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VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Melissa Thomas

Benztown Voice-Over Blog - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 12:48

Currently heard in markets across North America, Melissa Thomas specializes in Hot AC, CHR, Country, Alternative, and Rock Imaging. She would love to take on any new project thrown her way! 

Melissa is represented by
Hoss Management Group!

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

I have been very blessed with a lot of opportunities including the syndicated program HardDrive XL with Lou Brutus, 104.3 WZYP, Play 107, Kraze 101.3 and various others.

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

I am the Imaging Director of X92.9 and X100.7 in Calgary as well as all the duties of my freelance business.

What do you love about your job?

I love the person it inspires me to be every day – creatively, personally, and professionally. The community is incredible and so uplifting as well, it’s just a blessing to be able to contribute something to radio stations across the world that hopefully make people smile every day.  

Check Out Melissa’s Demo:

How did you get started as a VO actor? 

I was always interested in it, but the true kickoff was when I was a student at SAIT’s Radio Broadcasting program. My professors were (and still are) extremely invested in helping me see the possibilities of the VO world and the potential I had to become something in it. 

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

My first VO gig was an award ceremony voiceover. Since then they’re all memorable! I’m extremely grateful to every company that I have worked with, but I will say that jumping into the Canadian radio market and signing Hot 107 (which has now become Play 107) in Edmonton was a huge milestone for me. 

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

Where do I even begin?! Hoss, Trevor Shand, Erin Setch, Ann DeWig, Lisa Keys, K3, Drew Patterson – the list is endless! There are SO many incredibly talented people that I look up to.

Melissa’s secret recording weapon: the MKH 416!

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?

I always had a lot of interest in midwifery. I likely would have gone into that or nursing!

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? 

Surreal. It was a lifelong dream. I still get the same feeling, but it has shifted more from the shock of it to making sure it always sounds good. 

How has new technology changed the way you work?

I’m new enough in the game that I have been fortunate enough to use modern tech my entire career, but what I do use makes things pretty efficient! 

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

I use a Rode mic with my Scarlett 2i2 and ProTools on the road, and my Sennheiser MKH- 416 Mic in the studio with a Mac desktop. 

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

I use Protools! For VO alone it may seem like overkill but I am also an Imaging producer and I produce demo’s frequently so I went all out on it! 

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

Before I worked in VO I had 15 years of voice training and that taught me a lot of physical techniques as well as voice control that is invaluable. I haven’t had an official VO coach since I started working professionally, but I plan to this year.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

I work on a 24-hour turnaround, but I make a point to get copy to clients as soon as I am able to. As a producer, I like prompt copy, so I do everything I can to deliver exactly that to my clients. The time I spend auditioning varies, but it typically takes 2 hours to write, voice and produce a demo depending on what it is.

How do you market your services to potential clients?

My incredible manager Hoss plays a big part in this and helps tremendously (hit him up at Hoss Management Group online!). Aside from those efforts, I market online. 

As an imaging producer, Melissa is a Protools pro!

When it comes to VO work, studio, and gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?

I don’t want to claim to make any discoveries because to be honest, everything I do is something I have learned from someone else! 

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? 

Learn to breathe properly. There are plenty of resources online to learn if you don’t know how!

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

Oh totally, those are completely different styles. I like to read imaging as naturally as possible or however clients request. Commercials depend entirely on the client, style, and concept.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

Reach out to those who inspire you, pitch your talent to managers and agencies, remember that everything you do 9-5 is for the man…everything after 5 is for your future.  

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

I would LOVE to experience the 1950s and late 1800’s. I’m a huge history nerd and those two eras are super interesting to me for a lot of reasons. 

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Pineapple, tomatoes!

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Lauren Graham. I would love to meet her! She could adopt me and I wouldn’t be mad lol

Connect with Melissa:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Rich Boerner

Benztown Voice-Over Blog - Thu, 03/26/2020 - 10:38

For two decades Rich Boerner has been one of those familiar voices inside your head. Real, self-aware and sometimes self-deprecating, with just enough gravitas to believe that he might actually be right. 

Rich is represented by TMG in Salt Lake City

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

I have done voice work for KLSX, the once-proud FM Talk Station, and KRTH 101 in Los Angeles, KLLC in SF, WNEW in NYC The LOOP in Chicago, Real Radio 104.1 in Orlando, Rock101 and 99-7 the FOX in Vancouver BC, Y107 in Hamilton/Toronto, and a handful of smaller markets in North America. In the video and digital world I have done some work in the past for Fox TV and the CW. And in 2016 I was the opening and closing voice for the Rose Bowl Parade.

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

I’ve been concentrating on creating great podcast content for the last few years, which has thinned my current roster. I voice many of the commercials for the Broadway Media Radio cluster in Salt Lake City. I handle west coast radio for Amtrak and still do occasional 15 to 30-second ads for Spotify. But this year is about ramping things up again, so thanks for chatting with me.

Check out Rich’s radio demo:

What do you love about your job?

Performing – putting on the skin of a voice that’s trying to convey a new message. VO work isn’t about imitation or “doing voices” it’s about making real human connections.

How did you get started as a VO actor? 

Doing voices and skits on my handheld cassette recorder as a kid, then bringing that to the job when I got my first few paying radio gigs.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

I definitely have a handful. In the Radio/TV it’s Joe Cipriano who admittedly stumbled into the field being discovered while doing weekends in Los Angeles. He is one of the nicest, smartest, and coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Plus he’s always innovating on the job and appreciates honest feedback. Deserves every accolade he’s received. I have also been fortunate enough to work with Tasia Valenza, who’s warmth and humanity have graced so many eardrums.  

As far as mentor/teacher, Leigh Gilbert basically helped me unlearn and relearn from scratch. She was amazing. Then when it came to a necessary boot camp experience, Bill Holmes the VO Doctor was an invaluable resource. I was also fortunate enough to participate in some Animation classes taught by the one and only Bob Bergen.  

Check out Rich’s commercial demo:

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?

This one’s easy, because VO isn’t my current career – it’s part of the mélange of what I do. My current full-time gig is creating amazing podcasts and audio content, and also speaking to and advising others on how to do so. Wherever I’ve been throughout my career, I’ve always been the in-house therapist/consultant. I enjoy working with people to find out what their passions are and then help them figure out how to pursue them.

Rich’s Home Studio

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?

Blew my mind – it was in NYC and I was 21 years old.  Thought, “I’ve made it!” Then, when the spot was changed out a week later, it dawned on me that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Of course, I was also concerned that it might have stood out as being less than what surrounded it.     

How has new technology changed the way you work?

Well, high-quality home studios are now easy to build and pretty affordable, feedback on auditions comes much more quickly, and being connected digitally allows you to bond with clients through the creation process. 

What gear do you use in your studio?

It’s a pretty simple and effective set-up. I use a Rode K2 fed directly into my Focusrite 18i8 – and as a back-up mic I have a Rode NT1a. All my recording is done in Adobe Audition.  

Rich’s Main Mic

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

I record everything into Adobe Audition. Their plug-in suite is pretty amazing. The DeNoise plugin (used properly) is SO vital for home studio recording.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

Absolutely – I’ve had a few amazing voice coaches over the years (Leigh Gilbert, Bill Holmes, Bob Bergen) and they all taught me something unique that helped me perform.

