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Aug
30

Teachers Who DO

TWO DAYS of TWO GUEST DIRECTORS at TWO GIGS! Call it a case of “those who actually DO, TEACH”: seems a few of our Guest Directors have been busy lately! Yesterday, BRIAN SOMMER and CHUCK KOUROUKLIS crossed paths to do some goofy commercial character stuff for Papa John’s (BIG surprise there), and just this morning, VICKI BAUM ran into JIM EDGAR on a project not to be named! Photos are included for evidence between Vicki and Jim (too many camera lenses have cracked at the prospect of shooting Brian and Chuck). Just goes to show – whether they’re from LA or working in the Bay Area, Voicetrax Instructors teach a lot because they work a lot!


Aug
28

SUSAN VLAHOS and the 48 Hour Film Project!

You OUGHTTA BE IN PICTURES: Veteran ‘Traxer SUSAN VLAHOS might not have been thinking “silver screen” when she first came to Voicetrax, but there she was, 20 feet tall last night at The Roxie Theatre in San Francisco appearing in a short film surrounded by her friends and family! And wouldn’t you know that even though it was on-camera, Susan was tasked to create a couple character voices in her STARRING role. Once you get bitten by the acting bug you find that a little extracurricular improv helps with your voice acting, and then a healthy dollop of scene study helps even more, and before you know it, you’re in the 48 Hour Film Project (www.48hourfilm.com)! Participants team up and draw a film genre from a hat, and the film they produce over the next 48 hours must include a specific character, prop, and line – and get a load of what Susan credits for her success:

“If it hadn’t been for the training I received from Voicetrax, I never would have come CLOSE to helping my team!”

CONGRATULATIONS on your big debut, Susan! And thanks, by the way, for the added proof that voice-over is ALL ABOUT ACTING – just remember all the little people when the award season comes calling.

 


Aug
21

Moving Your VO Career With You

FROM THE OUT-OF-STATE FILES: who says your voice-acting career has to slow down just because you’ve relocated? Not ‘Traxer GREG EDMUNDS! Greg may have moved to Scottsdale, AZ, but you can BET you’ll still be hearing his voice in the Bay Area:

“Hi gang! I’m catching up on things. Two to report.

One from Stars, I booked the Andy Warhol audio tour for SFMOMA. Closes September 2. The audition did not say “SF Only”, but when I got the check avail I was told it was SF or not at all. I cashed in some airline points and did a fly in fly out same day. Totally worth it! The script was a little odd (it is Andy Warhol after all), and about halfway through the client, engineer and I were all having toooo much fun! We had to hustle to get the last few stops in, but was no problem. The style they wanted was very informal, but at the end they wanted me to give the introduction in a more “traditional” style. No problem, gave them that one take and they said “thank you!”

Second – I was lucky enough to get a referral from (fellow ‘Traxer) Diane Hayes! She has a long-standing narration client she has been working with, and they wanted a male voice. She reached out and I was able to knock out a couple of scripts. She knows me and my sound/style and thought it would be a good fit for the client-they agreed.

I love this ‘job’ (do I have to call it work if I’m having fun?!?)

xoxo, Greg”

DO you have to call it “work”, Greg? You know what they say about doing something you love… CONGRATULATIONS!


Aug
14

GRRL Power!

THE LATEST BOOKING NEWS: Seems some ‘Traxer Women have been KILLING it lately!  When she isn’t on stage or in the great outdoors letting one of her falcons loose for a little relaxation and recon (how badass is THAT), BRIDGET MAGUIRE-COLTON manages to jam some bookings into her busy schedule:

“Pigeon abatement may be my day job, but I never wanted to be pigeon-holed in my voiceover career. And it seems I’m not. In the last year I’ve voiced a door lock in a web video, a fortune teller in a radio commercial, a Scott-ish barkeep and furniture-obsessed zombie in a video game and most recently a narrator for an audio tour for the NY MoMA. I have my VoiceTrax training to thank for my versatility and fearlessness when it comes to playing with voices and characters. But this is no time to rest on my laurels, I just had 3 more auditions drop into my inbox! Love you all!” – BMC

And AMY LARSON is taking it one further with today’s theme, having booked a feature-length documentary “HERSTORY: The Visionary Life of Lydia Ruyle and the Banners of the Divine Feminine”, by Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost, which premiered at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference, Glastonbury, UK, on August 4. Additional screenings scheduled so far will take place in California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York and Utah through 2020. Amy also recently booked an industrial project that will involve both on-camera and voiceover work, but the NDA prevents her from sharing…anything!

Congrats, Amy and Bridget!  You’re doing us PROUD. Amy’s work can be heard about :42 into the trailer linked below…

 


Aug
05

THE DEMO: Kenny Allen!

TALES FROM THE RECORDING BOOTH: KENNY ALLEN’S DEMOS! Working from the same premise established for John Geraty last week – remember that bit about familiarity breeding superior demos? – we now present the same approach as applied to Kenny Allen! And how did the results work out for Kenny?

“Woah, such a surreal moment listening… that is awesome! Hearing the finished product makes me feel well-armed to dive into this crazy VO world. I can’t thank you all enough for the roles you have played and continue to play on my journey!!”

Thank YOU, Kenny! We’re glad you like your demos as much as we do.

 

Kenny Allen's DEMOS!

TALES FROM THE RECORDING BOOTH: KENNY ALLEN’S DEMOS! Working from the same premise established for John Geraty last week – remember that bit about familiarity breeding superior demos? – we now present the same approach as applied to Kenny Allen! And how did the results work out for Kenny? “Woah, such a surreal moment listening… that is awesome! Hearing the finished product makes me feel well-armed to dive into this crazy VO world. I can’t thank you all enough for the roles you have played and continue to play on my journey!!” Thank YOU, Kenny! We’re glad you like your demos as much as we do.

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Monday, August 5, 2019


Jul
31

THE DEMO: John Geraty!

TALES FROM THE RECORDING BOOTH: JOHN GERATY’S DEMOS! We’ve posted a demo or two here before, but we haven’t yet delved into a certain uncanny aspect that often occurs when we usher a Voicetrax student into that landmark stage of their training and career. It’s a particular kind of MAGIC that happens when a producer can hear your performance in her head before you even record, because she knows you so well! We’re in a unique position to tell your story because we’ve actually been a PART of that story for a few years – and John Geraty, who’s worked SO HARD at this with such great determination, helps us prove that point with his shiny new demo linked below…

John Geraty's Demo!

TALES FROM THE RECORDING BOOTH: JOHN GERATY’S DEMOS! We’ve posted a demo or two here before, but we haven’t yet delved into a certain uncanny aspect that often occurs when we usher a Voicetrax student into that landmark stage of their training and career. It’s a particular kind of MAGIC that happens when a producer can hear your performance in her head before you even record, because she knows you so well! We’re in a unique position to tell your story because we’ve actually been a PART of that story for a few years – and John Geraty, who’s worked SO HARD at this with such great determination, helps us prove that point with his shiny new demo linked below…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Jul
26

Nonsense That’s NO Nonsense…

YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN! Between interactive titles like “The Sims” and countless toys needing non-verbal expressions of clear emotions, there is actually a rich market for gibberish in the voice-over industry! ‘Traxers GREG EDMUNDS and RHIANNON BROGAN, both recent bookers of Crate Creatures and Hatchimals, respectively, can tell you ALL about it. And the stars finally aligned this year to bring us three great directors – AARON MINER, LAUREN KELLY and GAVIN HAMMON – for a whole new class in gibberish: Hpxedchvbsepriuch! What does that even MEAN? Something pretty useful according to the students of last weekend’s Inaugural session…

“I really enjoyed the class… I left with a lot of information, and tools to practice and enthusiasm to keep working on my gibberish. All three instructors were friendly and helpful and I learned a lot from watching all the other students do their takes. I am excited to keep practicing because speaking nonsense is so much fun! “ – Genevieve Schloesser

“I thought that wdfghcjkl would be a piece of cake. I pride myself in making no sense in the world as we know it. But this gibberish is not your standard sdfghjkl! I enjoyed having 3 different directors with their own perspectives on the subject. Starting the class on Friday with gibberish improv was not my finest moment, but some of the skits were fabulous. For me the whole class was about thinking way outside of the box which most certainly translates positively to other categories of voice over.” – Bill Naylor

“I really had no idea what to expect from this class but assumed it would be fun, useful for character work, and something unique that I could only find at Voicetrax, and I was right! I absolutely loved the class, especially the three instructors… (they) made the class connect and loosen up through warm ups, and provide a very encouraging and safe space to be our silly selves. We were getting so into it that we’d respond to each other in gibberish over lunch at Driver’s!“ – Katherine Tole

“Hpxedchvbsepriuch was good! Gibberish is one of those technical things that seems to never get enough time… and when I saw it on the list this term I jumped. I knew it would have wider implications than just toy talk. I think I’m going to start using a gibberish take into my preparation process, at least sometimes, to help me home in on emotional clarity.” – Tyson Underwood

“This class was so much fun and I definitely feel more confident and came away with specific things I can work on. Some aspects were more difficult, some came easier than expected. I appreciated the different perspectives and styles of the three different teachers, it felt well rounded that way. Looking forward to using some new skills! Thanks!” – Ari Sigal


Jul
15

A FEW MINUTES WITH: Guest Director TOWNSEND COLEMAN!

