Category Archives: Airlift Industrial & Documentary Work

If You Knew Pomona Like I Know Pomona…

Naples, Italy statue to the Roman Goddess Pomona

(To be sung) As the old tune goes, … “She’s Oh, Oh, Oh what a gal!”

Pomona may be just another street to neighbors & friends here just outside New Orleans, but to me it’s a lot, lot more.

After flooding at the Iberville Street Airlift Productions location TWICE through my 1989 – 2001 stay, just off Carrollton & Canal, I re-located the whole biz to suburban Metairie well outside the ‘bowl’ that is Orleans parish in March 2001.

Pomona sits on Metairie ridge, naturally above the flood plain and, ironically, not even a mile from the now-infamous 17th Street Canal which breached and gave America the historical tragedy known as “Katrina”.

Airlift Mike & trusty mascot The Shadeaux

Furthermore, the Bonnabel subdivision here in Metairie seems somewhat preoccupied with the Holy (or otherwise) Roman Empire.

Really.

I routinely walk my Airlift Productions mascot the Shadeaux past streets named “Nero”, “Claudius”, and “Feronia”. Go figure.

Punchline?

Rome’s mythological muse & sweetheart Pomona

Well, unbeknownst to most of my neighbors and friends here in the ‘hood, Pomona is the ancient Roman mythological goddess of fruitful abundance! 

Not that she gets that much attention here in this hectic, frantic-paced #MeToo generation, but check out her Wikipedia page here.

Living, loving, playing, and, yes, working from Pomona for what is now over 18 years, and having found a success beyond my wildest dreams, I’d have to say that perhaps the Romans were onto something here.

Fruitful abundance?

Airlift Productions Pomona Game Room, right next to the studio doors

Well, lemme see here, through my tour of duty on Pomona, I’ve seen in/out the studio doors… Chef John Besh, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Dr. Morgus (the Magnificent), Ronnie Lamarque, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Steve Scalise, Deuce McAllister, Quvenzhane Wallis, Alden Ehrenreich, Toby Kebbell, Morris Bart, Lee Zurik, Greg DiLeo, Rich Lenz, Norman Robinson, Rachel Wulff, Camille Whitworth, Heath Allen, “Miss Linda” Mintz, Theresa Andersson, Stacy Head, John “Spud” McConnell, Edoardo Ballerini, Ed Clancy, Jamie Neumann, Scott Walker, the Krewe of Nyx, Bradley Edelman, Anne Gisleson, David Menasche, Mike Church, Nathan Ales, P.H. Fred, John R. Lee, and, well, even some folks you may have heard of.  (I know, cheeky, huh? But try Googling just a few of these names…)

And from the high ground on Pomona, I’ve produced work that encompasses most all media – from Radio spots, TV VoiceOvers, Educational Software, Radio Imaging, Animation VO, Website Explainers, Industrial Narrations & Podcasts… to Phone Messages-on-Hold, CD-ROMs, and AudioBooks.

Furthermore, I’ve been blessed to have my AudioBook recording efforts include work with the biggest AudioBook producers on Earth – Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Blackstone, Harper, Listen-Up & Random House.

Rubens’ artwork depicting Pomona displaying her, well, uh, “fruits”

So, while I indeed thank the One True Living God for the inspiration and effort to have made the move to Pomona all those years ago… let’s not leave the old gal herself out.

For all dat voodoo that you do… Thanks, Pomona!

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Airlift Productions – we’ll leave the mics hot… and the light on for you.

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984.

Airlift Productions: A Life Lived In The Hurricane’s Eye

AirliftProductionsInTheHurricanesEyeThe National Weather Service defines the “Eye” as the region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones.

Metaphorically, the ever-changing media & technology would be the tropical cyclones/hurricanes, and  Airlift Productions & I would be the ones who have for over thirty years resided… calmly, persistent & steady, in the hurricane’s eye.

Airlift Productions New Orleans Logo Re-boot 2012 by Ethan Anderson
The Airlift Productions logo, conceived & trademarked in 1984, and re-imagined for the 21st century

In 1984, the needs of my first full-time client – WGNO-TV/Tribune Broadcasting – gave birth to the Airlift Productions Studios. That very year Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office, the compact disc was brand new, and top-rated  CBS affiliates WWL-TV WWL radio here in New Orleans were owned by Loyola University (“World Wide Loyola”) and… the Catholic Church.

