Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Surprising and Interesting Places a Voiceover Career has Led To

Surprising and Interesting Places a Voiceover Career Has Led To

  • Written by Stephanie
  • Comments (6)

Lawrence Circle in Schenectady, NYHave you ever heard that it's the journey that matters, not just getting to the destination?

You may find in your travels that going to events issues opportunities to learn, to admire and reminisce in a beautiful and historic setting, combining voice over with the local culture. Voice talent Linda Ristig shares her experiences in the American city of Schenectady, NY. By setting aside time to explore her surroundings, Linda was introduced to people, places and things within the city gates, connecting with her in meaningful ways.

A Voice Over Guest Perspective

by Linda Ristig

I'll admit, I didn't even know how to spell Schenectady, let along pinpoint where it was located in New York somewhere, until I read about the Voice Coaches Expo + You = Opportunity Marketing and Networking Event 2009 through Stephanie Ciccarelli's Vox Daily blog a month or so ago. After becoming aware of the impressive list of guest speakers, I felt compelled to be part of the learning curve. When I checked our family calendar, I knew the May dates for the weekend conference would fit into my schedule.

But what I gained from that experience went far beyond the various topics discussed. Through the last several articles on this site, you've read an amazingly and accurately thorough analysis of what pearls of wisdom the speakers addressed. But there was so much more...

When I arrived at the Albany airport, I spotted a poster of a Science Museum located in Schenectady. Within minutes, a delightful Capital Cab taxi driver, Mike, explained with his NY accent, that I'd enjoy my stay in Schenectady, since I'd be staying at the Parker Inn. He began to tell me a bit about the history of the town, in relationship to electricity and the settlement by the Dutch. He showed me several beautiful photos he had recently taken of tulips, and wished me a pleasant visit.

Now, it's my nature to have a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around me. After checking into the hotel, I rode the wrought iron encased elevator to the fifth floor. Only four rooms were on my level, and I was entranced. The room was spacious and beautifully appointed. Back down I flew to desk to ask directions to the local science museum. It turned out it was only a few blocks from my hotel.

Off I trekked to the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Beuche Planetarium, Science Center of Tech Valley. I found out that Thomas Edison arrived in the town in the 1880's, and was involved in founding the company all of us recognize, General Electric. There were so many industrial inventions and interactive displays within the museum. My husband's grandfather had the first radio shop in Washington, D.C., so I recognized the oscillating fan and old time radio that we have at home, on display there! I learned about the locomotives that were manufactured in the factories. During WWII, those foundries were altered so they could produce a tank in 19 days, with half of the workers being women. I learned also about the war between Edison and Tesla over AC and DC current. There was so much to see, but I only had an hour.

When I went to the section that predated the industrial revolution, one word jump out at me. Mohawk. The original settlement was located on the Mohawk River, founded back in the 1600s. I graduated from Mohawk High School, PA! I knew I needed to find that river! I learned about the Stockade Walking Tour of the historical buildings because of a kindhearted informative museum docent. She showed me a brochure, and explained that if I liked architecture, I wouldn't be disappointed.

I needed to zip back to the hotel to change for the Expo's Meet and Greet. I should mention that my hotel connected to the elegant and classic Proctor's Theatre, the site of the first movie projection screen! I had take a short stroll through the main lobby, a quaint bar, and a comfortable seating area, and there I was... in the main concourse of the theatre.

There I was fortunate to be introduced to some outstanding people, both established in the field of VO, and some that were just beginning their careers. I still consider myself very lucky to have been able to attend. The energy and positive outlook were fantastic to be a part of. In addition, the catered food was outstanding! John Florian created a fun-filled photo montage of the event at his VoiceOverXtra.com website.

Fast forward to Sunday, when the conference was over. My flight was scheduled to leave in the mid-afternoon. I dug out my "Stockade Walking Tour" pamphlet, and set off on another adventure. I must tell you, the historical homes were marvelous. Having taught Middle Ages history for a number of years, I have a special fondness for Gothic architecture. Wrought iron and stained glass captivate me. Located on one of the Ellis mansions, I even spotted a gargoyle! In the oldest section, there were many beautiful churches that have withstood attacks within the walls of the original fort. Yes, the tulips were blossoming, birds were chirping, church bells were ringing, and I even saw a priest close a huge wooden door to signal the beginning of services. I glanced at the dates engraved on some of the centuries-old tombstones, as a few late parishioners rushed to claim their spot in the service.

Lastly, I found the Mohawk Riverfront. I stood at the general area where the Dutch founder of the town purchased the land from the Mohawk Indians in 1661. A longhouse actually had been within the walls of the town, for visiting Indians who traded furs with those long ago settlers.

