Confession time: I’ve a ‘secret’ job for over 20 years in voice work. The job is narrating the visual details in a film/tv show. I first heard about it while I was volunteering with VoicePrint at NBRS (National Broadcast Reading Service) back in the previous century, when they first offered VHS movies with description added. Since then I have done many hours of TV and movie descriptions. I love being in the studio and helping to make programs more accessible with the addition of voice. I love using my voice to bring stories into a fuller picture. Action sequences are my favourite. I narrated the description for Matrix Reloaded for The Movie Network in 2018. Trying to see how long I could talk before I tripped up was a great joy for me!
Why was it a secret? Well, no one knew what it was. There wasn’t enough time for credits, so I never got named. In the voice world, it wasn’t recognized as being a transferrable skill to ‘real’ voice work. Thankfully that’s changing. It’s becoming more and more prevalent now as we are recognizing the importance of making things accessible to everyone.
Of course trying to describe more material brings new challenges – enter AI voice and ‘text to speech’. There is still an overall lack of funding for DV/AD, and although governing bodies have mandated that all prime time shows need description, it’s up to the broadcasters to foot the bill. The attitude “it’s better than nothing” is rearing it’s ugly head, and many broadcasters are choosing the cheaper route to description. I’m going to look for some new companies to work with that still value the human voice. In the meantime, I thought I would share some of the work I have done that is still available to view online! (for now). Let me know what you think!
I’ve had to find some new work since COVID hit. One of my new favourites came out of my audiobook “The Forgotten Daughter” with Deyan Audio. It turns out that Deyan helps the narrators out with a lot of prep work (which is different across other companies) Most companies have the narrator and/or director research all the word pronunciations.
Deyan has hired me on to do that job and I love it! I spend the day looking up words that are new to me, or playing around trying to see ways I could potentially mis-pronounce a word (because there are A LOT of common words that are mispronounced!) I have found some fascinating video ‘rabbit holes’ to fall into; discovered new recipes; work optimization tips; health info. New favourite YouTube channels to follow. All while learning more about phonetics and getting paid.
I am interested in expanding this into a private business. I can offer fuller research on books as well including character descriptions and research on plot points. Send me and email to ask for rates/details!
My very first public speaking event was when I was 5 years old. We were at some touristy Ontario spot…St Jacobs, or St Marie-among-the-Hurons or some other place. We were in a small movie theatre- My mom, brother sister and myself waiting for a historical /educational film about the area to start. Was it my impatience? Or was the movie delayed? I’m not really sure. I only know my mom told me that suddenly I got out of my seat and went to the front of the theatre and said in a loud, clear voice “Ladies and Gentlemen. May I have your attention please? The movie will being soon. Thank you.” and then walked back to my seat.
Why did I feel compelled to do this? Did I seize an opportunity to grab the attention of a waiting crowd? Did I sense their growing impatience (like mine) and decide the masses need to be placated? Did I think that an un-founded assurance of mine would be what people wanted to hear? Did I parrot what I had heard so many other times in similar situations? I’ll never really know what went on in my childish brain at the time…but I can draw parallels from the rest of my life that followed the same pattern. The urge to do something to engage/inform/distract people…. but only very briefly. I don’t demand unlimited attention. I get shy with too much attention. I want a little, not a lot. I want my offering to be like an appetizer… leaving you in that place where you have enjoyed what you experienced. Not sitting uncomfortably in your seat, overwhelmed with a big meal. Something to whet the appetite and prepare you for traveling on to the next part. Maybe the next part is up to you to offer?
I noticed WordPress is connected to a Podcast site. I’m thinking of starting one. This seemed like a good title to me.
I suspect I will have to find more ways of promoting this. So far, listing my website on every single email with my signature doesn’t seem to draw attention.
We’re still in lockdown, but life continue. I’m now doing audiobook research which is amazing. Something that can be done from home, and works around my other jobs. Perfect. Plus I am getting a bunch of fascinating stuff to add to my ‘watch later’ vids on YouTube. Youglish is my fav new site. You just type in a word and it takes you to a video where someone is using that word. The rest of the content varies, so you might hear a bit about astronomy and then get into a discussion on history or politics or even theatre panels. You never know how many places one little word might show up!
