates to loudness in your ears. But the reality is it's not louder. It's more sensitive. So it's just picking up that stuff that's so far away. So the balance that you want think of it as an ear, your microphone. And the more gain, the larger the ear. What I think of is my microphone has a circle around it, around the tip where the diaphragm is. That's the center point. And as you add more and more gain, the circle around it gets wider and wider and wider. It doesn't get louder. It just gets more and more sensitive. Where I like to make sure my mic is, I want that sphere to be just behind my ears right in my mind. It's hard to do without visuals, but the sensitivity of my microphone because I can always turn it up later. I can always make it louder or quieter later. I'm trying with gain to get that balance where the room isn't so present. But my voice sounds good. I'm balancing the room with my voice. Now I'm in a professionally built room that sounds good, but in a closet or in a less than ideal space where 90% of voice actors are working when they're starting out right. Finding that balance where you bring the game down a little bit because you can always Jack the volume up later. And the thing is, whatever the gain hears, everything after it is going to hear whatever the gain doesn't hear. So if you manage it correctly, what the gain doesn't hear, it's not going to hear downstream. So making sure that the gain becomes far more important when you think about it than anything else because it is the first thing that you might go through. So finding that balance and then it starts with, okay, where do I sit comfortably behind my mic and going, okay, this is where I sit comfortably. Now I'm going to adjust the gain to fit that space. And you might need to move forward an inch or move back an inch. But the further back you go, the more gain you're going to have to give. The more gain you're going to give, the bigger the ear, the more the outside stuff you're going to hear, which then means your gate is going to have to work harder, which means your compressor is going to have to do stuff and it just spirals out of control. So for this particular voice actor, I would say a little bit closer to the microphone, which is going to introduce some low end. So maybe roll off some of that low end again with that high pass filter and try to avoid the proximity thing because it's just a little too far from the mic, in my opinion. And definitely with the words, as you previously mentioned, playful in there, it just seemed a little dry. So lean into that playful. Allow for your voice to go little up, a little down. Lean into those more engaging questions, I would correct you and say less about up and down, right? This is where new voice actors will go, okay, great. Well, then I'll start doing this and doing that. It's not about up and down. It's about genuinely feeling. Okay. Like think of a phrase for me, for playful, it would be what do you have to lose? Right? So now I'm just going to think about that, right? So if the phrases what do you have to lose? And then would it have a large wrap around porch, I'm going to go, would it have a large wrap around porch? What do you have to lose? Right. And I'm going to keep constantly checking in on myself with that phrase, if that's the one I'm going to go with. And it's more about subtext than less about performance. If you focus too much on the performance aspect of it, then you'll start doing that sort of thing where it would be more like, would it have a large wrap around porch? Right. And then it's like you're still keeping me at a distance. Whereas if I give myself a phrase or an idea or an emotion and I can speak from there and I constantly am checking in, am I genuinely speaking from that place? Then it's not about the performance. Now I'm relying on the subject of my emotions and how I'm trying to feel, and I let the voice take care of the rest of it, or the voice takes care of itself. If I can sit in that place and be genuine, the voice will take care of itself. I don't have to work. The less I work, the more I work. Wonderful. Such a great example. And so if I can just find a phrase and then stick with it as a mantra or however you want to think about it. Right. And I'm just constantly checking in on myself with it. So what do you have to lose? Right? Would it have a large wrap around porch or, I don't know, be a downtown condo right there? And what do you have to lose? Has that sort of idea of let it go. It's not a big deal. Maybe, though, I want to focus on the first time buyer thing. Well, now my phrase is going to be, look, I've got this, right? Trust me, it's going to be fine. Not trust me, it's going to be okay. So then it becomes would it have a wrap around porch or maybe downtown condo, right. I care. I really want to know what you want. And I'm not trying to push it over on you again. I'm coming from that emotional place rather than performative that's an advanced level thing. So new voice actors, I'm just telling you that because that's where you want to get to it's going to be about performance right now because you're still trying to find your voice. You're still trying to find out how all of this works in conjunction with other people's words. But the more that you can start thinking emotionally and keeping emotion in the context of your voiceover, because once you get the performance ideas and idiosyncrasies and the insecurities out of the way, this is what I tell my students. The difference between me and somebody starting out in voiceover is I don't care. Right. I've