Tag Archives: Greg DiLeo

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…

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a Google image search for ‘Airlift Productions’

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, the Blue Angels, Morgus, Greg DiLeo, Sister Thecla,  Quvenzhane Wallis, even James Carville’s feet on my ping pong table.

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.

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A recent Google Search for “VoiceOver Production Blogs” – of over 7-Million possibilities, Airlift Productions resides on page One.

 

“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.

The Law, Sex & Guitars At Airlift Productions

 

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TV Ad ScreenShot of Greg DiLeo, New Orleans Legal-Minute Attorney … plying his trade.

If you live in or around metro New Orleans, this dude needs no introduction.  Greg DiLeo is Everywhere! Television, Radio, Internet … even on iPhone apps.

I first met Greg through a mutual acquaintance, the lovely & talented Leslie Hoffman, who informed me that Greg was looking for a studio and a quality engineer to help him record an album.

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Greg, shoulder-to-shoulder with Airlift Productions proprietor Micheal Ziants

Enter Airlift Mike.

You see, one thing, among others, that separates me from the ‘1,001+and-counting’ other VoiceOver dudes and dudesses all over the internet is that I operate a real, genuine, bonafide, fully tricked-out recording studio!

And I know how to use it.

If, by chance, you only peruse these blogs for my occasional wit & whimsy and have never taken a peek at my room, my totally awesome more-than-a-man cave, it looks like this —-

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Airlift PROductions Recording Studio, New Orleans, LA, USA, Earth – 2016

I designed, built and wired this facility, from the ground up.  It’s where the warmth of analogue lives … and the  lightning speed of digital delivers!

But, back to Greg.  And the Law, Sex and Guitars.

As it turns out, this man of the law is extremely gifted and talented, and just loves to write, compose, play, sing and perform with his guitar, among other things.  Throughout our months of recording his album, he brought in 12-strings, harmonica, drum kits, melotron … even a hammered dulcimer!

Together, we recorded everything from introspective, heartfelt ballads to rip-snorting rock ‘n roll.  But my fave just has to be this little ditty he composed about, um… well, his girlfriend’s sex toys.  We affectionately entitled it ‘Toys On the Shelf’, and it goes like this….

~ “Toys on the Shelf”, written & performed by Greg DiLeo, with                                                    Airlift Mike riding shotgun ~

This one’s on the house.  If you want to hear the balance of our collective collaborative efforts, track him down on I-Tunes or CD Baby for the rest.

Yes, Greg DiLeo is more than an attorney.  And yours truly is a lot more than just another VoiceOver dude.

And, in the future, should I catch you smiling – broadly – the next time a Greg DiLeo TV or radio spot airs, or the I-phone app flares …. just you & I will know why.

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(L-R) Scottish Rocker & NBC’s ‘The Voice’ finalist Terry McDermott, Attorney Greg DiLeo, Airlift resident rascal Micheal Ziants during a session

Airlift PROductions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984

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GregDiLeoRecordsAtAirliftProductionsNOLA“Micheal Ziants was a pleasure to work with, and he took my creative process and turned it into something I am proud to have on iTunes for sale.  I intended to come in to the studio and to take days for a final product, but Mike was like a second musical force in the room, moving the process along until we had a finished product I was happy with and proud to play.

And he always brought out the most beautiful sounds out of my instruments.  I have a home studio with ProTools and all the bells and whistles added on, and I can’t get the warmth and presence that he pulls out of my recordings.  Kudos to Airlift.” — GREG DiLEO

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Airlift Productions Spices-Up N’awlins Airwaves

Just like a good gumbo, a memorable radio jingle has to have the just-right ingredients to make it POP! Talented musicians + a catchy tune + the magic of a kids’ chorus = a Jingle that tingles!  (too much?)

Frere Jean Salt-Free Cajun Seasonings, available all throughout southeast Louisiana, and on line, visited Airlift Productions NOLA to make their products "Sing"!
Frere Jean Salt-Free Cajun Seasonings, available all throughout southeast Louisiana, and on line, visited Airlift Productions NOLA to make their products “Sing”!

Well, Frere Jean’s got it Goin’ On!

One week ago today the Airlift Productions Studios were hummin’ and buzzin’ as, together, we cooked-up one serious gumbo.

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Jake Landry & Paul Piazza – of Right Lane Bandits – Record Jingles At Airlift Productions NOLA, Sept. 2015

Jake Landry & Paul Piazza, front men for the notorious (and wickedly talented) Right Lane Bandits showed-up to lay-down guitars, tambourines. harmonica, and vocals as Ingredient #1.