From the changing complexion of the White House to digital music distribution (and piracy), TV/radio deregulation and consolidation,  and from Loyola’s WWL ownership to Gannett, Tegna & Entercom … my, how the media and technological winds have blown!

Meanwhile, through all the changes and through all the years, Airlift Productions and I have resided calmly and ever-persistent in the Hurricane’s Eye.

A recent Search Engine request for just two words “Airlift Productions” yielded the most remarkable result – in the Images section was an internet-search-generated montage of a Life lived in the Hurricane’s Eye…

Bing Search Engine “Airlift Productions” Image Montage 2019

There was every studio I’d ever built – from the closet at Rock Creek Apartments to Iberville to Pomona.  There was Norman Robinson, Rich Lenz, Heath Allen, Deuce McAllister, Congressman Steve Scalise, Dr. Morgus, Rachel Wulff, Jamie Neumann, Sean O’Shea, Sister Thecla, even studio mascot The Shadeaux, the studio’s stained glass window and game room!

From radio commercials, TV voice-overs, music projects & audio books, to educational software, industrial training & safety videos,  from cathode ray tubes to flat screens and broadcast to podcast – the Airlift Studios & I have shifted and tacked into the winds of change … while remaining calm & steady in the Hurricane’s Eye.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence & Determination alone are omnipotent.” ~ Coolidge/Ziants

                   *** Micheal Ziants AUDIO BOOK Demo ***

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Airlift Productions proprietor Micheal Ziants putting in another day at the office ~ along with studio mascot ‘The Shadeaux’

And the winds continue to blow! My grandfather John was born before the radio, my father Charlie was born before the television, and I was born before the internet & digital.

What’s next?

Well, whatever it is, you can rest assured that Airlift Productions and I will be there … in the Hurricane’s Eye.

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Airlift’s Micheal Ziants (Right) with actor Joe Renier, On-Camera with TLW Productions for Seacor Marine … deep in the Gulf of Mexico

“We’ve worked with Mike for almost 15 years, both as voice over and on-camera talent in more than 50 films.  Not only is he a great guy and a super talent,  but he has the coolest recording studio in the South.” ~ TIM WESTON, President TLW Productions, NOLA 

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

… we’ll leave the light on for you.

New Orleans TV News Drops Anchor(s) at Airlift Productions

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(L-R) Airlift’s Micheal Ziants, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen, Rich Lenz at the WDSU-TV Studios for the CMN Telethon

Norman Robinson. Lee Zurik. Camille Whitworth. Rich Lenz. Heath Allen. Rachel Wulff.

Round up the usual suspects.

I have –  to record various voice-over projects here in New Orleans at Airlift Productions.

I first met and recorded Norman Robinson in 1991. He was fresh back in NOLA from the White House CBS-TV Network news beat, and was the newly-ordained anchor man at our WDSU.

Little did we then realize, or even think about future days, but the fact is, 28 years later, we’re still at it!

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Anchor man NORMAN ROBINSON brushing-up his VoiceOver skills at Airlift Productions NOLA

Our most recent project? Recording and compiling every electronic message for every streetcar and bus – even the ferries – in the city of New Orleans.

“Senior citizens ride the bus for only 40 cents”… “Please look around you for any personal items you may have left behind before exiting the vehicle/next stop, Canal Street.”

NORTA – the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority – tagged Norman and me to record well over 1,500 wav files for use in their system citywide.

** Norman narrates NORTA’s ‘Go Mobile’ App Tutorial **

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L-R, Heath Allen, Theresa Andersson, Micheal Ziants, Rich Lenz – during a break from the original HEALING HOUSE sessions, Airlift Productions 2004

Rich Lenz now calls  Tulsa, OK home, a gone pecan from NOLA for over ten years now (gee, Thanks, Katrina), but he served for 16 years as sports director/anchor at WDSU.

Richie and I’ve recorded countless tunes together, including epic anthems to herald the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon fund-raising year-after-year to benefit and support our Children’s Hospital’s life saving efforts for our kids.

** the 1st, of many, Telethon Tunes for Children’s Hospital **

Rachel Wulff records her VoiceOver Demo at Airlift Productions NOLA

After meeting WWL/WDSU anchor gal Rachel Wulff around the aisles of our local Lowe’s Home Improvement store, I helped Rachel improve her post-anchor life and UP her game by producing a VoiceOver demo for her.

