Tag Archives: WDSU

Judah Ben-Hur’s Messala Drops The Mic – With Airlift Mike

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Ben-Hur 2016 Star Toby Kebbell records national TV Sony Tablet Commercial VoiceOvers at Airlift Productions NOLA

I didn’t know quite what to expect the morning TOBY KEBBELL showed up at my Airlift Productions Studios to record VoiceOver for Sony Corporation and it’s new Xperia Z tablet.

“Ben-Hur 2016” wasn’t even on the drawing boards yet,  he was in New Orleans to film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, and tagged by Tag-Europe (a huge London-based ad agency) as the voice for Sony Products, he needed a studio to record a few V-O patches.

The UK's TOBY KEBBELL drops the mic - with Airlift Mike, on behalf of Sony
The UK’s TOBY KEBBELL drops the mic – with Airlift Mike, on behalf of Sony

So, Toby and his brother arrived at Airlift that morning … Toby was unshaven, in flip-flops & cargo shorts – hey, it WAS for a VoiceOver session, after all; at 6’1″, we stood eye-to-eye – I set-up the phone-patch to connect us with Europe and we went to work.

As the fates would have it, in the UK the letter ‘Z’ is pronounced ‘Zed’, and in order to introduce this new tablet here in the states, the tag lines had to be re-recorded with the Yank’s sound.

Toby talks for Sony on the Airlift microphones like this…

The tracks were coached and directed by Louise at Tag, with her agency contact for Sony piggy-backed in on the call – from Tokyo!

I then relayed the wave files via an FTP site into the computers at the editing bays in London, England … and the finished commercial  – along with some help from David Bowie – appeared here in the United States like this…

And I love the exchange as he exited the studios that day. With Ziants being my last name, I’ve got a welcome mat at the front door with a ‘Z’ on it. Toby pointed it out and chuckled at the irony as he headed back to the rent-a-car.

Toby Kebbell all decked-out for the premiere
Toby Kebbell all decked-out for the premiere

The girls (or ‘birds’ as they call them there) in the UK are just gaga over this dude, and the ladies in on the phone-patch session that morning echoed that excitement.

Studly. Easy on the eyes. Soft-spoken. Ultra talented.

But from his appearance as Doctor Doom in the ill-fated “Fantastic Four” to the apparent miscues, in the eyes of some critics, with “Ben-Hur 2016”, I just wish Toby could find his footing in a true star-making role, one that could seriously catapult him into the stratosphere.

In the meantime, I’ll be the one catching Kebbell’s magic via Netflix on the flat screen in the den, remembering my morning recording Toby before his days with Judah Ben-Hur,  popcorn in-hand, smiling – and shaking the dust off my sandals.

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TobyRickettsVoiceOverAirliftProductionsNOLA“Working on the road can be a pain for voice artists – I was so glad to find Airlift studios on my travels, just outside NOLA CBD! What a beautiful, cozy, and quiet space to work in. Micheal was an absolute pleasure to work with, being 100% professional and 100% nice guy! If I’m ever in the Big Easy again, I’ll be sure to stop in and see Mike at Airlift Productions.” ~ TOBY RICKETTS, Award-Winning, World-Class, New Zealand-based VoiceOver Talent

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Airlift Productions ~ Where the warmth of analogue lives … and the lightning speed of digital delivers!

Airlift Mike & Trick Or Treat In Old New Orleans

Well, it’s that time of year again, when a morning dog walk through the ‘hood yields visions of ghosts, witches & goblins, all sharing front yard space with – the blessed Virgin Mary!

Only in New Orleans.

OK, possibly in other parts of America, but never more pronounced than here in a 300-year-old city predominately old Spanish, old French – and very Catholic.

So, in the spirit of Halloween, yours truly decided this past week to do a little bit of audio trick or treating of my own.

After spending quite a bit of time re-designing my Airlift Productions website, I went to work, trick or treating…

In an attempt to find some new folks to work with, some new “playmates in the sandbox”, the Shadeaux and I went to the internet, since no one really picks up a work phone anymore, and receptionists actually answering a phone is so last century.

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Airlift Mike & The Shadeaux at Airlift Productions, where Every day is ‘Take your doggie to work’ day

After doing a google search on the top advertising agencies in New Orleans, visiting each of their respective websites (amazingly, some had none), I wrote each one a rather succinct email, or simply filled-out their ‘contact page’ form.

