Microsoft Office Online Suite in the Voice Over Studio

Everyone has their own personal email and office suite preferences, but I’d like to let you in on some of the great new things about the free Microsoft Office Online and why I’ve made it my email of choice in my voice over studio.

Microsoft Office Online
Tabs of Microsoft Office Online as seen from within Outlook.

First, let’s give some real-world working examples of how it has helped my workflow. Yesterday, a repeat voice over client from Brazil sent me a Skype message to inquire about doing his company’s on-hold messages. These messages show up on the right panel of my desktop Outlook email page, as do any Facebook messages. I wrote right back to him, while in Outlook. He sent me the link to the script, which I opened in Microsoft Word Online. When I finished the recording, I saved it to external drives and to my Microsoft OneDrive folder for that Brazilian client. OneDrive, like all the other Office Programs, appears as a tab from within Outlook. From OneDrive, (just like in Google Drive or Dropbox) I sent him a message to download the link. I can also generate links for sharing files on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Weibo! How much storage do I have on OneDrive? It comes withe 15G for free. But, if you sign up for Bing Rewards and do a few searches a day with it, in a few weeks you earn credit for a free 100G like I have. If you sign up for the full Microsoft Office 365 for $5 a month, you receive 1T of space.

I marked down the voice over job and information in the Calendar. Additionally, I could have also used Office Online to generate invoices from templates with Excel Online – or opened PowerPoint with with PowerPoint Online.

Outlook email has been greatly improved from its Hotmail days. The spam protection is amazing. I still get several spammy messages a day on GMail but one or two a week on Outlook. Your experience may vary, of course.  It has become easy now to upload a nice logo in your signature like in GMail. A really cool feature is that you can set aliases for your emails. So, while you might have “mary.williams.3@outlook.com” as your account, you can send and receive email as “voiceoverbymary@outlook” or any other neat handle. There is also a handy “Sweep” function, so you can go back and batch-delete all those annoying emails from V123 or other P2Ps that you have lingering in your inbox. On mobile, Outlook is a very clean Apple-like interface with a super “push” setting for constant updating, and it works like a charm with OneDrive online, even on my Andrioid phone!

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned how great OneNote is for organizing your To-Do lists, marketing projects, or voice over scripts.

Google products are great and I still enjoy using them – but if you’d like to try something different (or if you’re a rightfully exasperated Yahoo user) I highly recommend giving the free Microsoft Office Online a test drive in your studio – especially if you use Facebook or Skype a lot for communicating with your voice-over clients and colleagues.

J1 by JZ Microphones

JZ J1 Microphone : The New CAD E100s for Voice Over?

If you don’t want to spend around $1000 for a new TLM 103 or a MKH 416 microphone for voice over, one of your best bets is the CAD E100s. It’s well under $500, super-cardioid, and has the best self-noise rating in its class (3.7 dBA). Plus, it comes with a high-quality shock-mount included, unlike the others.

I was one of the first voice over talents to buy a CAD E100s and wrote about it back in 2012. I still love mine, and I look forward to many more successful years of using it. But I wanted to let you in on a little secret about another microphone: the JZ J1 by JZ Microphones. JZ Who? JZ Microphones, named after their founder Juris Zarins, who still handcrafts his mics (including the J1) in his factory in Latvia. This is the same factory that made the original line of Blue Mics before Blue pulled out to work out of California and China.

How does the it compare to the CAD E100s?

1. The J1 is cardioid, not super-cardioid like the CAD. It does have a focused sound and a wide, open grille like the CAD.
2. The J1 self noise is 6 dBA, which is excellent. The CAD E100s has the best 3.7 dBA rating. However, the CAD has a lower output. They’re both going to sound super-clean.
3. Both have excellent shock mounts built into them.
4. The CAD E100s is $349. The J1 is $360.
5. From what I can tell from the samples, the J1 has a better top end to it than the CAD, and it has a bit of a brighter, open tone too. Check out the Sound on Sound review of it here, comparing it to the quality sound of a AT4050 (which is good company). Note that the J1, like a lot of JZ mics, is electrostatic. They are cheaper to make (the solid AT ’20’ line is electrostatic) – but they will wear out after about twenty years of use. You’re not going to be using the same mic for that long, are you? Your dog is going to knock over the mic stand sometime in the next decade, right? Or, you’re going to get Gear-itis and upgrade to one of JZ’s other top-notch mics.
6. The CAD comes in a lovely wooden box that’s too big for travel; but unlike the J1 it has a pad and a High Pass Filter which are handy for road use. The JZ comes in a cardboard box…but you could easily put it into a small pouch. In terms of style, the J1 wins – and would be  an especially nice look for a female voice over talent’s microphone with its good non-sibilant sound on the higher register. The J1 is retro and contemporary, just like all the JZ and related Violet Design microphones.

