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Thursday, November 12, 2020

So, You Want to Be a Voice Over Actor

 


As a seasoned voice-over actor, I get asked about breaking into the business, what to do, where to start, and how to be successful at it.  Here is a guide for anyone that wants to be a voice-over actor and needs a starting point.

Is This for You?

Focus on the fun and enjoyment of acting.  If your only goal of becoming a voice-over actor is for the money or fame, you may want to rethink your choice. There's a lot of misinformation out there about this profession. It is NOT a get rich quick venture where anyone with a cheap podcast mic can make an instant full time living at while sitting at home in your underwear. Well... the underwear is optional! You have to put in the time and effort. Learning all you can along the way to become a professional. You will know if it is for you or not. Do you love to tell stories, create characters, entice others to do something. Do you have the patience, time and skills it takes to perfect your style and business acumen? If it is your passion and you want to perfect your voice, then it's for you.

Find Your Niche

The voice-over industry is multi-faceted.  There are a variety of work options and most of it depends on your voice quality and style.  Here are some of your job options.

Voice over for Film

Producers and directors use voice-overs to help a struggling cast member or accelerate the movie’s narrative.  It is used to add depth to a scene or a character.  Narration can also be used to explain the history of the lead or story.

Voice over for Promotional Ads

Voice overs are used in commercials all the time and can be very lucrative.  For an actor, the voice needs to grab the attention of people.  You will need a charismatic voice that is interesting and has a trustworthy appeal to make the audience believe in what you are saying about that brand. In other words, you gotta sell it!

Corporate Opportunities

Many companies make corporate videos for their customers.  For these videos, they need a voice to tie their message together.  Companies prefer a voice over actor to come in and do this instead of an in-house employee. 

E-Learning

E-learning is booming, and it allows people to gain knowledge and preserve what they have learned.  It can also be used to inform staff and customers about a wide variety of topics.  This tends to be training and tutorial videos.  The voice-over actor helps people understand the information better.  The skills needed is to be able to read the entire material consistently, clearly so the module flow is seamless.

Video Games

The audiences these days expect stories behind the video game characters.  Every piece of dialogue in a video game must be able to stand on its own since it does not come in full scripts.  Voice over actors needs to evoke emotions and make a character come to life. Some real acting is required here!

Integrated Voice Response

This the automated voice system that interacts with callers to gather information and route calls to recipients.  IVR requires quality and gives an impression to their customers.  A professionally done IVR will capture the audience and improve customer service.  It requires a voice actor to have a clear voice that is professional, warm and very "real".

Audiobooks

Audiobooks have increased in popularity and have also increased job opportunities for voice over actors.  This is similar to e-learning voiceovers, but it also depends on the type of book.  Fiction or nonfiction, books for children, how-to’s, historical, biographical, the genres and styles all differ.  Which makes this a great option as an additional source of revenue.

Study and Hone Your Craft

Study the history of voice over actors and learn from them all.  There is something to be said about studying your craft.  Learn from other voice over actors, take classes, and seek out coaches.  Practice reading... everything. You need to get to a point in your reads to where you are not distracted by your own voice. Getting used to the sound of your voice , while embellishing your VO is the real goal. Believe it or not, the job at hand is NOT to promote "your beautiful voice". The job is usually to get the message out to the listener... whatever that message may be! I 've heard coaches say to students... "get over yourself because it's not about you!" Also, connecting with others in the field will allow you to embrace your skills and provide the tools for learning.  It is always about continuous learning and evolving.

Create Quality Demos

Your voice over demo is your calling card.  It validates your description of your voice by showing potential clients that you can do exactly what you say you can. 

Have a demo for each style of voice over you provide, as well as each language, accent, or dialect.  Keep in mind that you only have a few seconds to hook the listener so give them your best voice-over reading at the intro.

If you have some samples from jobs, make sure you can use them as demos clips.  Get permission from the clients so that you have real work to showcase.  As your voice progresses over time, listen to your demos and critique which one’s showcase your voice the best. This can become the key to finding your "signature" sound. Which will become the basis for developing your brand. 


Questions to Ask When Hiring Voice Over Talent

 


Whether it is an e-learning video, a commercial, video, or any other project that you are creating, finding the voice over talent to fit may take more time than you had hoped.  If you ask the right questions, then you will get the talent you need and have excellent experience. 

What Type of Vocal Range Do You Have?

Before making a choice, ask the potential voice-over talent to record an audition based on your copy.  You can learn more about the vocal talent and find one who sounds the way you envisioned it.  Sometimes it is not about the resume, it is about the voice.

Also, check out all the voice demos a talent has on their page to consider whether they can deliver in a wide range of vocal styles before hiring them.

Do You Have a Recording Studio?

Most voice over talent have a home recording studio.  However, you want to know how the audio quality is.  While the talent can have an amazing voice and a mic to record on it there is background noise then it is not going to be what you are looking for.

