Faffcon Cutting Room Floor: How to Be a Graduate Student of the Game of VO

(Reader’s note: This was a potential breakout session at Faffcon 7 in Tucson, AZ, but was cut due to time, an inability to follow directions, and being stupidly titled)

Have you ever said or heard a fellow talent say this? image

“I’m just stupid in tech stuff”.

Or this?

“But you’re smart.”

How about this?

“It takes a really smart person to understand that.”

Or maybe even…?

“E-learning is boring.”

How many of you has ever said anything like that? How many have heard someone say a permutation of any of those?

Probably all of you, right?

The reason I ask is that I think there’s a singular constant when it comes to people’s ability to learn. And that is that we tend to put up barriers or pass judgment when it comes to stuff that we don’t understand, even to the point of deluding ourselves about the value of learning or even attempting to learn said concept.

So, it’s time for an injection of truth, with a side of wrecking ball. Stick with me for a little while, and by the end, we’ll have taken a journey together.

Fixed vs Growth Learning Mindset

When a person says, “I’m not smart,” that’s an example of an absolute, unshakable state of mind. In educational development, it’s called a fixed learning mindset.

When we make statements like that, it drives home the rigidity of the box in which we place ourselves. It “helps” us keep believing in the neutrality of our minds.

It also “helps” us be lazy, complacent, or just plain indignant about things that are outside our comfortable pillow fort.

I blame the Western Philosophy of education. Not what it was back in the time of Plato and Aristotle, when it was awesome, but what it’s become: the dogma of the special. Everybody’s special and everybody deserves recognition.

Now this isn’t a rant about entitlement. Entitlement is simply a byproduct of a fixed mindset, and we’re here to fix the cause, not treat the symptom.

The goal is to make small steps to shift your perspective from the fixed to the growth learning mindset

The growth learning mindset is the backbone of educational philosophies in countries like Finland and Japan. There, the idea is that anyone can learn anything. All students are taught from a very young age that their intelligence level can always change, if they work hard.

The systems in both of those countries are very different, but the philosophy behind them isn’t. It’s a very Eastern Philosophy of equality that drives the educational process. The basis is that learners have to be stretched past their limits, otherwise growth can’t happen. 

Think of it like lifting weights. When you lift weights, you tear muscle fibers, and then during periods of rest, they repair themselves and grow.

Mental growth is similar, in that when you stretch beyond your mental capacity just a little, then new connections are made in the brain, and we learn. And this process never stops. Ever. Just ask Henry Ford.

The Zone of Proximal Development

The idea of stretching ourselves just beyond what we know is based on Soviet psychologist Lev Vgotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, or ZPD.

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The idea is illustrated in the graphic: what someone can do without help is the dark blue circle, the outer sphere is beyond the person’s limits (for now), and the inner circle is where people learn, especially with someone teaching them, or a peer guiding them.

For those folks at Faffcon 6 in San Antonio, this circle diagram might look a little familiar. That’s because the inner circle is your comfort zone, and the ZPD is your stretch zone. 

Remember that exercise from closing circle?

The stretch zone is the only place that real learning can take place; there’s enough knowledge for a foundation, and that little nudge from (in our case) a coach or a knowledgeable peer, and bam! You’re picking up new information, and how to associate and catalog it. 

The exercise was also an test in trust, because no matter how much you know, there’s always something you don’t, and that’s the first step to trusting others, because what’s scarier than telling a room full of professional peers that you don’t know something?

It was a nice, two-purpose demonstration that not only do we not know everything, but that it’s OK that we don’t, because there will always be someone in the safety net that is our Faffily/Stand Up Group/Peers to help guide us into new knowledge.

As long as we admit that anyone can learn. And anyone can. And often does. Especially at something like, say, a Faffcon.

Expanding the ZPD

In 2009, a paper was published by educational researchers Ron Tinsley and Kimberly Lebak that took Vgotsky’s ZPD to a whole new level.

What they did is apply the ZPD to adults that were in a graduate level education program, in which cohorts of Master’s degree candidates would forego a traditional thesis to do a project that was designed to improve their existing jobs through active research on their own environment.

Think of it as experimenting on yourself with different learning styles and teaching methods.

Tinsley and Lebak realized that the students would best be served in these projects to work in groups and advise each other instead of a traditional approach, so they took Vgotsky’s concept, and put them into collaborative groups of varied backgrounds, yet similar levels of education.

