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Voice Coaches Radio #425 – Laura, On How to be a Producer (or How to Work with One)

Voice Coaches Radio. Everything voiceover.

And welcome into this week's edition of Voice Coaches Radio. I am Josh, he is Sam. We are delighted to have you joining us as per usual. Sam, how we doing? Doing great as always, Josh. Thank you so much for asking. Oh, you know what? I'm glad I asked. I am glad I asked. That's good to hear. Hey, uh, we have Another special guest.

Yes, we do another special. We are just just teeming with guests here We have so many these days so many so, uh, why don't you let us know who will be a chatting with a today? Did you what did you hear that? I think we heard So not only do we have one special guest we have two special guests It's more like it's more like one and a half one more like one and a half one human one human There is a cat in the booth today.

We have a cat with us so you may be hearing periodic Mewing. Mewing. Mewing. Mewing. Mewing. Mewing. Yep. Oh, and that other voice you hear is none other than Laura, one of our fearless and best producers here at Voice Coaches. Fearless and b best producers. B uh, uh, best producers. Yes. Indeed. Questionable. No.

Laura used to be producing much more and she's now on the road teaching those adult ed classes that a lot of our listeners may have entered the program through. So Laura, welcome to the show. Well, thanks for having me, guys. Great to hang out with you since I never see you anymore. I know, I know. It's been so long.

It has been good for you too? Wow. You know what? Hurtful. Hurtful. This is just Wow. Wow. And we also have her delightful little kitten cat in the booth who you may hear chatting as well and that is, uh, I'm going to let you say the name because it is too many names for me to remember. So we named him as though he were a racehorse and he has multiple names.

His name is Redford Robert Wilhelm Graver Jones Esquire. Yes, that is his name. Now did you know? That when you name a racehorse after someone, so say, Robert Redford, you actually have to get their permission. You have to get written permission from that person. Is that true? It is true, yes. The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner, so, uh, so that's why.

At the time of this recording, yeah. It'll be long past by the time we actually, yeah. We may be at the Preakness by then, who knows. Maybe at Pimlico. Maybe at the Belmont. Crown time. Um, but uh, yeah, that's the only time I, legitimately the only time I care about racehorse racing. And when I say, well, not even this time of year, like literally that day, like that day, I will care about horse racing.

And then two weeks later, I'll care about horse racing. But every other time, not really. Not interested at all. Not especially. So Laura, in addition to being a voice actor, which we all know you are, in addition to teaching these classes, You are also a producer. I am. What I'm curious about today to talk to you and Josh about, which I think both of you actually have a lot of opinions on, outside of being opinionated people, which I know you are.

True. Fine, nothing wrong with that, as am I. I'm wondering what is it like being, you know, you, you're also an actress too. You were an actor first. What is your favorite thing about being a producer? I have to say I love the creative process. I think the creative process between Oh. You know what, Josh? I'm gonna, this, I'm gonna, I will Take these headsets off and just come out there.

For context, Josh and Laura definitely have a like, sibling rivalry. Totally do. Please continue. It's not a rivalry when I beat her all the time. Oh, please. I am so much better than you. Let's just put it right out there. Boom! Drop mic. Wow. I'm only gonna be nice to you now because your cat is adorable. He is adorable, but in all seriousness To answer Sam's very important question.

Thank you. I love the creative, collaborative process between my voice actor, who I am producing, and me, the producer. That collaborative experience of getting from maybe take one, what a certain read sounds like, a piece of copy, and all the way to the finished process, when I do a little rough edit before I send it over to our editors, and seeing the The vast changes that happen and that collaboration that we created and it's just, it's kind of awesome.

You know, I'm curious, so much of what we talk about on this show is Information for voice actors, things that voice actors can use to further their career. But I'm wondering too, a lot of our voice actors now in this day and age are having to become producers themselves. What do you think is like needed to be a good producer, a voiceover?

I think that being objective is a is something that, yes, that was the cat. Oh, nice. Um, I thought it was Josh, but that's Yeah, no. Yeah, I can't blame him for that. Find me out, you'll know. Find me out, you'll know. Meow. Yep, definitely Josh. Definitely Josh. I think it, it, there's a level of being objective that you need.

Um, because again, we all hear our own voice differently. So, um, as producers, I think That normally I would tell a voice actor, get a producer when you are having something produced at that second set of ears, that person to direct you. But as people who are, are in this field in this industry, um, and we are all of us here, voice actors and producers, producing ourselves has become sort of.

