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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tips for Finding Voice Over Work and Understanding the Posting



As a voice over actor, you need to be on the lookout for opportunities, while some may naturally come your way, not everything will. For a new voice over actor, getting established will take some time, so put in the energy and time and it will pay off.

Finding Voice Over Work
There are four main ways to find voice over work, online sites often called pay-to-play, local businesses, advertising agencies, production companies... plus, word-of-mouth (no pun intended).

· Pay to Play (online sites) – The most common ones that are around are voices.com, voice123.com, Voices Pro, Bodalgo.com and a few others. The businesses that post jobs here are anywhere from small to large. They want professional voice over actors to work for them and on their projects. A range of types of jobs can be found on these sites. But use discretion when auditioning with these sites. Choose projects that suit your voice/style best. Don't waste time auditioning for those that don't.

Read the Entire Posting. Understanding all the details in the posting will help you not only decide if it is a good fit for you, it will also help you nail the audition. Some keys in a posting that are important to take into consideration.

· Work Type – When it comes to the types of work for voice over actors there are many. Each with unique and specific requirements. Think about your ability and strengths and focus on those. If you want to add more opportunity, you may want to consider training in workshops or with a private coach.

· Language, accent, and dialect – Make sure that you have the skill or have time to train with these. If there is a specific accent they want, no matter how amazing a voice over actor you are, it won’t matter. Hone in on your skillset.

· Consider the Specifications – Clients will always set a deadline for accepting auditions and when the final product needs to be done. If you are not able to meet these deadlines, then don’t apply. Never set yourself up to be considered unreliable. That could follow you around your whole career. Be sure you can realistically meet all the requirements needed for a specific project.

· Gender – Some voice over actors have the amazing ability to transform their voice to that of a different gender. However, this is a small group of people. Unless you are able to carry that voice transformation throughout the entire project, don’t take the job. There will be other opportunities that are a better fit.

Local Businesses
If you are in a larger city or near a larger city, then the opportunities are more available. From networking, to presenting to owners, to cold calling, emailing, you can actively look for ways to connect with people. And of course, if you are savvy with your email there is work to be found simply by contacting the right voice seekers.

Advertising Agencies and Production Companies 
Building a relationship with advertising agencies and production companies is going to help over time. They have a roster of voice over actors and will call first when opportunities arise. They have opportunities in video, radio, television, web advertising, audiobook, e-learning, and more.

Always Have an Excellent Demo Reel
Demo reels and audio samples are crucial. You want them to showcase your best work. Have them ready to send at a moment’s notice. Waiting will only allow more time for you to be eliminated in favor of other talent. The VO world moves swiftly and you have to be ready for it!

Talent Agencies
These companies will prove to be a vital source of premium paying jobs and high level industry connections. But you have to be far enough along with your skill level to approach them. Your demos must be steller and your work ethic very strong. They are in the business of finding work opportunities for their roster of talent. The best agencies are already full of many talented voice actors. You will need to impress them to become part of their stable. And supply them with all the tools they need to work with you to find work opportunity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Build a Voice Talent Studio in Your Home




Being a voice talent with easy access to record anytime is essential to being successful in the voice acting industry. By setting up a studio, you are now able to produce quality recordings from the comfort of your home. It is a great way to subsidize your income and put the work in on a schedule that fits you. As a voice talent, it also makes it easier in times of crisis to be able to continue to work.
Here is some basic information you can use.

Voice Over Equipment You Will Need
· Microphone – The type of mic that you need is one that works best for your voice and your budget. A large diaphragm mic is good for a warmer tone and lower frequencies, like a bass guitar or deeper male voices. A small diaphragm mic or small capsule mic is good for higher frequencies like cymbals or a female voices. But these can be used interchangeably to suit your desired sound. Look at polarity of each mic, cardiod (wider direction) and hypercardiod mic’s (more directional) are the best type for voiceovers. There are many very popular mics available now and vary greatly in price. The best way to choose a mic is to visit your local music store, if possible, and listen through your favorite headphones and choose your favorites from a variety of mics. Best to spend your money on a good mic than almost any other thing... other than the room acoustics you will be recording in.

