Vox Talk #55 – Rodney Saulsberry, Voice Coaches Marketing Expo and Pat Fraley interviews Phil Crowley


    Rodney Saulsberry’s new travel site, Voice Coaches Advanced Marketing Expo and Conference in Schenectady, Contest at Voice-overs.com forum, Pat Fraley interviewing Phil Crowley in The Biz, and how to get on the Voices.com home page for free.

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    Narration, Pat Fraley, Phil Crowley, Rodney Saulsberry, Voice Coaches Marketing Expo, Voice Conference

    Transcript of Vox Talk #55

    Female: Episode 55
    Male: You’re listening To VOX Talk, the voice over industry’s number one podcast brought to you by Voices.com. It’s about voice acting, growing your business, and sharing your knowledge. VOX Talk is a show that you can be a part of. Getting involved is both fun and rewarding. It’s time for this week’s episode of VOX Talk with your host, Stephanie Ciccarelli.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: Hi there! Welcome to VOX Talk. Today, I have Pat Fraley with Phil Crowley joining me on the podcast. Ready to get going?
    Male: The Loop, informing you of news and current voice over events.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: In our top story, celebrity voice actor and author Rodney Saulsberry has opened up a new travel website called Rodtalks Travel. The site can be used to book travel plans for business and leisure. If you fly quite a bit or looking to attend a conference or workshop sometime soon, you may want to check out Rodney’s new site. Go to ytbtravel.com/rodtalkstravel.
    In voice over news, Voice Coaches is hosting their second annual Advanced Marketing Expo and Conference in Schenectady, New York on Saturday, May 3, 2008. It’s a full day of industry speakers, networking opportunites and some delicious food. The founders of Voices.com will also be there with coverage provided of the event on the VOX Daily blog and Voice Over Times.
    To learn more about who will be speaking and the topics to be presented, visit voicecoaches.com/marketing.
    To bring the news to a close, there is a contest going on at the voice-overs.com forum where you could win a dandy of a prize that includes some housekeeping for your business by Kristine Oller, a professional organizer and career strategist. Kristine has a soft spot for performing artists and is giving a away a 2-hour career strategy session. The deadline to enter is April 19th and the session must be held before April 24, 2008.
    To learn more about the contest, go to voice-overs.com/forum.
    Male: The Biz, helping you grow your voice over business.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: Today in the Biz, I’m pleased to present Pat Fraley interviewing Phil Crowley, the poster boy for long-form narration, sharing his performance process.
    Pat Fraley: Hi, this is Pat Fraley and I’m here in Studio City with my friend and former student, Phil Crowley who is the poster boy for the most sought after long-form narration jobs in the industry.
    Phil, are we recording now?
    Phil Crowley: First of all, I didn’t know that I was a poster boy. I don’t know. I got a chance to do, I guess it was an E! True Hollywood Story, that was kind of a cool thing that happened. I did one episode of E! True Hollywood Story and then I did a second one and the producer liked what I did and we got along really well and I guess I was nailing it and he sent an e-mail to all the producers at E! True Hollywood Story I think that like 17 different production teams.
    So, they all got this e-mail from this one guy who said, “Hey, you got to try this guy.” So, then I got a bunch of other calls and then I was doing a lot of episodes of E! True Hollywood Story and I don’t know how many I’ve done, about a 150, I think.
    Now, they got somebody new so I go back and do fixes and stuff.
    Pat Fraley: What kind of jobs do you do?
    Phil Crowley: I do – right now, I’m doing a series called Ancient Discoveries for the History Channel and another show which is really cool, Dog Fights on the History Channel. It’s all about airplane battles from World War II and even World War I and Korean War, Vietnam War, and other but it’s the one show that I like to watch.
    The other shows that I narrate, I don’t – yes, okay. I know. I don’t even watch it now but that one is just cool. I just love that show.
    Pat Fraley: What’s your process, Phil?
    Phil Crowley: It has happened that they have sent me the script beforehand at my house. I don’t like that. I just like to read it cold. I feel like the spontaneous – and I feel confident to do that. So, I feel like reading it over beforehand is a little bit waste of time because I’m just going to do it again. And – but in the studio, like the one I did this morning, it was an Ancient Discoveries episode. I just read it.
    A paragraph at a time will take maybe one page. Let’s say this thing is like 30 pages long and we’ll take one page and read the whole page and if there’s anything wrong, we go back and do a retake on a paragraph or something like that. And oftentimes, because now I’ve got a pretty good relationship with most of the producers that I worked with, they’ll just let me go and I can direct myself.
    So, if I make a mistake or something like that, I just stop and start over again and they don’t even interrupt me.
    Pat Fraley: Sometimes, do you have sequences in the script that are timed that you have to hit?
    Phil Crowley: Yes, oftentimes. And oftentimes, there will be a time in the little margin if they haven’t printed out there, they’ll say, “Well, this is has to be done in 10 seconds or this has to be done in 15 seconds.”
    E! True Hollywood Stories are all timed. Many of them down to the fraction of a second.
    Pat Fraley: If you have a timed sequence, can you just pick up a sentence and take that slower or faster to adjust?
    Phil Crowley: For E! True Hollywood Stories, they like the whole sequence. If it’s a 30 seconds, this is really challenging. If the whole sequence is like a 30 seconds sequence, they want me to do it in 30 seconds and they don’t want me to do it in parts so that thye can pace it together and hope it will fit. They want me to do it in 30 seconds.
    So sometimes, I had to do – for E!, many times to get it the right time. However, I feel that my background as a musician has been very helpful in voice overs for a number of reasons but especially in the sense of tempo because I feel confident that I can squeeze something or stretch something to make it at the right time, whatever it is, whether it’s 10 seconds or 5 seconds up to 28, 29, and 30 seconds,
    I may not get it right on the first one but if I know what the target time is supposed to be, and then they tell me what my last take was, if they want a 25 seconds and I did it 20 seconds then I know I got to stretch it out.
    So, what I do is I just slow the tempo down and I turn the dial down on the metronom in my head and it’s not a stopwatch in my head. I don’t have a stopwatch in my head. I have metronom in my head because as I talk, I can sense the tempo that I’m talking at and I can also remember the tempo that I just did in the last take.