gone through all the insecurities. I don't worry about am I saying this right or doing this right? The only thing I think about is how do I feel? How do I feel about this? And then I can speak from there because I've been focusing on how I feel and studying how I feel in the real world. When I'm feeling something, I am present and I'm enjoying it, and I'm going I am miserable, and I know how this feels, and I'm going to be in that misery so that I can really feel it. And not because I can use it for my art, because it's good for you as a human being to live where you are. Right. If I'm in joy, I want to stay in joy and I want to feel it and be there. And if I'm miserable, I'm going to be there and I'm going to live in it because I can then get past it. It's when you stop and you start trying to confine those things that they haunt you and you can't use them because you're too busy arguing with them. It's the same idea of people who take group classes and all they care about is being in the box. You're not learning in the box. You're too busy trying to perform and do the right thing, quote, unquote that you can't be learning when you learn in a group classes, when you're sitting there watching other people make mistakes and you're catching them before the teacher does. And then you can go, oh, that was a little stiff. And then the coach goes, So that line just felt a little stiff. And you go, Great, I know what I'm doing, right? But most people spend their time trying to live in the box and going, I can't wait till I get to read. I can't wait till I get to read. And I was that person. Believe me, I was that person for so long, because that's where you believe you're spending your money. That's not where you're spending your money. You're spending your money to be in the moment. And it's hard to be in the moment when you're in the box, especially as a new voice actor. So live your life. And when you're in an emotional place, it doesn't matter if it's a big emotion or a small emotion or no emotion, live in it and just kind of look at it and feel it and really feel it, because at some point you're going to be asked to speak that way. And if you've never allowed yourself to feel that way or you've never sort of been present, you're just guessing. And that's not going to do anybody any good. I could listen to you talk for hours, Bradford. That was some good wisdom you just laid on everybody. Much appreciated. Sure. All right. So now that we're heads are in the right place, let's listen to audition number three. If money were not a factor, what would your dream house look like? Picture it now. Would it have a large wraparound porch and a lot of green space for a garden? Or would it be a modern condo in the heart of the city? Wherever your mind goes and whatever your dream consists of spending, mortgage brokers can help you get there. Come on in and speak with one of our agents today to see what we can do for you. So this is what I was talking about with that up down thing. Right? And this is what happens when the performance keeps you at arm's length. I feel zero connection with this voice actor. It's big, which also it can be seen as playful, but it's big like this. And it's very sort of in your face, which I would say, no, we're talking to first time buyers, and we're not talking to first time buyers at three in the morning. Right there's that audience right, where you do need to be big for the three in the morning, midnight, three in the morning, first time buyer house. People that are like, do you need a mortgage? We can help you get one, right? And that's fine. But that's not what this is. This is about trustworthy. No pressure. And while this doesn't feel pressurey necessarily, but it does have that up and down thing that you were talking about. And this is why I caution people to not think on those terms, because he did have that thing where he went up in here and then went down. And it's sort of like, okay, that's manufactured performance and manufactured performance has its place, but it doesn't have its place in conversational. It just doesn't watch out for the scoops, the up and down scoops. And watching out for sort of tailing the ends of words as well. Does it have a wrap around portrait garden? Right. And letting garden sort of thing go out? That's another thing that we don't do. When you start listening to people having conversations, listen to yourself when you're talking or listen to somebody else when they're talking, they don't do that. The only person I know that does it, I've never had a conversation with him, but he does it performatively is Stephen Colbert. He extends his S's at the end. He'll be like, so that's the way people think of this, right. When he says a joke, now that you know it, if you ever watch them again, you'll never be able to get it out of your head. But that's sort of a performative thing, right. And being careful to scoop up, scoop, down, do too much again, the less you work, the more you'll work. So being careful not to do that, then I would say audio wise, I would say it's a little too processed for me and it's a little too compressed. When I say too processed, it could mean it's over EQ or it's overcompressed. And this just sounds like there's just a bit too much processing. Again, if I can hear it, I don't want to be able to hear it. Speaking about doing conversational reads and how people speak, I often find it. They speak and then they gather their thoughts and then they speak again. And when you say that people go up and down as soon as you said that, it's like, oh, it's