Hello, hope you enjoy! Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How AI Will Give Voice Over Actors Opportunities



As a voiceover actor or voice over artist, you are uniquely positioned to influence how AI (artificial intelligence) technology will evolve.  The opportunities for voiceover actors to create both static and dynamic audio content are vast and growing.  As the smart speaker and home assistant revolution grow, the voiceover industry will see growth as well.

Americans love AI

One in every three people owns some sort of smart speaker.  We commonly ask Siri and Alexa questions and they each have a unique voice that is recognized.  Americans are constantly looking to upgrade their homes to “smart home”. The features of AI are constantly growing and expanding.  Its presence in homes allows for automation of appliances, the temperature in the home, and offering solutions to everyday tasks.

What does this mean for voiceover actors?  More jobs or less?

Creating “Sonic Identities”

Brands will be looking for voice actors to build “sonic identities” for their customers. A sonic identity is the brand’s proprietary sonic voice that conveys the brand story, enhances emotional connection and builds brand attribution.  It ties together talking points across communications, live and digital experiences.  Apple has Siri and Amazon has Alexa, companies, and brands that will need their own versions.

How Voiceover Actors Fit with AI

Artificial intelligence creates opportunities across the board, and this includes the voice over industry.  While you may think that computer power AI applications generated voices, the voices originated somewhere.  That somewhere is a voice-over actor comes in. Those automated voices will need to sound more and more real, based upon good VO actors.

For a voiceover actor, the art of making AI sound human is the key.  Computerized voices need a human voice to establish the foundation of the vocal database.  Siri is voiced by voiceover actor Susan Bennett.  VO actors will be able to help create a more meaningful connection between people and technology they interact with by replicating everyday conversations.

Virtual Assistants and Voice Apps

Any device, app, or assistant that has a voice response option has started with a human, specifically a voiceover actor.  The same is true for virtual assistants and voice apps used across a variety of industries.  A VO actor originally recorded the voices that are there.

While some AI apps currently do not have a voice response to date, they are planning on adding the feature in the not so distant future.  Brands like Google which means more job opportunities.

More Work for Voice over Actors

Companies will need voiceover actors' experience in reworking scripts, audio cues, and prompts.  The opportunity to be the creators of vocal artificial intelligence is there for VO actors. The voiceover industry is poised for an exciting new platform of personalized communication.  Companies realize that the relationship between personalized content and brand loyalty is critical.  It poses a new area for voice over actors.

Artificial Intelligence is an emerging line of work for voice actors and more and more brands will seek to develop their own branded voice.  This new year is the time to expand and hone in on your craft and look for opportunities in this growing job opportunity arena.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Business Trends in 2020 That Will Positively Impact the Voice Over Industry



Business trends and media trends for the upcoming year can help you as a voiceover actor plan and prepare to increase your business.  They will need voiceover actors more and more on specific projects and you may need to look at your demo reels and be ready to hit the New Year running.

Increasing Demand for Training Content

This includes the development of educational content from training employees to courses training their clients... E-learning.  Industries are feeling the pull to create more content to keep up with the demand of the ever-evolving workforce.

 The training videos require a lot of moving parts to synchronize, grab a hold of the learner’s attention, and achieve real learning.  A bad script can hurt the project, but the voice can make or break a project.  Which is why the demand for a professional voiceover actor is needed.

For voiceover actor training, content requires a range of styles, roles, accents, and languages.  The trained actor understands how to deliver a performance that values the brand but interprets the script to the audience and engages them. A voice that does not become distracting from the content and can convey the message clearly. Without "getting in the way" of the content.

Digital Audio Advertising

Digital audio advertising is growing rapidly as businesses are racing to place ads where people are.  This also includes podcasts, internet radio, streaming services, voice-enabled, and voice-assisted devices.  Including mobile phones, tablets and watches.

As a VO actor, this will mean that it will be important to make effective audio ads.  Training in effective commercial communication and possibly updating your commercial demos should be at the top of your list, to land these types of jobs.

Podcasts Are Even More Popular

Podcasts will continue to rise in popularity as a form of entertainment, inspiration, and educational content.  The audience in 2019 grew and it will continue to have significant increases in 2020.  51% of Americans 12 years old and up have listened to a podcast.

For the Voiceover Actor, your technical recording knowledge needs to be current.  Make sure that it showcases your editing skills on demos.  Many podcasters will need help creating intros and outros for their podcasts as more and more outsource this to get the best voice possible.  These intros and outros will need to be short, clear, concise and possibly with music and SFX added.  They will look to you as the expert to help them.