There are a lot of choices out there for voice over microphones, but if you want some high quality gear for under $500 with great specifications and made by a designer/manufacturer with a long history of building great microphones, check out the J1 by JZ Microphones.

 

International Voice Over Rates

American Voice Over for International Clients: What are Fair Rates?

As a mid-atlantic voice over talent for international American English media, I market my services to countries in every continent. Well, I haven’t had a reply from Antarctica yet; and so far I haven’t worked for African clients (but I am actively seeking clients in Nigeria and South Africa). My first clients outside of the United States were in Canada, Mexico, Germany, UK, and France. In the past five years I’ve expanded my client base to Russia and Eastern Europe as well as much of Pacific Asia. What have I learned from trying to set fair and flexible rates for my international clients as a non-union freelance voice over talent? You have to be fair and flexible, but still negotiate for the highest rates possible. Your clients might not have a very high cost of living, but American voice over talents from most cities do. I try to work with my clients’ budget but I let them know how my professionalism gives added value to their production. With all the excellent production houses, editors, and animators now located all over the world it’s vital to engage with content providers in emerging as well as established markets. As these markets and providers grow, their budgets will too, and I look forward to growing with them.

You Can’t Always Charge Your Home Market Rates

When American voice over talents bid for commercials, the rates for New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are much higher than if the advert was for St. Louis,  Tampa, or Portland. You simply can’t charge the same amount for a project intended for a smaller market. Dubai might have a lot of money, but there are fewer than 10 million people in the UAE. It’s unrealistic to ask a production house in Mumbai to pay the same rates of a New York agency. However, there is no excuse for production houses in India or elsewhere to expect Fiverr-like rates for voice over. My clients in India pay 2/3 to 4/5 of my US rates, and some pay the full rates. One translation company pays a flat .12 – .14 per word depending upon the project. However, if the company in India is doing a corporate film or commercial for a large global company, the end client always needs to be taken into account when adjusting the budgets. For example, this year I recorded for a producer in Lebanon that was doing a corporate video for a Lebanese company’s expansion into the United States. In their very first correspondence, they offered to pay my high-end corporate US rates. Some people just ‘get it’ when it comes to the value of a quality professional narration. In the following map, I chart out what I normally expect to charge my international voice over clients.

International Voice Over Rates
Lance Blair International Voice Over Rates by Country

Voice Over Markets in Europe Are Diverse

In the UK, commercial rates can be higher than in the US, but corporate rates are falling with the number of start-up production companies. I’ve seen a lot of British companies asking for rates more in line with Eastern or Mediterranean Europe, where the rates can go as low as 50% of my American rates. I get plenty of requests to work for much less than that, but there is no reason to do so. There is so much quality voice over work out there from quality producers who pay rates that reflect that quality. I’m always open to striking a deal if I believe the client has talent and an ability to attract high-end work in the future. And, if they are good communicators and frankly, good people, that counts a lot to me.

German, Austrian, and Swiss corporate rates can often be higher than in the US, while commercial rates are less. This can also apply to Scandinavian countries, Nederlands, and Belgium. The French market seems to be all over the map, so to speak, depending heavily on the location or city. Italian, Polish, and Portuguese rates fall into what I’d call a ‘second tier’ along with Latin American countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. But I love working with clients from these countries. Very engaging, enthusiastic, and they appreciate what I do as a partner in their workflow.

