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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Auditioning Tips from A Seasoned Voice Over Actor



Voice over work has tons of opportunities based on your style and expertise.  However, when it comes to auditioning, it can be overwhelming.

Unlike other acting professions, it is just your voice being reviewed and how you choose to read the piece makes all the difference between being hired or being passed over.  There are things that you can do to prepare before you arrive at or digitally submit the audition that will improve your chances of being hired.

The List of Jobs

Choose jobs that best showcase your style, your tone, and your training.  While it is good to add to your list of possibilities, some voice-over actor jobs may not be the best fit.  If you like nonfiction audiobook reads, then look for more of those types of jobs to gain employment, and then look for other jobs to try out to expand your resume.

Review the Script

Read and study the script multiple times to get familiar with the words, the pronunciation, and any group of words that may get your tongue-tied.  When it comes to specifics make sure that you are saying the names of cities, places, etc. the correct way.  The best impression is getting it correct at the voice-over audition without a correction.  It will show that you did your homework and took it seriously.

Take Notice of the Clues

In a script, there are hints about the character, product, or piece.  When you are representing a character, you will see the style that they speak, the tone, or the emotions.  When the script is about a product, it is about making that product stand out, a must-have.  However, it must not be overly salesy, or you will not book the job.  Scripts have details in the text and subtext that a seasoned voice-over actor will look for and so should you.

Keep in mind that you have your voice style and that within the guidelines and clues you are giving them your unique voice.  It is always a blend of giving them what they want and giving them a fresh way of hearing it with your sound.


The Delivery

Many times, the client will have a very specific idea about what they want to hear at the audition.  Practice the delivery using their notes.  You can also have some alternative versions of your own for the audition.  However, they may never hear these based on the notes they give or details that you get when meeting them.  Be flexible.

Take A Deep Breath

Nerves can make a skilled voice crack under pressure.  Before you read take a deep breath and it will bring a calmness and readiness to your performance.

Above All Take Direction

There many times that you have given an excellent read and they will give you feedback. Listen to the feedback from the client and agent, take it in, and then give it to them.  Feedback and notes are not a bad sign.  They have some guidelines for specifics that they want.  If you can take the feedback and re-do the read with it, you have a stronger chance of getting the job.  It also shows that you can take direction and make it work.  A voice-over actor that is easy to work with and will give the best work.

Don’t Let a No Get You Down

Voice-over acting is a tough field, especially when you are starting out.  There are many jobs out there that will be perfect for your voice and style.  Take notes and always work on honing your skills and finding good matches for what you bring to the voice-over acting industry.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Finding Your Unique Signature Voice to Define Your Voice Over Niche



When you are in the voice over business it is a common question that is asked of you or you may be asking yourself, “What is my signature sound”?

Finding your niche

Just like an actor who you notice is always in comedies, or action movies, they know what genre they fit best in.  Finding your voice style, your genres where you can make your voice work best for you and in turn your clients.

If you are unsure about where to start, ask yourself some questions.  Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers, just your answers.

·         Age Range – When you read different characters what age range do they fit in?  Can you sound younger or older than your age?

·         Sex of the Characters – Can you do the voice of the opposite sex?  Or do you stick to male or female-only?

·         Traits – Does your voice have a serious tone?  Warm?  Cheerful?  Inviting?  Deep?  It's about pairing your voice to adjectives that best describe them.  Once you have a list of these adjectives, it is easy to translate them into characters and into genres.  If you have a serious voice, then non-fiction books, or PSA’s with a seriously important message will be perfect for you.

Do Your Personality and Signature Voice Match?

Your voice over work will often coincide with your interests and personality.  If your personality and signature voice matchup, it can be very easy to start working right away.  Whereas, some voice-over actors find that they are consistently hired for a niche, that is not what they are naturally drawn to.  One way to think of it is as your “alter ego” is your signature voice.  Incredibly famous singers often refer to their stage presences as an alter ego.

