VOX Talk #13 – Annie Awards, Toronto Anime Ball, Microsoft VS Mapuche

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    Annie Awards, Emilie-Claire Barlow at Toronto Anime Ball, Microsoft VS the Mapuche, Talent or Skill, Mics, Processors and Preamps, Last call for Voicey Nominations.

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    Annies, Annie Awards, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Toronto, Anime Ball, Microsoft, Mapuche, Mics, Preamps, Processors, Voicey Awards, Julie Williams, Colin Campbell

    Transcript of Vox Talk #13

    Male: Episode 13

    Stephanie Ciccarelli: You’re listening to VOX Talk, and I’m your host, Stephanie Ciccarelli. If you’re into voiceovers, this is the podcast for you. We record VOX Talk twice a week, so there’s ample opportunity to get involved and to tune in. Let’s get this party started.
    Male: The Loop, informing you of news and current voiceover events.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: The Annie Awards were handed out this past weekend with Disney and Pixar’s Cars taking home the big prize. Chron.com says that every winner of the Annie Awards animated feature category goes on to win the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, so be sure to keep your eyes on Cars.
    To find out who the other winners were, go to AnnieAwards.com.
    In other news, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, the Toronto Public Library invites youth and the young at heart to the Anime Ball at the York Woods Theatre. Participants are invited to come dressed as their favorite anime character and are encouraged to make a dramatic entrance on a red carpet. Special guest Emilie-Claire Barlow, Sailor Mars from the popular Sailor Moon series, will share her experience as a voice actor.
    To learn more, go to KeepTorontoReading.ca
    To wrap up, the CBC radio program “And sometimes Y” dedicated a segment of their show to the unfolding story of Microsoft’s lawsuit with the Mapuche, the native people of Chile, over Microsoft’s intended use of the Mapuche language on the Internet. The Mapuche claimed that their language is private property and that Microsoft did not consult them before announcing plans to use it for financial gain. There are 400,000 people in total who speak the Mapuche language.
    To learn more, go to cbc.ca/andsometimesy
    Male: The Biz, helping you grow your voiceover business.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: This week in The Biz, Julie Williams explores whether it is skill or talent that gets voice actors the jobs.
    Julie Williams: Is it talent or is it skill? You know, I hear people talking about talent all the time and there is an element of talent in voiceovers.
    There are some people who are naturally more gifted than others and I’m not talking about their voices either. I’m talking about what they do with their voices or even called voice talent.
    But I teach voiceover workshops because I believe voiceover is a skill that can be taught. Equate it to say, piano lessons. Some people are naturally gifted at playing the piano and they play well without much effort. Some people aren’t as gifted but they work very hard at it and they really get good sometimes better than the naturally gifted pianist because they put so much work into it.
    You can learn to refine your craft of voiceover and do better than some of the natural talent, if you don’t happen to be one and if you are a natural, you can find yourself losing jobs to people who are more skilled and practiced than you are. How good would a naturally talented pianist be if he never practiced? How good would a professional athlete be if he never practiced? Do you practice?
    Especially if you’re new, this is really important. If you’re not using your voice everyday, if you’re not doing jobs and auditions everyday, then you need to be practicing. What do I mean by practicing? At every workshop I do, I issue my students a challenge and amazingly not one person has done it yet, not one. I tell them to take 10 minutes a day and read a book into a tape recorder. Just read through the entire book, picking up where you left off the day before. Don’t re-read it if you didn’t like how you did it but do listen back to see how you could have sounded more conversational.
    Once you’re done with the book, you’ll have a Christmas present for your mother and lots of practice, cold reading copy. This is a very valuable skill because sometimes you walk into an audition with barely enough time to read through the copy and when you practice, you will also get much better at what you do. You’ll get better at reading one thing while you say another and your delivery will get better as well.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: If you have an audio piece that you’d like to see included in this segment or a suggestion, e-mail your thoughts to media@Voices.com
    Male: Tech Talk, walking you through the technological landscape.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: This week Colin Campbell of AffordableAnnouncer.com shares his thoughts on mics, processors and preamps.
    Colin Campbell: Mic, preamps and processors. Now, preamps are a funny thing. They can cost anywhere from below $100 to over $1000. These days, tube – sorry for the (plosive). Tube mic preamps are all the rage. Now, there are cheap tube mic preamps and there are expensive tube mic preamps.
    Now, I don’t have any personal experience with either but I’m told that tube mic preamps that are cheap are not anything to be crazy about. The expensive ones are good but it’s a lot of money. I think all of that is probably a little too hoity-toity for our particular vocation here as a voiceover artist.
    All right, what do I use? I use a Symetrix 528E. Why? Well, I’ve worked in radio for many, many years. Symetrix 528E is the mic processor that is used and probably almost 95% of all radio studios and they’ve been using them for years. It is the successor to the 528.
