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Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer by S. Omar Barker

You may know of my fascination for the great American Cowboy. So in that spirit... I'd like to share this poem and my narration of it. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Come join me on a road trip through Alaska!
And read my latest Americana news!

                                                            Hit the road!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Americana Goes to Sea!

Been a busy year so far!
Here's a bit of what I've been up to... my latest newsletter.
With salt added.


                                                        ABB Azipod Ship Propulsion

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Publicity Out of Controversy, My Hawaiian Election Campaign

Coincidence? Two Commercials Feature Dice, Cash and Corruption

By Michael Levine, Honolulu Reporter, Civil Beat

Tulsi Gabbard for Congress

Sometimes a reporter doing his research, checking on sources, verifying facts... can create some unexpected, welcome publicity. I thank him for his professionalism. Please click.. and read on!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gingerclown 3D USA Distribution

Grindstone Entertainment, the home video division of Lionsgate’s Mandate Pictures, has acquired North American distribution rights to Gingerclown 3D.

This is of course, the horror comedy film in which I voiced the creature character, Sphere.  I also voiced the movie trailers. Written/directed by Balazs Hatvani for MovieRockets Entertainment. Starring Tim Curry as Gingerclown,  The other creature voices are those of Lance Henriksen, Brad Dourif, Michael Winslow and Sean Young. Other voices provided by Andrew Montesi, Andras Koloszar and Nelson Matthews. This is Hungary's first English language film shot in 3D.

The on screen actors are Erin Hayes, Ashley Luke Lloyd and Michael Cannell-Griffiths. Release date is forth coming. Here are some links for the trailer and the rest of the story!
Stay tuned for the official release date in the USA.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Gingerclown 3D Feature Film Update

The Cannes Film Festival premier of Gingerclown 3D will be May 19 in Cannes! Gingerclown 3D is a new horror/comedy feature length film with the voices of various creatures by Tim Curry, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Michael Winslow, Sean Young and myself as "Sphere". I also voiced the movie trailers. The film is directed by Balazs Hatvani for MovieRockets Entertainment. Also featuring a cast of terrific young actors who "interact" with the creatures.

My parts were recorded in my Tennessee studio while being directed via Skype from Budapest. My action in the film is mainly in scenes with Brad Dourif, of "Chuckie" fame. I can hardly wait to see just what I look like as the Sphere creature!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ten Life Lessons I've Learned From My Horse


Over the past twenty years I’ve shared my life with horses, yet, I’ve always wondered what took me so long to discover them. Oh, I grew up with childhood fantasies of horses brought on by TV shows like “My Friend Flicka”, “Fury”, “The Lone Ranger” and “Mr Ed,” as well as movies like, “Black Beauty”, “The Black Stallion”, “Lonely Are the Brave” and “National Velvet.” I’m still a sucker today for the contemporary stories of “The Horse Whisperer,” “Secretariat” and the new “War Horse.” Mostly, these are all stories of true heart, guts, soul and love. They pretty much illustrate the fact that man has learned much about life through the wisdom of his horses.

Of course, these days it’s easy to forget the impact horses have had on our lives. Before the invention of the automobile, horses throughout much of the world were our only means of transportation. Not only used as ATVs and farm workers (before tractors) but as companions too. And we’ve always learned from the lives of our horses.

We’ve learned from their spirit, their sweetness, lust for freedom and their trust in humanity. Yes, today horses are simply obsolete, for all practical purposes. Completely low-tech, high energy and high maintenance, still, every horse owner recognizes their sheer magnificence. 

Here are ten lessons my horse, Duke, an awesome, 26 year old, 16 hand, chestnut, flaxen-maned, Tennesse Walking Horse gelding has taught me.

I should say that I’m not claiming to be an expert in horse psychology nor in horsemanship, western riding, equine science, training or care. However, I have dedicated a large part of my life to the welfare of my horses and to the discipline of modern day horsemanship.

For the sake of simplicity, I’ve borrowed a few maxims from a little book I keep in my studio called, “All I Need to Know I learned From My Horse,” by Pamela C. Biddle and Joel Fishman. 

1) Horses can’t talk but they can speak if you listen.
The heart of a horse is wide open. Unlike us, they do not suppress emotion. You can communicate with a horse by watching his movements. Position of the ears, sweetness in the eyes, bowing, jerking or shaking of the head, pawing and many other natural body movements are signs of communication. This is how they relate to each other in the wild among their herds. They can read our body language much better than we can among ourselves. Understand this and the horse becomes trainable, bonding with his handler in mutual respect.

Part of our training and our job as actors/voice actors is to “listen” well and observe closely. Before we can bring a character to life... one who really touches people’s hearts...we need to practice and refine this behavior. Listening closely works pretty well in business too.