Multiple Avenues or A Specific Niche

Once you answer some of these questions, you may find that you can transform your voice into several different characters offering you a greater list of opportunities.  It is great if you are able to adapt to the job and gives you opportunity to work more.  However, narrowing down to a specific niche helps you create your brand and establish a well-known reputation.  A brand and reputation that will get you noticed and hired without auditioning if that is the style the client is looking for. Sometimes all you need to do is listen to your clients review of your work. What terminology do they use when they describe your work? What kind of work keeps repeating itself? It may be more obvious than it appears at first. When you hone in on that... make that your signature sound and work to further refine it. 

Your Signature Voice is Your Money Maker

Your signature voice is what gets people to hire you, it is your money maker.  It tends to be the vocal sound that you deliver on a narration; it is the one that comes most naturally to you.  It is the one that you should consider your go-to.  While you may have trained and mastered fun cartoon styles, but the voice that is the most natural is the one that is your signature and it is what you will be most hired for. 

Discover Your Particular Voice Over Qualities

Finding your signature voice and style may take a while.  Don’t worry, the most important thing is to discover your particular voice qualities and sound.  There are so many opportunities in the voice-over industry that you will be successful by using what you have. Once you've got a grip on those qualities, keep your focus on that sound and direct your marketing efforts in that direction.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Steps to Start a Voice Over Acting Career



Voice over talent brings a book to life, a guide through a learning module, a fun voice in a commercial, a GPS device, there are so many times a day you hear a VO talent.  If you are thinking about starting your voice over career here are some steps to get you down the career path.

Understanding Your Voice

When deciding to be a voice-over talent you need to have an idea of your voice and the ranges, and what skills you naturally have.  Giving you a good starting point on what you can leverage and what skills you need to work on.  Here are some things to consider.
  • Is your voice low pitched or high pitched?
  • Can you make your voice sound older or younger? This speaks to your vocal range.
  • What acting or musical skills do you have, dramatic voices, fun sing song, or types of narratives.
  • Can you take direction? Can you mimic the delivery of another actor?
  • Are you a good speaker?
  • Can you read out loud flawlessly? Can you read something the first time – a dry read and do it well?
  • Are you fluent in several languages?
What Voice Over Talent Category of Work?

There are several types of work categories for voice-over talent.  The three main categories are character, commercial, and narration.
  • Character VO – This includes live-action, animation, automated dialogue recording (ADR), and video games. This category requires acting skills, vocal versatility and stamina.
  • Commercial VO – This includes radio, television and online ads and promos, and marketing videos. Voice over talent needs to get a message across or compel the audience to buy a product. It requires adaptability as you may work with directors, reps, and clients on a project and receive lots of notes or direction during a live session.
  • Narration VO – This type of work has three subcategories. Educational narration, corporate, and narrative. Educational includes e-learning and audio guide, corporate narration contains training modules, corporate videos, and narrative involves documentaries, audiobooks, and audio description. The scripts for these projects may be long and being a good reader is going to make a huge difference.
Training for the Type of Work

If you have an idea of the category that most speaks to your natural talents and interests, then it is time to find the best training and coaching for you.

There are a variety of opportunities that are available schools, online lessons, coaches.  Some schools offer opportunities to acquire professional automation, demo reels to take with you, and job opportunities for graduates.   Do your due diligence when choosing the best opportunity.  Training is the most important to take your career to the next level.  Just be very particular about the on-line coaches you choose to work with. Go with only the most popular instructors out there. Many are simply trying to make a quick buck! Also, remember training and honing your craft is a never-ending process.

Industry Associations and the VoiceOver Community

Taking an active role in learning the industry will further your job possibilities.  Look at both associations and online communities to make connections, learn more and have access to resources.  There are a ton of online opportunities if you don’t live in a major city.  The tips and information is endless when you have connections. Join some professional groups and learn from your colleagues.

Friday, May 1, 2020

COVID-19 and the Voice Over Actor



The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way the world operates right now, and that is true in the voice over and acting industry as well.  While there are many changes to the way the industry is working, there are also many opportunities out there for a voice-over actor.

In-Home Recording Studio

While many have some type of studio set it up, it might be time to develop a more technically savvy set up so that you can offer more options.  If you don’t have a studio at home, it may be the time to start working on putting one together, even if it is just the basics.

