Citizen Warrior

My son Kelsen is in the middle of basic training as an Army reservist.  I was proud to be a part of this video for this great organizition. 

Muppets Sneak Peek!

The Muppets opens today!


Here is a sneak peek at this fun new feature.  OK, if you've seen the movie, it won't be a sneak peek, but for the rest of you!


You can hear me narrate the open...



The Future

When  Apple finally released the iPhone 4s, I wasn't planning on getting it.  I mean, it was barely an upgrade right?  A little better camera, full HD, a faster processor and that whole "Siri" thing.  Well, I happened to glance at my AT&T account and saw that I had two upgrades coming.  Hmmm.  Then it occurred to me that I could sell my old phones for about what I could get for the new phones.


Welp, that settled that.  The Saturday morning after the phones were released, I was standing in line at the Simi Valley Apple Store to get my wife and I new phones - just the $199 16GB versions of course.  But... minor problem, they only had one16GB phone left.  O darn.  I had to get myself the 32GB version (ya, ya, I should have given that one to my wife - except that she wouldn't know what to do with that much space.)


So, whats the verdict?  It is a tad faster, tho not hugely.  I haven't noticed a big difference with the camera, but I haven't done side by side comparisons or anything.  But is there anything that I, a professed Apple Fan Boy, who's owned an iPhone since the day it was released just LOVES?


Yes.


Siri.  She rocks.  OK, she can't understand what I'm saying some of the time, and couldn't connect to the network at times that first week.  But dude, do you have any idea how cool it is to be able to send LOOOONG texts to my brothers, just to be obnoxious, WHILE DRIVING?  I do it ALL the time.  Sure, it looks like someone from Tajikistan listened to me talking into my phone at 80 MPH and tried to guess what I was saying, and typed it, but hey, the gist is generally right.  I don't just use it for silly stuff either, I actually communicate with friends and family, without having to actually - heaven forbid - call them.


The day after I got my 4s, I even dictated a letter to my son (who is in Mexico on a mission), one paragraph at a time, using Evernote.


What about my voiceover business?  Baby.  I use it nearly daily to set reminders for myself:  "Remind me at 8 a.m. to revise that narration for Coca Cola" or "When I get home, remind me to record the voice over for Kodak".   It is a simple to do list, but for me, it works. With IOS5, its a simple matter to swipe your finger down and see what's on your plate for the day.


The beauty is that Siri is an AI: she'll get smarter, better, faster and be able to do more.  It may be a bit of a novelty now, and that will wear off.  But it IS practical and useable for me and my voiceover business, and I anticipate I'll be using it more and more in the future.


Siri IS the future. Embrace her.  I have.



I took my 4s with me Mnt Biking in St. George - She helped me keep tabs on my VO biz, while documenting our fun:




www.trevorjonesvo.com
www.youtube.com/trevorjonesvo
www.twitter.com/trevorjonesvo

Balance.

My wife Leila and I just celebrated 15 years of marriage, and escaped to Ventura for the weekend.  Right now I'm looking out a huge bay window at a sea of sailboats in the harbor.  It's been beautiful, peaceful and relaxing.

However, we have a couple hours of down time this morning, just hanging out in the hotel, and I'm having a hard time not thinking about my voice over business.  I'm thinking "wow, I have a couple hours where nothing is competing for my attention, what's the best use of my time?"

During the week, I'm going pretty much non-stop.  I almost never watch TV.  In fact, the TiVo broke, and it made me giddy.  I have zero desire to replace it.   I'll break out the X-Box for a brief stint once in awhile, but I find that horribly unfulfilling.  It's almost always gym, work, family or church. Oh, ya, and my dog Jonesie.  I feel one of those pulling at me all the time - and I do enjoy all of them - but I have a hard time stopping completely.

The question is, should I?  I think so.  I think I should take a break, relax, chill out - but I just don't seem to be able to.  I wouldn't even know what to do.  Even as I type this, I have a business book sitting next to me - the only book I brought with me.  Some of the other tabs I have open are for voice over work, invoicing and VO marketing ideas.

I don't know.  Maybe it's OK to always be on the go.  I can rest when I'm dead.