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? 

This might sound a bit “out there” – Before you start recording, figure out which version of yourself that you want to be as you deliver this particular message. Then, once you’re in character, laugh out loud and say something angrily. If you can find the emotions behind the character, you’ll be locked in.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

Radio/TV is a bit more of an energy read and sometimes voice of authority, based on the character of the station itself. Commercials are generally more emotion based and “real” person reads. For imaging reads it’s generally necessary to lock in the energy level first, then lay down the reads. In commercials, you need to find the emotions behind the read before doing anything.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

1. Get into a good beginner class that gives you A LOT of mic time in front of the room. 2. Listen carefully to current VO work and rather than imitate, see what emotion they are evoking. 3. Don’t get frustrated by all the “No’s.” Instead try to find out why not and what you can learn from it to improve for the next round.

Rich laying down some hot VO!

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

The 90’s, because it was filled with so much opportunity and creativity. It was the last decade where creativity had real power in the boardroom and bottom line was a long-term play. You could take chances and had some time to see if it really worked. 

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Pepperoni and Sausage – please don’t put green things on my pizza

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

There are so many ways to go with this one. I could take the simpler route and say big names like Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin, Oprah, or Mike Piazza, but I’m going to say one of the two Carl’s. Either Carl Jung or Carl Sagan. There’s so much we could discuss, the possible connections between his Collective Unconscious theories and the perceived power of thought and how they may be directly related to quantum theory (and the universe itself).

Connect with Rich:
Website
LinkedIn

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Heather Foster

Benztown Voice-Over Blog - Thu, 03/19/2020 - 13:38

The Merlot of VO. When you need a little more gravitas from your female imaging voice, Heather has that deep, raspy thing down.

Heather Foster is represented by TAG Talent, Pastorini-Bosby Talent, and Impressive Talent!

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? 

I’m pretty new to imaging! I didn’t even know it was a thing until a little over 2 years ago. I swear I thought the DJs did the imaging. I was a finalist at the That’s Voiceover Promo competition and there was a panel about imaging. Joe Cipriano was the host and David Kaye, Lynn Hoffman, Nate Zeitz, Craig Schwalb, Pat Garett and Eric Romanowski were on it. It was career-changing. I didn’t win the competition but I did find a brand new genre of voiceover!  I’ve been with KRSB-FM Best Country, Roseburg/OR for almost 2 years and have just added WJRI-FM IN North Carolina and WXKC Classy 100 in Erie, PA to my list of stations. 

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? 

In addition to imaging work, I also record lots and lots of commercials, B2B videos, e-learning modules, etc. I am the announcer for several tech conferences including CloudFest, the largest cloud conference in the world, and I’m the promo voice for the television show The Houston Sports Show.

Heather’s VO time machine!

What do you love about your job? 

So many things, but I love playing behind the mic. My booth is like a time machine. I just go in for a few minutes to play around and the next thing I know 3 hours have gone by.  The people in this business are incredible. Seriously, I’ve met the coolest, nicest people! 

How did you get started as a VO actor? 

I was introduced to it by my on-camera commercial acting coach 4 years ago. I found myself in a new city with not much to do so I took an on-camera commercial acting class. My coach, Deke Anderson, had this really great boom mic and when we would watch our playbacks at the end of the class session, people would comment on my voice. So, I started doing some research – turns out you could record from home. Who knew? That was all I needed to know. That will be 5 years this fall. 

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then? 

My first gig was for TiVo – it was for a regional television spot. I thought “Hey, I’ve made it!” Ha. Not exactly. I have to go out there and bust my behind every day. One that really stands out was being the voice of the ship for the new Alien short film “Harvest”- it was included on the 40th Anniversary DVD. I kind of geeked out on that. I’m a huge Alien fan!

Check out Heather’s Demo:

Who are your VO idols/mentors? 

Whoa, where do I start? One of the very best things about voice over is how supportive people are in this business. I am so grateful that I get to spend the rest of my career trying to pay it forward. Off the top of my head for the women: Randy Thomas, Jen Sweeney, Rachel McGrath, Ashley Cavaliere…For men: David Kaye, Joe Cipriano, Chad Erickson, Rob Reed…Pretty much the entire Benztown roster – it’s filled with talent that just blows me away! I Benztown! I still can’t believe I’m on this roster. Somebody pinch me!!! 

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? 

I have no idea. I don’t even know what to think about it! Although, I’d have to do something that involved performing. I could never go back to my old job as a paralegal. UGH. I’m just so happy that I get to do what I love every day. I know it’s cliche but man, it’s true. 

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? 

I was in the car driving with my kids. It took a second to dawn on me that it was ME. I started squealing! My kids were very unimpressed. They were like, “Meh, we hear you all the time.”

Has new technology changed the way you work? 

Not really. I started late in the game.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio? 

Sennheiser 416, UA Arrow, and my Mac ProBook. 

Heather’s view during recording!

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins? 

I am an Adobe Audition gal and I don’t do much production, so I rarely use plugins. I like my audio how I like my hands – clean.

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Fiver Friday #227 – Waves OMyVox, Fritz Kalkbrenner And Iron Imager 9 Postponed!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 09:15

While everyone’s preparing for Corona we’ve prepared the next fiver friday for you guys! All jokes aside, please stay safe and take care of your colleagues and family, we might be up for a tough ride! Let’s get into this week’s findings:

1.Plugin

We created a quick loop and made a short video to take part in the Waves OMyVox Giveaway, check it out here:

You can also take a listen to the loop here (all stutters, glitches and processing created with Ovox):

http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/LP-OVOX-120bpm-KEY_a-VIDEO.wav   2.Inspiration

Great channel on Audio Production with great knowledge and clean visual – definitely recommended!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM4kDYNs44A

3.Music

The latest release from German Electronic Music Producer “Fritz Kalkbrenner” !

4.Web/Social/Whatever

In light of recent events:

5.Imaging

Due to the corona virus outbreak WWRS 2020 and Iron Imager 9 have been postponed. Check the official press release here:

9th Annual Iron Imager Contest (2020)

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Fiver Friday #226 – Piano One, Candide Thovex And Marcell Bolla!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 03/06/2020 - 07:31

Get ready for this week’s episode of fiver friday, found some really cool stuff for you guys! 

1.Plugin

Kinda unbelievable that this baby is free, great sound and easy to use, definitely worth a try!

Piano One

2.Inspiration

Short visual and great sound design for the upcoming The Weeknd album – epilepsy warning!

3.Music

Drake released 2 new tracks in an “official” leak on OVO’s soundcloud page – these are not to be found on youtube or spotify, nonetheless Drake delivers as always!

4.Web/Social/Whatever

As winter comes to an end, here’s one of my favorite documentaries, great visuals and astonishing skiing skills! 

5.Imaging

Check out the January highlights for Radio X by the latest benztown hire Marcell Bolla, who took over the AC Format

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #225 – FreeAmp, Imaging Study And Iron Imager 9 FINAL CALL!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 02/28/2020 - 07:51

Weekend is approaching fast, time for another episode of Fiver Friday! Check out this week’s findings: 

1.Plugin

It’s time for another free plugin! Check out this free simple Amp by Klevgrand, simply register and the download comes free. (There’s some more free downloads on their site!)

