Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.
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Posts Tagged ‘news’

Gobs on the Web (w/e 25th September)

Posted by MikeCooper on September 26, 2009

I’ve got a bit behind, haven’t I? It was the holiday that did it (Menorca, and very nice, thanks for asking. Most relaxing…) Nonetheless, here are the voiceover bits I’ve liked most in the last couple of weeks:

At Voiceover Extra, William Williams has just started a series on how to soundproof your studio – or whether you really can, in a domestic environment. Voiceover Extra also reports on Erik Sheppard’s thinking behind the new Voice Talent Productions website, where I’m pleased to be represented myself (you’ll find me here!) Cool and simple, as it goes.

Meanwhile, Mark Holden of The Invisible Studios in West Hollywood is embarking on a series of podcasts, starting with one that asks just how fancy do we need to get for voiceover auditions? Next week he’s going to look at microphones for voiceover recording, and as someone who is now the proud owner of not one, but two Neumanns, I’ll be interested in hearing his take on the issue!

Dave Courvoisier (how does this man find the time to sleep?) pondered whether two-year-old VO advice still had value – and then decided that, in the case of recording the spoken word at least, it did.

And Stephanie Ciccarelli from Voices.com has been busy, as ever. This week their Voiceover Experts podcast notched up its 100th edition (that went quickly, didn’t it?) with this week’s centennial outing presented by the very lovely Julie Ann Dean, who I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Vox conference with. Meanwhile, on VoxDaily, Stephanie posted two pieces that caught my interest: the first is from Dan Hurst, on 5 Mistakes Voice Talent Make and How To Avoid Them. And the second is a cautionary tale from John Taylor about his nightmare with an errant coffee cup – another good reason to wear headphones while you’re recording, in my view.

On that point, I picked up via the Macworld website this week that Sennheiser have introduced a new pair of headphones the HD 380 Pros, which they’re pitching as professional monitors. Worth a listen, perhaps, if you’re looking for something new to cuddle your ears with while working.

Happy reading!


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Gobs on the Web

Posted by MikeCooper on August 22, 2009

Welcome to my roundup of voiceover-related news from my week on the web.

My friend and colleague, Stefania Lintonbon has been digging around the internet and on her blog this week she’s posted links to two useful tutorials. The first throws light onto the sometimes murky subject of audio compression, and comes courtesy of Radiodaddy.com. If terms like “make-up gain” and “ratio” bring you out in a cold sweat then this excellent article is the online equivalent of a magic sponge. The second article which Stef references in her piece deals with removing pops and clicks for users of Sony Sound Forge. Stefania goes on to dispense some of her usual wisdom on positive thinking and getting the universe to deliver – something I support wholeheartedly!

Over at Vox Daily, Stephanie has a couple of goodies this week. One comes from Richard Weirich and deals with what happens when your client keeps pushing and pushing you, and the read you thought was great to start with goes off in a completely different direction. I’ve certainly been there and you may have too! Is the customer always right? Richard would love to hear your views.

Also on Vox Daily – as part of the ongoing series of Voice Over Experts podcasts, Marc Cashman shares his views on why practice makes perfect (or at least, better…)

Finally this week, following on from the awards recently bestowed on the animated series, Family Guy, the creator, Seth MacFarlane has decided to “out” the youngest member of the Griffin family. That’s right folks – in an announcement which will shock, well, barely anyone, I expect – MacFarlane confirms what we’d all suspected: Stewie is gay!

Until next time!

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Mike’s Late May Update

Posted by MikeCooper on May 27, 2009

It’s been a busy month, all told. I’ve been writing furiously for the History Channel (which now prefers to be known simply as “History”). They’ve asked me to become a regular continuity announcer for the channel for the next little while, so I’ll be popping up between programmes there quite a lot for now, and I’m actually on air all week this week (26-31 May).

WhP, in France, asked me to produce some voiceover material for the Renault Academy last week, which I delivered this week. A complex project which involved a lot of editing to produce files which could be split up by an automated process. I learned a lot about the new Mégane Coupé in the process, should anyone ever call on me to do a repair.

Meanwhile, IC Group in Winnipeg, Canada, approached me to voice the British version of some training materials for Brit Insurance.

And tomorrow I’m looking forward to voicing a documentary programme about the preparations for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with a producer based in (wait for it…) Sydney, Australia!

Never let it be said that I don’t get around…

Posted in Broadcasting, Documentaries, Freelancing, news, Television, Voiceovers | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mike’s Week on the Mike (18 – 24 April)

Posted by MikeCooper on April 28, 2009

Last week was quite a week, with lots of “personal” stuff going on. Fortunately that didn’t get in the way of it being a great week for voiceover work, though!