Choose a Color!

When I first started out in voice over, I was under the very erroneous impression that I always had to sound "professional" and, you know, sort of flat.  So I'd do a read for my coach, Nancy Wolfson, thinking I sounded amazing, and she'd basically yell at me:  "Trevor!  Choose a color!  You need to choose a color - and you're clear, no color at all!"


I got it.  I still hear her during my reads.


I've been reading Teri Apple's book, Voiceovers: Everything You Need to Know About How to Make Money With Your Voice, and she says the same thing:  Choose an emotion.


When you're reading a script, don't just read,  feel what you're saying.  Read it first a few times, decide on an emotion and go with it.  Don't worry about every little word - if you're feeling it - and just saying it naturally, you won't have to think about it.


Try it.


Trevor Jones Voice Over

Purple Cow

My wife has been pushing Seth Godin on me for awhile.  I finally caved and started watching his YouTube videos.  Really good stuff.  I wanted more.  So I purchased his audio book, Purple Cow. Audio book you say?  Heck yes!  I LOVE audio books.  I read while I run.  I read while I drive.  I read myself to sleep.  But that's off topic.


In the dark ages before the interwebs, marketing went like this:  Huge companies spent millions of dollars on national TV campaigns, sold a ton of product, and reinvested the money in, yep, more TV time.  They forced ads down our throats, we watched, and bought.  This worked fabulously.  Then.  But this was before TiVo, Hulu, Netfix and an epidemic of ADD.  


Now, if we don't want to watch an ad, we don't, so more effective marketing has evolved.  Certainly, some companies have not evolved and they're still using the 1970 model.  It doesn't work anymore.


Now, you've got to do things differently.  You've got to target your marketing - get your product or service in front of people who WANT to see it.  That's the genius of a Google search - you type "widget", and you see ads for just what you're looking for.


The main point of the book however, is that marketing should start with the creation of the product.  You need to create a product that will market itself.  You can no longer create something, and then think, "hmm, how will I market this?"  The product or service has to be the marketing.  And how will it do that?  It must be a purple cow.  It's gotta stand out.  Be different.  Make people take notice.


If your product IS the purple cow, you'll have the early adapters (sneezers) gobble it up.  It will be so cool, that they'll "sneeze" it out into the world, and then the rest of the world will start to adopt it.


So here's the question:  How are you going to make YOUR voice over business, your widget or other product stand out?


Check out Seth's book and get the full scoop.


Your Brand - Take 63 Episode 2

In this episode, I show you how the look and feel of my brand has evolved and give you a few tips that may help you with your marketing and web presence.

 

http://www.trevorjonesvo.com

My New Video Series! Take 63 - Breaking Into Voice Over

I love voice over.  I love doing auditions, being chosen, and recording the finished audio.  I love some other stuff too, so I thought I'd put together a video series where I talk about voiceover, and, well, "other stuff" - which leaves me open to talk about whatever I'm excited about at the moment.


Here's episode 1:


http://www.trevorjonesvo.com

Portable Studio

Last weekend my son Kelsen got married in Utah.  Not wanting to miss any voice over opportunities, I packed up my, um, "portable" studio and brought it with us on the 11 hour journey. 

My "portable" studio consists of a MacPro with over 5 TB or hard drives, a 24" LCD monitor, an Audio Technica 4040 mic,  an M-Audio FireWire Solo, a desktop mic stand, keyboard, mouse, and various and sundry cables.  Probably 50+ pounds of gear.

So how did it work out?  Well, there were auditions I could have done, but nothing earth shatteringly important.  And, I, like, didn't even set up my computer...   I was busy watching my son get married and jammin on the Flo Rider for his "bachelor party".

So what's my current take on voiceover on vacation?  If you have a job you must read, of course take your gear.  If you vacation a lot, you should probably get a truly portable studio - a laptop and a good USB mic - you know, something you can take on a plane.