Very nice.

** Rachel’s VO Demo, with her daughter’s cutesy intro **

Fox-8/WVUE’s solid anchor dude – and award-winning investigative reporter – Lee Zurik and I work together on projects for video ace Paul Atkinson.

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Airlift Mike, Lee Zurik, Paul Atkinson – “Glory Days” sessions

The latest project? VoiceOver for “Glory Days”, an homage to the passions and victories of Newman High School’s football program.

As it turns out, Lee was on the same team at Newman with a local boy-made-good you may have heard of – the NFL’s Peyton Manning.

** Lee Zurik narrates “Glory Days” with Airlift Mike **

Man, that must’ve been some wild locker room, huh?

L-R. Micheal Ziants, Heath Allen, Rich Lenz, Brian Landry, making music at Airlift Productions NOLA

The Airlift Productions studio doors are always open to Heath Allen, veteran reporter for decades at WDSU.  Heath carved-out his reputation in the early days all over Baton Rouge TV.

His compassionate, and knowledgeable in-the-field reporting is always incisive and spot-on. And he picks quite a guitar, at that.

2019 continues to see local NOLA news veteran Camille Whitworth drop by from time to time for various VO commercial and industrial projects.

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Camille Whitworth sets the VO mood at Airlift Productions NOLA

Camille dedicated years to  the anchor chair at WDSU, and today fills her days public speaking, doing on-camera work for our East Jefferson Hospital, and recording various VoiceOver projects for clients in and around NOLA.

Dependable, personable, and experienced, Camille is always fun to have around the Airlift Studios.

There is simply no reason or need for news anchors to walk away from their skills & finely-honed talents when they walk away from the nightly news anchor desk.

Norman, Rich, Heath, Rachel, Lee & Camille are all exceptionally fine and experienced talents with, as the expression goes, ‘ a lot of good miles left on their tires’.

It has also been said, and rightly so, that journalism, as well as the nightly news, is ‘History – the first draft’.

I am so gratified – and humbled – that these remarkable ladies and gentlemen have all chosen to work with me and Airlift Productions to write new chapters.

And, as Paul Harvey used to intone, tell ‘the rest of the story’.

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Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants shoulder-to-shoulder with JAMES CARVILLE at the Airlift Studios

“I’ve been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike that there is no better place than Airlift Productions. The quality of the production, the studio, and frankly the comfort make it the only place I want to record now or in the future”— JAMES CARVILLE, Political commentator, Tulane professor & Campaign Strategist behind the most dramatic political victories of our generation

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Airlift Productions – where the warmth of analogue lives. And the lightning speed of digital delivers.

Airlift Mike, Sportsman’s Paradise Outcast, Rebel

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Veteran New Orleans Voice Talent Micheal Ziants with trusty sidekick & mascot The Shadeaux

Although I live in Louisiana, the Sportsman’s Paradise, I do not hunt and shoot animals, I do not own a gun … shucks, I don’t even play golf!

THIS is what I do.

Giving LIFE to the printed word, making simple text & fonts on an iPad or piece of paper BREATHE and create emotion in the mind of the listener is what I do.

And then, I further animate those living, breathing words with soundscapes – musical backdrops and sound effects which enhance and complement the human voice.

You know, the stuff that comes out of your radio speaker, or the flat screen TV in the background at the bar, or deep in your inner ear canal from earbuds, stuff like this….

    ** Micheal Ziants Long-form Narration Demo **

And with roots in the great state of Pennsylvania,  now firmly re-planted for over thirty years in the bayou state of Louisiana, it’s kind of strange to say but, here in 2018, I feel a stranger to both.

I don’t talk like your average N’awlins folks (“Wherey’at, dawlin’?”), I have a growing disdain for the yearly bacchanal called  the “Mardi Gras”, and yet I have no desire to return to the ice-packed, snow-covered northeast. 

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New Orleans Voice Talent & All-around Audio Dude Micheal Ziants, Airlift Mike

A man without a country.

But I do have one thing most don’t – a vocation that is also my vacation.  And there’s solace in that.

On top of that, it’s a vocation that due to technological and digital advances affords me the opportunity to be heard by – and work for – anyone, anytime, and anywhere on planet Earth!