I called my mother on my cell phone to let her know I was standing along its shores. I wandered a few blocks from the river, and found a statue of Lawrence, the Native American Indian that helped the original settlers. Those wooden walls of the stockade no longer exist, but there was so much history here, and I had no trouble envisioning the town as it might have been.

I've only touched on a few of the wonders within Schenectady. Taking time to step outside and learn about your surroundings can create unexpected and marvelous adventures.

The world of voiceovers allows you to tell stories that matter, just like I'm sharing this special memory with you. Just a Marketing Expo? I think not!

To what surprising and interesting places have you been led during your voiceover experience?

Linda Ristig

Lawrence Circle Image via Suns Along the Mohawk, photos of the Schenectady Stocade by David Giacalone


Thanks Linda,

We were absolutely delighted to have so many of our friends from across the US and Canada at the event, including former student Jonathan Stull, who traveled all the way in from Alaska. We hope next year... (May 1st 2010) will be even better.

I appreciate your perspective of our community! We are currently building our new facility and I am excited to say we will remain in Schenectady. Our city's rich broadcast and communication history coupled with the redevelopment of a very arts-driven downtown shopping district, make Schenectady an ideal fit for our business.

This positive growth is the result of extensive efforts by those on both sides of the political fence, and certainly by those who reside and own businesses here.

In addition, our proximity to New York, Boston, and Montreal offers a continued influx of exciting production projects from organizations working to effectively manage their production budgets.

We were proud to welcome nearly 200 attendees and guests to this year's event, and I sincerely thank you for being one of them!

Thanks Again!

David at Voice Coaches

Thanks for sharing... very interesting!

  • Posted by: Mark Stewart

It was such a pleasure to relate my Schenectady exploits! It was very interesting to me that the city itself is in a process of rebirth, thanks to the collective wisdom of the town's elected officials and business owners. I loved that you linked so many sites to the article! I especially appreciated that you found a picture of the statue mentioned within the story. I hope it inspires others to take note of their surroundings, generates a few interesting comments, and encourages others to share their VO adventures with you!


Tremendous article, Linda! Thanks to you and Stephanie for sharing this wonderful experience.

  • Posted by: Herb Merriweather

Very nice job writing this Linda! I must say that you've made those of us that didn't attend just a little jealous. :)

  • Posted by: Trish Basanyi

Great article Linda! I love adventures.

  • Posted by: Kris Holliday

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Web 2.0

Ever heard about Web 2.0? Until this past Sunday, I never had. During a live teleconference by Such A Voice Productions, the host, Brian Thon, used the word. Today I had the time to do a little research. After reading a complicated definition in Wikipedia, I turned to another source, You Tube! My simple interpretation is that Web 2.0 refers to being able to combine different medias and web sites together on the internet in order to share and collaborate. In other words, the future of the web will draw its strength from people reaching out to others. Dr. Michael Wesch from Kansas State University has a great video that explains a lot in a short amount of time, under five minutes.
(I would have preferred for you to see the embedded video, but, alas, my computer could not handle it!)

But this is where the story takes an interesting turn. I posted the video this morning on Facebook. Voicey Award winning voice artist/producer, Adam Fox, thought I created the video and gave me the thumbs up. He also gave some helpful suggestions about ways to improve it in my email that's routed from FB! I was puzzled by his comments. When I went back to check on FB, I realized the true author had placed text asking for input beside the video spot. While I'm playing detective, Adam has been moved to write a blog about the courage I exhibited to put that video "out there," for critique. As I'm responding to him on FB, I saw he was online. After having a IM chat, all the mix-up was straightened out! Yet he went back to his original blog, and updated it.

Was that Web 2.0? All that utilizing and sharing media? You bet! But it's even more...I like to think it's more about building connections. Use the internet as a tool, but keep the humanity in tact. I now have a new blog or two to follow, and when Adam posts updates on FB, I'll smile to myself, and be paying closer attention.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Can I Help You?

Last week, I was privileged to see the Pompeii artifacts on display at the National Gallery of Art. Just a short ride on the metro (subway) to the Smithsonian stop, a quick, chilly walk across the National Mall, and there I was, awestruck, as I stepped back in time to the first century. The wealth of those early Romans was staggering, yet in an instant, all the wealth in the world could not alter the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

I found myself making a parallel to our modern economy. Yes, the stock market, people are losing their jobs, and the morale of the country has taken a huge downturn, but what can we do right now to help each other?

My thinking is this. If you are a business owner, marketing a product or service, do you act like a turtle, draw into your shell, and hope for the best? If you're embarking on a career path like voice overs and find yourself without income, are you just going to wait and see what happens? The American Dream was built on innovation and the belief that you can succeed!

