Tuesday, 16 August 2016

New Kids on the Block



I was so thrilled when the news came through that I'd be narrating a brand new series by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton - 'Curious Minds', a Knight and Moon novel.

It publishes today, and that's inspired me to jot down a few notes about what it's like for a narrator approaching the first book in what is going to be a series.
 
In a nutshell - excitement and fear!

Excitement, because you're a huge fan of the authors and can't wait to see what the characters get up to.

Fear, because you want to do them all justice!

I knew straight away that I loved the hero and heroine - Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. But how to voice them?

Knight is nerdy but sexy, intellectual and dryly funny - the author suggested he is bit like an American Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock era). With that as a reference, and as Knight had been educated in England for awhile when he was young, I decided to give him an educated American accent with some British intonations and stresses, and a puzzled, slightly detached quality.

Moon is feisty and ambitious, a country girl making her way in the big city. I was thrilled to see she's from Texas, as it's nice to move around the country vocally. But as she is a graduate of Harvard Business and Harvard Law now working at a bank in New York City, I decided she would probably try to suppress her accent a little, the real twang only emerging in times of stress.

But any fan of Janet Evanovich knows that she writes SUPERB supporting characters, so there was plenty of scope to go to town vocally with Emerson's 'mountain' family members and - of course! - a slew of villains. Secondary characters often give the narrator the chance to have a bit of fun.

I think the main point in choosing voices for new characters is to go with your gut. Often the first voice that comes to you is the right one. Yes, of course you should see what clues the author provides in terms of accent and voice quality, and use logic to reason out what's best technically - but over the years I've learned that it's there in the writing; characters often know how they want to sound. You just have to listen. :)

And I hope you enjoy listening to Curious Minds as much as I enjoyed recording it!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas presents for voiceovers - some sound ideas!



Wow! I can’t believe Christmas has come around so fast!

As is becoming a tradition for me, I have a few holiday gift ideas for the voiceover artist in your life.

You could go for clothing with a headphone or microphone design - there're quite a few out there! I like this t-shirt from Etsy. 

 If you want something for the home, after a hard day in the studio they can rest their head on a pillow with a similar design. Check out Etsy for some options.

And speaking of studios, if they have a home studio, maybe something like a stand for their earphones? There are some really nice looking ones around made of wood, metal, plastic - whatever you like!
 
Jewellery is always nice - a charm or pendant. This adjustable 'headphones' ring is really cute! 

Or if you're the crafty type, you can find moulds shaped like microphones - maybe make some custom chocolates or soap.

I'm always a fan of the 'stocking-stuffer gift bag', and this year I'll be making some for my VO chums: a tiny bottle of The Pickle House pickle juice (my new FAVE voice elixir - I'll be blogging it in the new year!), herbal throat lozenges, a mini-pack of disinfectant wipes (great for when we're using other peoples headphones - ask before you wipe though!) and some cute little earphone memo blocks I found in a pound/dollar store. Hope they like them!

Wherever you are and whoever you're with, I hope your Christmas is gorgeous....

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Throwback Thursday - Cold Feet



I love the idea of 'Throwback Thursday' on social media - a chance to post really embarrassing old photos, but also a chance to reminisce! This is the first in what I hope will be an occasional series of some high (and maybe low!) spots in my career ...



This picture is from an episode of the first series of "Cold Feet" - to refresh your memory, Cold Feet was a British series produced by Granada Television. The series was created and principally written by the wonderful Mike Bullen back in the late '90s/early noughties, and I played a semi-regular character called Natalie, who was David's (Robert Bathurst) boss.

Although I went on to be in series 2 and 4 as well, this scene stands out from all the others - mostly because it was my first on (and off!) camera physical fight.

Throughout the scene, my character and the character played by Fay Ripley (Jenny) had been sniping at each other. The last straw was when I insulted her husband (Pete, played by John Thomson). Jenny lets Natalie have it with a fire extinguisher, covering her with foam. Natalie belts Jenny, and things escalate to a full-on catfight with broken bottles, broken tables, the lot...

It was the first time I'd worked with a fight director, which made me feel very swashbuckling. He taught us how to fake a belt to the chops (Fay was a game girl and offered, 'just hit me!', but of course I didn't), pull hair and so on. 

When it came to falling on and breaking furniture, stunt doubles took over - and I was especially pleased, because mine had a backside that was much neater and more pert than mine. :)

On days like that one, I love my job - it's like being a kid all over again!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Happy World Voice Day 2014!

To celebrate, I'm reposting these great voiceover tips from the late, much-missed Brad Lavelle. Enjoy! And look after your voice...

“Do be script silent. Learn to turn the pages of your script over without making a sound. You should be able to flip through your local newspaper without any noise in front of a mic. Laying out your pages in a sensible manner before recording will assist you in this. Practice this at home - it's very useful.

Do learn to take cues from a TV monitor, screen wipe or sound beeps or pips. Register what the cue-lights mean (sometimes there’s more than one), learn to read and work from a time-code and to read the script brilliantly. And learn to do it all at the same time.

Do practice your plosives on mic so that you don’t pop. Every time you see one of those plosive words coming up, get ready to slightly turn your mouth away from the mic when you hit the word - this’ll direct the pop sound away from the mic’s diaphragm and you won’t need to retake the line. Practice makes perfect. I don’t use a pop screen when I record and you shouldn’t need one either.

Do practice dropping in.* When you do drop-ins, match your breaths, cadence, timbre & vocal pace at the

Do play with word lengths, voice delivery levels and their timings to either complement the background music

Do caress your syllables and words when you need to, but don’t fall in love with the sound of your voice.