What they saw was astonishing: as the members of the group became more well-acquainted with each other and their individual projects, the group’s individual development accelerated even more rapidly. 

The rapid growth within the group’s ZPD was called the Zone of Reflective Capacity. It became a definable as he or she collaborates over an extended period with other adults who have similar goals.

Now hold on a sec. Collaboration over an extended period of time with other adults that have similar goals? Sound familiar?

Sounds like a Stand Up Group to me.

You Aren’t So Special, but We Can Learn Anything

Tinsley and Lebak talk further about how, as a group collaborated longer and trust was built, they all started living vicariously in each other’s classrooms, becoming educationally engaged in all domains of the brain, cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.

In other words, the more they worked together, the more they learned about themselves with all parts of the brain simultaneously, which means no matter what kind of learner you are, collaboration makes you smarter if you’re locked into the ZRC with peers.

It’s a holistic approach to educating yourself when you collaborate, and it is well referenced by Carolyn Adger who says, “Professional talk is not the icing on the cake of professional development. It is the cake.”

So Why Put Up Walls?

So the question I asked myself when I was reading more and more about this is, “why didn’t we embrace this concept sooner?”

And the reasons I came up with were limited to these:

  • We’re lazy (says the resident fat guy)

Like I said earlier, we’re comfortable in our pillow forts. We have to be willing to change.

  • It’s scary, because some ideas about learning have barriers to acceptance

The ZPD is only starting to become en vogue in educational circles recently, because Vgotsky, a Stalinist commie, thought of it, and those folks were scary and evil! *tongue in cheek*

But it’s true. We tend to vilify the things we don’t understand, label them, and put them on a shelf just like we do when we give ourselves permission to squander our brains.

The Eastern Philosophy is still really foreign to us, and it’s more so today in the world of terrorism, fear, and different-phobia. We’re all convinced that ourselves, our kids, our friends, and our pets are all special, and that we deserve to reap the rewards of life simply because of our State of Specialty (I’m claiming that one).

But thankfully, some famous people had the money to dabble in eastern influences, and some things are more acceptable in society, like yoga, meditation, and shawarma. OK, don’t laugh. You know you wanted to go try shawarma after watching The Avengers. Don’t even deny it.

So what do Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Lev Vygotsky and Steve Jobs have in common?

The answer? They all have Eastern influences. The Zep had Kashmir, The Beatles had most of The White Album, and of course Vgotsky had the ZPD.

But what about Steve Jobs? Well, besides his well-documented years as someone who tripped the light fantastic, there’s this one other thing:

Think Different®.

I rest my case. The slogan alone embraces the dogma of always striving to change your perspective, kind of like Mr. Keating from Dead Poet’s Society, but on steroids. Maybe not the best grammar in the world, but hey.

There’s tons of evidence in academia that shows that people just hearing that there are differing perspectives on learning was enough to start enacting change. Will that work with you?

A different way of thinking can unlock the kind of fixed learning mindset that exists not only in our industry, but in our society. And if we can just think differently (see what I did there?), then we take a wrecking ball to the walls we put up around ourselves, the barriers to expanding our own personal Zone of Proximal Development.

When we do this, and we go through life with a support system of peers like a Faffcon or a Stand Up Group, then the truth is that we truly have no limits.

Faffcon, je t’aime.

Faffcon. Faffcon is what brings us together today. 

Faffcon…that blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream….

Yeah, I totally went there, fans of must-see movies.

But for sooth, Faffcon is, indeed, what brought us together this past weekend.

When I got home, I was awash in so many emotional memories. So much so, it was difficult to recount what actually happened all weekend. To say it was a blur would be to do it a cliched disservice.

I finally was able to settle down enough to tell my wife about all the wonderful things that I witnessed and in which i participated.

I have never felt more loved than I did Sunday afternoon. I don’t think I’ve cried as much as I did this weekend in a very long time.

(Yes, I’m a sap.)

I honestly went in with no agenda. I was seriously low on productive energy, mainly due to ‘the situation’ with my throat. For those that didn’t actually hear about what happened, I developed a nodule on my left vocal cord. This led to me having a terrible mental state for the entirety of the summer.

Thank God for a doctor that understood, and a support group that put up with my worrying for four months. But long story short, I’m doing better. 

And I’m really doing better after Faffcon.

And it has to do with surprises.