 

*** First things first ~ Landry guitars + Piazza’s Harp – Wow! ***

Frere Jean's Kids' Chorus ~ Madisyn, Dayton & Daylan Having a Ball at Airlift Productions NOLA
Frere Jean’s Kids’ Chorus ~ Madisyn, Dayton & Daylan Having a Ball at Airlift Productions NOLA

Enter Madisyn, Dayton & Daylan –

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Brother John Rodrigue Laying-down “Yep! ‘Dat’s ‘da One!”

Frere Jean’s owners’ grandchildren  – to punch-up the message with exuberant shouts & fun giggles – Ingredient #2.

Last, but certainly not least, add the voice of co-owner and namesake front-man for the organization – Brother John Rodrigue – tagging the whole effort with his “Yep! ‘Dat’s ‘da One!” at the tail – Ingredient #3.

*** Frere Jean Full Sing :15 Jingle recorded @ Airlift Productions ***

Mix well, add Cajun seasoning to taste… and you’ve got one fun, catchy, memorable jingle! Think “the Von Trapp Family meets Rockin Dopsie”.

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Broadcast Veteran – and Actor – Micheal Ziants, plying his trade at the Airlift Studios

Oh, OK, I guess I left out one ingredient. And that would be some nondescript announcer dude doing all the stuff that would be impossible to do in a jingle – descriptive info and a definitive call to action … Airlift Mike closes the sale.

** Airlift’s Micheal Ziants delivers the Jingle ‘donut’ pitch **

A good jingle has to capture the essence of a company, what they’re really all about. And with a product name like “Frere Jean”, we had to emphasize Cajun-French heritage along with the qualities of Family & Brotherhood!

How’d we do?

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(L-R) NBC’s “The Voice” Finalist Terry McDermott, Greg DiLeo, Micheal Ziants at Airlift Productions NOLA

“I have been recording at Airlift Productions since 2010, and I completed my album in 2012.  Micheal Ziants was a pleasure to work with, and he took my creative process and turned it into something I am proud to have on iTunes for sale.  Mike was like a second musical force in the room, moving the process along until we had a finished product I was happy with and proud to play. And he always brought  the most beautiful sounds out of my instruments.  I have a home studio with ProTools and all the bells and whistles added on, but I can’t get the warmth and presence that he pulls out of my recordings.  Kudos to Airlift.”

~ GREG DILEO, New Orleans’ “Legal-Minute” Attorney by day, Big Easy Troubadour & Recording Artist by night  

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To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding.

                                     Airlift Productions Communicates   

From the Airlift Productions Studios to “12 Years a Slave”?

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The Airlift Productions Studio doubles as the Ultimate Home Theater!
So I’ve got the Airlift Studios in the ‘home theater mode’ the other night to catch another blockbuster in 5.1 surround sound. It’s my favorite way to watch a movie. No texters, no talkers, no cell phones! I get to actually hear every word. And imagine my surprise!
 
McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave’ – 2014’s Academy Award winning Best Picture – is a brutally painful one to watch for sure.  But I reveled in it. For personal reasons. Very personal.
 
Astonished I was to catch not one, not two, not three, not four… but FIVE different  and wildly talented  individuals who’ve recorded, laughed and spent time with me at Airlift Productions …. IN THE MOVIE!
 
There was – for all the world to see – Quvenzhane Wallis, John “Spud” McConnell, Donald Surtain, and that dynamic mother-daughter combo of Deneen & Devyn Tyler!  Wow!
 
And they all comported themselves quite admirably.  No.  No starring roles, but in very key supporting ones.
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Quvenzhane as Margaret Northup in ’12 Years a Slave’
Playing Solomon Northup’s daughter Margaret as a child was little Quvenzhane, all dolled-up. And in the critical closing and final scene, playing Margaret as an adult and mother … was Deneen’s real-life daughter – Devyn Tyler!
 
In fact, as she cried while holding the lead character (Chiwetel Ejiofor/Solomon), Devyn had the final words in the entire movie! Double wow.  
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Deneen Tyler On-Camera teaching Mathematics for JRL Enterprises & I Can Learn

                                                                                                         

In scenes where Solomon was seen playing the violin, Chiwetel was faking it, but Donald Surtain  – who was in the Airlift Studios just two months ago now, recording with Greg DiLeo –  was on-camera and laying-down the REAL thing!
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Violin Virtuoso Donald Surtain lays down his totally awesome violin tracks at Airlift Productions January 2015

Spud was a plantation owner picking up a slave down along the Mississippi River in the French market and Deneen, as Phoebe, sure cried a lot.