Wow.

   ** Airlift Mike talks for SHELL OIL **

While the VoiceOver arena is today an incredibly competitive and increasingly overcrowded field, it’s an honor to throw my headphones into the ring every day from America’s most fascinating city, New Orleans, warm-up the Airlift Productions microphones, and create compellingly convincing audio for clients near and far.

And the challenges and obstacles are far more daunting than shooting deer, flushing-out ducks, or spending weekends chasing a little white ball around a golf course.

 ** Airlift Mike taking a “shot” at Movie Trailer V-O – “Gladiator” **

Outcast? Rebel?  Well, sort of, I guess.

But in the meantime, life in Louisiana certainly has its upside, too – cargo shorts & flip-flops year-round, I haven’t bought snow tires in years, and I sure have become a Saints fan. Who Dat?!?

And, really, who cares if I talk kinda funny?

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“Micheal Ziants is a great voice talent who is generous with his time and energy. I have worked in TV for years, but needed the guidance of a professional to create my radio reel and found it with Ziants. He made me feel comfortable in studio and encouraged creativity, coaching me to a reel I hope will bring many job opportunities. “ – RACHEL WULFF,  former WWL/WDSU-TV Anchor & Reporter

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from New Orleans since 1984

 

 

 

 

 

Around The World In 80… Minutes – Airlift Productions Style

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New Zealand-based Award-Winning VoiceOver Talent TOBY RICKETTS records at Airlift Productions NOLA

World-Class VoiceOver Talent Toby Ricketts‘ visit to the Airlift Productions Studios here in New Orleans is certainly one I won’t soon forget.

Gee, and I almost didn’t take the call that started it all that Monday night after hours in March 2018.

It was a Cory from Tri-Film in Seattle looking for a NOLA-based studio to help out with a project for Microsoft… and beer!

As it turned out, New Zealand-based Toby Ricketts (Microsoft’s voice of choice) was visiting the USA for a relative’s wedding, and was in New Orleans for a few days, and Tri-Film needed help – STAT!

Toby showed up at the Airlift Studios the next day and, to paraphrase renowned author Jules Verne, Toby and I recorded VoiceOver tracks for points all around the globe – in 80 minutes!

** Toby Ricketts on behalf of Beerwulf, Tri-Film… and Microsoft **

So, after we wrapped-up the session for the boys in Seattle, Toby looks at me through the studio glass and asks me, “Mike, do you have time for a few more?”

We then proceeded to call and phone-patch record with Shane in Dublin, Ireland for a trio of  industrial reads for safety videos – to be used in plants from the UK to the Middle East… to Southeast Asia!

Toby Ricketts Pic of yours truly at the Airlift Productions Spirit Soundcraft mixing desk

 

Toby then says to me, “One more? Please?”

After my consent, we then laid-down the electronic messaging voice tracks for use – at 35,000 feet – for messages to be heard overhead on flights out of Dubai on Saudia Airlines.

 

** Toby Ricketts speaks for Saudia Airlines (with outtakes) **

Whew!

So, here I am sitting in New Orleans, but recording for guys in Seattle with a VoiceOver talent from New Zealand… who then takes me to Ireland for work to be used in the UK, the Middle East & Southeast Asia… only to finish-off the session with tracks to be used in an airline at 35,000 feet – all done, tagged & bagged in 80 minutes?!?

Toby Ricketts Instagram-Twitter ‘Selfie” taken in the Airlift Productions booth

To take a trip figuratively – and literally (as the millennial is often wont to say) –  AROUND THE WORLD via the Airlift Productions trusty and razor-sharp phone-patch was exhilarating, technically challenging… and a riot!

Next time we’ll make provisions for an in-flight meal, brother Toby.

In the meantime, safe travels, pal – and many thanks for the ride.

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“I have been in the media industry in the New Orleans area for over 36 years, working in radio, television, and print. During this time, I have had the pleasure of working with many talented individuals. From a production perspective, I have encountered many talents. Beyond any doubt, the most talented person I have done business with is Michael Ziants.

Mike is the quintessential professional–serious about his craft and determined to produce the best work possible for each of his clients. His voice work is superb, his music library is impressive, his studio is outstanding, the final product is always appreciated.

In all future endeavors, when it comes to producing work for radio, television, or the internet, my first call will be to Michael Ziants.”

