The Voices of VO

Our next featured guest is VO extraordinaire G.K.. Since 2009, G.K. has worked with CMD on a multitude of promo spots, specifically for sporting events with the NBA and USTA.

Still buzzing from recording a high-energy spot for World Tennis Day, G.K. and I took a moment to unwind and talk about his life as a professional VO artist.

CMD:  Where did you grow up?

GK: I grew up half an hour outside of the city in New Rochelle, a little city in Westchester. It was far enough away from the city to have that house-with-a-backyard kind of life but also very close to the city so whenever I needed a city fix it was just a 30-minute drive or 40-minute train ride.

CMD:  How did you decide to get into VO?

GK: It was a thing that I fell into. Long story short my dad is in radio working as a DJ for about four decades now. When I was in school I looked into acting and modeling gigs and I guess somewhere along the way I learned that I had a face for radio. And then boom! I met up with a voice over coach and made a demo and I’m still turning a profit from that demo years and years later. It was the greatest return on an investment I’ve ever had. It’s given me a career that’s lead to opportunities for on camera hosting and all the things I originally wanted to do. It’s the greatest blessing of my adult life.

CMD: That’s awesome that your dad was an inspiration for your career. How did he get into radio and were you involved with the studio at all?

GK: My dad went to high school with Bob Marley and they were close friends. When Bob Marley and the Wailers started making it big they’d ask my dad to be their MC when they came through the northeast. So that led my dad to a radio job as a DJ playing reggae. He was the only guy in NY doing reggae at 107.5 WBLS. And then from there he created his own show, which would play at a nightclub where he had a recording studio and satellite connection. I would visit him all the time and I used to be a guest host here and there. Serious hands on training!

CMD: So it sounds like you’ve been doing VO work for a long time. Looking back on your experiences what would you consider your biggest accomplishment?

GK: I guess my success came in stages. Especially when you’re a kid and you see your first paycheck and you realize you can make money off of VO work. So my small gigs grew into consistent clients and some of them grew into different projects. You know, there are TV commercials but there are also promos, audio books, animation, etc. I guess everyone’s goal is to be the voice of something. I’m happy to say that I’ve done everything you can do in the VO world at least once.

CMD:  What do you think has been your favorite genre in the VO industry?

GK: If I had to narrow it down to one it would be commercials. Both from an on-screen actor’s standpoint and a voice actor’s standpoint commercials are probably some of the coolest things you can do. I’m not a very ‘hey look at me’ kind of person so voice over is great for that. The thing about a commercial is that it can come on anytime anywhere without any fair warning. If I was on the TV show I’d have to swallow my pride a little bit and be like ‘hey guys not sure if you’re doing anything, but if you’re really bored and you really feel like it, do you mind checking out this show at this time, on this channel, and look for me?’ But commercials just show up in people’s lives at any moment. Sometimes people I know actually recognize my voice.  I did an exciting record a couple years ago for Sprite featuring Lebron James. The spot was about people being different and original. It was produced well with a real budget so I think that’s the best commercial I’ve done.

CMD:  What’s the most challenging project you’ve had to record?

GK: Those are usually the long form spots. I’m the voice and on camera host for a STEM math program with Scholastic. So every now and then I have to come in and rerecord the audio because they come up with new test questions. However, I’m very math deficient so I basically have to trick kids into thinking that I know math and I really don’t. So that type of work is challenging. I’ve done a lot of long form presentations for financial service companies. Often the copy is so bland which makes the record challenging, but it’s all rewarding. I don’t think I’ve ever done a VO gig that I wished I hadn’t done.

CMD: What do you love most about VO work?

GK: It’s very convenient in a lot of ways. It’s a new age, so you can do a lot of recordings from your in-home studio if you have one. It’s weird; I’ve made a lot of money in my bedroom not wearing much clothing, but not in a morally questionable way.

CMD: What are your hobbies outside of VO?

GK: I’m usually in hustle mode most of the time so I’m either acting, hosting or doing stand up. Right now I have a podcast. It’s called The Julian and G.K. Podcast. If you’re a wresting fan you’ll love it. Other than that, I play basketball, I work out, and I listen to a lot of music. In a perfect world I’d also be a signer/songwriter.

CMD: Do you have any advice for people looking to get into VO?

