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Live session questions
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yarg28
Been Here Awhile


Joined: 25 Aug 2014
Posts: 267
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:23 am    Post subject: Live session questions Reply with quote

I've been booking for about 7 years now and have very much taken the long slow road of learning and working my way into the business.

I've booked while learning the technical aspects, fine-tuning my sound quality, and getting performance coaching by some of the best. Sort of watching all areas converge into what I am today; which is an honest pro.

I have never had a live directed session. I've dug into the different services multiple times but I've been a bit gun shy to pull the trigger because I didn't want to look like a plebe in a session.

But it's time. I'm not going to grow if I don't move this forward.

I'd love to know any specific lingo that you've come across in a live session.
My worst fear is that I book a spot and in the middle of the session they ask me to do something and have me standing there with a "Derp" look on my face and silence going down the line.

I'm sure this seems minuscule compared to issues that others have but it's my Achilles' heel right now for growth.

Any other live directed wisdom would be appreciated as well.

The, "I sure wish I'd known this when I was in my first session!" types of things.

Thanks in advance.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10249

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They're not what you think think!

https://soundcloud.com/philip-banks/isdnsesh
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yarg28
Been Here Awhile


Joined: 25 Aug 2014
Posts: 267
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Philip. Interesting!
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Bruce
Boardmeister


Joined: 06 Jun 2005
Posts: 6948
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some "top tips" for live sessions:

Folks on both sides of the "glass" want to create good/interesting audio.

Both sides are professionals who have been around the block.

You'll probably talk to the engineer more than the production staff. They often will shut off their mics for a period of time after a take during which you're wondering "did I really screw up?" when all they're usually doing is wondering if they screwed up and need to adjust the copy. Also, when they "go away" for a long period of time they're often ordering lunch. Yeah, super professional.

Feel free to try out the copy a bit while they're setting up for the session. A little chit chat is OK, but not the story of your life. Always be cordial. Wait for the engineer to say "let's try one" or "take 1" or at least something before you start your reading. They'll often have you read the whole thing as a test and for timing and then they may break it down and have you read just segments or even just lines.

When they have you do just one line or two short lines or a slogan or tag, they may suggest, and you can offer, "to do an A B C", in essence three versions in one take. ALWAYS give them something different with each take... shades of difference can be OK, but always different. When we're having fun with funny or comeback lines we sometimes have me do several reads in a row until they tell me to stop.

Don't criticize yourself. Keep that stuff inside. When you're done thank them in a manner that befits the tone of the session. Each one of these sessions can be a confidence builder. Let that happen.

B
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I'm not a Zoo, but over the years I've played one on radio/TV. .
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yarg28
Been Here Awhile


Joined: 25 Aug 2014
Posts: 267
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Bruce.

That was gold.
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Deirdre
Czarina Emeritus


Joined: 10 Nov 2004
Posts: 12886
Location: East Jesus, Maine

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might consider a "mock" live session with another VO you trust.
Someone you know to be a good director. New script, teleconference setup of one kind or another and go.
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yarg28
Been Here Awhile


Joined: 25 Aug 2014
Posts: 267
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea Deirdre!

Thank you
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Jack Daniel
Club 300


Joined: 23 Jun 2016
Posts: 321
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, while 90% of remote teams will enjoy a bit of fun, some (esp solitary producer/editors, or "preditors"), are really under the gun and just need to get the copy read quickly and then jump off. Don't take it personally Smile Just remember they chose you and want you to do well.
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Voice Talent / Man About Town
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Dan-O
The Gates of Troy


Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 1540

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never. Ever. Apologize.

You are the artist. Every action you take is part of your craft. If you apologize you relinquish power and give the perception of incompetence and/or a lack of experience.

"Never let them see you sweat."

If you mess up, go back to the beginning of the sentence and start again immediately while you're still in that zone. Don't say you're doing a pickup, just do it. They know you bobbled and are now correcting it.

If everyone's worst fear of screwing up again and again to the point of snowballing begins: Stop. Have someone tell you a joke or make one unrelated to the script or performance to clear your mind and start fresh.

Do not apologize.

In other words, play it cool like you've done it hundreds of times before.
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Dan-O
The Gates of Troy


Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 1540

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and never offer suggestions on copy changes unless asked.
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 756

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is such a fascinating question. Iíve never had a session that wasnít directed.

I love Deebís idea of a mock session. In fact, I think this would be an outstanding workshop or even workout group. Mock sessions. Especially since, as this question infers, directed sessions are not the norm for many.