On Monday I travelled up to Manchester for an all-day session on Tuesday at my agent’s,The Voiceover Gallery. The client was putting together an eLearning package aimed at youngsters with dyslexia, the aim being that by using the software they could teach themselves to read and spell. I hope to have more details of this ambitious project when it’s closer to completion, but for my part it included reading out a dictionary of over 3,000 words and then the prompts and cues for the software and tutorials. For a while it looked like a second day might be in order to finish off, but we managed to crack it in a day, which meant I came back on Tuesday night as planned.

This was good news, as it meant I could squeeze in another session for Matinée Sound and Vision in Reading on Tuesday for their client, WhP in France at short notice, and score brownie points with the nice ladies in the office there.

Thursday saw me over at Sky for the first of two appearances during the week: the first session was to record a week’s worth of continuity links for History, which are on air this week here in the UK. If you have what used to be The History Channel as part of your Sky or Virgin package, you’ll hear me introducing all the programmes until last thing on Sunday night. (Sky 529 / Virgin 234 and in HD on Sky 545)

Saturday saw me back at Sky, narrating two documentaries for the Crime & Investigation Network (Sky 553 / Virgin 237). They were both Bill Curtis Special Reports, being reversioned for the UK market. One features the story of Sandra Bridewell and is entitled “The Black Widow: A Web of Suspicion”, and the other, “A Killer on Campus”, tells of the shocking massacre carried out by Sueng Hui Cho on the campus of Virgina Tech in 2007. I hope to have transmission dates for both of these programmes shortly and will post them when I do.

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Mike’s Week on the Mike (30 March – 5 April)

Posted by MikeCooper on April 6, 2009

The highlight of my Week on the Mike this week was narrating a two-hour Easter special for the National Geographic Channel. Called “Jesus: The Man from Nazareth”, it gets its first showing this Saturday, 12th April, at 5pm, with a repeat on Easter Sunday morning at 10am. It’s an attempt to find out who the “real” Jesus was, by looking at evidence from the time and comparing that to the stories we’ve come to regard as fact. I found it fascinating to voice, and hope the finished product is as enjoyable to watch. (National Geographic is available on Sky Digital 526/7, Virgin 230, Tiscali 112, and in Ireland on UPC 215.)

Cardiff-based See What You Mean, who I’ve worked with previously, also came to me this week and asked me to provide the voice for a piece they were putting together for Capgemini, and it’s always nice to be able to add another Blue Chip company to the client list!

Aside from the regular Film24 stuff, I spent the rest of this week making phone calls as part of my attempt to move into the ISDN Voice market for commercial radio ads, and I’m pleased to say that’s met with some modest success too. At time of writing I should be on air on radio stations in Northern Ireland, Sussex and Shropshire, with more to follow.

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Mike Cooper Narrates Easter “Jesus” Special for National Geographic Channel (UK)

Posted by MikeCooper on April 2, 2009

I’m delighted to have been asked to narrate a two-hour special for the National Geographic Channel for transmission over Easter.

Called “Jesus: A Man of Nazareth”, it looks at who Jesus really was and explores some of the truths behind what we’ve come to accept as facts over the intervening millennia.

More details to follow…

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Mike’s Week on the Mike (23-29 March)

Posted by MikeCooper on March 30, 2009

Not so much of a week on the mike as a week loosely connected to it. Sure enough, Film24 and the BBC World Service featured, as they do so often, and on Wednesday we put the first series of “Dinosaur Secrets” to bed for the History Channel (that’s all fourteen episodes now in the can).

What made this week particularly interesting were two events I attended: the first was on Tuesday and was entitled “ProGob 2009”. This was organised by some people who work in television continuity and presentation, and was a gathering of those in the industry in London. I met a few people I’d not before, watched one or two few people I know quite well get amusingly squiffy (you know who you are), and had quite a fun time in the bar at Soho House myself.

Then on Thursday night I found myself back at The London Studios on the South Bank, for the final goodbye to the old London News Network Transmission Centre. I worked in TX at the South Bank for nearly nine years, first as an announcer for Carlton Television, and then (doing that “hopping to the other side of the glass” thing I do) as a Network Director/Transmission Controller for the ITV network, until I left in late 2002 to go to the BBC as a News Director. Thursday’s event marked the official end of ITV transmission from central London (though the last programme was switched to line the previous Friday). ITV’s Southern Transmission Centre is now based at Chiswick Park, under the auspices of Technicolor Network Services. My time on the South Bank was overwhelmingly a happy one, and though this event was tinged with emotion, it was great to see some familiar, though recently absent, faces.

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Mike’s Week on the Mike (16-22 March)

Posted by MikeCooper on March 22, 2009

I’m pleased to report another busy week. There’ve been several appearances at the BBC World Service in my regular role as newsreader, plus I was also asked to the promotions department there to voice a corporate video for the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium (of which the BBC is a part) ahead of a couple of conferences in the coming weeks.

