Analysis of Local Cambridge Mass Insurance Products and the Ecosystem around them

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Unique Insights on the Cambridge Mass Ecosystem

 

Having the right insurance is necessary to protect yourself and have a plan in place if an unexpected event occurs in the future. Residents in Cambridge, MA, can have access to a variety of policies and different types of coverage depending on their specific needs and lifestyle. Whether you spend time on the road, travel a lot or have a dangerous profession, obtaining the right insurance policies can have you covered when you need it most.

 

Auto Insurance

 

Cambridge ma auto insurance is required by all drivers with set minimum coverage limits. Drivers can also increase their coverage if they choose. Both collision and comprehensive coverage are available. Collision offers coverage for repairing or replacing a vehicle if it’s damaged or totaled on the road, even if another vehicle is involved. Comprehensive coverage offers repairs or replacement for your car if you strike a tree, animal or come in contact with a falling object. It can also offer compensation for theft, fire or vandalism of the vehicle.

 

The state has set laws on the minimum insurance coverage Massachusetts that must be obtained by each licensed driver. Obtaining the bare minimum of the state’s requirements for coverage may not always be enough when different types of incidents occur.

 

Life Insurance

 

Life insurance is commonly held by the sole provider of households to ensure the defendants don’t suffer from a significant amount of financial loss after the death of the insured. The insurance can secure the family’s financial future and also guarantees the estate is allocated to the beneficiaries.

 

You can obtain term life insurance quotes Massachusetts to compare rates when shopping around. One of the main factors that determine how much you’ll pay for your coverage is your age. Life insurance rates increase as the insured ages. 

 

The insured has at least 10 days after the policy is activated to return it or back out, which is known as a free look period. All premiums will be fully paid.

 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

 

Over 2 million people in the United States are injured in auto accidents each year, which can be debilitating and can affect your quality of life. It’s important to obtain personal injury protection Massachusetts auto insurance because you can receive a payout whether you or another driver were at fault for the collision. You won’t have to worry about seeking compensation from the other party or not having your medical bills covered. Personal injury protection (PIP) covers lost wages, damages to the insured, passengers of the insured any individuals you may have struck.

 

In Massachusets, PIP is a requirement to have when registering a vehicle. Those who are not eligible for PIP include the driver or passengers of motorcycles, those who are entitled to worker’s compensation and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

Up to 75 percent of lost weekly wages are covered by PIP, along with medical bills with or without health insurance according to Value Penguin (see more details here). PIP pays the first $2,000 of medical bills and health insurance pays the rest. Those who don’t have a health insurance policy can expect to have $8,000 of their medical bills paid by PIP. Some insurance companies require health evaluations and exams before the policy is delivered. Group insurance is also available through civic, professional or religions organizations.

How Misconduct Charges Are Filed Against Physicians in New York and Other States

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In NY, the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) has the power to file formal charges against a doctor based on a recommendation made by its investigative committee. Other states have similar organizations to monitor the actions of physicians.

Lawyers from the Department of Health (DOH) may be assigned certain matters for formal action; this way, they can review the case file the OPMC will have amassed on a doctor through its investigation. This way, the Office can prepare a formal statement of charges.

The OPMC may also try to work out consent agreements in order to settle the dispute without having to hold a formal hearing on the doctor’s case.

If the OPMC does file a formal statement of charges, it has to begin holding a hearing within 60 days. Before the hearing comes a discovery process, in which the Board for Professional Medical Conduct (BPMC) and the doctor who has been charged can get certain information from each other. There are four specific categories of information that can be discovered:

  1. A list of witnesses’ names (although  what they will testify to does not have to be shared);
  2. A list of the evidence that consists of documents;
  3. Photocopies of the documentary evidence on both sides; and
  4. A brief description of whatever evidence on both sides can’t be photocopied (e.g. physical evidence).

The hearing itself has to be conducted by a panel made up of three members of the BPMC—two doctors and one layperson.

The panel’s job is to examine the charges and the evidence and to hand down a decision as to the doctor’s guilt, as well as to recommend an appropriate penalty.

A DOH administrative law judge will issue rulings in response to all legal motions made during the hearing and will draft the panel’s final decision.

If you are a doctor against whom the OPMC has filed a formal statement of charges, or similar agency in another state, you should speak with an attorney who has experience in representing health professionals.

If you are a doctor against whom the OPMC has filed a formal statement of charges, then call our office at (212) 577-6677 to speak with our New York Professional Health Defense team.

