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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Creating the Ultimate Voiceover Home Studio



With the advent of technology, there are more opportunities for voiceover actors than ever before - but remember there is also more competition. In order to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, it’s best to situate yourself in a nice, broadcast quality home studio.

Building a studio in the comfort of your own home will dramatically increase the volume and rate at which you formulate your product, and as a result, your client base and bookings will also grow. In fact, it's absolutely essential these days to have your own studio to compete at a professional level. Here we give you a few pointers when you’re just getting started and want the best a home studio can offer.

Choosing the Right Space for Your Voiceover Studio

Considering the realities of city life (where voiceover work is abundant), many actors do not have a space that could be considered a state of the art recording studio. Fear not - we’ve got some guidelines to help you create a great studio when you think you have found a decent spot.

     Check to see if the room shares any walls with adjacent spaces that make a lot of noise, such as a kitchen or bathroom.
     Look out for household appliances/electrical devices that create noise close by, such as creaky plumbing, elevators, garages, washer/dryer, etc.
     See if the room overlooks an outside space that could be problematic, such as busy street, lawn care, or loud neighbors.
     Make sure the room has power outlets and ventilation - this is particularly important if you’re using a small space such as a walk-in closet.
     From an acoustics standpoint, you’ll want to avoid square rooms at all costs.

Keep Sound From Entering Rather Than Exiting

The rule of thumb with a home voiceover studio is to focus on keeping the sounds of the city out, rather than preventing sound you make from leaving. There are various ways to achieve this, depending on the sources of noise you will be dealing with (examples could include traffic, subways, trains, or live music venues). Regardless of the source of noise pollution, there are some general tips for soundproofing your studio.

You must take time and be extremely thorough with this step, as your soundproofing will only be as good as the weakest spot. It’s good to begin with the spaces around doors/entryways and windows - and the door itself. If your door is hollow, you could fill it with a special sound insulating foam, or buy a new and denser fire door to put in its place. Another technique is adding sheets of soundproofing material that hangs over the frame when you close the door.

Ensure You Have All the Essential Equipment

Now that you’ve found the space and made it completely soundproof, it’s time for the fun part - buying your gear! There are several vital pieces of equipment that every home voiceover studio will need, including:

     Headphones
     Microphone (USB, Dynamic Broadcast, or Large Diaphragm Condenser)
     Microphone Stand
     Audio Interface
     Pop Filters
     Shock Mount
     Acoustic Treatment
     Computer
     Software (Audacity is good for beginners)

There is much more to talk about here but this will just give you a general idea of what you'll need.

We wish you the best on your journey to voiceover stardom, and hope this guide gets you started down the road to success!
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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Can Anyone Become a Voiceover Actor?




Choosing to undertake a career as a voice actor (in a growing industry) can bring a sense of excitement, as well as a never-ending stream of fresh opportunities into your life - but can just anyone in Nashville or any other city become a voiceover actor?

Well, for starters, you’ll need some basic skills to entertain this notion of being a voice actor:

     Voice Recording
     Business
     Audio Editing
     Marketing
     Self-Discipline

The voiceover industry is exploding, with the surge in digital advertisements, audiobooks, television, corporate training videos, and entities like Google and Amazon, there’s a myriad of roles to choose from when considering voice acting.

Voiceover Acting Brings Variety

As a voiceover actor, you could be working on a television ad one day, a cartoon the next, and a Google app the third. Every day is different, and this novelty is often the reason people pursue careers as voice over actors.

Technology has transformed the entire industry - as a voiceover actor a mere 20 years ago, you had to work in huge recording studios in big cities like London or New York. Now you can have your own mini-studio and record work from the comfort of your home. Provided you take the time and effort to set up a broadcast quality recording room.

Voice Acting Is Harder Than It Sounds

While this can make it sound easy, most people struggle to break into voiceover (or even get started). The primary reason is that they keep hunting around the internet looking at videos on YouTube, some voice over blogs, but often this is all just disjointed and hard to make sense of.

