Recording My First Commercial

Saturday night, when I walked out of the theater after seeing “Avenue Q,” I had a message on my phone.  It was from one of my colleagues at City Opera telling me to call him immediately.  The message was an hour old, but I called back as I walked through Times Square.  My friend asked me if I wanted to make some good money for a little bit of work.  Of course that sounded horrible, but since he was a friend I said I would try and make it work.

I dug through my coat for a pen and scribbled down a date, a time, a name, and a phone number on my “Avenue Q” program as I knelt in the middle of the Times Square sidewalk, to the annoyance of the other pedestrians.  I was told to call the number in the morning and we could work out the details then.  All I knew was that it was a new commercial for J.G. Wentworth and they needed a tenor.

A quick trip to youtube when I got home revealed this ad, so I had some idea of what I was in for.  I called in the morning and they asked me to come in Tuesday.  I mentioned that I was supposed to be flying to Vermont, and they very kindly switched my time to Monday so I could still go home for a few days.  I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited!

On Monday I took a bus out to New Jersey and walked into the voice-over studio ready to go.  The actors had already filmed their scenes and it was my job to sing over them, making sure my voice matched what their lips were saying.  Luckily the actors had done a great job of over-pronouncing their lines and it was pretty easy to match up the sound to the video.  We did a few takes of every line to be sure that at least one would be great, and sometimes I even had to sing over myself, as I played three different characters in the commercial and sometimes they all sang together.  My characters were: guy in the shower, mechanic, and new dad at the hospital.  I tried to change my voice a little for each one, although it’s sometimes hard to do that when you are trying to also sing well.

The whole thing took about an hour and when it was done I was dropped off at the bus station again for my trip back to the city.  They told me the commercial could start airing in as little as two or three weeks, and when it does, and I can find it online, I will certainly let you know.  Until then, I’ll just blog about other stuff.

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  1. I just saw the Wentworth bus commercial (which I loved), and I was wondering if these were actors or real opera singers. Reading about how these ads are made is fascinating. The actors did a great job, and for a good reason. I have noticed that when an ordinary person like me tries to sing, the mouth is open to a normal speaking configuration. I have noticed, however that trained singers open their mouths extraordinarily (and I would say painfully or at least uncomfortably) wide. These actors did the wide configuration. I presume they were coached to do this so that they would look like real singers. Two questions: when the actors did that, were they actually singing to whatever degree they could? Also, was it actually filmed on a moving bus? The background looked quite realistic.

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