Wednesday saw me making one of my regular trips out to Reading to Matinée Sound and Vision to add my voice to an online training course being produced by WhP in France. Then on my return, I voiced another corporate in my home studio for Hi-Gloss Productions here in London for a client of theirs in the UAE. Thursday found me at the Palace of Home Shopping, with some promos for QVC, and Friday rounded things off with my regular continuity work for movie channel Film24.

Finally, my week on the mike extended to a night of karaoke with my mate Toby on Friday, which was terrific fun! If you’ve always wanted to try karaoke but the idea of singing to a whole room of strangers puts you off, then why not try private karaoke with a few of your friends? We visited Lucky Voice in London’s Soho, and had such a good time that they’re worth a plug here too!

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I’m a bit excited. Indulge me?

Posted by MikeCooper on February 11, 2009

This coming Monday a project I completed my part of  some months back finally comes to fruition, and I must admit I´m a little bit excited!

In the late autumn of last year I was contacted out-of-the blue by a delightful lady at German publishing house, PONS GmbH, to narrate some audiobooks for learners of English. I voiced two short stories by Roald Dahl, two by Ian Rankin and six of Nick Hornby´s “31 Songs”, and was also able to get two of my female voiceover friends involved: Trish Bertram (a voice recognisable from her many years of work for ITV) and Kathy Clugston (who´ll be familiar to anyone who listens to BBC Radio 4).

The titles go on sale today – with each pack containing a CD with the English recording of the story, plus a book with the English transcription and a German translation – and my contact at PONS emailed me today to confirm the publication date.

This is exciting for me, as it marks the first time my work will have been committed to something as permanent as a CD for sale to the general public. Most of my voiceover work, regardless of the size of the audience, has either been for immediate transmission and disappears into the ether, or – in the case of corporate work – disappears into the internal workings of whatever company commissioned it, never to be heard again by anyone not involved with the company in question. The idea that the (Ger)man in the street can buy something with me on it, therefore, gives me an absurd thrill (I´m sure it will pass, but bear with me for now?)

If you´re interested in taking a look, you´ll find the “Read and Listen” series on sale at the PONS website here. And if you´d like to hear a sample of one of my Roald Dahl stories, you´ll find it on my voiceover website here.

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A bad day at work?

Posted by MikeCooper on October 12, 2008

Let’s be honest: we all have our “off-days”, don’t we?

When reading the news, I’m prone to slips of the tongue as much as the next announcer (talking about the “presidential erection” and a certain country’s “gash-rich regions” are but two of my more hapless examples), but a couple of things have caught my eyes and ears this past week that have reminded me that, as bad as some of my days sometimes seem, someone else is probably having a complete ‘mare.

Thing number one arrived via email last weekend and provoked a heated debate among my radio colleagues, as well as on the internet at large. It’s an interview between Hardeep Singh Kohli, who Wikipedia describes as “a Sikh writer, presenter, broadcaster and reporter of Indian descent from Scotland”, and Les Ross, a Birmingham-based local radio presenter who the BBC likes to describe as “a West Midlands radio legend”.

I have to say, I’ve been a bit of a fan of Les since my teenage years, at which point Les was well into his second decade of presenting the breakfast show on BRMB. His quick, slightly camp and irreverent way of getting effortlessly from 6 to 9am was a joy to anyone who was listening. And listen they did! Of late, whenever I’ve had occasion to listen across his afternoon show via the ‘net, I’ve begun to wonder if the magic is wearing off. And this little piece of car crash radio has, I’m afraid, done little to reassure me.

OK, the Alan Partridge caption may be being a little unfair to someone whose career has survived thirty-odd years pretty much unscathed until now, but you can kind of see their point. Whoever’s to blame (and the debate on that one will run and run), it’s truly local radio of the worst kind, and cringe-making in the extreme.

Even Les, though, must thank his lucky stars that his day never got this bad… It’s like “Carry On Up The Bulletin”. My favourite bit is when the other guy rushes in and you can hear the newsreader “sssssshhh”-ing, and saying – I’m assuming, as it’s all Greek to me – something like “Keep the noise down! Can’t you see I’m On Air!?” Having this week had my own studio door flung open just in time for me to turn around at the end of the bulletin and spit the words “…BBC News!” at the offender (who scampered like a startled rabbit back into the newsroom), I do sympathise. There but for the grace of God, and all that…

And finally, I’m very glad that I missed this particular combination of end-of-story words by an hour, the dubious honour falling to my colleague, Jerry Smit. For those who know the BBC term, I could make a joke about a “Hard Post” here…

Listening last week to Angus Deayton’s Radio 4 tribute to his friend and collaborator, Geoffrey Perkins, reminded me of one of my all-time radio favourites, which certainly deserves a mention here. Radio Active, anyone?

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