Quality Voice Over Audio Production Services

Pomona Productions

The Case for Remote Contract Work

Blog 02 – January 2016 - Sandy Gifford

Although my degree is in graphic design and illustration, at one time or another, I’ve done just about everything related to application development and website design: leading cross-functional teams, managing vendors, requirements gathering, interface design, copy writing, creating graphics and animations (2D and 3D), information architecture, video and sound editing, programming, and authoring style guidelines. I’ve worked for small companies and large corporations. As a visual design chameleon, I’ve run the gamut from children’s games – flying birds through colorful science labs -- to corporate payroll – long data lists of labor assignments with associated taxes. I’ve been a full-time employee and a contractor.

I can honestly say I’ve been the happiest when I contracted. You get to focus 100% on doing a great job, as opposed to playing politics. I’m not good at politics. I’m good at visual design. I’d like to do what I’m good at. Currently I’m struggling in a large corporation to actually do the job I was hired to do, but… did I mention politics?

Anyway, my husband and I bought a house in Sedona, Arizona back in 2009 when the housing market burst. Since then, he has built up his business and trained some helpers, so we can now move to our dream location. I’m thrilled he is all set, but I still feel the need to make a positive contribution to the world. Although Sedona is beautiful, rated one of the top 10 most beautiful places to live by USA Today, it is small, so my contribution will need to be done remotely. No more commute!

I will be leaving my full-time gig within the next few weeks to go out on my own yet again. It’s been a while, so I started researching the options available and stumbled upon TopTal.com. They screen the applicants, so I know I’ll be collaborating with smart people. Don’t get me wrong; the people in the large corporation I currently work for are intelligent, but management moves them around like pieces on a chessboard. It’s common to find someone with a Master’s degree in English that started out in Corporate Communications being moved to Interface design with no training. It causes frustration on all levels, inefficient processes, and software applications that are not the best they could be. In contrast, TopTal finds exactly the right person with the perfect skill set to fill a position. It just makes sense, saving companies money in the long run and providing excellent products created with minimal churn. You can view all the top designers on TopTal's UX Designers Network, where I hope to be someday. Toward the bottom of this page, there's a ton of useful information about UX design in general.

I’ve started the process to become a TopTal designer and am looking forward to becoming a contractor 100% of the time once again. I had been doing smaller contract projects on the weekends, and excelled as part of a remote team, with my excellent communication skills and a rock-solid work ethic. As an example of my discipline, the owner of Knowlore exclaimed in an email, “I'd like to thank you for being so awesome at what you do and most importantly for communicating with me throughout the week. Believe me there are not a lot of people out there that can do what you do, so well and so quickly. You have set the bar pretty high, congrats!” I also found out from his fiancé that he calls me the “rock star.” This is high praise from such a competent, intelligent entrepreneur.

Long story short, I am excited about the new life ahead of me and the contracting possibilities. I hope I can become a TopTal designer. TopTal provides opportunities for you, so you won’t spend precious work time looking for more work, and the opportunities will fit my skill set perfectly. They certainly won’t find a more enthusiastic artist!

What is voice over for e-learning and why is it different?

Blog 01 – May 2012

This is a topic which is discussed a lot, amongst people in the VO business. While many of the skills needed are the same – great comprehension, an engaging style and XXXXX, there are several unique challenges faced when producing audio for training.

1. Throughput. The voice actor has to have the ability to produce a lot of work, in a short period of time, with little or no preparation. In this high-volume fast turnaround environment, it’s not uncommon to have to read 3500 words of copy in an hour, cold, with minimal retakes. There’s really not time to antagonize over the finer points of the performance – the talent needs to be able to deliver.

You also need an engineer who’s on the ball, as far as workflow. To be profitable, you’ve got to constantly analyze every step of your process, and keep up with all of the latest technical advances which can shave valuable minutes off it.

2. Consistency. If you’ve worked in the field, you know that many training courses have a lifespan of several years, and are often updated to remain viable. Your rig needs to be set up so that you can record a patch 6-12 months after the initial recording session and drop it in seamlessly.

I tend to record flat and do any processing post-tracking, so all I need to worry about at the session is microphone position and levels.

3. The long-run. There’s a huge difference between listening to a :30 selling soap, and having to spend an hour or so with someone without A. falling asleep, or B. getting worn out. I’m not sure which one is worse!

There’s a certain tone which needs to be hit – friendly, open and welcoming. You can’t be too dramatic – this quickly becomes tiring for the listener. You also can’t be excessively didactic – e-learning isn’t the same as a college lecture and that’s a big turn off, especially for challenging technical material.