Ask the voice over talent about the equipment, soundproofing, and are they able to edit their work.  It is important to know what they are capable of before hiring them.

What Other Projects Have You Worked On?

This question goes back to experience, but it also tells you what type of work they have done in the past.  If they have a lot of experience in one type of voice acting, and you are asking for something different that is good to know in advance. 

If they have a long list of projects and clients, they can tell you about these experiences. By learning more you can see if they are good at taking direction, are they used to remotely working, and understand deadlines? Their website should have information regarding this and several demos for you to listen to.

Knowing what clients a talent has worked for can also help qualify whether they can be the voice of your brand.  If they have been the voice of a competing brand, then you may want to choose someone else.

Can You Deliver?

When you have a hard deadline, the last thing that you want is a voice over talent that cannot meet it.  Do they have the equipment on hand in their own studio to meet the deadline themselves?  If they are outsourcing the job then that might make it impossible. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself about the potential candidate.  Do they respond to inquiries quickly and professionally?  Do they sound knowledgeable when quoting rates, and in line with the other voice over talent rates for the same job?  Are they available to speak during business hours?

Go to Voice Over Talent List

By asking these questions, you can determine which voice over talent will be the best for your needs.  Once you work with voice over talent you like it might be wise to keep a portfolio of them so that you have a go-to list.  It will make sure that you have top-notch talent you can rely on for future projects.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Exploring Podcast Work as A Voice Over Actor

 


The podcast world is worth exploring as a voice-over actor.  Podcasts cover a wide range of topics and many have huge followings.  Not only are there many job opportunities in the podcast world, but you may also decide to have your podcast to talk about a topic and let your voice be heard regularly.

Take Time to Engage

Take the time to listen to podcasts.  Listening will give you some ideas about how to start a podcast as well as the other jobs that podcasts bring.  Just like working on your voice over craft, it is important to do some research on the job opportunities so that you are prepared for auditioning and know what to focus on.

It also will give you some ideas and styles that you may want to adapt to your own podcast.  Are you teaching?  Or perhaps doing interviews with those in the industry?  Or maybe a storytime podcast reading for kids and showing off your character voices and skills.

Podcast Job Opportunities

Podcast voices connect directly with a listening audience.  It is what voice over actors have refined and built a career around.  So, it is only natural that a podcaster wants a professional to help them get the audience engaged.

Specifically, podcasts will hire a voice-over actor for the intro and outro.  The podcast intro is the show’s opening that introduces the show and the host.  It sets the mood and tone of the entire show.  Which is why many podcasters will hire a voice-over actor.  It adds a layer of professionalism and sophistication.

The podcast outro is the closing that ties the podcast all together and leaves the audience with a tag line.  In many outro’s there is a call to action asking them to listen or share the podcast with friends.  Again, having a voice-over actor makes the podcast sound like it is a full production instead of maybe someone in their bedroom chatting into a mic.

Use a Podcast for Your Brand

As a voice-over actor, you may already have a great recording set up at your home, so you already have that going for you as well as the knowledge of editing audio files.  You have the experience and a podcast is a perfect way to talk and share your voice.

Find Your Niche

Finding your niche n the podcast world is much like finding your vocal style.  Know exactly what your topic will entail having an interesting and engaging podcast series.  If your voice has range think of how to incorporate that into your podcast to market yourself and your diversity.

Many Voice Over Actors Are Podcasters

Many voice over actors are delving into the podcast world both as voices for others but also as having their podcast.  It can be used as a calling card and put into a demo reel.  Voice over actors understand that by using their voices they can make a subject interesting and fascinating which is why they are highly desired and what makes their podcasts interesting.  Whether you are looking for another work avenue or a creative project, podcasting has a lot of opportunities available.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Home Studio Equipment a Voice Over Talent Must Have

 


No matter how good your voice is, the script, the nest editing, there is one more ingredient to having the best voice-over clip, good equipment.  The quality of your recordings will separate you from the rest.  While prior to recent years options of going into studios were readily available, now your home studio needs to be fully equipped.

Here is a guide to help you get your home studio set up.

High-Quality Microphone and Accessories

A high-quality microphone is the first place to start when setting up your studio.  Investing in a quality mic is one investment that you will not regret.

Microphone stand, shock mount, and pop filter can enhance the sound quality.  No matter how good your mic is outside noises can easily ruin your recording. 

The microphone stand will keep the mic steady and free your hands up, no matter how you attach it, keep in mind that movement of the stand will cause vibration.  So, placement is important.  A shock mount will support the mic and help with vibrations and handling.

A pop screen will reduce and eliminate the popping sounds in vocal recordings.

Condensor microphones, most often used by the pros, require 48 volt "phantom power" from a PreAmplifier. There are many outhere to choose from. In many cases, the preamp is part of the computer interface you will need to connect to your computer with. See DAW below, as well.