From animation to commercials to promos, Townsend Coleman has done it all including starring as Michelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the seriously goofy superhero, The Tick. Not to mention he was the voice of NBC’s “Must See TV” for years and currently voices promos for ABC. To our great fortune, Townsend is bringing all that experience, wisdom and talent to Voicetrax. In anticipation of his appearance in the next installment of our Inside The Voice Actor’s Studio lecture series, we chatted with Townsend to take a peek inside what makes him tick…. (hee hee hee, get it?)

 

VT: You’ve enjoyed a career that’s spanned several decades and is still going strong. How did it start?

TC: I moved to Los Angeles in 1984, got lucky and signed with my first (and only) agent, Jeff Danis, my first week in town. Just six months in, and within 10 days of each other, I got my first national, on-camera television commercial for Kraft BBQ Sauce, I landed my first movie role in a film with Tommy Lee Jones and I booked my first cartoon series, Inspector Gadget. All of a sudden, I was earning money and residuals like I’d never seen before and I thought… I’ve made it! Then within six months I was broke again and having to sell my car and borrow money from my mom to pay the rent. Having that kind of success and, more importantly, that kind of failure that early in my career was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me. It taught me a huge lesson, namely how fickle this business is. You have to be realistic and thankful about the work that you get.

VT: Humility and gratitude seem to be a recurring theme amongst the most successful voice actors who’ve enjoyed incredible longevity in our industry like you have.

TC: I think that thankfulness and gratitude is a real key in keeping grounded in a way that doesn’t allow our heads to get too big and get in the way of the work. Every session I’m seriously thankful for yet another opportunity to work. I can’t believe that I get to do this.  Honestly there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t walk out of my booth when the session is over saying, awwww it’s over already?

VT: You do a lot of work in promos, which can be formulaic and monotonous. How do you keep it fresh?

TC:  Every single time I work there isn’t a moment that I slack off or give anything less than 100%. I love what I do and doggone it, it’s fun. I always try to keep myself energized. I can’t just walk through this stuff because audiences can feel that. Producers and directors can tell if I’m just going through the motions or if I’m really getting into it. It’s like being in a Broadway play. Those actors do the same show 8 times a week. But somehow each time that curtain goes up, they find a way to make that specific performance come alive. I always look at my sessions as a live performance. And even after all these years, I still have sessions that give me that rush as if I’m doing it for the first time and I’m the luckiest guy on the planet. It’s a high like no other. I’m not sure how to explain that to somebody that hasn’t experienced it for themselves.

VT: If we fast forward a few years into your career, along comes a little show called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How did that happen for you?

TC: I was doing a show called Fraggle Rock and the voice director was Stu Rosen. Stu came to one of our sessions one day and pulled a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book out of his briefcase and told us he was casting and directing this as his next project. None of us had ever heard of it before. I remember shaking my head and thinking, what has this world come to?  Pizza-eating turtles with nunchuks? How big an audience could there be for something this bizarre? Remember, these were the days of Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony, so Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seemed pretty damn edgy at the time. Stu brought most of us from Fraggle Rock in to audition and I won the part of Michelangelo.

VT: How quickly did you realize that you were a part of a phenomenon?

TC: About half way through the first season we were the #1 show and the action figures and toys were selling like hotcakes. One day you wake up and think… how did this happen?

VT: Why do you think it was (and is) so popular?

TC: That’s a hard question to answer. When it premiered, it was really different than anything else out there. Also, the vastly different characteristics of each of the four turtles embodied something that just about any kid could relate to. I could tell you story after story from people that have approached me at conventions or through social media that say how much the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a part of their childhood and how important Michelangelo was to them in teaching them a sense of humor, the importance of sticking with something or the importance of having fun even when things were difficult. It never occurred to me that the words we were saying would have any kind of meaningful impact on another human being. It’s amazing to me that it resonated with so many kids.

VT: We have to mention the animated series, The Tick. It’s a cult classic.

TC: It’s blown me away just how popular that show still is. I think it’s more popular now then when it first aired in the 90’s. In fact, with everything I’ve done in animation, The Tick was easily my favorite show to work on ever. The writing really hit my funny bone and the cast was great. I was a huge Monkeys fan as a kid, so having Micky Dolenz (who originally played Arthur) as my sidekick? It doesn’t get any better than that.

VT: The Tick is such a loveable superhero. Is he based on anyone in particular?

TC: Actually he’s a composite of Gary Owens, the announcer on Laugh In, Ted Knight who played Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore show, and the character of Nick Danger (a gumshoe private eye) from Firesign Theatre. When I first saw the script for The Tick, I read the lines and show description and saw a picture of The Tick and those three guys immediately came to my mind. So I started by borrowing the diction of Gary Owens, the bumbling, but trying to be cool essence of Ted Baxter and the straightforwardness of Nick Danger. Then I dialed in a little bit of myself into the mix. As inventive as some of my work might seem, it’s not stuff I invented. It all came from ideas, sounds and styles that somebody before me had already done.

VT: But it was your imagination that brought those three prototypes together.

TC: True. And even though there were a lot of things that I borrowed, there was that element of me that nobody else could bring to the role. And that’s true for all of us as voice actors. We each have that something unique to us that nobody else has, and it’s incumbent upon each of us to discover and feed it and let it blossom and bloom.


Jul
11

Booking Madonna…

MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS AND STILL GOING STRONG… sure, that applies to Voicetrax, but we share the distinction with a literal rock star: MADONNA, whose fandom is still mighty enough to inspire a documentary, mighty enough in fact to inspire a Russian journalist to move to New York City and take 3 ½ years to put that documentary together! And who’s the ‘Traxer they hired to narrate it? None other than MARY JO IP! There’s a brief sample of Mary Jo’s work :26 into the promo below. Not to be a broken record about these things, but it’s true – hard work and determination WILL pay off, just as it did for Mary Jo! CONGRATULATIONS!


Jun
24

First Audition, First Booking!

You just NEVER KNOW when that first job will strike… One of the great things about taking classes with Guest Directors active in the voice-over industry is that you may just make enough of a first impression to get something unexpected – like an actual audition for a job! PETER DUNNE, our resident Audio Tour guru, has been known to pop a surprise on a Voicetrax student or two, and this time, ‘Traxer LAUREN CHEONG was the recipient:

“When an audition appeared OUT OF THE BLUE in my inbox, I was surprised and thrilled. It was a gift: my first audition.

I turned in the audition that evening and in less than 24 hours, I got a ‘check avail’ from the client asking for my rate and availability… A couple days later, I was given a time and place to go – no ‘you’re hired’ or ‘it’s yours’ – simply where and when to record… I received the script, which was a one-page audio tour excerpt… To get an audio tour audition, much less an audio tour gig felt surreal. This is exactly what I want to do.

The day came, and I drove to SF, met the friendly engineer in his pristine studio and I was directed via Skype by a friendly director in New York. I didn’t get a lot of direction overall, but what I did get was just like anything I would have heard in class. It was a quick job, and I was done in less than thirty minutes. The whole thing was a lovely fluid process.

Never did I expect to get an audio tour as my first audition, and then to get the job – I’m still gobsmacked, thrilled, and also thankful for all the drills and guidance we get at Voicetrax. Neither the director nor the engineer knew it was my first job, and hopefully it wasn’t obvious. While I was nervous before I got there, once at the studio, I was in the moment and I don’t recall feeling any butterflies.

Hugs,

Lauren Huber Cheong”

CONGRATULATIONS, Lauren! Sounds like the start of a beautiful new career!