Voice Powered Apps and Devices with Sonic Branding

Sonic Branding is the strategy of using music, voice, and sound, to help reinforce brand recognition and enhance the customer experience.

Audio content is at an all-time high and voice interaction is becoming the norm.  Brands are considering their audio branding based on the rise in popularity of podcasts, streaming services, voice assistant and other audio-driven media.  This trend will not only be for large corporations, but it will also impact businesses of all sizes.  Those who do not build an audio brand will get left behind.

The human voice has huge applications for voice-first devices and apps.  The computer-generated voice is based on a voice actor. Distinct voices that match the brand’s tone is what brands will need.  Which means more job opportunities for voiceover talents.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Trendy Speech Patterns Voice Over Actors Should Avoid



Voice over actors must keep up with current trends whether it is about technology, styles or even speech patterns.  However, just because a trend is popular does not mean that it is one that you would want to use at job auditions.  As a voice-over actor there are some trends currently that are not going to help you get a job unless it specifically is in the writer’s notes or part of the character.

What is Vocal Fry?

It is dropping the voice to its lowest natural register, which changes the way a person’s vocal folds vibrate together.  Those changes create inconsistencies in the vibrations and lend the speaker’s voice a subtly choppy or creaky quality.  The easiest way to listen for it is if the voice sounds creaky, choppy, breathy and at a lower register.

There are several celebrities that are noted for using vocal fry, which is why it is a current topic.
There is evidence that people respond negatively to vocal fry.  We consider people who use this being less competent, less educated, and less trustworthy. 

Men typically have a lower pitch than women, so their voice descends into fry more easily.

What is Upspeak?

It entails a rising intonation at the end of any and all utterances. Sometimes referred to as uptalk is rising inflection or high rising intonation.  The most common way that you will recognize it is when the ending of a statement sentence sounds like a question.

This results in listeners not taking them or their content seriously. They can perceive it as very passive-aggressive and it can hurt you in auditions.

Shotgun Speech Pattern

Like an actual firearm, shotgun speech is fast and furious. It is a rapid outburst of words. It is something that is seen in younger generations and common on TV shows. It can weaken your voice as you are not in taking enough air and can jumble your dictation.

Speaking too fast makes it hard for the audience to understand and they have to focus and work hard to get it all.  People perceive as nervous and anxious behavior.

This should not be your first choice unless you are directed to imitate an auctioneer.
  
Traditional Speech Patterns

When making a statement, traditional speech patterns automatically lower inflection at the end of a sentence. When asking a question, the inflection rises at the end.

The sentences need to end definitively.  Your voice is important to show you are confident and authority.  For a voice-over actor using traditional speech patterns can be the deciding factor in getting a second interview or the job over someone else.

Honing Your Craft

As a professional voice-over actor you already know the best way to improve your voice is practice and if need be lessons.  It is a craft that needs persistent honing.  With proper warmups and practice techniques, having a voice that is adaptable to the clients’ needs will always land you the job.  Knowing trendy voice patterns is good, but using them regularly could become a downfall in your brand.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Voice Over Talent for Podcasts



Podcasts are so popular that 44 percent of Americans 12 and older have listened to a podcast, and 80 percent of them listen to a podcast on an average of seven shows a week.  It is a huge opportunity for voice-over talent.

When someone is thinking about starting a podcast, they may overlook the intro and outro.
The podcast world is worth looking into as a voice-over talent.  Podcasters cover a wide range of topics and they have a good following.  It is worth exploring as a voice-over talent.

A Podcast Intro

The podcast intro is the show’s opening that introduces the show and the host.  It sets the mood and the tone of the entire show. The music and words are key factors.  However, a critical part is the tone and clarity.

The intros need to be clear, concise and to the point.  The voice needs to match the music and who can do that better than a trained voice-over talent.  The audience will come to identify the voice and the music with the podcast.  Like any good television show, commercial or radio program.  The podcaster wants them to hear it and know it’s their show. The voice helps to brand the show.

Content of A Good Podcast Intro

An intro to a podcast should have several key elements to make it noteworthy. 
·         Name of Podcast
·         Episode Number and Title
·         Music or sound effects
·         Name of Host
·         Podcast Overview or Tagline
·         Intro of Episode

While the podcast host may know this as the expert, they may call upon you the voice over talent to help them with the details.  If they have ideas, you will want to make sure that they do not add anything that detracts without adding value.

A Podcast Outro

The podcast outro is the closing that wraps the entire show up into a tidy package.  It leaves the audience with a feeling of an ending... a summation.  This is the place where a tagline is the core of the podcast.  The outro is part of the branding that keeps the listeners loyal. 

