Musings from the far side of an “UnCon”

There are times I think I’m bucking for “most random blog posts ever”  here on LoveBytes.  🙂  This month, I want to give you a view into one of the most remarkable and unusual conferences I’ve ever been to.

I do a number of various conventions as part of the job.. which are both awesome and horrifying.  There is a fascinating ambivert reality of actors… where we are REALLY REALLY good at being ON and performing the part of the networking master… and in between we’re hiding in our hotel rooms looking wistfully at the minibar and the HBO channels.  GayRomLit, RT, Nebula Con, World Fantasy Con, BookExpo America… these are just some of the things I hit on a yearly basis as part of the schmooze and networking thing that I do.


And then, there was “FaffCon”

No… FAFF con.  FAFF.  Jesus, you people.  (That would be FapCon….Honestly. This is why we can’t have nice things)

FaffCon arises from the British slang “Just faffing about” or “just messing around, having a laugh” and it’s a variety of “un-Conference” first brought to being in the IT world.  Essentially, con organizers realized that the most useful stuff that happened at conferences and conventions happened in the hallways, the elevators, the lounge, the bar… and they started hosting just that.  An un-planned conference.  They rent a hotel in a hub city with cheap airfare, book a bunch of rooms, and don’t plan any talks except the opening.  Everyone sits in the round, the attendees lead the talks.

120 working industry professionals from the VoiceOver world gathered in Minneapolis MN in late August, for FaffCon 8, and it was amazing.

Firstly, that’s an UNBELIEVABLY small number of my colleagues, and only a handful of us are audiobook narrators. (we had a tight window to get in to the conference) We had commercial VoiceOver, and promo people (you know “this week, on Deadliest Catch..”) and ADR (dubbing) and animation and e-Learning and IVR (“thank you for calling, please listen carefully, as our menu choices have changed”) and more.  We got together, and proposed sessions we wanted to host on 8×10 card stock, posted it on the wall, and let people vote.  (My session* got over 30 votes!) and then…we led them.  We were doing something from 7:30 every morning, until well past 11 every night.  I am told the hotel had a pool… I could not speak to this as I cannot imagine having had enough energy to seek it out.  LORD.

I learned a lot of interesting tidbits while I was there.

  1. The rest of the voiceover world, thinks audiobook narrators are a bit mental.  Like triple marathon runners, or pentathletes.  “But… but books are so LONG!  And… And you have to read them first, and you’re not getting paid while you do that!”
  2. Commercial VO people spend a LOT of time trying not to sound like commercial VO people.  Like, that whole “HEY!  Come on down to Bill’s Buick Emporium!  Have we got CARS?!  WE GOT CARS!!!”  sound?  Yeah, that’s sooOOOOooo 20th century.  😉
  3. ADR/Dubbing is…. IN-SANE.  You have a screen with the show you’re dubbing, a headset with the audio from the show, a screen with  your lines in English, and at best a color change to the words so you know when to say them.  You have like 3 – 2 – 1 GO and you have to say the lines, match the overall tone and pace of the actors on screen, do any breaths, laughs, kissy sounds, what have you that the actor does… and you haven’t seen the script before hand, and you generally only get one take.  I got to try it…. MENTAL.   It’s like I imagine playing a drum kit to be… each limb doing something different.
  4. Animation wants you to go big, or get lost.  Even tho a lot of animation characters are very subdued… if you’re trying to get the part, you really need to pull out the stops.
  5. I really, really, REALLY don’t want to do commercial VO work…. but if you give me a commercial read and put me in front of people, I want to do it anyway?  I think I’m just a ham.


I came away with a whole new respect for my corner of the profession.  What we do as narrators is, in a lot of ways, the VO equivalent of experimental theater.  We do it because we can’t help it.  We’re story junkies.  We want to get inside the characters and roll around in them.  And many of us make 1/20th of what our colleagues make.  *shrug*  What’reya gonna do?  Apparently the world needs more Sonic Burgers sold than love stories told… at least according to the marketing department.

I returned to my studio, and picked up my mouse and went back to work.  In the two weeks since I got back, I’ve recorded three new books, and put finishing touches on two more.  I’ve spent hour upon hour with characters that made me feel something.

And the best part?  Next week, I get to do it again.  🙂


Love and good reading to all.  Keep those stories coming!



* My session was “Using productivity tools to improve your workflow IN the booth” for the curious.

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