I guess I learned by doing. Never have I thought about what to and not to do throughout my career. Frankly, I didnít care about what I didnít know and never took issue with expressing when I didnít understand a term Iíd never heard of. I remember the first time I did group ADR and was told, ďLetís do a donut.Ē I said, ďLetís do a WHAT?Ē

All artists are entitled to first experiences. They just make you more experienced.

But hereís the thing. You are there because you bring value to the job. Own that. I think Bruce gave some outstanding advice. No two session, and no two directors are the same. Do your best to stay out of your head. Never take direction as correction. When we feel corrected we fear trying again as we donít want to be told again we were wrong.

Hereís the truth. They, the director or producer, havenít a clue what they want....until they hear it. Take their ideas and suggestions. If they ask you to do the same thing over and over the same way, itís them, not you. If you have an idea, speak up. My line is, ďHey, can I try one for me?Ē They may love it. Or not. But you are not just another set of tonsils. You are a talent hired for your skills.

Do NOT walk on eggshells. Break the ice! ďGuys, Iíve been working in this business in the privacy of my home studio for years, and this is my first ever directed session.Ē That is not being unprofessional. Thatís being human. And, itís endearing.

I had a session today for a game based on a movie franchise I have never seen. The buyer was on ISDN. My opening line was, ďGuys, forgive me but Iím one of 3 people who have never seen one of these films. So I havenít a clue what is happening in the story or how to pronounce most of the characters.Ē From that point on, we were bonded.

Bottom line, donít over think this. You arenít psychic. And you are entitled to have never had a directed session before. Own it! Learn from it. But donít worry about it!
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yarg28
Been Here Awhile


Joined: 25 Aug 2014
Posts: 267
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jack, Dan, and Bob, thanks for all of these.

Bob, the funny thing is that in my non VO life I'm absolutely the person that will raise my hand in a room with hundreds of people and just say, "i dont know what that means..." I guess this is my space were up until recently I've still felt that I was yet to "Arrive". But really, owning it is more my style so maybe I'll just do that.

In the meantime though, it never hurt to get good advice.

Thanks again everyone.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10249

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob Bergen wrote:
ďGuys, forgive me but Iím one of 3 people who have never seen one of these films. Ē


Genius level! I am seriously considering printing the above and having it framed!
Needless to say I shall send Mr Bergen threepence for his trouble.
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FinMac
DC


Joined: 14 Jan 2013
Posts: 617
Location: In a really cool place...Finland!

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:04 am    Post subject: my 2 cents Reply with quote

You've received some great advice! I would like to add a few practical suggestions. Some of these are quite obvious, but from discussions with my favorite engineer, many voice talent do not follow them.

1. Get the text early and become familiar with it. I find my performance is better when I get some time to go over the text. Discover words or names that you do not know how to pronounce and find the correct pronunciation before the session. But if you don't know, ask!

2. Arrive early. Never make the client or the studio wait for you. If the client is late, go with the flow, but don't make a big deal about it.

3. Hydrate yourself well ahead of the recording. Drink warm or hot water at the studio, not coffee. I take a small bottle of "Dry Mouth" spray to the session as it can help with mouth noises. Lip balm also can reduce some lip smacks.

4. Wear quiet clothing. Some of my shirts make less noise than others when moving my arms and hands around. Some shirts will make noise that is picked up by the mic, so I have certain "quiet" shirts that I wear to sessions.

5. Cork it! Bring a cork, or a pencil, to use when having problems with enunciation.

6. Be flexible. Anything can happen at a session, including technical problems, so go with the flow.

I had a recent session in Helsinki, where neither the client nor the creative person came to the studio. They were called by Skype to direct the session, and it took a lot of time to get them both on the line. Can't tell you how many times we had to reconnect with Skype.

It was 45 minutes into the session when they began speaking about time codes on the video. The needed to resend the video, which took a huge amount of time to download.

All in all, the session took almost 2 hours and 45 minutes. So I missed my scheduled train connection.

Good thing: the office manager made sure I was very well compensated for my time.

Bad thing: having to listen to Sheena Easton sing, "My baby takes the morning train", over and over and over again while put on hold by the train company.

In a nutshell. Be prepared, be professional, be kind, and be flexible. When you are then you can enjoy the session.

Here is a sample of a "fun" session...https://youtu.be/jv8OVnQ6Az4
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"If you want to get to the top, you have to get off your bottom". (Unknown)
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Jack Daniel
Club 300


Joined: 23 Jun 2016
Posts: 321
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of terrific advice. One more thing: often, the CD or whoever will ask, "is there anything else you'd like to try?" I think it's good to say yes and give them something different. (Not earth-shatteringly different, could be quite subtle, but at least go for something that hasn't been covered.) You might help them out, and at worst you're showing yourself to be up for helping out.
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Jack Daniel
Voice Talent / Man About Town
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