If you want to advertise your business, what better way to cut costs than by hiring a voice over artist like myself? I have my on-site studio, and can send my dry voice over audio recording all over the world on an mp3 file through the internet. Whether you're interested in a radio or television commercial, web site audio, corporate narration, or e-learning audio, know that I'd be happy to work with you at a reasonable price with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Most short projects, I can finish and send the edited electronic file to you within 24 hours.

For others just entering the voice over career, there are wonderful web sites that connect you to the experienced wisdom of established professionals in the business. Learning from their articles and podcasts build a depth a knowledge you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

I wish you well, and hope you are re-energized by creating your own destiny! You've probably heard of "Beware the Dog," but did you know the people of Pompeii actually used that phrase (in Latin, of course) as a joke? Here's why...mosaic doormats were embedded on the floor at the entrance to their homes, because the doors were left open to catch the ocean breezes. May your doors always be open with opportunities and may the winds of financial change swing in your favor!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Life Unlimited

At the beginning of 2009, I truly had not begun to market my voice over career. You see, I had a full-time career in education, and I felt to do that job well, I couldn't start voice overs part time until summer. It turned out that two whole summers slipped by! Amazingly, real life kept intruding on my time as a wife and mother, and I felt my family obligations were stopping me from moving forward with VO work. For one and a half years, I had spent a great deal of time and money getting voice over coaching through Such a Voice Productions , purchasing ProTools software and studio equipment, had a professionally made demo, participated in bi-monthly teleconferences, and made contacts in the real world, the old-fashioned way. When the fall of '08 rolled around, for the first time in 31 years, I was no longer in an elementary classroom. What a feeling to be able to meet-up with friends and neighbors for lunch, dinner, and movies! It didn't take more than a month to realize I wanted more substance in my day. All that changed when I received an email from the production company I had worked with that a mentor program was going to be offered with top-notch voice coaches/mentors/entrepreneurs. I was assigned to marketing guru and voice over talent, Trish Basanyi. So within a couple short months of our contacting each other on Skype and webcam, I've learned so much about getting my name out there on the internet! What good it it to be able to offer a service if no one knows about it? To that end, I've joined many organizations relating to my current career that you can find on my "Contact" page. VoiceOverXtra and Voiceover Universe are two such support sites with interesting articles and upcoming events posted. Continuing to learn from the experts established on those sites are an invaluable resource! Suddenly, instead of me asking to become a friend on Facebook or Linked In, other people are now contacting me! It's an honor to get the requests, and know that others value you and your work. Just this morning, I was happy to see I received a recommendation from a former principal of mine that is currently the Cluster I Director in Fairfax County, Virginia. Yet another recommendation just came in from a member of the Such A Voice team as I wrote today's blog! I marvel at how many contacts I've made in the virtual world! I feel as though I've pushed through the roadblocks that were preventing me from marketing my work. It's wonderful how working with a mentor has made such a huge impact on my career! The most amazing aspect to this business is how time evaporates when I am recording and producing a voice over! According to my youngest son, he told me yesterday that time only stands still only when you are enjoying yourself! Such a wise observation from a 15 year old! As I move forward into this new career, I continue to audition with a positive spirit, and hope for bright future in voice overs. You can follow me on Twitter.com for real-life updates! Why not let me know how your voice over career is going for you?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Following Leads on Facebook

If you are hesitant to peek into another person's Facebook page, guess what? There is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips! So far this morning, I became friends with many people already established in the voice over industry. I realized that many of the names were affiliated with the wonderful podcasts I've listened to in Voices.com. It seems I just keep absorbing the info like a sponge. It's fascinating to hear not only the wisdom behind the expert's advice, but also the tone, inflection, and cadence of their delivery. Ah, but back to Facebook. I must admit, less than a month ago, I was reluctant to add anyone I didn't know in real-life. My first requests went out to my three sons, ages 24, 23, and 15. First, I must say, I think they were shocked that their mother even knew how to access Facebook, let alone create a fan page! After they each joined, my next helpful online friend became Trish Basanyi. She has been my mentor/coach from Such a Voice, a company that not only produces first rate voice reels, but also provides support from a courteous, knowledgeable staff and bi-monthly teleconferences. I am grateful for the day Dan Levine, owner and producer at Such A Voice, listened to my voice, and sent me on a different career path! The last tip I wanted to share today is the awesome royalty free music library I came across from a new Facebook friend, Kathleen Keesling. She recommended Mark Lewis's Partner's in Rhyme, Royalty Free Music. She recommended a great site! I just went to the site, and was astounded by the collection of music and sound effects. I joined the group, and became their Twitter fan. I envision I'll visit the site often, and I hope you'll check it out! Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects. Download the music and sound effects you need for your multimedia project today at Partners In Rhyme.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Learning in the 21st Century

