Narrating Children’s Audiobooks with Joe Loesch

    4
    751

    The way that voice actors record audiobooks has evolved over the years. When this episode’s guest first launched his career in voice over, everybody recorded from a studio while receiving live direction. Now, with decades of experience under his belt and a slew of awards to his name, our guest explains how home recording has become the new normal. 

    In this week’s episode, Stephanie has the honor of speaking with voice actor and coach Joe Loesch about narrating children’s audiobooks. Joe goes over the common pitfalls to avoid when narrating audiobooks, including how to keep from defaulting to a boring narrator voice. He also explains how to first approach your read with attitude, so that character can follow.

    About Joe Loesch

    Joe Loesch is the voice of several cartoon characters for Disney and PBS Kids, and the producer of the Baby Looney Tunes audiobooks. He has produced hundreds of audiobooks for various publishers, including HarperCollins, Zondervan Publishing, Thomas Nelson, Mission Audio, Oasis Audio, Toy Box Productions, Radio Theatre, and Audible. Joe has voiced commercials for national advertisers such as Magnavox, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Folgers, Sunsweet, Ford, Chevy, and Toyota. He has appeared in a number of movies and dozens of national TV commercials. He is the producer, storyteller, and voice of all the characters for Dave Ramsey’s Junior’s Adventures

    Joe was nominated Spoken Word Producer of the Year by AFIM Indy Awards. He won the Early Childhood News Directors Choice award for excellence in creative writing and audio production, and his Abraham Lincoln Logues book was voted a top ten children’s book by Chicago Parent Magazine. 

    Joe grew up in Los Angeles and studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He is a voice over coach, demo producer, and voice actor. He and his wife Lori live in Nashville, Tennessee and run New Way To Read, an audiobook production company.

    Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, with special guest Joe Loesch

    Links:

    Inspired by this episode? Get your practice on with our voice over sample scripts

    Connect with Joe Loesch on his website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Hear his voice on Voices.com. 

    About Mission Audition: Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced and engineered by Randy Rektor. Script written by Oliver Skinner.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Hi there. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli and welcome to Mission Audition. We are so happy today to be talking about this topic. We are going to learn all about how to narrate for audiobooks, and not just any audiobooks, these are audiobooks from far, far away, long time ago, once upon a time. We are looking at the medieval times and we’re trying to create just the picture perfect audiobook for a child or anyone who needs to possibly fall asleep to this story, to have a really great engaging experience with the narrator.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Today, as you know, we’re going to walk you through many auditions. In fact, there are seven today. And in these auditions, we’re expecting to hear some fairytale-like voices, kind of like what we talked about earlier. It’s kind of a medieval time sort of theme. And we want our voice actors, and that’s all those people who auditioned for this, to go above and beyond to make this story engaging for a young audience.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Before we get into it, what I’d love to do today is tell you a bit about our special guest. Today on our show we have award-winning spoken word producer, voice actor and coach, Joe Loesch. Joe has produced over 500 audiobooks, voiced dozens of national commercial ads, audiobooks, corporate narrations, and cartoons for the Disney Channel. He produces the Baby Looney Tunes sound books, and Joe also teaches voice acting online with voiceoverxtra.com, and in Nashville for Alan Dysert, The Actor’s School.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    All right. All that said, I’d love for you now to meet the wonderful, the only, Joe Loesch. Joe, welcome to Mission Audition.

    Joe Loesch:

    Thank you Stephanie. It’s good to see you. It’s been a long time and I’m glad to be here.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Oh my goodness, it has been a long time. So happy to see you too, Joe, and more excited than anything to share what you know with all of our amazing listeners out there and with the talent who have just so thoughtfully put together their auditions and really brought the script to life today.

    Joe Loesch:

    It’s going to be fun. I’m really looking forward to this. There’s a lot of talented actors out there, at least I’ve got seven of them on this list today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Really looking forward to hearing them. But before we do, I want everyone to get to know you, Joe. So can you tell us more about just your story and why you love what you do so much?

    Joe Loesch:

    Sure. Well, actually when I was a kid I was a ventriloquist. And so while the other kids were out playing baseball, I was home working with my dummies and coming up with voices. And so I was in the St. Louis area, born in the St. Louis area, and I traveled all over Missouri with my dummy and would perform anywhere that they’d put up with a kid with a smart alec dummy, but eventually we moved to Los Angeles. And so later on, I traded in my dummy for a guitar. It worked out a lot better on dates. One smart remark from the dummy and the date was over, it was all gone.