Joseph Potashnik is a criminal defense and Professional License Defense Attorney based in New York City.

Joseph Potashnik & Associates
111 Broadway
Suite 901
New York, NY 10006
(212) 577-6677
https://www.nycriminallawyers.com/

Underage Drinking And Minor In Possession: The Laws & Consequences

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Whether it’s a beer at a high school party or some tequila shots taken to blow off steam during the first year of college, underage drinking is heavily prevalent among young people – and a problem. And it isn’t surprising – between depictions of drinking in television and movies, and in a world of strong peer pressure, there’s a high chance a young person will have an alcoholic drink before turning the legal age of 21.

In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 60 percent of young adults will have had a drink before turning 18.

And although drinking underage might seem like a rite of passage to some young adults, it can have steep legal ramifications. According to the Florida minor drinking laws, underage drinking or drug use can land a young drinker in jail as well as result in a permanent criminal record that will follow them for the rest of their life. This could mean the young person could be without a driver’s license and without driving privileges for an extended period of time.

There are also laws regarding minor in possession, meaning it’s a crime to possess alcohol under the legal age of 21. And in fact, as a minor under the age of 21, the person does not even need to be in physical possession of alcohol or drugs to be charged as a minor in possession.

In Florida, a minor can be charged with possession if they show signs of being under the influence, if they have alcohol of drugs in their system or even if they are in an area where alcohol is present.

If someone is arrested or cited for minor in possession charges in the Orlando area, the penalties can be tough. For a first offense, the person is facing a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries penalties of up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and/or a fine of up to $500. There is also a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension, which the judge can increase up to one year.

Penalties for possession of alcohol by a minor can be increased if there is a prior charge of the same crime. For a second offense, the charge becomes a first-degree misdemeanor and the penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, with up to one year in jail, and the loss of a driver’s license for up to one year on a first offense. For a second offense, it increases to a mandatory two years.

A conviction not only means legal and financial penalties, but it could also affect college and financial aid applications, employment or even finding a place to live. And in the case of an underage DUI charge, drunk drivers could face potential punishments such as jail time, fines, community service or suspension of the driver’s license.

In the case of underage drinking, minor in possession charges, or even underage DUI cases, it always benefits those facing charges to consult an experienced attorney who can build a solid defense. Please contact an attorney in your area if you need help with a juvenile facing alcohol related charges.

Orlando attorney Joe Knape is highly experienced when it comes to the matters of criminal defense and family law in Orlando and Central Florida.

The 850 CALL JOE Law Firm

1728 S Bumby Ave
Orlando, FL 32806
(850) 225-5563
https://850calljoe.com/ 

What To Do When Pulled Over by Police

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No one enjoys seeing a police car’s flashing lights behind them while driving, but it’s certainly true that when it comes to outcomes in a traffic stop, there’s a lot you can do to help the situation. It’s possible that you could even drive away with a warning instead of a ticket. Want to know how? Then read on.

Many people don’t realize that traffic stops are one of the most dangerous parts of a police officer’s job. Violence from a stopped driver isn’t uncommon, and each year, a number of officers are shot during so-called “routine” traffic stops. If you keep this in mind when you’ve been pulled over, it can help you conduct yourself in a way that doesn’t exacerbate a police officer’s concerns. 

The first thing to do when you see the police lights behind you is to begin the process of moving your vehicle to the right-side shoulder of the road, onto a well-lit sidestreet, or pulling into a parking lot. The last two are preferable, as there’s less risk of other vehicles injuring the officer. If you need to drive some distance before you can safely pull over, turn on your emergency flashers and, if needed, reduce your speed to let the officer know you’re complying. 

Once you’ve stopped the car, roll your window down all the way, turn off your engine, and if it’s dark out, turn on your car’s interior light. The more visibility that the officer has into your vehicle, the better. Once you’re situated, take a few deep breaths, put your hands on the steering wheel, and wait calmly for the officer to approach. Remain in the car unless the officer tells you otherwise. Keep in mind that the officer is watching for what are known as “furtive movements” that look like you may be attempting to hide or retrieve something. If your registration or insurance card is in the glove box, this isn’t the time to lean over and get it.

When the police officer arrives at your car window, things can get a little tricky. Generally speaking, you’ll want the officer to say more than you do, and you should respond with short answers whenever possible. You will likely be asked whether you know why you were pulled over, which is a police officer’s way of having you acknowledge your guilt. In the era of body cameras, you should expect that the interaction is being recorded. This means that if you think you may want to fight any ticket you receive, you shouldn’t affirmatively respond with, “Yes, because I blew through that stop sign back there!” Instead, you should say you don’t know. 

If fighting the ticket isn’t on your agenda, you have another option. You can acknowledge what you did wrong, apologize, and promise to do better in the future. Most lawyers will likely tell you that if you deny knowing why you were stopped, your odds of being ticketed go up, while if you say you’re sorry, your odds of being given a warning increase. Obviously, there are no guaranteed outcomes, but everyone appreciates courtesy and honesty, and it costs you nothing to be polite to a police officer. 

If you are carrying a gun in the vehicle or on your person, tell the officer. You probably know whether you live in a “must inform” state or not, but it’s a good policy to never surprise a police officer with a gun. If you do need to get into the glove compartment, center console, or even your purse to produce a document the officer has requested, explain that, and move calmly and deliberately when you retrieve them.

In most cases, at this point, you’ll wait to receive a ticket or warning from the officer. But what should you do if the officer has decided that something is amiss and orders you out of the vehicle or asks to search your car? First of all, follow an officer’s command to get out of the car. If the officer believes you may be dangerous, you are subject to a pat-down search. Cooperate with the officer and comply with instructions. 

When it comes to searching your vehicle, the situation is different. The officer will likely ask for your permission to search, but the question will likely be phrased as casually as possible. The officer might say, “Do you mind if I take a look inside your vehicle?” You have a Fourth Amendment right to decline the search, and it’s almost always a good idea to use that right. 

Finally, if the officer does issue you a citation, you’ll also be asked to sign it. Your signature is not an admission of guilt. It’s a record that the officer can use to prove that you are aware of the citation and that you will either pay the fine associated with the citation or go to court to either accept or challenge it. 

A minor traffic violation may not call for an attorney’s advice, but traffic stops are an extremely common way for people to end up facing more serious charges, from DUI to drugs, such as marijuana or even weapons charges. If this has happened to you, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area right away.

Matthew Reisig is criminal defense attorney in New Jersey with 25 years of successful verdicts, including more than 1,400 “Not-Guilty” verdicts for DWI arrests.

Reisig Criminal Defense & DWI Law
125 Half Mile Rd.
Ste 200
Red Bank, NJ 07701
(732) 625-9661
https://www.nj-defense-lawyer.com/ 

Did I Leave My Garage Door Open?

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Think about your morning routine. There’s coffee and breakfast to be made, kids to be wrangled out of bed, and showers all around. Everyone has to eat and end up in appropriate clothes for the day, and perhaps you or your spouse have hair and makeup to take care of. By the time everyone scuttles out the door, the kids to school and the parents to work, nerves are a little frayed. You could be forgiven for getting to the office and wondering: Did I remember to close my garage door this morning?

A lot of problems in life don’t have easy answers, but for this one, LiftMaster has a full suite of answers to ease your mind and protect your property.

You may already have smart appliances or systems in your home, so you can adjust the thermostat before you leave the office or see who’s ringing your doorbell even when you’re not home. With the LiftMaster Elite Series of garage door openers, you can make the biggest entrance to your home smart, too. Elite Series garage door openers have the reliability and quiet operation you trust from LiftMaster, plus built-in Wi-Fi so you can integrate the garage into your smart home system.

When you connect your Elite Series garage door opener to the MyQ app on your Apple or Android smartphone, you can easily tell at a glance whether everything is safe at home, and if it isn’t, you can close your garage door remotely. No more running back to the house to check and see.

The Elite Series with the MyQ app is a game changer for days when you just have too much on your mind. It also gives you the power to deal with situations at home when you’re not at home. Let’s say it’s mid-morning Monday and you’re at work when your neighbor calls to ask when is a good time to return the hedge trimmers they borrowed over the weekend. Right now is great, you can say, because you can give them access to the garage while you’re talking to them, and then close it up again when the item is back home.

You can also use the MyQ app to send reminders if you’ve left the garage door open for a given period of time, or to set timers to close it automatically if it’s open. Ever sat up in bed not sure whether the garage door was closed? With MyQ, just tell the app to close the door at your family’s bedtime every night. Peace of mind has never been simpler.

