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Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Beauty of Voiceover for Entertainment

If you like acting, then you may just love voiceover work.  There are many differences between stage acting and voiceover acting, of course, but many of those differences favor voiceover.  Consider the following advantages:

Hide Behind an Animated Character There is a sort of joy that comes from working on voiceover for a cartoon or other animated work.  This is true for the writers and for the voiceover actor alike. When your face is not linked to the words of the characters in the minds of the viewers, then the writer can feel free to write more evocatively then he or she might otherwise.  Similarly, your inhibitions can be drastically lowered, because you are, in essence, hiding behind an animated mask.  There is most definitely a sense of freedom that comes from knowing that.

Hire One Person for Multiple Roles For the casting director, the ability to pay one salary to have multiple characters cast is certainly a reason to celebrate.  For the voiceover artist able to secure such a job, it is a wonderful opportunity to explore the various reaches of his or her voice.  Of course, the chances of securing multiple roles within the same script are much greater for those voiceover artists willing to practice, train, and challenge themselves.

Physical Appearance Plays a Less Significant Part Like it or not, many stage roles are going to require a specific appearance.  This means that you can be ruled out before you have even auditioned, simply because your face, skin, hair, or stature doesn’t fit the character.  Voiceover eliminates this variable.  As long as you can give a convincing voice to the character, it doesn’t matter what you look like.  I won’t go so far as to say that physical appearance doesn’t matter at all.  We are humans, and as such, we cannot help but form certain judgments based on another person’s appearance.  Casting directors are human as well.

Ease of Scheduling For everyone involved, there is some joy to be found in the knowledge that scheduling doesn’t have to be a nightmare when it comes to recording voiceover.  In fact, most working voiceover talents have recording booths in their own homes, which means that they don’t even have to rely on studio booking.  The recording can be done early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends, or at whatever times work best for the artist, so long as the deadlines are met.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Describe Your Voiceover Style in Four Words

If you visit my Facebook Page, under the About tab, you can find a short biography, including information about my career as a voiceover talent.  In the additional information section, there is an even shorter bio.  This is the perfect place to test out your ability to give your elevator pitch.  After all, you are only allowed a small amount of space to tell your story, and to give potential clients a feel for what your voice can do.
Whether you are doing this exercise for the purpose of creating a better Facebook bio, or because you want to be able to promote yourself, even if only provided the time that it takes to ride up a couple of floors on an elevator, then you’ll find that it is a bit more difficult than it sounds.
The key is to select adjectives that really describe your voice.  We’ve all seen (and likely written) the resumes that describe the person as driven, motivated, hard-working.  This really doesn’t tell the potential employer much about the person at all, but I like to think that the following four adjectives tell you (and potential clients) a great deal about my voice:

  • Warm
  • Real
  • Rugged
  • Rural

My aim was to describe the sound of my voice in as few words as possible.  Take a listen to my demos and I think you’ll agree that I did that quite well, but it took me some time to determine the best descriptors to use.  I do have four tips for you as you come up with your own four adjectives:

1.  Listen to your own recordings and jot down ideas as they come to you. Listening to the recordings while brainstorming will help you hear yourself as others would.
2. Keep in mind the type of voiceover work that you most enjoy doing. You may not be able to narrow down to that niche just yet, but describing yourself in the right way can help you appeal to that particular segment.
3. Consider nicknames and adjectives others have used to describe you in the past. Your voiceover work is just an extension of you.
4. Ask friends or family members to describe your voice in four words. You may not wind up using any of these, but it can lead you in the right direction.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Are You Podcasting Yet?

It is the perfect answer for voiceover artists, and if you aren’t doing it yet, you might be missing out on a fantastic opportunity.  Podcasting is something that many professionals expected to come and go.  That, however, is not what happened.  The trend stuck and there are many businesses that are profiting from their podcasting efforts right now.  For voiceover talents, it is the perfect form of media.  Just consider the advantages.

Garner Useful Information for Your Business Believe it or not, it is not just the audience member who can learn something from your podcast.  If you are wise enough to recruit interviewees who have been in the business longer than you have, you’ll likely learn a great deal too. 