very predictable in its nature. But when even Kyle and I are speaking, the pauses are in very random place. Well, not random places, but places where I needed to collect my thoughts. Yes. Same with breathing. This is what I tell people. With breathing, we don't speak necessarily incomplete sentences or even complete thoughts. We're speaking from abstract ideas and we're trying to put words into them as we go and we add little idiosyncrasies. I say write all the time, right? I throw it at the end of sentences, right. I do it all the time. So if I'm reading a conversational read, I might throw one in. Also, I'm going to breathe when I need to breathe, and I'm going to pause when I need to pause. If I'm manufacturing a pause anywhere, it's going to be generally between a really good descriptor word. Right. Or something that could have a different thing. So I might go, would it have a wrap around porch? Right. Because I'm grasping for something. Right. There's an audience member there, and I'm trying to read their feelings. I don't necessarily want to go, would it have a wrap around porch? Yeah. I might have pre prepared that question. Right. But if I didn't prepare that question, that's a good way to do that. And again, it comes from studying people and how they speak and noticing what they do. And how do you do that? Being present? If you're really, truly listening to somebody who's talking to you, you're not thinking about what you're going to say. Unfortunately, that's where most people live. Most people live, including myself, in that place where I'm going. When do I get to talk? When do I get to talk? I want to say things. I have ideas. Right. But the reality is if you actually spend time listening to that person speak and you'll know what they were trying to say, and I'm breathing all over the place because I need to, because I'm a human being. So this obsession with cutting out breaths, this obsession with making sure everything is smooth. Smooth is fine if you're prepared. Smooth is not a way to speak. Smooth is an attitude of preparedness. Right. Smooth comes from knowing what you're talking about and being able to sit here and tell you exactly what I'm talking about because I've talked about it before. And so therefore, I don't need to break anything up because I know how I'm going to say it, because I've said it or I prepared it. I've written it down, or I've given this lesson before that was me being smooth. Now, if I'm talking about something I don't know that I'm talking about, there are going to be, you know, pauses and words like you knows and filler words and a lot of ands and buts to join sentences together that maybe weren't necessarily connected before. And I just repeated the word twice. Why? Because I have to recollect my thoughts. So becoming a student of how people speak is essential. And if you do that, you'll be head and shoulders above every other voice actor that's out there trying right now because they're too busy worrying about how they talk, to listen to how people speak. And you should know how you talk. Of course, you need to become a student of yourself as well. But it's a lot easier in the beginning to listen to other people while they're talking and not actors in commercials and that sort of thing. I mean, people in real life that are having a conversation with you because you'll find that they don't do what this person did either, which is stress the word you. That's another big no no. For me, for the most part, it's not something a hard and fast rule, but if there's a U in it, that's the least important word in the sentence back. Why is that? Well, because that's not how we converse with people. I don't say to you, how is your day? Are you doing okay? No, I say, are you doing okay? I don't say, how do you feel? I go, how do you feel? Because the word following the you is almost always going to be more important than the you. Right back before conversational became a thing. Yes, it was all about the you're going to buy the what is it? You're going to buy the seat, but you'll only need the edge, right? It was all about the you. You need to do this. You need to find a way to do this. Have you ever found that blah, blah, blah, that was fine. That's selling. But when it comes to conversational, it's almost never the most important word in the sentence. The most important words in the sentence are the feeling words, the words that we're trying to attach to the you. And so to me, if I say, have you ever felt or have you ever gotten it's not have you ever felt or have you ever gotten? Because they already know we're talking to them. And if I hit the you, they're going to feel like they're getting sold because it's still that car sales mini thing. So that's one of the first things I tell people is avoid the you don't focus on the you. If you can focus on anything but the you, you're going to be off to a great start. That's amazing. That was a really good section to speak on, and I felt like I just learned a whole bunch. Absolutely. Especially his conversation so important these days. Thank you, Bradford. Okay, let's listen to audition number four. If money were not a factor, what would your dream house look like? Picture it now. Would it have a large wraparound porch and a lot of green space for a garden? Or would it be a modern condo in the heart of the city? Wherever your mind goes and whatever your dream consists of spending, mortgage brokers can help you get there. Come on in and speak with one of our agents today to see what we can do for you. The first thing that jumps out at me