And then, there’s Russia. There is a lot of demand for video content that needs to be translated into English and read with an American, International English, or ‘Mid-Atlantic’ voice. Pay is usually in the second tier group, but on the high-end of it, and clients usually pay before recording starts, which is always appreciated. Further east, opportunities in China are diverse, and the prices for narration can reflect that. My voice overs for a large international financial firm in Shanghai is on par with my US and German clients; whereas for smaller emerging industrial concerns the rates will be more ‘second tier’. I tend to think of China like the United States market – a massive diverse market with a lot of money but having both Mega-Cities and smaller cities. I’m even one of the few American Voice Over talents on Weibo!

Whatever market you are in or for which you are creating videos, advertising, or marketing, I am flexible and sensitive to the economies and opportunities in countries around the world. Different markets are growing at different rates, but here’s to all of us growing and prospering together.

 

 

 

Quality Clients Never Settle for ‘Good Enough’ Voice Overs

Good, Fast, and Cheap: Pick any Two for your Voice Over.

It’s not always easy to hire quality voice over talent and meet the overall budget for your media production. I come from a video and media production background, so I understand the challenges producers and editors face. There are three main variables when hiring any non-union freelancer for productions: Good, Fast, and Cheap. You can only pick two and get quality results. If you don’t want quality results, that’s okay, you can always get an intern to record your voice overs. You’ll get minimal return on your minimal investment. If you’re seeking a quality voice over talent, these are your options:

  • Good and Fast: That would be me, and many of my talented colleagues. But we’re not cheap. We’re also not outrageously expensive. There is value in the investment. Also, I can be flexible, affordable and willing to accommodate with my rates when considering the market and scope of the project.
  • Good and Cheap: There are low-cost gems of talent to be found via the P2P online talent pools, but it could take you a week to go through enough auditions to find what you’re looking for. And even when you do, there’s no guarantee that the talent you’ve chosen is available or works efficiently.
  • Fast and Cheap: Just go to Fiverr and hire somebody there. It will take a minute, and it’s not hard to pick one out because they mostly all sound amateurish. There are a handful of talents available there that are good and are using quality equipment and have a fairly good sounding recording environment (most of them are terrible!). Even the best talents on Fiverr can not match the level of talent you can hire for decent non-union rates. Fact. None of the high-quality talent are on the bottom-barrel sites. If you’re looking for a female talent, or a voice over in a certain language, or a male talent with a niche voice, let me know and I’d be happy to refer you to one of my colleagues. Just remember that Lance sent you!
  • Fast and Good: This is another option when hiring me – you will get quality results quickly. There is added value for quality clients in that. A large number of the emails I receive from clients start with a a variant of “Wow! That was quick. Thank you!” I take pride in doing my work efficiently and at a high level of quality.

Hire the Best Freelance Talent in Every Discipline: Never Settle for ‘Good Enough’

This week I recorded a five minute voice over for a Brazilian client who is opening their American headquarters and needed a new American English narration for their updated corporate video. The owner of the company contacted me on Skype messaging, and we did the entire project that way. I could tell that by his professional website and the excellent Brazilian voice over on the original video that this company was a quality client who appreciated excellence at every level and wasn’t going to cut corners on cost to get results that are ‘good enough’. I was compensated at my American market rate.

There are countless videos on YouTube with voice over, and there is something common about all the ones that only have a handful of views. They all have mediocre voice overs. They’re ‘good enough’ at best, but not solidly ‘good’.  It’s a symptom being unwilling to strive for quality throughout the whole production. And usually, as is the case with non-quality clients, the video then isn’t optimized for SEO, or shared properly via social media. It’s just another lump of media spooned up as busywork. I suppose in that way it is an accurate reflection of the quality and culture of companies that don’t operate like quality clients do.

Are you a Quality Client seeking voice over talent? Quality clients hire the best animators, editors, and voice talent because they want look their best. They will know from their own business success, that quality service has a value, and is a worthwhile investment.

Using Voice Over for your PowerPoint Presentation

Add Professional Voice Over to Your PowerPoint Presentation

Why Should I Have a Voice Over for my PowerPoint Presentation?

To make a lasting impact with your PowerPoint Presentation, corporate or explainer video, you need a professional voice over narration that complements and reinforces your image and message. You can count on me as a partner for your media production needs from start to finish on any project of any scope.

