May 2012

Meet The New Kid in Town...

The digital age spawned a whole new generation of people with cheap microphones and audio editing software calling themselves voice actors.  This muddied the waters, making it difficult for producers and casting agents to sort out the true professionals from the masses of “wannabes”. So, a few years ago, Ed Gambill created SaVoa; the Society of Accredited Voice Over Artists, in an effort to establish criteria for accreditation of these professionals.

Last month, growing disagreement between Mr. Gambill and his board of directors blossomed into active protest as the entire board resigned, leaving SaVoa with only Mr. Gambill at the helm. I won’t attempt to sort through the areas of disagreement or make any comments pro or con on the dispute. The end result was that, in late April, some of the former board members joined with other industry professionals to form a new organization with a new set of endorsement standards and member benefits.  It is called World Voices, and will soon be taking its first applications for membership.

This is an organization patterned after the traditional guild system so popular with a wide range of trades and crafts throughout history.  The intention is to set professional standards for home-based voice over talent, and offer mentorship and other services to its members to help them improve their skills and stay abreast of trends and technology. World Voices (or “WOVO”) is a “non-profit” organization that belongs entirely to its membership.   It is also not in competition with SaVoa, which continues to exist and function on its own. It is, rather, an alternative means of validation for working voice talent.

I was very flattered to have been asked by one of the founders, Dan Lenard, to be on his Tech Standards Committee and help create the technical criteria by which WOVO endorsements will be assessed.  Other members include George Whittam, Cliff Zellman, and “Uncle” Roy Yokelson; names that are so well known in the business I wonder how in the world I wound up in their company!  It’ll be a while yet before all the tech standards will be firmed-up, but I can promise you that an endorsement by WOVO is not going to be a rubber-stamp job!  It’ll really show a clear distinction between top-notch, home-based, professional voice actors, and the growing mass of new-comers who think it’s easy work that anybody can do to make a buck!

I, for one, will be proud to hold both the SaVoa shield and the endorsement of WOVO.

SaVoa Shield
WOVO logo


Proof Me, Please!

After reading lots of blogs and news group articles about keeping one's web site up to date and professional-looking, I realized that my own web site has had only one makeover since it's original launch in the 90's. ...And that was little more than a revised set of graphics and navigation icons.

So I've been toiling away at the computer, hacking my way through html code because I'm too cheap to pay a real web designer to do it for me. I've learned that things have certainly changed in the way web designs are done! I'm probably in over my head, and I swear this is the last time I'll try anything this ambitious without taking some serious web design courses at the local community college.WebSiteImage Anyway, the new MrVO site is on line now, and doesn't look so much like a 15 year old web site any more, I think.

But I've been so deep into the design, code, navigation protocols and such that I can't see the forest for the trees! So I'd like to ask those of you with idle time to waste to rummage around the site and see what goofs and blunders you can find that've become invisible to me.

Tell me about typos, broken links, errors in content and information... whatever strikes your eye. Even the subjective stuff; if you think I'm an idiot for offering a link to a certain web site, or you think I've gotten some facts wrong, tell me so! I'd rather get it right and keep the label "Dumbass" between just you and me.

For those who don't already know, my web site is: "MrVO.com". You can send comments and suggestions to my email through the web site, by reply to this newsletter, or by clicking HERE.

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One State, Two State
Red State, Blue State

You know it's an election year when you start seeing all the red white and blue bumper stickers suddenly decorating the rear ends of cars on the road.

Some of them are really funny, cute, sadly true, or in the case of this one... a little of all three:

pol. image

Unfortunately, I fear that a lot of the voters out there aren't old enough to appreciate the wit and wisdom in those few words.

Move Over, Buck Rogers!

Iron ManBlk WidowLooks like Sci Fi is the genre du jour in theaters these days;  “The Avengers” was finally unseated from the #1 box office position by “Men In Black 2”.  One thing caught my attention when viewing “The Avengers”.  Marvel Films is known for teasing potential sequels with an extra scene tacked onto the film after all the credits have rolled by. This was no exception.  But did you catch the fact that there were two additional scenes after the credits?

The first one showed a couple of bad-guy aliens somewhere in space commenting on the unexpected resilience of Earthlings.  Most theaters heard excited comments from the hardcore comic experts at this point,Thor as one of the aliens, in a brief close-up, turned out to be a character named Thanos… oneCapt. America of the baddest of the baddies in Marvel Comic’s history! Thanos has never been seen on film and hasn't been seen in print for a very long time.

However, another short roll of additional film credits should have tipped off those familiar with Marvel that there was more to come. At the very end of the reel there is a short scene of the film’s super-heroes eating shawarma sandwiches.  This reflects a comment made by Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), at the conclusion of the big battle scene. He said he didn’t know what shawarma was but he’d like to have some at a little place he knew of, nearby.

HulkThere is no telling which scene is a forecast of the inevitable sequel, but I can at least explain what shawarma is, for those who don’t know. There are some very inaccurate descriptions on the web, but I know shawarma! I used to eat it almost daily while going to college in Beirut, Lebanon. It is a type of sandwich often found on the streets of the Middle East.  Lamb shoulders are roasted, sliced paper-thin, and skewered on a vertical spit, sometimes with a whole lemon and a glob of suet on top.  A vertical set of burners cook the skewered lamb, crisping the edges as the suet and lemon juice keep it from drying out. I had shawarma earlier this month at a little restaurant in Chester, NY, called Allen's Falafel.ShawarmaScene

Pocket bread is sliced open, the insides coated with hummus and fresh mint leaves, and a sharp knife is used to shave the crispy bits of lamb from the skewer. Sometimes roasted tomatoes are added. The meat is stuffed into the pocket bread, which is rolled up and toasted briefly against the burners. Shawarma is usually eaten out of one’s hands. 

If properly de-greased, it is a tasty treat!

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