Tag Archives: AudioBook Recording

From Books-on-Tape to CDs in 1993? Courtesy Airlift Productions

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(L-R) Charlie Biondo, “Miss Linda” Mintz, Micheal Ziants, celebrating over 3,500 units sold, “Soft Words, Warm Nights”

While the world was still calling the genre “Books-On-Tape” in 1993, Airlift Productions self-published and successfully sold spoken word CDs to libraries across America – and to the world via the Playboy catalog.

I realize that this all sounds a tad mad, but let me tell you the story.

I first met New Orleans icon “Miss Linda”, Linda Mintz, during a session at the Airlift Studios on Iberville street in 1993 while recording radio commercials for a local client.

Our muses, along with the stars, somehow aligned after that session while Linda and I discussed our love for poetry… as we hatched the egg of an idea for an outfit we dubbed “WordMusic”.

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“Miss Linda” Mintz & Micheal Ziants (McCann), during recording sessions for “Soft Words, Warm Nights”, Airlift Productions, 1993

Linda, long known and loved by generations of New Orleanians as Romper Room’s “Miss Linda”, had been reared with a love and respect for the magic of poetry.

Yours truly, while working all over New Orleans airwaves as a commercial voice and producer, was looking to create a self-published project that had “legs”, would be “evergreen” and that we could get behind and market to the world.

Produced on Iberville Street (all on reel-to-reel tape), voiced by Linda & me, and backed by husband Albert Mintz… we called the project “SOFT WORDS, WARM NIGHTS”.

** “I Love You/A Bright New Land”… Soft Words, Warm Nights excerpt with Linda Mintz & Micheal Ziants **

Imagine the world’s most romantic poetry lovingly rendered – and cast against the lush backdrop of the sounds of nature, coupled with a meditative new age score.

Score one for the kids on Iberville Street!

** Bess, the landlord’s daughter sacrifices herself to save her lover, Mike Ziants reads the classic, “The Highwayman” from SWWN **

Together with marketing pal Charlie Biondo, we drew the attention of Bayside Distributors in California, produced cassette tapes AND CDs in 1993, were successfully reviewed by all the major trade publications, and took it to market!

** “Will You Love Me When I’m Old?” from SWWN **

After selling over 3,500 to libraries across the U.S., we attended the American Booksellers Association trade show in Chicago, where I personally pitched the project to Hugh Hefner!

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“Soft Words, Warm Nights”, featured in the Playboy catalog, 1995

Hef was back in his hometown that weekend to promote Playboy’s 40th Anniversary coffee table book and, little did he know it – but get a fast pitch from Micheal Ziants.

Playboy Magazine’s catalog then featured our “Soft Words, Warm Nights” in several editions, helping us to move over 500 units, saying that our CD created “Irresistible Ambiance”.

While I caught a lot of kidding & ribbing  from family and fellow radio pals here in NOLA over this entire escapade, it remains one of my favorite stories.

What wasn’t so pleasant?

In an attempt to get a major ongoing distributor for our work, upon sending our CDs to every single major AudioBook publisher at the time, we were not only turned down – but ripped off! 

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“Soft Words, Warm Nights” CD artwork, Airlift Productions/WordMusic 1993

As the idea – romantic spoken word, produced with music & sound effects – was copied within a year by many of them, along with known Hollywood actors that carried marquistype names.

(Sigh!)

Oh well, as the Bard once opined, “It is better to have loved and lost… than to have never loved at all.”

Besides, it still makes for great “Did-you-hear-the-one-about-the-BIG-one-that-got-away?” type stories around the bar and NOLA parties.

Furthermore, as we all know, “Never. Never. Never. Give up!”… and, “He who loves and runs away, lives to fight another day.”

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Airlift Mike, Micheal Ziants, reads James Patterson’s “The Chef” for Hachette AudioBooks, 2019

I haven’t. And.. I have!

I mean, back in the 1990s, how was I to know that here in 2019 my path would intersect with one of the world’s biggest and best-selling authors? 

Coming soon to earbuds near you, from the Hachette AudioBook Group, with a release date of February 17th, 2019… Micheal Ziants narrates and interprets James Patterson’s “THE CHEF”.

And, trust me, gang – Soft words and a warm night, this ain’t!

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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


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

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

 

 

An International Charity Outreach Involving Dogs, Humans… and Man’s Potential

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Ziants & O’Shea applying “The Good Dog Way” with Airlift Mascot ‘The Shadeaux”

I first met SEAN O’SHEA innocently enough when hired by a Los Angeles-based Video Production House to record him for VoiceOver tracks on a dog training DVD series.

Sean and I have subsequently recorded several audiobooks together… and have become close friends & running partners.

Mr. O’Shea is one of those rare souls whose genuine good nature and caring spirit shine through in every recorded track and on-mic performance.

