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Team 7 wins the mega Team Challenge for creating and voicing a commercial spot at the VO Atlanta 2016 conference this past weekend.

'VO Atlanta 2016' Elevates Voice Actors
- And Itself - In Excellent 4th Conference

March 6, 2016

By John Florian
Story and Photos / VoiceOverXtra

The conference theme this past weekend was "Elevate to Excellence" - in voice over, business and marketing skills - and that indeed was the experience for over 400 in-person attendees of VO Atlanta 2016 ... and likely for hundreds more who joined the event via the Internet in over 10 hours of live streaming of many conference sessions and musical performances.

This fourth annual affair presented by Voiceovercity and executive producer Gerald Griffith (pictured) was itself elevated to premier conference status, becoming the industry's largest annual conference, drawing attendees - and voice over accents - from across North and Latin America, Europe and Japan.

It was, and is, a conference with a heart, beating with a pulse of a community that shares knowledge, friendship and enthusiasm for the success of all. The event hosted a scholarship program in memory of a voice actor no longer with us, and even sponsored an on-site blood drive.

And in a welcome distance from the rancorous tone of today's political campaigns, controversy over certain practices of online casting was addressed as a matter of business, not in personal attacks. "It was not about ranting, but rather about reconciliation - a healing and moving forward," explained J. Michael Collins, moderator of two panels on online casting.


From Thursday night's opening reception hosted by VoiceZam's Bob Merkel to Edge Studio's Saturday night audition workout with David Goldberg and the Sunday morning wrap-up, there was little time for anything at this event but networking, learning and interactive experiences.

Much was recorded and live-streamed by the tireless audio-video team of 'Uncle Roy' Yokelson, Kerri Donovan, Cam Cornelius and Trey Thomas Murphy.

  • The Friday and Saturday schedules ran major-theme panel discussions simultaneously with smaller breakout classes and optional X-session training in voice acting and business skills.
  • Friday morning's keynote address by top Hollywood VO Bill Ratner included this tip: preparation for auditions involves studying demos on and other sources to learn and copy the rhythm and characteristics the client is seeking in that job. He added that demos should begin with "your very best."
  • In addition to Bill Ratner, Hollywood's VO talent drain to the Atlanta conference included VO stars Joe Cipriano, Rodney Saulsberry, Beau Stephenson, Everett Oliver, Marc Graue, Scott Brick and David Kaye.
  • Two panels diplomatically moderated by J. Michael Collins addressed opportunities and experiences with voice over online casting and the controversial business move by to insert personal managers between voice talents and clients. Concerns were over transparency of the middle-man cost (apparently 50% or more of the voice over fee) and ownership of the voice over by, which could put voice actors at risk later when voicing a competitor's spot and the original spot runs again. Also represented in discussions were Realtime Casting, Bodalgo and Voice123.
  • A Team Challenge led by 'Uncle Roy Yokelson and Cliff Zellman (pictured) fielded 156 entries and 10 teams of voice actors who competed in writing and voicing a script for a local auto dealer (see top photo). The auto dealer chose Team 7 as the ultimate winner: Krista Anderson, Vivienne Brown, Stacey Glemboski, Leon Nixon, Steve Porter and Garrick Young.
  • A two-day Spanish VO program led by Simone Fojgiel and other Spanish language VO pros drew more than 40 attendees from many countries - a doubling of that attendance from the previous years.
  • Youth Day conducted by David Rosenthal and Christina Milizia brought youngsters to the mic for training and communications skills they'll use in life - and to be sure, many are already working professional voice actors.
  • Tireless Anne Ganguzza was both Conference Host - interviewing more than 40 presenters, VIPs and attendees - and the Lead Panel Moderator, leading three panels, plus appearing on a panel discussing online casting. Much of this was recorded and also streamed live to remote attendees.
  • Attendees auditioned for agents and casting directors.
  • Early risers jumped and sweated in morning Zumba sessions.
  • Captivating music was presented nightly by VO/coach Joe Loesch (pictured) and his rockin' Road Crew band; VO talent/coach Rodney Saulsberry in a rousing performance; and VO/jazz vocalist Nazia Chaudhry.
  • The VO Atlanta 2016 Scholarship Program, created, organized and conducted by Anne Ganguzza's VO Peeps organization, awarded two scholarships to the conference - including travel allowance and accommodations. The National Scholarship - the Carol Joy Memorial Scholarship - was awarded to David Toback. And Sean Daeley traveled from Japan as the International Scholarship winner.
  • An exhibit area featured voice over services and gear (and congratulations to VO Margo Trueblood, winner of VoiceOverXtra's drawing for either a Voice Actor Hat or future webinar - she already has a hat so chose the webinar).
  • Dozens of VOs lined up on Saturday night for the opportunity to join Edge Studio's David Goldberg onstage in an audition workout - and congratulations to any who made it beyond four words before hearing "Stop." Afterwards, Goldberg said the main challenge for voice actors is to think about a script from the client's perspective.