Speaking of YouTube… I have been posting a bunch of music there. I’m still waiting for CD Baby and YouTube to figure out how to get my album showing up on my YouTube page.
If I am ever having a ‘down’ day I just check out the comments on the Sailor Moon videos!
Audiobook #2 has been released! It’s coming out behind #3 in order so it feels like something new! I’ve also started a new part time job creating pronunciation guides for audiobooks. I’m kinda loving just sitting at my desk exploring words! Deciding which ones are tricky to pronounce; which ones might just need a refresher on meaning. It all goes into the list. Then I write them up phonetically. I did a bit of phonetics in theatre school and found it fascinating. I always meant to come back to it… I just didn’t realize it would take this long and happen in this way.
The research tools also mean I find some really cool new words and new videos to check out. Hopefully I’ll find ways to work them into conversation and into my repertoire. I think of Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady” singing “Words, words words!” …although in the song she’s sick of them. Not me! I get words all day through…some for me…some for you!
My newest audiobook “The Forgotten Daughter” is now live! You can listen to a sample, or download a FREE copy by joining Audible. NOTE: It is also available through Toronto Public Library’s Overdrive for free!I thoroughly enjoyed working on this beautifully written, part fiction, part history, all engaging story!
Looks like this audiobook thing might actually work out for me! I got hired for a big-time project (HarperAudio) for a beautiful story set in Montreal. After my sojourn in Kabul with all the accents, it’s a nice change to just focus on 1, Québécois!
This was my first book with a deadline. It’s a new experience to work with daily uploads, contact from a production team and help with research and audio. We turned the guest room/my office upside down and put the mattress against the window to dampen any sound. There is a lot of construction going on in my neighbourhood, so this helped keep the noise at bay!
Since coming back from a truncated birthday trip in March (thanks Coronavirus…) I’ve been working on my 2nd audiobook: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul by Ele Pawelski.
It’s a challenging one for me as it is 1st person with 3 narrators…2 of whom are male. I’m learning more about audiobooks each time I take on a project. Right now, it’s less about the editing…I’m getting pretty good at that! It’s more about labeling! It’s pretty easy to mix up files and not know which file is the ‘latest’ version. In my first foray into audiobooks, I just erased each old version. The problem with that is that there isn’t a ‘safe’ copy to go back to if I’ve screwed up and over-processed things.
This time, I’m keeping old copies…but they pile up! Soon I will move everything onto a new storage drive and then I’m hoping I will over-label and know exactly where everything is.
I also recorded a new commercial demo with KH Casting. I’m still waiting for the final product (it’s been 2 weeks…. I think they forgot. The engineer is on vacation now! I wanted to record from home but that is when we discovered my very noisy computer fan. Time to switch to a laptop.
I am a member of ACTRA. To become a member, you get a few ‘apprentice credits’, and when you get the required amount, you become a full member.
I had started working with an animation company singing on some cartoons. I was called in because they were dubbing a cartoon into German and needed people with language skills. From there, I started singing for other projects and one of them was Sailor Moon. I actually knew this show and realized that this work could get me my ACTRA status. So I got my apprentice papers and was off!
I had a great time singing for cartoons. I loved listening to the original, and then based on that and a translated lyric sheet, creating a new song. I would have loved to be a character as well, but that didn’t seem to happen for me. What also didn’t happen was credits on the show. I don’t know why, but only the speaking actors were credit for their work. Singers were not. So I lived in humble obscurity, occasionally petitioning IMDb to add my name to the credits…to no avail.
This weekend I got an amazing email, right here to my website. I didn’t think anyone even saw this site here! Corza Moon decided to follow up with Sequence Productions, the studio where Sailor Moon was produced, to fill in the blanks on some of the voices used in the show. And that’s how I finally got recognized for singing on Sailor Moon. I’m over the moon about it all! Check it all out here: