March 16, 2017

What If... Adventures in Voiceover Land

Welcome to...

     The Magic of What If

(Musically Inclined, Chocolate Fueled)

Hello, lovely people!

As I'm finishing up this latest missive, I'm listening to the wind play havoc over the roof and watching the Ides of March attempt to sweep Cleveland away under a snow drift. (I live in an apartment akin to, but not entirely like, an attic garret. Having a Jo March moment, here. [My apartment *is* in the attic of an old house. It is *not* miserable, happily.])

When we left off, I was just about to tell you of my voiceover adventures, in which following the trail of "What If" led me to a lovely surprise.

But first, discovering the What If (hint: it wasn't me who saw it!):

Sunday, Feb 12 - I'm checking email in between sections of the Grammys, trying to respond to my voiceover coach, who has said that he's available to meet up the next day, either late morning or early afternoon.


My flight back to Cleveland was scheduled to leave at 1:30pm that Monday afternoon, essentially making both of those options impossible.

I'm typing out a response to Ezra, my coach, when my Sweetie texts me, asking how things are going. I mention being bummed about not being able to meet up with Ezra because of the timing; Sweetie thoughtfully reminds me that one can change flights on Southwest without penalties.

*Lightbulb moment!*

I then panic a little about having a place to stay; Sweetie encourages me to make the leap, and that everything will work out. 

Dither dither.

I stress out about how to make the change with Southwest; Sweetie says he'll make the call for me (Note to self: when people offer to help you - it's okay to let them. This is sometimes a challenge for me).

Decision: Yes, I Will Stay. Yes, I say yes to having this adventure! (Thank you, Sweetie!) Yes, Ezra, I can meet, and happily! (This would be the first time for us to meet IRL, as our sessions prior 'til now had been done via Skype.)

There's a point I want to make here: sometimes we don't even realize there's a What If moment to be had, until someone else points it out. If someone has taken the time to do so with you, I hope you'll give the possibility a real consideration!

Side note: I've found that letting others know that "What If" is how you want to live your life greatly increases the odds of your friends and family noticing those What If moments and sharing them with you. ;)

Later I would find out that my dear friend Jeremy kindly agreed to me crashing with him again - I was grateful for this extra time, as it allowed us one of those long catch-up "Life, the Universe and Everything" kind of conversations.

And, I was able to have a relaxed meet-up that next morning with another friend, the fierce and funny Alexis Simpson! (Actor, improviser, Story Pirate - you rock, lady!)

On to the lovely surprise: I thought I was staying in town to have a coffee with Ezra, my voiceover coach, and get a short tour of the studio where he works. Ezra Weisz is a fantastic voiceover director (including Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir), voiceover actor, coach, improviser...

In fact, we met in a whirlwind hello at Porto's Bakery & Cafe (YUM), during which Ezra said we were going to see the studio AND he was going to have me try out the equipment!


SO. EXCITED! (Was mentally running around the cafe, yelling "Wheee!")

Food, cheese rolls and coffees collected, we zipped around the building to Dubbing Brothers. Here I learned that if you watch an English language version of a non-English show on Netflix, it was probably dubbed in this studio (as seen from the editing room):

Here is where Ezra tapes stuff for the Ezray YouTube channel:

And here's the main part of the recording booth:

Dubbing Brothers has this cool item called a hitching post (see above), set up so that multiple people can do a dubbing session at one time, instead of recording each person's bits one at a time, and having to edit it all together later. Nice.

Here's me getting ready to try out the hitching post setup:

And, say hi to Ezra Weisz! Ezra, if you're reading this - my friend's niece follows you on Instagram and flipped out when she saw this photo of us together. :)
You guys. I got to try out the whole dubbing process (something like following the bouncing ball for karaoke, but with more complicated moving parts) and have a critique session. Awesome. I was ready to come back the next day and try it again. Also, the show pictured here, the one I got to practice with? You can watch it now, on Netflix. It's called 3%.
Quick note on how this process works: the dialogue/text scrolls from right to left, across the bottom of the screen. Ideally during a dubbing session you'll be saying the word as it passes through the vertical red line on the left, in order to stay in sync with the actor onscreen. While conveying the appropriate emotion for the scene. All the things. Cool. 

And here's audio engineer Michael Fox, seen through the window into the editing bay, who recorded the session and gave me some valuable feedback:

All in all, I was thrilled with this whole experience, and am eager to get back to Burbank to work some more on this process with Ezra. Thank you, Ezra, for the opportunity! And thank you, Sweetie, for making visible the What If!

Up next: I'm singing as part of the Chorale for the Faces of Change Luncheon on April 13, with Glennon Doyle Melton as the keynote speaker. The luncheon is a benefit for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center - the Center does important work in helping survivors and providing education for healthy relationships. The Center's mission: "Supporting Survivors. Promoting Healing. Creating Change."

Music segment for this issue: Two sets!

The first you may have heard of, as I did, through NPR's recent Tiny Desk Concert competition: Tank and the Bangas. Listening to this concert was such a joyful experience, between the performers' exuberance, their sheer talent and their playful vibe. Tank is SO expressive. A big YES to life.

The second: John Fullbright! I first heard John's music via NPR's round-up of best new artists for 2012. Follow the link to download the song Jericho: Best Artists.

From Oklahoma, Fullbright's music is blues-y, folks-y, a little bit of Billy Joel... whatever you want to call it, I fell in love with his music right then, and have gotten to see him live in concert twice at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, first in June 2013, then in May 2015. John's a helluva musician and songwriter. Go listen: John Fullbright.

Chocolate: Mon Aimee Chocolat, in The Strip District in Pittsburgh - if you get a chance, GO.  They carry chocolate from over 26 countries. Pause for a moment and think about that. Nearly 30 countries' worth of chocolate available for your delight. Damn.

When you get to The Strip District, look for this door (note: there are many places worth checking out in The Strip - I recommend a day trip or possibly a full weekend):

Random Thingy: It's almost St. Patrick's Day, and if you know me, you know I'm part Irish, and I love Ireland, so March's random thingy is:

There's a big ol' comedy festival in Ireland!

It's called The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. I saw a sign for the fest when I was in Kilkenny, Ireland maybe 15 years ago. Later I discovered the festival was co-founded by a friend's husband, writer/actor/director/producer, Michael Clayton McCarthy. Friend is improviser/teaching goddess, Susan Messing. If you're ever in Chicago, go see Messing with A Friend.

Back to the festival, even the name!  The whole thing is right up my alley. I SO badly want to go to this thing. Hmm. I guess that's another What If...

Thanks for reading all the way to the end, and stay tuned for the next issue of The Magic Of What If, arriving in your mailboxes sometime during the week of April 17!


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