Before you make this huge decision, ask yourself why you want to become a voice actor. If you know your goals, expectations, and intentions from the start, you will be much more likely to succeed.
I recommend reading a few of the books out there. The ones that have become the most popular by talented people who have worked many years in the field such as Pat Fraley, James Alburger, Rodney Saulsberry, Marc Cashman and more. Some of these folks hold live or Internet/Skype style workshops. If you can't make it to one in LA, NYC, Chicago or any of the major cities then attend some local workshops. Just be sure to check out the credentials of the instructor or presenter. There are a lot of phonies out there just looking to make a quick buck. More about this below.

Setting small short-term goals and placing due-dates on them will make sure you stay on track, even if you only want to do voiceover acting as a side-gig instead of a full-time job.

Anyone Can Learn With the Right Voiceover Coach

Being under the mentorship of a good voice coach is a key step in acquiring your first voiceover job. Do your research, and test out several coaches to find the best one for you.

After your training progresses to a certain level, your coach should guide you through the steps to create a ‘demo reel.’ Your demo reel is a vital tool you can use to gain the attention of talent agents, casting directors, and other potential employers. Your demos are your calling card in the voiceover industry. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

How to Better Your Voice for Voiceover Acting




The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to improve your voiceover performance is that you must keep your voice in good health. From the moment you approach the microphone, your throat, tongue, and mouth should be in harmonious, healthy unison - like a Nashville star ready to rock a show.

Stay Hydrated for Your Best Voiceover

One of the best ways to achieve this is through proper hydration - dry mouth can ruin any voiceover read through, so make sure to drink water throughout the day before your gig.

If you forget and start downing a bunch of water right before you get to the job, you could be forced to take multiple trips to the bathroom which can waste not only time - but money (especially if you have an engineer standing by). As a rule of thumb, you should avoid cold drinks - warm/hot tea and room temperature water will produce the best results.

Whatever you do, stay hydrated and make sure your throat is clear (use an expectorant or cough suppressant if necessary). But avoid anything with antihistamines since they will dry you out.

Warm Up Is Vital Before Any Major Event

Just as you wouldn’t take off on a marathon without stretching your legs, it’s unwise to go into a recording session without preparing your voice. One clever trick is doing some tongue twisters leading up to your session - repeatedly try these phrases in low octaves, your normal voice, and finally a high pitch.

Don’t push too hard though - remember this is just a warmup; stretch (not stress) your vocal cords. We recommend standing while you perform this exercise, as standing posture expands your diaphragm and helps you prepare to project the best version of your voice. You should literally massage your face... your cheeks, forehead and lips. "Buzz" your lips to loosen them up.

Do Some Practice Reads

Once you’re sufficiently warmed up, take some practice runs through your script using different tones - sad, mad, over the top - this will help you get a feel for what works best, and may give you fresh ideas if you’re stuck on a certain style for your script.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with the script, try doing a run through from memory. The best way to come across like you’re talking to someone rather than reading to them is to actually not be reading. Sounding authentic and believable is one of the hardest things to learn as a voiceover actor, and as such should be a top priority for your practice sessions and warmups.

Listen to What Other People Are Saying

Don’t be afraid of the competition - embrace them. One of the best ways to gain insights on how to improve your voiceovers is through listening closely to people who are successful in their voice careers.

Investigate how they got the jobs they have - that you feel you would want. Is there something they are doing better from which you can gain valuable lessons? Compare your own style with theirs, and carefully analyze the discrepancies with as little of your ego as possible.

Keep at it and don’t give up - patience, self-discipline, and hard work go a long way in this competitive industry!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How to Describe Your Voice for Voiceover Work




When you’re first getting started with voiceover acting, you’ll want to figure out how to identify and describe your voice, or ‘vocal type.’. Doing this isn’t meant to pigeonhole you into one type of voice work - it’s intended to help you understand what your voice sounds like to others (especially while on a microphone), and how it reads - this will give you great material to work with when you’re trying to practice and improve for upcoming gigs.

First, you’ll want to have someone help you determine what your normal, everyday voice sounds like, and what type of character it fits best with. Once you know what you sound like at baseline level when not trying to make any changes, it’s easier to figure out what adjustments to make towards any given role, whether that’s narration, introduction, voice acting or any one of the other many genres of voiceover.

Remember not to take yourself too seriously when you’re doing this exercise, as your default voice type doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with who you are as a person - it’s just how you come across in a very general way as people hear you talk.