Jun
17

Let’s Make A Scene 2019, Parts 2 & 3

LET’S MAKE A SCENE: ROUNDS TWO AND THREE! In our wild and wacky world of class scheduling, things arranged themselves in just such a way that we ran a Let’s Make A Scene double-header on June 8 and 9 – with LA veteran JEANNIE ELIAS in one studio, and former ‘Traxer and On-camera/Promo guru CHOPPER BERNET in the other! Between Jeannie and Chopper there was an entire conservatory’s worth of scene breakdowns and intensive coaching going on at the Voicetrax campus, which made the students’ work that much more brilliant… and narrowing down the field, that much bigger of a headache! But after a few days of rumination, kvetching over having to pick only a few (and maybe a drink or two), Jeannie and Chopper have fulfilled their mandate! From Jeannie’s group, please join us in congratulating KENNY ALLEN, TAFFY DOLLARD, DEVIN GLISCHINSKI, ARON PARKER, and NING RECIO! And from Chopper’s group, we’ll have LAURA OGLESBY, EMMY PIERCE, MICHAEL RANKINS and LISA STAR moving on to the Finals! These finalists will join SUSAN TODD, COOPER GELHAUS, THERESA KNOTT and LISA WILLIAMS for a rousing round of performances in September’s Let’s Make A Scene Finals, to be judged by a top SF on-camera agent AND our current champion, Roni Gallimore! But we are so proud of every one of you who participated; you’ve ALL made yourselves better actors – and therefore better VOICE actors – as a result!


Jun
03

WINNING the 500!

AND THE WINNER IS… the performer who literally BROKE THE ENVELOPE this Saturday! One of the great lessons in a competitive auditioning class like the Voicetrax 500 is that actors sometimes get so wrapped up in the notion of a competition that their auditions can get “safe” and uninspired. And when Samantha saw the performances trending this way, she decided to shake things up a bit, giving one finalist some harrowing direction and daring her to go all the way with it. That finalist did what Sam asked, and was the shining example of what EVERY student should always do – be brave and let go…dig deep and truly unleash your heart. Her stirring performance was met with thunderous applause and the resounding consensus that she should be crowned the Voicetrax 500 winner, earning her a 500.00 dollar class scholarship! To learn who this finalist is, and to hear that performance, just click on the video below.

Voicetrax 500 2019

AND THE WINNER IS… the performer who literally BROKE THE ENVELOPE this Saturday! One of the great lessons in a competitive auditioning class like the Voicetrax 500 is that actors sometimes get so wrapped up in the notion of a competition that their auditions can get “safe” and uninspired. And when Samantha saw the performances trending this way, she decided to shake things up a bit, giving one finalist some harrowing direction and daring her to go all the way with it. That finalist did what Sam asked, and was the shining example of what EVERY student should always do – be brave and let go…dig deep and truly unleash your heart. Her stirring performance was met with thunderous applause and the resounding consensus that she should be crowned the Voicetrax 500 winner, earning her a 500.00 dollar class scholarship! To learn who this finalist is, and to hear that performance, just click on the video below.

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Monday, June 3, 2019


May
29

THREE “3.0s” = Free Private Lesson!

SOMETIMES IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ONE TAKE AND A TENTH OF A POINT: May’s session of The Good, The Bad & The Weird went right down to the wire! Students spent five weeks with Bay Area Video Game Guru BRIAN SOMMER developing and perfecting a good character, a bad character, and a weird character, all to perform for Samantha on week 6. A free private lesson with Sam was on offer to the student who performed each character to the most competitive standards, and this particular round of judging was TIGHT! There was a ton of great work on that last Monday night, but one student was able to score Samantha’s vaunted fully-competitive “3.0” score on EACH of his three characters – and one of those perfect, fully-competitive scores came in only ONE TAKE. CONGRATULATIONS, TED SMITH! Ted’s been working very hard at this for quite some time, and we’re ALL overjoyed to see this big payoff for his efforts!


May
24

The Inaugural PAY IT FORWARD Parlour!

OUR FIRST INSTALLMENT PAID FORWARD! A bit of Voicetrax history was made last night as we hosted a group ranging from a student just days out of the Beginning Seminar up through working professionals for some lively new Voicetrax Community connections! There was a TON of fun to be had and some very fine work by all – just have a look at the pics and read on to see what we meant by “surprises”. And many thanks to the participants of our Inaugural Pay It Forward Parlour for making it such a success!

“A big thank you to everyone (I know many had a hand in it) involved in creating the “Pay it Forward Parlour.” I really enjoyed EVERYTHING about it. New people with great suggestions/comments, great Engineer (all aspects), great food (thank you Graziano & Sam) and always a warm, caring atmosphere fostered by all but especially by Vicki tonight. Thank you again!” – Leslie Pringle

“Hi, Chuck – THANK YOU for a really valuable experience last night. You — and my fellow Traxers in attendance — made the 1st Parlour a huge hit.

I appreciate how generous you were with your guidance and expertise – with each of us. (As per usual!) I benefited greatly from your feedback – to me as well as to the others. And the opportunity to tune up my directing skills (again, with your guidance) was just the icing on the fabulous focaccia!

(I almost hope that the word doesn’t get out that this series is an awesome gift to Voicetraxers.)

It was another reminder of how fortunate I am to be part of the Voicetrax community.” – Drew Lea

“Million billion thanks, Chuck! It was such a pleasure doing that format with everyone, dipping my toes back in after so long, and especially fantastic having you there az Engineer.

Great vibes all around! See ya sooner, I hope…

AND O so good to see Sam and Vicki too all in one magic eve – my heart about burst.” – Greta Turken

 


May
16

Running The 500!

Time now to announce the FINALISTS of the latest VOICETRAX 500 Class and Competition! SELF-DIRECTION is not only crucial to voice-over auditioning, it’s also one of the surest ways to get a measure of just where you are in your training, by competitive standards. That’s what makes signing up for a home auditioning class/competition like the Voicetrax 500 such a gutsy move! It’s the ideal challenge to students who aren’t quite working pros yet – and the carrot at the end of it all is a $500 credit to apply to future classes! Here now are the FINALISTS, who did it all by themselves from their home recording studios: KENNY ALLEN, LAZLO BEAUREGARD, ANDY BLUESTEIN, LC BOROS, PAT FORAN, STUART GOVE, JONATHAN LIM, BILL NAYLOR, HEATHER OROSCO, ALEXIS SALDIVAR, STEPHANIE SHMUNES, KRYSTYNA SRODULSKI, MICHAEL STECHER, and EMIKO SUSILO! Thanks to all who participated, and stay tuned for next month’s announcement of the GRAND PRIZE WINNER…


May
13

Coyote and The Masks

From the HOW AWESOME IS THIS? files: it turns out PETER COYOTE has quite a thing going with his mask technique of waking an actor’s creativity – so much so that he’s writing an entire book about its uncanny effect on a performer’s imagination! There will be a DVD to accompany that book, including an interview with Peter and footage of students using the technique, and GUESS WHERE HE SHOT THAT FOOTAGE… so not only did every ‘Traxer who participated have a blast cutting loose and picking up a few mind-blowing insights, but they’ll also be the students you see when you buy Peter’s book! We couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to be a part of Peter’s project, and we can’t wait for you to read it and see it when it comes out – keep an eye out here as details develop…

 


Apr
24

Playing One on TV…

KEEP AN EYE ON THE SMALL SCREEN: By now, most of you have heard about, or read and told us about how much you enjoyed Samantha’s memoir, “Finding the Bunny: The secrets of America’s most influential and invisible art revealed through the struggles of one woman’s journey.” We’ve been bursting at the seams, and the time is finally here for us to let you in on some unbelievably HUGE news….

Warner Bros. (yes, people… THAT Warner Bros.) loved Samantha’s story so much that they have decided to option her book for development into a television series!

We are beyond thrilled with this incredible news (perhaps a happy dance or two broke out), and so proud of Samantha for trusting her inner voice at every step, following her creative vision no matter the obstacles, and defying the odds, as a first-time author, to land this deal! And, you can all take a bow. Why? Because each and every one of you are an integral part of the “house that Sam built”, the creative haven that is Voicetrax, which along with her personal story has captured the imagination of the WB Drama Department!

Stay on the lookout for the full interview with Samantha in the upcoming FALL 2019 CATALOG!


Apr
09

Straight Outta LA: Keepin’ It Real With Scott Parkin!

“A wonderful group of actors who hung it out there and in my opinion came a long way!” This, from a man who knows a thing or two about coming a long way: VT Guest Director SCOTT PARKIN, who comes up from LOS ANGELES to teach “Fifty Shades Of Real”!  If voice actors see the word “conversational” once, they see it a MILLION times a day in commercial specs.  So in keeping with the Voicetrax “only-the-BEST-will-do” philosophy, we employ the services of the man known as the KING of the conversational read!

Doesn’t hurt at all that Scott’s classes also have the benefit of being laugh-out-loud FUN!