—KEN TRAHAN – Owner/CEO CrescentCitySports.com & General Manager/Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame Museum, Inc.

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from New Orleans since 1984

Avery Caesar Alexander Addresses A Confederacy Of Dunces

Reverend & State Rep Avery Alexander Recorded VoiceOver At Airlift Productions NOLA
Reverend & State Rep Avery Alexander Recorded VoiceOver At Airlift Productions NOLA

To be sure, John Kennedy Toole never spent time with Rev. Avery Alexander. But I sure did.  Contracted to record “the Rev” in the 90s, I not only spent time with him, but was paid to document the whole affair!

And as New Orleans, the South, and America continue to wrestle with heritage, history, prejudice & racial issues – Dixie, flags & monuments – allow the Airlift Productions archives to help shed a little light.

Statue of "The Rev", at the new UMC Medical facility
Statue of “The Rev”, at the new UMC Medical facility

For the uninitiated, Reverend Avery C. Alexander (1910~1999) was a longtime civil rights activist & La. State Representative,  as well as an ordained minister. He marched with Dr. King, was dragged from protests, and has today had N.O. Charity Hospital, part of the new University Medical Center, and our Pontchartrain Expressway re-named in his honor!

John Kennedy Toole (1937~1969) was a New Orleans author, educated at Tulane, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction – posthumously – after his death at his own hand – for his homespun novel about the misadventures of the lazy, obese and unmotivated Ignatius J. Reilly in “A Confederacy of Dunces”. 

Toole & Alexander never met.  But perhaps they should have.

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Academy Award Winning Documentary Film Maker Charles Guggenheim Making Tracks At Airlift Productions ~ on Iberville in ’93

It was the fall of 1993, the Airlift Productions Studios were on Iberville Street mid-city NOLA,  and I was contracted by the late Academy Award winning Documentary Film Maker Charles Guggenheim to record Reverend Alexander VoiceOvers for his film, originally entitled “Shadows of Hate”.

In his final Academy Award-nominated film, Mr. Guggenheim was attempting to get at the root of racism, expose it, and hopefully lead to some answers to this vexing cancer of a problem – ‘America’s original sin’ –  maybe even tear it out at the root!

*** Avery Alexander talks of David Duke, the KKK, anti-Catholic & Jew bias … and the Dignity of Man … Airlift Productions – 1993. ***

Amazingly, with the impact Reverend Alexander made with his life here in NOLA and the South, there is no record of his speech, his voice, or his unfiltered thoughts ANYWHERE!

Except here … amid the ‘Confederacy of Dunces’.

 

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Avery Caesar Alexander being restrained by the NOPD during a scuffle at the controversial Liberty Monument re-dedication ceremony in March of 1993 (courtesy Times-Picayune)

 

Guggenheim, Alexander and I recorded and worked together for hours. I set the Airlift microphones for the Rev’s voice only …. while Charles paced the room, asking question after question, drawing out painfully revealing memory after memory, story after story …

 

*** Avery Alexander talks of prejudice, mistreatment, abuse, lynchings & murder… Airlift Productions – 1993.  ***

The film, for which these tracks were originally recorded, later was re-named “A Time For Justice”, and went on to win the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1995!

 

 

Today ~ in 2018 ~ Charles Guggenheim, Reverend Avery C. Alexander and John Kennedy Toole belong to the ages.  And the pages of history books.

Can we Americans … WILL we Americans, take the painfully divisive issues they wrote of, spoke of and lived through … move on, and leave them there too?

Please?

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“Mike, thank you for 25 years of successfully teaching Algebra to children of color and students who were living in poverty. They aren’t living in poverty anymore thanks to you and the mathematical skills you gave them. They are doctors, engineers and scientists today.” ~ the late John R. Lee, Founder of the I CAN Learn Mathematics E-Learning System

 

 

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

Airlift Mike: “Seriously Serious ‘Bout Bein’ Serious”

Truth be known, one of the biggest negative raps I encounter while marketing my VoiceOver talents is this: “Oh, but you’re a RADIO dude, and they always sound so ‘announce-ery’!”

Oh, really?

What few realize today is that my skills at the microphone began over a decade before I ever went “on-air” as a disc jockey – ON THE STAGE!