at this is that background noise. The noise floor is just way too much. It sounds like it could be that she's on the same circuit as her computer and her refrigerator and everything else. And I address this in my podcast as well. At the very end, it's the bonus, which is the plug in. That's not a plugin, which is get yourself a power conditioner. They're not that expensive. I've had the same one for 15 years now. I carried it everywhere I go. And it will clean up your power, because if you live in an apartment, you're almost certainly going to be on the same circuit as something, an air conditioner, a refrigerator or whatever. And what it does, what a power conditioner will do is it will run that power through a bunch of filters and it'll take that stuff out. Plus, it protects your gear if it ever gets struck by lightning. But the best you can get, it has like eight plugs in it or whatever get the best one you can because it'll be better for that. But so the noise on that sounds very electrical to me, but there's also an ambient sort of feature to it as well. And again, rolling off some of that high end will help with that. But also, I think she needs a gate or an expander. Either one is fine, but I think that properly using a gate, again, a gate, it's an on off switch. Right. If I'm talking it's on, if I am not talking, it turns the mic off, it's the best way to look at it. And so that would be the first thing that I would say is let's get your gate together. It could also be a combination of her gain might be too loud, so I would certainly look at that. But I didn't feel like her gain was overpowering. I felt like it was just simply there was stuff in the mix that could easily be taken out. But, yeah, if you find a lot of noise and it's ambient noise, that can be your gain. Right. If you find that there's a lot of noise and it's electrical, then that's where a power conditioner can help. Silly question. But is a power conditioner the same as a power bar, like where it's a separate bar with the switch at the end? Yeah. Our users be looking for power conditioners. Well, yes, a power bar. It depends. I'm sure that there are power bars that are simply plug strips that don't do anything. What you want to look for is a power conditioner that has filters in it. Just look for the word of electrical filters that will where it says filters out dirty power, because that's what it is. It's called dirty power. It's just you've got noise in your lines, they're not insulated properly or again, you're on the same circuit as something. When I built this studio that I'm in, I made sure that this entire room is on its own circuit and on its own ground, as a matter of fact. So therefore, it's basically lifted from the house. It's not any part of the house, so therefore, I have very little noise. There's still some you can't ever get away from it, but there's no gate on this microphone question. It keeps quiet. Do you have a specific product for power conditioner that you might recommend to your students again. So I bought a Monster Power Pro 2515 years ago. You can't get them anymore. And I love that thing. And again, I've used it forever. I just purchased a Black Lion Audio PG XLM because I bought more gear, because I can't stop. I've got a problem. And I'm finding that it's actually really good for the price. But again, you don't have to go and spend $1,000 on a power conditioner. You can you don't have to. But think about what you need. How many plugs do you need? Do you need 30 plugs or ten plugs or will eight do? Those two are fine. Those two I like, just because I know them, I've tried the floor models that look like power strips that say their conditioners. I don't find them to be as good. The technology may have gotten better. Whoever you're talking to, wherever you're buying it from, ask them. They're going to know. So if you go to Sweetwater, call them and go, here's what I'm looking for. They'll tell you, especially them. I've used them for so long and honestly, they're amazing. They have no problem telling you we don't have it. And you should go here or saying, yeah, this is what you need. And if you don't like it, send it back. And we'll yeah. So for me, if you go to a guitar center or you go to a Sweetwater, you go wherever. Don't be afraid to ask, don't be afraid to go. This is what I do. Be proud of the fact that you're a voice actor. Look, I'm a voice actor and they're going to go, really cool. What do you do? I've always wanted to get into that and you get to deal with it. And I don't. The more people that can take that question away from my life off, the better. But no, be proud of the fact that you're a voice actor and go, this is what I'm trying to do. Here's the gear that I have. Get to know the gear that you have and know what it needs. And they're going to go, okay, cool. Here's. All you're going to need is this power conditioner and be like, yeah, I'm on a dirty circuit or I've got noise in my circuits. They're going to know what that means. They're going to go, OK, great. This has filters that will filter out noise. Brilliant. Absolutely. Don't be afraid to ask. You're never going to learn if you don't ask. Yeah, I mean, heck, that applies to anything. Absolutely anything. I've been in sales for almost a decade, and I'm still constantly looking at new resources, new ways to do things. You're constantly striving for excellence. But that doesn't mean that I don't have questions along the way. Yeah. It's nice to know that if you've got people that can help you and trustworthy people like Bradford and like us