Klevrand – Free Amp

2.Inspiration

Cool episode of Pensados place, showing you how to get more out of your autotune in vocal production!

3.Music

Something different this week, some melodic house by Cubicolor – check this out on the highway at night

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Wendy K. Gray

Benztown Voice-Over Blog - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 10:17

A female voice talent launched the Entercom New York Alternative Station, Alt 92.3 at the same time as Alt 103.7 in DFW. For months the stations had no commercials and no on air talent. Just a female voice! Yeah, that was me! How did this happen? This is my story, the story of WKG.

Wendy K Gray is represented by Benztown and Nate Zeitz of CESD!

What do you love about your job?

Many things to love about being a voice over actor! One thing, for me at least, is the anonymity of the job. I’m a shy and private gal. I don’t like the whole wide world knowing what I’m up too. That kind of secret spy information is reserved for my Rottweiler only! However, kicking off my own (dream) side project this last year has forced me to come out of my shell and spill it! So thanks for having me, Benztown! 

It’s an honor!

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

My very first radio VO imaging job was on Star 98.7 in Los Angeles decades ago. Doing some stations ID’s and promos for a Billy Idol concert. I had no idea, later on, this side of the industry would embrace me. Flash to…Trevor Shand finding me on an Internet search after a friend insisted I create a Youtube channel for my voice over spots. Clever! Folks weren’t utilizing Youtube this way back then. Trevor asked me to demo some stuff for a jazz station. That led to nothing. But years later, he found me again and hired me for his show Hitstorm on Kiss in Toronto. Then, he started using me on the “Uncover New Music” promos on KROQ in LA. And that’s when things exploded! I got my first contract with Rogers working with Justin Dove, Ron Tarrant, LF Fabiosa, AJ Traspaderme and Russell James. Soon, Adam Schneider, voice over actor and imaging producer of Rock 105 in Atlanta, hired me from hearing me on KROQ! And the list goes on from there. Lesson here was to say “YES” to opportunities, like doing free demos!

Check out Wendy’s Demo:

How did you get started as a VO actor?

I was a really good waitress! And I liked my job at Mexicali in Studio City, CA. I was a lead singer/songwriter in a rock band pursuing a career in music. The owners let me play my CDs in the rotation on Friday nights and I had lots of regulars! I met tons of people, like writer and director, Mick Garris, who licensed out a song of mine on his NBC Movie, The Judge. I also met Rolf Hanson who produced TV promos and trailers.  He got me started in voice over! He changed my life. Even though I loved playing music and I desperately wanted to be Alanis Morissette, I said “YES” to an opportunity he gave me.  

I worked for an entire year for him and took classes at the same time. Once I had enough jobs to make a reel, I started sending it out to agents.  I had some small agents interested but it’s when Rolf asked Debbi Cope to help out that things began to happen. She, admittedly, didn’t get my sound but as a favor to him, sent it out to a few agents. They all asked to meet with me! It was like what I dreamed about with record companies. Everyone wanting to sign me… a singer, a waitress and a shy gal from Colorado! Amazing! I wonder what my life would be like had I NOT taken the opportunity that one person gave me…..

What was your first gig?

My first job was Christmas TV spots for VH1.  I got paid $1,000. Which took me two weeks to make waiting tables.  Rolf hired me for loads of TV record releases, like Josh Groban, Hillary Duff, Faith Hill, and Madonna. And TV spots for movie soundtracks like Valentine, Scooby Doo and Space Cowboys. This was a time when mostly men voiced these kinds of spots. Rolf was ahead of his time. Like I said, he changed my life. One person!

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? 

I think I was most excited to see/hear my first national commercial. It was Philadelphia Cream Cheese and it aired during Entertainment Tonight. I wasn’t expecting to see it, I just happened to have switched to that channel and there it was. It didn’t sound like me but it was me! I don’t even remember recording it! I do remember the lobby at Buzzy’s Studio in Hollywood, being so scared out of mind and nervous I was pacing. I started a conversation with another voice over gal, Jessica Anne Bogart, to calm my heart before they called me into record.

When I saw, I squealed out loud at the TV thinking I’ve made it! A national commercial! I’m in. Only to discover I was just cast for that particular commercial and new casting specs where handed out at William Morris for the next Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial, which I did not get! Ouch! Ahh, to be that green again! 

Any memorable ones since then?

It seems jobs are memorable because of the people. I remember like it was yesterday, auditioning for the voice of Bellmedia Much More Music in Canada with my then-agent, Jeff Jones. We spent hours on a phone session with the producers going over and over this one spot, a football spot. After the session was done, I wasn’t done! I had something I wanted to do as an alternate and Jeff trusted me enough to voice it and then send it! This was a risky move and he did. I booked that job and a few months later went on to be the main and only TV station voice of Much More Music, then Much More and then M3. No other voices on the TV stations. Just me. They were also ahead of the times. You don’t always get to do what you want when you are working on someone else’s project. And most of the time you don’t get a second chance. This was a rare occasion and risky for both of us, for that, it was memorable!

How has new technology changed the way you work? 

Because I sang/sing I already had a mini studio in my home when I began VO. But after I signed with CESD in LA and got the introduction to Nate Zeitz in NY, my “at home” work-life became much bigger. Everything radio came out of my studio. Then some TV stations started having me work from home. Soon I had enough work to step away from LA for a few years and take all of my at home jobs with me.  That wasn’t the world I started vo in. Now I have two studios to work out of. In my home is my back up set up and The Barn is the main creative place I like to be. I also take my laptop, Sennheiser mic, and Scarlett 2i2 with me when I travel. Except on vacation. A gal deserves a break every now and then!

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

Wendy has an awesome side project called Sidewalk Stories, a children’s audiobook, which she voiced!

Yes and yes! My singing coach is the amazing Liz Lewis of The Singers Workshop. Her husband is also a long time voice over actor. Singing keeps my voice in good condition and I still enjoy it. I take classes regularly for voice over too. And, when you work so much on your own, like I do, I find it helpful to have that direction and socialization with a casting director or coach.  Elaine Craig, Jeff Howell, Kathy Kalmenson. And the late Cynthia Songe gave me a piece of advice I am really using on my side project right now. She said not to think about making “funny voices” but rather to think about the character, what do they look like, are they nice, mean, heavy, small, old, young, etc? Then, the voice will come. I also learned from her to catalog my voices. So when a director says they want something, that may not make any sense to me, I can start going through my catalog, in my head, to find something for them. Making a choice at the beginning gives you a place to start from and the director (or you) can easily move around from there.

3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

 I have to be honest, there is no one-way to get in. But I do think it’s really about who you know. Everything I have is because I met someone who helped me get to the next place. Yes, I did the work. Yes, I love my job. But I am no more deserving of it then the next girl. Three things I do and suggest is… 

Be prepared. That means read out loud, go to auditions, practice on the mic, with and without headphones, know your voice and what you are capable of. Ask for help. Everyone around you needs to know what you are doing and what you need, so speak up! 