Sometimes routine, and I would say that you need to make sure that you're kind of going back to the basics with your technique. Are you, if I'm hearing you correctly, one thing you're saying is being a voice actor, you, you can't hear yourself objectively, right? That's something we're saying. Yeah. So getting a second set of ears is paramount.

Yeah, I would say for the most part. Yes, it really is. There are a few exceptions where people, you know, who have been doing this for years, maybe have can be a little bit more removed from their own voice. But I think for the most part, it really is, um, about having someone there to direct you. And I think that's what being a producer is.

You're listening to someone's voice objectively and being able to say, Hey, maybe this isn't the right piece for you or whatever. Hey, um, change your inflection on this word or change your pitch. Try it in this way. You have to give them that kind of direction. And as when we hear our own voice, we might think, Oh yeah, that sounds fine.

But it's because we're not objective to What we sound like because we hear ourselves all the time and the way we think we hear ourselves and the way we hear ourselves is differently than somebody else hears us. Absolutely. You know, I think a lot of it also is if you are, you know, self producing, if you are, you know, someone who who's in that situation, for whatever reason, it might be, you have to, you have to trust yourself a little bit.

Trust yourself as a producer a little bit. You know, we all crave that direction. And I think, Laura, you said it there. We all, we all want that, you know, objective opinion that that second set of ears. If you don't have that, then you have to trust yourself. You have to trust yourself that you know what you're doing and that you're able to step back and listen to it and say, yeah, that, that sounded like I wanted to, or that didn't sound like what I wanted it to.

So you really need to be, Hey Red. So you really need to be able to trust. See, he agrees. He agrees with me wholeheartedly. And I appreciate that. You guys have an understanding. Yeah. They're fast old friends, yeah. I have known Red for literally weeks. Weeks. I have known Red for almost as long as Laura has known Red.

That's true. Wow. That's true. Say for like a day. Yeah. So Red and I, we go way back. Way back. But no, I think, you know, trust in your learning, trust in your skills, and trust in your ear. Trust in your ear. I think a lot of us don't trust our own ear. Um, you know when something sounds good or when it doesn't sound good.

And, and I think a lot of, you know, of, of producing is just that. Hearing something and being like, Mmm, something, something's not, it's not kosher there. I gotta, we gotta figure something out. Right? Trust your ear. And, uh, you know, it, it, it can be a little risky, but it's definitely something that you're going to have to be able to do so that you can have that objectiveness to it.

Objectivity. Objectiveness is not a word. Objectivity. Objectivity. Yes. Yes. Sorry about that. Um, and, and, and in that sense, I definitely do agree with Josh. Surprise. Surprise. Wow. Wow. Is this recording? This is actually on. Yeah, we have this on tape. I'm going to regret that, but let's just edit that out later.

Um, yeah, I agree with him in the sense that you do have to trust your own ear, but I think it comes back to remembering the basics of what your technique is. If you remember. the technique as a voice actor, the skill set you need to have as a voice actor. If you go back to those basics and you continue to apply that skill set, you can also be, um, an objective producer for yourself.

You know, one of the things that, that, that I enjoy about producing is, you know, we go into these pieces and I think Laura, it's safe to say we're pretty comfortable with almost all these pieces that we do. We do them fairly. Fairly often, so we have ideas on how they're supposed to sound, and that's kind of a starting point.

Our starting point is, okay, this is their first read, this is what I'm looking for, let's get there. But one of my favorite things is, on the way to that final destination, they do something that I didn't expect, I wasn't listening, or I didn't ask them to do specifically. But it works. And it's like, Oh, shoot.

Yeah, that's a that's a because there are, you know, there's no one way to do any specific piece. So, you know, hearing someone do something that I was like, that was not what I asked for. But I like it. Let's use that. I think that's that's kind of a that's kind of a fun and it kind of, you know, reinforces the fact that, you know, this, this is not a black and white type of industry.

This is a very, you You know, open ended industry, and there are any number of ways you can do any number of things, and none of them are wrong. They're just different ways to do that, and kind of having that, you know, right there in front of you, I think is, is, is kind of a nice reminder of that. So, what do you think it is for both of you?

I'm curious, like, what makes a good segment. What makes a good spot? Like I hear what I'm hearing. You both say to it's like you've worked with a lot of material, you've done a lot of this material, so you have some preconceived ideas of what makes it good. But I also know that one of the things that I am lucky to have in my role here at voice coaches is I get to listen to a lot of the material that we're producing, and I hear a lot of the material that both of you are producing, and I can tell him like, Oh, wow, they really better.