 OK, so my work with this talented crew was nowhere near as dramatic.
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John “Spud” McConnell as slave owner Jonus Ray,  on-screen in ’12 Years a Slave’
 
Spud McConnell sold air conditioning installation & maintenance via radio spots for Comfort Engineered Systems, Deneen & Devyn Tyler worked on educational software tracks for John R. Lee and I Can Learn at the Airlift Studios, and little Quvenzhane , the youngest actress ever to earn a best actress Oscar nominee nod, recorded VoiceOvers with me to sell cars for Chrysler & Maserati.
 
God, but I truly admire, love and respect talent.  At the Airlift Productions microphones … and on the big silver screen.
Congratulations, Kudos & High-Fives gang!  Proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you … and know you I am.
 
So as Hollywood South continues to explode in NOLA (they’re starting to call Hollywood ‘New Orleans West’!), I’ll see you at the cinema.  And next time, the popcorn’s on me.

Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants along with the youngest Best Actress Nominee in the history of the Academy Awards - Quvenzhane Wallis - at the Airlift Studios 2014
Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants along with the youngest Best Actress Nominee in the history of the Academy Awards – Quvenzhane Wallis – at the Airlift Studios 2014
                    To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding.
    Airlift Productions Communicates.        

The Law, Sex & Guitars… Metaphors & More ~ Courtesy Airlift Productions

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A TV Screenshot of New Orleans “Legal-Minute” Attorney Greg DiLeo, plying his trade via N’awlins flat screens all over town

If you live in or around metro New Orleans, his messages are everywhere and unmistakable.  As N’awlins “Legal Minute” attorney, Greg DiLeo – on TV, radio, even I-phone apps –  makes legal matters, well, um … matter!

But what many do not know is that this is one extremely talented and versatile dude! He can ‘pound the boards’ at local theaters on-stage, sing, play the guitar & harmonica … and even compose & write his own songs. Well!

Attorney by day, song writer & troubadour by night, Greg DiLeo  records his music at Airlift Productions

And one thing, among others, that separates me from the 1001 other VoiceOver dudes all over the internet is that I own and operate a REAL recording studio! And I know how to use it.

So, this past week Greg returned to the Airlift Productions Studios, along with a couple kindred spirits, to put the finishing touches on the salty, colorful, metaphor-filled, Leon-Redbone-ish “Mississippi River Bridge”.  A torch song it ain’t.

With an amazingly brilliant touch on the violin, NOCCA grad and local star Donald Surtain dropped by to drop his tracks.  Perhaps you caught Donald in the Academy Award winning “12 Years A Slave” playing the REAL violin beside Chewitel Ejiofor in a scene or two.

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Violin Virtuoso Donald Surtain lays down his totally awesome violin tracks at Airlift Productions January 2015 (photo by: Ben Ziants)

In any event, Donald, who plays live with Greg around town, along with percussionist extraordinaire Michael Skinkus stopped by to add their two cents. Gee, I found myself googling and you-tubing the Cajon to find out exactly what in the heck this thing even was.

The Cajon (ka-HONE) is of African-Peruvian descent and could best be described as a drum kit ‘in-a-box’, and one plays it by sitting on it and banging on it. So, add a couple of cymbals for flourishing finishing touches and you’re good-to-go.

Enter Michael Skinkus on the Cajon ….

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Percussionist Extraordinaire Michael Skinkus entertains on “MS River Bridge” at Airlift Productions, NOLA January 2015 (photo by: Ben Ziants)

Oh-kay now, take Greg DiLeo’s thought-provoking lyrics & melody + Greg’s penetrating vocals + Greg’s sizzling guitar + Donald Surtain’s velvet violin + Michael Skinkus’ toe-tapping Cajon & Cymbals and it all = 1 Amazingly Fun tune!

Crank-up the speakers on your designated digital device and LISTEN.  “Mississippi River Bridge” sounds like this —

** “Mississippi River Bridge” recorded at Airlift Productions **

Yes, TV-Radio Attorney by Day and Song Writer & Troubadour by Night Greg DiLeo continues to mystify and amaze us with his masterful microphone maneuvers.  Catch-up with more of his passion at his music web site here ~ Greg DiLeo Music

And tell ’em Airlift Mike sent you.

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(L-R) Airlift’s Micheal Ziants, Violinist Donald Surtain, and Performer Greg DiLeo, along with his seriously serious ’bout bein’ serious face on … at the Airlift Productions Studios, NOLA January 2015 (photo by: Ben Ziants)

“Where the warmth of analogue lives … and the lightning speed of digital delivers” ~ Airlift Productions, NOLA