Studio Headphones versus Standard Headphones

Studio headphones are a necessity.  They give a more realistic... "flat" sound your audio, versus standard headphones that tend to automatically modify the audio.  As a voice-over talent, you need to know how your voice truly sounds.  They also can detect background noises, unwanted clicks, pops allowing you to remove them later or record over.

Studio headphones are also made to be more durable, longer-lasting, and more comfortable than standard headphones. 

Digital Audio Software (DAW)

Recording and editing software is a must, along with a fast, quiet computer will improve your quality and productivity.  It is worth looking into the different types of software, the computer requirements to run them, and what is going to be easiest for you to use.

Mixer Options

This is one that is a preference of some voice-over talent prefer a hardware mixer, while others want a DAW or program that has the audio mixing capabilities mixed in. 

Mixers are meant for multi-source, live production, so live broadcasts or webcasts definitely need the options.  Mixers tend to add an analog step to your audio chain, which is not necessary or always a good thing.  However, your decision will be based on the type of work you are doing or planning to do in the future.

Remote Recording Platform

When working from home you need to have an Integrated Services Digital System (ISDN) that enables recording studios to connect with clients and other studios. However, conventional ISDN is no longer as popular, nor as easily available as it once was. Today there are more options for sending/receiving HIGH quality digital audio. There are several other platforms that offer remote recording sessions for recording studios and voice over talent.  These options include Source Connect, ipDTL, and others.  Not to be confused with platforms that allow audio/video transfer in LOW quality. Such as Zoom, Skype, Facetime and others. You will need to look at the pros and cons of each to find the best one for your skillset and needs. Just make sure you understand limitations of each. 

Studio Set-Up

Where you set up your studio is a big consideration especially since you need to keep external noises out, a dog barking, doorbell ringing, etc.  Professional audio quality really begins with the quality of the room you are recording in. It should be as "quiet" and as well insulated from exterior noise as you can make it. While you can edit out some noises it is not always possible to do that. Even the best editing software and operator can't make up for a "high" noise floor level... or noise tolerance level. Which should be kept as low as possible.

Things that you need to think of when choosing the room are HVAC systems, water pipes, buzzing lights and outdoor noises.  There are many acoustic treatments for walls and ceilings available for "deadening" the sound within a room. If you build your studio with these considerations and equipment you will be set to produce high-quality recordings at home.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cartoon and Animation as a Voice Actor

 




Do you find yourself intrigued and creating a variety of voices in your head that would be perfect for animation? If you are still enjoying cartoons as an adult then maybe being an animation voice actor is the niche for you.

Types of Cartoon and Animation Voice Over Jobs

Gone are the days where the only cartoon voice over jobs are with big animation studios. Yes, there are still those opportunities, however, there are many more jobs within this niche.

TV cartoons, character commercials, video games, toys, direct to DVD, plus companies are using cartoons in their business videos. All of these jobs are leaning towards the voice actor to fulfill their needs.

Specific Skills to Focus On

While creating a voice for the character is important, there are other skills that work into cartoon voice acting. If you can master these skills, then you are on your way to being a successful animation voice actor career.

  • A long-form narration that hones the skill of stamina reading and clean character splits.
  • Commercial reads that focus on the art of the sale.
  • Animation projects that prepare for the development of special character work.
Creativity

With cartoon and animation voice acting it requires a great voice and creativity. A creative mind allows you to find the voice that perfectly suits the scripted character. Successful animation voice actors will work through hundreds of different voices until they settle on one.

Questions that Can Help You create the Character

Put yourself into the character and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I?
  • When is it?
  • What do I want?
  • Where have I come from?

These questions will help you determine lots of key features about the character, including accents, pitch, tone, age, gender and more.

Practice and Study

Practice with sample scripts and work with a coach that specializes in cartoon and animation. Another way to be successful is by studying. Study those voice actors that are successful in cartoon voice overs. Researching and studying will give you ideas on the best way to practice and the skills to work on.

Versatility and Consistency

Versatility will enable you to adjust to different styles. With this skill, one can perform voice overs for a wide variety of styles within the cartoon realm. Even after being hired to feature in a single-role.

Consistency is also another key factor. A voice actor needs to be able to offer the same kind of sound throughout a performance involving the same character. Not only in the voice, but the characters laugh, crying and other reaction noises.

Take Every Opportunity

Cartoon and Animation voice over jobs are only expanding and growing as technology advances. So, start working on your craft and skills. It may also prove to be useful to take any cartoon voice actor job as it will build your resume and your demo reel. Furthermore, you will be networking with other professionals in the field who in the future might land you a bigger job. Every opportunity is a way to showcase your talent as you never know where your next opportunity will lie.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Tips on Creating Great Voiceover Demos

 




Your demo is your calling card. It showcases your voiceover work and what you are capable of doing. A voiceover demo is your pre-audition to an audition.

