The only problem with dogs is … that they don’t live forever!
And spelled either frontwards or backwards … Dog is still man’s best friend.
The Shadeaux, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal dogs, came to the Airlift Productions Studios and became our official mascot and ‘talent herder’ over Christmas 2006.
Near as we can tell, he’s twelve years old today and, truth be known, he picked us out at the SPCA that day. Kind of like the Ziants boyz – a mutt; part German Shepherd, part Chow, part Border Collie … and all Love.
No, this is not his obituary (and even he’d appreciate the humor that the word ‘bitch’ is in that word), it’s more like a mid-life opus and testament to his otherworldly powers.
After all, the recording process can be somewhat intimidating to some, and capturing a stellar on-mic performance can feel a bit daunting at times – even to the pro!
And the Shadeaux has an uncanny way of throwing a ‘chill-out’ factor into the entire equation.
Little Quvenzhane Wallis (of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ fame) wanted to take him home with her (no chance), and James Carville’s ‘missus’ – Mary Matalin – could hardly tear herself away to get back to work on her audio book.
With a woof, a lick, and an appreciative tail wag – coupled with more fur than Liz Taylor at a pre-PETA-days holiday bash – the Shadeaux has an amazing talent for making anyone feel comfortable, relaxed and right at home.
And when trying to record a stunning on-mic, on-point performance … what more could you ask for?
Except maybe that he’d live forever.
Airlift Productions … where EVERY day is ‘Take Your Doggie to Work Day’… Airlift Mike with his fave, furry four-footed friend – and uncharacteristically shy, The Shadeaux
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers
“I care not for a man’s religion whose dog & cat are not the better for it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” ~ Andy Rooney
“Airlift 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 outenvironment he’s cultivated…personally and within his studio.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to get this audio book out to you guys!! As challenging as it all was, the end result, I think, is amazing!
Once again, a big heartfelt thanks to Mike 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 withwww.airliftproductions.com
Thanks for the great week my friend! :)”
— SEAN O’SHEA, Los Angeles-based Dog Trainer & AudioBook Producer
Think about it,”The Shadow”, “The Lone Ranger”, “Dragnet”, “Amos & Andy”… In radio’s infancy, and way before TV was born, radio delivered early 20th century drama, suspense, intrigue, laughs, and even coined the term “soap opera”.
I was flattered. Deeply.
Because as a student of radio, and not just the crazed on-air personality music days of the ’70s and ’80s, but of that good old-time radio … that was exactly what I was going for as I laid down the tracks to “Murder in Coweta County”.
And what is so fascinating about this particular piece of work is that, in retrospect, it would not be too far a stretch to say that this audio book version has proved to be a bridge between the centuries. Because here the old-time radio approach is married to the poker-hot, ripped-from-the-headlines issues of today.
In 2017, as America continues to wrestle with racial strife and the over-reaching of police forces from Charlotte to Baltimore and from Baton Rouge to Tulsa, “Murder in Coweta County” casts quite the spotlight on race, murder, the police and the scales of justice.
** Micheal Ziants reads from Chapter 7 **
Little did I realize when approached by the Pelican Publishing gang to record the audio book version of “Murder in Coweta County” how challenging, demanding, and damned thrilling this project would become.
And how similar to old-time radio it would turn out to be.
** Airlift Mike reads from Chapter 3 **
Gee, when they did the made-for-TV version in the 1980s, Johnny Cash had to play only ONE guy, while Andy Griffith had to play only ONE guy. Here, I was tasked to play them ALL!
And play it I did, calling on all my life’s travels & travails, all my metaphysical studies, and 40+ years of behind-the-mic experience to give that old-time radio feel to a book written in the 1970s about an actual crime that happened in the 1940s – here in 2017!
** Excerpt from Chapter 21 of Murder in Coweta County **
Micheal Ziants in the Airlift Productions ‘torpedo room’, during a break from giving LIFE to “Murder in Coweta County” for Pelican Publishing, NOLA
** Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Murder in Coweta County **
Truth be told, radio commercials are a kick, TV VoiceOvers are rewarding, but audio books are where it’s at. To get completely lost in a zen-like way telling a compelling story while playing and giving voice to every single character is truly a remarkable experience.
Directly tied to the ease of digital distribution, the Audio Book industry has exploded here in 2017! Retail sales have increased from a mere $480 million in 1997 to a projected Two Billion for this year! As intriguing narration coupled to a great story and delivered just like good old-time radio … delivers … again.
And everything old is new again.
I’ll meet you between the headphones one cold & rainy night.
“Micheal Ziants is an absolute professional with a thorough understanding of his craft. I could not be more pleased and happy with my experience at Airlift Productions, and I’m confident that anyone who has the pleasure to work with Micheal will feel the same! Recording an entire audio book can be a stressful process, but his experience, calm professionalism and determination to get it right really made all of the difference! Thank you for a truly wonderful experience, Airlift Productions!” ~ ZAK GEORGE, America’s preeminent Dog Trainer, Animal Planet/YouTube star, & Author of the best-selling “Dog Training rEvolution”
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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 toperform “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 withwww.airliftproductions.com
Thanks for the great week my friend! :)” ~ Sean O’Shea
A fave boyhood hero and model of mine was Robin Hood, who heroically stood up for the oppressed, rescued damsels in distress, and went about righting wrongs.