GK: You have to do what you like. And you have to do what you’re good at. I think that’s making the best use of your time. I did a lot of corporate America work while I was doing VO on the side, but it took years for me to figure out that I could make VO a real fulltime career. I wish I were the kind of person that can work a 9 to 5 five days out of the week hoping to not be challenged. Unless you got it made in the shade you have to work and if you don’t like your work then you probably don’t enjoy your life too much. That’s what corporate America taught me and I’ve been on this mission ever since to hustle and make VO my career and keep it my career. I have a lot of places like CMD to thank for that. VO isn’t the most tangible thing in the world but when you’re around creative people and it’s a nice environment good things happen, and I really think CMD is a testament to that. Anybody who’s willing to give us actors a shot whether it goes far or doesn’t you’re not going to regret trying. VO is an amazing thing to do.  

To listen to The Julian and G.K. Podcast for free, download it at the Apple Store here, or check it out on Youtube here. To see a photo of G.K. hanging out in our studio lobby, visit our Instagram. Thanks to G.K. for speaking with us!

More resources for The Voice Shop and CMD

The Voice Shop is CMD’s voice over coaching and education initiative. Our mission at The Voice Shop is to help new and experienced VO artists establish and develop the skills necessary to succeed as a voice over professional. For VO classes ranging from the fundamentals of VO to how to build a home studio, check out The Voice Shop.

CMD is an audio post house and VO studio located in NYC. If you are an experienced voice talent who would like to join our roster, we invite you to complete our New Talent Form for consideration.

The Voices of VO

CMD and The Voice Shop are excited to announce the launch of our newest blog series, ‘The Voices of VO’! In this series we’ll take a closer look into the lives of voice over actors who have worked with us over the years.

Coming from all different backgrounds and levels of experience, the stories these actors share have something for everyone. We’ll talk about how they got their start, their successes and failures as working artists, and what it takes to make VO a full-time career.  

Our first interview is with Katy V. Katy has been working with us since 2013, but has been in the VO world since she was a teenager. She describes her voice as youthful, up beat, relatable, and sincere.

We chatted with Katy about her experiences as a VO artist.

CMD: How did you get into VO? Was it something you’ve wanted to do since you were a kid?

Katy: I was that kid that watched a lot of TV so I was always seeing and hearing commercials and cartoons that sounded like me. So I thought, ‘hey I could do that!’ There was always an interest there from a young age, for sure. My mom is actually a performer and took a voice over workshop when I was in high school. I had the day off so she invited me to tag along. I went and I loved it. The instructor took me under his wing and I did a 6-week intensive. Shortly after that I made a demo and went from there.

CMD: What were your first projects?

Katy: My first projects were Leapfrog books and kids-based things. Even though I’m older now I still have a young voice so that’s always been my niche – being a kid.

CMD: Looking back on your experiences what would you consider your breakthrough?

Katy: Honestly it was one of the first big projects I booked through CMD. It was a national commercial that featured Robert Downey Jr. I was used to doing these little industrials and demos, so it was really cool seeing and hearing myself in a television commercial. I remember it aired during the series finale of breaking bad on AMC and I was just like, ‘is this real life?!’

CMD: What would you consider the most challenging part of VO?

Katy: I’ve been focusing more on animation VO lately. It’s challenging because you don’t read for animation like you would for a commercial. I was cast in an animated feature that recorded earlier this year and it was my first time being in the studio with a director on the clock and doing the live ADR. Reading the script and matching the voice to what you’re seeing was so challenging but cool at the same time because you actually get to see the character you’re voicing. It’s a tricky skill set because it involves a lot of coordination.  You’re cued up in your headset and then you just go. It reminds me of when you play Mario Cart and the traffic light goes beep, beep, beep and then you start to race. That’s how it felt the whole time.

CMD: It must be hard to stay in character while focusing on so many other aspects.

Katy: Yeah, exactly. It’s that too. So not only are you trying to be in the mindset of the character and deliver this realistic read for what’s going on emotionally speaking but then you’re also focusing on syncing everything up. You’re wearing a lot of hats so your brain is scattered but it’s really cool. Once you can find that coordination and the muscle memory it’s thrilling. My 8 year old me was like ‘you’re a cartoon now! You’ve wanted this for so long!’ Challenging but an incredible payoff.

To see a photo of Katy in our studio lobby, visit our Instagram. Thanks to Katy for speaking with us!

More resources for The Voice Shop and CMD

The Voice Shop is CMD’s voice over coaching and education initiative. Our mission at The Voice Shop is to help new and experienced VO artists establish and develop the skills necessary to succeed as a voice over professional. For VO classes ranging from the fundamentals of VO to how to build a home studio, check out The Voice Shop.