2) A steady hand is better than a harsh bit.
In the days of the Old West cowboys often rode with harsh bits in the mouths of their horses, believing that “braun” was better than “brain.” 
They muscled their horses about as slaves rather than with the modern philosophy of partnership. Partnering is a term used today in business. To me this is achieved through understanding, grace, trust and good communication skills with clients and associates. 

3) You learn more from a bad ride then a good one.
A bad ride can more likely be blamed on the rider and not the horse.
While learning to ride, I realized that horses are calm and cooperative when you are. I’ve always been somewhat hard-headed... or so I’m told, sometimes learning things the hard way. A key to business success is learning from your mistakes rather than repeating them. Then riding on down the trail with confidence and know-how.

4) Once the jump is under you it’s too late to look at it.
Horses sometimes have more sense than people. They just keep moving forward. Learning from our mistakes is vital but dwelling on them is fruitless. What’s done is done. The attention span of a horse is only 3 seconds. After that he’s ready for the next thing. Likewise, after the botched audition, instead of beating yourself up about what you could have done better, it’s best to put it out of your mind. It’s too late to go back and do it again anyway. 

5)A good heart beats a pretty head every time.
It takes more than just being a purebred to make a great horse.Those of you who feel much freer and more comfortable behind the mic than in front of the camera can relate to this. As voice actors, our best performances are those that reach out and touch the listener. Who cares how pretty we may look behind the mic? Microphones can’t see, they can only feel.

6) A swish of the tail at regular intervals keeps most pests away.
A simple natural action. In other words, watch your back! Trust is commendable but naivete can be detrimental. Brush aside the naysayers and focus on moving forward. Rely on your own judgement but look back once in a while to keep predators at bay. And to see how far you’ve come.

7) Know the course before you mount the horse.
The horse surely knows the way. If you are new to voice acting (or any other skilled profession) do your homework before getting in too deep with equipment expenses, client services, marketing expenses and such. A young foal learns to trot before he can canter.

There’s a wealth of resources available on the World Wide Web, your public library or community book store. Read up on your new profession.
Choose your sources wisely. Ask a working pro which sources are the ones most valuable to him or her, rather than asking too broad a question such as, “How do I get into voice acting?”

8) Riding well is the best revenge.
Show off your riding skills. As I said earlier, keep the naysayers at bay as well as other negative influences. Concentrate instead on being the best professional you can be. Revenge is sweet when you’ve become accomplished... leaving others in the dust who are lazy, misguided, unskilled or unscrupulous. 

9) Never end an exercize on a bad note.
To build confidence leave the session on a happy note. The best way to do this is to ask the horse to perform something he already knows how to do. He leaves confidently, ready for the next session. End your own recording session, phone conversation or email message on a good happy note. Stay positive and forward-thinking when dealing with clients and with the industry as a whole.

10) Graze in the same spot too long and you’ll end up with a mouthful of dirt. Horses always find the green grass.
Gaining new ground in any business is vital to its prosperity, longevity and growth, especially a business such as voice acting accomanied by so much high technology. But then again, what business today isn’t?
Keeping up with and understanding its evolving phases will help keep your business in the spotlight.

On Friday, February 3, 2012, my beloved horse, Duke, passed away. He was 26 years old... 78 in human years. One of the hardest things in life I’ve ever done was to let him go and allow him a dignified death. Despite the years of care and love we gave him, time and an injury took it’s toll on his aging legs and he could no longer support the weight of his own body. 

Duke is survived by Majik, our 16 year old chestnut, flaxen-mained Arabian mare and Jett, our black, 12 year old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding. Along with our two beautiful dogs, Jessie (F), a 10 year old, Red Tri Australian Shepherd (Aussie) and Cody (M), a 10 year old Shaded Sable Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie), our 11 year old barn cat, Pistol and  newly adopted family member, (abandoned by a neighbor) a handsome, multi-colored rooster, Rowdy. And of course by wife, Mickie, and myself.

I hope you found this article beneficial to your business and personal life. 
It has allowed me to collect my thoughts and most certainly was theraputic in honoring the memory of my first horse, Duke. May he rest in peace in Horse Heaven.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gingerclown 3D UPDATED Trailer

Here's the updated trailer for the Hungarian horror film, Gingerclown, I worked on with Tim Curry, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Michael Winslow and Sean Young. I had a character part, Sphere Creature, and I voiced the trailer with Lance Henriksen and Tim Curry. To be released very soon. (Caution: The "F" word is used)


Voicing the Sphere Creature and the trailer was a lot of fun. Which I was recording during a phone patch session via Skype with the director in Budapest. Not having any visual references, I had to really use my imagination and study the character descriptions in the script. But that's exactly what we voice actors are paid to do. Can't wait to do another one! And of course I'm looking forward to seeing my creature come alive in the movie!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Great Advice From Edge Studio

These are some very specific points for the VO pro and also serve as a good guideline for the copywriter who provides the scripts we interpret in our daily jobs.