and people at Sweetwater, like, if you like Sweet water, alright, so let's listen to audition number five. If money were not a factor, what would your dream house look like? Picture it now. Would it have a large wraparound porch and a lot of green space for a garden? Or would it be a modern condo in the heart of the city? Wherever your mind goes and whatever your dream consists of spending, mortgage brokers can help you get there. Come on in and speak with one of our agents today to see what we can do for you. There's a couple of things. Number one, and this is something that I run into constantly with female students. They have been told to smile all the time. We don't talk like that. We don't talk like this all day long. We don't do this. It's not natural. Nobody does this. They just don't do it. To start a sentence that way, but then finish with a neutral position is far more realistic. It just seems like this entire thing was a smile Fest. And that is disingenuous it's immediately, no matter how great, because our conversation will read is good, but it's being sort of hobbled by this perma smile. And again, knowing when to use it instead of trying to use it the whole time, it's far more effective to use it in certain places. Right. Smile when you're asking about that wrap around porch, but then stop when you're saying, or maybe it's a downtown condo, because again, that's very more matter of fact,

Participant #1:
there's just way too much smile in there. It becomes just loses its effect. The other thing that I would say is and I can't say that this is necessarily not the way that she speaks, but there's a lot of vocal Fry going on. And again, that might go with the smile, but it's that thing where you're doing that in the middle of words or it's sort of the position of where you're positioning your speaking voice that again, we're products of what we're positively and negatively reinforced with. And again, it's hard for me to say to this person, don't speak like that because it might be the way that she talks. I have no idea. But it can be a hindrance. It can be something that try and stretch your range. Right. And this is what I talk about. I have students that have exceedingly deep voices. This is just how they talk. And I've got to make sure that I can get them to maybe take a little bit out of their voice, because then if you can do that and you can do it naturally, now you have range, right? I have an exceptional range because I've been pushing myself into those limits where I can sound like I'm in my 20s, but I can also sound like some rugged Texan guy. And it's all natural sounding because I've been flexing those muscles for years. And so while this is my neutral sounding voice, I can certainly get down and hear and talk like this and I work in this area all the time and that's fine. I can sort of take it out and speak more through my nose and sound younger if I need to write. And that's fine too. So finding out how to do that and playing in that place to do that is always to your benefit. And vocal Fry can sound very, very cute. Okay, yeah, that's fine. Alright. You know, it's that through the nose sort of thing, but if it doesn't fit right, it can be a distraction. So again, I don't know if it's just a product of the smile, but again, her read is fine. It's just a lot of smiley, smiley, smiley. And there's a lot of work in that. Starbucks makes a living with it, I guess. But I want to make sure that I have a few bases covered rather than one thing. So if that helps, absolutely. Well, and that's one of the beautiful things about doing auditions every day and such a wide variety of them is you get to practice. And honestly, the only way to get good is to be bad at the beginning and to keep going. God, yes. If you're afraid of making mistakes, you're never going to succeed. No, you will never, ever succeed if you're afraid of looking like a fool. Here's the reality. If they're asking you for ridiculous, if you don't give them 120%, you're not even going to be considered. The reality is they can always ask for less, but they will never expect more. They will never pay. You hoping X they're never going to go. Well, I liked his voice, but he didn't quite get where we needed him to go. Let's hire him and hope he gets there. No, that's never going to happen. But if you go above and beyond, they're going to go. I know I can pull that guy back 10%. That was great, right? I would much rather go way too far and look stupid than not far enough and not get the job. That's the other thing. The other thing people think is if they make a mistake, they're going to ruin their career. Trust me when I tell you I've been doing this 25 years. I have never done an audition so bad that I have ruined my career. And I've done some bad auditions. I have done super poor bad audio quality, you name it, auditions and it's never ruined my career. It won't do it unless you curse at them and disparage their product. Maybe. But even then it's just going to ruin you for that client. It's not like there's this big cabal of companies that are going to be like, oh, by the way, I did a thing with this voices guy and it was horrible, right? Like, no, make the mistakes, be stupid, be ridiculous. That's the whole point. If it's not fun, you're doing it wrong. If you're not being challenged on a daily basis. You're doing it wrong. I try constantly to go, okay, how else can I think about this? Because otherwise you're just going to be doing the same thing over and over and over again. And that's the kiss of death. I have too many people that will