· Pop Filter – This is vital to your setup. It decreases the amount of distracting noises that the mic picks up by blocking the air that’s pushed out from your mouth when you speak. They give you a nice clean read without the annoying "popping" sounds.

· Audio Interface – This is a piece of hardware that is necessary to connect your mic to your computer. It operates on 48 volt (phantom power) and may enhance the sound of your voice as the signal travels to your computer. Again, these are relatively inexpensive and have become much improved in terms of power, clean sound and portability. Be sure to buy one that is popular amoung voice talent.

· Computer – You will need to use a computer that has the capabilities to run all of your programs and software successfully and quietly... as to avoid background noise while recording.

· Recording and Editing Software – The software is a big deal, it allows you to enhance your voice overs with music, sound effects, and edit out pauses and loud breaths. However, I caution newer VO talent to use very minimal voice processing. It is best to provide your client with simple clean audio files recorded at the proper levels. Allowing THEM to enhance your voice as they see fit.

Additional items that are great supplements. If you have the budget, then purchase them right away. However, if not these can slowly be added to your studio later.

· Headphones and/or studio monitor speakers
· Music Stand or Mic stand
· USB Flash Drive or Hard Drive for file storage

Choosing and Sound Proofing Your Space
Start with looking at the rooms in your house, a cozy space that has enough room for you to stand or sit comfortably in is fine. If the room has carpet, it can effectively absorb sound versus wood flooring. Does the room share walls with neighboring rooms that are noisy, like a kitchen, laundry room, or a bathroom? Try to avoid these rooms if possible. If you live with others, arrange for recording during those quiet times.

Soundproofing your voiceover studio is important. It is more important to prevent sound from entering the room rather than preventing the sound of your voice exiting.

Soundproofing can be expensive. However, there are tricks that will help you soundproof it yourself. You will want to install insulation over windows, walls, and ceilings. Cork, rubber, or foam insulations are good options for soundproofing. Hang heavy curtains around the room to help absorb sound. Keep in mind that you may be creating an airtight box, and you will need to have quiet ventilation.

Voice Talent really can work from a studio anywhere now. There are portable options now available. But that's for another blog article to discuss. Meanwhile, get busy setting up your home studio.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tips for a Voice Actor to Become an Audiobook Narrator



The publishing industry has watched the market fluctuate the last few years, however, the one thing that is on the rise is the audiobook market.  Long commutes, busy lifestyles, mobile devices have made this market explode.  For a voice actor, this is a fantastic opportunity to make money working in this market.  Here is a guide of where to start.

Voice Over Actors as Audiobook Narrators

Voice over actors are the perfect fit as narrators.  We are trained in this skill. 

When you are narrating a book, you have to vocalize what you are seeing and hearing in your mind.
An audiobook listener relies entirely on the narration, painting the picture just right.  Which is what makes it different from voice-over work like commercials, where images and videos complement the narration.

Narrating fiction requires acting skills.  They are heavily character-based so you are going to have to handle different voices.  Nonfiction is a different challenge by keeping the content interesting even if the content is dry.  Whether or not you enjoy the subject matter is about enjoying the process of producing the book for readers.

Technique

While voice actors are great narrators, there are some techniques and practice time until you are a pro at audiobook narration.  It is all about practicing and realizing that it can not be done all at once.  It is exhausting and you need enough energy so your voice doesn’t drop.  Your error rate will increase as you become tired, so take breaks throughout and plan on several days of recording.

Find Your Niche
In voice-over work, in general, it is about finding your niche, the same is said for voice narration of books.  Your voice will naturally fit better in certain genres and you may prefer fiction or non-fiction style as well.  Once you realize what niches are best for you, the jobs will roll in faster.