    Joe Loesch:

    So, I played music during high school and I had a trio in high school and we used to open for the Smothers Brothers at the Ice House. And I played with Karen and Richard Carpenter in the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, and that’s back when we were all in high school before they knew that they were The Carpenters. Of course, they were The Carpenters, but they just didn’t know yet.

    Joe Loesch:

    We wound up going to Vietnam, got to trade in my M60 machine gun for a guitar again. And then when I came back to United States I was in a band on the road with Solid Gold for years, and we used to open for Waylon and Willie at the Golden Nugget and played on the rising stage at Disneyland. I’m going to move quickly, get me to Nashville because I moved here in ’81 to work for Loretta Lynn. So I worked for her for a few years and I worked for Garth Brooks and Emmylou Harris. So I’ve had a pretty good music career in writing songs at Coal Miner’s Music.

    Joe Loesch:

    And I got into advertising where I was the audio engineer and producer for an automotive syndicated advertising company. And there I produced over 30,000 radio and TV soundtracks for car dealers throughout the United States and Canada. And that’s when I started to do a lot of the voice-overs myself because sometimes somebody didn’t show up or we were looking for particular characters. And then I went back to my arsenal of characters that I had developed when I was a kid and I started getting back into that.

    Joe Loesch:

    And then I was doing on camera promotions on a lot of acting. During the 90s I was on camera spokesperson for Philips Magnavox. Now I was putting together a soundtrack for Bobby Goldsboro, and he was a country music artist from the early 70s, he was very popular, but later on as his career wound down, he started writing scripts for the Disney Channel.

    Joe Loesch:

    I was producing the soundtracks and recording all the characters, and late one night he said, “Do you know that evangelistic praying mantis that I had in here earlier, he didn’t give me at all what I wanted. Where am I going to find an evangelistic praying mantis at this hour?” And I said, “Yeah, the Reverend Mantis at your service.” And he said, “Great. Get in there and do that.” And so that was the beginning of about 20 cartoons, no 12 cartoons in 20 different voices. And I was just often running and doing all kinds of character voice work. I also worked for the PBS KIDS, and I’m now producing the Baby Looney Tunes sound books.

    Joe Loesch:

    I produce all of Dave Ramsey’s audio. He’s a financial guru, he’s gotten hundreds of thousands of people out of debt. And I do all of the character voice work for his children’s books, Junior’s Adventures. So I’m all the characters, the narrator. And every day is just an adventure. When I come upstairs, I say, “Who do I get to be today?” And so I’m doing lots of different kinds of work from corporate narration for Boeing Aviation, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola. I’m just having a ball.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    That is such an amazing story. Thank you for sharing, Joe. And I’ve heard you play the guitar. You’re really good. And also singing. But for everyone else to get to know you and to learn more about where you came from, I mean, a ventriloquist at first, like is that a very common career route, would you say for a voice actor?

    Joe Loesch:

    For a voice actor I would say no, but it’s become quite popular. When I was a kid, I got a book for Christmas from my mom and dad. It was Paul Winchell’s, Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit. And so that’s really what got me into doing that sort of thing. And now I’m interested in possibly picking it back up. I still need a lot of practice with keeping my mouth shut and him talking and all that sort of thing, but I’m having fun with that.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Wow! And for those of us who are unfamiliar with the name, Paul Winchell, you’ll know him as the voice of Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh.

    Joe Loesch:

    That’s some more history in the background there. You can check it out.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Absolutely. Well, we’ve had a great time here listening to what you’ve shared. And as you were talking about producing all these books and doing the voices of the characters, not just characters like in an animation where maybe you’re just the voice of this one or that one, but in an audiobook, you are the narrator, you’re the grasshopper, you are the whoever else might also be in that storyline. So thank you for bringing that perspective also to the show today, Joe, because we’re going to need it.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    In this job, we have voice actors who need to play basically three roles in this audiobook. You have to be the narrator and you’ve got be another individual and you have to actually be a cow, which is interesting. So I think we’ll definitely hear what that sounds like from all of our wonderful auditioners today, but for everybody, just so you know, this of course is an audiobook. And what we’re looking for, this narratives do, is as I said to perform both the narration and the dialogue for the short fairytale. So the specs are young adult. So we’re looking for voices that sound about 18 to 35. It could be a male or female voice. And we would like for this talent to have an English North American accent, so that they be from Canada or the US.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    To share a bit more about this job, this is about the White Knight, which does sound very medieval. Doesn’t it?