I was so psychologically spent that just getting to Faffcon was enough as it was. Then getting to share oxygen and drinks with each of you just made me get better and better as the weekend flew by.

Normally, I sort of make a diary about my experiences, meticulously making notes and scribbles on any surface that holds ink. I think I took a half page of notes in Tom and Melissa’s breakout session on using a paymaster to help convert nonunion work. That’s all. 

I also remember that I wasn’t taking as many pictures as I have in the past.

It was very out of character for me, and that’s why when I sat down here to talk about Faff events, as is normal for me, I was almost at as much of a loss as I was in telling my wife about my adventures last night.

I think my new experience of talking as much as I could to Faffers new and returning became my MO for the trip.

I found myself more externally involved, instead of self-centered, and I don’t mean in the negative connotation, either. I simply mean that I did my very best to share some experiences with others every opportunity I got.

And I think it worked.

I focused more on the moment, swore I would attend more things that I had fewer opinions and knowledge about, and just generally spend the weekend like a Voiceover Jedi, observing, responding, and soaking up as much of the big picture as I could.

I stuck to that game plan, and it served me well getting settled in on Friday, and again on Saturday, and then on Sunday, everything just went nuts.

I led a breakout session on characters for video games at eleven on Sunday, and it was like the stars aligned.

To describe the hour and twenty minutes (yeah, we went waaaaaaay over time) that we all shared in just one word, I think it would have to be…

…transcendent.

Yeah, that’s the word. It was almost as if you could feel the rising tide minute by minute. The looks of realization and dots being connected on so many faces as we analyzed character descriptions was awesome.

When we discussed inferring place and setting of the game world from just a few lines of dialogue, and to see nods of understanding, that was even better.

Then when I demonstrated how to use ad-libbing (thanks, Mary Lynn!), really good microphone and vocal technique in order to put on a mental stage play for the listener, I could see the shifting in chairs and the need to really break down that process.

So I pulled an audition script from last week, grabbed the submission file, and I talked my way through the scene, describing how when I gave two takes to the CD, I varied the theatre involved in placing the character into a world that the player can believe in.

I revealed the way that I painted the scene with my performance in take one, and then I played the first take of my audition. There were audible gasps of recognition. I immediately got chills, because it had just dawned on me that I had just witnessed moments of true discovery, and it was like no feeling I had ever experienced before.

I then talked about from one take to the next, that in order to make your reads stand out even more, not only the theatre of the reads needed to be varied, but also the pitch and placement. I then asked the room to listen for variation in the second read of my audition, and then played it as well. More audible sounds of realization and one ‘Wow.’

It brought a huge level of confidence that I was, in leading that session, where I needed to be. I also felt the need to share some personal details of my journey to the room, and as I talked, I felt better and better, even though I was recounting events from my past that can only be described as bad memories.

Somewhere in the middle of all the flood from Pandora’s Box, a weight felt like it was lifting. As if this moment was a bellwether for a new era in my life and my career: the era of full disclosure and unwavering trust in my Faffily.

And I felt a heady surge of confidence as we finished and people gathered around me to continue the discussion. In this moment, I knew that, for some, it was a transcendent moment.

My own moment came later that day, at closing circle, when it was time to give out Un-Awards. There is always a rush to line up and show appreciation to other Faffers, but the display of raw emotions and gratitude were just amazing. 

I was floored to watch as three people said my name, and witness a surge of love, respect, and gratitude at a level that I had never felt before.

The rest of the day was just a mass of flowing and dripping tears, a haze of euphoria, and the feeling that, for the first actual time in my career, security and safety. (I told you I was a sap).

The euphoria has not abated. I know it probably will, but I know that, in writing this, I will always be able to tap into the emotional memory of that sunny day in the desert when I finally learned to trust a group of people who I know will always have my back.

I love you all, and I promise that I won’t let you down.

I’m in Love With My Gear (with apologies to Queen)

CROSSROADS

There comes a time in everyone’s life that they have to cut the strings of the past, and start living in the now. When a person reassesses his or her life and makes a conscious decision not to keep holding on to things. So, I’m reaching one of those milestones today.

I’m, of course, talking about selling a piece of audio gear.

Not exactly Earth-shattering after that buildup, eh?

Well, here’s the deal…I’m getting rid of the first piece of studio rack gear I ever bought. Kinda weird. The end of an era, you might say, but I am doing it nonetheless.