go, all right, take one. Have you ever felt about such and such? All right, take two. Have you ever felt about such and such? And they think those are two different reads because they changed the timber of their voice. The read is the exact same. And I was just as guilty of this for years, but it was a fact of I knew the first one worked. So I'm going to stay in that box so that the coach doesn't yell at me or I knew that felt good. So I don't want to take a chance of doing something different and failing. Don't take that mindset. You have to fail. You absolutely have to fail. You have to risk looking stupid constantly. So don't ever be afraid to say the wrong thing or say it the wrong way, because more times than not, you're going to find that you're going to find a nugget in there that's going to be good. Right. And I always play the game with my students where we take a line and we stress every word. So if it's what would you do? Then it's what would you do? What would you do? What would you do? What would you do? Right. And now all of a sudden, I just found five different ways to say that sentence. What would you do? That's an urgent question. What would you do? That's a genuine question. What would you do? That's an attack that's sort of putting the onus on them. What would you do? Well, now that's asking them specifically about an action, it's making them think in sort of an abstract way. And so all of them have a purpose. All of the ways that you stress those words that you read that sentence, all of them have a purpose and a way of conveying an emotional message to the listener. And if you don't go through that and I'm not saying you have to do it on every line, but if you do it enough in the beginning, I can now just do it in my head before I even read the line. I can do it. And I know which one's going to fit because it's going to stay with the emotional phrase or the emotional place that I put myself in at the beginning of the spot. Again, once I find the emotional place, I need to be the voice takes care of itself, but I need to experiment and I need to fail. And I need to say the line wrong. Right. Because what would you do? Doesn't necessarily work, maybe with the way I said the previous sentence. So they need to marry as well. No, line is an island. I've said it before. I'll say it again. Every line in a commercial exist for a reason, and you need to find that reason. And there's two reasons. Generally, it's either to push the narrative forward or it's to modify a sentence previously said, right? No line just exists. Right? It's either functioning to push the narrative forward or it's functioning to modify something previously said or it does both. Sometimes it modifies something while moving the narrative forward. I don't know. But understanding that and being able to then join those sentences in that way can really help you. And to do that, you need to play. You need to make a mistake. You need to say it wrong, quote, unquote. There's no wrong way. There really is no wrong way to read a line if you have a justification for it, if you're like, I just said it that way. Okay. That's wrong. The way you read it wasn't wrong. Your motivation and the reason you read it that way is wrong. Right. That's how I like to look at it. There's no wrong way. We're in a creative industry. Right? People just get caught in that comfortable zone and stick to it. Right. Creative. Right. Which fascinates me. They want to get into voiceover, but they want to just do sort of that thing. Their thing. The fact is, you need to be able to say it the way you believe it said and be able to also hear somebody go, that's not how I want it read and not take it personally. And go, yeah, every time a director says to me or an agent says to me, yeah, that's not right. I immediately go with, okay, cool. Tell me how you want it and I will do it right. Because if I'm too busy fighting inside my head, what the criticism? Or fighting myself and go, oh, I didn't say that right. I didn't do this or whatever. I'm not being present in that moment and I can't hear what the direction they're giving me. And if I can't hear the direction they're giving me when they say action, I'm screwed. So I have to be completely present and I have to turn it off. Once I've said the line, believe me, there are plenty of times I've said a line and I've said to myself, that was horrible. And they've gone. That was brilliant. Guess who's right? Yes, they are. Absolutely. I'm not right at that point. And again, these are the things that you can control and things you can't control, and that's one of the things you can't control if they think it's great. I used to. I used to be like, really? Can I do it again? Because I think it's horrible. Guess what? Now you've just told them you didn't give them your best. You've told them they're wrong. And no director wants to be told they're wrong. That's not your place, right? It's your place is to go. Okay, cool. Great. And to remember what you did. And then if that line comes up again, just do it that way. Guess what? The less you work, the more you work. So now I already know what they want. Even if I disagree with it, I don't care. It's not up to me. I don't have control over that. So I'm going to listen to them. But I need to be free enough to just read it and just do it and know that no amount of criticism is going to hurt me, because no amount of criticism is going to come from a place of pain. It's not going to come from a place of you're stupid or you're this or you're. That right. I've had plenty of parental baggage