    So, if I need to stretch it, I know I’m going to slow down the tempo. I’m not thinking about, “Oh, am I got to count seconds here?” If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the read.
    Pat Fraley: Well then, if timing is not a difficulty for you and obviously reading is not a difficulty for you, what presents your greatest challenge?
    Phil Crowley: Technical words oftentimes come up, you know, pronounciations and stuff and you have to look ahead. It’s important as I’m reading to get the sense of the sentence to find the most important word or sets of words in a sentence that if those words are not emphasized or read in a certain way, then the sentence won’t make sense to the ear. It has to make sense to the listener’s ear in order for the content of the sentence to come across, to make sense.
    And oftentimes, I’ll read a sentence. I did it many times today in the session in which – and I’m reading along and I realized after I’ve gotten halfway through the sentence, that I’ve read it wrong already. So I just stop and just start over again. I got – okay when I get to this word, I got to – I have to say this with this emphasis otherwise, the whole is not going to make sense.
    Pat Fraley: Now, I know the line share of work you do, you’re without picture. And yet you’re supplying voice that will go with picture. How do you when the pictures changed when they put up a slide or a graphic and then you go into some footage here. How do you know that?
    Phil Crowley: Yes, when the picture has changed, sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s not and they’ll just mention it to me. I said, “Oh, yes, yes. I should have caught that.”
    Pat Fraley: So, that’s when you’re relying on direction.
    Phil Crowley: Or in Dog Fights for instance, in Dog Fights, it’s now become pretty obvious to me when the script changes because the prospective on the screen changes from the battle is over, intense stuff, and then there’s the technical stuff.
    When they stopped talking about so and so you know, “yank the stick back and no bank this left and run, just missing,” and so and so and it gets very intense, very macho kind of stuff and then it starts talking about the technical aspects of the plan. “The Master Smith such and such you know, has this many…” you know, its talking about the features of the plan you know. I know we’re not in the middle of the battle anymore.
    Pat Fraley: Now, you’re going into two different character voices but that nuance from going from action to more mental, they’re both you.
    Phil Crowley: Yes, that’s right.
    Pat Fraley: Do you have a sense of being an objective reporter when you do these things? Or having attitudes, opinions, and thinking and feeling as you do these things?
    Phil Crowley: In Dog Fights, it goes back and forth but for Ancient Discoveries, it’s – I’m pretty much detached. Dog Fights, they want me to be involved. They want – in the battle sequences because they want it really intense and play by play kind of thing. But then when we get into the technical aspects of the plane and sometimes the history of a particular battle and such and such then I become – I have to be more detached.
    Pat Fraley: Well, having taught you and listened to a great deal of your work, I find that your work is infused with an interest in what you do. Are you aware of that?
    Phil Crowley: I think maybe I’m aware of it subconsciously. The thing is, just about everything that I do, documentary wise, is interesting to me and if it’s not interesting then I have to find something in it that is interesting. In other words, I’m looking for the interesting part in it.
    Pat Fraley: Well, besides your obvious for formidable reading skills, performance skills, your music background, perhaps you find interest in all sorts of subjects as part of why you’re the poster boy?
    Phil Crowley: Well, the producers are interested in it. If I’m not interested in it, they’re not going to hire me. And I’m not feigning interest here, okay? First of all, people are important. And if this person over here is enthusiastic and interested in whatever it is he is creating here, this production thing, it’s his baby, right? And I come in there and says, “It’s just another job you know, okay, give me the copy. I’ll read it blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I’m the artist. Okay, fine. You got it right. I’m done.”
    First of all, I’m not helping him. He’d never going to hire me again. But I’m not doing it because I want to be hired again although I do but I’m doing it because he’s a human being. He’s interested in this. There’s got to be – there’s something interesting about this project, if I’m not already interested in it.
    I’ve gone down to lucky or no bowling, excuse me. Bowling and some kind of industrial stuff for them. They’re talking about satellites, a geosynchronous satellites you know, very technical stuff. And before I gone into even being in the union like 22 years ago, I was doing voice overs at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A lot of technical stuff and I learned of course a lot of stuff about the space program from JPL and everything.
    I didn’t understand a lot of it but I started to understand it and I knew that if this was going to be read or if this is going to be seen by people who were not technical, that they – they the audience, they want to be able to understand it. If I don’t understand it, I’m not going to be able to communicate it to them even if the words are on the page, you know.
    So it’s important for me to understand it. Once I understand it, I can say it in a manner that’s interesting, hopefully.
    Pat Fraley: Well, I have to make the observation that of all the people that I know and have taught, you find a lot of things interesting and I suspect this is systemic to your wonderful success at long-form narration. Now, finally, what teachers had a great influence on you?
    Phil Crowley: Yes, besides you?
    Pat Fraley: Oh, that’s fine. We don’t need to go on further. Thank you, Phil.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: Thanks, Pat. If you enjoyed Pat’s piece, you can find several free lessons at his website, PatFraley.com
    Male: VOX Box, sharing your audio feedback.
    Stephanie Ciccarelli: In the VOX Box today, I’m excited to let you know about a new opportunity to get your name on the Voices.com home page, free of charge! As many of you know, I am an absolute glutton for comments on the blogs and podcasts offered at Voices.com. It’s no secret that I love reading your comments and hearing about what you think of the articles and shows.
    As part of a new initiative, we’re selecting several comments each week to be featured on our home page, and the people who were quoted receive a link to their website. We update the featured comments twice a week.
    To learn more about how you can get your name on the home page for free, visit the VOX Talk show notes for this episode to grab the link to an article that explains what we’re looking for.
    Thanks for listening to VOX Talk. If you haven’t yet subscribe, you can do so for free in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory. I’d love to hear from you and you’re welcome to send in any and all feedback to my e-mail address, Stephanie@Voices.com.
    Thanks for staying subscribed and we’ll see you next week.

