Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Cutting the Demo Reel

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

 I’ve got a demo reel in the works- last Saturday I spent most of the morning working on it. I had a really great time- Scott Burns, the (extremely talented) guy helping me produce the reel, was kind enough to take a photo or two for me.

I discovered something that day- being “on” for hours at a time is bloody exhausting. By the time I was done, I was… done. That night I slept the sleep of the dead, it was amazing how much energy I spent behind that mic.

Corey in the Booth

In the Booth!

It was worth it, though. The session went great and I really felt like I nailed it- like, hard. I knew I must be doing something right when Scott literally grabbed me and hugged me, saying “That was GREAT!” after a take.

Here’s Scott reacting to one of my takes:

What was that?!

What was that?!

I kid, of course- Scott was an absolute joy to work with and I had a great time. If you get a chance to work with Scott, take it. He’s a talented guy and genuinely good people, and I consider myself lucky to have been working with him.

Good times!

Good times!

 I also need to give a word of thanks to my friend Carrie, who was kind enough to come up from Tacoma to Seattle on a Saturday morning simply to be the female part (with a total of two, count ’em, two lines) in my demo reel. I can’t thank her enough for the help.


Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Welcome to my new site. It’s still under some construction, and if you’re reading this you probably got the link to the site from me or via a forum or two where I’ve been soliciting feedback on it.

Let me know what you think and check back soon- I’ll be posting demos and updating the site over the next few days as I prepare for a “launch” of the site!

Thanks again for being here!

Criticism and You

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

I spoke today with the lovely and talented Amy Snively, as I am helping her set up a phone patch similar to the one I blogged about recently.

During our conversation I mentioned that I was preparing to cut a demo reel with a copywriter and producer and she offered me a ton of great advice and feedback, which I have communicated the relevant bits to the copywriter who’s working on my demo reel scripts. It’s wonderful to get good feedback from people who know what they’re talking about- and by “good” I mean “honest”. I can hear what I want to hear from anyone, but it’s important to hear what I need to hear.


Feedback- The Breakfast of Champions.

Feedback- The Good Kind

As actors, it’s crucial that we get feedback on our performance and skills. This is one of the ways in which we improve, and one of the best places to get feedback is from your peers. In fact, allow me to go one step further and say that it’s not one of the best places, it’s the best place to get it.

However, something I’ve noticed in my journey through this strange world of voice acting is that there are a lot of people who can’t take feedback or constructive criticism well- or at all! No, I haven’t been snarked at by someone for criticizing them, this is something I’ve observed with other novice VOs who ask for a critique of something, and then argue with the criticism, or think people are being rude, or what have you.

Protip: don’t ask for feedback if you’re just going to ignore it or worse, reject it.


What are you prepared to learn?

Part of improving any craft, and especially one as subjective as acting- and make no mistake, voice actors are actors first, voices second- is being able to accept and incorporate feedback gracefully and willingly. Not all feedback is correct, and not all feedback is actionable. Your job as an actor is to determine what you should take up and what you should discard.

No matter what, though- always accept it with grace and aplomb. Thank the person, ask them to clarify if necessary but don’t reject it out of hand.  You don’t have to agree with someone’s feedback, but you should always be open to it. Never argue that someone’s critique of your work is wrong; subjective opinion is never wrong, it’s just a subjective opinion. If someone takes the time to provide honest feedback, thank them for their time- even if they were negative (especially if they were negative).

Corey’s Rules of Requesting Feedback


The Rules!

1. Ask Nicely.You would be amazed at how far people will go to help you out if you’re nice to them. Do what your parents taught you- say “please” and “thank you”. Recognize that when you’re asking for criticism you’re essentially asking professionals to take time they could be using to get paid to help you out. You’re not entitled to feedback, unless you’re paying someone for it like a voice coach, and even then you should be polite.

2. Make it Easy (or: Don’t Make it Hard). If you want people to listen to your demo, give them a link to it or in some way make it as simple as possible to hear it. Don’t link them to another page they have to click through. Make it as dirt-simple as it can be. Save people time and effort and they’ll be happier with you, and they’ll be more likely to help you out.

3. Be Specific. If you want someone to listen to a couple of recordings to compare the quality of two mics, tell them that so they don’t listen to it and give you feedback about how you read the copy. Tell people what you’re soliciting feedback for so they can help you out (see rule #2!).

4. Be Patient. Nobody’s going to just drop everything they’re doing and rush to listen to your recording within 5 minutes of you posting it or if you handed them a CD/flash drive they’re not going to rush back to their system so they can play it right then and there. Give folks a chance to find some time to sit down and check out what you’re asking them to look at.