Smart home technology is changing the way we live while making us safer, more energy efficient, and more secure. If you’re ready to add your garage to the smart home revolution, LiftMaster has intelligent options that respect your budget and your time.

Vince Scarlato is Co-Owner of Cincinnati Door & Window, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.  His Company sells and installs garage doors & openers, Windows & Doors and other home building products.

Cincinnati Door & Window, Inc.
11 Techview Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45215
(513) 821-5095
www.cincinnatidoor.com

What is Workers Compensation?

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The idea of Workers compensation laws predates the United States as a country and can be traced back to Prussia.  In the Prussian system, it provided a social insurance to protect certain workers. The Prussian workers compensation system, brought the concepts of “no-fault”, “exclusive remedy” and no pain and suffering which have been adopted in the United States.

No-fault System

Often viewed as unfair to the injured worker, the legislative compromise is that injured workers do not have to prove negligence as they would in a personal injury claim.  Workers’ compensation is what is called a “no-fault” system. In theory it means that the worker need not prove that the employer did something or failed to do something that caused the worker injury, only that the worker was working and became injured. 

Exclusive Remedy

The exclusive remedy is the requirement that if a worker is injured on the job, he/she must go through the workers’ compensation system and cannot sue their employers in the civil courts like a personal injury claim.  There are certain exceptions to this rule.

Pain & Suffering

There is a lot of frustration when injured workers find out about the exclusive remedy.  Most injured workers complain that their employers violated safety regulations and forced the worker to put themselves in dangerous work environment.  As a result, the injured worker is upset to find out that the employer will not have to pay for the pain and suffering they feel by being injured. 

Most injuries that are not minor in nature are painful and the worker and their families suffer a great deal of financial and emotional stress related to the injury.  Depending upon the nature of the injury the injured work may have committed a lot of time and effort in becoming proficient in a particular skill. Regardless, the workers’ compensation statutes do not require or provide for payment of pain and suffering.  As such, no matter how painful or how much suffering an injured worker suffers under the workers’ compensation system they will not be able to collect. 

Understanding and realizing what workers’ compensation is and the limitations it has is important when a worker gets injured, so they can focus on what the workers’ compensation system does provide which is medical care for their injuries and 2/3rds of their average weekly wage if they are taken out of work completely.

The information in this article is based upon Georgia law, your state may be different if you have specific questions about a work injury contact a local workers’ compensation attorney immediately. 

Ty Wilson Law is a Savannah, Georgia law firm, serving clients who have been injured in an automobile accident or in the workplace.


Ty Wilson Law
1 E. Bay St. #305
Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 233-1100
https://www.tywilsonlaw.com/

 

Who’s At Fault in a Self-Driving Car Accident?

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The future is upon us, and more and more companies are testing out versions of autonomous vehicles, more commonly known as self-driving cars. Technology evangelists promise enormous benefits to society from this advance, helping with everything from commute times to climate change.

Skeptics worry about the dangers, pointing to the risk of hacking, and wondering who, precisely, will be liable when a self-driving car hurts a person or damages their property in a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees safety requirements for America’s roadways. As cars have become increasingly computerized, with extremely advanced safety features, NHTSA has designated six tiers of automation, ranging from zero, where the driver is fully in control and there is no automation, to five, which is a fully automated vehicle that can operate with or without a human.

In between, the levels reflect various automated safety features, like lane departure warnings and lane centering assist.

Self-Driving Cars and Accident Liability

As those fully automated, level five vehicles hit the roadways in greater and greater numbers, it is the automobile manufacturers who will take on an increasing liability load. If the programming and automation in a self-driving car fail and cause injury or damage, the case will be treated like a product liability case.

Auto makers will be under enormous pressure to design and program cars that are safe and reliable, and failures will not only be a cause for legal action, but a serious public relations problem.

The thing to keep in mind is that from the perspective of car makers and government regulators, the features leading us to full automation of driving are all present to improve car safety.

As car makers develop better and better tools to detect blind spots, keep you in your lane, prevent collisions, and brake for emergencies, the line between driving and self-driving gets thinner and thinner.

How to Handle a Car Accident

Whatever kind of vehicle is involved, a car accident is a big deal. The best way to protect yourself and recover maximum damages is to work with an experienced car accident attorneyin your state.

Do your research and find the best you can.  It’ll pay off at the end of the day.

Louis Gertler is a Partner with the Gertler Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana. The law firm represents plaintiffs in personal injury matters and focuses on succession planning as well.  The information above is not legal advice and we urge you to consult with a local attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Gertler Law Firm
935 Gravier Street,
Suite 1900
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 581-6411
https://www.neworleanspersonalinjury.com/

Can Countess Luann Put the Pieces Back Together Now that She’s Off Probation?

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Luann de Lesseps, the Countess of the Real Housewives of New York franchise, began her run on the show’s 2008 first season with an enviable family life. Her husband, Alexandre de Lesseps, was descended from a long line of French nobility, and their two children were thriving junior members of their jet-setting elite. Luann had long dreamed of a career in television. In fact, she and Alexandre met on the ski slopes of Gstaad, Sweden, after she had moved to Italy to work as a television soccer announcer. It is a credit to Luann’s charisma that at the time she knew nothing about soccer and did not speak Italian. 

Everything was going swimmingly for the newly-minted Bravo star – she was hard at work on her first book, Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair – when, in early 2009, she received an email from Alexandre. He told her that he was having an affair, and had in fact fallen in love with, Ethiopian Princess Kemeria Abajobir Abajifar, and wanted a divorce after 16 years of marriage. In a New York Times profile after the book’s launch, Luann expressed that she had worried that the book, which is partly a guide for how to get and keep a man, would be negatively impacted by the news of the divorce. To the contrary, her predicament elicited enormous sympathy from her audience, boosting both the show’s ratings and the book’s arrival in the world. Class with the Countess painted a picture of a prim and proper woman, and her on-screen persona projected a superiority over the other Housewives. In light of that, it’s especially interesting to see the direction that Luann has taken her life in the decade since the split. 

There was her foray into music, shaped and shifted by Autotune. Her first single was called Money Can’t Buy You Class, and along with a provocative video, certainly began the transition of Luann de Lesseps from nobility to flamboyant commoner to, as would come a few years later, an alcoholic cabaret singer fighting to stay out of jail after assaulting a police officer. There would also be another, extremely short-lived marriage, to tie it all together. 

By the time 2016 began, Luann was dating a new man, a Palm Beach-based businessman named Tom D’Agostino. Tom wasn’t new to the Housewives scene, having previously dated fellow cast member Ramona Singer following her divorce from her husband of 20-plus years, Mario Singer. Things moved extremely fast with the pair, and in February, Tom presented Luann an 8-carat diamond engagement ring. They had known each other all of nine months, following an introduction by another co-star, Dorinda Medley. If you’re thinking this relationship is headed for greatness, buckle up. Things get increasingly bumpy from here. 

First there were comments from Bethenny Frankel, another Housewife with a tough relationship history, who revealed that Tom had been sleeping with cast members for some time. This put distance between Luann and Bethenny, but did not stop the forward momentum of Luann and Tom, who announced that they would be marrying on New Year’s Eve, 2016, in Palm Beach. In August, Bethenny went so far as to share pictures with Luann that showed Tom making out with another woman. According to Bethenny, they were taken the night before a party to celebrate his engagement to Luann. 

With months still to go before the big day, Luann apparently decided to continue throwing caution to the wind, and the wedding remained on. But not on TV, it turned out, much to the chagrin of the producers at Bravo. Instead, she sold the rights to People for $20,000. A source close to RHONY told Page Six, “Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The wedding is the biggest storyline of the year for the show, and Bravo is furious.” 

Comfortably or not, Bravo got it over it. After all, Housewives watchers and the public at large all had a sense that the Tom-Luann romance may not have been all it was cracked up to be. In May, she shared a seemingly calm depiction of a perfect Hampton’s birthday, complete with getting out on the water in one of the two boats they have docked at Sag Harbor and some doubles tennis. On August 3, amid endless reports of Tom’s cheating and marital squabbling, the pair filed for divorce after just seven months of marriage. 

Fortunately for the drama drivers at Bravo, this was nowhere near the end of Luann’s very bad 2017. Days before Christmas, she returned to Palm Beach for the holidays, where she reportedly became incredibly intoxicated, refused to leave a hotel room which was not hers, and over the course of several hours, fought with police officers until she began issuing death threats and then struck at least one of them. She was charged with disorderly intoxication, battery of an officer, resisting arrest, and threatening a public servant, charges that could have landed her in prison for years. She checked herself into rehab and spent much of the year having her law firm negotiating a plea agreement with Florida prosecutors. 

Once that was in place, she nearly found herself back behind bars when she reported to her probation officer that she had consumed two mimosas after a performance of her touring cabaret show. Somehow, she talked the judge into giving her another chance, and in May, walked out of the courtroom after briefly being handcuffed. Finally, in August, her probation in Florida ended, and it appears that Luann has happily let go of sobriety now that there’s no risk of jail for enjoying a few drinks. 

She closed out the recent BravoCon event (starting an hour late, naturally) to rave reviews, and told People magazine that she’s “drinking responsibly again.” Other reports suggest the “responsible” part may be pretty flexible, but at least so far, Luann hasn’t made any headlines with her out of control antics. 

The Attorneys with Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino offer professional and affordable solutions for NYC residents seeking a divorce or other family law legal assistance.

Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino, PC
138-44 Queens Blvd #2
Queens, New York 11435
(718)-523-1111

What to Look for When Hiring a Voice Actor

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You know you need just the right voice for your next project, but you’re not sure how to go about getting it. With literally millions of search results flooding onto your screen, the search for a quality voice actor can be daunting. You can narrow the list down rather quickly if you keep these top tips in mind.

Basic Criteria

Before you even start your search, make sure you have solid criteria for our ideal voice over talent. Your ideal candidate needs to be:

  • Available when you need them
  • Open and willing to respond to your questions and inquiries
  • Eager to make your job easier
  • Aligned with your goal of creating an amazing project resulting from an equally amazing collaboration

Include any additional criteria you may be seeking, such as male or female, age range and experience with the type of project you have. Searching with keywords or phrases that pinpoint what you’re looking for can narrow down your search significantly.

Quality Demos

Demos are typically edited to perfection, so they’re not the end-all for choosing your ideal voice over actor. But they can certainly be helpful for getting an overall feel for what the talent sounds like. Experienced pros will have a portfolio of recordings on their site that includes demos and samples of other projects. They’ll give you a general idea of a voice actor’s range and capabilities.

Solid Experience

Experience is the greatest teacher for honing talent, skills and professionalism. Highly experienced voice over actors are more apt to deliver a higher-quality final product than less experienced talent. A background and training in acting is another plus, as is a lineup of notable clients. You can typically find all this information in the actor’s bio and on other areas of their website.

Custom Audition Option

If the talent you’re considering won’t even consider a custom audition, it may be a sign to look elsewhere. Most professional voice over actors are glad to provide custom auditions to give you a sample of what they can do for your script.

Agreement with Project Details

Your final discussion before hiring needs to focus on the project details. This is the time for client and talent to get their questions answered. The voice actor may ask questions about where and how the recording will be used, along with the script length, duration of use and the deadline. Answers to these questions typically play a role in the rate.

Once all your requirements are met to your satisfaction, you should be well on your way to collaborating with just the right voice that delivers exactly what you need.

Voice Actor Debbie Grattan has leveraged her acting skill into a successful career in voice over for over two decades. She has a degree in Drama from UC Irvine, and has won awards for her stage performances. 

Can Voiceover Survive Beyond the 2020’s?

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Like many industries, voice over, an offshoot of acting and broadcasting, has seen great disruption in the past decade. Fueled by the twin engines of a voracious demand for content and lower technological barriers of entry, actors, broadcasters, and second or third career seekers have set up studios in their houses and began recording virtually to meet this demand. It has been almost a decade since the world first met Siri, and yet as artificial intelligence (AI) applications move firmly into the world of voice recognition and reproduction, alarm bells have been sounding in this sector of the entertainment world. Will AI replace the tens of thousands of actors who make or supplement their livings with voice work? Can voiceover survive the 2020’s?

A Brief History of Voice Over to its Current Swelled State

The first recorded voice was captured over 150 years ago, and subsequent use of voice over in film, then video footage gained widespread use in the mid-twentieth century. Other than in documentaries, some Disney films, and very limited use in TV, (i.e. The Twilight Zone, The Waltons, The Wonder Years) voice over for the most part, fell out of favor in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Its biggest arenas were in commercials, the growing corporate business video world, and in animation.

The ‘90’s ushered in new major long form narration genres of eLearning and audiobooks and character-driven gaming voice work. Another major influence in voiceover narration that decade was reality TV. Often a series narrator was necessary to make sense of the bits and pieces of clips and interviews woven together. This led to narration in scripted television series like Desperate Housewives and Arrested Development, as well as Gossip Girl and Jane the Virgin where the omniscient narrator turns out to be a character in the show itself.

