International VoicesCON 2021: Another One Of CVAP’s Firsts

Written by Pocholo De Leon Gonzales AKA “The VoiceMaster”

Technological advancement has led to the development of human civilization. Thankfully, we have the internet as it enables us to move forward in the new norm. Using the internet as a tool, voice artists can learn, collaborate on projects, promote themselves, and receive talent fees.

With today’s fast-paced technology, we experience better and improved services. More results at lesser labor costs. That’s when menial and repetitive jobs become obsolete because of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

What is VoicesCON?

Today, even AI can generate human-like voices. Most are not even robotic, some even evoke emotion. To some voice artists, it poses a threat to the voice-over industry with its quick and cheap scheme. But can AI fully replace the human voice? Will voice-over artists eventually become obsolete? This is the challenge we voice artists are currently facing. It is this premise that inspired the concept of the first international Voices Creative Online Network (VoicesCON) 2021 — a convention for professional voice artists and aspirants alike. With the theme “The Future of Voice Acting: Revolutionizing and Democratizing Voice Artistry,” VoicesCON 2021 aims to equip voice artists with future-proof techniques and obtain the right mind, heart, and skills to thrive in the voice-ver industry.

The Great Artists on VoicesCON 2021

VoicesCON 2021 is in line with the 16th Anniversary of CreatiVoices Productions on October 25, 2021, via Zoom and Facebook Live. There were more than 800 registrants who were eager to hear from the highly acclaimed voice-over talents all over the globe and Hollywood voice actors. But of course, among the speakers were some of the Philippines’ own.

Bernard Factor Cañaberal

Bernard Factor Cañaberal, the first keynote speaker of the event, is a broadcaster and radio drama personality. One of the many amazing lessons he imparted is the acronym LOVE: Listen, Observe, Value, and Evolve. Listen so we can take in everything and understand it. Observe to see how things work. Being curious and observing so as to learn. Values such as respect, patience, acceptance, and obedience are learned through observing. As you learn to Listen, Observe, and Value, you enable yourself to take a step higher – to Evolve. This type of LOVE does not hurt. Bernard even said, “The studio, equipment, and microphones can be replaced through time, but you, your craft, your work is unique and is irreplaceable.”

Heinie Brian A. Hartendorp

The second speaker is Heinie Brian A. Hartendorp. He is the production manager of Tag 91.1, a multi-platform Filipino radio station in the United Arab Emirates. Heinie narrated the changes in the creative process as a result of technology. He further shared some tips on starting a home studio setup. If you can’t afford it yet, “that’s okay as long as you have a phone and the client is okay with that”, he suggested. Don’t record in a car or bathroom. An ideal place for phone recording is inside a cabinet full of clothes. And then put a duvet over your head. That should do the trick.

Herb Merriweather

Herb Merriweather is our 3rd speaker. He’s an announcer both live and on the radio. He’s also the voice behind numerous films, documentaries, and TV shows. One of his works is a description voice for the Tournament of Roses Parade. “Behind the microphone, you can become anything. “AI can’t do that”, says Herb. Here’s another acronym for the audience. FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real. “What if I fail?”, “What if they don’t like me?” and all the other what-ifs that grip you by the neck. He encouraged his listeners to be confident in their talent. He also pointed out the essence of donating your talent. “Find somebody you can help out. Mentor a newbie. Show them how to do it. You’ll be okay. They’re not gonna take your job, they’re not gonna take your commercial. They’ll find their own niche and you’ll be happy”.

Joe J. Thomas

The next speaker is Joe J. Thomas. “If you play video games, you’ve probably killed me”. Hang in there Joe, there’s a weapon upgrade at the next level. He recommends taking group classes first then taking individual classes when training for voice-over. That way, you can reflect on the feedback of your group mates. He warns about scammers lurking online, so choosing a coach is a good time to be picky. He advises becoming practical and realistic about purchasing equipment such as a microphone, interface, and a computer. “There’s no need to buy top-of-the-line equipment, but don’t go cheap either”, he says. Great, you can have quality recordings without selling your kidneys. When contacting agents, a follow-up after a month or two is ideal, according to Joe. Don’t be pushy because “if they want you, they’ll contact you”. His website is at joeactor.com.

Jodi Krangle

Our 5th speaker, Jodi Krangle is a winner of the 2018 SOVAS award. Becoming an award-winning voice artist didn’t come easy for her. “If someone tells you that this is easy to get into right from the start, they’re not telling you the truth”, she says. In 2019, she started a podcast called Audio Branding: The Hidden Gem of Marketing. It aims to elevate all voices and highlights how the sounds people hear influence their buying decisions. “Sound is important. It shouldn’t be the last thing people think about in production.” True enough, a TV commercial’s stunning visual is still garbage with awful audio. Listen to her podcast at
audiobrandingpodcast.com.

Randye Kaye

30 years of experience has made Randye Kaye, our 6th speaker, an internationally acclaimed female voice artist. She’s a stage, TV and film actress. Randye is also a radio personality and host. She’s aware of the technological advances in the industry as well. “It’s not just reading words with a pretty voice. AI can do that.” Did you hear that, AI? You’re just a pretty voice without a heart. “Voice over is intimate. It’s you talking to the other person.” Randye has clients all over the globe. So her competition is also on a worldwide scale. As she said, “some of your competition can do that more cheaply. Why will they pay you? Because you are you and you have done the work to understand the copy.” Visit her website at randyekayevoiceovers.com.

