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October 7…25 years ago!

Posted in Voice Over with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by skinnyvoicestudio

Some details of this story you are about to read were taken from the October 6th edition of El Periódico La Perla.

 My blog is about any voice-over related topic. However, this blog article that is been written today October 7, 2010 is about a topic that is completely unrelated to voice-over…although there are some voices involved in the situation I’m going to write about.

Twenty-five years ago, occurred one of the saddest events of Puerto Rican history and especially of my city Ponce…the mudslide of Mameyes. What was Mameyes? It was a neighborhood located at the bottom of a mountain, populated by many families with limited economic resources. Unfortunately, on October 7, 1985 the neighborhood Mameyes was buried by a huge mudslide caused by a heavy rain that poured over the city during many days before the fatal event. The dead and the disappeared could not be neither counted nor rescued and entire families died in the mud. The people who, by that time, were old enough to remember what happened that day, say they heard a really loud and strong thunder which has not been heard ever again…moments before the tragedy. Everybody remember that day like if it was yesterday. My oldest sister told me that “it was a really sad event for Ponce” and that “if she could retrieve from her mind a picture of the neighborhood, it won’t look the same when compared to the new neighborhood”. During the week that fatal event happened, my father was about to retire as a law enforcement officer and also remember the tremendous thunder that preceeded the mudslide.

Some journalists and a fellow photojournalist (yes, I’m also a photographer) rushed to the site of the catastrophe to cover the story, however, they had to put aside their duties as journalists and start to rescue as many people as they could. They could hear the voices of people coming from the mud and when they got their arms into the muddy soil, they could feel the hands of people that were under the mud trying to cling to their hands in a desperate attempt of being rescued. In fact, the photographer Edgar Vazquez (the photojournalist I just mentioned) lost his camera when trying to save a 9-year old girl that was under the rubble of a house. Also, many more died in a related event more than 15 miles away from Mameyes, when a bridge just went down due to the heavy rain, taking with “him” the lives of both civilians and law enforcement officers that were in the area. Another bridge came down in a nearby city and took the lives of couple that were driving by the area and one of the finest Puerto Rican journalists, Luis Penchi, was speechless when he saw that. The event was so awful, that even The New York Times sent correspondents to Puerto Rico to cover that story.

Today, twenty-five years later, the voices of the survivors are still heard all around the island claiming for justice and a real change not only for their neighborhood, but also for their lives. The voices of those who died in that fatal event are still heard loud and clear both in our minds and our hearts, even in mine, a young man that was only 3 years old by that time. This article was written in loving memory of those who died and in dedication of those who survived, as a way to say to them: WE ARE WITH YOU, WE REMEMBER YOU AND WE LOVE YOU ALL! Amen!

I hope you all liked my article. Warm greetings from my city Ponce, Puerto Rico. I love you all! 🙂

Spanish VO artists: Let’s get together, let’s get strong!

Posted in Voice Over with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by skinnyvoicestudio

Although this blog article is written in English, it is actually intended for Spanish VO artists that use only social media in English and to encourage them to join the only social network for Spanish voice over artists: VoiceOverHispano.com. This is a long blog article (I had to do it like that), so, sit back and relax for the next few minutes to enjoy the “ride” through this blog post.

Since the day I start searching for information about voice-overs all around the internet, I noticed that the people inside this great community is very supportive, knowledgeable and very willing to help. Not to mention that I found all kinds of learning resources: podcasts, blogs, videos, forums and many voice over related websites like VoiceOverXtra, VoiceOverUniverse, Voice Acting in Vegas by voice actor Dave Courvosier,  Voices.com with their Vox Daily blog and Voice Over Experts podcasts, among many others. Although my deep love for voice-overs really re-ignited way before that day when watching an Apple company video featuring my favorite VO artist Joe Cipriano, I got most of my knowledge about voice-overs from all the resources I found on the internet.

However, I realized very soon there was something missing: similar online VO learning resources in…SPANISH! Can you imagine how frustrating is to me not finding a learning resource in my own language? A language that is spoken in, basically HALF of this planet? Is there any reason (or reasons) for that to happen? I really think so. While most of those reasons are mere speculations, I will venture to talk about two of them that are just…unacceptable: NO MONEY NO WORK attitude and the I’M TOO BUSY excuse (a.k.a. LACK OF INTEREST). But first, let’s put something clear: I know and understand that many of you are full-time voice artists, dads, moms, husbands, wives, students, full-time employees in another company or in the worst case scenario…all of the above.