    Joe Loesch:

    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    You’ve heard of White Knight. Yeah.

    Joe Loesch:

    Yes, it does.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    It does. It absolutely. So the White Knight is an original children’s fairytale and it tells a story of a lonesome white knight tasked with standing guard over a wintry kingdom for many days and nights. Suddenly one evening he encounters a magical talking cow, Maria or Mariah, I’m not sure, who has been separated from her herd. She decides to settle in the nearby valley, and over the course of four nights, the white Knight and Maria or Mariah, we’ll see what people do with that, keep each other company and become close friends who teach each other a valuable lesson. And I think that’s really what storytelling is about, isn’t it, Joe? Like we’re all here to learn something and to impart something.

    Joe Loesch:

    It really is about storytelling because as a voice actor you are a storyteller, whether it’s an audiobook or a corporate narration or a commercial, you’ve got a story to tell. And so that’s what I like to tell my students is that you are becoming a storyteller, so take them on that storyteller journey. And sometimes we’re looking at a… I’ll say, your rhythm’s off or your rhythm’s on. All of the narration has a rhythm to it. It’s very similar to music.

    Joe Loesch:

    And of course it’s been fortunate for me that I’ve had a music background, because sometimes I’ll sing a narration in order to make it kind of move or flow before I actually record it and that tends to help me quite a bit too.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    I like that. And just keep throwing those tips out there, Joe. Like anytime something comes to mind, we would all love to hear it. Make sure you’ve got your paper, your pen, your pencil, whatever it is you’re taking notes with, everybody, we are going to dive into these auditions.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Now just a little more about the creative direction. Essentially, this voice actor should feel comfortable reading for three parts, the narrator, the white knight’s dialogue, and Maria. We’ll call her Maria today, her dialogue. So what the skill really is that we’re looking for here is separation. Someone needs to know how to make the narrator stand apart from the white Knight and the white Knight to not sound like Maria, the cow. I hope that they’ve all done their homework on this and made up some cool voices for us to hear, no doubt they have. So as we had mentioned before, the narration is for a fairytale, it takes place within medieval times, but, and here’s a little twist, it’s targeted toward a young, modern audience. So playfulness and putting on a contemporary spin on what the classic medieval narration might be considered is encouraged.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    All right. I think it is now time to let the voice actors do their work and for Joe and I to sit back and relax. All right, so Randy, if we could please have audition number one.

    Audition 1:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    All right. So, that’s our first read. Joe, what do you think?

    Joe Loesch:

    I thought that this voice, voice number one, we’ll call her, she’s a pleasant, she has a charming voice, and I believe she has acting ability. I think there’s some acting in her background and may even be some singing in her background as well, because I could hear that in her voice.

    Joe Loesch:

    Now she has a clear distinction between the narrator and characters. She made this strange creature sound like a strange creature, and that was nice. That was a good touch right there. But I felt like the line that she said is the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, but she said the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, you know? So I think that you’ve got some time there to play with this and make all the words count and I would have liked for her to explain the this and that, the this being the Knight, the that being the creature. And the additional thing was shrank.

    Joe Loesch:

    So since there’s really no time slots on this, you’re not under the gun to get this out in 10 seconds. Take the time to make all the words breathe. She said, “Ta his surprise,” ta, ta his surprise. To his surprise. Just remember it doesn’t take any longer to say to than ta. And this is not a huge point. I can tell this young lady could be easily directed.

    Joe Loesch:

    A producer, a director knows they’ve got something to work with here. They know that this is a talented person. A good job in making the cow sound lonely too, because the story is that these two characters are lonely, but they’re going to become best friends. They’re going to become less lonely. They’re going to be taking up some time with each other. So, that’s good. I liked the way she made the cow sound lonely too.