Example adjectives that could be used to describe your neutral voice include warm, velvety, classical, charming, polished, deep, rich, compassionate, unconventional, or throaty or raspy. It’s a good idea to avoid overly vague terms such as ‘professional’ and ‘sexy’ as these could mean any number of things, and is very subjective.

To begin, record yourself talking about a topic you find interesting (something you feel comfortable with) for 30 seconds, and then play the recording for somebody else - ideally someone you aren’t close friends with (so they can be more objective). If you can’t find anyone to listen, another option is turning to social media for receptive ears. After they hear the recording, ask the individual these questions:

     What age do you sound? (Examples could include elementary/high school, college, younger adult, mature professional, senior)
     Do you sound aggressive or violent?
     Do you sound like you have children? Or do you sound like a child yourself?
     Does it sound like you’re single, in a relationship, divorced, or married?
     Do you have sexual appeal? Could you be a romantic interest?
     What type of work would you likely do?
     Do you sound street smart or book smart? Blue collar or white collar?
     Are you from a rural, urban, or suburban area?
     If you could be described in one simple sentence, what would it be?

Although some of these questions can sound a bit silly, thoroughly completing this exercise without judgement can help you figure out a lot about the sort of products you might be best at selling, and which character you would read the best.

When you’re figuring out how to describe your voice, be as precise as you possible can. If you come up with a misleading description for your voiceover, you could give a potential client quite a shock when they actually hear you. Use these words as keywords for helping you create your online persona.

While this practice might seem exclusive to those breaking into the voiceover acting world, it can be useful for a variety of individuals. For example, a high-powered CEO may intimidate his employees and have a hard time being personable, or alternatively, may struggle with being too friendly and need to come across as being more authoritative. With this exercise, you can figure out what adjustments you need to make in your voice for a wide variety of applications.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Beginner’s Guide to Voiceover Acting


When considering a career in voiceover acting, common thoughts that prevent people from moving forward include:

     “It’s too hard!”
     “Where do I begin?”
     “What if I lose money?”
     “What if I fail?”
     “What if I don’t know enough about the technology?”

As the old adage goes, the only thing to fear is fear itself. Although a bit of innate talent can give you an advantage with voice acting, most anyone with a clear voice can break into this industry and find their niche with some hard work and dedication.

Perhaps the most important thing to know when you’re just getting started is that voice acting in Nashville, TN is a competitive market. If you want to get good results, you’ll need a solid plan and a serious work ethic.

Don’t let this discourage you - the fields of voiceover acting are more abundant than ever. Audiobooks, documentaries, film, music, podcasting, radio/TV advertising, businesses, cartoons, video games, translation (if you’re multilingual)  - you name it, there are a million and one avenues to explore to find your first voiceover gig.

To achieve star status as voiceover talent, you’ll want to be humorous, dynamic, enthusiastic, authentic and able to get along well with a wide variety of individuals. You’ll need to be able to take constructive criticism, be easy directable, interpret different genres of copy, and most of all sound believable.

Having a background in acting, radio broadcast, singing/music, or something similar can be very helpful, as you’ll often be tasked with breathing life into something that could otherwise be flat and dry. As you explore the world of voice acting, you’ll find that there are a few main subtypes of voiceover, including:

     Announcers: Often introduce live TV or radio segments, as well as messages as amusements parks, bus/train stations, airports, or airplanes.
     Voice Actors: Have roles in TV cartoons, radio shows, live shows, video games, foreign film dubs, animated movies and corporate videos.
     Narrators: Found in documentaries for TV, radio and Web, educational/business/medical videos, audio tours, audiobooks and others.

When you’re just starting out, doing some work for free is a good way to build your portfolio and gain valuable experience. This could include working with a radio station, local video companies, or a charity. Just don't get carried away with the FREE stuff. You also have a responsibility to uphold industry standards, professional standards by charging fair prices for your work.

Another great way to enhance your voiceover skills is by hiring a coach. The right voice over coach can help you enhance your vocabulary, keep you current with the hottest trends, motivate you to take risks and grow as a voice actor, and help you identify what makes you unique as a voice actor. Finding that "signature" sound that sets you apart as a voice talent.






Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tips for Up and Coming Voiceover Actors


Don’t Write Your Own Script

Unfortunately, there is a current trend in Nashville towards voiceover artists feeling compelled to write their own monologues. Successful voiceover actors usually hire experts to write for them, as writing and performing are two completely different skill sets. Trying to write your own copy is going to split your focus and attention, and the results will likely be less than ideal. Try and find a producer that offers formulaic styles relevant to your best qualities and attributes.. There are also some professionally written scripts, free of copyright, that can be used at EdgeStudio.com.

Keep Your Clients Requests Priority Number One

While you are the talent and certainly bring your expertise to the table, your top priority should be ensuring that you are staying within the guidelines given to you by your employer. Even if you think you have better ideas or an alternative way of doing something, keep that reserved for the later takes - after you’ve already done it their way several times. Be respectful, courteous, and always listen to the requests made by the engineer. Be sociable without becoming a "motor mouth", always show up on time, and keep the details of the job private (unless the client says otherwise).

Always Get Agreements In Writing

This piece of advice applies to many situations in life, but is especially relevant in the rapidly changing world of voiceover acting. Regardless of how trustworthy a client seems to be, memories of agreements can easily fade and change over time. Making sure to get contracts in writing will save you a lot of stress and conflict, and chances are your client will understand why you’re making this request - although at first it can feel uncomfortable. This can usually be done BEFORE the session day via email. If you've been sent to the session by your agent then the paperwork has already been taken care of.

Don’t Make Your Demo Until You’re Ready

Breaking into the voiceover industry takes time and patience - you’ll need to practice, maybe hire a coach, and assess your unique vocal style. If you spend money producing a demo before you are truly ready, that could be money down the drain. Winding up with an inferior demo that will do more harm than good in helping you find work. 

Your demo should showcase the absolute best of your abilities - if it’s done properly, there is really no need to make changes. Just as new businesses can take three or more years to become established, you should expect the same of your voiceover career. Don’t get impatient, remain consistent, and keep strategizing your next moves.

It can be highly challenging to get your first voice over gig without a top-notch demo. That being said, merely having a good demo doesn’t guarantee employment - having a good agent, being motivated to market yourself and staying on top of industry expectations are equally important components of success in this industry.

Practice Out Loud Every Day

As we all know, practice makes perfect. People love listening to Stairway to Heaven, but who considers the thousands of hours of guitar practice that happened before that was possible? It’s a good idea to read out loud everyday, practicing tongue twisters and keeping your face and mouth active. If you don’t, you could start to get rusty faster than you think! You need to be ready to audition or sound healthy and professional answering a phone call at a moments notice.



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Voiceover Resolutions for the New Year and Beyond


Setting expectations and goals ahead of a new year is an amazing way of ensuring your dreams come true. For many of us, this is the time for reflection of past mistakes and future prospects. But in reality, making resolutions can be done at any time of the year. It can be on your wedding anniversary, on your birthday or when starting your career as a voice actor like I did in Nashville, TN. Here are some suggestions to start off your voice acting career on a path to success in the new year.

Book More Voiceover Jobs

If your goal is to increase the number of voiceover bookings in coming years, you are not alone. There are thousands of voiceover actors hoping to do the same thing. To increase these bookings, you must be hands-on during the entire process. For instance, ensure that you audition as frequently as possible. However, audition only for the jobs that are suitable for your voice and not every offer that lands in your inbox. By auditioning only for jobs that are relevant to your voiceover style the probability of landing those jobs goes up.

Diversify Your Voiceover Language Skills

Even with professional voiceover actors with careers spanning several years in voice acting, there is always a new skill to add to your portfolio. Doing more auditions can greatly improve some of the skills already have and help you develop a new language or accent. If picking up a new language or accent are part of your wish-list this year, there is a way you can add them to your skills list. One way is engaging the services of a voiceover coach. Learning an accent or language in voice acting is a great way to expand your career opportunities.

Venture into a New Area in Voice Acting

If you've always had the desire to venture into a new specialization within voice acting, maybe this is the time to get started. Being open to new challenges is one of the successful strategies for voiceover actors everywhere. It appears that many voice actors are looking to test the waters of a new VO field. So when you're ready, get your new demos together to promote your expanded skills.