Like the intro, the outro needs to be short and sweet with a call to action.  Inviting them to continue to listen, tell their friends, or share the content.  There needs to be a mention of a website name or address for them to go to.

What Makes Good Podcast Outro Content

There are key pieces to a good podcast outro that need to be included in the creation.
·         Thank the audience for tuning in.
·         Website address, Contact Info and How to Get More
·         A Call To Action (CTA)

Why Hire A Voice Over Talent for A Podcast?

The pressure of creating an intro and an outro is more than many podcasters want to handle.  While talking about a subject that is their passion is easy, these need to be fantastic. 

A voice-over talent has the experience and training to perfect, smooth out and records a flawless intro and outro.  You understand the key elements and dynamics in using a voice to capture and keep an audience.

When speaking with a podcaster, remind them that you lend credibility, professionalism, and sophistication to their podcast.  Like a speaker on stage, someone always introduces them before they start.  Same in the podcast world.  The intro and outro are the bookends of a podcast and help draw the audience in with great narration. An outside POV is always more impressive.

Who knows, once you get into the podcast world you may even think about talking about your passion and share your knowledge with the podcast world on being a voice-over talent.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Growth Mindset Can Take Your Voice Over Career to the Next Level



To have a successful voice-over actor career is to have the proper mindset. Of course, your skills and talent are important factors, however, your mind is a powerful tool.  A growth mindset is more than positive and negative thinking.  It's changing the way you think, your habits and behaviors.

What is Growth Mindset?

Having a growth mindset is the belief that learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience.  When a person believes that they can become smarter and better, their efforts have an effect on their success, so they put in the extra time leading to higher achievement.

Your basic abilities are a starting point for your potential.  Everything can be developed with effort, learning and persistence.

Don't see failures as proof that you are deficient, but as a lesson that will take you to the next level.

Steps to Take When Using the Skills of a Growth Mindset Develop Positive Habits

Your static beliefs will hold you back from making positive changes.  You need to readjust your thinking that habits are not fixed and they can be changed.  You can build a new skill, break a consistent habit that is not elevating you.

Acknowledge and Embrace Your Weaknesses

By changing the way in which you think your craft can improve drastically.  You will have the openness to work on a new skill set for your voice over career.  You can take your new way of thinking and expand your genre, your worklist.

Identify your weakness and then create habits that will improve it and help you tackle it.  For example, if you want to establish yourself as an audiobook narrator but have not worked in that area,  start by creating good habits for research, finding your niche, and before you know it, your weakness will be a strength.

Challenges are New Opportunities

Taking on challenges is part of development.  It can be overwhelming but the more you challenge yourself and hone in on your craft, the more success you will gain.  Venturing off the usual path will take your voice over career to a new level. You can work from your "root" voice and branch out from there.

Focus on the Process

As a voice-over actor you already understand focusing on the process.  You've focused on the process to become a professional in the industry.  It is important to learn the process and focus less on the results.  You will get more out of the experience when you are in it. The results will come.

Set A New Goal Each Time You Accomplish One

You will never be completely finished with learning.  There is always another goal to reach or more expanding to be done.  Set goals for learning more in the voice-over industry, marketing yourself, gaining new clients, creating new character voices or just stretching the parameters within your root tone. With each goal a milestone will be reached and more clients and business and satisfaction for you.

Growth Mindset Will Get You More Work

Mind over matter is an old saying; however, it is true.  A growth mindset will help you take your aim of success and lead you to develop it.  When auditions you send get no responses, seek advice from voice over pros or additional training to improve a weakness. At the same time, realize those circumstances regarding auditions that you cannot change. 

Over time, your career will have successes and failures, but each negative is an area to work on to turn it into a positive. You have the talent as a voice-over actor, with a positive mindset and working through the steps, you will make your career soar.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Vocal Exercises and Stretching for Voice Over Actors on the Job




As Voice Over Actors, you want to warm up your voice before recording sessions to get the best sound. A regular workout for facial muscles, lips, mouth and tongue is a good way to maintain articulation, breathing, and posture. You want your voice to be loud, resonant and clear.

However, keeping your muscles limber and tone clear is important as your voice is your instrument. These are some great stretches from voice to toes to keep you in the best working condition.

A quick five minutes will keep your voice in top-notch condition and another five minutes during a session will keep your body limber.


Vocal Warm-Ups
· Yawn-Sigh – This will help relax your voice and improve range. Simply yawn, taking in air with your mouth closed. Then exhale through your nose as if you are sighing.