    Joe Loesch:

    Now I did notice that she could add more volume to her overall audio level, it seemed a little bit low, and I noticed that in between breaks, she was using complete silence. And so when it goes to complete silence, it kind of tricks the listening ear that something’s wrong here. It went to complete black instead of using room tone. So that would be a recommendation for to do that.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Wow! That’s amazing feedback. And I hope that this voice artist we just heard is really happy with what she has heard, because it was a really great performance. There’s just little tiny nuance here and there to pay attention to. And you mentioned something interesting as you were talking there, Joe, about just you know, and if this person were directed and if she were under some direction then I’m sure that she’d be able to do those changes quite easily.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    So I know a lot of audiobooks are recorded remotely, talent often do the audiobooks from their own homes now. That said, it wasn’t too long ago that audiobooks were recorded almost primarily in a studio where you might be working there. So could you tell us a bit more about when talent began to record audiobooks from home without having the benefit of the direction?

    Joe Loesch:

    You know, during the 90s, I would mostly… everybody would go to a studio during the 90s and probably even the early 2000s, but eventually like 2006, seven, eight, right around there, the big transition started to happen. And I noticed that a couple of the voiceover production facilities downtown Nashville were noticing a huge drop off because people were starting to record at home. And it was a matter of potential buyers being able to choose a talent where the audio was being recorded in their home studio and they were saving money on not going to a voiceover production facility. And I would say, always say, that sure it’d be great to go downtown and do a spot or an audiobook in a professional studio, but if you can make your own home facility sound that good, then there’s not going to be a reason for you to have to. And if they can use you out of your own home studio, that’s what the buyers will do.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    That’s great. And especially now given different COVID related reasons, people can’t necessarily go into the studio as we’ve experienced.

    Joe Loesch:

    That’s true.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And I know that the on-camera world is being affected by this greatly, obviously more than the voiceover world is, but with audiobook production, I can only imagine that there are certain challenges where talents who were used to going into a studio are now having to learn how to become a producer as well.

    Joe Loesch:

    And that’s challenging for some people. I think technology has made recording at home easier than it was at first, because now there are simple programs like Audacity and TwistedWave that could be just a one channel, a single mano channel. That’s all you have to record and get it off to the production company because they take care of the rest.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Wow! All right. Well, those are pearls of wisdom. That’s what that is. So we’re going to move to audition number two and listen to what this voice actor decided to do.

    Audition 2:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Joe Loesch:

    Okay. I want to listen to the first sentence again.

    Audition 2:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom.

    Joe Loesch:

    All right. I feel like she also has a very pleasant voice. She’s directable, nice texture to her voice, but she said, “As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom,” it sounds a little red. Like there’s some reading going on there. So as, “As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom,” you know, if you can paint that picture because now for the listener, you’re kind of painting a picture where they’re going and it’s a lovely area. So you might as well take the time to make it sound lovely as it is.

    Joe Loesch:

    Okay. So there was just a little bit too much reading going on there. I felt like she did have some clear contact with the characters. There was a difference from the narration to the characters, and that was perfect. It was very nice.

    Joe Loesch:

    Now there’s a couple of things that I’ve got to say about this particular number two. Now the volume out of all seven that were submitted here, the volume on the audio levels on this particular audition were way too low. See if you send in an audition where everybody else’s volume levels are where they’re supposed to be and then the people who are listening to the auditions have to crank the volume up to hear it, that’s not good for you. Because they want to know that you’re able to send proper signals to your software at home when they’re dealing with you for an actual project.

    Joe Loesch:

    So my biggest suggestion for her is to send a stronger signal to your software. And I would say work a little bit more on the acting, the acting end of this. Because I would like to hear a little bit more of the characters coming to life in here, but it was good. I know she’s directable.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And that’s often like a question someone will ask is, can I work with this talent? And unless you’re putting your whole self out there, then people in the director’s chair or the casting seat, they won’t know whether or not that’s all you’ve got. So is it an approach that, oh, it’s a fairytale. I must treat it more delicately and be more quiet and whimsical. Like I’m just wondering because I don’t know what everyone else has done so far with their reads down the line, and we will hear those, but it makes me wonder, Joe, if there’s like a pitfall that people can fall into when they go to read a script like this for an audiobook when it’s a fairytale, is there a common mistake that people make when they do this?

    Joe Loesch:

    Yeah. I believe there is, Stephanie. I think the common mistake is, especially new talent, well, even people that have been in this for five or six years, they’re constantly wondering what the buyer wants, you know? Should I do it like this? Should I do it like that? Should I do it like this? Well, you can constantly go after, gee, I don’t know, what do you think they think, you know, but that’s not going to get you anywhere. You have to give it your best from the start and give them your best performance.