However, I still think there are no excuses for most of us when it comes to share with the world our experience, knowledge and expertise in the voice-over field. Especially if you think about the countless VO learning resources that are available in English in the form of hard-copy books, audiobooks, websites, online forums, blogs, podcasts, videos, conferences, social media sites and even private classes. So, how come I can’t have the same amount of information in my own language? You may think that I’m not been professional in this blog post, but pointing out what’s wrong, what is or what isn’t been done the right way is all part of been professional…as long as it is done, PROFESSIONALLY.

Therefore, let’s talk now about the two reasons I mentioned before: the NO MONEY NO WORK attitude and the I’M TOO BUSY excuse. Unfortunately, the NO MONEY NO WORK attitude is an open secret in the VO industry (at least that’s what I think) and is a very unpleasant attribute on any person working in any professional field, especially in an open and highly supportive community like voice-over. And that is an answer I have received in many different ways that basically tells me: “if you don’t pay me, I don’t work with you…PERIOD!”

LET’S TALK ABOUT…VO for non-profit purposes. In early 2010, I had the privilege to be the producer of a PSA to raise awareness of the great need of help in Haiti, after a powerful earthquake hit that Caribbean nation. It was “broadcasted” entirely via internet in English, French and Spanish with the help of 30 voice actors from literally, all over the world. How many Spanish VO artists contributed to the PSA? Only 9! That is a really low number when you think about the hundreds, if not thousands, of Spanish voice actors that work just in the USA. Despite the great help I received from my colleague and dear friend, Spanish voice actor Carlos Estanga, in spreading the word about this PSA through his Spanish VO website VoiceOverHispano.com, only 9 Spanish voice artists lended their voices to that project. Same thing happened when I recently produced the Spanish version of the National Voice Over Month compilation PSA: only 6 Spanish voice artists said yes to the project. Am I complaining about that? Not at all. Do I feel disappointed because I didn’t get all the collaboration I wanted from my beloved Spanish colleagues? YES, I really do!

Of course, I’m really grateful with the fellow Spanish voice actors who lended their voices to both PSA’s, as well as with the other fellow VO’s from other parts of the world. Without them, I could not do anything. But I just can’t avoid to be disconcerted by this situation. In VoiceOverHispano.com, for example, there are more than 500 Spanish voice artists suscribed to the site as well as some producers, sound engineers and casting directors. So, here is why I’m so disconcerted: more than 500 voice artists and only 9 say ‘here I am’? I’m not expecting 50% of those 500 VO talents to contribute to a specific project, that would not be realistic but at the same time, that situation let me see clearly that there are many VO colleagues who have a wrong attitude toward non-profit voice-over work and toward its influence over the people who enjoy that kind of work.

What about Social Media presence, VO related podcasts, organized and information packed blogs, VO audiobooks, printed books, webinars and forums…in Spanish? Those are very important learning resources that we still are missing. Well, in VoiceOverHispano.com you can find plenty of blogs written by voice artists from all over Latin America and North America…of course, from Puerto Rico too! There are also some very useful groups like ‘Ask Trujo’ which was created by voice actor and casting director Rubén Trujillo, better known in the Spanish VO community as “Trujo”. But, we still have to work hard to make those useful and quality learning resources available to our Spanish VO community. We have to put out there learning resources with substance, that not only provide a STRONG knowledge to people who use those resources but also that makes a big and real DIFFERENCE in their lives…as Vox Daily blog and Voice Over Experts podcast (among many others) did with mine. Unfortunately, that’s not happening in our Spanish VO community. And believe me, if we continue with such a lack of useful VO related information our Spanish voice-over industry will never grow as high and big as it should.

