This We’ll Defend

Warm Welcome to Esteemed Guest, Staff Sgt. Joshua Tucker.

MHV:

We appreciate your incredible commitment to our country! Thank you for your service.

What does your broadcasting look like for the Army?

 

Joshua:

“So as an Army broadcaster, I’m trained to make news stories and spots just like a broadcast journalist. Though my training is conducted in about 3 months instead of 4 years. I learned both TV and radio. I just moved from Camp Humphreys, Korea. There I worked at American Forces Network (AFN). I was in charge of the radio section. I am a Staff Sergeant.

The other side of my job is public relations. If something were to happen on base that was a story and journalist need access to the base and to interview people. We would advise the commander or spokesperson on how to talk to the press and we escort the media onto base and handle them. By that I mean we make sure we accommodate them as best we can while still making sure they don’t break the rules and go place they aren’t allowed.”

What is your daily routine to maintain your voice?

Lip trills are my to go daily vocal warmup! To stay in good vocal health, I run scales, hum or sing. Hydration is key! I drink a lot of food: smoothies, hot water with lemon, soup or broth. In the booth, I rely Pedialyte to bring fluidity to my flow and pack a green apple to eliminate mouth noise.

I heard dry mouth in your recordings. If you bite into an apple, the acidity will separate your soft tissue from your teeth and the smacking sounds will vanish. Pedialyte has less sugar than Gatorade and the electrolytes replenish the moisture we lose in our mouths as we talk without as many restroom runs! I remember I stopped by Ralph’s to grab Pedialyte for my first vo gig (Hyundai). Bates USA sent a ton of copy and I knew I would need to give my body more than water to avoid added stress and nervousness can cause the glands in the mouth that make saliva to not work properly.

How do you practice?

  • Reading out loud is critical. I force myself to read the copy 10 times. I try to read the material differently each pass to find the treasure. It’s easy get into speech patterns and for vocal variety, I work against getting stuck with no choices. I don’t the work general and work in beats. I approach each section with new intentions for retention. People stop listening if they think they have heard you. If I am flexible and know how to keep them hooked, they will give me more time or just hear me out.
  • In the vo mines, I select words to emphasize: pronouns, verbs, brand or circle words that trip me up. I put the name of who I am talking to at the top and separate beats with horizontal lines I draw across page. Seeing the physical transitions encourages me to handle my word map with more precision. I can turn the copy easier if I understand what points I need to get across. Familiarity facilitates ease. Once I have a good handle on it, or to find clarity lacking, I record the piece on my iPhone (in voice notes and can see how long it took me to say it). I get it up on it’s feet. I listen to playbacks on a quick walk with Nellie (my dog daughter) or I’ll listen as I put on my makeup then pipe it through bluetooth en route to studio. The secondary activity distracts me from getting in a rut. I say it with myself and hear how I sound. I find what I like and what I want to do another way. After I have pulled it apart, I put it all together much like when you’re baking. Each layer is another ingredient that makes the read yummy. All your mixes create chemistry and make you agile at taking direction (known as ‘adjustments’ – being able to do what they say in an organic way will make your clients keep coming back to you for more).
  • I like to bring my laptop with me and have the Vimeo (video) cued up if I am recording pick-ups for quick access. It is my job to match therefore never assume the engineer has reference for me (even if links provided). Rehearsing the scratch is a short cut for me because the editor or producer who recorded it leaves me clues to how to put it together. I copy their delivery with my voice (this is also called a line read). I love working this way because I get them exactly what they want without the guesswork — ‘finding the girl.’
  • I check to see the time code (how long I have to say it). I see exactly how long a paragraph will take. Eyeballing it shows me if the script is over written thus offering phrasing clues. I look for media (medium). Is it radio or tv? Then usage. Is this a national or regional project? I don’t him or haw over it, these are ‘flash of a thought’ practical ways to expedite my process. Prep respects my craft and helps me not rip myself off.
  • I am a big believer in printing out the copy and marking up the script. Similar to sight reading music, I pencil in breaths and circle them. Sometimes a sentence will not be on the same page. In the past, I would write in the missing words, now I cut and tape (or staple) the words together. I find this incredibly useful if I have pages of tags. Clipping one lone tag off the top of page and sticking it to the bottom or top of another eliminates page turns and I maintain my rhythm. Some talent simply drop the paper from the stand when they are done.
  • I lift my ribs off my lungs, raise my soft palette and throw my voice to activate my resonating chamber. I developed my head voice (falsetto for me) and built that end of my range. I speak from the front mask of my face and stay off my cords (chest voice) unless I am working to avoid depleting my supply. I stay off my phone if I can help it. Vocal rest is key. Think about it, you only have so much muscle and strength. If you give that up on the phone, you diminish your capacity. It is similar to a pitcher who protects their arm.