Add to those developments, the massive spread and amplification of the internet, You Tube and the voracious demand for video on the internet and suddenly demand for voiceover swelled, seemed to be needed everywhere. Enter AI.

Siri, Alexa and the Development of Voice Technologies in AI

Artificial intelligence, a concept first referenced in myth, named in Dartmouth College in ’56 and developed in the 21st century, AI voice technologies became widespread with Apple’s introduction of Siri in 2011. Developed in conjunction with SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center and recorded by Nuance Technologies, Apple’s virtual personal assistant, Siri uses advanced machine learning technology. Other voice services like Alexa and Google Home do as well. As the algorithms, data and opportunity for machine learning continue to grow, those AI voices are sounding more and more human.

The irony is that voice actors themselves are often the ones creating the templates for AI voice applications. Offer a hungry voice actor a year’s salary for a month to two months of work and many will and have jumped at the chance. Creators of AI voice applications ask actors to repeat various sentences in several different emotional contexts in an attempt to record and capture rich prosody. Prosody is the distinct rhythm, tones, pitch, patterns and variety of speech sounds that we create naturally. Often once recorded, the voice actor loses control of how these recordings may be licensed. In the face of exponential improvements in the quality of artificial intelligence voice programs, where does that leave voice over actors?

The key to their survival may lie in our increasing appetite for authenticity. It may be a chase and catch up, and chase again situation but there will be a difference between the recordings of human voice over artists and actors and those of machines, because the human artists will create new ways to communicate and differentiate themselves from those created by algorithms.

The Key to Survival for Voice Over Actors

As a lifetime voice over actor and performance coach and director, one of those key differentiators that I teach is an actor’s connection with the script and with the listener and how to perfect it. This is something that cannot be fed into a machine. To survive the chase of voice related AI will force actors to up their game. Become better storytellers. Make stronger, more interested and more interesting connections between the writer, the message and the end user.

The commercial voice over world has seen disruption in performance. It began in LA and New York and has become ubiquitous. Gone are the rhythmic sing-song voices that used to sell you bathroom tissue and cars. Today’s voiceover commercial artists speak in simple matter-of-fact tones, lean into the inspirational. If there is rhythm in the read, it’s more likely to be aligned with the kind found in poetry slams, or mashups of bedtime story tone with rap. Podcasts have disrupted eLearning, such that the robotic rhythmic narrator reads of yore don’t cut it and superior eLearning narrators sound like they are having a dialogue with the listener rather than spouting off a lecture.

Certain genres that still rely on rhythms will change too. Like the news, with its dark foreboding tone and staccato delivery. i.e. “A 5 alarm fire broke out downtown at 3 a.m..” News readers will survive machines if they change this rhythm now to something more realistic. Something more unpredictable and unprogrammable. Explainer videos are another rhythmic voiceover genre that may need to change to survive the onslaught of AI. Explainers are those 90 second animations that present a problem then, explain a solution to a problem i.e. “Meet Tom. Tom has a problem. If only Tom could fix ABC, life would be peachy.”

The Value of Voice AI vs The Value of Voice Actors

Voice AI will thrive in markets where connection with the listener, persuasion or behavior change are of lower priority. When audio is seen as a lower priority it is most often a financial decision based on lack of understanding of its importance or use. If, however, content producers understand that because we are predominantly visual creatures and are much less forgiving of poor quality audio (“Poor sound can ruin an otherwise spectacular production.” LA Film School), they may rethink that strategy.

All eLearning, for example, has one of two goals: the transfer of knowledge (generally academic), or the change of behavior (generally corporate). If a content creator does not see the value in the audio component of their program, and narration is an after-thought, they will opt for a less expensive AI narration. However, if that creator understands that a strong emotional connection with content makes for better learning (transfer of knowledge) and conversion (behavior change) the value of human voice actors will be realized. Ensemble scenes and character-driven interactions will be another arena more amenable to the survival of human voice actors.

Another point of consideration moving forward may be our desire for more authentic interactions. Already so many of us are talking into the great void that is the internet and we are constantly searching for ways to be heard among the herd. AI voices will add to the noise. Authenticity, great storytelling and acting may be more necessary in the future than ever to rise above the din.

Kim Handysides is an award-winning voice over actor whose work has been heard over national networks, in the Whitehouse, in iMax, on Netflix and everywhere in between.

 

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