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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Virtual Reality is Still Opening Doors for Voice Over Talent

 


Virtual Reality is continuously developing new technology to make VR games and apps more and more advanced.  VR includes games, apps, how-to, and even companies are using VR as a way to tell stories.  As virtual reality keeps improving, there is one thing that is staying the same, the opportunities for voice over talent.  Here are some of the many opportunities virtual reality has for voice over talent.

Virtual Reality and Gaming

When people first hear Virtual Reality, they immediately think of gaming, and this is the biggest and most popular way VR became reality in homes.  There are many headsets on the market and the games keep improving and so many options since when flight one’s first, hit the scene.

Training and Marketing Videos

VR has improved the way companies are making training videos from cars to medical centers, these training videos are improving the way employees and customers see.  Car companies like Mercedes have created an app that lets consumers test drive their cars.  This marketing video has helped increase sales and interest in the E-class Mercedes.  Doctors use virtual reality to improve surgical skills without risking patient’s lives.

Doctors Prescribe VR

While a doctor will not prescribe a VR video game, they will advise a patient on therapy that uses Virtual Reality.  For anxiety, doctors have found that with the aid of VR they can help reduce anxiety attacks.  Post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias can be debilitating, however, with safe exposure therapy, they can learn to deal with circumstances, objects, and places while remaining safe in an office.

Visit Destinations

The travel industry and many popular destinations have always put together beautiful imagery and commercials showcasing their destination.  However, when the pandemic hit, travel, landmarks, parks, and destinations all felt the void.  Virtual Reality became extremely important to let visitors see and learn about their locations with VR technology.  Museums, zoos, National parks, have all changed their game by offering tours using technology.

What Do All of These Styles Have in Common?

The graphics and the feeling of being transported are a large part of what makes VR so popular.  However, that is not enough it is about the story, the script, and the voice.  That is where voice over talent comes in.  In all the examples of VR, there are many different voice over genre styles.  A video game needs an excited narrator leading the user down the path to a win.  Whereas in training videos, it is a moderate voice that is precise and yet doesn’t put the audience to sleep.

For therapy VR, a calm and soothing voice is what will help patients overcome their anxiety and PTSD.

These options are just many examples of the type of jobs that are out there for voice over talent.  As with all voice over job opportunities, not all may be the perfect fit for your style, however, it is worth looking into as you are working to create a carrier in the industry.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Customer Service Voice Over Opportunities are Out There

 


For all companies, customer service and the customer experience are everything.  How customers perceive a brand ultimately affects the bottom line.  Because of this, many brands are turning to hire professional voice over actors to communicate their brand effectively.  If you have not considered this type of job, it can be a great opportunity for you.

Customer Service or Customer Experience

The difference between customer service and the customer experience is that customer service handles the interaction with the customer typically when there is a problem.  The customer experience is the entire journey of a customer with a business. 

While customer service is still important to businesses these days, it is the customer experience that they are focusing on, which is where voice over actors come into the picture.

Why Brands Need Voice Over Actors

Companies are hiring voice over actors for phone and online customer service options.  Why?  Because of the absence of face-to-face communication, it is harder to get emotions across, the non-verbal cues play a role.  Relying solely on the voice brands find that customers can read messages very differently than it was intended.

Trained voice actors can effectively communicate, it is what you are trained for.  You can get the message across to their customers in their voice.

The content must be read clearly and easily understood by the customer, many brands prefer it to be conversational and believable.  Voice over actors that have experience in audiobooks and podcasts do very well with this genre.

Tone Matters

When it comes to customer service the tone of the voice is the difference between your words being heard or undermined.  The tone can make a difference between a positive or negative customer experience.  A negative experience typically means a lost customer, versus a lifelong relationship.

A voice actor understands the way to modulate and control vocal delivery.  Your goal as a professional is to be confident and welcoming while gaining the client’s trust simply with the recording that they hear.

Read Over the Script and Intentions

As a voice over actor, it is your goal to help the company that hires you with reading the script effectively but also making sure that your tone and delivery gives the right message.  Sometimes brands will think that humor is a good way to go on a customer service recording, however, with your expertise if you think it doesn’t sound authentic then let them know.  Part of your job is to make sure that the intention is what is delivered.

Many brands are looking for voice over actors so if it is a new type of work, study both good and bad and practice so you can give the best performance.  Once you get hired, it may be a good source for other in-house projects and even being the voice of their brand.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Radio Ads Need Voice Over Actors: Are you Ready?