Apr
05

Keeping a Finger on the Pulse of Medical Narration

BAY AREA MEDICAL NARRATION IS A THING: for today’s W-t-Friday post, we thought we’d toss up a little pic of the sign-in sheet today at Viscira, a San Francisco new media agency specializing in life sciences. And who should we see but ‘Traxers JULIA NORTON and CHUCK KOUROUKLIS! If we had a look at Tuesday’s sheet, we might have caught Med Narration Extraordinaire VICKI BAUM! So brush up on your “myristoylation”, your “immunooncology”, and your “neovascularization”, everyone, ’cause there’s WORK to be had here with terms like those…

 


Mar
26

Life As A Door Lock

NEW from the NOTHING LIKE YOUR FIRST TIME files: congratulations are now in order for ‘Traxer BRIDGET MAGUIRE-COLTON! Bridget just booked her first gig thru Stars, The Agency:

“I’m so excited to share my first agency gig with you!

The gig: Radio/web spots for Plume Home Security
The role: A door lock. Yup.

I only had 2 lines in the script, but I did those lines at least a dozen different ways with three-in-a-row takes of each type of direction. They also changed the lines up on me multiple times, so being able to pivot on the fly and go with whatever I was told while staying in character was crucial. They even wanted a few takes of me as Gandalf doing the line “You Shall Not Pass!” I’m not sure if that was actually for the spot or just because we were having so much fun, but I gave it to them! The best moment: making the directors laugh.

Thanks!
Bridget Maguire-Colton”

WAY TO GO, Bridget! Getting a laugh is great, and we suspect you’ll be laughing your way to the bank before long! Another hard-working student, another success story started – it’s almost as if there’s a PATTERN here, one we may have even mentioned once or twice…


Mar
15

David Gast’s DEMO!

From the Voicetrax DEMO UPDATE files: to keep yourself at your most marketable, it’s helpful to update your demo – especially if you’ve been using the same one for several years. Turns out that for our active students, updating demos is right up our alley! ‘Traxer DAVID GAST did a revamp with us, and here’s his story:

“It was definitely time for an updated commercial reel for me. After 6 years with a Bay Area agency, I thought it might be time I start fishing in other waters as well.

One of the great things about working with Sam & Chuck in this capacity is not only are you in great hands to begin with, but it also can be quite collaborative. This far down the road (11 years since my first VTRAX class) I appreciate and respect their opinions as much as ever, and certainly trust them… In both script choice and execution I felt very much in concert. We were relaxed, proficient, and having fun. I can’t imagine how many of these this duo have produced.

Sam’s direction is innate – you can hear her picturing how the pieces will sound both individually and more importantly, together. And I can never stress enough how her personal investment in her students is a key inspirational element. Sam means business, she was always does. And equally you always know how firmly she is in your corner, rooting for you to succeed from a such a loving place. I’ll never know how she does it.

Chuck’s technical expertise is a luxury – you know it will sound good. He’s got a million tricks, so if you don’t happen to quite hit the bullseye on a piece of copy, he makes it sound like you did (which is great IN THIS CONTEXT). Also so comforting to know the music and sound effects will keep things humming along just right.
So yes, the end result was predictable. I loved it! And will put it to good use!

Thank you Sammy!

Thank you Chuck!”

David Gast

Thank YOU, David! It was our pleasure, especially considering how well they turned out. To hear Dave’s new demos, just click the video link…

David Gast's new demos!

From the Voicetrax DEMO UPDATE files: to keep yourself at your most marketable, it’s helpful to update your demo – especially if you’ve been using the same one for several years. Turns out that for our active students, updating demos is right up our alley! ‘Traxer DAVID GAST did a revamp with us, and here’s his story: “It was definitely time for an updated commercial reel for me. After 6 years with a Bay Area agency, I thought it might be time I start fishing in other waters as well. One of the great things about working with Sam & Chuck in this capacity is not only are you in great hands to begin with, but it also can be quite collaborative. This far down the road (11 years since my first VTRAX class) I appreciate and respect their opinions as much as ever, and certainly trust them… In both script choice and execution I felt very much in concert. We were relaxed, proficient, and having fun. I can't imagine how many of these this duo have produced. Sam's direction is innate – you can hear her picturing how the pieces will sound both individually and more importantly, together. And I can never stress enough how her personal investment in her students is a key inspirational element. Sam means business, she was always does. And equally you always know how firmly she is in your corner, rooting for you to succeed from a such a loving place. I'll never know how she does it. Chuck's technical expertise is a luxury – you know it will sound good. He's got a million tricks, so if you don't happen to quite hit the bullseye on a piece of copy, he makes it sound like you did (which is great IN THIS CONTEXT). Also so comforting to know the music and sound effects will keep things humming along just right. So yes, the end result was predictable. I loved it! And will put it to good use! Thank you Sammy! Thank you Chuck!” David Gast Thank YOU, David! It was our pleasure, especially considering how well they turned out. To hear Dave’s new demos, just click the video link…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Friday, March 15, 2019


Mar
12

Let’s Make A Scene 2019, Part 1

MAKING A SCENE can be a GOOD THING: Thanks to all participants in Voicetrax’s continuing “Lets’ Make A Scene” series! FRANK COPPOLA ran the first class this year and it was so satisfying to see fresh new faces rising to the challenge. Frank’s mandate was exactly the same as ours overall: make everyone a better actor. And while it was tough to determine the students who made the most notable progress from start to finish, we can safely declare, mission accomplished for all of you!

Frank’s verdict is now in:

“Dear Cinthia, Cooper, John, Helen, Theresa, Andrew, David, Gabrielle, Susan, Lisa and Adam,

Working with all of you during our four weeks together has been an extremely rewarding experience for me – and I hope for you too.

As I said on our first night together, the progress you make in the class will be your best takeaway from LMAS. Every one of you made significant progress in building performance confidence, developing on-stage presence, developing a character, committing to a character, committing to tasks/intentions and unleashing emotions in front of an audience. And yes, learning all those #*$%+^# lines.

The four actors to go to the finals are: Susan Todd, Cooper Gelhaus, Theresa Knott and Lisa Williams.

Narrowing my decision down to four has been a challenge – you are all terrific and I enjoyed working with every one of you.

Build on what you learned and be fearless.”

Thanks once again to Frank for setting the table for ’19 so nicely, and congratulations to the finalists! And most importantly, thanks to all of you who participated in the pursuit of being better at your craft. Keep to that level of commitment, and your investment in yourself WILL pay off!


Feb
27

No “Pipe” To This Dream!

Our latest YA NEVER KNOW case study: the trials and triumphs of ‘Traxer/Director RONI GALLIMORE! As you might recall, Roni took top honors in the inaugural Let’s Make A Scene series, a new set of Voicetrax courses digging into the ACTING side of voice-acting – and it turns out Roni’s win is no accident! Once she decided she wanted to try something new and a little scary, she was relentless in pursuing it, bound and determined to make the top mark in this new scene study-focused competition. And of course, since we had an on-camera agent doing the judging, guess who that agent JUST SIGNED ON TO THE ON-CAMERA DEPARTMENT at STARS, THE AGENCY!

“The most important thing is to challenge myself and learn. When I started working on my monologue, I had no idea how important it would become to me. And it was freeing to just jump off the cliff with no expectation of reward – but here I am, with this amazing opportunity!”

CONGRATULATIONS, Roni! And thanks for once again proving points we never tire of making around here: people who work a LOT WORK a lot because they WORK A LOT! For those who have the discipline and determination, there’s really no such thing as a “pipe” dream.


Feb
22

You Never Forget Your First 123…

From the NOTHING LIKE YOUR FIRST BOOKING FILES: having just finished a Voicetrax-produced Voice123-style demo – with all the production value of a regular demo condensed to a three-script sampler – ‘Traxer HAROLD DAVIS went after some game on Voice123.com and scored his first paid booking!

“The job I booked is called Houston Bingo Blitz. It is an app for a bingo game. I booked it through Voice 123 and it was quite intensive… I had no idea it required me to go through the entire bingo letters and numbers; i.e. b1 through b15, i 16 to i30, n31 to n45, G46-60, O61-75. The pacing had to be right, my tone a bit happy, and the inflections different for each one; quite a challenge!

I feel really proud of myself and excited to do more work in the future.

Certainly my training at Voicetrax helped me with script analysis, who I was speaking to, where it was, etc. – also, how to interpret the script for the type of emotion I needed to instill. I would not have gotten this job without the training I received at Voicetrax!”

Congratulations, Harold – and get set for many more to come!


Feb
04

Recruiting ‘Em Young!

From the JUST FOR FUN files: When Samantha’s adopted family in Southern California recently threw her a surprise party “just because”, little did they know she had a surprise of her own for some of the kids in attendance…

Future Stars!

From the JUST FOR FUN files: a little more about that last photo from Friday! When Samantha’s adopted family in Southern California recently threw her a surprise party “just because”, little did they know she had a surprise of her own for some of the kids in attendance…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Monday, February 4, 2019


Jan
31

A Flying Start in 2019!