    Joe Loesch:

    Now, one of the key words in here was that they wanted to hear a whimsical narrator, but I haven’t heard a whimsical narrator yet. I don’t think we have one in all of these auditions. We’re talking about the snow falling on the land throughout the kingdom. So what would whimsical be? If you could get the narrator up, you can bring the characters up too. So whimsical is the key though.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. So, and you’ve shown us through some of the examples that you’ve provided, how you would have wanted to hear something red. You’ve shown us an element of what that whimsical quality is. What sort of things should they be doing with their voice and what kind of inflection might someone have, who is speaking whimsically?

    Joe Loesch:

    All right. So you know, I think of Aunt Clara from Bewitched from years and years ago, she was whimsical. She had this thing with door knobs… She had that kind of thing going on all the time. What if you tried something like that with the narrator? “Fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom.” I would say in this particular case, don’t look at yourself as the narrator because the narrator is a character too. Because they just told you that narrator needed to be whimsical, yes, but I’m not whimsical. Well, you need to get rid of your eye disease and become someone else, become another character. And you can find so many different characters in the range of your voice too.

    Joe Loesch:

    And because of my musical background, I may do some vocal stretches, that la la la la la la, oh, hey, I found a voice up here. You know, I’ve got one here. La la la la la la. Oh, I’ve got one. I found another one down here. Now I need to give that character a… I need to give that character an attitude so that the attitudes are as extreme as the vocal levels.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. I wonder how many people actually think about giving a character an attitude, because they’re just so focused on seeing what that creative direction is and like, “Oh, boy, I have to sound this, I need this accent, I should be about this age.” But sometimes when people are doing auditions especially online when they have so many that they’re trying to figure out, well, which one should I do first and all this, they might not give themselves the time needed to kind of figure out a little of that digging the backstory of what to do, but how can you kind of prepare yourself for success as a character creator when you’re just constantly auditioning and you need to make that time to build that muscle?

    Joe Loesch:

    Well, that’s part of interpreting the copy. Because if you’re looking at the copy and you find out what the story is, okay, now this character here, how old is this character? What’s his name? Is he married? Does he have children? He’s got three kids. Yes, he’s married. Are they happily married? You know, what’s his wife’s name? What are his kids’ name? See the more specific you can get with your character, the better your read’s going to be, because the more you’re going to be coming from that character’s perspective.

    Joe Loesch:

    So I think that if you’re looking at a brand new script, what’s the attitude of the narrator? The narrator is a story too, but they’re also a character. How old is the narrator? What’s his name? If you say to yourself, “I wouldn’t say this, I don’t talk like that,” great, don’t be you.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. I think people often tend to believe that the narrator is boring or the narrator must be boring because it’s the characters that just stand out, right? Or I shouldn’t bias the story somehow because I’m meant to be this omniscient, not taking part in the actual events. You know, I’m telling the story. But I don’t know, I guess in a setting like this one has a little more freedom or liberty to go ahead and to create that character because it was asked for.

    Joe Loesch:

    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And I think that’s the big difference is when someone asks you to create something, in this case, whimsical, they’re giving you permission.

    Joe Loesch:

    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And for an artist, sometimes that’s like you need to hear that. Someone needs to say, “Yeah, this is what I want you to do and I’ve given you a bit of a roadmap, you figure out how you’re going to get there, but here’s your boundaries. And now just show me what you got.”

    Joe Loesch:

    Exactly. I have so many students that I said, “Look, take an acting class.” Because my friend Alan Dysert, that you mentioned earlier, he has The Actor’s School in Franklin, Tennessee, which is just down the road from here Nashville. And so I said, “You need to take an acting class, because there’s a reason they call this voice acting.” There’s a degree of acting that goes into this and most voice actors that are getting into voice acting have never had an acting class.

    Joe Loesch:

    What we were just talking about, an improv class helps you to think quicker on your feet too, and to come up with characters and attitudes much faster. So if you’ve never had any acting background, I would suggest you take an acting class.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Oh my goodness. Wow! I’m just really glad that we are looking for a non-boring narrator and that we can have some more fun with these auditions. And speaking of which we are going to listen to audition number three.