Jake told me his band was called The Right Lane Bandits and he wanted to make his mark, steal a few hearts, and change the world with his music.
For the record, ‘kismet’ is an old Arabic word that’s often used to describe something significant that was meant to be, that happens seemingly by chance, but is steered by fate or destiny. (Dude, that’s deep.)
For the record, yes, Jake and his band of Merry Men will together with yours truly, Airlift Mike (Robin Hood), make many!
As producer & recording engineer, my suggestion to Jake was pretty simple: Original tunes are one thing, but we need to give Linda & Larry Listener, Karl & Karla K-Mart, Arnold & Alice Average (who’ve never heard your work before) a yardstick by which to measure your talents – a totally excellent cover song.
So, this past week, that’s exactly what we did at Airlift Productions… record the ultimate, classic cover song.
Written by musical Christian mystic troubadour Van Morrison and with lyrics like “We were born before the wind, Also younger than the sun” …. rockin’ your gypsy soul, Linda & Larry Listener, here come the Right Lane Bandits —
“Great recording studios share something in common with great concert venues. They both have a…what is it? An aura, a vibe, a karma, an ambiance? Whatever you call it, it’s as real as any speaker on the wall or slider on a console. You can’t see it, but, you can absolutely FEEL it.
Airlift Productions has IT- thanks to the man behind the board ( and in your ear). Michael Ziants has a knack for gently pulling your best work out of you- and then improving upon it in the final mix. The finished product always leaves you thrilled, satisfied and amazed that you really had it in you! The best part- he gives you all the credit and you only realize later what great hands your material was in.
Do yourself a favor- give Airlift a try. You’ll love the results and every moment you spent producing them.”
— RICH LENZ, former WDSU-TV Sports Director and currently KING of Daytime Television at KOTV-Tulsa
What a totally fascinating time Halloween is in New Orleans.
As I walk the Shadow (Airlift’s trusty mascot) through the Bonnabel subdivision here outside NOLA, we both find ourselves scratching our respective heads in wonderment.
I mean, this is the only time of year, and probably the only place in America where, on a morning dog walk in the crisp (?) fall air, you’ll ever find statues of the blessed Virgin Mary …. peacefully coexisting alongside Freddy Kruger, Mike Meyers (from the ‘Halloween’ movie), skeletons and vampires!
As faith-filled Catholic brethren all across NOLA put on a show for the kids, while Mary, Yeshua, and Papa Joe share in the laughs & fun from ‘the other side’.
Tasked by serial entrepreneur Dean St. Pierre to re-image and brand his Metairie nightclub yet again, it was my duty this past weekend to create a couple radio :30s for – wait for it – the NEW place to see & be seen (and occasionally obscene) ENCORE!
Flying-up the flagpole (broadcast tower) this week in NOLA on B-97, Bayou 95.7 and Magic 101.9 is this goodie for Saturday night’s epic Halloween bash at the club….
“When I need BIG ‘I-know-that-guy’s-voice!’ sound for any production I am working on, the first call I make is to Airlift Mike. Micheal’s penetrating vocals and second-to-none production quality give my movie & audio feature projects the instant respectability they need. If you want to sound like a pro, meaning no one gives a second thought to your audio because it is so well executed, you want to call Airlift!”
— MIKE CHURCH, World-Famous Sirius/XM Talk Show Host, Founding Father Film Maker, Writer & Producer of ‘The Spirit of ’76’ and ‘The Road to Independence’
Boy, is it just me, or is it HOT in here? Things around the Airlift Studios have really heated-up as of late! While thick in the audio book recording sessions – New Orleans TV & Radio have been calling.
And perhaps we had just a little too much fun with this one. Guilty as charged.
The TV thirty – with the masterful touch of digital artist and video ace extraordinaire Todd Schmidt – has the cutest little digital cartoon kitty cat playing all the games at Laser Tag. You see him shooting basketballs, riding bumper cars, firing lasers… even sliding down the bowling alley to make a strike!
The spot is called “While the Cat’s Away – the whole Family plays at Laser Tag Family Entertainment Center”.
The radio campaign – which airs on N’awlins B-97 Radio starting this week plays-off the excitement of the whole experience – including pop dance music with stereo laser wash sound effects … and a ‘kitty cat’ call-back to the TV spot at the tail end.
Crank-UP your computer speakers, blow some dust off ’em, and check-out these Airlift-produced radio :30s here ….
~ Laser Tag of Metairie “PARTIES” ** :30 Radio for B-97 Air ~
~ Laser Tag of Metairie “JEDI KNIGHTS” ** :30 Radio for the B ~
In your face, pulse-pounding, ratcheted-up, yet fun & exciting! If you live in or around the metro New Orleans area, you’ll have to keep an ear and eye out for them.
In the meantime, I’ll see you around the Laser Tag arena on Veterans Boulevard. My arena name tag says ‘SkyWalker Mike’!
Oh yeah, Sorry! But the Shadow demanded equal time — Arf! Arf!