Quality Recording

There are specific technical requirements to publish audio on the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).  The quality must be excellent for the client and the listener.  Whether it is going to a professional studio to record or if you are like many voices over professionals in your own soundproof studio at home.

On a side note, you will need to read from an electronic device, you can’t make page-turning noises.  Also, turn off the wifi on the devices as they can make a static noise and it will get picked up by the audio when recording. Also, use a microphone that produces a "warmer" more intimate tone as opposed to a very "hot" broadcast mic like the Sennheiser 416. Which is a great industry standard mic but lacks that more intimate sound. Remember, you are often talking to the listener directly into their ear via earbuds or headphones. 

Producing and Editing

If you work through ACX, you will have to do the producing and editing yourself.  This might mean that you need to work on your technical skills if you don’t regularly do it for other voice over projects.  Audiobooks require hours of editing, making them more labor-intensive. You can also hire audio editors who may work for as little as $25.00/hr to go through your entire file. However, your budget may not be sufficient for using any outside editors.

Note: Although excessive breaths can become annoying when listening to audio book narration, I believe that excessive REMOVAL of every single breath leaves your narration devoid of life. In other words, having NO breaths in the narration can suck the life out of a good performance.

A great way to practice your editing skills is to look for smaller projects like promotional videos or corporate training.  It is a great way to work on editing on a more manageable sized project when starting out.  Online course videos are the next step in project size as they will take a few hours.  Audiobooks range from 10-15 hours of editing.



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Voice Over Talent Guide to Getting Hired from Your Website



As a professional voice over talent, it is critical that you have a website that showcases who you are and what you can do.  Just having a website is not enough and having an older website not showcasing your work can be detrimental to booking new voice over jobs.  There are several components that your website should have.

Why Have a Website?

In this day and age, everyone has a website for everything. If you send someone who wants to hear a sample of you work to your agent or a voice-over talent website, they can always see your competition.  You are giving them opportunities to hire another voice-over actor. Not a good thing!

You also want them to be able to see all your work, credits, testimonials, your bio, your studio capabilities for them to get to know you.  People work with people that they connect with.  Give them the opportunity to know who you are and what skills you have.

Clear Content

When a potential client finds your website, they want to know what type of work you do within the first few seconds.  Be sure to say voice over talent, what you specialize in, and how long you have been in the industry.  There are so many websites that are beautiful, but the visitor has no idea what they do or if they are a good fit. Don’t make that mistake.  Be clear about who you are, what you can do, and how to contact you.

Demos

Demos and audio samples are crucial.  You want them to be very clearly placed on your website, no potential client wants to hunt to find them.  I suggest putting them right there on your landing page. They should showcase all the genres and types of work that you have done.

Put a link that allows them to download your demo with your name and demo type written on the file label. There are many clients that will keep a folder of the talent they like so when they have a project they will know exactly who to contact.  Be in that folder, so they come back to you.  Be sure to not give it a just a generic label “commercial voiceover”.  You want it to have your name, so they have a reference like, “Rick Lance-Commercial”.

Testimonials

Testimonials are powerful when it comes to proving your credibility as a voice-over talent.  They go a long way in establishing trust with a new potential client.  A single testimonial from a happy client can mean more than an entire page of information that you write yourself.

A Bio in the About Me

The home page may have some information about you, however, a strong voice over talent website will have an about me or bio page.  A detailed bio will provide a fuller picture of your background, experience, training, past, and current clients, and any other information that will give them a better sense of who you are and what you can do.

User Experience

A website that caters to a user’s experience is key for any professional or company.  Keep in mind that you want your website to look good on a computer or a mobile device.  Make sure that all the links to your samples and demos are working.  This is especially important if it goes to another website or client’s site. 

As a voice-over talent the visitor knows that you also know how to edit for jobs and if the website looks outdated or the editing looks bad, they may think that it is a reflection of your work as well.  Even though websites and audio editing are very different.


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.