Yeah. You're both equal. You're both equal. Children. Children. Sam knows that it's me. He knows. He's just not saying it. He knows that it's me. There's a reason why there's a winner and there is a Wow. Wow. Wow. Yeah. I will say, putting aside who is better, you both do a very nice job producing demos, but what I can hear is when either one of you, doesn't matter who's doing the demo, when it pops, what is that thing that makes it really good?

And sometimes, like, I know this can be material that you might not be as familiar with, and I can hear it too, but what is that thing that makes a segment or spot good? Energy. I think it's energy. Absolutely. Energy. I mean, and the, the culmination of all the techniques that we teach our students to become professional, exceptional voice actors.

And then we're hoping to, that's what we're hoping to put out. That's what we, we as here at Voice Coaches, we want to put out that great material. That's why we have a Voice Coaches. We have an approval process through our demos and, um, to make sure that we put out the best our students possibly will be to get them to their best.

And, um, I think when it's really cool to work with somebody who just.

It's just, it's the energy, it's their direct ability, and for some reason, all of it, it comes together, and it's just really cool when you hear it, and it's like, wow. But I would say energy. When somebody brings me a certain kind of energy, that doesn't mean volume, that doesn't mean, um Going loud. Yeah, it doesn't mean being loud.

Yes, Redford, that's That's not what it means. Doesn't mean being loud red. Doesn't mean being loud red. But it's this type of energy, whether it's a, for a reflective piece, it's a calm energy or for a higher energy piece and they just get really excited. But it. It's a culmination of all the technique that we've taught them, their directability, and suddenly their energy just pops, and they start rolling with it and getting comfortable in the booth, and something happens and it all just gels, and I think it really, but I think it's energy.

So what I'm hearing you say is it's the right energy for the spot. Yeah. It's like, it's like finding the energy of the piece, and then kind of like riding that wave. Right. I think it's, it's when somebody finally finds their rhythm. And finds that when they get, you know, we all get behind the mic and I, and for me included, nerves can take over in the first couple times you read a spot, but then suddenly somebody starts rolling with it and getting comfortable and suddenly their personality just shines through and they just get comfortable and they start just kind of going on autopilot and they They start to understand how a piece should be read for them.

Yeah, and I think that, that comfort part is, is huge. You know what, one of the things I was going to say is, is one of the things that, that allows those pieces to become that is trust. And that is trust of the student in their producer. Even if we've never worked together, I may be producing someone that I've never taught any of their classes.

I've never worked with before. I need you to trust me completely. And in doing so, I need you to take risks that you may not be comfortable doing, and, and sometimes, you know, I'll have you, you know, do something outside the box because I think it might work for the piece. Sometimes I'll just have you do that just to kind of shake it off a little bit.

Try something different. I need to know that you're willing to take these risks with me because that is how we're going to get to where we ultimately want to go. If you are reticent and, and nervous, especially early on where you're going to be a little nervous and, you know, a little kind of timid on that.

We need to get rid of that quick and you need to trust that, you know, that we have your best interest in mind and we're not having you do these things for our own amusement, maybe a little, but for the most part, they're, they're, they're the reasons why we're doing these things to get you where we need you to be.

And that trust factor is huge. Again, even if you don't know the producer that well know that not only, you know, that that demo is not only your reputation, it's ours. And so we want a good demo. Just as much as you do, because it is just as much a reflection of us as it is of you. So we have your best interest in mind, and you have to trust us that we know, you know, what it's going to take to get there and commit to that.

Really commit to that. And what I'm hearing you say, Josh, is trust in yourself as the talent, but also trusting the producers. Yeah, absolutely. Just as important as the energy of the spy. Absolutely. What I also find funny in that, Josh, is that You did mention something about like torturing the talent in there.

So I just want to put that out there. Like maybe the trust, you know, makes it a little harder. The fact is, the best demo sessions that I have are where I have a really easy rapport with the person. And yeah, I give them a hard time. I razz 'em. Absolutely. And I expect them to do that right back at me. And when they do, which I just for the record, I've never given you a hard time.

You've heard it here on the podcast. Never do, never, never, never, never not have I told you about Baby Bear. Remind me, Laura. We'll talk later that, okay. That rapport, that Sam, that rapport that you and I have, I like to have that. Oh yeah, totally. With my, you know, with the clients that are in there, there's what you want from the talent that, that back and forth because it's, it, it.

