ASK JOE - Week 4
Hope you had a great week. I thought I'd throw out a subject to
discuss over the next week. Microphones. We all need 'em. It's a
question I'm asked so often, "What microphone do you use...or what
microphone does Don LaFontaine use" and so on. It's fun to talk
about what mics Don or Ashton or Andy Geller use. I use a Neumann U87
and sometimes a Sennheiser 416 in a noisy situation (when I'm in a
hotel room), Don uses at Manley in his home studio, George DelHoyo
uses a 416 most of the time as I recall. But the most important part
of all this microphone talk, is to find THE mic that sounds best on
your voice. You're voice sounds different on different microphones.
It's important to find the right match. Which mic do YOU sound best
on. You're going to spend over a $1000 on a good microphone and
sometimes up to $4000 or $5000 on the high end, so it's important to
find the one that brings out the best in your voice.
This is done by trying out different mics on YOUR voice. You can do
that by keeping track when you are at a studio of which mic you sound
best on or bringing home microphones to your studio and trying them
out. In any case, you should pay attention. If you are at a session
and you notice that you sound FANTASTIC on the mic in that studio,
ask the mixer or engineer about it. Find out what type of mic you're
speaking through and what is the pre-amp they are running your mic
through. If you strike up a short conversation with the engineer and
let him or her know that you really notice a difference in the way
you sound in their studio, it's a compliment to them. They've
obviously worked on getting their sound right. Once you compliment
them on this and thank them, you might be able to find out if there
is any EQ on you while you are recording with them or if it's totally
flat. Find out the variables on what's happening between microphone
and the computer they record you on. It's something you should take
note of. What's the mic...what's on the chain...what is the pre-amp.
I tell you this because I KICK myself for NOT doing this once in my
career. I was doing a session about 8 years ago for a radio jingle
company based in Los Angeles, where I was the narrator for their
demo. I went to their studios to record my tracks. Once we started,
I knew I was sounding good in my headphones and I commented on it to
the mixer. He was pleased that it sounded good to me. The thing I
kick myself about is I didn't take note of what the microphone was
and I didn't ask what the pre-amp was. I got a copy of the demo a
month later, after it was produced and I sounded F-ING great!! I've
never gotten that particular sound again. I even tried emailing with
one of the mixers there about a year later, because my curiosity was
getting the best of me, I asked if he recalled the session. He did,
but he said it was impossible to remember or find out which of their
myriad of mics was used in that session and he said it could have
been any number of pre-amps. Argghh.
So I tell you now. MAKE A NOTE :-) ESPECIALLY if you sound
particularly good in that session.
So to review: Try out different microphones and different pre-amps
on YOUR voice and take note. When you are in a studio and you sound
particularly good, compliment and ASK. :-) Find the best mic in the
right price range that works best for YOU.
Anyone have any experiences like this? How have YOU found your
microphone for your studio. Let's talk mics this week. What do you
use and most importantly WHY. Don't say it's because Don LaFontaine
uses the same mic :-)
Now on to the mailbag:
Comment by DAVID ALDEN - (DAVO) - "The Voice that Paints the Pictures"
I am now an "Ask Joe" Fan! Looking forward to your VO insights,
Behind-the-Scene stories and pearls of VO wisdom. Thanks Joe for
making yourself available to the VO world.
Davide....come stai? I work with David a couple of times a week. He
is a post production supervisor in his day job where he directs me in
the sessions we do together. The other side of his career is voice
over and he's also a fantastic artist. In his spare time he has twin
boys that are about 10 months old right about now and I drag him out
on to the tennis court once a week for either a doubles or singles
I could tell you some of those "behind the scenes" stories Dave
refers to...that include HIM. LOL. Thanks DAVO for joining ASK JOE.
Comment by Gregory best
Nice to see you (and hear you) here Joe. I'm just down the road in
the San Diego area. We also had a wedding to attend not long ago n
the San Luis Obispo area. We stopped and had lunch with Rodney
Sauslberry - another real gentleman like you and Don.
Hi Gregory, thanks for including me in such a great club along with
Rodney and Don. I'll tell you how I conduct myself in my career and
in my home life as well. I respect people for who they are.
Sometimes when you are in the vo business and you are on a bit of a
roll and running around from studio to studio or from ISDN call to
ISDN call, it's very easy to take it all for granted. It's not smart
to start believing one's own PR. LOL. When I take the elevator to
the 4th floor on the Fox lot and walk into one of the post rooms and
everything is ready to go, it's the result of a lot of planning and
the hard work of a lot of professionals. I breeze in and we have a
few laughs and knock out the spots and within 30 minutes, I'm out the
door and on to the next session. It's important to remember who the
important people are in the chain of events leading up to the session
and once my part, or your part, of the session is over. The mixer
can make you sound as awesome or as awful as he or she wants :-)
The post production super has worked his or her ass off getting the
spot from the writer/producer and getting it to the mixer to prep for
the read. It sounds goofy, but it really is a huge team effort. So,
that's what I mean when I say I respect people for who they are and
what they do. I wouldn't ever patronize anyone with false
compliments, I treat the people I work for and with, with the respect
they deserve. It's all genuine. Honesty works.
Comment by Kathleen Pulse
Hiya Joe! I'm curious...why aren't more women doing trailers? I know
that there are many doing TV promos but no movie trailers. I think
Linda Hunt may have been doing one or two but I'm not sure. Thoughts?
Hi Kathleen...that's a VERY good question. It's starting to happen,
but very slowly. Same thing goes for Network Promos...women have
made great strides, but it's been a slow and frustrating process.
Many people who make the casting decisions for voice talent seem to
still think a deep male voice is the way to go with promo and trailer.
It's very reminiscent of television back in the 70's when there were
NO female anchors on the news. Women first broke into TV News doing
fluff pieces and weather. When women finally starting getting a shot
at the anchor chair, they always had to be teamed with a man. Same
thing in radio...back in the 70's and early 80's there were hardly
any female disc jockeys. It's an evolution...a revolution that must
continue to evolve but the pace, in my opinion, is way too slow.
It's an ongoing problem in the business. Take into consideration
when I started at Fox back in 1988, there were no "regular sounding"
guys doing promos. It was mostly "voice of God" types on Network
Promos. When Fox chose me as their voice, it opened up the genre to
lighter voices and that style of voice on Network took off.
The trailer world is a very tough nut to crack whether you are a male
or a female. I struggle with it as well. When a studio is spending
MILLIONS on a campaign, they are literally frightened to try a new
voice. Opening weekend is so important, they do not want to take a
chance on something or someone that is not proven. That makes it
very difficult to break into the inner circle, for sure.
If you look at the managers who rep trailer voices, I believe there
is only one woman on the roster at Wintner, one woman at Jason Marks
and I don't think there are any at Cope Management. I don't fault
them, they are out to rep the people who work the most or the ones
they can grow into the business. Melissa Disney is one voice that
has succeeded in trailers, as has Anna Graves. Randy Thomas does a
lot of work in promos and live show events. As styles change, more
and more women will work in the trailer field more. It blows me away
that studios will still use a male voice on a movie like, "Sex and
The City" which is obviously going for a female audience. Does that
make sense to anyone?
That's it for this week. Thanks again for stopping by. Keep the
questions coming and if anyone has a topic they'd like to bring up
for discussion, please do so.
Talk to you next week.