 


Radio commercials can be national or local and can provide a voice over actor a regular income.  Radio ads are not dead and are still a great job source for voice over talent.

Voice over actors are so important for radio ads as it is your voice that brings credibility to the message and the brand.  They are counting on your voice to make listeners not only interested but represent their brand in the best light.

Voice Over Talent for Radio

Radio commercials or ads are anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds long.

Radio ads are typically read at a faster rate and require a lot of energy.  You must hold the attention of the audience and be persuasive without being pushy.  The voice is the most important part of the ad and can be told in a variety of styles based on the brand’s target audience.

Types of Radio Ads

There are four main types of radio ads that are used.  Each one has specific formatting that makes it important to understand how you should use your talent.

·         Jingle Ad – These ads are the ones that people are singing or humming long after, the ones with phrases that get stuck in a listener’s head.  The key is the wording and as a voice over actor it is about clearly getting the message out.

·         Sponsorship Ad – These ads typically come before or after a popular show.  It is a commanding voice that states, “This show is sponsored by….”

·         Straight Read Ad – These ads are an audio version of text ads.  They are ads that speak about the brand.

·         Customer Testimonial Ad – Brands often have compelling testimonials by customers that make for great promotion ads.  However, the customers are not the ones to read them.  That is where a skilled voice actor can give the read based on the customer’s words.  It is perfect for a professional actor who can give the statement life.

Practice is Key

The best way to become a radio voice over actor is to practice.  Work with a broad range of scripts so that you are prepared for the broad range of styles and can work on the subtle differences.  Record your practice runs and then play them back.

Listen to the current style you hear on the radio, styles change to keep up with trends.

A radio voice over coach will be able to help you work out the fine elements.  Look for a coach that specializes in radio teachings or a class that is specifically about radio voice over work.

Get Your Demo Reel Ready

If you are just starting in the radio ad world, create a demo with the styles that you have mastered.  Make sure that your reel is clean and would be ready to go straight to air.  This reel needs to impress agents, brands, anyone that you are sending a copy out to.

Keep in mind that your reel will constantly change and update as you book jobs and broaden your work.  A demo is about showcasing the best of your work and a variety or diversity of what you can do.

5 Things You Need To Have Professional Voice Over Recording Studio in Your Home

 



When setting up your home voice over recording studio, there are tons of items that are on the list and a variety of price points.  However, there are the top 5 items to start with and then from there, you can slowly build up.  The most important part is that you need high-quality audio recordings to not only get jobs but to keep booking jobs.

Microphone

The equipment starts with the microphone.  A high-quality microphone will get the best and cleanest sound.  You want to make sure that it will capture your voice as it impacts the overall quality of the recording. And YES, there are a lot of mics to choose from! THIS is where you should spend most of your gear money! 

There are two main types of microphones, USB and XLR.  Professional voice over talent uses an XLR, they have a wider dynamic range and more sensitivity.   USB microphones were created more for the everyday person who needs a mic for zoom calls. Although, the sound quality of these mics is improving constantly.

Pop Filter

The better your microphone is the more sensitive it can be, which makes the filter a necessity.  You want a sensitive microphone to give the rich texture and nuances of your voice.  However, you do not want all voice noises audible.

A pop filter will help with the plosive and sibilant sounds that the mouth makes, especially the “P” pop and the “S” hiss. 

Headphones

Studio quality headphones matter. It gives you a chance to hear all the unwanted noises and sounds, including lip smacks and small noises from the home studio.  Earbuds and headsets do not have the clarity of studio headphones. Nor are regular "music listening" stereo headphones a good choice either. Given that they do not produce a "flat" sound and "color" your voice too much. It is important that you can hear every little thing because the client certainly will when you send the recording.

Soundproofing

Having a quality microphone will get you the best sounding noises, yet not all sounds need to be on the recording.  When deciding on the best place to set up your recording area, think about the windows and outside noises.  Consider what walls you are sharing with, such as the laundry room.  If you live alone, then it makes some choices very easy, however, with roommates or family then you have to consider what they are doing in the house as well.

Before investing in a ton of soundproofing materials, a commonplace that voice-over talent finds has good recording is a closet, especially a walk-in closet.  There is space to set up an area and it has decent acoustics being a small space full of soft clothing and not a lot of furniture for sound to bounce off.

And remember, the best mic in the world will yield a lousy sound if the space it is in is poorly soundproofed. So, make sure that space is "tight" with no echo or outside noise entering it.

