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Voice Coaches Radio #456 – Advice From an Editor

Voice Coaches Radio. Everything voiceover.

And welcome into this week's edition of Voice Coaches Radio. I am Josh Heller. Delighted to have you joining me as we are each and every week here from the mother ship at White Lake Music and Post in Colony, New York. And uh, we, we heard recently from uh, Mr. Dan Zavadil, um, bass player extraordinaire, editor extraordinaire.

Uh, right. I mean, listen, man, you know what? We're going, we're going hard. All right. And, uh, and so we, we, we talked with Dan, uh, uh, last week for some time about, you know, his musical background and acumen and then kind of got distracted by a few things as we are wont to do. Kind of trailed off there for a minute.

But, um, it happens. It happens. Musical, musical do that to you, man. Musical do that to you. But I, I did certainly want to talk about, you know, what you do here as far as sound designing and editing, uh, demos, which is, uh, you know, which is what you do. Here here when you're not, you know out touring playing bass and you know, wowing people with your musical Talent.

Yeah, because touring is not exactly a thing at the moment.

It's tricky I you know, I drive to work in the morning. I'm like, oh, I'm on tour, right? Yeah, that's a big tour. Where did you tour? colonie.

Actually, you did do a show not too too long ago where a live show and what they were like There were people there, but they were kind of, like, squared off, they were kind of in separate sections.

Was cool. Yeah, we played, and they had a, um, it was outside in a park, um, and it was near the water, which was really beautiful. And they had, um, you're right, they had, I think they were, like, maybe ten foot squares, right, painted. Uh, you know, white paint, and there was space in between them, so you could buy your ticket and have, I think it was up to maybe eight people in your square.

Um, but it sold out. That's cool. It sold out, so every square sold, and whether there were, you know, four or eight people in each square, there were, there was a gathering of folks outside. They had, once you're in your square, you know, you could take your mask off, and they had, you know, the restaurants nearby had their, their mobile stuff set up, so you could just order food or drinks from the, the restaurants right there.

And of course you could bring your own, but if you wanted to, you know, you know, you know, pay for, um, you know, uh, support your local businesses and, uh, do that. And we played, I don't know, an hour, 45 or something like that. It was beautiful, man. It was really cool. So nice to actually have, you know, feedback.

It was, it was. We've done it, you know, a bunch of streaming stuff, um, which is cool because you're, you're getting together and you're playing, but there's nothing like, you know, having the energy of, of, uh, live people there. And, and, uh, it's a, it's a beautiful thing and it'll happen again. Look, we're midst of craziness.

We've, you know, we've survived worse, so, uh, it'll happen again. Uh, we can just be patient and, and do our thing and hone our skills at home. And maybe, uh, you know, get, you know, challenge yourself. Come up with something new to do. I don't know. I repainted, like, my entire house. My wife was thrilled. Now she's like, okay, you finished?

Could you go back out on the road?

I love you, but I'm a little sick of you. Not gonna lie.

You've never been home for this long.

When you, when you are touring... uh, Colonie, otherwise known as coming to work here. Right. Um, so you, you are getting the, the raw audio from people's demos that we record, whether we record them here or we record them remotely.

So those of, uh, you know, the students who go through voice coaches, you know, the, the final stage of it is the, you know, recording and producing of that demo. And that raw audio gets to you. And then you basically take that raw audio and turn it into a You know, a network quality product because, you know, and we tell people this, there is, you know, a There's a quality level that's expected and needed.

There's also a, you know, a, um, kind of a level or a way that it's done, right? Kind of a system in which it's done that producers expect, right? In a certain way, in a certain length, you know, with certain things, without certain things. So take us kind of through the creative process that you go through when you get that raw audio.

You just get a, you know, a list of tracks that, you know, are good, but they are just So kind of take us through, you know, what your, what goes through your head as you're kind of putting these together and really taking these separate tracks and stitching them together into a beautiful tapestry that is the demo.

Is that what I do? Thank you. I appreciate that. Something like that. Right. So, so. Uh, you know, just use Josh as an example, if you're working with Josh and, um, you know, you're going to come in, you pick out your pieces and we, and you, you record them, you, and you're going to record part of it, right? So you may have at the end of the day recorded, you know, four narratives that are maybe a minute.

You know, long or in the commercials might be 30 seconds, whatever you did. So I'm going to get those files. The first thing I'm going to do is look at in the sort of the back end and, and get the producer notes from the session and, um, because they'll put in, Josh will put in, Hey, we like these pieces.