CMD is an audio post house specializing in voice over casting in 80+ languages located in NYC. If you are an experienced voice talent who would like to join our roster, we invite you to complete our New Talent Form for consideration.

Sit Down with CMD and the Voice Shop’s Own Mike Zirinsky

CMD and the Voice Shop’s own Mike Zirinsky has been the subject of quite a few articles online recently. Upon launching the new class schedule at the Voice Shop, along with CMD making its mark in voice over, Mike Z has been keeping pretty busy. Recently, we shared some interesting articles about CMD, the Voice Shop, and even an interview with Mike himself, discussing CMD and being an entrepreneur in general.

More recently, Mike made appearances on a couple podcasts where he discusses CMD’s beginnings, a little more about CMD’s Voice Shop, and more on how it all started. The interviews also touch upon what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, among other interesting topics. Take a look at the links below to sit down with Mike Z and hear what he has to say: 

Escape 9 to 5 Podcast - In his interview with podcaster Ali Salman, from Escape 9 to 5, Mike Z. talks about leaving his finance career behind, purchasing CMD, and how he changed and grew the company from there.

Entrepreneur Podcast Network -  Gain insight as to how CMD has grown and become a top audio house in NYC, how Mike got into the VO business, as well as some inside information on the Voice Shop.  

If you’d like to learn more about CMD, the Voice Shop, and what we do, be sure to check out some of the pages below:

In the News: Mike Z. and CMD’s Voice Shop

With the kickoff of the Voice Shop’s new class schedule recently, it’s been an exciting few months for CMD. For starters, CMD and the Voice Shop’s Mike Zirinsky sat down with Ideamensch to discuss how CMD came to be, what drives him as an entrepreneur, and even some secrets to success, among other interesting topics.

In addition to Mike Z’s interview with Ideamensch, online magazine/community SonicScoop also published a great features on the Voice Shop. The article briefly discusses head voice over coach Michael George with a great overview of what we do at the Voice Shop. If you’d like to learn more about Mike Z., CMD, and the Voice Shop, be sure to take a look at the articles below.

Interview with Mike Z.

SonicScoop’s words on the Voice Shop

Mike Z. in The Times Herald

Interested in VO Classes? Need Voice Over?

Whether you need voice over talent for an upcoming project, or you’re an aspiring voice talent trying to enter the industry, CMD and the Voice Shop can help. If you’re interested in improving your voice and working to become a voice actor, be sure to view our voice over classes. If you need voice over talent or any other service in audio post production, you can give CMD a call at 212-213-9420 to get started. You can also check out the links below:

How to Get Into Voice Acting: Key Tips

As with most niche industries, breaking into voice acting is a competitive and often difficult feat. Who-you-know talk aside, finding regular voice over work takes due diligence and a lot of hard work. Nevertheless, with the right voice, proper technique, and necessary knowledge, becoming a voice actor is definitely feasible. Getting into voice acting all starts with finding your voice and learning how to use it properly. While it may seem simple, it takes more skill than most might think.

Getting Started: Key Considerations

Whether you’ve been told you have a great voice or realized you can alter your voice, there are a few things you should consider before giving voice acting your all. These aren’t geared to dissuade anyone from trying, but they are key in determining if the voice over industry is actually right for you. Take a look:

  • The Expenses: From buying studio time to building your own at home, not to mention marketing yourself, getting into voice acting can require a good chunk of change. Of course, it could potentially pay off in the end. But since there’s no guarantee, closely consider the initial expenses.

  • The Time: As with money (you know what they say), you’ll also need to spend a great deal of time honing your skills, creating a demo, and looking for work, among other tasks. This should be expected, though, as mastering any trade doesn’t happen over night.

  • The Rejection: Of course, you have got to be prepared to face rejection. There’s strong competition in the voice over industry and, no matter the reason, you’ll be beat from time to time. In short, getting in will take persistence—so be prepared.

  • The Enjoyment: Though you will face expenses, time consumption, and rejection, becoming a voice actor and maintaining a career as one is a lot of fun. Considering the many uses for voice over, you’ll have a blast working on various projects and taking on different roles.

Be sure to take everything above into consideration before you work to get into voice acting. If you’re passionate about the industry and willing to give it your all, you could very well find work and become a voice over artist. Even then, however, you’ll need to do your research. And we’ve laid out some essential tips to help you get started.