It relaxes them. It makes it easier. It's more fun for them. It's more fun for me. So I'm, you know, I'm going to give you a hard time in there. And I expect you to throw it right back at me and give me a hard time. Sometimes it doesn't work that way. And I'll say something and I won't get the response I'm looking for.

And I'll be like, all right, I shouldn't do that anymore. They probably taking that personally. They think I'm just mean, which sometimes I am. But I mean, again, even, you know, if I, you know, crack a joke or, or, or make fun of you or something like that, there's a reason behind that too. I'm trying to ease things up a little bit.

I'm not just trying to be a jerk. I mean, I naturally am, but I'm not trying. I don't have to try. I don't have to try it. It just happens. Yeah, it just happens. It just flows out. But, I mean, that's, that comfort factor, like you mentioned, Laura, is huge. It's absolutely huge. You know, and it's funny, I always tell people when they step into the booth, the, the, The way that most recording studios are set up are to put you at ease, to make you feel nice and relaxed, we have nice, nice light colored walls, we have pictures, we have motifs, and they're designed to put you at ease and allow you to be at your best, but if you're not familiar with these places, they are alien environments, and they can get you to tighten right up, and we need to get past that, so especially if someone's coming in here, maybe this is their first time ever, ever in a studio, and ever in a booth.

We gotta get past that. We gotta get past that in a hurry. And sometimes the best way is just to, uh, make fun of them a little bit. Just a little bit. Just a little. Just a little. Just poke them a little bit. Just poke them a little bit. Something I also like to say about nerves to my students, who I'm working with, is that everybody's going to be nervous in the beginning, so it's not something that you should think is Wow.

Sorry. Go on. So unprofessional. I know. That was my drink. I just That was a Josh. That was a Josh. Meow. That was the cat in the room. I'm sorry, Laura. You were saying? But, something about nerves, and I think people that they Don't be afraid of them. It's That happens to the best of us. It happens to all of us at some point.

They're never gonna go away completely, I don't think. I don't believe that they ever will. They never should. They Because my thing is this, if you're nervous, it means you care. So guess what, if you weren't nervous, maybe that's a, that's more of a fly that you should be looking for. But even physiologically, nerves are there to put you at a heightened state of awareness, so that you can better Do whatever you have to do.

So you are more aware. You are more active. You're more on top of things when you're nervous. That's why we're nervous. It's our body saying, Whoa, there's a situation we're not comfortable with. We need to be on alert. So if you use those nerves instead of letting them kind of overtake you, they can help.

They can elevate your performance. You see this in athletics all the time. Nerves are great. They, they, they pump you up. They make you, those endorphins are super, super important and use them. Absolutely use them. So I think you should always be a little nervous. If you're not, you're too complacent and you probably don't care.

This is why I'm so good at life because I'm always nervous. Always nervous. Always nervous. Yup. No, when, when adrenaline floods your system and you have those nerves, use it, channel it. And that's where I think that some great energy can come from. And I think energy, like I was saying before, energy can really make a spot.

So, nerves are good. Nerves are good. They very much are. I will say for me, what I do is I like to build a context. I'm all about context and what you were talking about the room feeling alien and the room feeling weird, especially if you're not used to this environment. What I like to do is like, I like to play pretend.

Like I know you might share this, Laura. We have an acting background. Like the fun part is like putting yourself in a scene and being there and playing pretend so I can channel that energy that might be coming from nerves or the feeling of wanting to do a good job, wanting to get it right, and instead of focusing on those questions, I can redirect that energy to build a scene and then play that scene.

And then it makes it easy for me. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I do that too. And, and I would suggest that my, my students and, and um, clients would do that too, whoever I'm producing, I would say, you know, figure out who you are in this piece. Who are you? Who are you taught? Where's that character coming from?

What is that character perspective? We are voice actors. Yes. We're not. Talkers, but even what you're doing too is you're putting them into a state of mind like you putting them at ease You're creating a context for them. You're like, hey, I'm gonna give you this energy even if you don't think about it this way Right, that's super cool.

Yeah, that's the goal. That's awesome Laura. I mean, that's awesome Nice nice work both of you with on the production side of things I do listen to all of them and I will say Equally, you both are good. Serious question though, serious question. When you're listening to them, and I know you, can you tell who doesn't?

I can tell a little bit. I know for the most part you probably know ahead of time. I know the audio engineers, I can definitely tell that. That's true too, that's true. But I mean, if you were just listening to two, I wonder how different our styles are. And it doesn't mean one's better than the other, one's worse.