2019 has opened with lots of ‘TRAXER BOOKINGS! From the NETWORKING PAYS files: ‘Traxer BRUCE FRIEDRICKS finds himself spanning a wide variety of jobs thanks to being a “friend of a friend”! Bruce’s connections just got him his first medical narration:

“Many thanks to friend and VO colleague Diane Hayes for referring me to Satellite Films, the production company behind this booking (i.e. not [an agency] booking). And, special thanks to Vicki Baum for helping me to up my game in this particular narration genre which I am very passionate about.”

While we’re on the subject of medical narrations, how about NINA GREELEY:

“Just had to report to Vicki and Chuck, especially, that I booked that Gepotidacin spot (the medical narration for the new antibiotic for gonorrhea– remember? with the utter lack of pronunciation guidance?). Tee hee.

Also, I booked the Visual Descriptive Audio Tours for visually impaired visitors to the permanent collections at the De Young and Legion of Honor — a marathon three hour session. Antenna International contacted me directly for that one, so I hope I’ve made a permanent connection with them. The gig was great fun — detailed descriptions of intricate and interesting visuals — the acting pretty much happens by itself!”

Not to be outdone, here’s an insight CLAIRE FRY picked up on the way to become the voice of the latest FASTRAK campaign:

“There were two versions of the script: the “A” script which was meant to air before the end of the year and was presented as the main script (also the one I auditioned on) and the “B” script which was more of a “we’ll just record this for safety” kind of thing. Well I think because of the pushback on the bridge tolls and the lawsuits challenging Measure 3, they weren’t totally sure that the tolls would go into effect and the whole campaign was pushed back. So while the impulse at the session was to focus on the “main” script, I’m really really glad that I pushed myself all the way through and didn’t let my energy dip because it was the second script (written to air AFTER January 1st) that they ended up using! Just goes to show that *anything* you record in that booth could make it to air, so never give anything less than 100%…”

Congratulations, Claire, Nina and Bruce! And it just goes to show – keep your professional standards high, have an eye out for the right opportunities, and you too will be working a LOT because you WORK a lot!


Jan
15

Let’s Make A Scene 2018: THE WINNERS!

THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN DECREED! Join us now as we announce the top three finishers of the Inaugural Voicetrax “Let’s Make A Scene” series of intensive scene study classes, as judged by a San Francisco on-camera agent!

The Winners of "Let's Make A Scene"!

THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN DECREED! Join us now as we announce the top three finishers of the Inaugural Voicetrax "Let's Make A Scene" series of intensive scene study classes, as judged by a San Francisco on-camera agent!

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 


Dec
14

‘Traxers On The Job, 11/18

FEAR THE BEARDS: for today’s W-T-Friday post, we thought we’d share a little ‘Traxer convergence from a few weeks back! According to DEVIN GLISCHINSKI:

“While wandering in early to my session today at One Union, I paused before crossing the street to allow a vehicle to pass. Much to my surprise, it was DAMIAN MARHEFKA! After quickly realizing that I was heading in for my session as he was heading out, we had to grab a photo. Turns out we missed LYNDA KLUCK who was there just before Damian! A Voicetrax takeover happened today! Best, DG”

As we’re fond of saying, those who work a lot WORK a lot because they work a LOT – and evidently, they bump into each other a lot too!

Devin & Damian


Nov
30

ARON PARKER goes to Beverly Hills!

TOP VOICE REPORT! We’ve been waiting to drop this little gem, and now that we’ve finalized Spring 2019 registration, the time seems right! Here now is TOP Voice Winner ARON PARKER and his week in LA, auditioning with the top voice-over talent agency in the country, DPN:

 

Aron Parker goes to Beverly Hills!

TOP VOICE REPORT! We’ve been waiting to drop this little gem, and now that we’ve finalized Spring 2019 registration, the time seems right! Here now is TOP Voice Winner ARON PARKER and his week in LA, auditioning with the top voice-over talent agency in the country, DPN:

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Friday, November 30, 2018


Nov
12

Let’s Make A Scene, ROUND THREE!

LET’S MAKE A SCENE: ROUND THREE! The latest episode in Voicetrax’s ground-breaking Let’s Make A Scene series has come to an exciting finish! Former ‘Traxer and On-camera/Promo guru CHOPPER BERNET ran this particular show, with one of the most comprehensive scene breakdown methods ever presented here! Chopper’s approach took everyone to the next level – and the disadvantage to that, of course, was making it an especially difficult task to narrow down to four finalists! But narrow down Chopper did, and now we congratulate VICKI BAUM, BRIDGET MAGUIRE-COLTON, AARON MINER, and STEPHANIE SHMUNES! These four will join SUSAN VLAHOS, CHRIS CIABURRO, RONI GALLIMORE, JULIE HANCOCK, FAYE JAIME, AMY LARSON, SCOTT KESSLER and CHUCK KOUROUKLIS for a thrilling conclusion in January’s Let’s Make A Scene finals! And thanks once more to all of you who brought such commitment to improving your voice-over craft by improving your acting. We’re so proud of every one of you!

 

LMAS graphic


Oct
12

ATTACK OF THE HATCHIMALS!

ON HATCHIMALS AND THEIR LITTLE HATCHIBABIES: for today’s W-T-Friday posting, how about a Voicetrax take on a toy story! ‘Traxer RHIANNON BROGAN’S video is short and sweet, but it captures just exactly the kind of reaction you might have once you hear a toy coming to life with your voice! Rhiannon is featured on this newly released “Hatchibaby”, and ‘Traxer LAUREN KELLY can be heard on one of the more grown-up “Hatchimal” toys. That’s two toys in global release, as voiced by TWO of the Voicetrax “Triple Threat: Character” class winners… coincidence? You decide!

“It was really awesome working on the Hatchibabies project, and even more special to me as it was the first job I was hired for since signing with Stars. I auditioned last year for two characters and was surprised to learn that they hired me to do all 6 voices. Toys are a lot fun and 2 insanely important things with toy sessions are improv and physicalization. I also encountered some challenges along the way unique to toys, like making sure my gibberish sounded like English without it being actual English. I had to say “I love you” but not say “I love you” haha. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. Although I will say it’s pretty weird when your toy starts crying so you have to rock your little self to sleep…

Best,
Rhiannon”!

Rhi Bee, hatching her first agency booking…

ON HATCHIMALS AND THEIR LITTLE HATCHIBABIES: for today's W-T-Friday posting, how about a Voicetrax take on a toy story! 'Traxer RHIANNON BROGAN'S video is short and sweet, but it captures just exactly the kind of reaction you might have once you hear a toy coming to life with your voice! Rhiannon is featured on this newly released "Hatchibaby", and 'Traxer LAUREN KELLY can be heard on one of the more grown-up "Hatchimal" toys. That's two toys in global release, as voiced by TWO of the Voicetrax "Triple Threat: Character" class winners… coincidence? You decide!"It was really awesome working on the Hatchibabies project, and even more special to me as it was the first job I was hired for since signing with Stars. I auditioned last year for two characters and was surprised to learn that they hired me to do all 6 voices. Toys are a lot fun and 2 insanely important things with toy sessions are improv and physicalization. I also encountered some challenges along the way unique to toys, like making sure my gibberish sounded like English without it being actual English. I had to say “I love you” but not say “I love you” haha. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. Although I will say it’s pretty weird when your toy starts crying so you have to rock your little self to sleep…Best,Rhiannon"

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Friday, October 12, 2018


Oct
04

MATT MOY comes to town!

ALL-STAR ‘TRAXER ALUMNUS CRASHES THE PARTY! Little did the students of last weekend’s Glued To The Tube know that the guest director would call on an old ‘Traxer client for a visit! On-camera and voice actor MATTHEW MOY was all too happy to stop by on Sunday morning to share a few pearls of wisdom and show how they all traced right back to his training at Voicetrax! You may know Matt’s work as Lars on “Steven Universe”; you may even recognize him as Han Lee, the curmudgeonly restaurant owner from the “2 Broke Girls” TV series on CBS! But no matter how high he’s scaled the heights of success, Matt’s heart forever remains at Voicetrax. Don’t just take our word for it – watch the video below…

A visit from Matt Moy!