Tips for Becoming a Voice Actor

As with most industries, there’s always the age-old question, “How do I get into voice acting?”. While the answer may not be so clear cut, there’s quite a bit you can and need to do as you get started. From there, you’ll need to create a demo and market yourself to find work. We’ll cover this all below.

Getting Started in Voice Acting

Even with a good natural voice, you’ll still need to find your voice for acting. Whether it be geared toward narration, animation, or another discipline within voice over, you’ll need to discover that on your own. This is crucial, and most aspiring actors will require voice over classes, acting classes, or some other sort of training.

Aside from finding your voice, you’ll also need to perfect your skills and technique in terms of projection. Voice acting isn’t simply speaking into a mic; you have to act. Not only that, but you need to pick up on common techniques, like breathing and taking pauses. Fortunately, you can learn all of this from taking classes or training with an established voice over artist.

Creating a Voice Over Demo

Before you can start looking for work, you’ll need a demo reel to showcase your voice. Much like a resume, your demo should include your best work and be geared toward a specific job. In other words, it’s best to have a demo for each specific genre/discipline you’d like to work in. That could be the aforementioned animation, narration, promo work, etc. Here are some things to consider in producing your demo reel:

  • Always start the demo with your very best stuff, rather than saving it for the end. Obviously, you’ll want all your recordings to be “your best work”, but those that truly show off your skills should be first to grab the producer or casting director’s attention.

  • Include jingles and background music to support your voice. A simple voice with no background isn’t as appealing, and you can use ambiance to your advantage.

  • Use well-written copy. For example, if you’re voicing a character, give them actual lines that fit their personality, rather than just reading random copy to showcase the voice. In short, the copy you read should fit the voice you’re projecting.

Promoting Yourself and Finding Work

Once you’ve finished your demo and ensured it’s of high quality, you’ll be ready to start looking for work. Note: if you’re truly committed to voice acting, having your own home studio is ideal. Initial expenses may be high, but home studios are quite necessary for becoming a voice actor. Regardless, there’s plenty of ways you can start reaching out to casting directors and submitting your demo reel to land gigs.

For some, hiring a talent agent to help you in the process can be worthwhile, but it’ll add to your costs and take away from any money you make. However, it could also be the best way you find work. That aside, you can look for job postings online, upload your demo to voice over directories, and attend open auditions you find in your search. Finally, you should also consider creating a professional website for yourself. This way, you’ll be searchable online and have a place to send prospective clients to see more of your work. However you go about finding voice over work, be persistent and don’t let rejection discourage you.

Get Started Today

As you can see, getting into voice acting is no easy feat. However, voice over is a growing industry and the opportunities within are seemingly endless. Once you’ve found your voice, dialed in on key techniques, and created your demo, you can always submit your work to CMD via our new talent form. Other than that, be sure to get your voice out there and start looking for work.

Producing a Quality Fashion or Fragrance Commercial

When it comes to marketing, guiding consumers to purchase your product is the goal of most commercials, projects and ads. However, when it comes to the fashion and perfume industry, there’s a unique opportunity to express something more than just the features and benefits of your product, more than a simple outline of your services and pricing. Fashion and fragrance demand creativity, innovation and originality. These products highlight qualities of the human experience which is what makes them so provocative and alluring to the average person. This expression of an identity is essentially what leads consumers to fall in love and connect with your brand.

So, you may be thinking this sounds nice in theory, but how do you actually put this idea into action? At Creative Media Design, we have over 15 years’ experience to help you bring your next project to life, including a wide array of voice over talent to capture the essence of your message. Read on to find out what will take your campaign from so-so to unforgettable.

How Audio Paints a Picture

Messaging in your commercial does a few things, but mostly it leads consumers to buy your product or service. However, in more artistic industries such as fashion and fragrance, a commercial or project should also speak to the emotions of a consumer. Fragrances and fashion don’t really “do” anything in the traditional sense of the word. Unpacking this further, we understand our need for things like vacuum cleaners and allergy pills. We get an immediate and tangible benefit from those items, but it’s not so easy to pin down what we receive from buying a particular perfume or piece of clothing. These items speak more to the emotional, subconscious part of our brains that tell us how we feel. Our brains literally light up (shown on an MRI scan) when we see, smell, hear or touch something pleasurable, and this is what sensory marketing is all about.

Deciding which emotions you want to elicit from your consumers will play a huge role in the direction of your project. Do you want them to feel beautiful? Free? Powerful? Romantic? Youthful? Edgy?