In Sunday morning's wrap session, Goldberg (pictured) challenged voice actors to remain relevant in the ever-evolving voice over industry.

"One way to stay on top of this evolving industry is to understand and predict trends." he said. "It's easy to become complacent. Maybe because you're not busy, and therefore lose focus, drive, and determination. Or maybe because you are busy, and end up working in your business but never on your business."

Emceeing the last event of the conference, executive producer Gerald Griffith also challenged attendees: to "Take the next step.

"This weekend we got a whole bunch of seeds. Now it's up to you to build on connections you made and grow," he said.

Griffith added he was "blessed with a great conference team. I opened the curtain and they shined."

He thanked all staff members and volunteers, and especially singled out assistant producer Ron Minatrea and his wife Susan (both pictured), who led the team of "ambassador" volunteers.

"I could not have done this conference without their support," Griffith said of the Minatreas.

Susan Minatrea added: "We have found a family here. People who care about each other."

And a standing ovation was given to the ever cool, calm Griffith who founded and has nurtured this growing annual VO family gathering.
John Florian is a voice actor and publisher of VoiceOverXtra, the voice over industry's online news, training and resource center. A former print publishing executive and magazine editorial director, he founded VoiceOverXtra in 2007, which today offers the voice over community industry news, how-to features, online and workshop training, the Voice Over Legal guide, and an ever-growing online resource center of articles and links. In 2013, he produced Voice Over Virtual, a major online industry conference.


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Comments (8)
Kara Andrew
3/12/2016 at 8:49 PM
Thank you for the thorough descriptions of events, discussions and experiences. I was sorry to miss in person but streamed online from LA. I hope to meet my VO colleagues soon! Thanks again.
Debbie Irwin
3/9/2016 at 11:02 PM
Thank you for the highlights!! Now I feel like I was there!
Great group of people. Bravo!!
Rosi Amador
3/8/2016 at 7:01 PM
Thanks so much John! It's always a great day when I get to visit for a bit with my VO guardian angel! I really enjoyed the conference, particularly the Spanish VO 2 day program that our fantastic colleague Simone Fojgiel put together for us. It was unbelievable. I returned with so many great ideas to put into place on how to stay relevant in my VO career and how to improve my performance in both Spanish and English!
jill goldman
3/8/2016 at 11:50 AM
it was a fabulous conference! thanks for the wrap-up, john! and so nice to finally meet you!
Ronni Moorehead
3/7/2016 at 2:09 PM
Thanks for your commentary, John. I was there and it was a pleasure meeting you. You and all the participating contributors were very dedicated and willing to provide information, assistance and encouragement. It was well worth the investment of time and resources. Continued success to you and all.

Ronni Moorehead Sr.
3/7/2016 at 10:59 AM
Thank you, John, for accurately and skillfully articulating the event and causing us to know and remember the value we received by joining this exceptional family! It was fun also, to visit with you again!
Maria Makis
3/7/2016 at 9:28 AM
Thank you John. This is a spot on article -- you captured the essence and appeal of this wondrous event.
Lauren Hudson
3/7/2016 at 8:32 AM
Thanks John for this article. You truly helped capture the essence of this Extra-Wonderful event.
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