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Posts Tagged ‘corporate media’

Hollywood’s Voiceover King is dead at age 68. For years, Don LaFontaine’s voice was instantly recognizable to moviegoers enjoying…or suffering through…the coming attractions.  Although he was a legend behind the mic, Don managed to maintain a pretty low public profile. That is, until he became a pop culture icon with his Geico auto insurance commercial…”In a WORRRLD where BOTH of their cars were comPLETEly underWATER!”

Don had a way of making the dumbest Hollywood kak seem epic.  Guys like him make it look easy, which I’m sure is its own special kind of burden, as writers and producers come to depend on him to “bring the magic” to elevate mediocre material.

Sadly, Hollywood isn’t the only place that happens. The world of corporate/ industrial/in-house video production is another place where the VO artist is regularly called upon to rescue a bad script.

I have said before that suffering through bad industrial scripts was the reason I became a writer. Specifically, it was sitting in the sound booth listening to seasoned pros sputter and choke on 57-word sentences of technobabble copy/pasted from user manuals. Take after miserable take, I fantasized about how great it would be to use voice talent like this to make a good script better, rather than make a piece of crap barely tolerable.

The best voiceover artists, or performers in general, will tell you that a great performance starts with a great script.  Providing that firm foundation was my goal when I first picked up the pen, and it was the commitment I made to my VO guys (and gals!)

Besides, “in a WORRRLD where VOICE guys make five HUNDRED dollars an HOUR,” I prefer not to do rewrites in the sound booth.

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I hope all those ITVA/MCAI’ers who I roused yesterday came back for another visit today. I have been meaning to do this for a while.

It was about six months ago that GG told me that Gerry Hagner had passed away from Hodgkin’s disease. Gerry was a video entrepreneur, a philanthropist and, judging by his YEARS of involvement in ITVA/MCAI, something of a masochist as well. He served in every board position at least once and opened his home numerous times for board meetings, chapter meetings and summer socials. Long after the Civil War I mentioned yesterday, when the rest of us had moved on, when the Cincinnati chapter had dissolved and melded into the Dayton chapter, Gerry continued to serve.

Gerry was a lovable nerd with a level head, the superego to our raging ids (and yes, I am referring to all those battles over serving beer at our socials!) He was always the one taking care of the details while the rest of us chilled.  He was so behind the scenes that I am not surprised to find that the only photo I have is from his monthly column in the newsletter. Gerry was never one to leap in front of the camera with a lampshade on his head. He left that to ALL THE REST OF US.

If you have a nice Gerry anecdote to share, spill it here.  Here’s mine: When I quit my cushy but stifling corporate gig and went freelance, times were tough.  It was post-9/11, the economy was crap, and the awesome gigs I was promised if I went freelance did not materialize.  Gerry knew about my situation and gave me a “gig.”  A nothing little writing assignment, helping him put together a promo piece for his business. It was unspoken, but entirely obvious, that he wasn’t going to use this script. I think I invoiced $100 for it, maybe $125. It meant almost nothing to my checkbook, but it was totally a morale-booster.

By the way, Gerry’s wife is selling all of his gear. Some of it is strictly museum pieces, but much of it is modern stuff at good prices.

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Typical ITVA Conference Badge

There once was a communication trade group called ITVA. Long ago, that stood for Industrial TV Association, and then International TV Association, I think. I’m not sure because the name was never really that important. (Are you sensing a branding nightmare? Yeah, we’ll get to that.) It was a trade group for people like me (at the time) who worked in corporate communication departments making training videos and never seeing the sun except in exterior shots. The ITVA did all the trade-groupy things like monthly meetings, electing boards, and having annual blowout drunk-fests in far-off cities. It was a cool hang and, as long as your company was paying the $450 annual membership, everything was groovy.

But things changed, as they always do. I know I aged 10 years in the time I was active, and so did everybody else. Things like vitality and new blood became less important. And our chapter evolved from a networking group of young people trying to make connections into a social club more concerned about the refreshments being served. As the average age continued to skew older, the national office lurched into “action.” In a delicate situation that required lots of tact, they displayed precisely none, and civil war broke out. They said (quite rightly) that to remain vital, we can’t be the “video dude” club anymore. And many people found themselves on the Status Quo side, largely in response to the ham-fisted actions of the national office. We said, if the Teamsters can have a horse and a wagon-wheel as their logo, then we can be the ITVA!

Anyway, it became a race between re-branding and irrelevance that, somehow, achieved both. The ITVA became the MCA-I, the Media Communications Association International. It wisely attempted to incorporate all the elements of communication that weren’t video, like print, web and multimedia, but had no idea (as of 2002, anyway) how to do it.

It’s been years since I attended a meeting, even longer since I was on the local board. So I have to ask…do organizations like this even have a place anymore? Or do forums and chatrooms fulfill the same purpose? What do you think?

Update: Old Cincinnati hands were aghast that the Flying Pig was not on the name badge. So, take your pigs and stick them!

mmm...pork!

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