Corey’s Rules for Receiving Feedback

When you get feedback from someone, keep these in mind.

1. Be Open. If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question. Be prepared to hear things you don’t want to, and be prepared to take action on them.

2. Be Objective. Don’t be emotional. You’re trying to improve your craft here, and feedback should be taken in that context. If someone critiques your work in a negative manner, remember that they’re critiquing the work, not you. You can make improvements to the work, which is why you wanted the critiques.

3. Listen, listen, listen. Read it twice. Hear what you’re being told, and really parse it. If someone mixes both positive and negative in a critique, listen to both.

Corey’s Questions for Receiving Feedback

When you ask for someone to give you their opinion, it would behoove you to listen to that opinion. What you do then is up to you, but ask yourself these questions when someone offers you a critique.

1. Is it Constructive?. Constructive criticism is meant to help you, even if it’s not positive. If someone says “That sucks!” and nothing more, it’s not terribly constructive. If you hear “That sucks- you need to change X, Y and Z”, then hey- it’s not positive, but it’s constructive. You can take up the criticism and do something with it, which leads us to…

2. Is it Actionable? Criticism is great, but only if you can actually do something with it. If someone criticizes your work in a way that you can’t take concrete action to address, ask them to clarify. As above, if someone said “That sucked, you need to change X”, but doesn’t say how, then you’ve got constructive but not actionable, criticism. Ask the person to clarify it into something actionable. What can you do to address the issue?

3. Is it Correct? This is a tough one. Just because someone offers you a piece of criticism that’s constructive and actionable doesn’t mean you should take it up. Neither should you ignore it. This is where the Be Objective rule comes into play. Is the person’s criticism accurate? Should you take it up? Only you can answer this question, but I strongly urge you to take relative experience and any other factors into account, but leave your emotional investment out of it as much as you can.

Walking the Talk

I did some demos once. I self-produced them, believing I had the skill to do it correctly. I was wrong, and I was told so by some very kind people including the aforementioned Amy and Scott Pollak, who told me in no uncertain terms that the quality of my work on them was subpar.

Was I happy to hear that? Of course not. Did I let it ruin my day? Again, of course not. I’m not some übermensch with no emotional investment in what I do and it took me a bloody week to put those things together.  It wasn’t pleasant to hear that they were, essentially, crap. But it was the truth. Facts don’t give a damn about our feelings.

Armed with what I knew and had learned, I pulled my demos and went back to the books, so to speak. I’ve since been training, learning, reading and talking with voice actors of every stripe. The experience was valuable because it’s important to be able to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. I didn’t take it personally, because that would do me no good.

Requirement #1: Thick Skin

If you want to be a successful voice artist, the first thing you have to do is toughen up that hide. Rejection, criticism and lots of competition make it a brutal business if you’re not able to rise above the fact that quite often for whatever reason you simply won’t be chosen.

Asking for and receiving feedback is critical to anyone’s success as a voice actor. Being able to process and take that feedback in and do something with it is even more critical.

Faux-Ditions are Being Judged!

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

According to Peter O’Connell’s blog, the entries for the faux-ditions are closed and the judges are putting the top five finalists together.

I think I did a good job on mine– but is it good enough to make it into the finalists? We’ll see! 😀

*crosses fingers*

Update: I wasn’t in the finalists, sadly. But you should head over and vote for who you think is the best of the ones that did make it!

Faux-Dition for The Price is Right!

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Peter O’Connell over at recently posted a challenge– to do a faux-dition (fake audition) for the announcer job on The Price Is Right. How could I resist such a challenge? The answer? I could not!

[audio:|titles=Corey Snow unofficial TPIR Audition for Faux-Ditions]

Here is my attempt, which I just sent to Peter. We’ll see how people like it- I sure as heck had a lot of fun doing it. I had to warn my roommate that I’d be making a lot of weird noises like “DREEEEWWWWW CAREEYYYY!” for a while.

Listen, enjoy and tell me your thoughts.

Back on Track

Friday, November 19th, 2010

It’s been an interesting few days. With the recent power outage and 3 (!) earthquakes in my area, none of which caused any damage but were still disconcerting, I’ve been a bit… distracted? Yes, that’s a very diplomatic word. 

At any rate, I’ve got another voice blog which I’ll be recording in a bit and posting later tonight. Got some friends watching TV in the next room, so I’m gonna wait until the background noise is gone. 


Background noise and condenser mics- not good


A few tidbits

So what’s new in the world? Well, a few things that I thought were worth mentioning. 


