Wednesday, November 24, 2021

HBO Max -The Story of Late Night; features George Willig on Letterman

 Our latest assignment, felt a little like Mysteries of the Museum all over again. At least this time, let it not cost us anything to watch. 

So, here's the skinny - While viewing on 'The Roku' this past weekend, we happened upon the HBO/Max series "The Story of Late Night", being fronted by CNN. It's a bibliography of sorts about the after-prime-time niche of Late/Night TV and its hosts. Apart from that, it's another visit down 'Memory Lane' of the rich & famous & powerful in that industry and what it's like from the inside. Though, it was entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining, the show featured a cool clip of George Willig (WTC) and Dave Letterman doing a skit from Dave's morning show. I was agent'ing back in 1980 and had booked George on the show. I remember spitballing the idea off the scenic designer to use an overhead shot of George & Dave on top of a blow up picture of a brick wall... then have Stan-the-canine do a walk-on reveal thing. She went with it!

But, it caught us completely off guard to see George & Dave's wall bit at the very last 60 seconds of Season 1, Episode 2. Even more cool and surprising is that out of all the shows to highlight, this be a Top 10-er. Hard to believe, George was actually canceled for that show while in the air to N.Y.       Check it out

 

Back in the real world of voice-overs we've had the good favor to be cast as vo to introduce the founder of Za’atar Road to the world for a video promo web-opener. ZR is a marketplace exclusively sourcing unique products from the Levant

Born in the mountains of Lebanon, Maya Hachem has always been an advocate for her homeland and its people. After emigrating to Boston, she saw the opportunity to help sustain the storied artisanal heritage of the Levant that connects buyers with the goods around the world.

What we tried to convey in the voice-over was the emotional aspect of the region and it's artisans. The region is rife with heritage and customs...why not create a path to connect them with the world. The inspirational music track helped with setting the mood and tone for a laid back but inspired voice-over. Hopefully, we added to the movement.  And so: Za'atar Road was Born 

 is the realization of Maya’s mission to improve lives. A long time in the designing, they are so thrilled they can officially launch ZR's online marketplace. With a direct link to the website you can check out the floating voice-over gizmo for Za'atar Road ...connecting Levantine farmers and artisans with North American consumers...


 

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Supply Chain issues Accent a New Atmosphere

It was a little more than a year ago that we did a voice-over for what seemed at the time to be a rather benign and not very topical - cargo container atmosphere conditioning system. 

Hadn't even a remarkable intro to captivate and engage the reader other than; Hey ever hear of Shipping..Container..

...Atmosphere control?   Who...What...

Well, today you can't hear about anything but shipping cargo containers and their fate of being adrift at sea or in line waiting at ports of entry for personnel to unload them. Last year I had described the containers the way you might spot a sea lion...randomly. Today, we've seen scores of those monster-tankers all in a row dotting the horizon like so many flattened dominoes. All of a sudden it seems, we developed supply-chain problems. Not so much with getting supplies...it's more a personnel shortage for unloading these monstrosities. 


 Guess what's in 'em? Cars, tv's, clothes and anything from abroad...including fruits & vegetables. If you want them to stay fresh they need an entirely comfortable atmosphere to survive their sometimes long journeys and currently their long wait times while in unloading queues. 

Enter Purfresh, the only company in the world that combines the ability to generate ozone for the entire duration of the ocean voyage with real-time satellite and GSM monitoring of the internal container environment.  

The Controlled Atmosphere System with ozone, delays ripening of commodities; and ozone’s chemical reduction properties make the fruit safer to eat, by reducing pesticide fungicide residue.

 

The agency is continuing with the British accent voice-over that may lend a more sophisticated edge to the copy. They gave the video its own page from that of the Home-Page opener. We had to change the landing page link for sampling the spot to: Purfresh Transport Page. Still addressing the Corona virus, now most of the concern has shifted from - how long it'll keep shipments fresh for the duration of the voyage to - while waiting in port in queue to unload.


How-it-Works: The pathogen eradicating properties of managed C02, O2 and ozone creates a controlled atmosphere that slows down decay and mold growth, further extending the retail shelf-life of fresh produce. What’s more, it also reduces the risk of contamination from harmful pathogens like e coli and corona viruses by up to 99%. 