Marc Cashman

Our 7th speaker has won over 150 advertising awards. He is a radio and TV commercial producer. He is the author of the book V-Oh! Tips, Tricks, Tools, and Techniques to Start and Sustain Your Voice Over Career. He is Marc Cashman. Although his name sounds like it, he’s not all about cha-ching! He’s an advocate of donating talent to charity. “What’s the future of voice acting? It’s people like you who want more meaning out of what they do, who want more than just to make another dollar in this business, he says. In his 40 years in the business, he can tell that “not everyone with a great voice can or will become an actor”. He emphasized the importance of skills development. “The ability to tell a story behind a microphone is a hell of a lot harder than telling it in person”. It is, but mastery over time sounds like heaven. There are many resources online that could help overcome obstacles such as that. Try cashmancommercials.com/vo-coaching-classes for professional help.

John Florian

The next speaker, John Florian, is the founder of Voice-Over XTRA! It’s a website to learn how and where to research and advance a voice-over career. Here’s www.VoiceOverXtra.com for those who want an extra career boost. When hiring a trainer, there’s no harm in asking how long they have been coaching, voicing, directing and what their niche is. After all, you want a coach who can make you a better voice artist. He encourages professional dialogue among voice artists. The HIRE ME! SERVE ME! attitude is a bit tacky. Don’t network with people just to gain personal benefit. Instead, ask people what challenges they face and how you can assist them.

Rachael Naylor

Rachael Naylor, our 9th speaker, is the director of The VoiceOver Network in Britain. She is also the editor of The Buzz Magazine, the only global quarterly magazine in the world dedicated to the voice-over industry available in print and digital format. Rachael experienced multiple rejections, but she persevered until she got to where she is now. “Nobody’s going to do it for you. Not your agent, not your manager, not your parents, not your partner, not your kids, not your friends. It’s all about you. You have to make it happen.” The video game industry is massive and it is exploding. She mentioned there’s so much going on in animation according to casting directors she spoke with at Disney and Pixar. Fans, here’s some tea.

Stephanie Ciccarelli

Another lady boss, our 10th speaker is Stephanie Ciccarelli, the founder of Voices.com. Voices is the world’s top audio services marketplace. Stephanie also hosts the Vox Talk podcast. She updated us on the current trends in voiceovers. Voiceovers come down to sounding natural, like in a friendly conversation. “When you’re a voice talent, you need to really make that personal human connection with your listeners and your audience”, says Stephanie. In 2020, the number of internet video jobs on Voices.com increased by 199%. Meanwhile, 33% of respondents in her company’s report this year say that there is an increased demand for eLearning content and online training. So there’s an edge to boosting your web and social media presence. She urged voice artists to practice every day and take time for coaching. “Study. Learn. Absorb. Take things that you wouldn’t normally do, like reading a copy off the side of a cereal box. It sounds really basic but it’s something”. Who knew trying to pronounce the ingredients on a shampoo bottle had benefits?

James R. Alburger

Our final speaker is the author of The Art of Voice Acting. a.k.a. The Voice Acting Bible. The Philippines is blessed with the presence of James R. Alburger. Amen. He gave his homily on the 7 Core Elements of Performance. These elements are as fundamental as the alphabet is to a language. It might sound easy as A-B-C-D-E-F-G, but it sure isn’t kindergarten level. Audience. Backstory. Character. Desires. Energy. Forget who you are and focus. Gamble. In no particular order, you should know these elements like a prayer. Audience. It’s the person you are talking to. Identify your audience’s demographics and behavior. Your audience is always only one person. Back story. It is the reason for you to speak to them. Character. “You can’t do a character, you have to be the character,” he says. Desires. It is the underlying want or need of a character. James dropped the motto TELL ME, DON’T SELL ME! Sounding like a salesman repels the audience. Our job is to tell the story. Our job is never to sell anything. We want to provide the information to allow the listener to make their own choice to buy. Energy. MOVE it. Movement Orchestrates Vocal Expression. Gestures and body language make recordings come alive. Interestingly, James can’t teach the last two elements as these do not have techniques. Forget Who You Are & Focus. Create the illusion of reality by stepping out of yourself and into the character. Gamble. “This is not brain surgery, people. Have some fun. Permit yourself to play. Be willing to take risks.” It’s okay to be rejected, to mispronounce, to make mistakes. You can reach him at www.VoiceActing.com and www.CigmaMedia.com.

VoicesCON in Summary

One thing all of the speakers have in common is their confidence and pride in the voice-over work they do. Neither of them is threatened by AI’s development. This industry will not fall into oblivion as some might worry about. If anything, the voice-over business will only grow as multimedia gets better capabilities. Commercials, eLearning materials, eBook narration, video game characters, animation, dubbing, podcasts, you name it. The human voice will always be in demand. On the other hand, technology will continue to flourish. AI will get better, but it is limited by its perimeter of being a computer program. AI can understand, not feel. AI can sound good, but it doesn’t sound real. The future of voice acting is the human voice. The human voice has the power to stand the test of time and tech. The organizers of VoicesCON offer the training you need to succeed in the voice acting industry with no prior experience required. Reserve your slot at a special discount on www.certifiedvoiceartist.com. See you at the next International
VoicesCON!






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