This is sort of the order I'm thinking. And so I'll, then I'll, I'll, uh, create a session and bring the files in and listen through and see how the voice sounds, right? What the quality of the voice is and sort of, I'll get a picture in my head because I don't have. pictures, but I'll sort of get a picture of, of sort of the embodiment of, of this voice.

And so that, then that helps me know what kind of, of, um, maybe music to put under a certain piece. And so what I, what, what we look for, uh, you know, initially is we want. to, to obviously capture the true voice of the person, right? What do they sound, what's the best sounding, uh, uh, piece that they have?

Their voice personality. Voice personality, there you go. I knew you would, you would come in with some of those technical things. Um, so we want to pick that and we want to put that up front. We want to present that, uh, as the first thing, right? The first impression. That's what we want to do. Um, but we also want to have some variety in there.

So we want to have, you know, so you'll read the PSA and the, um, you know, maybe the more, uh, technical, uh, pieces as well, but we, we want to make, we want to do, you know, just to, uh, within that minute for, we'll take a commercial demo, it's about a minute. Maybe a minute 10, minute 15 at the, at the, at the max.

Um, usually maybe a little over a minute. And so you, you want to do a, you know, we want a little bit of a roller coaster ride. We want to, we want to get them right up front with someone that, that producer puts your, your, the demo in for the, the gig you're looking for. They get your, your voice personality right up front.

And then we'll maybe, so if that's a high energy one, then maybe we, we, uh, maybe bring that down a little bit. And then we want to, you know, then bring it back up with another one, and then we'll maybe in that, maybe that fourth slot, we'll put something that's maybe a little bit still within your, your personality, but maybe has a, is a little more, um, on the edge.

So it may have something that's a little more, um, sound design to it, right? So it could be a, um, You know, one of the, like, the haunted mansion pieces or something, where you can, where you can kind of play with it a little bit, right? Sort of, you know, it's sort of the, like, the wild card of the, of the thing.

Like, look, this is, this is, I can do this, too. Um, and then end it, obviously, with something nice, too. So, it's a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. It's just not... You know, just, just straight up, uh, you know, one energy level through the whole thing. We want to, you know, like I said, come in very, very, uh, upfront with the personality.

And then we want to showcase some other things, too. Oh, we can do a read for, uh, one of the PSAs, whether it's, uh, you know, parenting or, or something where there, where there's that real connection with people. Um, And, and, uh, really just, just showcase, I try to, like I said, I try to get an image of, of the personality of the person too, and then pick the pieces around that, that really, um, because look, at the end of the day, hopefully nobody is noticing the, the music I put underneath it.

And, and the sound design I'm doing around it. Sure. They're the, it's, it's there to support your voice. It's not about what I'm doing, so I have to do something that supports it in a way that isn't distracting. Sure, sure. That doesn't overtake it, that isn't like, wow, I don't know what the voice sounded like, but those sound effects are great.

That , that's not what we want at the end of the day. We just want the voice to be heard.

Which, which brings up a good question because, you know, you're, you talked about with the commercial and how that's set up, the narratives are a little bit different, right? There's only maybe three, maybe at the most four that you're going to put in there because you want to show that, that length.

You want to show that they can sustain a particular, you know, a particular piece, a particular voice, you know, for the entirety of it. But you also want it to sound like, you know, what an actual narrative sounds like. So it's one thing with the commercials, we're sure. Most commercials you hear have music.

They have maybe sound effects in there. They have, you know, this, that, and the other lot of narratives you hear don't really have much of that at all. So, you know, how are you able to, you know, to, to get the narrative to, to pop without using some of those things that really just don't go in narratives, or you don't expect like a lot of sound effects and crazy things like that in a narrative.

Like an audiobook's not really gonna have that. Maybe some light music, but that's really about it. So it, you know, how are you able to kind of walk that line of, I want to support the piece, but I certainly, especially with narratives, don't want to be the piece.

Yeah, the narratives, right, are really subtle.

Right, where, um, right where the commercial can have a little more, a little more, uh, play with them. And, uh, you know, we have, we have a really extensive, uh, sound library here that we use for, uh, all of this, uh, um, all these demos. And it really is, uh, I think with the narratives, listening more to the voice and whatever I do has to be very subtle.

And, and even to the point of, um, You know, more, even the music, more simple instrumentation. Sure. Right? So you don't want to, you can have a good piece of music, but if it has a lot going on in it, that's going to be distracting from a technical read. Somebody reading about, um, you know, fibromyalgia or something.