The gear in question is the FMR Audio RNC (Really Nice Compressor) 1773. It’s been a staple of my signal chain for almost ten years, and it was tough coming to the decision to sell it, given how awesome the piece of gear is, and how useful it’s been to me these last *mumblemumble* years.

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Now I hear some of you wondering, “if it’s so good, then why get rid of it?” And you, sir or madam, would be perfectly right to ask such a valid question. Here’s the reason why. I’ve joined the fraternity of lunchbox owners.

And no. I don’t mean one of those.

A SHORT COMPARTMENTAL HISTORY

So back in the 1970s, API developed modular consoles after recording engineers wanted more control over what preamps, compressors, and equalizers went into the consoles they were using.

Much like guys who tinker with cars, engineers soon began making custom channel racks by stringing together various modules from different API consoles in order to get the best of all the different iterations of API’s consoles. While these racks weren’t actually what we call lunchboxes today, these were definitely the precursors. The modules conformed to a standard which API called “500 Series,” which is a label that exists today.

So in 1978, a 19” rack (look in any studio, and you’ll see 19” rack gear) was designed by a company called Datatronics, that allowed ten of the 500 series modules to be placed in one frame. Soon after, different companies started making their own 500 series chassis with varying numbers of module slots.

About this time, a gentleman named Art Kelm took a four-slot chassis and added to it preamp, compressor, and EQ modules, effectively making a channel strip-in-a-box. He gave one to Steve Perry of Journey, and dubbed it a ‘lunchbox.’ The name stuck, and so did the practice of making your own channel strips piecemeal.

In the last few years, 500 series modules have become extremely popular, as prices have come down and also more and more gearheads are starting their own companies (some of which are the original technicians behind the first modules) and sourcing their own modules from the original specs authored by API back in the day. Think of it as the way that the automobile industry branched off into several other companies after Ford pioneered interchangeable parts, or how you can go on to car websites and place whatever seats, arm rests, sound system, and cup holders into your very own vehicle.

The result in the recording industry has been almost as many gear combinations as there are soda flavors at Sonic…which isn’t a bad thing. Buy a chassis (lunchbox), fill it with whatever gear looks, feels, and of course, sounds amazing, and go to town. 

BEWARE THE DARK SIDE

Now, I know that there are some of you out there who are about to have an aneurysm over some of what I’ve written today. Some will be from the technical mumbo-jumbo that I’ve generally been talking about. Others it will be out of some need to correct some perceived mistake I made in my (admittedly) truncated history of modular rack gear. But the truth remains that 500 series gear is becoming more and more prevalent simply because this type of gear gives you, the artist, choices.

Anyone who’s ever had a love affair with the shiny will attest to placing things on a pedestal, and then not resting until they make it a part of their garage/signal chain/gun collection/whatever. I warn you.

Those of you out there who are self-professed technotards or whatever the word du jour happens to be, I say beware. Once you start learning more about the science and art of recording, it’s like turning toward the Dark Side of the Force. As Yoda said, “once you start down the Dark Path, forever will it dominate your destiny…consume you it will!”

And that’s exactly how to describe it: a lifelong quest to find the perfect signal chain. Obsession-worthy and never-ending.

But please don’t let that scare you. You should love all aspects of your craft, including the ones that involve math (OHNOES…BUT THERE’S NO MATH IN VOICEOVER).

Ahem. Yes, there is. 

So embrace the dark side. We have cookies.

GEAR EVOLUTION

So that’s the crossroads at which I find myself. My recording rig has matured and changed over the years, as I have learned more and more about what kind of sound I want to produce.

So here’s how things have changed at the Fortress of Isolation (my studio…get it?) in the last few months:

I finally bought an Avalon M5. It’s the Maserati of mic pres. It had been at the top of my GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) list for many years. It’s known for its clean reproduction of whatever goes into the mic, and it can pump a lot of volume. 

Next thing I got was a new interface. It’s the thing that turns sound into data, you know? I bought an Audient iD22. It has been getting nothing but praise from the VO community, and I knew it met every need I had at home.

After buying the new interface, my venerable FMR Audio RNC 1773 became problematic. Without boring you with the details, it became difficult to keep it in the chain because of the way everything connected.

So I did some homework. And I realized that the next best step in my signal’s evolutionary chain was to look to 500 Series modules.

So I did some more homework. I talked to Cliff Zellman for hours. And I mean hours. As in five-hours-of-texting-followed-by-three-hour-phone-call talking. 