I merely told each agency that I had been a voice talent, writer, studio owner, and audio production dude here in NOLA for the past 30 years and wanted to connect with them to discuss possible future work together.

These words were followed by an invitation for each of them to visit my website for corroborating material – audio, video, studio pics, and testimonials.

In closing, I simply asked, “May we talk?” And closed with a signature, phone number, and  the line “much respect”.

So, what happened?

After a substantial, decades-long contribution to the media DNA of New Orleans – years of audio production and voice work, shouldering the outdoor campaigns of WGNO and WNOL, WDSU and WVUE all old-school (reel-to-reel tape dubs in cardboard boxes), 17 years with the Lamarque Motor Company, ten years pro bono with the United Way, twelve years producing all the radio campaigns for The Esplanade Mall ….

Nothing.

Crickets…. Not a single reply.

Trick or Treat!?!

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” … er, ah, a millennial. Wait a tick, I’m in the wrong holiday!

Either way, sorry, gang, but the way my mother raised me, I see this back-handed treatment as just downright rude.

Whether I’m considered (along with my formidable studio) irrelevant, old-school & ‘dated’ – or a threat, in the business world, of which advertising agencies sure are a part,  the courtesy of a reply is appropriate.

How about one more thought.

The prophet will always be without honor in his own land.

Oh, and a Happy Halloween to you and yours.

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

Doctor Morgus & Airlift Productions House Calls: The Sequel

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Morgus the Magnificent – aka Sidney Noel Rideau Records VoiceOvers at Airlift Productions … for over a Quarter of a Century

OK, it occurred to me after sifting through some of my recent posts, that with visitors to this blog from corners of the globe like China, the UK, Moscow, and even Nigeria… perhaps a few points might need some clarification.

Especially with Halloween now in the air around America… and thoughts & google internet searches about Doctor Morgus on the rise.

Throughout the many decades of Morgus episodes on late night TV, Chopsley was the good doctor’s right-hand man, his henchman, his willing (or not so, as the case may be) accomplice. So, for three decades running now, yours truly has served ‘the master’ as the REAL Chops!

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E.R.I.C. the talking skull records VoiceOver at Airlift Productions

Think the role of Alfred to the Batman. Or, as Uncle Sid and I have often joked in a more literary analogy, to borrow from Cervantes, I have operated as the Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote.  Yes, Dr. Morgus, er ah, Sidney Noel Rideau & I have jousted at many a windmill… and we have both been considered a pickle short of a whopper by many!

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Sid & I (together with many others today) see much of today’s youth rather long on arrogance and a tad short on character – lacking true values, ethics & a moral compass.

So, what if we could reach them and teach them BEFORE they reach the age of reason, and give them important life-altering thoughts and concepts that will impact their future? And America’s?

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Sidney Noel Rideau ~ Founder & Creator of the Internet Story Club

Yes, despite Sid’s rather heady accomplishments entertaining generations of late night horror fans  as Morgus the Magnificent, it is his ambitious approach to reaching today’s youth via stories, fables & parables that he really wants to serve as his legacy.

Sidney Noel Rideau calls it the Internet Story Club! 

Consider this our attempt to use the very medium that has been a roadblock to education – the television – to enlighten, inform, and develop character in today’s youth.  Some windmill, eh?

Witness this approach at work here. Sid does the intros and outros and leaves what’s between the quote marks to me, personally directing me through the reads, looking for a ‘voice of God’ sound and flavor.  These public service announcements promoting the Internet Story Club  – sponsored by the N.O. Public Library – air in the New Orleans market on Fox-8 TV when you least expect it.

These are but three  – of 45 total – PSAs that we produced. With many thanks to Blaine Strawn and his incredibly talented post-production team down at WVUE-Fox-8 on Jefferson Davis Parkway

Allow me to close with one more, from my favorite running partner & metaphysical space cowboy, the sage of Concord ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ….

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

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Norman Robinson in the Airlift Productions Studios August 2015

“I have had the privilege of working with professionals all over the world.  Micheal Ziants is among the best of them.  His professional integrity is only surpassed by his love for humanity.  It is perhaps his boundless humanity that drives his passion for his work and his compassion… to say nothing of his appreciation and understanding of the human spirit at it’s most creative level.”

NORMAN ROBINSON, Nightly News Anchor at WDSU-TV, New Orleans for over two decades

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