For many that have or are creating a professional studio in-home that produces quality work, this may be the opening that you have been waiting to get into bigger markets.  It is the chance to get auditions and opportunities for more lucrative brands and campaigns.  With auditions being online or submitting virtually, the location is not a factor to hold you back. It's your opportunity to launch yourself... maybe even convince yourself... into the next level of professionalism in the VO business.
NOTE: Be sure your studio is getting hooked up with the necessary client connection tools such as ipDTL, Source Connect, Skype, Zoom and digital phone patch. 

Training

Some agencies are offering a virtual booth platform.  This allows voice over actors to connect with agents, audio directors, and engineers to get feedback on projects.  This may be the time if you are looking for feedback to connect with your agent and see if this is a possibility.  Or perhaps find a mastermind or voice over talent teacher to work with virtually. I just began working with a well-known coach specializing in TV narration. 

Companies like Backstage are creating a new on-camera series called The Slate.  It is featuring insights and direct feedback from casting directors, trainers, agents, actors, and creators.  These interactive group classes will focus on a variety of industry processes and knowledge.

Job Opportunities

Voice over talent are still needed in different types of jobs than you may normally take on.
While retail advertising may be slowing down for a while, there are some other jobs that are picking up.

· Company Phone Messages regarding COVID-19

· Revised messages about changing schedules for hotels, showrooms, and other large venues.

· Advertising messages and PSAs including the newest "We're all in this together”campaigns.

· Science and medical voice-over regarding protecting oneself, hygiene, training modules.

· Life science companies promoting treatments and research

· Companies putting together more training videos and online learning resources.

· PSA work towards mitigating the effects of the virus.

. And manufacturing companies trying to get ready for an upcoming explosion of new products.

Audiobooks

The audiobook market has been huge over the last few years and with that voice-over job opportunities are flourishing.  Voice actors are a perfect fit as narrators. Authors realize that having a trained voice is the best option for them. The book needs to be read by an engaging professional, whether it is a non-fiction or fiction book. Many authors feel "left out" if they don't have an audio book version of their latest book.

Many authors who already have a book(s) out there are finding now that they have the time to turn it into an audiobook.  And now is the perfect time to take on an audiobook project as they do tend to be a longer narration jobs.

The Future

While the future is unclear on exactly what will stay the same and what will go back to the way it was.  The home studio will serve you whether it is for auditioning virtually or having the option to work from home when you can.

During this time, it could be a great season to take on some new projects, train on skills to perfect your craft, or update your older demos. There will always be opportunities out there for voice over actors. Just don't lose faith!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Create a Powerful Voice Over Talent Brand Online



Are you taking advantage of the online opportunities to get hired?  As a voice-over talent, it is critical that you are strategic.  You want to be sure that you are visible in searches and that once they find you, they can see your portfolio of audio/video work.  Here are some digital strategies to help increase your visibility and book more jobs.

Google My Business

Google is the largest search engine out there that reaches millions of people daily.  In 2019, it was estimated that 97% of searches online were to find a business.  Are you taking advantage of that?
Google my business is free and helps you appear on google search and maps.  It is the perfect way to get your information out there, whether you are a seasoned voice-over talent or new to the industry.  It makes it easier for customers to find you.  Google Business dramatically increases your search visibility.  For example, if someone types in “voice over talent in Nashville, Tennessee”, businesses matching that will pop up. Hey, including mine!

Not only does it help with customers finding you physically, but it improves your digital search visibility in Google.  When a prospective customer is looking for local businesses, they are ready to hire.

Google Business lets you post useful information and makes it easier for customers to leave reviews.  Add information like your name, what you do, location (if you don’t want your home studio to appear, a city is fine), phone number, website, and pictures.  You can capture their interest in your listing.