Keep trying! CESD passed on me two other times before I finally connected with Vinnie Biunno in promo, which led me to Nate Zeitz. And knowing Nate has opened up so many doors for me, like Benztown, where I have been on the Top 50 list since it’s beginning, back when there was only four gals on the whole Top 50 list! Along with providing me the support I need to be happy and successful. I am very lucky. If I had quit before I met Nate I would not be doing this interview. 

And when you do get there…help someone else. It makes the world go round

How do you market your services to potential clients?

I’m not the best at slinging my name around, schmoozing with folks and strutting my stuff. I let my reps do that kind of work. I do my best work, I care about the copy, I try to get requests returned quickly and if people like working with me and what I do, then they keep me on and take me other places with them. But what if you don’t have an agent? Casting directors in LA hold classes! This is a great way to meet them. Yes, it costs money. So wait until you are ready to showcase yourself to them. Because I know they will call you in again if you are good! 

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

No, I do not! This is what is so fabulous about radio! I have a variety of stations Country, CHR, Rock, Top 40 and Alternative. I get to do everything.  I started voicing TV Promos, then Commercials, then Animation. Voicing radio stations, I read on promos, commercials, sing and sometimes play characters! I have never been confined to one area or genre.  And it keeps me on my toes moving from genre to genre every day. Keeps me versatile and creative and allows me to continue to love my job!

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Well, I would say Madonna but I waited on her once at a fancy restaurant I worked at so I kinda feel like I already did that! Ha. She smelled like raspberries and I have never seen so many other people take notice of a famous person. The room was hers! And she did nothing but walk in, sit down and eat her food. It was surreal. But my real answer would Jim Hensen. Hands down. I connected with Kermit the Frog from an early age. 

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

So much fantastic female talent out there, Jessica Bogart, Rena-Marie Villano, Vanessa Marshall, Lisa Keyes, Rachel McGrath, Kelly Doherty, Heather Walters, Anne Dewig, Kari Whalgren, Kate Higgins, Amanda Madi, Taylor Kaye, Cindy Robinson, Marieve Harrington, Joanna Rubiner, Melissa Disney, Jessica Lynn, Blaze Berdahl, Anne Vydra, Tara Sands, Sylvia Villagran and hundreds of others!

The real superstars are the people who make me and everyone else sound SO good! 

The producers! Adam Schneider, Scott Fisher, Dan Stone, Justin Dove, Ron Tarrant, Steve Dubbs, Pants, LF Fabiosa, AJ Traspaderme, Chris Rice, Dan Gustafson, John Reilly, Taz, Justin Weiner, Chris Knowles, Albert To, Troy Dorman, Greg Murray, Matthew Anderson, Patrick Laporte, CJ Wilson, Patrick Laporte, Andy Safnauer, Edward Sisneros, Chris Chatburn, Brian Thomas, Sean Galbraith, Brian Viggiani, Axel Lowe, Trevor Shand, Benztown Imaging, Rich Witt, Ryan Drean, Savannah Volzone, and so many others! Can I name them all?  I can keep going….

Thank you to ALL of them over the years who made me sound the way I do!  I couldn’t have done any of this without YOU!

Visit Wendy’s website to check out her demos and projects!

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #224 – The importance of kindness, Dr.Dre’s Kobe tribute and the latest from Denzil Lacey!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 02/21/2020 - 06:43

Weeks are surely starting to rush by again! Let’s take a moment to get into this weeks findings, found some cool stuff for you guys! 

1.Plugin

We’ve been using the new Waves Ovox plugin a lot lately! Here’s a cool video on how to get em Kanye vibezz

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Sports History in the making – Sports Imaging reloaded or Meet Elisabeth Hart

Benztown Imaging Blog - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 06:00

I was stunned by Elisabeth’s Kobe tribute on soundlcoud and reached out. We chatted for a while and thought I needed to share her learnings, findings and awesome way of marrying plug and play to songs with you. Enter Elisabeth!

1. Can you give me a bit background on yourself, your career, achievements.. I am sure a lot of the readers will know you or of you, but  it puts a lot of the below in context I assume.

Well, my name is Elisabeth Hart, and I graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Fanshawe College too many years ago. (Not THAT many years ago…) I started my full time radio career at 1240 CJCS in Stratford, Ontario, and a few years and the launch of 1 new station (107.7 Mix FM) later, I moved onto what at the time was CHUM Peterborough (Country 105/1420 CKPT). 9 years, 2 management changes and 1 station flip later (1420 became Energy 99.7), I moved on up to Rogers Radio Toronto. I was hired as a Commercial Producer for 98.1 CHFI, KiSS 92.5, Sportsnet 590 the FAN and 680 News. During my time there, my role has evolved, and I am currently the Imaging Producer for Sportsnet 590 the FAN. I still do some Commercial Production, as well as assisting with Imaging for the Country stations that Rogers has across Canada, and I’ve done Imaging for the News, AC and CHR stations as well. I also do a lot of voiceover work for commercials and various other projects within Rogers, so all of that keeps me hopping!

2. How is it to work for some of the biggest radio and sports brands in Canada? How do the task differ between the different stations / brands? What is the stylistic approaches and how difficult is it to change hats?

It’s great to get to work with some of the best brands in Canada – but they don’t get to BE the best brands in Canada without the best people. It really is about having the best team around you to help you and support you. If I need help with something I’m working on, I know that I can go to any of my co-workers and ask for their help, and they’ll offer their advice. It’s then up to me to decide whether that advice works stylistically with what I’m working on or not. We’re not doing heart surgery here where the patient lives or dies by whether we cut the promo the right away – everything is open to interpretation and is subjective. But knowing that you can get different feedback from really talented people is always a help.

As far as changing hats, for me it’s important to focus. As much as I may need to multi-task in the course of a day, if I’m sitting there working on a Sports promo while I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with the Country splitters I need to work on, then there’s a chance that the Sports promo might accidentally end up with a Country feel to it. And for me, that’s not the right move. Plan things out, set aside the time to work on and focus on that one project for that format before you move on. And if an idea comes to me for something different than what I’m working on, I’ll write it down so that I remember it for later, rather than abandoning what I’m in the middle of to see that idea through. There will always be times where fires come up and something needs your immediate attention, but as much as you can, focus on one project at a time.

3. How do your days look like? Is there a blueprint? A routine ?

My days are usually pretty different, which I like. There are, of course, always some projects that need to get completed every day, and I have to balance what commercial projects I’m working on that need my attention as well, but there’s not necessarily a blueprint to each day. I usually meet a couple of times a week with the Assistant Program Director of the FAN to talk about what’s happening that we might need to promote, any shows coming up that need our attention, any new seasons starting, etc. I usually try and get some time in a couple of times a week as well just to scour the internet and see what’s out there that other people are doing that’s cool that I can take inspiration from.