ls there a website that has current TV commercials?  I don’t have TV right now so I’ve been listening to local radio and none of those spots really do anything for me.  

MHV:

Phenomenal question! Google campaigns or watch commercials on iSpotTV, YouTube or Hulu. Earlier today, an advertiser sent me links using both outlets. For the audition, he referenced Bradley Cooper’s VO on this commercial (for a guide). “Maybe try one of each!” he said.

The adman called this attitude. It’s interesting, I find this read as hard or tough. Interpretation is the trickiest part of my job. People have different definitions of the same word that could conflict. I understand what you mean when you mentioned the radio commercials were not doing it for you. Radio spots are tough. They are a whole different animal with quirks. I will help you decipher their oddities to equip you!

MHV: 

Do you read out loud daily?

Do you have recommendations as what to read?

Try to read something you would normally not read. If you give yourself something foreign or unusual chances are you will encounter words you don’t say often, it will stretch you. Reading out loud daily for five minutes will give you confidence. You can cold read with ease and few mistakes. The newspaper is a good go to or grab a book at the library. I am reading the biography of Abigail Adams at the moment. The point is to be uncomfortable and fascinated.  Voice over’s pay us to say random words such as cosmeticutical (cosmetics/pharmaceutical mash-up) that don’t come up in normal conversation. A lot of good voice actors are solid readers. It can seem basic or ridiculous but when you don’t get up to the mic daily, you become rusty. Even the best actors are not sharp if they are not conditioned and reading really fixes this. Start in the morning and make it your routine. I cannot tell you how much this common practice will bring strength to your reads. I notice an enormous difference in my personal ability when I am undisciplined and neglect to stay on top of my daily reading. It is another exercise like cardio that is extremely beneficial. A talented actor gets rusty if they are not actively pursuing the work. Maintenance is vital to vibrant Voice Over.

MHV:  

How often do you exercise (cardio)?

I try to do a cardio workout at least 3 times a week.

Please do me a favor. Try walking and talking. I noticed in your demo, your breath support could be stronger. Cardio will cure most of that. When huge singers go on tour, they train. Similarly, you need that stamina especially in voice overs. Narration is brutal due to the length of time your are speaking. Commercials are intense due to the energy required that comes in bursts. A narration is a marathon and commercials are sprints.

   noun  he·ro \ ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\

MHV:

I intentionally sent you practice copy requesting a FEMALE in the breakdown to illustrate the common gender blind casting in VO. I have always booked acting or VO work intended for men.

I think you mean that the copy may say one thing, but you could do something it doesn’t say & they will like it.

Yes! That is exactly what I am referring to. The breakdown tells you what casting directors are looking for. The spec’s are simply an outline. Your task is to make the skeleton breathe. The point is, they don’t know what they want. Never allow their ignorance to limit you! Who knows, they could hear you and say, ‘he did it!”  Your read made them forget they originally thought they wanted a gal if you turn them around.

To all the men and women stationed at Fort Bragg alongside Staff Sgt. Joshua Tucker or beyond bases, we salute you! May our convo serve those reading along! Follow Mr. Tucker on Twitter & Hear Joshua’s work here!

 

Break a Lip,

 

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P.S. HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

P.P.S. *files under TMI* I mean, basic training *twirls sparkler*

 

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