Despite how much of a gearhead we both were, we agreed that ease of use and necessity were slightly North of cool factor in this instance, although cool factor almost won out. 

We decided on the Radial Workhorse Cube as my chassis because of the back panel alone. Pretty much any way I wanted to connect, I could do it. And no extra wires to chain together any modules. You see, some chassis make you connect each module with a really short mic cable, and, in the real world, we call that, ‘a pain in the ass,’ or PITA , for short. So honestly, the Cube was a no-brainer.

Since I already had a preamp in my Avalon, the next thing I looked for was a compressor to replace the RNC 1773. Imagine my squees of delight when I visited the FMR Audio website and saw that they had developed a 500 Series version of my compressor. I couldn’t call them fast enough to order it. Add the fact that Mark and Beth McQuillen are wonderful people that are nearby (in Austin), and it was like gravy on the Chicken-Fried-Steak of life.

Next, Cliff and I pondered a great while about an equalizer module. In our discussion, we talked about Cliff’s great love for the Trident A-Range recording consoles from his days as an L.A. sound engineer, and so I did some research into the designer of the console, and came across Malcolm Toft and Ocean Audio. By happenstance, Ocean had an EQ based on the Trident console’s EQ called the Ocean Audio 500 EQ One. After a quite long back-and-forth debate between that one and a Rupert Neve Designs 551, I decided that saving a few (hundred) bucks and filling the space with something that has a little better bang for the buck, as well as the pedigree to go along with it was definitely the best idea.

So, we decided to leave the last slot in the Cube empty for now. There are plenty of other options for later, but I was extremely gratified at the decisions that were made, including the one that allowed expansion in the future.

So in the end, my signal chain will be:

Sennheiser MKH-416 OR Neumann TLM-103 > Avalon M5 Preamp > FMR Audio RNC500 > Ocean Audio 500 EQ One > Audient iD22 interface > Computer

I have to say that I’m extremely happy with that.

BUT WHAT DO *I* GET??

Naturally, all this gear talk will either get you sweaty from imagining it in your studio, or sweaty from cold fear at the prospect of figuring out what you need, and then integrating it into your studio and hoping it works, all while only marginally understanding the gear from a conceptual standpoint.

I’ll tell you right now, that the time I took to write this was not to entice, scare, prick-measure, or anything that might be made to make any of you feel inferior (or superior, if you think I don’t know what I’m talking about).

The truth is, I’m proud of the legwork I’ve done to learn everything I can about this gear and its application. And it is of an extreme value to me that when something goes sideways, panic isn’t wrenching my gut and paralyzing me out of the fear of ruining my tenuous ability to produce sound.

We live in a world that is compartmentalized and indexed to death. People nowadays place no value on actual human knowledge, only on the value of being able to access permanently stored binary knowledge. It’s this mentality, along with lauding people for just ‘being there’ instead of actual achievement, that is leading to the amateurization of our industry. And not just our industry. Everywhere. 

So what you won’t get from me is advice on what to buy, just so you can “keep up with the Joneses,” Hopefully what you got from me today is the glee of seeking and discovery. Not that I’m showing off my shiny new gear, but the path I walked in my hunger to be constantly better at this thing I do, and if I’m in love with my gear, so what?

My wife doesn’t mind; it was her that bought it for me.

A Grown Man Goes to Camp…and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

Yeah, yeah…clickbait. So shoot me.

So you might have heard the rumblings about this event called Faff Camp. Words that have been used include “amazing,” “wonderful,” “awesome,” and a bevy (why don’t we use this word anymore?) of superlatives about a group of people from all walks of the VO industry getting together and sharing knowledge in all directions.

Now, you may be confused about the concept of Faff Camp, especially when many industry pros wait with bated breath each spring for the announcement of FaffCON, a similar event with a completely different dynamic. I felt it prudent to sit and write a spell (as they say on the farm) about what Faff Camp means to me, and some cardinal differences in the Camp and the Con.

So what’s the difference? I have gotten that question close to a dozen times in the last week, and honestly, it’s a fair one. Let’s start with a softball.

Name and Event Dynamic

Faffcon is a development event for professionals, complete with vetting process.

Faff Camp is a development event for professionals, even those that are peripherally related to the industry, as well as folks just getting started. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Schedule

Faffcon is dynamically scheduled. This is the idea of an ‘unconference.’ The fact is, some attendees have topics that they could pull out and talk about extemporaneously (another great word), but with the exception of a few select times, most of the event is scheduled right after opening circle.