First, I met an old friend for lunch today and got told that I sound “more polished” in terms of general conversation than I did the last time we spoke, which was a few years ago. That was highly gratifying, as it came on the heels of a conversation where I was discussing how much effort I had been putting into what is essentially a self-training regimen. We discussed some of the things I mentioned in my most recent voice blog, essentially the difficulty of being taken seriously. The field of voice work is littered with “wannabes”, and it’s very difficult to position oneself against that backdrop. What felt good about being told that I sound different is that it means that all the work I’ve been putting into my voice is having real-world impact on how I sound. 



Read 'em and weep


Among a few book recommendations is one I found on my Nook today: VO, by Harlan Hogan. By the way, if you’re an author, make your books available in digital format. I don’t want to hear excuses, just bloody do it. I buy 10 e-books for every paper one and reference/nonfiction books are almost always better in digital format because I can carry an entire shelf with me in a package that weighs less than 6 ounces. It’s the 21st century, get with the program and make your books available electronically. 


As to this book, I’m not terrifically far into it, but it’s a good read thus far. I was pleased to no end to discover that Hogan’s recommended approaches to things mirrors many of the things I’ve been trying to work on myself and have even mentioned in this blog, including stressing things like continuous improvement, focusing on small things, checking your ego at the door and learning by doing. I recommend it as a good place to begin if you’re considering working in the voice field. It does a good job of setting expectations which is important in this field, I believe. 


Carrie over at Vox in Transition wrote about a class she’s attending this weekend with Pat Fraley about audiobook reading. I’m insanely jealous- the teacher of our recent VO class recommended it and I really wanted to go but scheduling and budget simply didn’t pan out. You can bet I’ll be picking her brain about how the class went, though! 


Acoustic FoamTomorrow I’m taking delivery of some 2×4 panels of acoustic foam for my studio. It’s essentially a basement room with hard plaster walls, so it’s got a lot of reflections and sounds really bright. I’m looking forward to taking the edge off of that and will be making adjustments over time to make it as good a recording environment as I can manage in the space I have.I assume that this will only be a first step, as I’m learning quite a bit about how sound actually works in a studio and how it is managed.

A Challenger Appears!

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Just kidding. But a friend of mine, Carrie Standish has started a blog where she’s doing essentially the same thing as I am- beginning a voiceover career. I think this is awesome, and I’m really looking forward to reading what she has to say and share.

An Actual, Paying Gig

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I was quite surprised a few days ago to get a proposition via Voice123 to voice a small web ad. It’s not huge amounts of money and it’s only 10 words, but it’s actual, paying work! This officially marks my entry into the world of pro voice acting, in the sense that “pro”==”getting paid”. I’m quite chuffed about it.

In other news, I had my second iteration of the VO class I mentioned last week, and it went very well again. It’s interesting to watch the people in the class and hear their delivery morph even as you watch and listen into something better. I don’t think everyone in that class will end up being a pro voice artist, but there are a few seriously talented people in it. I think I’m in that category, but it’s very difficult to judge your own performance.

I sent off the tracks to the studio for the paying job last night and once it goes “live” (assuming they like what I sent) with the ad, I’ll see if I can provide a link to it from here.

Back to School

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Well, in a manner of speaking. I’ve started taking a class called “Intro to Voice Over” in Seattle. It’s taught by Scott Burns, a local radio and voiceover talent. He and I met a while back and I ruminated over possible directions to take.

In  the end I decided to go with the class and once that is completed will probably work with Scott on putting together a demo reel and also see about followup classes.

The class is a weekly thing and I’ve only attended one, but it was very interesting. I thought I’d have a hard time learning a craft like voiceover in a group setting- I mean, how much can you learn from watching someone else at the mic, while waiting your turn?

Turns out, a huge amount. Just watching people and listening to their sessions gave me some real insight, which I didn’t expect. My time behind the mic was also fun. As an aside, I’d never spoken into a five thousand dollar microphone. It sounds every bit as good as you might think.

I need to ask if I can bring my own headphones next time- “cans” in the jargon. The ones they had were kind of uncomfortable for me.

The group is 8 people, a mix of men and women and various ages/backgrounds. Some highly talented people in that crowd, too. I found myself thinking competively, which isn’t the purpose of the class, but I think is healthy in the larger context- consider that voiceover is a competitive field and feeling like the efforts of others will spur me to better my performance can’t help but be good.

Host Move Complete!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

A few minor bumps aside, we seem to be at home in our new space. Unfortunately my blogroll was lost during the move (all my links got nuked), so I’ll have to rebuild that.

However, I’m off to PAX ( this weekend, so I’ll be unable to take care of that until Monday. I hope everyone has a great Labor Day Weekend!