    Audition 3:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Joe Loesch:

    Nice. Nice read. Good storyteller. I would like for the narrator to be a little more whimsical because he’s a good storyteller, but they did ask for that whimsicalness. So I think on the front end, could have made the white Knight sound a little more special. You don’t want to breeze through white Knight because he’s the star of the show. Make him stand out a little bit more.

    Joe Loesch:

    Now let’s see, more distance between the Knight and the creature. We talked about that before for one of these other pieces here, because I want to separate them, the distance between the Knight and the creature. Okay. Instead of the distance between the Knight and the creature, that’s a little bit of reading right there. And I would like to have a little bit more of the surprise of discovery of the cow. You know, it was a cow. Like, what? And as it turns out later on, we find out, I guess she’s a magical… well, it has to be a magical cow, she’s talking.

    Joe Loesch:

    Okay. So let’s see. Oh, and to his surprise too, I think he said, “Ta,” yeah. To his surprise, and surprise should be more surprising. So make it sound more surprising. Made the calf sound as lonely as the Knight. Good job. That was nice. And again, this is someone else who has acting ability, is very directable. Yeah, just a lot of good stuff here.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. I enjoyed his read. I thought that… like I was having fun when I was listening to it, but I think that that’s a big part of your job as a voice actor is to really make the person on the other end feel like they’re enjoying what you’re doing. So I did like that. Everyone will have their own opinions. Anyone sitting in a chair like how Joe is now or how I am as we’re listening, they’re completely subjective opinions. And we’re both going to find things that we like and things that we might change or things that are just, you know, just different ideas. Right?

    Joe Loesch:

    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And there’s really no wrong interpretation. I think it’s just kind of what does the script call for? You know, what do we need to have to give, I guess, the best delivery of the author’s intent?

    Joe Loesch:

    And the only other thing I noticed out of this actor was that the reusing complete silence between the breaks again. Again, it’s so important to do room tone. When I start a project, I’ll just be quiet and I’ll record about five seconds of room tone. That’s what the room sounds like when you’re not saying anything. And so when you use complete silence, it goes to nothing. It goes to nothingness. And if somebody is listening on headphones especially, it drops down to nothing. You want to hear that they’re still in the room. Hey, they left the room for a half a second. Now they’re back. So be sure to use room tone. He had excellent audio levels other than that, though.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yes. And very entertaining.

    Joe Loesch:

    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    I was thoroughly entertained. So thank you, whoever you are. That was wonderful. So now we have audition number four.

    Audition 4:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Joe Loesch:

    See, the calf she sounded as lonely as he did. Really a very pleasant, charming voice with acting ability again. Very directable. Could have made the white Knight stand out or be a little more special in that front line, but it’s not that anything that she did was wrong, it’s just that the producer, the director, may have another way he wants her to do certain things, and she’s certainly directable. So, that could happen. He had a really good stammer. When he said that, “He stammered,” he stammered very well.

    Joe Loesch:

    To his surprise, surprise could be a little more surprising. Good lonely calf, was a good audio levels though they could come up just a bit. However, her room sounds really good. The quality was good.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. She had a lovely read. And I just wanted to ask you, because now we’ve heard, I think that’s three women, three women narrating, so Joe, whenever there’s a female narrator and she needs to voice a male character, what are some tips that you could give the women who are listening now for how to sound to give life to this white Knight, to have a kind of a more masculine sort of, I guess… he’s a guy. They’ve had to make him sound a bit different from if they’re going to be Maria the cow. So what are a few things that women should keep in mind as they narrate male characters?

    Joe Loesch:

    Well, she did a great job on that. And actually that was a note that I had. I’m glad you reminded me of that. It was the attitude. The attitude is what takes her to that area for him. Obviously, she knows the difference between male and female, because she went right there with him. She was where she needed to be, she was in the timber, in the zone, and the attitude was just right for him. And then the attitude was just right for the lonely calf at the end as well.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. And on the other side of the coin, we’ve had the gentlemen reading too, and they’ve had to voice Maria who was a cow and a female.

    Joe Loesch:

    That’s true.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    So what can the gentlemen do to essentially create that voice in a believable way that we believe this is indeed a female cow?