4. What is your baby? Most fun project? 

For me, every year my favourite project is the Season Opener for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball season. I’ve been a Blue Jays fan ever since I was young (wait, does that mean I’m not young anymore? DAMMIT!!), and to this day I still even hold a part time job through the summer working at the Jays games. As a very passionate fan, and someone who listened to the game broadcasts growing up, to be able to produce the big season opener piece that kicks off the season across the network, is just amazing. There’s NHL teams in 7 different markets across Canada, and while the whole country rallied behind the Raptors when they won the NBA Championship title, there’s still nothing quite like the way Canada supports the Blue Jays, no matter HOW good or bad the team is doing. So being able to hype people up for another baseball season all across the country like that is pretty special to me.

5. How important is institutional knowledge for a format like sports?

To be honest, it’s not the most important thing. Again, it comes down to the people you have around you, and also your willingness to research. The guy who was doing Imaging for Sportsnet before me is an incredibly talented producer named Anthony Conte. He’s now imaging 98.1 CHFI, and is the AC Imaging Lead for Rogers Radio. He was doing an amazing job with 590, to the point that I was intimidated when I took over the job – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up his standard! But he isn’t a big sports guy. He was able to do such a great job because he would research – and because the other people – the assistant PD, the writer, the jocks, the show producers, etc. would all help out too. Even with myself, I’m not a huge basketball fan. So when it came to producing that Kobe Bryant tribute that you heard, I had to do a lot of research. I knew of Kobe Bryant in the same way everyone did, but not in the same way a basketball fan knew him. So I Google’d him, I watched Youtube videos, I asked my Assistant PD what the *most* important thing for Kobe was, and we had people pulling audio clips from different sources and sharing them with me. While it may have been a piece that “I” produced, there were a bunch of different people involved in it. Can you do great Imaging without having an incredible knowledge of sports? 100%. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to research what you don’t know.

6. What DAW do you use?

ProTools 12 for PC.

7. What are your favorite plugins?

Well, I was recently introduced to a plug-in called RX7, and I’m really excited about it. It’s an audio repair plug-in that can create near-studio quality instrumentals and acapellas from just about any song. It’s way better than the Vocal Remove feature in Adobe, or any other commonly-used attempt to create instrumentals. Previously, I was always limited to using songs where I could find a really good quality instrumental version, so I’m excited to get to play around with this plug-in, and expand my horizons!

8. What are new learnings? Ideas you work on? Inspirations?

An idea I’m working on right now is the Season Opener piece for the 2020 Blue Jays season, but it’s actually an idea I’ve been working on since October. I heard a song that I liked and thought would be cool to use in something, so I found an instrumental version, threw it into ProTools, started putting some play by play with it, and thought hey – this could really work to kick off next season! So I’ve been working on it as I have time, and even though it’s almost done, I still go back to it from time to time just to listen to it with fresh ears, and make sure it all still works. I get my inspiration a lot from commercial music – even if it’s not using that exact track in my material, because you can’t use artist songs in EVERYTHING – it’s how can I get that same emotion? I’ll go on Youtube and search for fan videos – there’s no end of hype videos that fans have made for their favourite sports teams, and they’ve often used great hype music in the background. It not only gives me ideas of what music to use, but also helps me connect with what sort of emotions those fans have tied to their favourite teams.

9. Any new tools you discovered lately?

The tool I’ve been using quite a bit is actually nothing related to ProTools or production at all – it’s actually an app on my iPhone. I’ve found Shazam has been extremely helpful. If I’m watching those hype videos on Youtube and I don’t recognize the song, I can just Shazam it. I’ve even been sitting at home watching TV and heard a commercial with a song that had a cool beat to it that I didn’t know, so I just Shazam it. A few months ago, I was watching a hockey game and just before puck drop, they were playing a piece of music in the arena that I wanted to use in something. I wasn’t able to Shazam it at the time, and it took me about three days to FINALLY find out what the song was (I’d gone through Spotify playlists, Youtube, all looking for songs played at hockey games and come up empty.) Finally, I was able to find a broadcast of that game, find where that play happened, and there was enough of the song coming through that Shazam was able to pick it up. (It was Tsunami by DVBBS, but where it kicks in at 1:17, in case you’re wondering!)

10. Your favorite piece of imaging / production ever?

My favourite piece ever is probably a piece that Chris Pottage, my boss, produced in 2015 back when the Blue Jays were doing really well and made it into the post season.He managed to weave together Eminem’s “One Shot” with the Beatles “Come Together” WITH the Ok Blue Jays theme song, along with play by play calls in an absolutely incredible way that really captured the excitement of the Blue Jays run, and hearing that piece takes me right back to those sold out crowds and the energy in the stadium. It was electric, and his promo was just as electric.

But if you mean my favourite piece of MY Production – that’d probably be the 2019 Season Opener for the Blue Jays – that season was all about the team re-setting, and all of these young prospects finally coming up to the big leagues, and I just love how I was able to find a song that not only captured that theme, but worked so well with the play by play, and I was super happy with how it turned out. The opener for the 2020 season may actually be even better, but it won’t air until the end of March, so I can’t share it just yet. And if you’re wondering if I’m biased that all of my favorite projects are based around the Blue Jays – absolutely I am. I still try and connect to the emotions for other sports for the listeners, but they don’t connect emotionally the same way for ME. There’s a difference between “Hey, that’s a really cool piece of Production”, and “Oh, I love the memories and feelings that that piece of Production connects me to.”

11. What would be your career advice for a youngster your twenty year old self trying to enter the radio biz?

It’s not too late for law school.
But if you really MUST try to enter the radio biz – then stay passionate. Even if you find yourself working with a format that you don’t really like, find a way to discover passion within it. You spend so much of your life working, there’s no sense in spending all that time doing something you don’t enjoy, so always find a way to find the fun within a job. And when you DO get stressed out, always remember…we’re not dealing with life-or-death situations here. We get to PLAY Radio for a living. And that’s a pretty fun thing to do!
____________________________________________________________________

Check out Elisabeth’s soundcloud for more of her work:

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #223 – Iron Imager 9, Genesis Pro And Crazy Synth Guy

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 02/14/2020 - 08:23

Busy week, busy friday! Let’s quickly get into this week’s findings:

1.Plugin

Ummet Ozcan is going to release a new synthesizer Genesis Pro around march – you can get it for $1 which is seriously awesome! Looking foward to this one

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #223 – Iron Imager 9, Genesis Pro and Crazy Synth Guy!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 02/14/2020 - 02:21

Busy week, busy friday! Let’s quickly get into this week’s findings:

1.Plugin

Ummet Ozcan is going to release a new synthesizer Genesis Pro around march – you can get it for $1 which is seriously awesome! Looking foward to this one

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #222 – Free Equalizer, Don’t Waste Another Year and the latest from Lucio Scarpa!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 08:48

Antother week another fiver friday! Let’s quickly get into this weeks findings:

1.Plugin

We’ve got a cool free and simple EQ for you this week, Luftikus – Also check out the video below and see if you spot differences!

2.Inspiration

Not much to add to this one, just listen and draw your conclusions – great speech!

3.Music

This is the soundtrack to my favorite Netflix series – Hip Hop Evolution!!! 

4.Web/Social/Whatever

Cool video on how ads work and follow you around when you’re browsing the web. 

5.Imaging

Check out Lucio Scarpa’s February 2020 Beat Mix, who was also featured in one of our interviews last year!