ALL-STAR ‘TRAXER ALUMNUS CRASHES THE PARTY! Little did the students of last weekend’s Glued To The Tube know that the guest director would call on an old 'Traxer client for a visit! On-camera and voice actor MATTHEW MOY was all too happy to stop by on Sunday morning to share a few pearls of wisdom and show how they all traced right back to his training at Voicetrax! You may know Matt’s work as Lars on “Steven Universe”; you may even recognize him as Han Lee, the curmudgeonly restaurant owner from the “2 Broke Girls” TV series on CBS! But no matter how high he’s scaled the heights of success, Matt’s heart forever remains at Voicetrax. Don’t just take our word for it – watch the video below…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Thursday, October 4, 2018


Sep
28

When Opportunity Knocks…

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AGAIN, AND ANOTHER ‘TRAXER OPENS THE DOOR:

“I’ve been auditioning with (a Bay Area Agency) for the last 6 months, with little feedback. So when the homework for this class asked us to send in some audio files, I knew I wanted to treat them like I’d been treating all of my auditions to make sure that my process at home was not what was keeping me from booking. The first night with Sam reassured me that my process at home was great and that it was merely “Selection, not rejection” as the wall at Voicetrax says. Spending the day with (LA Agent) was the additional reassurance I needed that I was on the right track and precisely where I was meant to be. (The LA Agent) was fun and encouraging and I loved getting the “LA perspective” on what is “in” right now. (She) was so generous with her ideas for a second take or a redirect here or there and I was so glad that I could deliver in just one or two takes. My takeaways: Keep working, keep learning, be open for redirection and HAVE FUN!”

– BRIDGET MAGUIRE-COLTON

It’s just the nature of the business; agents represent so many performers that they rarely if ever give feedback on recorded home auditions. This is why the voice-acting m. o. is just to audition and move on, but Bridget went a little further than that. For “Invitational When Opportunity Knocks”, Voicetrax has LA Agents visit to provide their invaluable perspectives on the industry and show students where the competitive bar is set. And when Bridget got this LA Agent’s perspective on how she’s doing with her home recording, the answer was NOT TOO BAD – well enough in fact that this agent wants to hear more from her after class. By working hard and staying positive, Bridget is now reading on a trial basis for Aperture Talent in LA… and we have to admit, seeing that kind of payoff NEVER gets old around here!

Opp Knox graphic


Sep
21

Crazy Enough?

Not to get political (though this IS Northern California), but much as we love to celebrate our students, there also some occasions where we just have to celebrate one of our all-star Guest Directors – and WHAT A STORY we’ve got for you today! The director who flew from LA to New York to direct Colin Kaepernick on Nike’s latest “Just do it” ads was none other than our own JEFF HOWELL! As Jeff says on his Facebook feed, “Many thanks to my friend Jill Kershaw for recommending me as the VO director for these Nike spots. All I can say is that Colin was great to work with and the whole experience was incredibly surreal. This is definitely a directing job that I will not forget!”

We’re linking the video below, because not only is the message universal and exquisitely executed, it also just happens to line right up with concepts we hammer over and over at Voicetrax. “So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy… ask if they’re crazy enough.” We love that one! And if you’ve been with us any length of time, you know exactly why…


Sep
11

Let’s Make A Scene, ROUND TWO…

LET’S MAKE A SCENE: THE SAGA CONTINUES… take a new Guest Director and a fresh round of scene-studying actors, and what do you get? The next episode in Voicetrax’s ground-breaking Let’s Make A Scene series! On-camera/animation veteran JEANNIE ELIAS took the reins this weekend, helping a new group of students shape a scene through monologues she helped them choose – and surprise, surprise, just like first class, everyone was brilliant enough to make the finalist selection a real pain for Jeannie! But the verdict is now in, so please join us in congratulating the four finalist actors from this round: SUSAN VLAHOS, CHRIS CIABURRO, RONI GALLIMORE and JULIE HANCOCK! And thanks once again to all participants for dedicating yourself to improving your skills and expanding your versatility. The better your acting is, the better your VOICE-acting will be… and we CAN’T WAIT to see what November’s Let’s Make A Scene will bring!

LMAS graphic


Aug
31

You never know…

ADVENTURES IN VOICE MATCH-MAKING: for today’s W-T-Friday post, how about a round of applause for ‘Traxer MICHAEL STECHER! From work done in a Voicetrax class years ago, Michael found himself getting THAT CLOSE to pinch-hitting for Patrick Warburton! Here’s a little briefing we got from Disney/Miyazaki Voice Caster and Guest Director NED LOTT:

“Hi Sam and Voicetrax Staff,

This month, I have been a part of a casting for a sound-a-like of the character KRONK, originally voiced by Patrick Warburton, from the Disney Animated Feature, Emperor’s New Groove.

When Voicetrax offered “SOUND-A-LIKE SAVVY” a few years ago, one of the voices Michael Stecher prepared was that of KRONK. I told him at that time that it was a very good match, and to keep working on it as the day could come where Patrick Warburton could pass on a job.

And sure enough, this month, Patrick has passed on a project using that voice. So remembering Michael’s strong match from that class, I was able to include him in the Disney casting where he made it past the first round where he was competing against strong sound-a-like actors including Patrick’s own son.

Disney has now chosen a finalist that was a different actor, but I wanted to let you know how proud I am of Michael for his preparation and professionality of the process and for getting so far.

This is the second sound-a-like from Voicetrax making it past the first round, after Vicki Baum did it a few years ago for Helena Bonham Carter’s RED from Lone Ranger.

Thank you for offering that class…

All the best,

–Ned”

Thanks, Ned! And Michael, KEEP AT IT – the beautiful thing about voice-acting is that one “close” after another eventually gets you the cigar!

WTFriday graphic


Aug
27

The Ultimate TRIPLE THREAT

DATELINE SAUSALITO: The Voicetrax TRIPLE THREAT WINNER is revealed! Three classes in three voice-over genres with three Guest Director judges apiece, and it’s all come down to this: Finalists slalomed their way through live performances, group direction exercises and self-direction exercises to determine the SUPREME TRIPLE THREAT! Were there any surprises? Watch the video below to find out…

Triple Threat FINALS

DATELINE SAUSALITO: The Voicetrax TRIPLE THREAT WINNER is revealed! Three classes in three voice-over genres with three Guest Director judges apiece, and it's all come down to this: Finalists slalomed their way through live performances, group direction exercises and self-direction exercises to determine the SUPREME TRIPLE THREAT! Were there any surprises? Watch the video below to find out…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Monday, August 27, 2018


Aug
20

UNMASKED again with PETER COYOTE!

WHAT’S MORE EXCLUSIVE THAN A CLASS WITH PETER COYOTE? How about Peter Coyote teaching with an exclusive technique? For Invitational Unmasking Your Infinite Potential: Scene Study Edition, Peter broke out his trademark masks – this time, for work in short scenes. And the results were just astonishing, giving actors immediate access to personas they’d never considered before! The effect is so phenomenal that Peter has written an entire book on the subject… but don’t just take our word for it:

“Mask work is a powerful means for tapping into character. In the mask workshop I met Marla and Veronica, two characters unlike me and unlike each other. I felt I knew them but they were also revealing themselves to me as we worked. Dear Marla assisted me a few days later in an on-camera audition class. She helped me get right where I needed to be at the top of the scene in both physicality and personality. I hope to be able to do more mask work in the future.”

– Amy Larson

“I hate improv… when forced to do it, I get anxious and “in my head”. I had never worked with masks but when I simply put one on and looked at my image in a mirror, a body movement came to me… after I employed that movement and my body registered the effect, it was as if I had suddenly stabilized on a surfboard… I hid behind the mask, became the character I had just instantly created with the body movement and just sort of flowed. It was really nice for me because it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten anything out of improv and I can totally use this technique to help my character development in the future… actually, already purchased my own mask for that very purpose!”

~ Keith Conti

“Peter was able to demonstrate how our perceptions of self get in the way of our ancient, instinctive knowledge about the character we are bringing to life, and wearing a blank mask allowed that knowledge to come out, and improve my acting and character development. The mask also reveals how we “wear” a mask every day, our own face, and what that unconsciously communicates to those we encounter. By considering what our mask is, we change all of our body language, and therein lies the key to freeing our infinite potential. A profound lesson for acting, and everyday living.”

~ Michael Stecher

“…Peter’s approach is fresh, exciting, and very compatible with both Meisner and Practical Aesthetics, as well as all the training I’ve gotten at Voicetrax.. As Peter promised it would, the mask exercise completely liberated me from my self-concept, and made it possible for me to simply be another person–instantly! In the week since class, I’ve ordered some neutral masks from Amazon… I’ve been working on a new monologue for another Voicetrax class, and I plan to use masks (when they arrive) to experiment with performing the monologue through different characters. Thank you, Peter Coyote–the class is aptly named because I do feel infinite!”
~Shannon Kealey

“Upon donning the mask, the Self evaporates, and one becomes a tabula rasa, an “original face” – both nothing and potentially anything – forging ahead in the moment on gut instincts alone with a beginners mind’s sense of curiosity and exploration.”
~Sean Cain

“Once again, I loved Peter’s class. My experience with the masks was just as amazing as last year — perhaps more so, since this time, I trusted that a character would just appear… I also found the exercise assuming different postures very helpful this time around. I liked that we tried the postures in both an exaggerated and a more pulled-back mode. I was fascinated to feel the often subtle differences between exaggerated and pulled-back, as well as to hear the different reactions of my classmates. More than ever before, I feel that I have become much more aware, on a sort of cellular level, of how many “selves” live inside me and how accessible they are. I have been experimenting with reading audition scripts in the voices of several different characters (and in different postures) before I use my “own” voice, and I think it is really waking up my takes.

