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My Tips For Home Working

Written by Ian. Posted in Blog, Generic Ramblings

Due to the changing way of the world, perhaps you’re trying out home working for the first time. Thankfully we live in an age where more than ever this can work really well for many people, however the new surroundings and isolation can be tricky..!

A Brief History

I am a professional voiceover artist, and like many in our industry I work from home most days. I don’t just speak into a microphone, I run a business, which means I’m also the accountant, purchase ledger, marketing department sales office and more rolled into one. Voiceover artists have been home workers for a long time, although it didn’t used to be this way. 30 years ago VO artists would be travelling thousands of miles a year in order to gain work. They would visit studios in person and do as many jobs as possible while there.commercials voiceover home working

Then along came ISDN, a digital phone line which meant studios could connect with the artist in high quality remotely. Almost a forerunner to the internet age, this revolutionised our industry and home working started to become possible. It was however expensive to begin with, but it was worth the investment over days of travelling. In 2020 the costs are more manageable, the best gear is still expensive but with the internet we have long been able to connect live and of course send files around the world from the comfort of our homes.

Home Working

As the voiceover industry and the media world in general are more familiar with working from home, I wanted to share some of my tips on how to go about your day away from the office.

1, Have a working space. This can be wherever you like, but make sure that you have a desk or area you call work. Clearly for me this is different as I need a studio to do my job. But nonetheless it’s a specific place I go, and I don’t really use it outside of work time.home working

2, Get ready for the day, whatever routine you had for going to work, still do it, just except the leaving the house bit. Get up, get dressed, have a coffee, go for a walk maybe if possible and start your day. Avoid the sofa and sitting in your PJs all day. (Although I can’t say this has never happened, some days that is a perk!)

3, Set your workday routine, have a start time, and end time and of course breaks and lunch breaks. As with being in the office have a plan of the things you need to do that day, so you know where you’re at. This also means if you’re ahead of schedule, you can afford to be flexible with your free time. The time you would have spent travelling to meetings for example you can spend doing something at home, without being less productive. Don’t feel you have to be at the grindstone 100% of the time.

When your day is finished, try and step away. Having a set finish time really helps with this, close your laptop, log off, whatever and leave it at that if possible.

4, Try and get some exercise..! When you work in a city you’re probably walking a lot, maybe 5-10 miles a day. At home you’re probably lucky to get 1 or 2 k of walking if you don’t make a purposeful effort. If you’re able in these times take a walk, get some fresh air (alone and not in groups kids). However you do it just get a break from sitting in one place too long.

5, Be sociable, remotely..! One of the biggest things I missed when I stopped working in an office every day was the general chat and banter. Groups in an office having a goss or a laugh, that atmosphere you come to take for granted. So try and take time to talk to the people you always did in the office. Producers will know that VOs often enjoy a good chat during a live session..! Thankfully with Skype and FaceTime etc makes staying in contact a lot easier.

6, Watch your cash flow / Pay Your Freelancers! If your job involves paying bills, or if you are just starting working for yourself, keep on top of the money. Make sure invoices are sent out and you chase up payments outstanding. Don’t forget at this time to pay invoices especially for freelancers, we need to buy toilet rolls too!

7, Most of all, enjoy the fact you don’t have to spend ages travelling each day if that’s what your used to. Enjoy the flexibility, but keep disciplined in getting the job done. Perhaps home working will become a lot more normal now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and wish everyone the best through these uncertain times. I’m sure the show will go on for most. The best thing most companies can do is keep going as much as normal, and of course keep using voiceover artists to relay your messages..!

Lavazza UK TV Commercial Voiceover

Written by Ian. Posted in Uncategorized

Lavazza UK TV Commercial Voiceover

Lavazza TV CommercialsA recent project I have been working on and proud to be a part of has been airing recently on UK TV channels for Lavazza coffee. It marks not just a major advertising campaign for the coffee brand, but also a partnership with Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC.

 

The Lavazza UK TV Commercial is one which I have been working on for some 6 months, and at one point I was the voice of every character you see in the final ad. My part is the tag line at the end and amounts to around 5 seconds, but I am there!

There is also a separate version which runs at the Emirates Stadium during all Arsenal home matches. This promotes Lavazza being the exclusive coffee available in the food and drink outlets, and features some of their players in the creative.

So keep your eyes peeled as it is on quite a bit, and should you find yourself at an Arsenal or Liverpool football match then you may find it there too.

For more info on how I can work with your company or brand, on anything from TV commercials, to corporate projects or your on hold messaging, feel free to contact me via this site.

 

Gowing Law – Michael Owen TV Commercials

Written by Ian. Posted in Blog, Voiceover

Champions League Winning Commercial?

michael owenAt the time of writing the Champions League Final featuring Liverpool and Real Madrid is just around the corner. And I’m pleased to be the voiceover of a series of TV commercials featuring a player for both clubs Michael Owen. He’s also won the title too so there is a nice link here!

Michael Owen

Personal Injury solicitors Gowing Law have a series of TV commercials featuring Michael Owen. In the ads he appears as a TV pundit reviewing his accident. They’re pretty fun and a light hearted look at a serious subject, while also having a tongue in cheek laugh at his own injury woes.