to carry around my entire life. And insecurities and self loathing and hatred and all of those horrible things, massive depression. I've been there. I believe me, it is horrible. But what I do know, above all things is no amount of criticism in voiceover is designed to make me feel less than it's always designed to make a better commercial, to make me better, to make me challenge something, to make me think differently. But it's never an attack on me. It's never, you know. Oh, you read that wrong. You're horrible. No. So I, obviously, as the director, didn't make my point. So here's what I want you to do. Right. A lot of the time, whoever is directing you, it's bad direction. Or it could be, yeah, you might have misinterpreted it, but you still read it correctly with your misinterpretation. If it said trust. Some of these people that we've been talking about today. Right. They read trustworthy and Playful and they read it intense, but that's their version of trustworthy. Or that's their version of playful. That's fine. But I'm being asked to critique and I'm saying, well, in my world, that isn't the playful that I would think. So any critique that I'm giving today is not coming from a place of, wow, you're horrible. It's coming from a place of here's how I'm seeing it and take that. For what it's worth, not taking things personally isn't just good advice for voiceover. It's just good advice for any business. Absolutely. Yeah. I really like that. The tone you're taking is self aware, not self critical. Never self critical. Super important. Yeah. No, I really like it. Although I am about to ask you to be critical and pick a winner for us. Absolutely. I mean, it's easy to be self critical. It's hard to be self aware. It's hard to be self positive, too. And so who am I going to choose? You know what? Probably. Yeah. I think I've got to go with the first one. I've got to go with number one. Hey, amazing. Number one. Let's listen one more time. If money were not a factor, what would your dream house look like? Picture it now. Would it have a large wraparound porch and a lot of green space for a garden? Or would it be a modern condo in the heart of the city? Wherever your mind goes and whatever your dream consists of spending, mortgage brokers can help you get there. Come on in and speak with one of our agents today to see what we can do for you. Great. Bradford, I appreciate you having you on the podcast, because not only have we learned a lot about audio and performance, but mindset that you need to have to be a 25 year vet in this industry. So thank you for sharing your story, not just with us, but with everybody listening. We really appreciate you. Oh, sure. I mean, it can beat you down. Don't let it. Right. It's my pleasure. I love talking about this stuff, and it's fun for me to coach. I love it. I love getting the emails like I got the other day with a student that's like, I booked my first gig. It's great. It's good for them, right? Absolutely. I don't take any credit for it. They did all the work, right? I don't get you jobs. I'm not going to get you a job. I can point you in certain directions. I can make you flex your muscles, but I can't get you the job. So when you get the job, don't tell me that you got the job because you want to give me credit. It's not about I'll never take it. You got the job because you did what you needed to do. Yeah. I have a personal mantra that everything works out for my greater good. So if that one didn't work out, it's because something else better for me is down the road. Wonderful. Okay. So, Bradford, where can we contact you? For me, I offer a free 30 minutes of sort of Q and A with people just because I'm an acquired taste. I'm a personality. I get it. And sometimes people just have a question. Right? So I am very open to somebody just setting up a free 30 minutes Q and a consult, whatever you want to call it. Go to my website, Hastingsvo.com, and my calendar is on there. It will immediately go into my calendar so I can't double book a 30 minutes thing where you can ask whatever questions you want. You can ask me about coaching, you can ask me about your audio. You can ask me about philosophy or whatever. I don't care. I'll talk about it. And if you know coaches and you're like, hey, I've talked to this guy or this girl, and I know who they are, right? I can give you my insights. I'm never going to be afraid to tell you the truth, right? My students will tell you I'm never going to be the guy that's going to be like, wow, that was fantastic. And then just let you wallow in your mediocrity. It's never going to happen. I want you to be better. I want you to have a win after talking to me I want you to feel like after you've talked to me there's one thing that's improved or there's an understanding of something, even if it's just one thing and it's small, but it might be that one small thing that just turns your entire career around because it can boil down to that and that's why I love coaching, Hastingsvo.com. Or if you want to email me directly, [email protected] is also good. So yes, make sure to subscribe to the podcast here. If you are looking for the scripts, go to voices in our blogs. We have tons and tons of free scripts. You can always use these create demos or just to practice. We have lots of additional resources there as well. And without any further Ado I hope you guys have a great day and thank you very much for listening. Yeah, we're rooting for you guys. Happy auditioning. Happy auditioning.

Geoff Bremner

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