You don't, you don't want a busy piece of music, but you don't want it standing out there naked either. So there's got to be, right, there's got to be a subtle. a soundbed under it that isn't isn't distracting.

I, I think about it like a, um, it was obviously, I equate everything to sports because that's what I do, but I think of it like a, like a good referee, right?

In whatever sport, the best referees or umpires, you don't notice they're there. If you do notice they're there, it's usually because they're doing something that you don't want them to, or they say it in, in, um, Like in football, your offensive line, if you don't notice them for the entire game, they just had a great game.

Right. They just had a great game. Yeah, defenseman in hockey, something like that, right? Yep. If you don't say their name the entirety of the game, they had a wonderful game. Because they were there, they were doing their job, they were helping everybody else out, but they weren't sticking out because they're not supposed to.

Because when they do, it's never a good sign. I think, I think the best analogy for that is a really good baseline. Yeah, yes. Maybe because I'm a bass player, I don't know.

No, what? I think the best analogy for everything is a really good bass line.

If you're tapping your foot and grooving along, whatever, but you don't know why, it's the bass line.

Let's just be honest. That actually is a good point, though, because very rarely are you going to walk away from a song being like, man, the bass line was awesome. The bass line was killer! Occasionally, you might do that and be like, man, that bass line was, you know, that was grooving. But in general, you know, you're going to focus more on...

You know, the, the, the, the vocals, you know, the guitar solo, yeah, the melody instruments. So that's right. So that could be what this is, right? Like, you're the vocal, right? You're front, you know, stage front. Um, you know, who knows who Beyonce's bass player is? Nobody, but he's killing it. I guarantee. Oh, I mean, he has to be super talented, right?

Any, any, you know, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, anybody out there, Elton John, those bands are absolute killers. Just like you watch, um, I don't, I don't watch a ton of them, but like, you watch The Voice. That band is out of control. Oh, is what they have to do, yeah. But you, you have, you have no idea. You have no idea.

And that's the point. That's the point. They don't want you to.

They don't want you to. It's not about that.

You ever listen to any James Brown? Of course. He is, or he was, you know, notorious for it, you know, especially bass and drums for so exacting. He used to travel with two to three different drummers because he couldn't make it through a set with a drummer.

I didn't know that. Because the drummer would, would be exhausted. Like what he expected was, was. So, he has a song called Funky Drummer, um, which is about a funky drummer. Um, Uh, funky drummer, Uh, yeah, funky drummer. That's pretty much the lyrics for the most part. There may be other lyrics in there like, Bam, bam, bam, ba dum da dum da dum da dum da dum.

And at one point he goes, um, You know, there's a, there's like a musical break and he's talking over it, and, uh, and he's like, Alright, what we're gonna do right here is... This is not a very good James Brown impression, mind you. You know, what we're gonna do right here is we're gonna pull all the music out.

Everyone's gonna stop when I say, and just the drum is gonna keep it going. And he goes, Don't do anything special, just keep what you're doing. Cause it's a mother... And, and, and that's exactly what happens. Like, the drummer is doing whatever the he was, all the music stops, and he's like, one, two, one, two, three, four, and then it's just the drummer doing like this little like tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

Yeah. And it's, it seems like when I first listened to it, I was like, Oh, it's not that impressive. And then, uh, when I was in a band in high school, like uh, I, I talked to a drummer and was like, try can you do something like that? He goes, no, like, absolutely not. Are you kidding me? Like that is no, I could not do that.

And and that was it. And then you did that for like, I don't know. Maybe about. 10 15 seconds and the music came back in and he kept on going it was just kind of a little highlight like you're probably not paying attention to this but you should be right you should be it's super important to what's being done when the song is going on in general when all the music is there when all the you know the vocals are there and the singing and all the gusto that is James Brown you don't notice that drummer but he's basically saying in this one part like everybody stop because what the drummer is doing is Awesome.

And we should pay attention to that right now. And that's kind of how I, how I pictured this, like what you're putting in there is super, super important. We're not paying attention to it unless we took everything away. That's the only reason you notice it's there. Right? Right. But it's still super, super important and such a complimentary piece to what we do.

Also, I love James Brown, so I just wanted to kind of do a little James Brown for you. Ow! Hardest working man in show business.

No doubt, no doubt. Um, yeah, it really is. It's just about supporting your voice and what you bring to it and making that shine. And it's, I gotta tell you, I have a lot of fun doing it.

I have a lot of fun doing it because it's never the same person twice. Even the same pieces, right? Because there are people who choose the same piece and we obviously try to, you know, have each demo, you know, we don't want all the demos we're putting out having the same pieces but sometimes pieces are repeated but You know, voice to voice, they're not the same.

