November 30, 2011 - Another Thanksgiving is done and gone. I know because of all the excuses coming from the Detroit Lions professional football franchise about another embarrassing, nationally televised loss. After gushing (quite poetically, I might add) about what I was thankful for last week, I got thinking.
"Don," I thought to myself in the third-person, "You have been fortunate. But what about others less so? What can you offer them, because it sure looks like there are not a lot of opportunities these days?"
I believe in times of great turmoil and economic gloom there are also great opportunities for those saavy enough and brave enough to seek 'em. If Necessity is the mother of invention, it is also the aunt of creativity.
For example, a few weeks ago I attended a Waterford Adult Ed class that was an introduction to the voice-over industry. Now, there is an opportunity I hadn't thought of before!
With the computer/internet age about us, think of all the voice-overs you hear. Aside from television and radio commercials you hear somebody else's voice telling you to do tons of stuff. Go online and watch a how-to video, voice-over. Don't know how to spell a word? Just go to an online dictionary and find out -- don't know how to pronounce the word, click on the phonetic's button and somebody says it. Voice-over. How about the lady or dude on your cell phone, GPS -- those are all voice-overs done by a real person getting paid to speak.
Now let's go back to the radio and TV commercial voice-overs. In all the major markets you probably recognize the voices of some celebrity, but what about all the small markets? Who does 'em? Have you ever driven or stayed up north for vacation and listen to their voice-overs? Pretty unimpressive, ain't it?
If you got some good pipes, that could be you! How? Because computers have allowed folks to record scripts in their homes, on their home computers. (This saves the folks who pay for voice-over work money as they don't have to rent sound studios.)
The voice-over class I attended cost $25 and the man in charge was Tom Force. For the last 33 years, Force has been an actor and voice talent in the Detroit area. As a successful union voice-over talent, the Detroit office of the Screen Actors Guild recently invited Tom to teach a Voice Acting Master Class at Wayne State University.
In the class Force went over all the opportunities I mentioned and probably more. He explained what folks need to record at home, including costs. He went into the benefits of non-union work and of forking out over a grand to join the union.
It was an interesting class, one that caught my attention because of the work this newspaper is doing online with video. I am pretty sure in the future we will produce commercial-like video for local businesses, and what the heck I might has well be ready for when that happens. If the opportunity knocks, I need to be ready.
Some points to remember for your next career or part-time hobby as a voice-overist:
1. Caffeine closes up stuff in your head, and ain't good for your voice. Drink water.
2. Sugar dries out your mouth and will make you pop and smack more from your mouth when you speak.
3. Some say Granny Smith apples and greasy potato chips will help reduce excess mouth noise.
4. If recording at home, get up close to the mic, but make sure it is positioned off to the side of your mouth, to lessen excess mouth noise.
5. Talk conversational-like and with sincerity.
6. Before doing anything, take a class and get a coach -- of which Tom, I am sure could help you find one.
To find out when and where the next voice-over class is go to www.SuchAVoice.com
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And, of course another opportunity, if you are an expert on something, teach an adult ed-class on that subject. There were about 15 in the class; at $25 a head, that means $375 was made. Hmm, maybe I should teach a class on writing an award-winning column . . . but make it more about blogging or journaling?
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org