Finding the right voice for your project is absolutely essential in portraying the feelings, stories and emotions associated with your brand. Imagine this scene: A beautiful woman, wearing an elegant gown while walking in a field of flowers… to the voice of a WWE announcer. Kind of ruins the picture, right? That may be a little dramatic, but hopefully you get the idea. When advertising to your consumers, finding ways to speak to their senses should be the goal and is where we find the use of audio to be particularly convincing and necessary.

Need help Finding a Voice for your Commercial?

Creative Media Design provides quality audio and voice over talent to our clients with unmatched experience. If you’re interested in learning more about our voice and audio services, give us a call at 212-213-9420 or click here for more information.

What Goes Into Designing Virtual Reality Audio?

With the rising popularity and accessibility of virtual reality, the audio involved has become increasingly important. Since audio is a crucial layer to the overall immersion of virtual reality, many are working to evolve the current technologies to make audio more responsive to VR technology. For example, Google recently released a new audio technology called Omnitone, which changes the quality of sounds based on your relative three-dimensional positioning. With that, we wanted to spend some time exploring the inner workings of audio in virtual reality, and how it works!

What is Three-Dimensional Audio?

The most common method today for achieving three-dimensional sound comes by way of binaural audio. Binaural audio has existed for decades, but many wrote it off as an obscure novelty. However, with the advent of modern virtual reality systems, like the Oculus Rift, many have turned back to binaural audio as the best means to achieve 3D sound.

Binaural audio is not a very complex technology, but when used well, it can enhance the immersion of virtual reality in a big way. This system utilizes eight different speakers that form a full circumference of sound. For example, if you wanted a sound to come from your left side, it would play dominantly through the leftmost speaker. The same applies to the front and back, and the sounds can be blended between the eight speakers as well.

How Three-Dimensional Audio Hacks Our Brains

By utilizing eight speakers, the resulting sounds will manipulate your brain into thinking the audio is directional. It sounds a lot like surround sound in movie theaters, doesn’t it? But don’t be mistaken, acousticians often have fits when binaural audio and surround sound are used synonymously. In truth, binaural audio is a much simpler means of achieving three-dimensional sound, and that’s partly why it’s become the go-to in virtual reality audio technology. For an example of how binaural audio works, The Verge offers a demo of the technology that will work with any set of earbuds or headphones.  

To take binaural audio a step further, Google recently announced a new technology called Omnitone. This technology works much like binaural audio, except that the eight speakers actually rotate in accordance with your virtual movement. That’s to say, your whole field of sound changes relative to your positioning. This impressive technology might ultimately be the future of virtual reality!

Work with Us!

If you’d like to hear about our services, such as audio for virtual reality, give us a call today at 212-213-9420. You can also contact us here.

What Does Game Audio Entail?

While the goals of game audio production are the same as film audio production, there are some key differences that make game audio particularly challenging for sound designers. The best sound design in video games tends to go unnoticed, as it seamlessly adds to the overall immersion experience. That said, let’s look deeper into game audio to better understand what it entails.

Game Audio Production

Game audio producers work with the design and animation team to create rich audio that matches the quality and aesthetic of the overall production. In that sense, game audio production is all about teamwork. In fact, sound designers also collaborate with music composers, who are typically outsourced. It’s the sound design team’s responsibility to ensure the composer understands the overall vision for the game, and that the music blends well with the rest of the production.

The audio engineers behind games are also responsible for sourcing  any sound effects needed for the game. These could be real or invented sounds. For examples, some shooting games utilize the sounds of real guns that are recorded and optimized by the engineer. Once all the sounds effects are sourced, it’s the audio engineer’s role to edit, mix, and master all the sounds for the finished game.

Game audio differs from other types of audio simply because there is no fixed sound or music. Games are interactive and dynamic, so game audio needs to respond to the player’s movements and actions. As such, sound designers must create layers of audio that match the player’s movements and engagements within the game. This makes game audio particularly challenging for sound designers.

The Importance of Video Game Audio

Much like the visual design that goes into video game production, quality audio production can enhance the immersion of a game. That said, audio is quickly overlooked by those playing the game. That’s because at its best, game audio should be seamless and practically unnoticeable. But music and sound effects are an extremely powerful tool when it comes to evoking emotion from players, and well-produced game audio usually ends up being one of the more memorable aspects of a game.

Work with Creative Media Design

As you can see, game audio is a vital part of the overall production and execution of games. And it’s essential to the overall immersion and player experience.

If you’re interested in learning more about game audio, or working with Creative Media Design, feel free to contact us today. You can also call us at 212.213.9420.