Click New link to view video with: British Accent

 

 


On the Haunt home front, here's a little something that WWL TV (NOLA) put together about Haunted Houses adapting during the season with COVID to contend with: The Mortuary is featured on TV

 Also Scaring up some Shocking Results this Halloween Season with Terrifyingly Good Numbers in the Eardrum & Eyeball Categories are:

 




 
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Thursday, September 30, 2021

SteakBarSushi with a dash of Redd Pepper

The challenge was on. Was it possible? Could we carry it off...to sound like the Movie Trailer Guy. Hummm.                Ah, gee - which one?

A link was provided for a sound-a-like voice close to that of: Red Pepper (the voice-over artist). We've all been listening to Redd for some time now, even if we all didn't know his name. He's Mr. Bottom of the voiceover industry. And there's a special work up that needs to be done in order to reach that level...for us mere mortals anyway. A lot of cigars and bourbon might do it. Or a good session of Wolfman Jack could get us close. But, was it organic enough.

The ad agency wanted that gravitas to bill-board the shots of the founder and CEO of the successful restaurant franchise: “STEAKBARSUSHI” . The copy was chocked full of text with esoteric and inspirational phrases like: "There are many mysteries on earth...the power to surrender to obsession"

Just short of doing a scene from Patton was the idea of combo'ing the WM Jack protocol with George C. Scott... then let the throat rest. And Voila, there's your bottom! Check out how close we came to Redd with our VoiceOver mix on the link up above or right here at the BAR . You'll feel much cooler afterward and maybe a little hungry.


Another blast from the Halloween past comes from the fine folks over at Canobie Lake Park, New Hampshire. They're putting the Creepy-Guy voice to shockingly good use again this Halloween.

Coining event names like; Screeemfest & Rocktoberfest, the park puts on an entire month filled, multi event Halloween season extravaganza - chock full with epic live shows, five haunted houses, scary hotel & weirded-out village sets, tribute rock bands, a ton of state-of-the-art thrill rides, 85 attractions, Castaway Island water park and a petting zoo! Fun for the entire family. Click to play spot: Canobie Lake Park Screeemfest



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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ida..Covid and 'Inferno'...the Legend Continues....

 

ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE...
this year at The Most Haunted Mansion in the City of NOLA… The Mortuary!     Or at least that's what the latest video headline Infer'nos!

But, in the real world it's a bit worse. As hurricane Ida (a category 4 storm) comes barreling up from the Gulf Coast towards a vulnerable NOLA, already dealing with a set back from a storm of new patients flooding the hospitals from COVID-19-DELTA-VARIANT breakthrough cases. This was startin to look like a sign that things were gettin Biblical. One has to wonder how much one part of the country can take. All being accented by the fact that today marks 16 years to the date that hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. 

That we're voicing any video promotions at all, has been resting on unsteady COVID-19 guidelines that at present have just started to allow venues like the Mortuary to operate...even if barley.

The Inferno attraction is where visitors pass through the Mortuary haunted house with the effect of the house burning. We are tasked with igniting Inferno's motto: Burn..Baby...Burn. 

 

The commercials are being co-sponsored by Fanta and Barq's beverages and feature QR code interaction with discount tickets and contest platforms. So, we're pushing for a resilient city ready to snap-back to relative normal. 

Seguing into what's appearing more and more n-o-r-m-a-l these days is Stefan Nadelman's imaging credits he's chalking-up all over town. Guess who's doin the series visual effects for the - HBO/MAX series; 100 Foot Wave

And Stefan's, title sequence animator on the Tv Mini-Series; Into the Storm. Hard to figure it's going on 20 years since voicing on his Terminal Bar. But it's pretty cool seeing him in the thick of it making a name etching his technique.



Due to power outages and in general, system-wide breakdowns within NOLA, we have yet to access the completed Halloween videos. So, until we get the agency finals please allow the (below) slide-show version to feature the actual Vo and music mix audio track of the spots. Or click here on commercials to view the spots on Facebook Watch. Or here commercials for New Hampshire spots using the 'Creepy Guy' voice.

There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek goin on in these spots and hopefully not too scary for the younger people. After all, with event titles like "Santa's Psycho Asylum", it shouldn't be taken all that seriously.




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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Bourdain's AI Roadrunner does in 45 seconds what used to take a Lifetime

Inadvertently, this months BLOG focus has to do with the changing landscape of… “We interrupt this formulaic lead-in, to say - The Sheriff is Near”. Or to put it more mildly, there’s a new voice in town, and it ain’t human!!