Social Media Presence

Be consistent with your brand and imagery.  Keep your content interesting, informative, and fun, followers want to be entertained.  Include your website information on your social media and cross-promote your social media channels with one another to increase your brand’s visibility. 
  • Instagram – Showcase your voice in videos, behind the scenes of a job you are working on or a training that you are doing. Think of Instagram as a portfolio of photos and videos of your studio, equipment, events, trainings, and clients.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn is mainly a professional networking platform. Your content should be focused on potential clients. It is the perfect place to link to your demos, your resume, and completed projects. Your aim should be showcasing your professional personality.
  • YouTube – Set up your YouTube channel to stream your demos and voiceover recordings.
No matter what social media channels you post on, you want to plan a schedule relatable content consistently. Consistency is major. Also, be aware of trending hashtags and ones that include your location. People follow hashtags and if you include one, they will find you easier.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You should already have a website, if not that is the first step.  Once your website is live, you will want to make sure that your voice over talent website appears in Google searches.  That is what SEO is all about! It's about making sure that your website has the correct keywords in the content.  For example, you can look at the common search result suggestion of people when they type in the word “voice acting”.  From there, you can study the pattern on what keywords are mostly used for researching voice over talent and be sure that your content has them built-in.  This way, Google will find your site and potential jobs will be for your consideration. These days Google search engines seem to be more sensitive to images and video as well as keywords and content.

Tracking Your Results

You can make use of google analytics to track the engagement of your website and your social media.  This way you can see what is working best for you and ways to improve your online presence.  Your efforts will help get your voiceover talent brand more visibility.  More visibility will give you more opportunities for potential jobs to come your way.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Warm-Ups Are a Must for a Voice Over Actor



Athletes, singers, and other professionals warm up before they perform. Why wouldn’t a voice-over actor?  Being a voice-over actor involves strain on your vocal cords, so warming up is a must.  Warm-ups will help get your voice into perfect condition for a great day at the studio.

Why Is It Important?
The more you tone your vocal cords, the more versatile you will be while reducing your chances of injury.  Most seasoned voice-over actors will perform warm-ups after they wake up in the morning and then again before a recording.  Sessions can be demanding for a voice-over actor and a warmup will keep you in top performance shape.

Relaxation Begins with Breathing
Breathing releases tension that can interfere with effective voice production.  If you are holding on to tension, it radiates to the voice box muscles.  Start with relaxing your shoulders and chest, take a regular breath in and then exhale.  The next breath-hold an “s” sound like in a hiss when you exhale.  You want the focus of your breath to come from your abdomen and not your chest and shoulders.  Place your hand on your abdomen as a reminder.  Repeat a few times.

Stretches for the Body
A limber body means a more relaxed voice.  Start with side stretches, they are great for expanding your rib cage and making your lungs feel like they are full of air.  Raise your arms up to the sky and exhale and lean to the right, lengthening your body.  Gently hold it there for a few seconds and then back to center and then to your left.

Gentle neck rolls will help warm up your neck and throat muscles.  Gently rotate your head clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Humming, Lip Trills, and Tongue Trills
A loose, gentle modulating hum is a way to ease your facial muscles and create space for resonant sound.  It gets your resonators warm which helps restore your vocal tone quality.

Lip trills and flutters are also a good way to loosen facial muscles and get your vocal cords warmed up.  To roll your lips, close your mouth and create a constant “b” sound.  This will vibrate your lips, creating a trilling sound effect.

Tongue trills relax the tongue and engage breathing and voice.  Place your tongue behind your upper teeth.  Exhale and trill your tongue with an “r” sound.  Hold the sound steady and keep the breath connected.  Try to vary the pitch up and down the scale while trilling.

Tongue Twisters
Articulation is one of the most important aspects of your job.  If you don’t articulate and enunciate clearly, then no one is going to understand what you are saying, and that means you will not be hired for the job.  Tongue twister exercises are a great tool.
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • A big black bug hit a big black bear.
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • These are ideal phrases... but they are tough for me too!
Yawning

Yawning naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen while extending your soft palate.  It relaxes your throat muscles and vocal cords, and as soon as they relax, the tone drops.  There are many actors that swear by this technique.

Warm-ups in the Shower

The humidity will help as the moisture will coat and protect your throat, vocal cords, and more.  Plus, the acoustics will be an added bonus.  Wherever in the morning, your warm-up in the shower or in your bedroom or kitchen.  Just remember voice-over actors are like athletes, they need to warm up and train to keep their voice in top condition.

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.