I probably will get a lap top within the next year, but no huge need now.  I'm also excited about  creating finish quality audio using your iPad or iPhone.  I think its possible now.  I mentioned a couple iPhone apps in a prior post.  Sure, you won't have the amount of control you have using ProTools, but I'm confident you can create clean audio on your iPhone now.  Before I get a laptop, I think I'll try a mic for my iPhone...

And this is what I was doing when I could have been doing auditions.  I look like an idiot.





http://www.trevorjonesvo.com

Audio Books

Karen Commins wrote a great article about how to get audio book work - and pointed us to a pretty amazing new website:








Check out Karen Commins Blog for the full scoop.








Happy Friday from Trevor!

Top 10 Most Popular Voice Over Mics

The first question any aspiring voiceover artist might ask is "Which mic should I get?"

As a tech nerd myself, I know when I decided to get into voice over, I was pretty excited at the prospect of a trip to Guitar Center.  But which mic?  There are SOOO many really good options. There's one thing most voice over professionals will likely agree on:  Get a large diaphragm condenser mic with a cardioid pattern for your primary voice over mic.  Yes, there are a few exceptions, but a condenser mic is what you want.

As soon as you start digging around online, you'll find that some of the standards the pro's use are:

Neumann 103

Sennheiser MKH-416  (An exception!  This is a shotgun mic.)

Neumann U-87

You might think:  "I'll just get one of those!  Ben Patrick Johnson uses the Sennheiser, and if I do, I'll sound just like him!"

Well, maybe, but not likely.

There are several things you need to consider when buying a new mic.

USE

First of all, what are you using it for?  If it's just for general auditions from your home studio, and you never plan on submitting finished audio with it, a less expensive mic might do just fine. What about for that real "conversational" sound that pretty much every commercial audition is asking for these days?  How about narration?  If someone has to listen to your voice for an 8 hour audio book, which mic will make that the most pleasant experience?  Would that be the same mic you'd use for, say, a trailer for a horror movie?  There are mics with properties that make them more suited for different uses. 

However, the reality is, if you're just starting out, you'll likely just get one mic to do everything for you.  Down the road, you might get another mic or two for different kinds of jobs.


COST

This will be the limiting factor initially for most of us - how much mic can you afford at this stage of your voice over career? If you're just starting out, other equipment costs may include a D/A converter, a mic pre amp, recording software, and possibly a computer upgrade - so a mic isn't the only thing you need to think about.

Here's the good news: a really GREAT sounding mic is not that expensive.  Here at my day job as an editor, we finish audio every week for national TV spots and theaters with narration recorded on a Marshall MXL V69.  In fact, here's a spot I finished on that very mic - I just read the open, you can skip the rest: 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Sneak Peek

You can get one for like $300, complete with shock mount, power supply and even a boom stand.  Now I don't love this mic - a lot of the stuff we do here is at high volume levels, and this mic doesn't hold up well for that.  But speaking at conversational levels, it sounds fantastic.

More good news:  A $3000 Neumann U-87 isn't going to sound 10 times better than a quality $300 mic, like the Audio Technica AT 4040 I have in my home studio. Once you have a mic at a certain level, it takes a lot of money to make a small difference.  Don't believe me?  I came across a mic shoot out of sorts done about 5 years ago.  Not exactly a perfect scientific test, but 18 mics, priced from $79 to $2,600 are compared.  You can listen to the mics blind - and try to figure out which ones are the pricier ones:

The Transom Mic Shootout: Blindfold Test

I'm sure some ├╝ber sound geek can tell you which mic is which just by listening - but I'm no audiophile, and I sure couldn't.  I was able to identify a couple of the low end dynamic mics as sounding not so great, and some mics as better than others.  However, I couldn't blindly pic out the most expensive mic of the lot, the Neumann U87, as sounding the "best".  The other mics I preferred weren't necessarily the most costly either.  One I really liked the sound of was the Shure KSM44 - about $700.  You try the test and see if you can pick out the, um, "better" mics.

YOU

The biggest factor by far is YOU.  What mic do you sound good on?  Your voice is different than everyone else's on earth.  Sure, more expensive is generally better, but you may not sound your best on the most expensive mic.  You need to find the mic that fits your voice.