Faff Camp is more structured. The schedule of events is more like a traditional conference. This way, more people can come. There are also some other cool things that only happen at Faff Camp, like Topic Tables and Lightning Talks. At Camp, there’s also two ‘tracks’ so that the attendees can be sure they will be where they need to be. (See what I did there? Faffers get it.)

Attendance Limitation

Faffcon never has more than one hundred attendees, much like there are never more than two Sith at any given time. Why? Well, it’s a solid number, and 42 was already taken.

Faff Camp helps alleviate the extremely long waiting list that invariably follows the closing of Faffcon registration. How does it do that? Well…there’s no limit to the number of attendees at Faff Camp. This year’s waiting list was apparently as long as…well, let’s just say it was long. 

Similarities

I mentioned earlier about writing what Faff Camp means to me. I felt like I could give you a bevy (ah…ahhhh!) of those things here. These are some things that you’ll get from both events:

  • The guy or gal that is leading a discussion in one session will be asking questions in the next one.
  • Getting to know people that you only knew by way of their online avatar and witty banter.
  • Making lifelong friendships.
  • Playing the official game of Faff events, Cards Against Humanity.
  • Seeing the different shades of red people turn while playing said game.
  • Bob Souer.
  • Peter O’Connell
  • Amy Snively.
  • Learning about parts of the industry in which you didn’t think you belonged.
  • Learning what the hell ‘faffing’ even is, and no, it’s not the same as ‘fapping.’
  • That the sharing of knowledge is the only thing that makes it truly knowledge.
  • That some people can really hold their alcohol.
  • That despite the shysters, has-beens, and never was-es that exist on the internet, this industry is full of giving, wonderful people. A great many of them come to Faff events.
  • And, of course, a rising tide lifts all boats.

What Faff Camp means to me

I mentioned just a smattering (there’s another one) of the things above that mean so much to me. The other part about Faff Camp that was so incredible, was the fact that it was kind of my return to visibility at VO events. I had firmly entrenched myself in Dallas, plugging away at what we all do day-to-day, when I started to really feel left out. I needed to share oxygen with my peers. There’s simply no substitute for being in the same room, hell, the same corner of a room, with others.

So I called Amy. I had just booked a big video game gig, and I was seeing some patterns emerge in the way I was coming about this work, and I asked to lead a session at Faff Camp. She was extremely excited about me coming back to a Faff event, as it had been fifteen months since I had been to my last one.

So Amy talked about teaming up to present with someone I had never met before, kind of a he said/she said approach to the session. It sounded great. I made the arrangements, and next thing I know, I was back in the thick of things.

I met several Faffers that were attending their first event, and some that had attended others but I hadn’t had the pleasure, and it was wonderful to meet them and talk about things that were related (and not related) to the industry. Among those people and conversations were Jane Ingalls, and our talk about opera, Martha Mellinger, Linda Joy, Bob and Amie Breedlove, Jay Rickerts (who was formerly a news anchor back in Oklahoma..small world), Jordan Reynolds (manhugs), Jeff Devitt, Bob Merkel, Dustin Ebaugh, Kirissa Shipp, Denny Brownlee, and of course, my session co-leader, Wendy Zier.

It was as if I’d come home. Now I think I understood what the prodigal son must’ve felt. It’s like I went away of my own choice, and I finally made it back.

Sharing air, stories, wisdom, and laughs with people that a great many things in common with me. It was glorious.

Those laughs, stories, and good times will never be lost to me, and it’s all because I wanted to go. I didn’t want to be left out.

I mentioned in a Facebook post about how this is the kind of event that opens your eyes to the countless facets to the diamond that is a career as a disembodied voice. I must have been channeling my inner T.S. Eliot, because it was oddly poetic and true. So was my time at camp.

After that weekend, I swore I would never miss another Faff event. I have not, and God willing, I won’t.

This experience can be yours, as well. Don’t wait. Come to Faff Camp.

See you there.

BV

P.S. $25 off the registration price can be saved with the use of code VT8987775

Source-Connect Now dot You.

So yeah. It’s really easy to embed SCN into your website (assuming you have WordPress). I mean easy peasy, easy.

Rebekah at Source Connect shows us how in this forum post.