Now, let’s talk about the second reason I mentioned at the beggining of this blog article: the I’M TOO BUSY excuse (a.k.a. LACK OF INTEREST). And trust me, there are countless ways to say: “I’M BUSY”.  Again, as I said before, I know that many of you are really busy people. In fact, I know about a voice actor who have a full-time career in the VO field, he is also married, is the father of a young man and a young lady, he helps his wife to run her business, from time to time he travels with his wife to different trade shows and if you thought that was everything about him, YOU’RE WRONG! He also happen to be the product photographer of his wife’s company. Are you busier than he is? In the VO industry, there are many others that are as busy as he is right now, yet they set some time apart to contribute with their knowledge and expertise to different projects and different LEARNING RESOURCES. A great example of that is my dear colleague Debbie Munro, she is one of the busiest voice artists I know about. So busy, that sometimes it may seem she doesn’t have time for anything else, but that’s really far away from the truth. Debbie always set time apart for her family life, to make significant contributions to the VO community through podcasts or blogs and even to contribute with her abilities to non-profit projects as she did in the Let’s Talk About Haiti PSA. In fact, she was the host of one the first podcasts I ever listened to. Not to mention she is so kind and humble, that take time to help in some way or another, people that are new to the industry.

So, do you still think are too busy to contribute with your knowledge and expertise to the Spanish VO industry? Well, that’s up to you. Do you think you’re gonna hurt your career or loose jobs and money just for taking time to make such contributions? There is nothing further from the truth. It was an article I wrote for VoiceOverXtra that helped me land a big voice-over gig last summer, to be the producer and voice talent of the 21st Central American and Caribbean games Official Podcast. That sporting event was held last July in Puerto Rico and the podcast was listened from Spanish countries as well as from countries like Italy, Germany, Spain, Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Taiwan, Korea and Kuwait among many others. So, I ask you again…do you really think are too busy to make significant contributions to both the Spanish VO industry and your own career? Again…I DON’T REALLY THINK SO!

Then, can we really make this happen? Can we really produce an online voice-over knowledge base as deep, wide and high as we can have now in English? YES, WE REALLY CAN! How can we do it? By doing what I’m encouraging you to do in the title of this blog article: LET’S GET TOGETHER, LET’S GET STRONG! I can assure you that if you respond to my words, pretty soon we will have all that knowledge and learning resources whether online or in printed format, in the language we all speak and understand…SPANISH!!!!!! I hope this article contributed in a good way to your life and your career. Warm greetings from Puerto Rico!

To blog or not to blog, that’s not the question…

Posted in Voice Over with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by skinnyvoicestudio

In today’s cyber world, an almost infinite number of people blog about every topic you can imagine: politics, sports, culinary arts, arts & crafts and voice over is not the exception. I have been thinking for a long time whether to blog or not to blog about voice overs. Why? Because today, blogs are an important part of creating an online presence for your voice over business, so you can tell the whole world that you are a voice over artist and want to share with others your experience, knowledge and thoughts on a wide range of topics related to this amazing field. However, after burning thousands of neurons I came to realize that, to blog or not to blog is not the question…the question is: what to blog about!

So, after analizing different ideas I decided to blog not only about the VO-related topics you usually find in different blogs, but also to focus on a specific target audience: BEGINNERS! Why? That’s easy, because I also was a beginner some time ago and I had a hard time finding information written or recorded in a simple language; whether in English or Spanish (which is my native language). Besides, I am a person who likes detailed information about any topic and when it comes to VO…there is no exception. In other words, I always want to go deeper in a certain topic I’m not so familiar with. The deeper I dig into a topic, the more I will understand it.

Also, in order to provide useful information to our beloved “newcomer” friends, I decided not to write a one-man blog. Instead, I want to assemble a task force with industry professionals: VO artists, Sound Engineers, Voice Directors, Marketing Experts and even hardware and software manufacturers among many others. ‘ Pablo, what’s the reason to do it that way?’  For better, I always want to be different, not to compete with others, but to avoid been “just one more guy in the world”. Besides, let’s be honest: we don’t know everything! So, I wouldn’t be neither honest nor professional if I try to blog about something I barely know about. Not to mention that I would badly hurt my credibility, my reputation and my career (in the worst case scenario)…FOR EVER!

So, if you are an expert in one or more of the fields I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I encourage you to join forces with me to make my decision a reality. There will be times that I will write a blog article by myself ’cause after all, this is Skinny Voice Studio’s blog. But there is much more fun doing things as part of a team. I love team work and it’s always been part of my life. That’s why I’m encouraging you to join me to make this happen. Remember, in this industry to work alone is a highly subjetive expression.

If you are up to the challenge, contact me at skinnyvoice@yahoo.com. Thanks so much for spending your precious time reading this article, officially the first of many.

Greetings from Ponce, Puerto Rico

Pablo Hernandez-Pagan

Skinny Voice Studio

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