How do you do that?  First, identify some of the mics you'd like to try.  I'll give you a list of some of the Top Ten Most Popular Voice Over Mics at the end of this article for starters.  You can do some research online. 

Once you've got a list of several mics, and a couple scripts, do what I did:  Head on over to Guitar Center, or some place like it, and try the mics out.  Hopefully, they'll give you a quiet room and headphones, but don't hold your breath.  I stood at a noisy counter with a mic pre and headphones, and had the sales guy bring me mics to try.  For my first mic,  I ended up with the Sterling Audio ST55, a Guitar Center knock off of a Groove Tubes mic.  The mic was OK, but I later found that my voice didn't really cut well with it - the highs didn't seem high enough.  That all ended when I knocked my mic stand over.

Fun fact:  Condenser mics aren't durable.  Don't knock yours over unless you need to come up with an excuse to justify to your wife that you need a new toy, er, mic.

For round two, I didn't really follow my own advice.  I DID do a bunch of research online, and found a mic with very favorable reviews in my price range, but I didn't try it out first.  I just ordered it online.  Luckily, it works pretty well with my voice.  I love my AT4040.

Finally, an amazing mic isn't going to cure cancer. It won't fix lack of training, mouth noise, the neighbors dog barking or your kids flushing Barbie dolls down the toilet in the background.  All of THAT, is a topic for another post.

So what's my next toy, er, mic?  Well, I'll have to run over to guitar center to try em out, but my next mic is likely to be either the  Sennheiser MKH-416 - reportedly great for promos/commercials/trailers  or the  Neumann TLM-103 - one of the quietest mics out there.  But first, I'm looking into building a VO booth...  I'll let you know how that goes.

Now here are some of the Top Ten Most Popular Voice Over Mics I've found, priced from low to high. Remember, this is a starting place. Find the mic that fits your use, your budget and your voice.

Top Ten Most Popular Voice Over Mics

$99   Audio-Technica AT2020 USB

$229 Rode NT1-A

$285  MXL USB 009  

$301  AT 4040 (Audio Technica)

$529  Rode NTK

$699  Neumann TLM-102 

$999  AKG C 414XLII  

$1099  Neumann TLM-103 

$1199  Sennheiser MKH-416 

$3199  Neumann U-87AI 

You can buy all of these mics here the the Trev's Top Pics Store.

To hear and see more examples of my work, check out my website:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I was fortunate enough to be able to narrate the open for three spots that aired on Disney Channel, including this sneak peek at a scene from the movie.  Piratesfans won't be disappointed!


Staying in Shape While Sitting on Your Butt

As a voice over artist and editor, I sit on my back side.  A lot.  I go home, and after spending some time with the fam, I jump back on the computer and do voice over work.   It would be easy to never leave my desk, and never see the sun.  I've got two kitchens within 15 seconds of my edit bay by day, and of course another one at home. Now that I'm slightly over 40... ok, closer to 50, it wouldn't take much for me to turn into a gelatinous mass of goo.

But I don't want to turn into a whale, feel lethargic, and die of diabetes shortly after they cut my feet off.  So I had to find a way to stay in shape, something to motivate me.

Unfortunately, for me, I'm kind of an extremist.  Running or working out to "stay in shape" doesn't motivate me - at all. I had to find something extreme-ish to make it fun. So, in the past, I've run a bunch of 5k's and 3 marathons. Marathons are fun. If you haven't tried one, perhaps you should. They really make you appreciate the little things in life - like sitting.

I actually like the gym, and for a while my goal was to get massive and strong.  I got sorta strong - was finally able to bench 325 - but in the process, I got fat.  And hurt my shoulder.  So I decided to go the other way - get as lean as possible for a fragile old man.  I started in November, 2010.  I had been going to the gym 4-5 days per week. But I began going 6 days per week, and doing both cardio and weights every time.

In the beginning of February, when I was in the middle of my new plan, I came across a tranformation contest at bodybuilding.com - so I signed up for that for extra motivation.  I became even more dedicated with my diet.  I'd spend about 1.5 hours per day, 6 days per week in the gym.  And for me, it was fun, motivating, invigorating.  My energy level went up.  After a pretty traumatic 2010, my happiness also went up.  I was excited about life again.