After recording his “The Good Dog Way”, he returned to the Airlift Productions Studios earlier this year to record the audiobook which is the subject of this blog.

And when he wasn’t totally satisfied with his first effort, he returned to work with me last month on version two.

Wow!

“Closing the Gap” is Sean’s testament to the power of the human spirit, and its ability to reach its utmost potential.

As a student of Jim Rohn, Napoleon Hill, Wayne Dyer, Zig Ziglar, and a host of others, Sean sure knows whereof he speaks.

This dude has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse, from zero to hero, from the breadlines … to the headlines!

And now he wants nothing more than to share. How.  He.  Did.  It.

Oh, and while he’s at it – pay it forward at the same time.

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Sean O’Shea teaching Humans how to fetch … a better Life, at Airlift Productions NOLA Nov. 2017

100 percent of the profits – book and audiobook – will go to help build a school, to “Pencils of Promise”, to “Acumen”, to “Charity: Water”.

I mean, it’s one thing to give a man a fish dinner, and it’s quite another to teach him to fish. And yet quite another to give every man equal access to the stream!

You’ll find SEAN O’SHEA online at http://www.thegooddogway.com/ and you can follow his exploits on Instagram by clicking HERE.

The “Closing the Gap” hard copy and audiobook will make the perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season.

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Micheal Ziants & Sean O’Shea, navigating the twists & turns of AudioBook production, Airlift Productions New Orleans, June 2017

Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.  And giving.  And giving.

Oh, and should you be fortunate enough to talk personally with Sean, tell him that wacky Airlift Mike down in NOLA sent you.

Doggone it, Sean. You are the Best, my brother.

 

 

 

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Amy Landon recording audio books at Airlift Productions New Orleans, March 2017

“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 & AudioBook narrator

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To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding.

         Airlift Productions communicates.

 

AudioBook Production 101… Goes To The Dogs!

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Sean O’Shea, the dude who’s got Los Angeles on a leash, records his New AudioBook “The Good Dog Way” at Airlift Productions New Orleans

 

The email came into the Airlift Productions Studios, innocently enough, from Los Angeles in mid-Spring, it was Sean O’Shea, looking to make the AUDIO version of his new book, “The Good Dog Way”, a reality.

Having worked with Sean a year and a half ago, recording VoiceOver tracks for his DVD series, I knew what I was working with.

And how.

With tens of thousands of followers on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, Sean’s like-ability factor, as well as his talent, is more “off the chain” than many of the dogs he’s tamed and trained.

But, he confessed, he was an “AudioBook Virgin”.

Knowing it was his first time, I committed to being gentle.

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Micheal Ziants & Sean O’Shea, navigating the twists & turns of AudioBook production, Airlift Productions New Orleans, June 2017

Our pre-production meeting included tips on studio mic technique, definite ‘Dos and Do-Nots’  – no dairy products the day of recording (audible phlegm), petroleum jelly on lips to limit vocal artifacts, etc. – and I taught him how to “punch & roll”.

We edited his AudioBook masterpiece AS WE RECORDED IT!

Mistakes were fixed right then and there – on the fly. No tedious post-recording editing sessions here. No. We got it right – right there!

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Ziants & O’Shea applying “The Good Dog Way” with Airlift Mascot ‘The Shadeaux”

And roll, we did, through six days of recording, every afternoon, Monday-through-Saturday, teaching America – and the world – a more human, and humane, approach to LOVING our favorite, four-footed, furry friends by LEADING them.

As the sessions progressed, Sean’s confidence and studio savvy grew, as we plowed through chapter after chapter… “Dismantling Dogs”, “The Drug that is You”, “Arousal is the Enemy”, “What you Pet is what you Get”….

Sample just a taste of “The Good Dog Way”, with this one track that Sean calls, “Bar or Therapist”, here…

By Saturday, all 1.73 gigabytes of edited material were ready to be normalized, properly mastered, and prepared for AudioBook internet consumption.

I saved all the edited wave files for future use to create CDs down the road, and crunched the entire project into 192 kilobyte-per-second mp3 files for quicker internet downloading purposes.

What a week. What a project. What an AudioBook!

Andy Rooney once opined, “The average dog is a nicer human than the average human”.

And, no doubt, you’ll put your nicer human’s best paw forward by putting “The Good Dog Way” through your earbuds today.

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“Mike was a saint, and ridiculously patient and supportive (and helpful!!) for this audio book virgin. In another environment, without the support, and with pressure to perform “right”, I probably would have completely fallen apart. So the MVP for this getting done goes 100% to Mike and the chilled out environment he’s cultivated…personally and within his studio.

A big heartfelt thanks to Mike Ziants and the years of expertise he brought to this project to ensure I sounded my very best. If you’re ever in Nola and need the best audio dude, and the best dude dude, holler at my man Mike with www.airliftproductions.com

Thanks for the great week my friend! :)” ~ Sean O’Shea

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