Practice Your Voiceover Hosting a regular podcast is also a great way to ensure that you are continually honing your voice.  While entertaining and informing others, you’ll also be practicing speed, enunciation, and pronunciation.  Great exercise for the growing voiceover actor.

Get Exposure If you want to be discovered by the voiceover casting directors, then you have to make yourself discoverable.  A regularly airing podcast is a great way to improve your website SEO, to meet more people within the industry, and to make yourself stand out in the minds of potential employers.

Create Content for Marketing Purposes As already mentioned, the podcast is also a form of content.  When you create regular content (especially content of value) you have something to share with your online community.  Post the audio file to your website, share it from there, and get others to comment on-, like-, and share it.  You’re search engine ranking will begin to improve.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

So You’re Starting a Voice Over Career…

Undoubtedly, you are filled with nervous anxiety, hope, and a lot of questions.  That is perfectly normal.  This is a great industry and it can provide a wonderful career, but there are some obstacles that you will have to overcome along the way.  The first of those is getting past the potential predators of the industry.  Unfortunately, there are some who would love to take advantage of new talent in the field.

Many of the lurking predators wear the title of “Voiceover Coach” or “Casting Agent”.  This, it is important to note, is not all-encompassing.  There are voiceover coaches who have helped some of the best in the industry become even better.  They have established themselves in the industry, just as you must, and they have truly valuable information to pass along to you.  The same is true of many agents.  However, there is one difference between the legitimate and the predator – the promises they make.

A legitimate coach or agent isn’t going to promise to turn you into a star overnight.  They aren’t going to promise you a fortune in your future.  What they will promise is the education, the information, and the insight that can help you begin to establish yourself in a very competitive industry. Remember, talent agents simply present you with opportunities through auditions.

If you are hearing or reading things such as “you have such a great voice, such promise” or “anybody can do it”, beware.  The truth is that not just anybody can do this work, because it does require a strict level of dedication.  That is why promises such as “take just this ONE class”, or “pay for just this ONE demo” should not be believed.  This isn’t a one-and-done kind of profession.  You must keep working, keep learning, keep growing if you wish success as a voiceover professional.

Many look at this career path as the ‘dream job’ and it can be, for the right person.  You have to decide now if you are pursuing this because you want to get rich quick while working in your pajamas, or if you are doing this because you believe you can create a worthwhile, respectable career from it.  Do expect this to be a fulltime job.  Undoubtedly, if you hope to earn fulltime pay, then there will be times when you will work more than forty hours per week, will answer calls after hours, and will spend a week in the recording booth.  You can do this.  Rise above the nerves, take control of your future, and work hard for what you want.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Will you Make a Good Voiceover Artist?

In the vast majority of cases, we cannot say with any certainty, even upon meeting, that you will- or won’t make a good voiceover artist.  However, there are certain traits that most of the successful voiceover talents share in common.  So, perhaps by considering this list of those characteristics, you will get a better feel for whether or not this line of work is for you.

1.    Interesting Voice An interesting voice doesn’t mean that a person must be able to mimic various dialects, take on the voice of a cartoon character at a moment’s notice, or even must possess a sexy gravel to his voice.  It simply means that your voice is easy to listen to.  Does this mean that you are ruled out simply because you don’t have the most attractive voice?  No.  But, that will make the job harder for you.

2.    Flexibility of Schedule Do not make the mistake of believing that voiceover work can be completely arranged to fit your desired work schedule.  The fact of the matter is that there are times that you will be asked to be out the door in the early hours of the morning to meet with a casting director, and there are times when you will have to work late into the evening, in order to meet a tight deadline.  Therefore, flexibility of schedule will increase the likelihood that you succeed in this field.

3.    Malleable Personality While it would be brilliant if you could get the most desired voiceover work from the start, chances are that you are going to have to take a wide variety of different work in order to get your start as a voiceover actor.  That means that you must be malleable, able to shift from a playful script to a dry, purely informative piece.