That’s right, those-in-the-know have been sayin it for years - that any day now they’ll develop an audio program that’ll enable an audio editor or god forbid (anyone) to take a voice slice of let’s say; JE Jones, throw a splash of Tom Hanks in there with a smidgen of Pee Wee and viola, your VoiceOver is ready! Has that day arrived?

         See if you can tell the difference

 

C’mon, we didn’t expect a new sheriff till we got really old. But, after the opening of Morgan Neville’s new documentary called “Roadrunner”, about the life of Anthony Bourdain, it appears that just 45 seconds of it is drawing much of the public’s attention. It has come out that there’s a few lines of Bourdain’s voice that's AI generated. And inadvertently, with that announcement floats the Genie right outta the bottle with the advent of Realistic Voice Replication or cloning.


Morgan Neville’s new documentary on Anthony Bourdain has Neville’s use of a voice cloning software to deepfake Bourdain’s voice for a commercial documentary: Roadrunner (sparking criticism and ethical concerns). Of course these folks are concerned with the ethical aspect of automating his voice, whereas the folks in the VO biz are concerned with the days left before they have to get a real job.

Coincidence or not, there has been a flurry of chatter on social media over the last few weeks with the advertising of automated voice generating software programs. Some promising to "Create Text-to-Speech Voice-overs in just 3 Simple Steps...without Recording a Single Word". If you're old enough to remember back when the music industry had it's own technological awakening, with synthesized music replacing live performers, then being in the voice industry right now could be leaving you with that not so fresh feeling of uncertainty. 

Perhaps all is not lost... just yet, anyway. The Bourdian deepfake centered mostly on cloning Anthony's voice from hours & hours of his own voice sampling. I'm sure the bill on those 45 seconds was formidable. For what it's worth, the consensus on the text-to-voice programs are sketchy at best. And after digging and digging for any scrap of info regarding the "software company" associated with Bourdain's voice cloning, all's I could find was a company called Descript and their cloning software named Overdub. Again, they made it clear that much time is spent "training" the software to learn, so there's almost as much time being spent (at least during this initial stage) formatting and tweaking the AI voices for commercial use, as there would be to pay a human to do it manually & naturally.   

FLASH: a BLOG reader was kind enough to share a link AI gave Val Kilmer his voice back regarding the ill-fated voice of Val Kilmer and how a voice-AI algorithm has helped him communicate both personally & professionally. Val describes in detail how his voice was restored via AI after surgery for throat cancer in his new documentary "Val" now streaming on Amazon Prime.  

~ Here's Val and I at Chiller photo Op ~

 

 

On a different note entirely and catching us by surprise is MTV's 40th Anniversary. MTV turns forty tomorrow... and hey, radio didn't die. As part of their original programming MTV/Paramount produced an animated show called Celebrity DeathMatch, where we were featured regularly. 

The weekly series was a staple for wild & wacky fun between 1998 to 2007. It was a late night venture that featured a novel approach with it's use of 'Claymation' of animated celebrity figures.

Of course they needed celebrity sound-a-likes to represent those figures. In a mock-like Madison Square Garden boxing ring arena, filled with blood thirsty spectators, they'd pit celebrities duking it out (to-the-death) with two play-by-play Claymation announcers... AND a recurring referee complete with the actual voice of Mills Lane (the famous World-Boxing referee). Between two agents, I was racking up some nice credits on the show voicing the likes of: Rodney Dangerfield, Nick Nolte, Chris Tucker, Sammo Hong, Teddy Roosevelt, Emeril Lagasse, Charlton Heston and many more. The link below is to the Charlton Heston episode pitted against Russell Crowe...voted Best Celebrity DeathMatch by Celebrity Judge - Jerry Springer: It don't get much better than that!

Click to Play Celeb DeathMatch

 

Here's a Tribute to Jackie Mason addressing an issue he mighta tackled with his off-kiltered wit had he been around a little bit longer. Mr Mason passed away July 24th at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 93 years old.




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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Fibre 2 Fashion unveils TexPro with TC & Company


Tom Clifford stylizes the introduction soundtrack of: TexPro with a particular emphasis on: Technical Textiles -  A centralized market hub of Fibre 2 Fashion that gives information on raw material prices to patents and tenders within just a few clicks...to play

Not just another venue for voice-overs but a whole new world. What's the buzzword in the textile industry - Micro Fiber'ing or what might be called - delivering exactly what matters to an industry in the textile & apparel value chain. Patents & Tenders. Global stuff. International intrigue. Threads...there's a lot of threads. And only one man can safely and coherently relay that. Yet, little does anyone know that he has no working idea of what he's talking about. Is that bad! There's a political joke in there somewhere...