Digital Audio Workstations (DAW)

A digital audio workstation is the application software that is used for recording, editing, and producing audio files.  There are many options available on the market, including free ones like Audacity.  However, there are options that you must purchase like Adobe Audition that have all the plugins and editing options to produce quality audio files.

It is important to research the options and learn how to use the equipment, it is not enough to have the workstation; it is also about using it to create the highest quality recordings.

These are just the bare essentials of what you'll need. Research each area for greater detail.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Brands are Looking for Voice Over Talent are You Prepared?

 


As the business world is taking to more work at home opportunities, the market for voice over talent is expanding.  E-learning and explainer videos are part of this hugely expanding work from home market. As new employee training, updating employees, and clients on how to use devices are happening virtually the need for narrators are expanding and voice over talent is the best fit for the jobs.

The Differences Between E-Learning and Explainer Videos

E-Learning is an efficient way to teach courses online.  Businesses across the board are providing material on their websites, through intranets, to help customers and clients.  The topics cover a broad range of subjects and a wide range of jobs.

E-Learning places emphasis on the voice being engaging to keep the audience involved.  The narrator has to keep the interest over a long period of time without character voices or being too soothing.  Because of these reasons, businesses understand that voice over talent is the best investment instead of using in-house personnel.  Many voice over actors are finding that E-Learning videos are making up a large percentage of their jobs.

Explainer videos are short videos that are most often seen on a website, social media, or YouTube videos.  These 2 to 5-minute videos are a way to engage audiences while giving the brand a voice.  Explainer videos are a popular marketing strategy with brands.

Brands may create their own or work with companies that specialize in the production of these types of videos.  Contact the production companies as their list of clients may be in need of a fresh voice.

The Benefits of this Type of Voice Over Work

One of the biggest bonuses of working for a brand on these projects is that if they like your work then you can have reoccurring projects.  Both E-Learning and explainer videos in many cases will use the same narrator as it becomes the voice of the brand.

What Qualities Brands Look For

Brands look for a voice over actor that is a good match to what they need and have a strong work ethic.  Here is a list of what brands look for so that you can be prepared.

  • Voice and Audio Quality – Brands are looking for a voice that is pleasant and likable, you want to make sure that the audio is clean, clear, and crisp, with no pops or crackles. It is about having a likable voice especially for E-Learning work, it is a lot of emphasis on voice teaching
  • Fast Turnaround – While the videos make take time to edit, brands want the project to be done efficiently and as fast as possible. Whether you do the editing yourself or you outsource it, be sure to give a reasonable time on when it can be ready for them.
  • Technical Knowledge – The audio format can vary based on what the brand is using the video for. You need to be able to save them in the proper format as well as the delivery of the audio files.
  • Experience – If you have the experience, be sure to let brands know. The fact that you understand the ins and outs of these projects makes them more confident in booking you.

If you are looking for a new avenue of work, E-Learning and explainer videos are a great place to look.  If you can deliver a great narration, just make sure that you can technically make the work a success.  


A Guide To Becoming A Voice Over Actor in 2021

 


The voice over industry is growing, and it offers many opportunities as digital is driving demand for voice over actors.  But do you have what it takes?  Here is a guide to becoming a voice actor and what it looks like in 2021.

The voice over industry has changed over the years as technology has improved.  Voice over actors typically lived in major cities and worked in large recording studios, now everyone has a home studio to produce work from.

The good news is there are many opportunities and there is work out there, you have to put in the time and training to become a voice over actor.

Voice Over Opportunities

There are many genres and types of job opportunities for voice over talent.

  • Movies
  • Foreign Language Films
  • Radio
  • Commercials
  • Documentaries
  • Animation
  • Video Games
  • IVR phone systems
  • E-Learning
  • Trainer Videos
  • Audiobooks
  • Podcasts
  • Corporate/Industrial Videos

Get Training and Coaching

Many people that want to get into the voice over industry love to tell stories, talk, and have been told they have a great voice.  However, without the proper training and coaching reads can be flat or show exaggerated pronunciations.

Look into local theatre groups and see If they offer improv classes, or meet-ups so that you can get some practice in. 

Do your homework studying commercials, audiobooks, and then practice with a recording device, so that you can hear the differences.

There is nothing better than working with a professional voice acting coach that specializes in the voice over industry.  They can help guide you to what genres suit your voice best.

Let’s Talk Technical

While having the voice skills is a major part, now voice actors need to have technical skills as well.  With home recording studios you have the benefit of working from home, it does mean that you need the proper equipment and editing skills.