Using a professional voice over enhances your communications and marketing. Giving you an engaging voice to carry the positive image of your brand. It’s not just another announcer, it’s an intelligent narrator that understands how to tell your story. And it all comes with a high quality sound that reflects the professionalism of your business.

This is a presentation I wrote, recorded, and created as an example of my work. You can also watch it as a video here:

 

How to Add Narration to Your PowerPoint Presentation

Working with me is easy, and the process is simple. Email or call me for a quote, then send me your script, and in 24 hours or less I’ll send you finished, edited audio slides, that are ready to use for your presentation, e-learning course, or video. As you can see and hear from this presentation I made, I can help with copywriting to optimize scripts for voice over.

Inserting audio from recorded files into your PowerPoint project is easy. I usually upload a copy of .wav or .mp3 files for my clients to my OneDrive folders, and share links to those files for them for download. Once you’ve downloaded my voice overs, simply go to INSERT in PowerPoint and then on the far right of the navigation bar in the MEDIA section, there is AUDIO. Choose “Audio on My PC” and then select the voice over file corresponding to that slide, and then click “Insert” A speaker icon will appear on the slide that you can move to the right area of the screen. On my example presentation, the speaker icon is in the red box at the top right. When playing the Slide Show, simply click on the icon to play the voice over. If you would like the audio to auto-play, here is the official explanation on how to do that. Note that you cannot insert audio if you only have PowerPoint Online which comes with Outlook. You will need the official licensed version of PowerPoint. For reasonable monthly rates, Office 365 is well worth it. I should know, since I narrated the Microsoft Office 365 overview video for the Canadian market!

And if you’d like to direct me live as I record, there are many options. Most of my clients choose Skype or my private URL on ipDTL, which provides free high-quality 2-way streaming audio over a Chrome Browser to anywhere in the world.

So call or write to me today for your next Power Point Presentation or other project that needs a voice over.

Audio Tour and Museum Exhibition Narration

Narration for Self-Guided Audio Tours: Setting the Right Tone

Just as I love e-learning and educational voice overs, I love being the knowledgeable, trustworthy narrator for Audio Tours. From Museum Self-Guided Tours and Installations, Touring Exhibitions, Historical Collections, or Parks and Tourist Guides, they all need an engaging voice over to connect the listener to the narrative. A good audio tour script writer paired with the right narrator to deliver it can bring a whole new dimension of enlightenment to a museum visit.

Pacing is key: the voice can neither be too rushed nor too slow. It has to allow time for the listener to look around and think about the exhibit, and yet not be dull. The voice must invite curiosity without being too cute or familiar. I study the script and subject matter and know it backwards and forwards: I try to be the expert, so I can sound like the expert: but with a friendly tone!

American English Narration for International Museum Visitors

Clarity and good diction are extremely important, especially for conveying new ideas and technical terms. I narrate with a clear American English Mid-Atlantic voice to appeal to both U.S. and international visitors alike.

With years of experience as a professional audio engineer, I provide high quality audio recordings that sound good in headphones. The sound is smooth and warm with no annoying sibilance or distortion: just like with all my voice overs! Have a listen to my Audio Tour demo below.

 

AVOLogo300

5 Health Tips for Voice Over Talents

Voice Over talents are always on call, and when we’re not recording we are actively pursuing new client relationships. So, we’re indoors. A lot. And worse, we’re sitting down most of the time. Paul Strikwerda recently made a thoughtful and honest post about voice over talents and the risks of being in bad shape and/or poor health. I’d like to share with you the tips I used in 2011 to shed the 35 pounds I accumulated as a sedentary studio denizen: and I did it all in my studio, outside of a little light jogging. Never went to a gym. Plus, I’ve kept the weight off since then by continuing using these tips.