 

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #221 – The Heist, YellowTec And Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 07:58

Another week, another fiver friday! Seriously sad about the passing of Kobe Bryant as the world lost a great sportsman and human being.. Let’s get into this week’s findings: 

1.Plugin

Audio Damage just released an update to their free compressor plugin Rough Rider! Version 3 offers new sidechain functions and an updated GUI. Get it here for free

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Canadian Connection reLOADED – Enter Derek Welsman

Benztown Imaging Blog - Wed, 01/29/2020 - 05:12

I am thrilled to introduce a man I have been following on socials for a while and thankfully my boy Ketch set us up. Learn about what has sticked after nearly 30 years in Radio, of course what plugiNs Derek is using and how all of this works being legally blind.

Enter Derek.

1. Can you give me a bit background on yourself, your career, achievements and roles at different stations? I am sure a lot of the readers will know you or of you, but it puts a lot of the below in context I assume.

 I’m in my 30th year in broadcasting and this is my career path so far: 

1990 – 2002:  Started in Barrie Ontario as an Announcer and Producer.

2002 – 2007:  Commercial Producer Corus Radio Toronto.

2007 – 2010: Imaging Producer Astral Media (MIX 999 Newstalk 1010)

2010 – 2013: Morning Show Producer / Imaging Producer “The Dean Blundell Show” Corus Radio Toronto.

2014 – Present: Imaging Producer Stingray Radio Toronto (Boom 973 , The Breeze Vancouver/Edmonton/Halifax).

I have had the pleasure of working with some of the greats in our industry and have been recognized for my contributions to the industry in the form of Crystals and OAB awards. Apart from that, I am legally blind.

2. How is it to work for some of the biggest radio brands in the country? How do the tasks differ between the different stations / brands? What is the stylistic approaches and how difficult is it to change hats?

When I first started with Stingray (which was Newcap) I was imaging boom and FLOW. It was a huge shift in gears to go back and forth between hip hop / CHR to Classic Gold. I enjoyed the challenge at the time but I was happy to pass the FLOWtorch. The style of imaging I do for boom is more about the message. Boom’s brand often centres around humour and general lightheartedness whereas FLOW’s hip hop brand takes itself VERY seriously. I tend to not take myself very seriously, so I tend to gravitate to that lighter style. 

3. How do your days look like? Is there a blueprint? A routine ?

I have a number of predictable daily tasks I perform but very often I am like a firefighter. The day starts off calm and seemingly predictable and then BAM!  A last minute contest is announced, a core artist passes away or one of the stations I oversee decides they’re going all Christmas tomorrow  You have to be ready and somewhat flexible with your time when stuff like that happens. George Michael passed away on Christmas Day 2016 and I had to drop my turkey bone in Oakville and quickly get to the studio downtown to put together a tribute piece. I was pretty done with family by that point, so I didn’t mind! 

4. What is your baby? Most fun project? 

Good question. I enjoy pretty much everything I do. I do a lot of character voices for boom… They seem to find excuses to get me to do voices…  I enjoy when those pieces work out and I am entertaining listeners. I am a performer at heart, even though I’m okay with being in the background. I love to contribute as a Producer but my role as the uncredited voice talent brings me a lot of joy.

5. How important is politics, if you work in an organization that size?

If I can stay out of the politics of an organization, I will. Stingray Toronto is a nice place to work. It’s the closest thing to the charm and dow-to-earth-ness of a small market environment as you can get, despite being a viable large market operation. I have been in environments where politics was the centre of everything and I found it to be unenjoyable and at times, toxic.

6. What DAW do you use?

ProTools 11 on a PC.

7. What are your favorite plugins?

I have my favourites for sure. Pitch N Time Pro has proven itself the most valuable for what I do for warping audio and key matching. Melodyne has also allowed me to do some wonderful musical creations. 

 

I find when you work at a Classic Hits station, a lot of projects involve dumbing down audio in order to match the audio quality of historic clips or whatever. Very often I am required to insert new audio into existing clips.. Kind of like what they did in Forest Gump… I often use Izotope Vinyl when I audio match – I just remove the vinyl clicking and popping. That and my Q10 seem to do the trick.

 

8. What are new learnings? Ideas you work on? Inspirations?

I have a need to always keep learning. It’s easy to dwell on the 10% of ProTools that I end up using everyday to achieve my work goals but I am aware that there is another 90% sitting there waiting to be discovered and learned. 

There are so many great and talented guys and gals in this industry who are making great radio and I am inspired every time I hear their work. I want to know how they did this and that and I try to incorporate aspects of their production styles when I can.

9. Any new tools you discovered lately?

I think the next phase of my life is going to focus on MIDI. I haven’t had the space at home to set up a keyboard and play around with sound. We’re doing some renovations to our house this year – part of that will be true production space where I hope to be able to enhance my life with midi and create my own music beds and effects and stuff.

10. Your favorite piece of imaging / production ever?

I have a lot of favourites that represent different phases of my career. I really enjoyed the work I did at Newstalk 1010. I felt what I was doing there counted for something. I love current events and I really loved the immediacy of Newstalk format.. AND I loved that at no point did any of their promos feature a woman screaming “OH MY GAWWWD!” Very refreshing.

11. What would be your career advice for a youngster or your twenty year old self?

Don’t spend too much time imitating the work of others. Focus on creating your own style and way of creating good content.

Build relationships and a reputation with people who are working where you would like to be someday. Who you know in the industry IS a big deal and cultivating those relationships is never a waste of time.

If you start to feel stuck in your job, don’t bother waiting for management to suddenly give you that 20 percent pay raise, cuz brother… it will never happen. 

Sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone and make stuff happen yourself.

Radio is an amazing industry! Stick with it.

Here’s an excerpt of Derek’s work: 

BOOM – Mothers Day Promo

http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/BOOM-Mothers-Day-PROMO.mp3

 

Toronto Raptors Kawhi Promo

http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Raptors-Kawhi-Shot-PROMO.mp3

 

Edge Ultimate Ugly Contest (Love this one!)

http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/34-Edge-Ultimate-Ugly-Contest.mp3

 

Non Stop XMAS Promo

http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Non-Stop-XMAS-2019-A.mp3

 

Top Of Hour – May

http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Top-Hour-May-the-4th-01.mp3

 

Also check out Derek’s soundcloud for more of his productions:

 

 

 

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #220 – Greetings from France, Miss Americana and Benztown CHR!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 01/24/2020 - 07:42

Greetings to everyone from Salon De Radio in Paris – Always great connecting with all of you and really looking forward to our last day tomorrow

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #219 – Native Instruments Gifts, Beat Breakdown and the latest from Sam Wickens!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 01/17/2020 - 06:44

There’s a lot going on right now in the office as all of us are back on our normal schedules. So let’s quickly get into this week’s findings and have a great weekend!

1.Plugin

My good friend Sakis made me aware of this new waves plugin OVox Vocal ReSynthesis which looks really promising!

Take a look at this video to see it in use: 

2.Inspiration

Cool breakdown of Dua Lipa’s hit single Don’t Start Now – really insightful with some cool tips and tricks, worth a watch!

3.Music

Really cool vibey album by Mick Jenkins, especially digging “Carefree”!