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Airlift’s Micheal Ziants  taking a dive, while playing Tom Edison’s best childhood friend Arvine Stevenson in “Young Tom Edison” , Youngstown, Ohio 1962

From Civic Children’s Theater performances in 1960s Youngstown, Ohio to the starring leads in high school plays, I honed my acting chops while “pounding the boards” on-stage.

I went on to become the President of my high school Thespian Club (even performed as Jack Kennedy, with mimic skills, at PTA meetings), and found the role of ‘Stage Manager’ in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” as my most challenging performance ever. Perhaps it’s that Life/Death thing.

No doubt, at the heart of any outstanding VoiceOver gig is the art of acting & theater, not radio DJ patter & chatter.

** Airlift Mike gets seriously serious for The New Orleans Mission & “Desperate Reality” radio show, airing Saturday nights on WWL **

But, alas, as the Danish theologian & philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once opined, “Once you label me… you negate me.”

I guess it’s only human nature to label others, but make no mistake – this particular radio dude has acting chops honed through a half-century of study, practice & experience.

** With over 7,300 views on You Tube, it’s Airlift Mike gettin’ serious for the Oil & Gas Production Hub of America – Port Fourchon, LA **

So, what I learned from the stage, I then took to the radio … and what I learned from both of them, I then took to create what is now the longest continuously operating recording studio in New Orleans – Airlift Productions.

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Airlift Productions, New Orleans

What an equation: Seriously serious acting chops + finely-tuned major market radio skills + decades of audio production & mixing experience = Airlift Productions.

** Airlift Mike AudioBook Demo, featuring excerpts from “Murder In Coweta County”, courtesy Pelican Publishing … a true-crime drama, dripping with murder, treachery & mystical powers in 1948 Georgia – oh, my! **

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Airlift Productions Audio Spin Doctor Micheal Ziants off the job

And you’ll find me … from anywhere, anytime, anyhow – as close as the cell in your pocket at 1-800-210-WORD; On-Line at www.AirliftProductions.com; or in your outgoing email box by simply clicking here – mike@airliftproductions.com

 

Airlift Mike: Seriously serious ’bout bein’ serious – from New Orleans since 1984.

 

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“Working with Airlift Mike in NOLA was an utter pleasure. I was in town for business for a month and needed to maintain my audiobook recording schedule. Mike was accommodating and a pure professional. He mastered the punch and roll technique in 24 hours to be ready for our first session, and over the course of the month we laid down 5 books and a number of auditions. His studio sounds great. The vibe & atmosphere can’t be beat. You’d be hard pressed to find a better recording studio in the southeast – no matter what your needs. I wish I could have stayed!” ~ AMY LANDON, Los Angeles-based actress & Audio Book Narrator

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My New Pen Pal & An Airlift To Australia… For Shell Oil

Aussie VoiceOver Talent Rhiannon Boulger records Safety Video for Shell Oil at Airlift Productions NOLA

The call came into the Airlift Productions Studios the first week of 2017 from Chicago, Illinois with a rather unique request.

Would I be available to help with a safety training project for Shell Oil concerns – in Melbourne, Australia?

Well, color me intrigued.

Stellar VoiceOver talent RHIANNON BOULGER operates as the safety training voice for Shell Oil concerns in Australia and, as the fates would have it, she was currently in the states along with her fiance’ Jae  visiting New Orleans for the week.

Enter Airlift Productions & Airlift Mike.

The VO scripts were then emailed to both Rhiannon and me for the recording session slated for Friday 1-6-17. Cool!

So, Rhiannon & hubby-to-be Jae showed up via an Uber lift from the downtown Sheraton on-time, and we went to work.

Rhiannon rocks the mic to train Shell Oil employees ‘down under’ at Airlift Productions NOLA 1-6-17

We phone-patched the entire session with  Jennifer at Accenture-Chicago for long distance direction & coaching.

The session went as smoothly as water off a kangaroo’s back in the outback! We nailed all four scripts, and I had the wave files on their way via an FTP site to the edit bays in Chicago for post-production within the hour.

For use at Shell Oil’s facility next week ~ in Melbourne, Australia!

I teased Rhiannon throughout the session that I’ve done scores of plant safety video narrations through the years, but never one that sounded so … ah, saucy.

Give a listen to just a taste of what went down at the Airlift mics this month (and since it’s NOLA, we’ll deal with drugs & alcohol), here.