They can be completely different. Even, yeah, even the producing it from my end. Like, I don't produce it the same, you know, as I would for somebody else. And it doesn't sound anywhere near the same. It can sound completely different.

Right, depending on the, on the energy level, the timbre, the perspective, whatever it is, and you listen to it.

And even if it's, you know, I did that piece earlier in the day, I'm going to listen to it again and go, wait a minute, this sounds different and use a different. A snippet of audio from the rather than use the, you know, the front piece. I'm like, wait, this sounds way better on the end or there's, wow, this is a really great connection on this piece.

And so then it can sound again, again, the, the, the music I choose and the, and the different effects that go with it depend on what is there. I'm, I'm not trying to make something up again. It's, it's just supporting that.

So, and that's, it's, it's not hiding it either. It's not hiding what's there. We're not putting these things in there to, you know, to, to hide any flaws.

Absolutely. Quite the oppositely, right? Absolutely not. And, and I usually try to get one in there where maybe somebody will laugh at one of the, the ridiculous things maybe I, I put in there with, with little, a little button, as we call it, between two pieces. Right? If there's a sort of, you know, like Dr.

Spill or something like that, there's a good place to put something in, or, you know, Bloodhound Golf Balls or something, right? There's, there's, you can have some fun with those, um, and sort of put some things in. So, you know, if you can make somebody, you know, smile, laugh, whatever, you're like, Hmm, that's a, that's a, that's a win in my book.

Um, but really it is, it's, and sometimes you get, you know, you get a demo and you're like, This is, this could go out just like this with nothing under it, right? Like, That's like when you got mine, right?

Exactly. That's the only one I've done like that. Full disc, full disclosure. Dan did my demo. So it's and it's pretty good.

Not gonna lie to you. It's it's pretty good. Pretty great. It's pretty good. Um But it really I just I play to the strengths of the voice that that I'm listening to and that's what it is and

Whatever music is under it is artistry what I feel like this would sound great here. This would be cool You know what and and I we call it You know, oh yeah, we're going to send it to post production or to the editors, but it, when, what it is, it's sound designing, it's, it's sound, it's sound designing.

It is, it is creating, you know, a, a cohesiveness to the piece that just wasn't there. Sure, your pieces may be great, they're by themselves, they're just pieces, you need to make it into a comprehensive, cohesive demo.

Right, and, and, and the other thing, talking about that too, is like, how, how to put this together so that the, uh, you know, the producer you've sent this to listens to it.

Yeah. Yeah. Right? Like, like, so, so that's where I think a little bit of maybe that some of the tech specs, and I know you run this by, um, students as well, and they're recording and doing their thing. So you may record, you know, 30 seconds of this, but we may use 8 seconds or 11 seconds of it. And we're just going to take the very best of the best of that piece that you did and put it in there.

And then we're going to, we're not going to give it time to fade away and, and let the producer think about it. We're going to hit them with the next piece right away. And we're going to make that quick, and that's where, um, it's handy to do that little bit of a rollercoaster thing, right? Because otherwise, if they were all the same, it would be hard to differentiate the pieces.

Now, from your perspective, uh, you know, before we wrap up, advice for people who are coming in. selecting pieces and actually, you know, uh, doing the demo, right? Any, any advice so that, you know, you know what you'd like to get, you know, when you, when you get, you get a demo and you're like, this one's going to be really good.

Like this one, this is exactly, it's everything that I want. And I know exactly what to do with it. What, you know, what kind of preparation, what would they be looking for so that they can make sure that when they get in here, They're able to put that together to make your life easier and to make their demo better.

Right. Well, I mean, first, they should be listening to absolutely everything you say. And writing it down and getting transcripts.

Obviously. Yeah. I mean, they should be doing that anyways.

Right. I mean, please. That's how I got where I am today. But, um, pick pieces that you're going to have fun with, that you have a connection to.

Um. Because that's good because then you're not going to have to try and I know we say hey We want to have a variety of things but pick things that that you can have fun with or that have a meaning to you You know, I know if I was gonna put a demo together there's a you know, John Coltrane piece right in the narrative Another innovator, right?

I'm gonna pick things that I can relate to Um, so, so pick things that are, that are relatable, that you can connect to. Maybe, you know, a previous job you've had, you know, you were a, you know, an x ray tech or something. So pick something in the medical field, um, or something that has to do with your hobby.