1. Download the plug-in here:
http://source-elements.com/addons/source-connect-now.zip

2. Install the plug-in using the WordPress Admin screen

- Click Plugins, Add New and choose ‘Upload’
- Choose ‘source-connect-now.zip’
- Click on Install Now and Activate it

3. Add the shortcode to the page where you want to place Source-Connect Now, replacing ‘MY_USERNAME’ with your own username.

[source-connect-now username=”MY_USERNAME”]

More to come as style and templates are coming, as well. Awesome. One more thing to agonize over on my website. :P

Seriously, just go sign up for it already. It is so much of a no-brainer, you may as well call it zombie fodder.

Mr. Keating’s Opinion on Submitting Yourself for Judgment

I’ve been ruminating on this topic this afternoon. Been really trying to figure out a way to say what I have to say without coming off like a complete feminine hygiene product. I think it’s going to be a tough sell. But here goes.

I constantly see (and when I say constantly, I mean on an almost daily basis) people talking about impending job interviews on different social media. Invariably, these people are all so incredibly puckered about it that they take to cyberspace asking…nay, begging for prayers, good thoughts, vibes, etc. for their looming interview.

The view doesn't change.

Now, hold on. Before the mental poo-poos begin, stop right there. This is not a criticism on the power of prayer/positive thinking/vibes/however you choose to frame it. I am a huge believer in the power of prayer and in the power of the mastermind group. So don’t believe for a second that I’m being critical of people for that. No way.

The reaction that I have when I see people do that is simple. It makes me really glad to be an actor. 

And…your confusion sets in. Why would Brad say that? In Sesame Street terms, one of these things is not like the other, right?

Well, no.

Perception Check

In Dead Poets Society, Mr Keating, portrayed in awesome fashion by Robin Williams, in a memorable scene, jumps up onto his desk in the middle of class and asks the students why he did that. After cracking a joke at a wrong answer, he says, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”

There’s a certain way that people look at job interviews, and I think it’s unhealthy. Of course, there’s an almost palpable amount of stress that people are under when out of work. But the fact that people put so much pressure and life-changing import on this singularity…this one instance in their life, is mind-blowingly bad for their psyche.

When a person does this, it places so much focus on an event leading to a singular conclusion, that when it doesn’t, is utterly soul-crushing. 

They saw the outcome as a solution to a situation that they didn’t want to be in. A solution to uncertainty. A solution to sustaining their way of life. 

Now, having a solution to those problems isn’t a bad thing, it’s of course a good thing! No, the problem is the mental transforming of the situation from a mere job interview into a cure-all that causes people to become manic.

Let me offer a contrasting point of view.

I ‘interview’ for about twenty jobs a week that I’m 100% qualified for, and know going in that I’m only going to have about a 7% success rate, and that’s on the good end of average.

As the folks out there trying to get ‘real jobs’ cringe in horror at those numbers, I think Mr. Keating would say it’s time to look at things differently.

That job you’re interviewing for? Say this with me: It’s just a job.

Don’t put so much importance on getting that one job. The more pressure you put on yourself, the more you’re just going to faceplant in that interview.

If you don’t get the job, your situation hasn’t changed. That’s not meant to be comforting, it’s meant to make you understand that the world will not end if the interview doesn’t go well.

So I can feel the grumbles rippling through the ether right now. Stop it. Don’t come down on me about how I’m an idiot by declaring how every situation is different and how callous and insensitive I am for not considering the pressure people are under when not working.

I understand that, and I have been there. I get that there’s an innate fear to bow and scrape to a person that has the power to accept or reject you. I get that the toughest pitch meetings in the world are the ones where the product is you. 

Invite the avalanche, but embrace the dearth

With apologies to my friend Bob Souer, who presents a great seminar on breaking through any self-imposed glass ceilings (that’s the part about inviting the avalanche), I think it’s just as important to enjoy the silence (with further apologies to Depeche Mode).

Actually, it might be more appropriate to say ‘embrace the dearth.’

So, revisiting Mr. Keating’s maxim about looking at things differently, here’s some truth.

I’m not working right now.

I’m writing this observation, and I’m not in the booth recording something for a client. I’m not in the booth auditioning. That means that I’m not working. If I’m on Facebook talking about how much I love my job? That means that I’m not working. 

That last one is a whole other show, as Alton Brown would say. But there’s a point to what I’m saying.

The point is, I’m comfortable that, at the moment, I’m not working. I know that I’m constantly submitting for work, and the numbers give me a fair expectation of how much success I will have when I do.