4.    Enjoys Performance The best voiceover actors generally share one thing in common – a love of performance.  They’ve had their own fair share of acting classes.  Most of them have performed on stage in the past, or even continue to do so.  But, they don’t just enjoy doing it, they also enjoy watching others perform.  This is important, because we learn a great deal about what works and what doesn’t by watching and listening to others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keep it Friendly with the Voiceover Engineers

While appealing to casting directors may get you the job, keeping it friendly with the voiceover engineers will ensure you keep it.  You want the voiceover engineers to speak in favor of you as a voiceover artist, but just as importantly, by keeping the peace with the engineers, you will better ensure that the time spent in the recording booth will be pleasant.  So, here are a few tips to make sure that you win over the engineers.
Don’t Touch the Mic Keep your hands away from the microphone. Once the recording starts, you absolutely shouldn’t touch the mic for any reason, or else you risk the wrath of the engineers. Each touch means more editing of the final recording.

Don’t Wear a Lot of Jewelry and Accessories This may sound silly, but jewelry often causes background noise. Wearing multiple bracelets can mean jangling every time you move your arm. Chunky rings can clink against various surfaces when you set your hand down. Even clothing like polyester can create unwanted noise while moving. Wear soft cotton, wool, etc... noiseless clothing.

Don’t Jump in Too Early Keep yourself cool and calm, and be sure to allow a little time between your lines and the lines of other voiceover actors. This is most important, obviously, when there are multiple speakers, but it is a good idea to always remain conscious of future editing that may occur.

Do Keep the Page Shuffling to a Minimum Flipping and re-stacking pages creates a lot of noise that must then be removed from the recording. If you've had time, transfer the script to your tablet device and read from that.

Do Silence Your Devices This one is obvious, but don’t stop at your phone. Be sure your smartwatch, any tablets or computers in your bag, or other such devices are silenced as well.

Do Give a Good Level When asked to provide a level, be sure that it is actually at the volume that you will be speaking throughout the recording. Just read a bit from the script ...in character.

Do Maintain a Good Distance from the Mic Too close and the microphone will pick up every mouth noise. Too far from the mic and the delicacies of your voice may be lost. Bring along mouth moistener to help eliminate dry mouth and clicks.

Do Bring a Bottle of Water A dry mouth is your enemy when working in voiceover. It’ll cause trouble for you, and it will also result in a lot more mouth noise – crackling, popping, etc. -- for the engineers to edit out of the recording. Green apples are also a good remedy for dry mouth. Just about every studio keeps them around.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Difference Between Positive- and Negative Client Personas

As a voiceover professional, chances are very good that you are also operating as an entrepreneur.  You are running your own business, building up your own brand, and establishing your own client base.  That means that you must understand basic marketing principles in order to ensure continued success for your company.  One of the most important things that marketers do, as they work to build up the brand reputation and the consumer base, is to create personas for their customers.

Customers are real.  Personas are a representation of what those customers share in common.  For instance, when a clothing line is asked who they are advertising their goods to, they may answer “Females between the ages of 14 and 21 who are enrolled in schooling and are likely to have financial support from their parents.”  This is a persona.  Great marketers will often go even more in depth, with personas that draw upon emotions, habits, likes, dislikes, and more.  They will create two sorts of personas as well – one for the customer they want to attract and one for the customer who will add little value to the brand.

As a voiceover artist, your consumer base is different, but the principle is the same.  You should know who you are trying to appeal to, and which potential clients you would do best to avoid.  For instance, a potential client who has worked with voiceover artists before, understands what is to be expected from the voiceover artist versus the voiceover engineers, and who feels a sense of loyalty to artists he or she has worked with before, is a very appealing prospect.  You can narrow your list of potentials down even further by dictating which area of voiceover work you wish to work in – corporate, audio books, animation, training videos, e-learning, etc.  On the other hand, you don’t want to waste your time with the prospective client who fails to return phone calls or emails, has never worked with voiceover artists in the past, who makes you wonder about his or her ability to pay when the work is completed, and who is unlikely to be seeking voiceover work again in the future.

Know the personas and market your brand accordingly.  You may be amazed at how much further your efforts get you when you have that sort of direction.