  1. Stand up. Try to do as many of your sessions as possible while standing. You should find that your breath control is improved while upright. If you just aren’t comfortable with that, try to do all your editing while standing and set-up a standing workstation environment to facilitate that. When I do sit for writing emails or blogs, I sit on a large excercise ball, not a chair. That forces me to have better posture, and I can also keep moving around on it shifting my body as I sit. Never stay still!
  2. Light Weights. I keep 8, 12, and 20 pound dumbells in my studio, and I play with them all day throughout the day. Even when I edit, I do light weight exercises while I’m listening to playback, and then put them down to make the edits. Any time I’m uploading or downloading client files, I might be doing a few press-ups or sit-ups.  As well as the weights I also have a 10 pound medicine ball and tension bands. All this kit is not in the closet or in a storage bin, they’re all out in the open as if to say ‘hey, use us’.
  3. Vitamin D supplements. We’re studio mushrooms. If you are a voice over talent, you likely are not getting enough sunlight, which is the only best natural way to get it. You can’t get enough of it by eating foods ‘high’ in Vitamin D. Trust me, when you’re getting enough D you’ll feel happy and motivated to do the things I’ve already listed. Don’t go for a ‘multivitamin’ to get your D. Get a supplement dedicated for Cholecalciferol vitamin D3. For male voice over talents, you might want to read up on the current studies linking D deficiency to prostate cancer for some added information.
  4. Eating well. Everyone needs to find what works best for them, but for me going for a diet that cut back red meat, soy, and dairy really helped. I’ll still eat small portions of all three. I eat mostly lots of greens and fruits with legumes and nuts and some sides of fish. I only eat whole-wheat grains but I eat more rice, quinoa, and potatoes. And I try to eat organic food as much as possible. Do the best you can – especially if you’re cooking for your family like I do – but keep in mind that the secret isn’t having a ‘restrictive’ diet but rather simple portion control. Eat off of smaller plates. Don’t go for seconds, etc. If you eat meals that are 80% smaller, you won’t have to drive yourself crazy with calorie-counting. It will work out over the course of the week that your calorie count is also down 80%. Getting to a healthy, balanced diet is a marathon, not a quick fix of cutting out the things you already eat and enjoy. I didn’t stop eating pizza or cheeseburgers when I lost my unwanted weight.
  5. Stay Hydrated! Yes, as a voice talent you absolutely need to stay well hydrated and avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol to keep your pipes in tip-top shape (and to avoid mouth noises). But also, if you drink plenty of water you’ll feel great and also full (and not so prone to over-snacking).

Now I’m going to press ‘publish’ and go do a few light reps and a little yoga. Good luck!

 

Closed-Back Headphone

Using Headphones for Voice Over

Choosing the Right Headphones for Voice Over

What kind of headphone should you use in the voice over booth? What things should you consider when choosing your set of cans? Let’s look at the pros and cons of different types and uses for headphones, to see what’s right for you. You may be comfortable with your old trusted pair, but perhaps you can do better by taking a fresh look at them.

Should You Use Headphones at All?

Some professional voice talents and coaches are recommending to completely forgo using headphones as a practice. I wouldn’t recommend that. Unless you are working on an audiobook or long-format e-learning module by yourself, you need to be able to take direction live: whether it’s from the control room on the other side of the glass, or down the line via phone-patch, Skype, ipDTL, ISDN, or Source Connect. Not using headphones can only make you less comfortable when you do need to use them.

I understand the argument that going without headphones, you hear yourself naturally. You can then hear the resonance of your head cavity which is what makes our voices sound lovely as we speak but when played back they sound slightly different and perhaps more shrill than to which we are accustomed. Also, it’s a valid point that by not using headphones one doesn’t fall into the trap of over-listening to the sound of one’s own voice. But there are several ways to use headphones and sound natural.

Comfort and Natural Feedback

You will be able to hear yourself naturally and not listen too much to your own voice if you consider the following recommendations:

  • Don’t use closed-back headphones that have a hard case that seal in your ear and block outside sounds. All you will hear is the feed of your voice and you’ll lose all of the tones of resonance from your body. You’ll over-listen to your voice with close-back cans and wind up often pushing your voice and breathing to sound more full. Just say no to them. Instead, use open-back headphones. If you are concerned about sound bleeding out to the microphone, try semi-open headphones as found in great models by AKG and Beyerdynamic. I’ve never had a problem with headphone leaking in any studio including my own, because 1.) I never have myself loud in the headphone mix and 2.) the control room should either not be talking loudly when you do a take or the sound engineer should have the talk-back mic kill switch engaged.
  • Turn down the volume! You won’t have to worry about the bleed of the sound of your client on the line being picked up by your microphone if you keep their level down. Also, if possible, turn the return of your voice to the microphone as low as possible. Then you certainly won’t be over-listening to your voice.
  • If you love your closed-back headphones and that’s your thing, then try using only the left or right headphone on your ear and slide the other one to the back of your head off that ear so that you can hear your voice naturally with that ear.
  • Try earbuds. If you can get your hands on a nice set that are comfortable and don’t bleed out the sound too much, give that a try. Another advantage of earbuds is that it won’t mess up your hairdo. And we all know, if you look good, you’ll sound marvelous!

Other things to consider when buying headphones are the weight and overall comfort. Choose a pair that are of high-quality, and search to see if that model holds up over time. As for the cord, do you want an easily stored elastic cord, or would that be a pain in the close quarters of your booth? In which case a straight cord is preferable.

In the end, make your choice of headphone and how you use it to minimize how much you notice it. The less you are aware of your headphones, the more natural your voice over sessions will sound.

Good luck!
-Lance

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Social Media Shakeups and Voice Over

The Social Media Networks are Re-Inventing: So Should You.

As voice over talents and media producers, we all have our individual social media strategies for our brand. For me, I gave up on Facebook, but keep a presence there in case anyone would like to find me. Turns out so far, nobody on FB can find me. I’ve had 17 organic views on the big blue board while having a full profile and lots of quality content. I just don’t pay to promote posts, nor to advertise, and I refuse to grovel to have people ‘Like’ me anymore. That doesn’t result in lasting social media relationships anyway. Turns out, avoiding Castle Zuckerberg is good advice for many voice over talents. In discussions with to two talents with high on-line profiles this week, one got 1000 views and only one ‘Like’ for a promoted post, while another spent hundreds over two years and got no traction from it. Now, at the same time, there are voice over talents that thrive off of their investment in Facebook. Your millage may vary. I tend to stick to Google+ because the communities are active and you can actively engage and follow people from your Business Page. And, they follow you back! You can search and find real-live Audio Post Engineers on G+ and add them; whereas on Facebook, a similar search coughs up a Wikipedia entry and some tenuously related Audio Groups. I though Open Graph was supposed to be intelligent? I blame Bing on this point – I think their search results for our industries are bizarre at best (Duck Duck Go is by far the best search engine for voice over production). I also use Twitter often as that’s the best way to see what blogs and articles are being shared, as well as a quick and convenient way to message other talents and producers.

So that being said, It now looks like everything is about to change. Massively. Across all major social networks. Let’s have a look, and see how this can affect how we are social online:

Facebook Changes Messenger to Seperate App

Maybe it’s best to not turn your back on Facebook just yet. With the $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, they seem to have designs on becoming the global messaging provider for social networking. They are seeing huge increases in use outside of the United States. Don’t discount their plans to use drones to bring the internet to Africa, either. There is a clear strategy in place to become the leader in mobile messaging. Or is there? They have also just launched their new Facebook Messenger, and interestingly, it’s a stand-alone app not directly integrated with Facebook. Not everyone is pleased with this change! How can you carve out your niche on Facebook when the company is seeking a wider global presence? Clearly, your 2013 Facebook strategies will need some tweaking in the coming months.

Google + Also About To Break Up The Suite

The head of Google Plus, Vic Gundotra, has just left a touching goodbye on his G+ profile. He was the man who insisted on connecting everything (GMail, YouTube, and Chat/Hangouts) to Google +, much to the frustration of well…everyone. His successor is Dave Besbris, who is an engineer and not a Product Visionary. Expect G+ to have its links to other services severed while remaining a kind of Twitter-like Micro-blogging platform. Why is the Mountain View gang doing this? In part because of Facebook’s move into mobile messaging described above. Google is about to aggressively go after mobile. 25% of new smartphones are being shipped without the Google Suite, and Samsung has just been coaxed into dumping some of their own app suites that mimicked Google’s.