One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re 100% qualified for it and are awesome at what you do, and you interview constantly, the work will come.

This is advice coming from a guy who submits himself for other people’s judgment on a daily basis, where at best you get a phone call or email saying it’s time to work, and rarely do you ever get a thank you for even trying.

I’m not marginalizing the harsh truth of job seeking. I just find myself in a unique position. I am in a constant state of job seeking, and I see the psychological importance of realizing that no one job is going to break me.

Just look at interviews from an actor’s perspective, and not only will you not stress yourself into an early grave, but in embracing the dearth, you learn to appreciate and enjoy the avalanche.

The next time you think of something differently, thank Mr. Keating for teaching you the value of perspective.

Just replace ‘Designer’ with ‘Voice Actor.’

doodlebuggy:

Tips for dealing with Designers:

1: Don’t belittle the skill and effort it takes to make designs.

2: Don’t assume you can do what we spent years trainings to do just because you took one class in high school or college way back when. (unless you’re a prodigy)

3: Don’t expect good results from vauge, unrealistic requests.

4: Don’t try to worm your way out of paying when its clear you can. (charities excluded)

Now I realize some people not might realize what they are saying is rude and I am willing to forgive your ignorance, but if you talk like this to a designer you are a jerk.

For the folks over at Clientsfromhell.net whose horror stories (submitted by anonymous designers, photographers and other various professions both creative and not) have inspired this comic. This comic is for you.

Finally, the secret recipe…HUMMUS!

The Headmaster’s Secret Recipe for Hummus:

Fair warning, this is for a massive amount of hummus. You can halve this recipe just fine, just remember that much of this is to taste.

We’ll do this in stages, just so the consistency is right. First thing you’ll need is a food processor. I’ve used a blender before, but the food processor really gets the job done. That, and I’ve burned up two blenders making hummus. So yeah. Remember I told you that this yields a massive amount of hummus. Just so you know how much I make…I have a Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus processor, so consider yourself forewarned.

1/2 c Tahini (No substitutions if you want it right)

2 lemons, juiced (and keep the pulp)

Place these two items in the processor and go to town. Let the machine go for about a minute, then scrape the sides and let it go another minute. Check the smoothness. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

2 Cloves Garlic (finely minced) OR 1/4 c Granulated Garlic (not garlic powder)

2 T EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

2 T Cumin (freshly ground, if at all possible)

2 T Ground Cayenne Pepper (or less, if you can’t handle the heat)

4 T Sweet Paprika (yep, I mix it in)

2 T Smoked Paprika (one of the two secret ingredients)

2 T Ground Chipotle Pepper (secret ingredient number two)

2 T Kosher Salt (plus more to taste later)

Add these ingredients and spin for another minute. Still smooth as can be.

4 15-ounce cans Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans (they really are the same thing), drained and rinsed

1 c Water (you won’t need it all)

1/2 c Fresh Parsley (yup, I mix this in, too)

2 T Kosher Salt (told you you’d need more; this to taste)

Add a little at a time, and let the processor do its thing. Add the parsley and keep adding chickpeas and water in as you go, just to keep that consistency rich and creamy. Add the salt and test as you go. The flavor is perfect when you feel a zing of acid and spice in perfect harmony. That tells you that you have the right amount of salt.

1/4 c EVOO (you know what this is by now)

So the last step is what I consider the most crucial. Sure, you have a thick, creamy consistency, but it can be a little clunky without more lubrication. So get the processor spinning, then open the little hatch and drizzle in the oil. I do this from a squeeze bottle, just so I can control the amount going in. The reason I do this is it takes a thick, wonderful hummus and turns it into an emulsion. Trust me when I say that this recipe is only as successful as it is because we’re making an emulsion twice. Once with the lemon juice and tahini (which is an oily paste), and again with drizzling the oil in during the last step. I think it’s the key to making the stuff as creamy as the kind you can get at the store.

Oh yes, one last thing: this stuff is ready to eat as soon as you scrape it out of the food processor, but one last thing that really makes this stuff shine is popping it into the fridge for an hour or two and really let those flavors meld together. Think of it like a good soup or stew. Always better the next day, right? Same principle here. And just let the stuff come to room temperature, and it’s still creamy. Voilà!

Go to town on this stuff. Just ask any attendee of a Superhero University workshop, and they’ll tell you. This stuff is awesome!

Saving the world, thirty seconds at a time!