    Joe Loesch:

    There’s a fine line where you can cross over and make your characters because not all audiobooks is going to call for a talking cow, it could just be a couple having a conversation with each other. So the narrator, it has to go from the narrator to the guy and the woman and back to the narrator again, but what’s the attitude of the guy? Well, he’s kind of gruff and he’s been around the world a few times. And when he comes home, “Honey, I’m home.” And let’s say this is 1950s, she’s a homemaker and she’s been vacuuming the house, “Oh honey, I’m so glad you’re here.” You know, just soften the voice. I’m not going that far out of my timber, but to take on that other character, you just have to feel her presence. It’s attitude first, then the character will come.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    I think that’s one of our takeaways. We’re going to be putting that in the show notes for everyone. So it’s attitude first, then the character will come. So why don’t we listen now to audition number five.

    Audition 5:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Joe Loesch:

    Good. Good. That was also another nice performance. It seemed to be a little too fast, overall. You have to remember that when you’re doing a narration, for example, I do a lot of corporate narration for Boeing Aviation and Coca-Cola, I noticed that out of one of the first narrations I was doing that what was happening was that the tempo from the beginning to the end was the same. And so I started to look for places to slow it down to add an entertainment value to the script.

    Joe Loesch:

    And in this particular read, he had, by the way, he had excellent levels, a good presentation. I noticed in the front, it was going so fast that he said, “Sighed to himself and said,” and it sounded like S-I-D-E to himself and said, side to himself and said. Sighed, sighed to himself and said. If we can hear that D on sighed that could help. One way to get that out would be to slow it down.

    Joe Loesch:

    The knight’s first line, his first line of the knight took too long. I felt like the narrator should have actually been the knight. And that attitude that the narrator had telling the story should have been the Knight’s position. And the narrator could have been… then that way he could have made the narrator more whimsical. Because I think the guy’s got the ability to do this. He sounds like he does. That’s all I’ve got. How about you, Steph?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Yeah. Well, I liked the tone of his voice, it sounded very fresh, and that he could connect with a younger audience, for sure. Like he had a bit of a youthfulness to his voice, which I think that the younger listeners might be like, “Oh, someone kind of more like me possibly.” And so, as I was listening, I just thought, okay, like I see how this is connecting here. And then my thoughts immediately went to how sometimes you’ll say, “Oh, it sounds like they’re reading.” And I thought, huh, well, obviously everyone who submitted for this didn’t realize that they sounded like they were reading. So what is a telltale sign that a voice actor can go back and review their audition or whatever for to know whether or not they sound like they’re reading or whether they’re painting the words?

    Joe Loesch:

    I think you can hear it when you’re reading it. If you’re practicing at home, read your scripts out loud. Get off in a corner, read your newspaper articles, whatever articles you have, your letters, whatever you’ve got in the mail, read it out loud, make it sound conversational and practice with it until you say, “Now, do I sound conversational or do I sound like I’m reading?” Just practice, practice, practice, practice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Awesome. Okay. So we are going to listen now to audition number six.

    Audition 6:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Joe Loesch:

    He even gave the calf a little accent right there. That was kind of cute. We don’t know what accent that was, but that doesn’t matter. It was cute. Yeah. He’s a good storyteller. Good on strange creature. Good characters. He lays out a good, clear scene of fresh snow. I like how he painted the image for us of the area we were going into, a nice sprawling valley. A good actor. But here’s my critique. See, the sound of this audio sounds a little boxy. The room, the mic combination, he could really improve probably picking up auditions and gaining more jobs because I don’t feel like he’s found the microphone that loves him yet.

    Joe Loesch:

    I didn’t find the microphone that loved me until a couple of years ago, because I thought it was my Neumann U87 for years. I’ve had it for years and years. And I thought that was my mic. That’s the one that loved me. But then I found the Sennheiser 416 loved me even more. But you know, he’s far too good an actor to not compliment his voice with a better surrounding microphone.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And say that is a highly paid compliment. Like I hope that whoever that was is not offended in any way, shape, or form about the audio comments there, because like your voice is amazing and it’s unique and it’s lovely. And all it needs is, as you say, the mic that loves you.

    Joe Loesch:

    You know, well, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine came in to do a session and he brought his 416 with him. He said, “Joe, you need to try this mic,” and I said, “Okay.” Oh my gosh, when I played it back, I could not believe. I was just, I was so impressed with me.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Oh, goodness.