4.Web/Social/Whatever

Top Dawg’s annual holiday event with performances of their roster and loads of fun, toys and charity – good stuff!

5.Imaging

Sam Wickens does it again! Seriously amazing work, he keeps getting better and better. 

 

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Recordings on a portable CASSETTE Player, Lego Commercials and Imaging New Zealand: Meet Andrew Biggs

Benztown Imaging Blog - Tue, 01/14/2020 - 07:25
 

Our benztown KiWi Chris Davis put me in Andrew’s direction and after listening to Andrew’s stuff on Soundcloud I wanted to get him on. Check out my wide ranging conversation with one of New Zealands most talented and creative Imagers, from PlugIns to writing to CASSETTES.. Enter Andrew!

  1. Andrew, can you give me a bit of background on yourself, your career, achievements, role at the station. I am sure a lot of the readers will know you or of you, but  it puts a lot of the below in context, I assume.

I’ve had a fascination of radio from around about 10 years old. I used to record myself on a little portable cassette player, write my own music on the piano for my “playlist” and make up my own commercials for LEGO and Transformers or whatever else I was playing with at the time. My poor parents had to listen to these over and over again. Years later I wound up doing free work at a radio station, just making coffees and generally being a nuisance but I just loved the environment, the creativity and the technology. After college (secondary school) I was accepted into the New Zealand Broadcasting School, where I completed my qualification learning about all facets of radio, specializing in creative writing and announcing, of all things. From there I was offered an internship at a radio station in Queenstown, Resort Radio, which was the absolute time of my life. I did everything. It was a small station but because of the tourism aspect to Queenstown, we always had these huge events and lots of personalities on station all the time. My role was “do everything except for sales” essentially and I worked 12 hour days and loved every bit of it. I ended up having to teach myself production on this absolutely awful software called “Prosonix” and there were only 3 of us in the country at the time using it! I would spend hours making Imaging for the station after many months of trying to prove to the program director I was good enough to do it! After that, I was lucky enough to bump into a hero and mentor of mine, Grant Brodie, at a production conference. He was Imaging some of the country’s biggest radio stations and he spent some time doing training with me and teaching me ProTools. From there I was invited to come and work and learn from him in Auckland, eventually taking over from him for 3 months while he did some travelling overseas. I’ve never been thrown in a deeper end before in my life and I’ve no idea how I survived. Nevertheless I was offered a job across the road at MoreFM in Auckland afterwards. From there, I was put in charge of rebranding all the local stations from their individual names to the “MoreFM” brand, which was around 20+ stations across the country at the time. It was all brand new Imaging and the first time it had ever been done in New Zealand. I won two New Zealand Radio Awards for my Imaging during this time and my first New York International Silver Radio Award for my Imaging for MoreFM. After working for five years for MediaWorks, I left for an opportunity to work for Austereo in Perth doing breakfast Imaging and Production. It was completely different to the Imaging work I had been doing, but I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of that style in Australia and it taught me a lot. After nine months there, I was offered a position to work for DMG Radio in Melbourne, doing Imaging for what is now Smooth FM in Sydney and Melbourne. I was doing Imaging for both markets and local production for Melbourne. I loved working with the team there, met some incredible people and it was five years of some of the best work I’ve done in radio. I won another New York International Radio Award during this time as well. From there, I was offered a position to move to Dubai and work with a wonderful Programme Director, Steve Pulley. He ran the English Virgin Radio and Dubai 92 brands and they wanted a modern take on production. I was also given the opportunity to head the Production team over there as well, looking after Hindi, Filipino, English and Arabic radio station Imaging and managing all the different production and creative talents. Along with winning 2 more New York Radio Awards, I learned a lot from the different production styles and skills of the team, and we had such a great, creative working environment over there under Steve Pulley and later, Ross Flahive. I won Gold at the New York Radio Awards for my Dubai 92 Imaging and shortly after I finished up in Dubai after 5 years working and travelling in the amazing middle-east, around ten years of living abroad! I was ready to come back to New Zealand. I set up my own Radio Production company, eyesound, and have been given the amazing opportunity to work for NZME nationwide, looking after Imaging for their Coast and MIX brands, along with providing an additional production resource for their ZM and HITS brands. I also do a lot of their iHeartRadio online Imaging and just about anything they send me on any given week is exciting and fresh. I’m honoured to work for a bit of a radio legend in David Brice and the entire Coast team. Lorna Subritzky was my tutor in Broadcasting School, and Jason Reeves, who I worked with when I first got my opportunity in Auckland doing Imaging, has brought me almost full-circle! I’ve recently won another Silver in the New York Radio Awards for my Coast Imaging and it’s an incredibly fun station to be a part of, pushing the boundaries of a ‘modern’ take on the superstar music of the 70’s and 80’s.

  1. How do the tasks differ between the different stations / brands? What are the stylistic approaches and how difficult is it to change hats ,if you do?

I have two quite distinct roles working with the team at NZME. For Coast, I look after most of the writing and all of the Imaging for the station, along with David Brice. For ZM and HITS I provide an ‘overflow’ resource and I’m assigned work from their incredible Imaging Producer Alistair Cockburn. It’s mostly client-sponsored promotional material and trailers, but the format for both is quite a bit younger than Coast, so it’s a completely different sound. It’s also really important what I’m writing or producing matches the style of those stations and their producer, so I’m matching that ‘flavor’ as best as possible, rather than on Coast or Mix where I pretty much get free reign to do whatever I want, within reason! I have a lot of fun pushing the boundaries on Coast, I can’t recall ever being told I’ve gone too far on something, yet! I really want Coast to be a modern representation of that Classic format, a station you can be 30+ listening to and not feeling like you’re going to a funeral. I’ve worked on easy listening stations in the past and they can sound so dreary and dated in their imaging. I try to make Coast sound fresh, modern and positive. Switching between all these different formats and different approaches to production is reasonably easy. I try to schedule work for a specific brand on a particular day, or part of a day, so I’m not flipping between formats on a regular basis. I also try and ‘reset’ my ears between jobs by listening to classical music.

  1. What do your days look like? Is there a blueprint? A routine?

I start my day after the kindy run, so around 9.30am. As I work from home it’s pretty flexible, but I try and keep a strict routine. I usually get an email from David the day before with the voicing for the week, then the talent does the voicing in Auckland, they send the files to me at home and I put everything together and send it back, writing any scripts needed in the evenings. Additionally, ZM will send me scripts to write or produce during the week along with work from HITS or one-off pieces of production. I’ve covered work for their talk station Newstalk ZB before, along with other music brands or Imaging packages for one-off online iHeartRadio stations. It’s always something different and no week looks the same! The really great thing about working from home for NZME is it gives them the ability to send me work across the weekend as well, so they’re not always locked into a Friday deadline. I’ll often work on a Saturday or a Sunday so they have an additional production resource, outside of normal hours. I think it gives them a bit of an edge with turnaround as well for client material.