    Now Symetrix isn’t making this thing for many, many years and the 528E is outmoded. It’s not computer-controlled. It doesn’t have presets but Symetrix still makes it and still sells a lot of them because they’re very good. The Symetrix 528E is both a mic preamp and a mic processor. Now, what does that mean?
    Well, it preamplifies the mic to line level. It suppresses sibilants or S’s in your voice. It also will downward expand which is commonly referred to as noise gate which means when you’re silent, it cuts the sound from the background during the silent pauses then it compresses the higher, louder passages to create a fuller, fatter sound. After that, you have a parametric equalizer and that is so you can tweak the sound of your voice to bring out the best quality or components of your voice. You have a low, mid and high section of equalization.
    In each section you have both how much gain or loss in that section, how wide of a swath of that section of low, mid or high frequencies you can adjust and then exactly at what center frequency that adjustment will be at. I find that at least with the male voice, my voce, that boosting three of four K in the mid section is a good thing. It brings out kind of a crisp sound then you can play around with the low end as well to bring out a little resonance or ballsy or pipes quality that men like and in the high end, you’re just kind of fighting the de-esser. You want highs but you don’t want sibilants. It’s kind of a tough call.
    Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn off first the – turn off the compressor and the downward expander. Now, you can see when I turn off the compressor and downward expander, the first thing you noticed is the background noise. The downward expander or what is commonly called the noise gate is a helpful thing in the studio because I wouldn’t have all this noise if I turned it on. Watch, I’ll turn it on. Ah, the noise is gone. The noise is back when it’s off. The de-esser, well the de-esser doesn’t do a whole lot. It cuts down a little bit of sibilants, sibilants. Let’s try it. It’s now off. Sibilants. It’s now on. Sibilants. It’s subtle. The de-esser is probably the weakest link in the chain.
    Now, if I turn off the equalizer, boy do I sound flat. Now, let’s turn it all off. Okay, we have no de-ess, we have no downward expansion or noise gate and we have no compressions and we have no EQ.
    So that’s basically my microphone all by itself. Okay? It’s raw.
    Now, what we’re going to do. First, we’re going to turn on the de-es. The de-es is on. You probably can’t tell any difference there. Again, that’s very subtle. Now, we’re going to turn on the downward expander/noise gate and the compressor. Now, that gives me a little better sound. I have less noise in the background and I have a little bit of squashing or crunching on the top end to make my voice sound fatter but now here’s the PAC resistance. I didn’t say that right. I’m not a frenchy French man but here is the EQ. And now, I’m back to where I was before. Do you see the difference? That’s why you need processing. You need a mic processor.
    Now, let’s talk about prices and models. If you are on a budget, I would recommend a DBX 286A. Now, I don’t have any experience with the DBX 286A but DBX has a good reputation, it’s only $200, it’s both a mic preamp and a processor and I’m sure it’s very good. The next step up is what I do have and what you’re hearing now, the Symetrix 528E. Now again, it’s old-fashioned but they make them still and they sell a lot because they’re good.
    There are other options. If you have lots of money, you could buy in the AirTools which is made by Symetrix. It’s about $1500. It has got presets, you could hook it to you computer, you can save your presets. That’s mainly design in a studio where you have many different voices but since in a VO home studio, you probably only have one voice, yours, you don’t need multiple presets. But you do need processing.
    You need to process the voice in analog before you send it on to the computer to be digitized. I can’t stress that enough. It’s a crusade of mine. So many of the voiceover artists that I hear here on VoiceOverSavvy or Voice123 or elsewhere, they just do a mic right into the computer. There’s no processing, there’s no help, there’s no boost and there’s no noise cutting, no noise gate. I think that’s a bad idea. You need a mic processor. It’s probably more important – well, I won’t say it’s more important than your microphone but I would say it’s the second most important thing.
    You’ve got to put quality into the computer before it’s digitized. Now, there are mic preamps and processors that have a digital output and that’s a whole other episode and I don’t know a whole lot about it so I won’t get into it but in my scenario, I have a good condenser microphone into a good solid mic processor preamp that has a good reputation over many years in radio that does a good job. It’s well-made, it’s expensive, 528E, $500 but it does a good job.
    Next time, we’ll talk about pop filters.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: Thank you for another candid look at the world of recording studio equipment, Colin.
    Male: VOX Box, answering your voiceover questions.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: This is the last episode before nominations close for the Voicey Awards. If you or someone you know deserves a Voicey, be sure to get your nomination in before Valentine’s Day. You can access the form at VoiceyAwards.com.
    Here we are at the end. As always you can send in your feedback via e-mail, audio clip and you can also call in to leave a message to air on the podcast. Just dial 1-888-359-3472 ext. 117. Looking forward to hearing from you. Bye for now.

    Links from today’s show:

    Annie Awards
    Toronto Anime Ball
    Microsoft VS Mapuche
    Voicey Awards
    Julie Williams
    Colin Campbell

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