Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

...Just wanna thank my Canadian friends for not flogging me publicly for my 2 days late 'Boxing Day' greeting...
...Karen Kahler is ready for her VO closeup, Mr. for samples and resume!...
...Happy Boxing Day to my Canadian cohorts and constituents--May the 'boxes' be filled with blessings...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

...Fear not--I bring you good news of great joy...Glory to God--and on earth peace to men...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

,,,(cue music) It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas--EEEEVerywhere you go...

Monday, December 21, 2009

...truckin' today...back in 'The Hole''s good to be flexible!--

Saturday, December 19, 2009

...out of 'The Hole' and into the frying pan! I'm HONGRY!!...(we've long since passed 'hungry')...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

...recurring (hic) hiccups (hic) have chased (hic) me from(hic) 'The H(hic)ole'...only temporari(hic)ly...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

...the rain is relentless--and 'The Hole' beckons with the promise of creative solace from the ugly elements...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The 'Vipo' Experience--The Big Payback (w/apologies to the late Godfather of Soul)

In this Final installment of the 'Flying Dog' series, I want to try to describe not only the joy of being a part of such an epic 'toon, but also create a sense of wealth beyond the paycheck. There are so many seeds that were planted into me professionally via observation and participation, and so many fantastic lessons learned and--most importantly--good relationships established.
I have come away from this voice over adventure wiser, stronger, happier. Now granted... the 125-page quarterly sales statistical, toungue twisting voice over job may not leave you feeling all warm and gooey, but there IS a reward for any well done, completed work, especially the tough stuff!
The Big Payback in my case with this particular job was the many positive and educational situations that I was in. Director Joie Albrecht had the idea to have a group session where all of the villians interacted and performed in one scene. What fun we had and what a great moment for improv and chemistry.
Having a chance to work along side seasoned voice over professionals is ALWAYS a good thing and there are many attached to this project! John Mariano (whose award-winning credits include "The Animaniacs", "Hey, Arnold", "The Tick}( kept us all in stitches as he would magically transform himself into Robert DiNero right before our eyes, Annie V. Ramsey(yes...Annie was there!), the multi-talented and very funny Jock Ellis, my good friend (and "Improv King") Joe Thomas, Matilda Novak (a wonderful encourager), Jeff Scott of Mayday Productions and a plethora of punctual, powerful performers!
Many of these folks keep in touch with me on a regular basis--helping me grow as an artist AND a person. And yes...there IS a picture of my character-regal and evil all at once. A great job done by the illustrators/animators. Imagination rules!!

So don't just sit there...go to and get acquainted with the Flying Dog and all his friends...and enemies!
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Next: "Into 'The Hole'"

Friday, October 16, 2009

The 'Vipo' Experience--So You Thought Voicing Was Easy !?

One thing that always makes me chuckle is when people talk about how "easy" voice acting is. "How tough can it be", they ask. "You stand in front of a microphone, read a few paragraphs at best-get paid and go home. Easy!"
I'd liken voice acting to playing professional baseball--the very best ball players are effective only 3 times out of 10 and that stretches over a six-month period. A lot of training, sacrifice, repetitive workouts-not to mention the psychological aspect-goes in to achieve what a lot of people in other arenas might call mediocre results!
Voice acting is much the same with huge personal investment (both financial and temporal), training, vocal workouts, coaching and development...and you can STILL be turned away for not having the 'right' sound! And when you DO get hired, you have to be consistent, strong in your presentation, not prone to slumps.
On this particular team the 'manager' is Joie Albrecht--owner/producer/director of The Creation Factory, International...a voice casting director with over 20 years of experience and writing and production roots that stretch from Carole King to Disney! Her job was to manage over 50 different voice over characters in 26 episodes--on time and on budget, of course.
One of the many things that Joie is really good at is getting the very best character performance out of each actor she worked with. Her understanding of the way each should be presented and their relationship with each other was key to the cohesiveness of such a huge 'cartoon'. And when it came to the 'Summer King', his performance really had to be larger than life since he was the meanest and most manic of all the villains in the story.
I realized I was in real trouble when I delivered my first line in my most snaky evilness and Joie simply looked at me and said "I don't believe you...I'm not scared"! The rest of the session was a high wire act with no net. Joie pushed and encouraged and milked each line for its fullest effect--milking the actors along with the script! What I thought was going to be a fun-filled stroll in the park was just that--except the park was 'Jurassic' and Joie Albrecht was lizard-wranglin' my character into submission.
90 thrill packed minutes later Joie pronounced herself "very happy" with the results of my session--while I was left to seek oxygen and smelling salts...What a workout!! But as Dave Letterman would say,"It's a GOOD kind of tired..."