Do learn to carry on with your lines even if the producer is whispering instructions, or the engineer has left the talkback on, or the runner walks into the studio and asks how you take your coffee. The more interference you can overcome, the better you will be.

Do read ahead. Learn to read ahead so that you can work out where the text or the thought is going, before

Do practice adjusting the overall speed of your reading/performance, a paragraph, a sentence, a word – learn how to adjust by seconds and frames and you’ll eventually develop a stopwatch in your brain.

Don't breathe straight into words as you begin speaking and don't gasp an intake of breath when you finish, this makes editing more difficult for the engineer and will mean more re-takes. Always start from an open mouthed position and always be topped up with breath before beginning your take, a slow quiet exhalation before recording is useful too. Learn the silent breath…make the engineer think you don’t breathe.

Do continue your read/performance even if there is an echo in the headphones. This happens a lot in ISDN

Do practice Latin and other languages. There’s bound to be a French phrase cropping up somewhere in your first 20 jobs. People who do medical or technical voicing should earn 10 times the normal hourly fee. We don’t, but we should. If you’re capable, it’s just another way to bring in the sheckels.

Do practice your reflexes, so that when a piercing feedback ploughs through your headphones (cans) you can get them off before any damage is done to your ears. Don’t over egg this when it happens; save your hearing, make your point and move on.

Do be cautious about your body movements and chemistry. Just about every studio now records in digital formats. This means that a lot of noises that used to be covered by tape hiss aren’t.” – Brad Lavelle

*see my earlier blog, “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” - LK


“Do be script silent. Learn to turn the pages of your script over without making a sound. You should be able to flip through your local newspaper without any noise in front of a mic. Laying out your pages in a sensible manner before recording will assist you in this. Practice this at home - it's very useful. 

Do learn to take cues from a TV monitor, screen wipe or sound beeps or pips. Register what the cue-lights mean (sometimes there’s more than one), learn to read and work from a time-code and to read the script brilliantly. And learn to do it all at the same time. 

Do practice your plosives on mic so that you don’t pop. Every time you see one of those plosive words coming up, get ready to slightly turn your mouth away from the mic when you hit the word - this’ll direct the pop sound away from the mic’s diaphragm and you won’t need to retake the line. Practice makes perfect. I don’t use a pop screen when I record and you shouldn’t need one either. 

Do practice dropping in.* When you do drop-ins, match your breaths, cadence, timbre & vocal pace at the drop-in point. As the drop-in point approaches, read aloud, along with run-up. This will create a seamless flow between the pre-recorded piece and your drop-in point. 

Do play with word lengths, voice delivery levels and their timings to either complement the background music or SFX or to work in opposition. Both of these techniques are useful for dramatic purpose. Extending a syllable can sometimes make the difference between a mistimed read and a perfect one. Usually additional tracks will be added to the mix after you’ve left the studio but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask to hear the backing tracks to get a feel for the piece. Most engineers are happy to play the music to you as they know it will help your performance. Same goes if you are asked to deliver a louder voice than normal due to it being set mid tempest or you’re in a crowd scene. Ask the engineer to play the relevant sound effects down your cans during the recording if they can, It’ll help you get the feel right. But if the music or the SFX aren’t there, don’t worry, just imagine it. 

Do caress your syllables and words when you need to, but don’t fall in love with the sound of your voice. 

Do learn to carry on with your lines even if the producer is whispering instructions, or the engineer has left the talkback on, or the runner walks into the studio and asks how you take your coffee. The more interference you can overcome, the better you will be. 

Do read ahead. Learn to read ahead so that you can work out where the text or the thought is going, before you actually get there vocally. In most voice sessions you’ll have to read a script cold; if you work on this technique, you’ll not need copious retakes and drop-ins to complete your session. The faster you are, the more your employer has time to mix and therefore save money…that is a plus in your favour. 

Do practice adjusting the overall speed of your reading/performance, a paragraph, a sentence, a word – learn how to adjust by seconds and frames and you’ll eventually develop a stopwatch in your brain. 

Don't breathe straight into words as you begin speaking and don't gasp an intake of breath when you finish, this makes editing more difficult for the engineer and will mean more re-takes. Always start from an open mouthed position and always be topped up with breath before beginning your take, a slow quiet exhalation before recording is useful too. Learn the silent breath…make the engineer think you don’t breathe. 

Do continue your read/performance even if there is an echo in the headphones. This happens a lot in ISDN recordings due to engineer error from the receiving studio…an easy way to overcome this is just take one of the earphones off so that you are hearing your voice live on one side. 

Do practice Latin and other languages. There’s bound to be a French phrase cropping up somewhere in your first 20 jobs. People who do medical or technical voicing should earn 10 times the normal hourly fee. We don’t, but we should. If you’re capable, it’s just another way to bring in the sheckels. 

Do practice your reflexes, so that when a piercing feedback ploughs through your headphones (cans) you can get them off before any damage is done to your ears. Don’t over egg this when it happens; save your hearing, make your point and move on. 

Do be cautious about your body movements and chemistry. Just about every studio now records in digital formats. This means that a lot of noises that used to be covered by tape hiss aren’t.” – Brad Lavelle

*see my earlier blog, “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” - LK
- See more at: http://loreleiking.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2010-12-31T16:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2011-09-01T15:20:00%2B01:00&max-results=14&start=6&by-date=false#sthash.qXgF2QTC.dpuf

Friday, 14 February 2014