To initially start you can go small and work towards upgrading your equipment.  However, you are going to need clean demos that sound professional from the beginning.  First, think about your space.  It needs to be quiet away from traffic noises, appliances, and anyone that lives in the house with you, including pets.

When it comes to the equipment, you will need a microphone and pop shield, a mixer or interface, a computer, and recording software.

Getting Started

Starting out takes time and it takes some startup money for the equipment.  For many getting into the industry they start part-time and once bookings come in, then move it into a full-time career.

Having demos is critical whether you have been working or just starting.  If you have booked some gigs, then choose your best clips to use as your demos.  However, if you are starting out then you will want to create demos to showcase your voice.  Without demos, you are not going to get the audition.  Demo reels are a tool that will constantly need updating as you evolve into your voice over career.

In our digital world, a website is a must.  You will need to create a website that has your demos on it and your contact information at the least.  It is about branding yourself as voice over talent.  A website is about marketing yourself and establishing credibility.

Once you are ready to audition, look at online sites like Voice123, Voices.com, and other legitimate professional sites.  Just don't depend on those websites as anything more than just another tool to find work possibilities. They are overloaded with would-be talent and who are often not treated fairly. Also, look locally to see if radio stations or businesses are looking for voice over actors for commercials or marketing campaigns.  Create profiles on these sites as well so that companies and people can find you and your work. 

Finding Your Niche

A career in the voice over industry is an exciting one.  However, like any trade, it does take hard work and dedication to turn it into a career and not just a hobby.  It is also about finding your niche and excelling in it.  I found that my vocal style is Americana, the voice of the heartland.  Which lends itself to voice over projects in Nashville and a number of well-known industries that need that Americana sound.  Think about your voice style and what is a natural fit and go from there.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Voice Over Actor Vocal Warm ups that Will Improve Your Recordings

 


As a voice actor, your voice is critical to your livelihood.  It is important to warm up and care for your voice before work.  The difference between an impromptu vocal delivery and a script read following a warmup can make a tremendous difference in the final product.

The Benefits of Vocal Warmups

Vocal warm-ups have significant benefits.  They loosen your vocal cords, which improves your readings and helps keep them in good condition over time.  Using your voice for extended periods can have damaging effects in the long run.

The more you tone your vocal cords, the more range they will have.  Just like athletes stretch their bodies, voice actors must stretch their voices.  You are protecting yourself from the chance of injury.

Another benefit is that warming up helps get rid of anxieties or nervous energy.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises will help relax your vocal cords.  There are several breathing exercises that are a great option to practice.

Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose and then exhale deliberately and slowly through your mouth.  Repeat a few times, this will get you centered for your exercises. And increases your lung capacity.

Stretch Your Body

Several body exercises have proven to be important in the voice actor world, especially since many times you may be standing for long periods of time recording.

Start with some gentle neck rolls, around, forward, backward, side to side.  Start in one direction and then change to the other.

Shrug your shoulder up and down and then move to arm circles, to get your shoulders and arms loose as well.  Tension builds in the neck and can move down to the shoulders.

Stretch those ribs by raising your arms and then leaning to one side and hold for a few seconds and then switching to the other side.

Finally, shake it all out.  Shake your hands, then arms, and the rest of your body to get the remaining tension out and warm it all up.

Humming and Lip Flutters

Humming not only loosens up your vocal cords but is warms up your facial muscles.  Lip flutters or trills help bring back your vocal tone quality after sleeping or long periods of silence.  These practices are a perfect part of a morning routine.

Roll your tongue on the roof of your mouth to make the double rr sound.

Descending Nasal Consonants

There are several methods to warm up your sinuses and nasal passages.  One popular option is to say the word onion and stretch the ny sound and voice in a downward pitch.  Another set of word choices is words that end in z.  Fizz, whizz, and buzz are great examples and you will linger on the z to get resonating.

Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters sound funny and when repeated fast can be hilarious.  However, they loosen the mouth up.  It also allows for your mouth to be loose so that your pronunciation will improve during readings.  Some popular ones are “red leather yellow leather” and “she sells seashells by the seashore”.

Yawn and Yawn Sighs

Yawning can improve the sound of your voice.  It relaxes throat muscles and vocal cords.  When they are relaxed, the tone of your voice actually drops.  Morgan Freeman has been cited as telling this as one of his best voice over secrets.

A yawn sigh is when you open your mouth like you are yawning, but let your voice sigh loudly from the top of your register down to its lowest note.

And if you're yawning right now after reading this article, because maybe you already knew this information... hey, a little repetition never hurts!