    Links from today’s show:

    Rodney Saulsberry’s RodTalks Travel
    Voice Coaches Advanced Marketing Expo and Conference
    Contest at Voice-overs.com forum
    Stephanie Ciccarelli
    Pat Fraley


    1. Pat Fraley’s interview with Phil Crowley on his techniques for doing the long form documentary work was excellent information for both the aspiring voice actor, as well as the seasoned pro!
      Get to know that metronome in your head. Learn to hear the meaning of the words as they come out of your mouth. Be interested in everything! And spend time reading lots of long scripts to see if you are cut out to do long form material. Spend time studying the way programs are constructed, so that you start to see why a piece is edited the way it is – how it relates to the words.
      Not everyone can wrap their brain around complex technical material. But the more you understand what it going on and what makes it different from a :30 or :60 commercial, the better results you will have.
      My years as a corporate video writer and producer showed this to me more than once – and has helped me now that I am focusing on voiceover work. I am inspired to watch more documentaries now – time to brush up!

    2. Hi Stephanie,
      thanks for great episode of Vox Talk. The Pat Fraley interview of Phil Crowley was very insightful. I know that I will be spending more time watching the History Channel (or “History” as it is now referred) to listen to the narration tracks. Maybe I’ll even learn something about history too! I’m looking forward to the next show.
      Be well Stephanie!

    3. I just listened to the Pat Fraley interview with Phil Crowley, and it was wonderful! The information and particularly his descriptions of the process were so concise and insightful. I can certainly relate to the metronome in the head – although I’d never thought to express it that way! I do feel a musical background and talent definitely affect one’s read. That’s one of the reasons, when recording commercials in larger studios or even via ISDN with them, it’s such a treat to have them feed the music for the spot into my headphones while I read. Not only does it help me with the timing of the spot in general, or to “hit” a specific time in the music with a specific word or phrase, it just puts me in the overall mood of the read so easily.
      Having done a great deal of long form narration myself, although certainly not of the stature of his work, I found his comments just rang so true to me. Being genuinely immersed and interested in what you’re reading makes a world of difference in your delivery.
      Thanks for this great podcast!


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