I've established a workable morning routine! It seems I breakfast with my family, then head into the studio after my son leaves for high school. With my morning tea, I read my several sets of emails, and check two different websites that send me auditions (not to mention checking my Facebook, Linked in, My Space,and Twitter sites). Since I needed to respond to several auditions this morning from Voices 123, I finished several dry voice recordings, edited with ProTools software, and submitted the completed auditions over the internet. If there had been no auditions, I had another game plan. By joining Voices.com, I was sent a small library of royalty-free music. I wanted to hear each song, then create another demo with music! What fun! But then I remembered that I was also able to listen to podcasts by the same company that had expert advice for many aspects of the VO business. Soooooo, before I could create a demo, I really wanted to hear from other experts. I try to learn from archived articles daily. I highly recommend taking the time to not only further your own career, but to listen to the wisdom of other voice over talents that have established a reputation for quality work in the industry. I'll continue this pattern until I reach the end of the podcasts for this site. Then, there are many more podcasts out there on other websites. In other words, I will never be done with learning! (It must be the former teacher in me that truly feels that learning new things is just as important as doing them!) There was a downloaded ebook (again from the same company) that had great info in regards to promoting a voice over career that I was reading today on my computer. I was completely engrossed today in learning new aspects of this business; I did not leave my studio until almost dark! I realized that my source for all this refreshing learning came straight from being connected to the outside world via the internet. Isn't it amazing how time can fly by so quickly when you're so thoroughly enjoying learning, creating, and producing. I wonder what other VO artists' routines are like? I'd love to find out about your schedule!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stephanie Ciccarelli @ Voices.com posed an interesting question...

Blue acoustic guitarVoice Artists, What Would You Do For The Perfect Take?

Written by Stephanie

When you get ready to do a voice over recording, what lengths do you go to in order to get the perfect take?

I asked some of my friends on Twitter and I couldn't believe how far (and how unplugged) some people go to make a simple voice over recording.

Want to know what they said? Read on!

Voice Over Recording = Sacrifices

Recording voice overs takes a great deal of discipline, even sacrifice.

A voice artist may forgo any number of things to prepare their instrument for a performance such as drinking coffee, tea or eating dairy products for the sake of keeping their voice in good form and good tone.

Some go to bed early, preserve their voices by not screaming or shouting, and others have periods of silence where they won't speak at all and that's just sacrifices made on behalf of the voice!

This morning, I thought it would be fun to ask my pals on Twitter whether or not they turned their heaters or air conditioners off while recording voice overs to minimize and or eliminate external noises in their studio.

When I'm recording the VOX Talk podcast the heater is always turned off. During a Canadian winter that isn't the most appealing thing to do, but everyone suffers for their art, right?

I wanted to see if I was the only one, and by golly, you'd be amazed by the number of appliances that get unplugged, animals shooed into the furthest room possible and zany things people will do to get the perfect take.

I know I was.

What Some Voice Artists Do Before Recording

Kara Edwards, a voice artist in Tampa Bay, Florida related, "Yes, I turn everything off. Even though I can't hear it in this new studio very well I don't like taking the risk. My checklist includes heat/AC off, studio monitors off, phone off, appliances off, dog, eh, relieved... let's go!"

Linda Ristig in Washington, DC faces a number of challenges when she sets out to record in her studio but has found plenty of ways to turn what some may see as hurdles into clear sailing. Linda shared, "I turn off heat, phone, fax, and (this is the biggie) make sure our two dogs are in the furthest room away from my studio!"

But wait, there's more.

Linda added, "I also should mention I live with a husband and three sons that are car crazy! When they 'tweak' or work on the '69 GTO or the '72 Corvette, or even the new Mustang, they seem to need to make the engines louder! We now have a new understanding, if I let them know I'm about to record, they'll take a 30 minute break. I've learned to edit ProTools with the engine roar coming from the garage!"

Voice artist Niel Sumter in the Northeastern United States, offered, "I turn off my heat. I have a space heater, and the audible humming does get picked up."

Amid the clamoring to turn off all noise making agents, one voice artist in Miami Shores, Florida, Doug Turkel, swims against the current, opting to actually turn ON his air conditioning. Mind you he is blessed to have a recording booth with silent fans, noting rightly so that, "I'd suffocate without it."

Voice artist Arlene Kahn of Chicago, Illinois says, "I don't (turn off heaters / AC). I do have a humidifier running in the room. I needed to set it on high when it got down to single digits. On high the mic picked up the sound, on low it didn't, so I had to adjust the setting."

What Do You Do For The Perfect Take?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Here it is, the first of a series of blogs about getting started in the voice over industry. Much of what I have learned, I must give a great deal of credit to Such A Voice Productions. I'll unveil the story soon of how a chance encounter in 2007 put me on a completely different career path I wasn't even looking for! I hope you'll follow along, and add to my postings. I'd love to hear from you!