Next: The Big Payback...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The 'Vipo' Experience: You Are Cast!

In the hilarious movie spoof "Tropic Thunder", one of the characters (a 5-time Oscar winning Australian who portrays an African-American) gives a strange, but spot on lecture about character research and development. He goes on and on using references to other movies and actors to bear himself out. Beyond this character-in-a-character performance, the point is well made that research is the backbone of any performance. You absolutely have to know something about your character, your co-characters and even the project as a whole. It just simply makes for a more well-rounded, 'informed' portrayal. Improv and imagination also come heavily into play when you are "creating" a character from it's inception.
In my case, I had to learn to think and then 'speak' like a half-man, half-iguana who was a mean, sneaky classic villian.
Now, I already know how mean and villainous some people could be, but I knew absolutely NOTHING about iguanas and so...a google or two later I find out that not only is my character sneaky and hot-tempered (his people skills) but he is also aggressive and territorial--an exfoliating ne'er-do-well who does double duty as a thief AND a king. HOOO-BOY!
I now have a great, well-rounded description of Loverboy but picture. No artist rendering, no stick figure sketch, nada. Remember earlier when I said imagination would come into play? After having seen more than my share of 'gill-men' and other cinematic horrors over the years, a visual image wasn't too hard to mentally construct. That wasn't my gig, anyway. What would he SOUND like? He had to be: articulate yet evil, emperious yet sneaky, regal and possesive yet mad and territorial all at once!
Even though I had one primary voice that came to mind I'd already learned from a Pat Fraley podcast that 2 different reads on the same character provide producer/directors with a choice...and a different view. I did just that! I wrote a 30 second monologue (he IS a villian!) incorporating all of his better qualities and social mores--in two distinctly different voices.
With prayer and baited breath I sent the audition to the casting director. She e-mailed me back with some "More of this and less of that" suggestions which were immediately incorporated into the second take amd resubmitted.
In late November 2008, I received this e-mail..."Dear Herb, Congratulations! You have been cast as the Iguana Summer King..."

Next: So You Thought Voicing Was Easy...?

Friday, September 18, 2009

The 'Vipo' Experience or Hey, Mom...I'm A Cartoon Character!

Hey, all you ProTalkers...

The next few blogs will center around my wondrous, "Gee Whiz" experience with the "Vipo, The Flying Dog" series.

A little background...The 'Vipo' series is an animation and marketing phenomenom that is just reaching American television. Based on the adventures of a dog whose ears enable him to fly, "Vipo"--pronounced Vee-po (and his many friends) is now in over 30 countries around the world including Indonesia, Israel, Turkey, Brazil and now the U.S.

The animation is high quality 3-D and very easy on young eyes. Episodes from the first season of "Vipo" can be seen on YouTube!

Of course, early on I didn't know ANY of those facts about the production. When I responded to the audition lead that came through my e-mail I was just answering what I thought would be a good job and a great opportunity--maybe even the fulfillment of a dream. Somewhere in your life there has to be room for dreams. Without dreams, we aspire to nothing. Dreams and aspirations shape our future--and sometimes the future of others!

I received an e-mail in return from Elizabeth that stated..."we do have one role we are still is the Summer King who is half man/half iguana..."


She goes on to describe the characters most endearing traits (sneaky, hot-tempered, classic villian) and since there is no script--"you will have to improv the audition".

HOOO-HAAA! Let the games begin...

God Bless & Happy Voicing!

Next: "You Are Cast"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

He's Baaa-aaack!

Hello, all you happy people (done in my best 'Droopy' drawl)!
Sorry about that looong pause between entries. I'd like to say that the reason for the delay is because of an excessive work load of voice over projects and production commitments that are worth thousands of dollars in revenue...but,alas, not this time.
Actually , there was some rewarding and exciting voice over related items that demanded some time (we'll be talking about those later), but there were also family issues that had to be addressed and work (day job) to be done.
That being said, look for new blogs in the near future dealing with new projects, new friends, new lessons learned and my new jeans!
Thank you to those who attempt to keep up with these rants on a regular basis...your patience will be rewarded soon with more useless trivia and personal ruminations in the coming week.