    Joe Loesch:

    That I just love the way this microphone sounded. I said, “I thought that was my mic.” And I was just taken aback because it was a complete surprise to me. But I think when you find the mic that really loves you, you’ll know it. Now, there are some mics out there that are very good in the $300 range. See, a $300 microphone might be the microphone that you’re going to sound the best on for the rest of your life, you don’t have to go out and buy a $3,600 microphone, but you don’t have to be really cheap about it either.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    We’ve got our seventh audition waiting in the wings. Oh my goodness. All right, well, let’s tee it up. This is audition number seven.

    Audition 7:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    Joe Loesch:

    All right, good. Lots of energy. I felt a little too quick. The layout, the scene, a lot of it was pretty fast. I get the sense that he was feeling like he had a timeframe to work within and that he just had to get it out, but you can tell he’s got acting ability, he’s got some great personality. I felt like there wasn’t feeling for the strange creature, he just said there was a strange creature, but the strange creature didn’t feel strange.

    Joe Loesch:

    The distance between the two is too fast. Not bad on discovery of the cow, but I felt like there could have been a little bit… it was a cow. You know, like what? I’d like to have a little bit more of that. Maria doesn’t have enough of her own personality in this particular read. So you need to create a better attitude for her and soften her voice somewhat to give her more of a feminine type of an angle.

    Joe Loesch:

    Although it was a good performance from all seven of these people, every one of them could be directed, but I’ve got a couple of favorites.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Oh, well, let’s see. What have you got?

    Joe Loesch:

    I really liked number one and number four, and I also gave a start in number three, but I would have to give… I’m going to have to say number four was my pick today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Oh, wow! Number four. Well, congratulations. This is fabulous. And as we recall that is one of the ladies. So Randy, if you wouldn’t mind, please play for us again audition number four.

    Audition 4:

    As fresh snow blanketed the grounds of the kingdom, the white Knight gazed out upon the sprawling valley, sighed to himself and said, “I must be the loneliest Knight in all of the land.” All of a sudden, the white knight spotted a strange creature wandering up the snowy path towards him. As the distance between the Knight and the creature shrank, he saw that it was a cow. “Who, who goes there?” The white knight stammered. To his surprise, a gentle voice responded, “It is I, Maria, a calf who has found herself far from home.”

    YJoe Loesch:

    You know, at the end she says, “Ah, far.” She said, “Far from home,” “Far from home.” She had this little ah kind of airy thing on the end too. And I think that when that comes out, some people will say, “Yeah, is that good or is that bad?” I say it’s good if you’ve got control of it, because you can use it when you need it.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Perfect. Wow! Well, this has been a great show. I know I’ve learned a lot and I hope you have too. And Joe, people really ought to know how to get ahold of you. So what is the best way that they can do that?

    Joe Loesch:

    Well, you can go to joeloesch.com, and that’s J-O-E L-O-E-S-C-H.com. I’ve got videos there about my workshops, what it is that I do. You can just go through there and check all of that out, plus my coaching rates are there, and I’d love to hear from you. Or you could just send me an email to joeloesch@icloud.com.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Fabulous. I think that there will be many people just furiously typing out your email address about now and in your website and looking to see what kind of workshops or classes or ways of getting in touch with you to learn that there are. So thank you again for being on the show, Joe, it’s an absolute pleasure.

    Joe Loesch:

    I enjoyed it so much and I miss seeing you at conventions and places around the world. It’s always just so much fun to run into you.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Well, to the next time and whenever that happens, we’ll be so ready for it.

    Joe Loesch:

    Excellent.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    That’s today’s show for Mission Audition, I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli. You can find all of the scripts that you’ve heard on the show on the Voices.com blog. Simply go to voices.com/blog. And if you’d like to continue the conversation online, you can do that, we have a #MissionAudition. Be sure to tag it, join the conversation and let us know what you enjoyed about the show. Thank you again for tuning in. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli. We’ll see you next time.

    SHARE
    Previous articlePerforming Live Announcements with Melissa Moats
    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

    4 COMMENTS

    1. Great Podcast – I am brand new to the industry and information like this is INVALUABLE! I have pages crammed with notes … thank you Joe Loesch and Stephanie Ciccarelli.

    2. Thank you very much…..for send me a audition mail yes I want yo give audition. I can give my voice for animated movies , stories, any thing that relate to kids.

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here