Now that I've finished the contest and have seen the progress I've made, I want to keep going. So for me, this works.  Being in shape effects every area of your life positively.  Life just matters more.

My plan WON'T work for most people - its too much.  Most people find the gym boring. Hey, I'd rather do motocross every day, but that's just not practical in the Los Angeles area.

My advice to YOU, voice over guys, editors, and other butt sitters, is to find what you LIKE to do - walk, run, bike, racquet ball, soccer, tennis, gym, WHATEVER it is that you can do forever, and start doing that, at least 3x per week.  DON'T start some program that you hate, and that you'll quit as soon as the 3 month program is up.  And holy cow dude, put down the bloody Big Mac and bring something healthy from home.

Incidentally, to "reward" myself today, I ate what I wanted:  4 tacos at El Pollo loco, an entire box of Reeces Pieces, and nearly a full bag of mana from heaven, AKA Mint Milanos.  I wanted to throw up after each one of those binges today.

I'm looking forward to getting back on the wagon tomorrow.  A side benefit of eating healthy 95% of the time is that you REALLY appreciate food.  My treat?  A bananan, with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, sprinkled with chocolate protein powder.  Oh baby.



African Cats TV Spot

If you get the chance, go see African Cats.  Beautifully shot film.  Here's a spot for which I narrated the intro and out.

Final Cut Pro X

Oh baby.  Yesterday, Apple debuted Final Cut Pro X - the first complete revamp since the app was released in 2011.  In addition to voiceover, I'm also an editor, and I'm on Final Cut Pro all day every day.  I even clean up most of my auditions in Final Cut, because I'm faster with it than I am with Sound Track Pro and Pro Tools, the two audio apps I use.

Here's what it looks like:


I'll skip the fluff and get to the highlights:



•  Runs in 64 bit and can use all of your RAM and all of your cores.  Holy cow.

•  New interface!  I've been SOOOO bored of the old one.

•  Improved media management.

•  Background rendering!  Supposedly, you can keep working while its rendering and the system won't slow down.

•  Auditioning - try out an edit without messing up your timeline.

•  Mix and match formats.  Baby.

•  Image stabilization, media detection, people detection and shot detection on ingest. Sounds iMovie-ish - but if it works, people detection could be huge!  It takes me two days to do a full break down of a movie (ie, find and label every time Jack Sparrow appears in a shot in Pirates 4).

•  Add keywords to clips instead of subclipping to organize.

•  Keep working while importing!

•  Auto color correction and color matching.

•  Magnetic Timeline - audio/video stays in sync.

•  Automatic audio clean up.  I have my doubts... but anxious to try it.

• Inline precision editing - you can see handles.

•  Auto syncing waveforms.

•  Localized adjustments - choose one thing to tweak in a shot.

•  $299!  Holy crap that's inexpensive.

I will likely buy it the day it comes out.  I'm giddy as a school girl.

Getting Into Voiceover?

This might be a place to start:  Terri Apple, one of the top female voice talents in the industry released another book last month and from what I've seen, it looks great. After I read it, I'll give you a review.


Voiceovers: Everything You Need to Know About How to Make Money With Your Voice






60 Milliseconds of Face Time

A few years ago, I appeared on national TV for a fraction of a second.  Can you spot me?

This commercial makes it clear why my face was never again seen on the public airwaves...

Trevor on TV

Exciting Blogger Updates!

Maybe its because I'm a tech nerd, but I got all giddy n such when I saw some fresh blogger news.

Dynamic Views! 

This lets your readers see your site in 5 NEW different views.  Here is the "Snapshot" view:


How do you do it?  Just add  "/view" to the end of the blog URL - Try it out!

http://www.trevorjonesvo.blogspot.com/view

The requirements are these:

1.  It must be a public blog.
2.  Feeds must be fully enabled (Settings/Site feed tab)
3.  You haven't disabled dynamic views in settings - its on by default.

I've found that you want to use Firefox if you're on a mac - was pretty glitchy in Safari.

Here's a link for more info:

http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1227173

Trevor