  1. What is your baby? Most fun project? 

At the moment? It’s definitely Coast. I love the brand, the people and the music, which certainly helps and the team really is a who’s who of New Zealand Radio so I’m definitely trying to prove that I deserve to be part of it! They have an annual promotion called “Cash Call” which runs each year and I love reinventing the sound of that project each year. I always use an accapella version of Blondie’s “Call Me” but remix it each time. I have a blast coming up with new ways to make it sound different each year. I’ve been working on a new version for 2020 already and I think it might be the best yet!

  1. Gearhead: your dream studio would have…

Production has changed so much (and the associated costs!) so I’m fortunate to work in a home studio that I’ve built myself, so it’s pretty much my dream set-up! I’m 100% mobile so I can work from anywhere with my custom built Macbook. ProTools has never been more stable and easy to use, although, I really would like to invest in a proper voice booth. I guess my “dream” studio would be a custom built studio as part of a new home or something like that. I haven’t given it too much thought because I believe the best asset I can bring to modern production is the ability to be mobile, work from anywhere and be flexible and not tied to a desk or a specific location.

  1. What DAW do you guys use?

I use a custom built 2018 Macbook Pro, 2.2GHz 6-Core Intel i7 with 16gb Ram running the latest version of ProTools, Waves bundle and a few other little plugins.

  1. What are your favorite plugins?

I chop and change all the time but my favorite one currently is Crystallizer by Soundtoys.

  1. What are new learnings? Ideas you work on? Inspirations?

I use a lot of film and television trailers as inspiration for my audio work on Coast because the two demographics often intersect. Film work by James Gunn and Television shows like American Idol that will often use those huge hits from the 70s and 80s as inspiration for a modern twist, so I try to apply the same rules and style for Coast, where appropriate. I try and take ideas from the actual music I’m working with on the station as well, so when you hear a particular song you think of it as a “Coast” song first, before another station, for example.

  1. Any new tools you discovered lately?

I’ve been trying out different ways to monitor final mixes of certain Imaging to give them a different feel, using different types of headphones. One thing I’ve been experimenting with is using high-end noise-cancelling headphones to mix sweepers. You get a completely different sound to Imaging with headphones on, so the most recent Imaging package I did for Coast I did entirely by recording the voice and mixing with headphones and not my studio monitors. It ended up producing this really warm, deep sound to all the sweepers. Perhaps a little too much at times, so it was trial and error, but the result on-air is this smooth, thick sounding audio mix when listened to on regular speakers or in the car.

  1. Your favorite piece of imaging / production ever?

This is a really stupid one, but I did a commercial a long time ago, written by a very good friend of mine Richard Thorburn. He’s an absolute genius writer and it was for a roofing company. It talked about all the team of people that did really specific jobs in the company and the owner, Phil, turns up at the end with his “Philometer’ to measure everything is done right. I spent, literally, hours creating a very specific sound effect for the ‘Philometer’ and agonising over the placement of it in the 30sec commercial so it played as a comedy beat and timing everything to the music. It’s one of those things that nobody will ever notice but it just made us laugh so much, it was a great line in the script and that’s the kinda stuff I really enjoy where the production gets to add a lot of value to a really simple concept or line to create an idea in someone’s mind that’s bigger than what was on the script.

  1. What would be your career advice for a youngster or your twenty year old self?

If you’re wanting to get into audio production, learn an instrument. Learn lots of them! Especially learn to write and compose music because it really helps in Production. ProTools is just a giant music score, except you’re balancing effects and voice, versus cellos and drums. If you think of Production as a musical score, I think it really helps on the creative side of it.

  1. Who have been mentors of yours and how did they support you?

I mentioned him earlier, but Grant Brodie has been a huge inspiration for me, his work for The Edge in New Zealand is iconic locally. Chris Davis is both an incredibly good friend and a mentor of mine as well, from the way his production sounds to the way he operates from his home studio, he’s an incredibly talented guy and someone I’ll randomly call to work his brain for an idea or run something past him to see what he thinks. There’s a bunch of other people I liberally steal ideas from like Travis Evans, a producer I’ve worked with in Australia, Vinay Rao in Dubai, for Virgin Radio, who just has such a different style and ear for sound that’s very creative for the region.

  1. The best tech purchase under a hundred dollars?

I’m obsessively particular about the mouse I use in my studio, I’ve been using a very old microsoft one for over a decade and I was very attached to it. Way back when I was first starting out in radio, I brought this thing for $99 and it seemed like the biggest expense of my life at the time. It became my “ProTools” mouse and its been to every job, every studio, every country I’ve worked in. Sadly it past its used-by date a couple of years ago so I’ve had to upgrade, but I got a solid 10 years out of the thing!

  1. If you had to pick five plugins….

Never leave home without the Moogerfooger! That’s my baby. Q10 is such an easy equaliser, I’d also pick the L1, Soundtoys Crystallizer and a decent reverb. 

 

  1. Radio in 5 years? What will be different, new, more of, less?

Radio is going through a bit of a renaissance right now, as far as I can tell. I hear radio stations playing in shops again and people are talking about stuff that is happening on-air. They’ve figured out what a lot of television hasn’t which is that local content and GOOD content trumps everything. Radio always does local well and it’s cost-effective. I think in five years you’ll begin to see an investment back into local regional markets again as television revenue will continue to decline up against streaming content. Radio will take over a lot of that local advertising revenue again, hopefully. I think radio as a business will continue to be light and adaptable and I think the idea that writers or producers have to sit in an office for 8 or 9 hours a day will become less and less and working from home or opportunities for flexible working conditions will become more standard and in my experience, yield vastly better return on both investment and creativity.

  1. Best advice you have ever gotten

A mentor and good friend once told me the key to not getting ‘stuck’ in a creative rut is to always have 3 tricks you can execute quickly and easily to just get the job done. Then the next time, reverse the order of those same 3 tricks, then mix it up again and so on. Using those ‘three tricks’ in different ways gives you plenty of scope to make basic projects sound interesting, without getting bogged down all the time reinventing the wheel. It’s been such great advice that I always pass it along. It’s a great way of getting great audio made consistently, whilst still being able to manage time efficiently in the studio for other more creatively heavy projects.

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For an excerpt of Andrew’s work check out his soundcloud!: 

 
Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #218 – Free Valhalla Plugin, Jürgen Klopp and Europa Plus 2020!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 07:40

First week back on track, hope all of you had some good time off and are up to a fresh start into 2020! Here are this week’s findings: 

1.Plugin

Just stumbled upon this, if you bought any Valhalla plugin, this one comes for free! 

Valhalla SpaceModulator

Check out the possibilities it offers: 

2.Inspiration

One of the best managers out there at the moment! Jürgen Klopp on Leadership, great watch

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #217 – Happy New YEAR!!!! Welcome 2020!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 04:33

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
First Fiver Friday of 2020. Let’s see, if this year will fly by like the last did :)…I am looking forward to great conversations, productions, conferences, blog posts, making new friend and of course creating the best radio imaging there is!

1.Plugin
Oli’s favorite plugIn

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Andy’s Fiver Friday #216 – Top 10 Free Plugins, German Soccer and The Ride of a Lifetime!

Benztown Imaging Blog - Fri, 12/27/2019 - 08:00

The last installment of Fiver Friday for this decade – thanks to all readers, viewers, commenters for the support along the way

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

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