. . . Advice from Edge Studio!
Punctuation is really wonderful. It, uh, punctuates.

Those little marks add meaning in so many possible ways:
  • Timing
  • Emotion
  • Sense of humor
  • Phrasing
  • Clarification
  • Making it easier for the talent to read
  • Makings it easier for the listener to hear
But many voice talent and clients overlook punctuation's potential. So today we look at Punctuation: The unspoken hero!


(1) Not all text is written by a professional copywriter. At Edge Studio, we deal with copy from all kinds of thoughtful, highly skilled writers. But we also frequently meet businesspeople who wrote the script themselves. Sometimes their punctuation can be abysmal.

(2) Many professional copywriters forget that someone else has to interpret what that punctuation mark means.

(3) Some clients don't read the script aloud before giving it to you. So they miss errors.

(4) Other clients read the script aloud, but do so the way they hear it, not as it appears on the page. As a result, you receive an obstacle course of confusing phrases, tongue-twisters and breathless prose.

(5) Then there are the voice artists who skip over the punctuation without much reason. Yes, there are times to ignore it, but there are more times to use it to your advantage. Each instance should be a professional-grade choice.

(6) Often the copy comes straight from print. A marketer might try to save money on their tradeshow video by having you read text taken directly from their brochure. As you should know, printed text is seldom written the way we talk. So the punctuation needs to be changed to some degree.


(1) Skip some punctuation

Some punctuation should be skipped. For example, you may not need to pause at the following commas:
  • "That's one tough, rugged truck!"
  • "For protection against burglary, fire, and natural disaster, trust Allstate."
  • "Sale begins February 9, 2010, at 9am!"
And phone numbers -- while they might be written:
it is usually better not to pause between the "1" and the "800."

(2) Change some punctuation

Sometimes you have to change punctuation.

As when video accompanies your voice over. Suppose you're working on a documentary about the five highest mountains. The script reads:
  • "The world's five highest mountains are Mount Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu."
What you don't see in that sentence (but hopefully the director will tell you) is that the video will pan on each range for about 5 seconds. So you should read each mountain's name it as if there were a period after it (rather than the comma).

If there were visuals for the Allstate example above, that list would be another example.

(3) Add some punctuation

Other times, you need to add punctuation. Example:
  • Another reason for adding punctuation is the run-on sentence that allows no place for the listener to think and has no particular point of emphasis and offers no place for you to take a... breath.
Run-ons endanger the quality of any writing (unless you're James Joyce or Wolf Larsen). But in print, at least the reader can go back and re-read. People usually can't re-listen. (Things like audio books excepted, and anyway it's a pain.)

I find that 3 to 5 seconds is the longest somebody can listen without a break in text. (A line of 12-point Times type on the printed page is about four seconds, so there should generally be at least one break within it.)

So give the listener's brain time to process what's coming in, by thinking about the meaning of the copy and phrasing it well.

Be careful not to overdo my advice, you risk becoming choppy. Every pause is not the same.

(4) Analyze some punctuation
How long should you pause at each punctuation mark?
  • "Guess how much Miller Ford is taking off cars this weekend? 20%!"
  • "Guess how much Miller Ford is taking off cars this weekend -- 20%!"
  • "Guess how much Miller Ford is taking off cars this weekend . . . 20%!"
Directors may hear each of these markings a different way. So practice: Teach yourself to develop reasons why and how each version would be read differently. For example:
  • "Guess how much Miller Ford is taking off cars this weekend? 20%!"
This :30-second radio commercial is word-heavy, and subsequently the director needs it read quickly.
  • "Guess how much Miller Ford is taking off cars this weekend -- 20%!"
This radio commercial has a sound effect of a drum roll plays during the break.
  • "Guess how much Miller Ford is taking off cars this weekend . . . 20%!"
This TV commercial shows an on-camera actor holding up a sign declaring 5% off. Then she drops it to find another sign behind it declaring 10% off. Then again a 15% off sign. And finally a 20% off sign.



I can't emphasize this too strongly: It's small punctuation marks that signal the difference between an amateur and the experienced pro.

Punctuation is a matter of making good choices. Well chosen, it become more than a series of breaks. Punctuation becomes the essence of timing, emphasis, and drama.

Hope this helps.

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