· Lip Trills and Flutter – This will loosen facial muscles and get your vocal cords warmed up. Place lips loosely together and release air in a steady stream – “bbrrrrr”. Repeat.


Articulation Warm-Ups
Articulation refers to the clarity and expressiveness with which you speak. Voice warm-ups will help you train your vocal chords.

Breathing exercises will help you improve your lung capacity and breath control. You want to breathe from your diaphragm.

· “Hum” – Inhale and begin to hum while slowly exhaling all of your air. Repeat five times.

· “Ha” – Stand and place hands on the abdomen. Breathe in and expand your stomach outward. Repeat “Ha” with each exhale, pushing in your abdomen with every syllable. Repeat.

· Tongue Twisters – Start slowly and build up speed. Repeat. Examples of tongue twisters are: High roller, low roller, lower roller. Red leather, yellow leather. Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers; If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?


Stretching the Body
Voice Over Actors immediately think of stretching and exercising vocal chords. However, long hours in a recording booth sitting or standing all day can have an adverse effect on your body.

· Stretch Your Shoulders – Doing shoulder shrugs can release tension and stress. Lift the shoulders up to the ears and hold for 1 to 2 seconds. Roll them back as you relax down.

· Stretch the Back of Your Neck – Drop your chin toward your chest and gently roll your head from one side to the other side.

· Spinal Twist – Sitting for long periods can leave it tight and achy. The spinal twist will work out the tension. From a seated position, feet flat on the floor, contract the abs and gently rotate the torso to twist. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

· Calf Stretching – Stand behind a chair, holding the back for support. Start with your feet flat on the floor, then raise your heels as you stand on your toes. Lower back down slowly. Repeat to complete a set of 10.

· Side Stretches – Loosen up your body and expanding your rib cage which will improve your vocals as well. Take a deep breath and raise your arms up to the sky. Exhale and slightly lean to the left, lengthening in your side body. Hold for a few seconds. Then switch to the other side.

Keep your vocal cords exercising and your body for long-term health benefits and a successful voice over career.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tips for Voice Over Talent Demo


Every voice over talent needs to have a demo.  Your demo reel needs to be your best work and best sample of what makes your voice unique. Your demo is your calling card. A well produced demo will showcase the styles of voice acting you can perform.  Whether you have one or you are looking to produce one, there are many considerations to make. 

When Is It Time for a New Demo Reel?

·        If your demo is more than three years old, it is time to think about an update.  Newer material is on-trend and prospects will be looking to see if you can do it.

·        Your agent or manager will want to make available to clients your latest demo.  They may just want you to add a new piece in with what they are currently promoting you with.  Keep in mind they use the demo to sell your talents.

·        When you feel like your demo is lacking something.  If you are not feeling as confident about your demo reel than it is time to produce a new one.

·        As you are evolving your craft as a voice over talent, your reel should reflect that change.  Maybe it is not the creation of a whole new reel. It could just be adding to your current reel.

·       Maybe Your brand is changing and you have started doing work in other areas and you want to add that to the reel and send it to people who have known you for years.  Or simply put it up on your website.
      Or your agent's website. It is a way to remind them you are out there and that they should consider you for other opportunities.

How Many Demos Do You Need?

A demo reflects your level of professionalism, your range, the value you offer to the client.  The uniqueness in you.

Your reel says who you are and what you are capable of doing.  You want to make sure that you are giving enough variety.  You want your range of abilities to be noted by a potential client, agency, or manager.

Online you can have samples so that all of your demos can be showcased, and the website will allow people to find exactly what they are looking for.  Create different demos for your different niches.

The basic three demos... Commercial, Narration and Character are still the best way to start.
These days I employ several demos on my website (www.ricklancestudio.com) that showcase my work in the various industries I work in. Such as Agriculture, Energy Production, Trucking, Health Care and Finance & Hometown Banking, etc. 

How Long Should the Voice Over Demo Be?

The length will depend on what type of work you are looking for.  The demo should have exceptional copy and production value. Commercial demos should be no longer than :90. Narration and Character or Animation demos can be a bit longer up to 2:00 or so.
· 
·        Audiobook and other long form narration should be about 5:00 minutes so that they can see your ability to stay in character for longer lengths of time.  Also, if there are multiple characters, they can hear the voice changes.  
es and are manufactured in materials to provide high durability t
Calling Card

A demo is a voice over talent’s calling card. Kind of a business card and resume blended together.  It gives potential clients the opportunity to see if your work matches their brand and sound.  And make sure that however your demo is produced, that you are capable of reproducing the voice styles found on your demo for actual projects you are hired to work on. easing