Many questions that I get asked are: How do I keep my demos current along the way to represent my new work and my expanded talents? How do I build a demo that represents me and will book me the most jobs?

Creating demos is an ongoing process, it is something that will need to be updated and kept current as you work on new jobs and projects. Here is some advice on creating a solid voiceover demo, or a set of demos to land jobs.

The Truth About Demos

Demos can be passed on in the first 15 seconds of listening because of simple mistakes. It is important to put the time in to ensure that your demo has the best quality and that you are showcasing the best of your work.

You want your demos to be fresh, contemporary, and relatable to the listener. A demo needs to reflect your skill and range. Consider replacing spots that are old, dated, and don’t sound like you anymore. You want to sound like the person showing up for the job.

Skip the intro music that will not get you the job. They want to hear your voice immediately when they listen.

A commercial demo is historically the type that agents expect above all others, so if you only make one demo this is the one to focus on. A commercial demo you can showcase multiple aspects of your talent.

The Length of a Voiceover Demo

Your voice over demo can range between 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on the type of demo. However, the ideal length for a demo that features multiple spots is 60 to 90 seconds, so that the listener gets a good sense of what you can do.

Different genres require different lengths of time, as do different markets.

A commercial demo that showcases your skills performing radio, TV and Web commercials should last around one minute. While an audiobook demo will be longer 4 to 5 minutes, so demonstrate your ability to stay in character for extended passages in a story, or to perform different voices from different characters. Narration demos (other than audio book demos) can fall in between but not much longer than 
2:00 or so.

If you are uploading your demo to an online marketplace, you will want to keep it to a minute which will load fast and sound great to the listener.

Send the Correct Type of Demo

The industry standard is to streamline the genre of reads to target your listener. You want to send them the demo of the style you are trying to book. You are working with people who have a short attention span, so you want to make sure they hear what they need. You want your best work up front. If they like what they hear in the first 15 seconds they will keep listening, if they don’t then they move on. I even have demos aimed at specific industries that I regularly work for. Such as Agriculture, Finance and Health Care.

If you record your demo in a studio and have it sound perfect, be sure that the quality of the work later matches. Once you get hired, be sure that your actual work is as good as the demo, if not better.

Focus on Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths and the style of work that you are best suited for is going to get you more work. Don’t worry about typecasting. While showing range in a demo is great, you want to target the types of pieces that you are most likely to get called and booked for.

A quality demo will help you create a successful voiceover career. Having training and skills is the first step. The second step is a quality voiceover demo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Expand Your Voice Over Job Opportunities with Video Game Voice Acting

 




The demand for voice talent has not let up. In fact, there has been an upswing in both union and nonunion opportunities. While there are many types of voice over jobs that are available based on your skills, there is one very large area that you may want to consider.


One of the largest sectors of the voice over acting industry is video game voice overs. Video games are a huge aspect in our culture. There are 2 billion gamers and the industry value of the market is continuously growing and is expected to hit $180 billion in the next year, especially since the pandemic and more people are at home. The skills that are in video game voice acting are similar to other jobs, and they are in high demand.

Video Game Franchises

The most popular video games are their own franchises and have production budgets, crews, and global audiences. The developers are constantly in search of diverse and skilled voice over actors that can perform an assortment of roles. It is essential for the creators to find the best voice over talent to bring the characters and stories to life.

Voice Over Types in Games

There are two primary categories of video game voice overs; video game voice actors and video game narrators.

Video game voice actors are needed for role-playing games. These feature thousands of lines of dialogue that require dynamic deliveries. Many of the phrases and lines are recorded in a variety of tones and attitudes that matches the player’s experience. While it is the same phrase with the change in tone it takes on a new meaning. This is why having a trained voice over actor is so important. It makes the game content. In this context it is similar to audiobook narration and animated movies.

Video game narrators are a major role in the game. Narration takes place when instructing the player on how to play the game and inform gamers of their progress within the games. Narrators also connect crucial aspects of the game to the storyline such as new characters, antagonists, settings, and more.

Why Book These Jobs

The diverse content on video games allows for you to further develop your voice acting skills. You will be representing diverse characters with unique personalities. It gives you an experience that can further your voice over acting career in a variety of industries.

The video game industry is only growing, so the opportunities are there to book jobs.

Finding the Voice Over Jobs

Just like looking for other types of voice over jobs, finding gaming jobs is fairly easy. Online voice over marketplaces will have postings as the jobs are available.

The video game industry is looking for unique voices, and voice over actors understand this. They want voices to be distinct and recognizable for the branding of the game. The best way to do this is to prepare before the read or sending over the audio of your audition. While it may not be a genre of work that you have considered it can produce some new skills while utilizing skills that you already have and create a new stream of jobs for you to work on.