In the meantime--go hug somebody!

God Bless and Happy Voicing

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bring The Whole Bag! is important in voice acting. Even though we all work to establish our "brand" voice...there should be enough room for experimentation and discovery when considering any voice over career.

How many characters have you--or can you--voice? Only one? Not to worry! Experts like Pat Fraley have proven through technique and instruction that one character can become many when using 'The Critical Compound'...character voice+acting+accents.

Many of us have voices or characters that we can perform strongly and so are very comfortable with them. This can lead to two things--some branding and maybe a little stagnation! I've never met a serious musician who didn't PRACTICE! To get sound hit that riff that you coudn't hit last year. Maybe it's my Lon Chaney/Mel Blanc influenced early childhood, but I think the greatest compliment any voice actor can receive is..."Was that YOU?"

Lon Chaney, Sr. early in his career had to rely on his own self-taught makeup skills and even his athletic ability to create emotion and character without the benefit of dialogue.

Mel Blanc, on the other hand, gave life, voice and personality to rabbits, ducks, cats, dogs, birds, martians, malevolent mammals and other things that don't know dialogue from Dial soap!

Can you be a duck? Have you tried? Why a duck...why not a chicken?

Felix the Cat used to have a 'bag of tricks' that he would use to get him out of any tough scrape and he had everything--including the kitchen sink--in it and wasn't afraid to use it!

What's in YOUR bag of tricks? Here's how to expand the bag:

Improvisational skills are important. Joe Thomas, video game actor extraordinaire, suggests taking improv classes to stay fresh and flowing. Visit his site at http://joeactor .com for details and give a listen while you're there. Talk about versatile!!

Also, many of the original pioneers in animation lived well into their later years and I think this had a direct bearing and relationship to their sense of humor. The Bible calls laughter "Good medicine" and there is truth to that statement. To establish and (maybe) discover your sense of humor I have a brief exercise that anyone can try. Simply go to the nearest mirror and take a good look. See...? Isn't that the funniest thing you've ever seen? It ALWAYS works for me!!

God Bless...

Happy voicing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Something's Brewing!

A few days ago I woke up with a tremendous spirit of expectation. While I did my morning wake up routine, I just couldn't shake the feeling of positive anticipation--that something BIG is just around the corner! Was this 'hope' gone mad? Was this the delusional thinking of yet another cock-eyed optimist?
Rubbing my hands together like a hungry man staring at dinner, I began to share this 'hope' with my wife. "Honey I don't know...but I've got a feeling that something's brewing. And not just brewing, but it's as if it is being prepared or established. This is a good thing!"
I could scarcely get the words out of my mouth when the TV evangelist we were watching began to say, "Something good is about to happen. I challenge you to say it to your neighbors...say it to your family members. I dare a husband to say to his wife 'Something good is about to happen.'"
Well, after we picked each other up off the floor, we just started smiling and kept saying 'Somethings brewing...something good.'
In this crazy, wonderful business of ours where we seem to achieve equal parts of success AND failure we need to remind ourselves that something good IS about to happen. Persistence and hardwork WILL pay off.
In ancient history during times of great fear and danger, people would encourage themselves by remembering past victories and historic milestones. Even King David of Israel was forced by a stressful situation to publicly and openly encourage himself by declaring his relationship with God.
Yeah, the headlines are bad and the economy sucks and global warming is getting...uh...warmer. But I'm going to take this opportunity to tell all of you that something's brewing...something good!
Let's do our best to encourage each other as we travel together.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Greetings and Salutations!

This is our second attempt at finding a blog home (a 'blome'?) and I think we can finally unpack and stay for a while.
Welcome to Megaphone Musings...where you will probably get a little TOO much information concerning the world of voice overs, voice acting and all things related,
Yes...I am the little golden guy with the megaphone that you've seen all over the internet, and yes...this will be a forum for discussion, enlightenment and empowerment for all throatsingers and voiceslingers ( I just made those words up!)
Mostly it'll be me venting about one thing or another, or sharing some type of experience...and everyone else (including YOU) commenting, critiqueing or correcting as is needed.
So, we are starting this puppy up with two previously written blogs that have a lot to say and we'd all love to hear what you think.
In the words of that great St. Louis philosopher, Nellie "Don't be scurred"!

How To Be Heard Over Hatred

My Visit To "Toon Town"