It just means that, and that's going to be the case, I think, with any producer you ever, I mean, I'm sure if I was listening to one of the ones you produce, when you produce them, they're probably very different as well, or when Nate produces them or whomever, but I am curious if you, you know, blind tested were like, yeah, no, that's, that's definitely a lower one.

And nah, it sounds more like a Josh one. I think a lot of it comes down to content and then taste. Like I can hear your taste in the pieces and I can see your taste in the pieces that you would direct somebody towards and the pieces that you would direct somebody towards. And then also the energy that you two as a producer bring to the table, I can definitely hear like Laura's definitely have much more upward inflection.

There's much more emphasis on that one, that skill, that technique. And so her. definitely has much more of a conversational not to say that yours doesn't have conversational, but it's it's more casual and then the pieces you pick really reinforce that the like one that comes to mind for you. Josh is Captain DeLong.

I feel like every time I hear a narrative demo. I'm like, that's Josh with Captain DeLong on it, which is like it's really intense narrative piece for those who don't know it. It It's really, it's fun, it's dramatic, and it has this like gravitas to it, which is Josh's voice. Scattered fragments of shattered glass.

Lay upon the broken windowsill. But it's inevitable, we all bring ourselves to the table. Even as producers, and that was a beautiful rendition. Thank you. The way that was really good. Appreciate, appreciate it. It's a super depressing piece at the end. It really good murdered his family, but oh, that's the end of it.

Wow. Spoiler alert. Spoiler alerts. Wow. Wow. Spoiler alerts. I only get through 20 seconds. Just gave it away. Spoiler alert. Well, Laura, thank you so much for this contribution. Thank you for coming on the podcast. We've been wanting to have you here so long. I know. I feel like I'm just, you know. part of the, being integrated back into the voice coach's family.

Except that we're not going to see you again for like another month. It's true. Laura was in studio all the time, but now she is teaching those classes on the road. And she is all over the country, flying here and there, going to this place and that place, the new city, every day, just about, correct?

Practically, yeah. Wow, Raph, that's amazing. Racking up the airline miles. Racking up those airline miles, yes. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It was my pleasure. It was a lot of fun. Redford, for coming in and adding your contributions. We should have miked Redford. Can you imagine if we put like a mic down there next to him?

So, I met Redford a couple weeks ago, and he had just come here, and he definitely had some something going on with his nose and literally he would hide, he was hiding under the desk and he was going,

and I was like, what is happening right now? And yeah, it's just breathing. He's breathing. So, uh, but he's a much quieter breather now, which, uh, which I appreciate. Much more over it now, his, his nerves have, have calmed down. Good. Good. You should use the, yeah, use those nerves. He channeled that. Use those nerves, Red.

He's, yep, he's channeling them into licking himself right now. Fair enough. It's bath time, all the time. Well, hey, if you have any questions for Laura, uh, you can always reach out to us, um, and probably reach out to Laura as well, uh, and, uh, and ask, ask, uh, ask any questions, salmonvoicecoaches. com is the easiest way to get something to us, but we can absolutely reach out to Laura.

And I'm sure that we will have Laura joining us again at some point when we can, when she can fit it into her, uh, her busy, busy schedule, make some time for, for the, the lowly peasants such as we. Joshua, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Exactly. I know, I know. But, uh, but no, Laura, thanks, thanks for coming on. always fun to see you.

And uh, we miss you here in the studio. We do. We miss you guys too. It's quieter around here. It is. It definitely is. Not as much arguing between us. No, and not, and, and, and not in quite in a good way. It's quiet and like, oh. But thanks for coming in. It was great to chat with you again. And I'm sure we'll have you on.

And like I said, any questions for Laura, send them to us. We'd be happy to pass them along. Sam at voicecoaches. com is the best way to get in touch with us no matter what. Any questions, comments, concerns that you may have. Or topics you want us to discuss. Because remember, it's not just our show. It's also yours.

So, Sam at VoiceCoaches. com is the best way to do that. So Laura, thank you again so very much. Thank you. Redford, thank you for your contributions as well. That was me. And, uh, Sam, anything to add? Perfect. Outstanding. So for Sam, I'm Josh. Until next time. So long. Visit VoiceCoaches. com for more voiceover news and information.

To view upcoming sessions of our live, web-based introductory sessions, visit

Josh and Sam interview Laura, a producer from our team, on some best practices for working efficiently with a voice over producer to ensure the best possible recording.