~ Rhiannon entertains our ‘fighting troops’ down under at Shell ~

Ah-h, the wonders of modern technology.

To have conducted a session like this and in this manner when I began the Airlift Productions Studios back in the day – the 1980s – would have been considered science fiction, unbelievable, and inconceivable.

Today in 2017… it’s par for the course. 

So pardon me, as I reach back in my bag for a nine-iron…and catch the next phone call.

Who knows? Could be my new Australian pen pal and recording gal from Melbourne.

Great job, Rhi! I really enjoyed working with you. And keep doin’ that voodoo that you do so well.

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Rhiannon Boulger & Airlift Mike at the Airlift Studios NOLA 1-6-17

“Thank you Michael for being so accommodating, and making my job truly enjoyable. I’ve recorded in many professional studios all around Australia throughout the years, but I felt right at home and was really impressed with the huge Airlift Productions recording space & booth you built. Recording with you was as easy as if I were in my own studio back in Australia – and that really makes for a successful session. All your wonderful compliments didn’t hurt the vibe either! My ego appreciates your generous, kind words. Thanks again for being such a gentleman.”

~ Rhiannon Boulger, VO Artist, Melbourne, Australia

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** Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from NOLA since 1984 **

I CAN Learn + Airlift Mike = STEM Careers & Big $$ 4 U.S. Math Students

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I CAN Learn Success Story Damien James enjoying a lobster dinner in Brazil, funded by his life-changing STEM degree & career

** Originally posted Oct. 15th, 2016 ~ And re-posted 1-13-17 in Honor of the Late JOHN R LEE **

I first “met” Damien James in the 9th grade at NOLA’s McDonogh #35.  HIS 9th grade; I was merely the one helping him MAKE the grade – as I taught him Algebra 1 & 2.

Inside a computer!

Damien had it pretty rough, as do way too many of New Orleans’ inner-city youth today… Mom was ‘asleep at the wheel’, brothers were dealing drugs, playgrounds were, how do we say, challenging?

But Damien found a friend – yours truly.

Inside a computer!

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As the narrator and audio producer behind all of I CAN Learn’s educational math programs since 1991, I personally helped steer Damien through the perilous gateway of Algebra and on to his chosen STEM degree – and career.

Too dramatic? Too ‘flowery’? How about a punchline?

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Damien James enjoying vacation time with his wife and daughter; “Thanks, John Lee!”

Today, Damien James has risen from the streets of NOLA to become the Information Technology Chief of a major American airline company, and I CAN Learn & I directly helped him get there.

Inside a computer!

Damien’s accomplishments are both remarkable and inspiring. As, together with this landmark, trail-blazing educational mathematics program, he was inspired and enabled to move from the ‘breadlines to the headlines’.

MichealZiantsAirliftProductionsICanLearnTweetScreenshotSTEM degrees, to the uninitiated (and sad to say there are many) – are the Science ** Technology ** Engineering ** Math ** degrees that hold the keys which unlock the doors to America’s future.

And the I CAN Learn Math program has been helping thousands of students achieve that degree – as well as that high-paying career of the future – since 1991!

Witness Damien’s personal story and testimony via YouTube here…

You know something? Of all the audio I’ve produced through all these years here in NOLA, this work with the I CAN Learn Educational System is the work of which I am most proud.  Without question.

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John R. Lee & I CAN Learn feature article in FORBES magazine, September 1997

John R. Lee and I first met in 1991 at the Airlift Productions legendary Iberville Street location. He found me in the Yellow Pages. (Remember them? Yes, ‘digital’ changed everything.)

He was looking for some help. Help in compiling, recording, and organizing thousands upon thousands upon thousands of interactive audio files to drive the engine of his brainchild.

John Lee is a stone-cold, off-the-charts runaway GENIUS.

His prescient vision of merging math textbooks with the digital realm of computers has been often copied through all these years (round up the usual suspects) – but never ever duplicated!

AbsentMindedDisneyMr. Lee is a one-of-a-kind visionary that doesn’t come along just any day… think Fred MacMurray’s lovable character Professor Ned Brainard in the Walt Disney 1961 classic “The Absent Minded Professor”.

But, gang, Flubber this ain’t!

Just ask Damien James. Or his wife. Or his daughter. Or the thousands of other aspiring Damien James wanna-bees whose lives have been forever changed by their introduction to the revolutionary I CAN Learn  Math program.