Peter’s wisdom and humor made the whole day a joy. How lovely to get to have such a good time while learning so much!”
~Nina Greeley

“You’re not who think you are”, is what’s stuck with me most since the class. I suppose you could rephrase that to ‘you’re a hell of a lot more than you’re aware’. There is something magical with mask and the mirror – a gate opened to the subconscious and a welcomed break from day to day self-critiques, limiting assessments & various identity crises. It’s a break I don’t often realize is available. I think Peter’s emphasis here is valuable to any open minded individual in any walk of life, but particularly so with actors. As adults, we’ve interacted with so many different people over the years – all impressing & accumulating some amount of human data into our minds. The mask work somehow summons characters from the stew, seemingly at random but often with fantastic specificity. I also found that afterwards, I felt much more balance, energy, optimism and curiosity. I should really start meditating!

Thanks so much Peter!”
~David Gast

Unmasking Inf Potential


Aug
13

Let’s Make A Scene, ROUND ONE…

FOR ONCE, WE GET TO MAKE A SCENE! We’d like to thank all participants in Voicetrax’s inaugural “Lets’ Make A Scene” for making class with director FRANK COPPOLA such a success! As Frank said, the main objective was to make everyone a better actor – and we think there’s no disagreement the mission was accomplished on that objective!

Far tougher to determine were the students who made the most notable progress from where they started, and this is what Frank had to ponder for a while. But the verdict is now in:

“Hi All,

Working with all of you during our four weeks together has been an extremely rewarding experience for me – and I hope for you too.

As I said on our first night together, the progress you make in the class will be your best takeaway from Let’s Make A Scene. Well, every one of you made significant progress in building performance confidence, developing on-stage presence, developing a character, committing to a character, committing to tasks/intentions and unleashing emotions in front of an audience. And yes, learning all those #*$%+^# lines.

The four actors to go to the finals are: Faye Jaime, Scott Kessler, Chuck Kourouklis, and Amy Larson.

Narrowing my decision down to four has been a very difficult decision to make.
You are all terrific and I enjoyed working with every one of you.”

Many thanks to Frank for setting such a creative and successful tone for the series, and congratulations to the finalists! But most of all, thanks to every one of you for bringing your commitment and focus to this class. You’ve made us very proud!

LMAS graphic


Aug
09

BEYON’ THE MIC…

by Samantha Paris

To riff off that Shakira hit song, “My Hips Don’t Lie”, the lips may try to lie but they won’t be able to get away with it if a microphone is involved.

Even after more than forty-something years of voice acting, and thirty years of teaching, it never ceases to amaze me how that simple piece of hardware known as a “mic” can ferret out the truth as well as any lie detector ever could. That mic picks up absolutely ev-er-y-thing in the voice, and can sniff out inauthenticty like a airport K-9 hound detects all things illicit.

The mic magnifies the fact that people can only sound authentic when they truly mean what they are saying. But you cannot truly mean what you are saying if you don’t even understand the full measure of what you are saying.

The voice actor’s quest for authenticity begins with tapping into the truth that lies within every script and connecting with your own powers of imagination, empathy and expression to deliver on it. These skills can be taught and developed like the aptitudes required for many types of professions.

As my Voicetrax students will readily tell you, the real work of a voice actor begins well before you ever draw a breath and move your lips to utter a syllable. The “heavy lifting” takes place between your ears…that means diligently analyzing a script, seeking out and absorbing the true meaning in every word of every line of copy, and reading between those lines in search of that all-important hidden “bunny” that lies in just about every script (and situation in life).

So what does Finding the Bunny mean?

This challenging yet satisfying process is revealed in my memoir, Finding the Bunny (Voice Haven Productions, 2018) in a scene borrowed from an actual Script Analysis class at Voicetrax. Here’s an excerpt, from a point in the story when I explain the genesis of the principle:

“….when I first started studying voice-over all those years ago, I knew that because I didn’t have an amazing voice, I was going to have to do something different to stand out from all the other actors. I was going to have to act better than anyone. Period. I knew my job would be to really bring the writers’ words to life; to see everything in the copy that each writer intended and, sometimes, see even more! So that’s what I did. And I made a career out of it. On countless occasions, I was told by producers that I was cast because my interpretation was better than anyone else’s. I really took pride in that. It felt good knowing that I booked jobs because I had a brain; because I could act and I didn’t just have a pretty voice.”

I continue on, later explaining:

“I was the middle child. My siblings and I are each three years apart. There is my younger sister, Lori; then me; and then my older brother, Larry. Before my parents’ divorce, my brother was about eleven-ish and I was eight-ish. My father used to subscribe to Playboy.”

I look around the room. “For the articles, right?” Everyone laughs.

“My brother was allowed to take out the centerfolds, and he had Miss January through Miss December plastered on his bedroom walls. Larry taught me that on the cover of the magazine, there was always a small Playboy bunny hidden somewhere. You know, their logo, with the big ears and all. Larry would test me to see if I could find it, and sometimes I would spend what seemed like hours staring at the cover, trying to find the bunny. I loved it when I found one! So, what’s my point? I started to learn voice-over when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a lot of life experience to use. So, looking at my scripts back then and knowing I didn’t have a special voice, I knew I had to try to see as much as I could in the copy. In other words, I was looking for the bunny.”

This simple yet profound idea has significantly influenced my life’s work. It’s so rewarding to share this concept with aspiring and working voice actors and non-voice actors alike, since nearly every script known to mankind has a hidden bunny just waiting to be discovered, and metaphorically, so does every situation in life.

So, where’s the “bunny” in your life?

Samantha Paris is the author of “Finding the Bunny – The secrets of America’s most influential and invisible art revealed through the struggles of one woman’s journey”, with the foreword by Peter Coyote (Voice Haven Productions, Sausalito, CA, 2018). Visit:

www.findingthebunny.com

The book is available in print and e-book. If you’ve already enjoyed “Finding the Bunny”, we invite you to leave a review on GoodReads and/or Amazon. If you have a question for the author, contact: findingthebunny@gmail.com


Aug
07

Working with TASIA VALENZA…

Getting it all OFF THE PAGE: another gorgeous weekend in Sausalito, another whirlwind session of “Off The Page” with LA screen and voice-acting veteran TASIA VALENZA! We say it all the time; the only way to take somebody else’s words and make them feel genuine and alive – to get them “off the page” – is to ACT them! And Tasia has a very special capacity to bring out your brilliance with some of the least “actable” scripts out there! Just ask a student or two…

“Off The Page with Tasia was all about connection. She helped us connect the myriad of roles we play in our everyday lives with the personas we create for our voiceover performances. She helped us connect with each script, guiding us to speak to a specific person in order to infuse our performance with authenticity. She helped us connect with her, and with one another, in a dynamic and safe space. After a class with Tasia, no one departs as strangers.”

– Heather Orosco

“Tasia was fantastic, and pulled out of us … more of us, than we realized we had to offer. She created a safe platform for us to explore our different facets that we can bring to the table, while helping us really connect to each script. She held us to a high standard of authenticity, while calling up our multi-colored uniqueness.”

– Laura Oglesby

“I thought Tasia’s workshop was awesome! She did a “roles” exercise on Saturday, where we listed on a worksheet all the various roles we play in our lives. She asked us which one of these “roles” we take into the booth. It was very helpful! I also loved the affirmation meditation she started with on Sunday; it set a great tone for the day. Tasia really drove the point home that we have to be talking to “someone” and suggested that we put up a mirror in our booths. She would often stand on the side of the booth glass talking to us as we performed, which instantly changed and improved our reads. We performed so many scripts, had a lot of booth time and received great feedback and things to work on each time. Her attention to detail and time she spent on us was so great.”

– Ning Recio

Feeling a little sorry you missed it all? Not to worry – a little birdie tells us Tasia might just be back in the Spring!

Off The Page pic


Aug
03

‘Traxers On The Job, 8/3/18

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE… the more ‘Traxers converge on a voice-over project? “Change” was the theme for an in-house training narration requiring several different voices – seven, to be precise, of whom we personally know six: DIANA CHEN, ALLISON DUFTY, DEVIN GLISCHINSKI, JIM MCKENZIE, GEOFF COLTON, and CHUCK KOUROUKLIS! And while change may be enough of an issue to require training in the corporate world, there are a couple things that never change:

1) Dedicate yourself to your craft and the rewards will come, and
2) As fun as those rewards are, it’s even MORE fun to share that success with your Voicetrax pals!

