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The voice behind your explainer video (Interview)

9th July | No Comments

This is the 9th interview in a series called the Startup Videos Interviews. Today we're bringing you an interview of Greg Tomlin from Tomlin Media the voice behind basically 90% of all the trendy explainer videos you can find on the web (including a good chunk on startup-videos.com).

Let’s start with an introduction. What is your background and what do you do?

I’m a full-time voice-over artist, music composer, and sound designer, living in the Seattle area. I have a degree in Communications from Whitworth University.

How did it all started with you getting into the voice over business?

I kinda forced my way into the industry and annoyed studios and production houses so much with emails and phone calls that some of them eventually gave me a shot.

What did you use to do before recording voices?

I worked in radio as a producer for many years on one of the top talk shows in the country. It was a great experience and definitely helped me launch into the world of voice-over.

Can you tell us about your typical creative/production process? How do you prepare for a voice?

I’ll read the script a few times through to get a feel for the tone. I don’t want to overthink it too much because I’ll drive myself crazy realizing there’s 6,000 different ways to deliver any given sentence. i.e. “This is Bob”, “THIS is Bob”, “this IS Bob”, and so on. After that I’ll hit record and let the chips fall where they may. Bottom line, if I hear it back and I’m not captivated, I have failed. So, I’ll re-record until I get a take I’m truly proud of, or splice and edit as needed.

What’s your typical setup - hardware/software?

iMac, M-Audio ProFire 610, Yamaha speakers, and a Perception mic.

Do you record the voice in a studio? From home?

Studio at home. Biggest challenge is getting my 1-year-old not to talk during takes. I’m sure there are some VOs of mine out there where you can hear her screaming to use the iPad.

What are you favorite sources of inspiration?
Gandhi, Jesus, and Tom Selleck. Wait..... voice-over inspiration? Not sure, though I do listen to a ton of artists on a regular basis and get inspired to keep challenging myself and my range.

What are your favorite videos you’ve worked on so far?

A project for Intel called “Trusted Execution Technology”. No, it’s not sexy, but the animation is rad and I feel like my voice-over made a cloud-based service sound exciting. Also, I really enjoyed a project called “How to Foolproof Your Budget”. The studio gave me free reign to have fun with then voice-over and I took some creative liberties here and there. Anytime there’s a script that has a little humor in it and you get the go-ahead to mess around a bit, it’s a blast.

How many videos do you typically record in a week?

There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week.... so......3,458. I’ll record as many as I get in I guess. The more the merrier.

How many takes does it usually take you to record a perfect voice?
One and done! No, that’s not true. It all depends on the script, how my voice is feeling that day, and how I feel after I listen to a take or two. Sometimes I’ll nail it right out of the gate, most times not.

If you had tips for startuppers that are trying to record a good voice over on their own, what would that be?
Consider hiring out talent. There's a lot of great voices out there from people who are doing this full-time and will provide a killer product. TomlinMedia.com is a good place to start. hah.

How many startup videos have you put your voice on?
Probably around 200 at this point.

Do you like tech stuff in general? What’s your favourite startups at the moment?
I’m definitely a guy that waits around till everyone’s using a tech service or product and then I’ll jump on the bandwagon if I think it’s useful. That being said, I think startups Wavii and Gumroad look pretty sweet.

If you had the choice, what company or client would you like to make a video for?

I’d love to do something for Apple. If I could ever have my voice featured in a Wes Anderson movie, that’d be a dream come true. My daughter would be thrilled if I could get my voice on Yo Gabba Gabba.

Do you only do explainer videos like this or do you work on other TV or radio projects?

I do a lot of voice-over work outside of explainer videos as well. Radio and TV ads are fun and I can be a bit more over-the-top with them sometimes. I just did a VO for ESPN radio where i practically shouted at people to “BUY A SKI-DOO TODAY!” Not sure if my plee worked or not. But, have you seen the latest Ski-Doo models? You really should buy now!

The questions you’d like us to ask you?
Where’s the bathroom? It looks like you really gotta go.

Any other news? Projects you're working on? Plans for the next few months?
Always working on a few projects here and there. Can’t complain. Plan for the next few months is just to expand the client list and try to sound more and more like Bobcat Goldthwait with each new voice-over.

Some of our favorite videos from Greg at Tomlin Media:


About the author

Yann Lhomme is the co-founder of Thinkmojo, a creative agency helping cool startups explain their products and services with neat, engaging videos. You can find him on Twitter (@californyann).

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