So, what does the future hold for John Lee and I CAN Learn?

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John R. Lee, Founder & President of JRL Enterprises, creators of I CAN Learn

Well, as John himself opined in his interview late last century with CNN news, “Education is a tricky place to grow a business”.

And despite political boondoggles, bureaucratic red tape, “snake oils”,  and cheap, imitation competitive knock-offs, in that same CNN interview, John told the camera, “You’re not beaten ’til you quit!”

And he hasn’t.

Today, in the fall of 2016, the saga continues, the story continues… and so does the “ah-ha!” moment in the minds of young, eager math students across America.

Oh, and Damien, if you just so happen to be reading this – can you spot me a few bucks ’til next Tuesday?

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 i-can-learn_cd “Mike is a craftsman.  You don’t often hear that word when describing digital media, but it most certainly applies to work done at AIRLIFT PRODUCTIONS. Mike’s  produced literally thousands of audio segments for me,  and they’ve all sounded perfect.  He also understands how to get things done!  I wish all of my contractors were as responsive and committed to meeting deadlines.  You’re in good hands with AIRLIFT PRODUCTIONS.” — Ethan Anderson, former Manager of Multimedia Development, JRL Enterprises, Creators of  “I CAN Learn” e-Learning Software, NOLA
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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from NOLA                                                               since 1984

Oil Prices Tumble, But Airlift Productions Gets “Industrious” Anyway

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Airlift Mike On-Camera for Tim Weston, TLW Productions & Seacor Marine Worldwide

The field of VoiceOver is more than ‘hoo haa’ & ‘boom shaka laka’! While commercial voice work is positioned to cajole, pitch and sell, the industrial read has to be, well… industrious.

Industrial narration is a different bird. And here in Louisiana, Sportsman’s Paradise, it would seem that bird is becoming somewhat of an endangered species.

Through over thirty years of VoiceOver (as well as on-camera work) here in NOLA, Airlift Productions and I have helped steer many a company – both large and small – through some pretty tricky waters.

We’ve narrated and produced audio for Shell Oil, Bollinger Shipyards, Edison Chouest Offshore, Amoco Oil, and Seacor Marine Worldwide Interests, among others.

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Airlift’s Micheal Ziants (Right) with actor Joe Renier, On-Camera with TLW Productions for Seacor Marine … deep in the Gulf of Mexico

But America’s current oil situation, and its subsequent nationwide drop in oil prices, while causing glee for giddy drivers has been cause for major concern – as well as job losses – for countless thousands here in the Bayou State.

Count yours truly in that number.

While Louisiana continues to reel from yet another oil bust, the trickle-down effect is reverberating across the state. And as the oil money dries up, so does the Industrial Narration Voice Over work.

Get a feel for the impact of oil – to Louisiana and America – with this one video which I narrated post-Katrina for the Port Fourchon (pronounced FOO-shon) Commission, along with stunning aerial photography from Andreas Frentzos & Tim Weston at TLW Productions here in NOLA —

Port Fourchon, Louisiana’s southernmost port, and “the nerve center of oil and gas drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico!”

The VoiceOver read for industrial concerns strips away all the cajoling, pitching and selling. It remains sober, confident and in-control, as it crosses all the Ts and dots all the Is with letter-perfect diction and tone.

On top of that, with much of this type work addressing safety concerns,  it occurs to me that teaching someone how not to DIE while on the job is not only necessary, but rather noble.

TedWilliamsCloseUpWithCardboardSignSo, as we move through the balance of 2016, Airlift Productions and I will tack into the winds of change yet again, adjust our sails/sales, keep a vigilant eye on the oil prices, and keep moving forward.

But should you happen to find me alongside this guy at the interstate overpass … with a black-magic-marker-on-cardboard sign, a PB & J will work, ham ‘n cheese preferred, but remember — ” Airlift Mike will talk – WELL – for food!”

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Airlift Mike on-camera shoot with Tim Weston of TLW Productions - 2004
Airlift Mike on-camera shoot with Tim Weston of TLW Productions – 2004

“We’ve worked with Mike for almost 15-years, both as voiceover and on-camera talent in more than 50 films.  Not only is he a great guy and a super talent, but he has the coolest recording studio in the South.” — Tim Weston, President, TLW Productions, NOLA

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984