What will this mean for media freelancers and their online strategy? Don’t expect G+ to go the way of Buzz, yet. Could they ever be taken seriously again if they killed off Plus? Coca-Cola survived killing off New Coke, just saying. Prepare for this: your YouTube videos will no longer be connected to G+. Commenting and sharing videos will be in separate realms. Hangouts will be more of a separate entity too, perhaps with a Skype-like interface. If they do this, and make their amazing high-quality audio ‘Hangouts On Air’ no longer auto-publish to YouTube, then this would be a serious challenger to Skype TX as well as the other ip-solutions (ipDTL, Source Connect Now, Soundstreak) for voice over transmission and recording.

Twitter Relaunches

Twitter is changing user profile pages. You now have a large header image, pinned tweets at the top, and filtered tweets. There is a good overview of how to make the most of the new Twitter at CNET. Twitter is soul-searching for new ways to generate revenue and make it more user-friendly to the Facebook crowd. Hashtags and @ signs are on the way out. Many of the new design is intended to cut out the noise-ratio of tweets. This is great news for those of you looking to target your voice over audiences.

The Social Networks are radically re-inventing themselves. Voice Over and Media Producers need to keep up to date with the progress to make sure social media strategies work well with the new designs.

Good luck!

ipdtl.com

High Quality Voice Over Streaming and Recording with ipDTL

Full-Featured Voice Over Recording Tool

ipDTL.com has launched impressive new features and upgrades, making it a viable voice over solution for high end production audio recording, as well as podcasts, interviews, and basic voice talent sessions.

  1. You can now stream at 256 kbps Mono or 320 kbps Stereo
  2. You can now record within ipDTL and immediately download as a .wav or .mp3 to edit or share.
  3. A new Mute button which works as a talk-back kill switch. It can be released by pressing the CTRL key.
  4. Audio Send Mixer, with settings for Primary and Secondary Sources, as well as the Master level. Each has individual PFL and Mute settings as well as a fader. The feature I like best in the Mixer is there is a dedicated channel for uploading audio files: so you can reference music, previous takes, or interact with dialogue.
  5. There is now a Chat feature. No longer will you need to jump around on Skype or Google Hangouts to get session issues coordinated. Plus, once in Chat, you can upload scripts and work on them collaboratively under the ‘Script’ tab.
  6. The Link + Account URLs are now more complex for greater security. I have a Link + Account, which means that anyone with the latest Chrome Browser can connect to my studio via the URL. My account is here, and please feel free to test it out with me…just give me a little forewarning so I can be ready.

New Sound Recording Capabilities from IP Services

So how good does it sound? Here’s my voice recorded in ipDTL while streaming at 256kbps and saved via the interface as a .wav, where it was immediately sent to my download folder. I’ll admit after hearing several tests that ipDTL at the previous 128kbps level is not quite as good as ISDN-quality: perhaps 85%-95% as good as ISDN. 128kbps streaming is still fantastic for corporate videos and other non-broadcast voice over productions. Now, with the 256 kbps Mono / 320 kbps Stereo level of quality, this is a viable (and affordable) alternative to ISDN for broadcast audio. Add on top of that the great new features to make the session workflow better for both voice over talent and directors, and ipDTL is the way forward.

Update for April 23, 2014: Real-World Tests of the Re-vamped ipDTL

I did two test sessions yesterday with Darren Altman in the UK and Matt Cowlrick in Vancouver (I highly recommend both of them if you’re looking for friendly and fun English or Australian voices, respectively). Everything worked great as promised. Chat was no problem (whereas it didn’t work for me at all in tests with Source Connect Now Beta). The Script Editor was terrific, and we could both edit scripts together in real time and see the edits simultaneously. The mixer worked wonderfully. Darren figured out that you can use the Secondary Source for playback of audio files, while Matt worked out how with Soundflower and TwistedWave you can playback recorded takes of your session that you are currently working on. The feature of uploading files in the mixer and playing them worked well – the only minor issue was that the person who uploads the file can control the volume, but not the recipient. Not a big deal. When both talents were using WiFi on one session, there were noticeable dropouts at 256 kbps Mono. We logged out, switched to 128 kbps and logged back in an had no further dropouts. In another session, with better speeds, there were no issues with 256 kbps Mono, but we decided to drop down to 128 kbps to compare and it still sounded great.