You know, if you're, you know, whatever you do during the day, but you, you love doing, you know, woodworking. Pick something, you know, pick a hardware store piece, but pick stuff that you have a connection to, I guess. Because then that's going to be, that's when you're going to light up, you're going to shine.

You're going to, your, your voice is going to sound the best. There's going to be the energy level that you want. Because if I know, if I read something about, um, wiring electricity, it's going to be boring. But you get Bob Vila to read it. It's, you're going to, it's going to be like watching the Super Bowl.

It's going to be great. Um, so I, I think that's the, the, the, the best advice that I can give. And, and, uh, just like a musician playing what they love to play. Uh, you can tell. You can tell when, when a band goes in and they record an album and, and they, they love it and they're all getting along and they've, they've put their heart and soul into it.

You can tell, right? It's got the energy. It's got the mojo. So do whatever gives you your mojo, man. That's the thing because then that makes all our jobs easier. Oh, it is. No question. And then you're gonna, then you're gonna love your demo even more. Because it's going to be you. It's not going to be like, well, I didn't really like.

No, pick the pieces you like, you know, take, take a minute. Take a minute, because I know we have a, uh, a pretty robust, uh, copy library. it is vast. It is, but that's so we can, we can, you can really tailor it to who you are and who you want to represent yourself as. And that's, that's what it's all about. Um, so you might not be able to do it in ten minutes.

It might take a couple of sessions to, Thank you. To, uh, pick your pieces out, but take the time. It's, it's your, it's your gig, it's, it's your business card. Um, you know, for the producer, and, and why not, who else should it be about but you? Who else should you put out there but you? Do what you love and pick the pieces that you love and that you're excited to do.

And then, uh, Josh is gonna have a great time producing it and we'll have a great time getting it out the door to you and get you on your way. It's fun. It's a ton of fun. Doing creative stuff is great.

You just gotta be passionate about it. There's no question. If you're having fun... I'm probably gonna have fun.

Dan's probably gonna have fun. People feed off it. That's like we were just talking about playing in front of a crowd. That's why you do it, because you're like, this is so much fun!

And that's the thing. This is, this is, when you're in the booth, you are performing. This is a performance. Enjoy the performance.

This is art. This is our kid. Get it. Get it. Awesome. Dan, man, thank you so much for that insight and whatnot. This is a blast. If anybody has any questions, you know, for Dan, uh, you can send them over to me, podcastedvoicecoaches. com. I'd be happy to pass them along to, uh, to him, you know, in regards to, uh, to this side of the business, to this side of the, uh, you know, of the process to it.

Um, but I'm happy to him and we'll certainly have Dan back on probably sometime in the next

few years. Yeah. Right. Another, another decade. Yeah. Awesome. And it's great getting feedback. Yeah, absolutely. Uh, from people as well.

Um. I'm gonna give you some feedback, Dan. You were awesome, bud.

Oh, thank you too, man.

Loved it. We just have fun over here. Hey, that's what it's about. That's what it's about. We're having fun. Hopefully you listeners are having fun. Um, but hopefully you got something out of that too. It's, uh, it's interesting stuff. It's a, it's a side of the thing, uh, you know, that, that most people don't see.

You see, you know, what happens when you're recording and then, okay, now here's your demo. Yeah, a little behind the curtain. Yeah, there's, there's a lot of work that goes on in the background. Absolutely. And, uh, Dan, it. No, uh, no hyperbole needed. You do an amazing job at it, but I appreciate it, man. Really do.

And, uh, it's been a blast having you on here and, uh, and chatting about it. Like I said, we'll definitely have you back on here. But if you do have questions for Dan, let me know podcasted voice coaches. com. You can call the front desk and talk to Laura as well. We will get that to him and we will be sure to answer those for you.

But Dan, again, thank you. I can't thank you enough, man, for, uh, for taking some time with us. Awesome. Thanks. This was a ton of fun. All right. Well, thank you again for you for listening in to us this week as you do each week here on voice coaches radio. And again, Podcast at voicecoaches. com, best way to get in touch with me.

If you have any topics, any discussions that you want us to go over, any questions you'd like us to answer, any guests you'd like us to get, or if you want Dan back on the podcast, or if you want him to replace me as the podcast host, that's fine too. Just let me know. Podcast at voicecoaches. com. Best way to get in touch with us, where you can call the front desk and talk to Laura as well.

But that will do it for us today. Dan, thanks again. Thanks to you for tuning in and until next time so long, everyone. Visit voicecoaches. com for more voiceover news and information.

We continue our conversation with Dan Zavadil and discuss what he looks for in a demo, from the perspective of the person editing it.