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone involved!

Chuck & Diana


Jul
24

Opportunity Knocking In July…

“INVITATIONAL WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS”: THE VERDICT IS IN…

“Holy f@(%ernutters! (You can edit that part) [we did]

Today I woke up like a regular Joe, getting ready to do my daily grind of auditioning bad scripts from Voice123, when I got a notice of an incoming email. When I saw the name Brandie Ilsen out of the corner of my eye, my heart jumped out of my chest. I left what I was doing to read the email ASAP and almost lost it. Brandie extended me an offer of trial representation to Aperture Talent Agency in LA. I couldn’t email YES fast enough. For the next 2 hours I shared the news with friends, family and now I’m sharing it with you. My VO family. I am so happy and grateful for all of you. I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life, been fortunate to have some amazing things happen, and this…well it’s right up there. This is amazing.

Much love to you Sam, and of course Vicki, Chuck and Roni. To all the great teachers I’ve experienced in these past 4 years. To all my classmates, If you haven’t yet, I hope you too get to experience this feeling. It’s pretty frickin’, hella, wicked, off the charts cool!

Blessings!”

– TOM SAWYER

“Dear Sam,

I LOVE YOU!

Thank you for believing in me and working with me to make my lifelong dreams come true. One step at a time!!!”

– DIANE HAYES

We hate to throw Diane under the bus – especially after admiring her photography skills – but in the excitement of the weekend, she was heard to say a voice-acting career seemed like a pipe dream. And If “Invitational When Opportunity Knocks” proves anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a “pipe dream” at Voicetrax! We have LA Agents visit to provide their invaluable perspectives on the industry and show students where the competitive bar is set; but every so often, those agents are impressed enough with certain students that they want to hear MORE from them after class! Such was the case not only with Diane and Tom, but also with LYNDA KLUCK and DIANA HAVEN too, who are all now reading on a trial basis for Aperture Talent in LA! And what do all four of these ‘Traxers have in common? They’ve ALL been busting their humps to be the best, most competitive voice actors they can be. Just goes to show – hard work and determination move dreams to REALITY, ain’t no “pipe” about it!

Diane Hayes cocktail


Jul
20

Our Little Giant

Dearest Voicetrax Students:

Many of you have met OLLIE… but for those of you who haven’t, let us tell you about this Yorkie with the heart of a tiger, the Voicetrax Mascot, our class therapy mate, a rocket-powered ball of love and sparkling personality; the neighborhood terror of rose-raiding deer and raccoon alike, gleefully unburdened by any sort of survival instinct, ever overjoyed to greet you and show you his cool new scar. But as is the way of nature, his flesh has come to such a state over more than 13 years that it can no longer contain his undiminished spirit.

Ollie did so much more than live well and hard. He’d crap-talk a little on first meeting you, but once he was in your corner, he’d be there to ease your performance nerves and break the tension at just the right moments. He wasn’t just a source of comfort, unending amusement, and possibly even intentional support; he was as perfect an embodiment of the Voicetrax spirit as anyone with four legs could be. And as we face an unaccustomed silence in home and classroom, we can’t think of anyone who’s better earned his rest and a transition to something new.

So good night, sweet prince – we know you’ll bring down that buck once and for all when you awake.

Ollie and his cigar


Jul
02

Triple Threat FINALISTS

THREE DAYS HAVE PASSED – and NOW, just in time to rescue your mouse from all that clicking to refresh your browser, we’re rounding out the roster for the TRIPLE THREAT FINALS on August 25! You may recall MICHAEL RANKINS, the Triple Threat nominated by all three Guest Directors from the Commercial Edition… RHIANNON BROGAN, the Narration Edition Triple Threat AND with LAUREN KELLY and VICKI BAUM, one of the “Threedom Fighters” from the Character Edition… all four of whom automatically advance to the Finals round! And now, because they were nominated by at least one or two directors, we bring you the rest of the TRIPLE THREAT FINALIST FIELD: MICHAEL BARNES, GREG EDMUNDS, KEITH HOUSTON, SCOTT KESSLER, NANCY MIDLIN, JULIE MOYLAN, SUSAN NORMAN, MICHAEL STECHER, and CYNTHIA WALLACE! These final 13 students, now in a fresh, level playing field, will compete in a free class taught by Samantha on August 25th where someone will be crowned the “2018 Triple Threat Winner!” And the prize? THREE FREE CLASSES in the up-coming 2019 season! It’s just one more way Voicetrax pays tribute to all you wonderful students for all your dedication and hard work. Hmm…what will our fortieth anniversary bring? Four free classes??? Guess you’ll really have to stay tuned!

TT Finalists graphic


Jun
29

The TRIPLE THREAT SERIES continues…

WELL, WELL, WELL, did we say something about the POWER OF THREE? We might go on about how clever and prescient we were with that if we weren’t so modest, but our little prophecy paid off in a BIG way this last weekend! For the first time, we have THREE WINNERS in one of our TRIPLE THREAT SERIES classes: LAUREN KELLY, RHIANNON BROGAN, and VICKI BAUM! These are the three performers who were selected by all THREE Guest Directors – animation and video game luminaries TOWNSEND COLEMAN, DAVE FENNOY and BRIAN SOMMER – as the top performers in the Character Edition of Triple Threat, and they get a FREE private lesson with Samantha to celebrate! Today’s the day to celebrate this Voicetrax Triumfeminate, but after three decades of operation, cliffhangers are how we roll! So in THREE DAYS we’re rolling out the remaining qualifiers for the FREE FINALS round in August – all competing for the grand prize of THREE FREE CLASSES!

Triple Threat students graphic


Jun
26

The Demo has landed!

OPERATION DEMO DELIVERY: last week we showed you a piece of the demo recording process with Julie Hancock. Today, DIANE HAYES is letting everybody in on the excitement of hearing the FINISHED PRODUCT for the first time! Diane thanked us for the “realization of her dream”, but make no mistake – she worked very hard to get to this point, and that’s why we’re so proud of her and pleased to share the moment that follows below…

Diane Hayes' DEMO is in!

OPERATION DEMO DELIVERY: last week we showed you a piece of the demo recording process with Julie Hancock. Today, DIANE HAYES is letting everybody in on the excitement of hearing the FINISHED PRODUCT for the first time! Diane thanked us for the "realization of her dream", but make no mistake – she worked very hard to get to this point, and that's why we're so proud of her and pleased to share the moment that follows below…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Jun
22

Demo time!

CONGRATULATIONS, JULIE HANCOCK! Not only are we SO proud of Julie reaching this stage after all the work she’s put into honing her voice acting skills, we’re also proud of the SUPPORT we can count on from one student to another – JONATHAN FORTIN was all too delighted to participate in a dialogue with Julie. We so appreciate the communal love among our Voicetrax Community – and we can’t wait to see Julie’s career take off! Trust us, she’s got BIG THINGS in store…

Julie H


Jun
20

A “Fantastick” result…

NEW from the “IT’S ALL ACTING” FILES: like so many ‘Traxers, STEWART SLATER went into MELISSA GRAY’S “Invitational Actor Narrator: The Sequel” to hone his narration skills. Little did “the very astute and gifted” Stewart know, though, that he’d impress Melissa to the point of insisting that he take on his first theater audition in 40 years – and he landed a role in “The Fantasticks!” As his performance wraps up this Friday and Saturday at the Shelton theater, we’d like to offer Stewart a hearty congratulations! It just goes to show – put your sweat and soul into chasing a dream, and you never know where it might lead you…

Fantastiks


Jun
12

‘Traxers On The Job, 6/18

From the ‘TRAXER REUNION FILES: “What, you two KNOW each other?” The latest pair to prompt this question were ‘Traxers LYNDA KLUCK and AARON MINER for OPENDOOR HOMES at Tom Disher Recording and Sound in San Francisco! Not long after Aaron replied “oh yeah, this is gonna be a BLAST”, he and Lynda settled straight into the pro mode both of them are so familiar with – and apparently, they had a pretty classic face-off with the surprise disclaimer popped on them at the end! We’ll let Lynda and Aaron take it over:

“Who did I run into today? None other than the amazing Aaron Minor! It’s a shame we didn’t record our “disclaimer voice-off”.”

“Wanted to share the fun times Lynda and I had doing a dialogue radio spot for Opendoor. It’s so much fun running into fellow Voicetrax students in a session. Everything becomes more relaxed and the vibe just feels as if we are in a class exercise. We killed it as per usual and left feeling pretty satisfied and grateful for the amazing training :)”

Congrats you two! We can’t wait to hear about your next pro “exercise” together!

Aaron & Lynda


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