So, after hunkering down with the Bio-ticulars, I found that Fibre2Fashion (F2F) has for over 2 decades been carving a niche as a one-stop solution for the Textile, Apparel & Fashion industry. That's sounds a bit-of-alright, but what does it mean. Supporting the global aspect is F2F's strong global presence and widespread reach as a world leader in facilitating new business opportunities, innovative brand building solutions, market research & data intelligence and a lot more. But, can it core A-apple, oh Chef-of-the-Future! Being an important B2B trade media Fibre2Fashion is a name synonymous as ‘Knowledge Disseminators’... helping the textile, apparel and fashion industry make informed business decisions.

F2F's Global Outreach:
1. 45 Million Hits!
2. 70% Decision Makers!
3. 7,00,000 registered members
4. Successfully served Fortune 500 Clients worldwide

 

We took the position that as TexPro is a Market Intelligence tool, perhaps a lighter approach would move the text along for a more receptive voice-to-picture combo. Why not lend a little inspiration for a tool which offers an unsurpassed platform to access quantitative data with unique insights.


Whew! Now say that in English...or at least have it sound like people will understand that our client is helping businesses take strategic and calculated decisions to reduce market risks. And that has to be conveyed with words that are clear and with a tone that's approachable but not too Sheldon Cooper with the cogs & dynamics. 

That being said so-to-speak, the client proffered that we annunciation 'Patents' in true British tradition and asked that we record a pick-up. They requested that it be said the way Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany's) character did in A Knight’s Tale when he was asked to forge ‘Letter’s of Pay-tense to Nobility’. Hence, turning the lowly squire, William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) into the pedigree - Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein of Gelderland. Hey, what do we know from - The Canterbury Tales...





 

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Beirut's Inspirational Roll-Out Campaign

The fundraising copy was not the usual "Pleas For Monies" over photos of grief stricken people or videos of devastation. This was the Real Deal.  Lebanon ...where are you now and where have you come from. Well, it's been a tough couple of years on top of eighty zillion years of heritage. You just gotta sort it out and go for the gut with the delivery and tell it like it is...we're truly in need of your help.

For now the Lebanese people are more than willing, they are counting on lifting themselves up and above the depreciating effects of last years port of Beirut's massive explosion. Rebuilding not only the infrastructure of Lebanon's capital city, but the spirits and momentum of a debilitated economy hit hard with Covid shutdowns throughout 2020. Fundraising for outside financial assistance had to be a bit more urgent sounding and most important - inspirational. The advertising agency gave the spot an emotional tone. Serious times demand serious measures, kind of approach. Every word precise and inflecting a precious moment in time.

In one moment, everything stood still...
Time stopped. Dreams of our youth, parents and children ~ vanished.


In one moment ~ precious hearts failed to beat again


 

Nearly a year ago on August 4th, 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored
at the port of the city of Beirut, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths, 7,500 injuries, $15 billion in property damage and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

The blast was felt in Turkey, Syria, Israel, Palestine and parts of Europe, and was heard in Cyprus,
more than 240 km (150 mi) away. It was detected by the United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3, and is considered one of the most powerful artificial non-nuclear explosions in history.

A cargo of 2,750 tonnes of the substance (equivalent to approx. 1.1 kilotons of TNT) had been stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for the previous six years. The explosion was preceded by a fire in the same warehouse. The exact cause of the detonation is still under investigation. Despite the devastating consequences of the event, the ad agency wanted to show how the Lebanese people were inspired with the many contributions in all forms that helped alleviate their suffering. 50% of the Lebanese population live under the poverty line. So, the Lebanese people thought that it was their duty to support each other despite all their differences. Donations started coming in from all areas including colleges and even from different countries like Italy, Scotland and the US.
It's important to mention that Boehringer Ingelheim stood in solidarity with the Lebanese people and was able to provide $1.14 million in aid. With this contribution, they were able to distribute first aid, medical supplies, financial and psychological support to Lebanese families and their family's friends. 



Click above to Play "Inspiration"


 
 
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