I provide the voiceover of the end credit on all 3 commercials. You can see the ads for yourself below.

Clearly if you have an injury follow Michael’s advice. However if you need a voiceover like this one, then it’s me you need to get in touch with..!

For more audio sample simply head here

 

 

One Voice Awards Nominations

Written by Ian. Posted in Blog, Voiceover

2 Nominations, though one with a difference…One Voice Awards

The shortlist for the One Voice Awards have been revealed and I’m pleased to say that my name appears not once but twice! I’m nominated in the category for “Best Radio Promo Voiceover Performance”. Which is particularly exciting as radio imaging is the area of voiceover I first got started in way back when. The audio I submitted was a short compilation of work voiced for Nation Radio in Wales and produced by Devaweb.

The second nomination I have received is a little more offbeat, in “Best Outtake Of The Year”.  Now clearly this is for work which has never really seen the light of day. Of course 99% of the time everything runs like clockwork, scripts are rehearsed and delivered without incident. Occasionally a script catches you out, when I had to voice a commercial for the “Cock Inn”, well that’s all you need to know.

One Voice Conference

The One Voice Awards are part of an exciting new conference for voiceovers later this year in London. It’s called the One Voice Conference and takes place in the Docklands area of the city. Based on the American voice over festivals it promises to bring together voiceovers to learn about a variety of subjects. Plus great networking and social opportunities too of which these awards are a part of.

It’s the brainchild of one of Britain’s most well known voiceovers Peter Dickson (X Factor and more) and Hugh Edwards, a casting director and producer.  Together they also run Gravy for The Brain, a site dedicated to supporting and educating voiceovers at all stages of their careers.

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Condenser Microphone Comparison

Written by Ian. Posted in Blog, Generic Ramblings, Voiceover

Neumann U87 Vs  TLM 103 Vs Audio Technica At4040 microphone comparison

Often among voice artists, radio presenters and audio professionals in general the subject of microphones comes up. Which is best really is a matter of personal opinion really. However there are a few usual suspects which I always seem to use when doing voiceovers or working in radio studios (in the UK). Having had my own home studio for a number of years I have a few decent condenser mic around by which to make comparison. At one time they have all been my first choice mic, but as time goes on and the piggy bank fills I have chosen to invest in new equipment.

Coming from a radio background and having worked at a number of UK stations, these are mics I worked with in those studios. When I began to do voiceover work and build a studio around 10 years ago I decided to use microphones that I had previous experience of.

The mics..

microphone comparisonI have 3 condenser studio microphones, each at different price points. To start I have my very first microphone which I purchased around 10 years ago in my first effort at building a home studio. It is an Audio Technica AT4040 condenser mic which whilst being considerably cheaper than the other options I have really does stand up well. This microphone comes in at around £350 new which for the quality is awesome. As you’ll hear, it’s perhaps not as full sounding as the others and maybe has a touch more top end but is crisp and clear.

 

Neumann

Microphone comparisonAfter around 5 years using the AT4040, I progressed onto my first Neumann mic. I couldn’t quite stretch to a U87 at the time, but instead got the next best thing which is a TLM 103. According to what I’ve read about this mic, it’s the same as the iconic U87, but just a little more compact and has no switches or pads. Have a listen to the audio and you can compare for yourself, to me though it’s great and much fuller than the 4040. However doesn’t quite have the extra icing on the cake of the U87. Price wise we are hiding into the mid range bracket here at around £800 ish. So a lot more expensive than the AT4040, but less than half of what comes next.

U87

voiceover microphoneAnd finally of course we come to “The Daddy”. The Neumann U87. This is the newer Ai version, and is transformerless. This mic is the one you see in music videos, it’s the one that has recorded thousands of hit songs, many say simply the best mic there is. However it does come at a cost. You are not going to have much change if any, from £2000 for a brand new one of these. On the plus side, as the cost is higher you may have more room to haggle the price. Worth noting though that you can come by some vintage versions of the U87, from the 60’s and 70s, which are worth much more and very much a collectors item. I came across one on Ebay which used to be owned by Fleetwood Mac and as you can imagine, had a price to match.

Purists suggest the newer versions of the U87 are not as good as the vintage mic. That is down to personal opinion but whichever version the U87 is a classic and has something a little in terms of the fullness and crispness of the sound.

 

voiceover mixing deskThe Comparison

I have read the same script into each mic, using the same chain which is..

DBX 286 preamp with no EQ and very minimal compression etc.

Behringer 1622 mixer

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Thunderbolt

Adobe Audition on iMac

Each mic also had the same mesh pop filter attached too.

The script itself is taken from the Harvard sentences, which are supposed to be phonetically balanced to measure speech quality. They are not the words of my inner soul.

Take a listen here..


I hope you find this useful, at the end of the day it’s all down to personal preference. When buying a mic always try a few and see which suits your voice. The pre amp and the room you are using also effects how it will sound, so pay attention to those too.

Thanks for reading, and have fun!

 

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