Category Archives: Production Tools

Filemail: Large-File Transfer Made Pretty Darn Easy

Most everyone I know who works with video or photos is always on the hunt for an easy way to share or transfer them.  Tough part is, unless you’re sending a REALLY low-resolution video, most video files are fairly large — too large to simply attach in an ordinary e-mail.

There are a ton of websites that allow you to send large files, and I’ve tried several. And with most, there are positives and negatives. Some are paid, many of the free ones are riddled with ads that make navigating the site confusing, and others may limit your file sizes to only a few hundred Megabytes.

Filemail is one I found recently that seems the most intuitive and user-friendly.

It’s free, but upgradable to Premium service for only $4 monthly.  The free version allows transfer of files up to 2 Gb.  Premium service ups your allowable file size to a whopping 10 Gb. It also allows you to upload multiple files, which is huge for photo-sharing with friends or family, because now all (or most of) your photos can be sent at once. There’s even a Corporate upgrade. You can compare the various plans here.
But even if you’re not interested in a paid membership, Filemail is still an easy to use and VERY convenient free service for the once-in-awhile large file sharer who doesn’t have his/her own FTP site.

8 Voiceover Tips for Beginners

I spent some time this week recording some radio spots for my friends at Sephone Interactive Media.  They host my web site, and are my general go-to guys for all things web-related.  Incredible team.

The series of radio spots I’m producing for them have a small section recorded by each of the team members, followed by a common closing recorded by me.  As I packed up my gear after the session, they asked me, “What tips can you give us to help us improve?”  So I thought I’d post a few of them here.  Bear in mind, this post is gonna be strictly about technique.  We can cover WHAT to say in another post.

I’ve recorded LOTS of clients over the years, and many of them are new to voicing their own spots.  Whenever I meet a new client for a first-time recording session, this is what I tell ‘em.

1)  Be yourself.  You’re not an announcer, and it’s totally OK if you don’t have “that voice.”  You WANT to sound like you.  Authenticity is key in people believing your message.  It’s even OK to work with your engineer/director/producer to rewrite parts of your script on the fly, to make it fit better with the way you naturally speak.

2)  If possible, stand to read.   If not, at least sit up tall.  And hold your script at eye level, so you don’t have to look down to read it.  This will pinch your airway, and affect how you sound.

3)  Position yourself with your mouth about one fist’s width away from the microphone, and speak across the mic – with your head slightly off center — rather than directly into it.  This’ll eliminate popping P’s and B’s, and improve overall quality of the recording.

4)  Smile as you read.  People CAN hear smiles. (If your spot is a happy one, of course)

5)  Over-emote.  Now OVER-over-emote.  If you’d like to convey a mood of happiness, then read as if you’re crazy-happy.  If it’s a sad, or sincere piece, then furrow your brow, and really ooze that sincerity.  No matter how far over the top you may feel like you’re going, it never sounds as overboard on the air.

6)  Envision yourself talking TO someone.  Imagine your ideal customer, or potential customer, and speak to him or her.  And imagine ony ONE person.  While your message may be heard by many, the best impact is made when each person listening feels like you’re speaking only to him or her.

7)  Practice.  Most of the time, you’ll have your script in advance of the session, so practice it.   Try different deliveries, different inflections, and so on.  This will help you with pace, and timing, as well as help you feel less self-conscious about “performing” at the session.

8)  Relax, and have fun!  This is your chance to “play radio” for awhile, and break out of your comfort zone, so enjoy it!  I’m here to do one thing: Help you be clear in conveying your message, and we’ll stay until you’re happy with the result.

These tips don’t just apply to radio, either.  Podcasting and online video are also becoming viable media outlets for businesses to communicate with their customers.   If you’ve thought about starting a podcast or a YouTube channel to help market your business, these tips will assuredly help you there, too.

Got any other tips?  By all means, share ‘em in the comments section.   And thanks, as always, for reading.  Good luck!

Equipment: My Favorite Headphones

When I started in the radio business, I knew very little about the technical side of the equipment I used.  I knew what sounded good to me, and I knew what I could afford.  So when I bought my first set of headphones in 1993, I tried a couple different ones, read some reviews, and bought a pair of Sony MDR-7506‘s.  They cost me about a hundred bucks, they sounded great, and they were pretty durable.  Today, I still don’t know about impedance, frequency response, magnets or drivers.  But I’ve picked up roughly a half-dozen pairs of those Sony’s over the years since that initial purchase, and they still sound awesome to me.

Pros:  They’re affordable.  $130 on the Sony website, but I’ve never paid that much for ’em.  You’ll find a pair at B&H Photo and Video for $79.

They’re “over-the-ear” as opposed to “on-ear” or “in-ear.”  They do a great job of eliminating outside noise, and prohibiting “headphone bleed” while your mic is on.

They comfortable, they’re light, and they’re durable.  The pair I use today (and that I use every day) I got back in 2004.  When I was working in radio day-to-day, my headphones got a LOT of use.  Between air shift and production studio, I probably took them on and off about fifty times a day.  Yeah, they wore out, but this was beyond normal wear-and-tear.  And the sound never faltered.  It was usually the foam around the earpieces that wore out.  I compare it to the thin spots your favorite jeans get around the knees over time.

They come with a screw-in adapter, so the jack will fit both 1/4″ and 1/8″ inch ports.  They fold up, and come with a leather pouch for storage when not in use.

Most importantly, they sound terrific.  Basses are bass-y (but not overly so), and sound reproduction is as accurate as my ears can discern.  DJ’s, audio engineers, videographers, even amateur audiophiles will get hundreds of hours out of these headphones with great results.

Cons:  Honestly, I don’t have any.  I’ve been a satisfied customer for years.

There are a lot of really expensive headphones available, some upwards of $2700 (which also gets you Ethiopian sheepskin leather earpads), but c’mon.  Really?  For functionality, durability, sound and price, the Sony MDR-7506’s beat the pants off of Ethiopian sheepskin anytime.

Bob’s Music Cafe: Some Tasty Production Music

Whether you need music for audio or video production, the hunt for a good music library can take you to some interesting places.  And depending on what you find, it’s not always easy to tell what the licensing rights are for many of the songs and libraries that show up in your search.

I found Bob’s Music Cafe awhile back.   They’re modern,high-quality beds that offer a variety of formats, including Rock, Country, Jazz, Top 40, and Classical, plus some specialty stuff like holiday beds and Imaging Effects.

Best of all, they’re affordable, and they’re 100% buyout, which means that one price gets you the non-exclusive license to use that music however you like: audio or video production, commercial or non- .

If you’re in the market to freshen your library a bit, but may not have a huge budget to do so, give these guys a try.