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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!


Friday, January 8, 2021

Looking into 2021 Voice Over Actor Opportunities

 


2020 brought many changes to the world, it also changed the way the voice-over industry adapted for the year.  The new year is a great time to assess what brought you the most job opportunities and where they came from. 

When planning for your voice over acting career, it is best to look at the opportunities that will be trending in the industry.  Here is a guide to planning for a successful year.

Conversational Reads Will Still Be Wanted

Conversational reads are popular every year, and 2021 will not be the exception.  There is still a need for voice over actors who can read with this style.

Conversational can be very hard for some voice over actors as it is not always a skill that gets much training.  However, if you can be successful in this style, you will find the opportunities that will come your way.

Remote Collaborations Are Here to Stay

Remote work is not going away, which means you need to have your home studio setup.  The quality of your recordings will improve your booking rate.  If you need a guide check out my post Home Studio Equipment a Voice Over Talent Must Have.

Brands Will Continue to Seek Voice Over Actors for Messaging

Brands last year saw the need to use voice over actors to get their message out.  The voice-over industry saw an increase in jobs as brands realized they needed to ensure their messages were high quality.  While many brands cut marketing budgets last year, this year they need to be more successful, and that means getting the word out they are open.  This means more voice over jobs for professionals.

Increase in Internet Jobs

As 2020 meant more time at home, it also meant that there was more online viewing of videos.  The increase in screen time of short-form internet videos was not only in the U.S. but all over the world.  Internet videos are a varied category and include company explainer videos, social media videos, blogs, and YouTube.

Looking ahead into 2021, there is no sign that the need for these videos will be slowing down, and the digital studios are ramping up for a busy year.  Brands have found the benefits of working with a voice-over actor for their explainer videos.

eLearning Jobs

The demand for eLearning will not lessen this year and the opportunities for voice over actors in the world of eLearning will also rise.

Not only will it be more classes, but specialized training, company training decks, and more will be created and updated.  The industry is predicting demand for voice over actors that can work in this area.

AI Technology

AI has provided several job opportunities for Voice Over Actors, with social distancing and the need for industries to create non-touch sanitary options, voice technology is going to increase.  From voice assistants to recorded voice options like Alexa to other smaller applications within businesses and library creations.  The voice assistant category is on the rise.

Reflect on Last Year and Plan

A great way to start the new year is to reflect on the work you did last year.  The best way to start is to look at the type of work you did. Whether it was commercials, audio books, eLearning, corporate videos,  explainer videos, etc. look to  see what areas gave you the most opportunities.

Where did you find your job opportunities?  Did the jobs come from an agency, director, online postings, your website, acting coaches, and social media?  Understanding where you are most successful will help you create a strategic plan for this one.

Reflect on your strengths and areas that need improvement within your acting.  Listen to your demos as well as look at the demos that you are sharing.  Do they showcase your skills?  The new year is a great time to update your portfolio, take some classes, and hone in on your skill sets.

Cheers to a successful 2021!


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A Voice Over Actor Guide for Landing Documentary Jobs

 



A quality voice over is critical in documentaries.  While the visual takes you into the story, it is the voice over actor that gets you the information and takes the viewer on the journey.

The storyline is what captures the audience and keeps them engaged, and it can only be done with the best voice over narrator. This is called "in-show" narration. You can see it effectively done on popular cable network programming as on Discovery Channel, History Channel, ID, Animal Planet, etc.

When starting many voice-over actors find that it can be challenging.  However, with some training and practice, it can be very rewarding and open up more job opportunities.  There are several skills that you can master to become great at documentaries.

 Context and Tone

The first thing is to understand the context of the documentary.  Documentaries are informational and can be from serious topics like wars and global warming to the lives of celebrities.  By understanding the context and the tone it will help you decide upon the voice acting style to use.

The choice of the voice-over actor will depend on the audience as well.  If the target audience is children, then a lighter, more youthful voiceover may be preferred than that of a solemn voice. 

What are the different reading levels your voice naturally lends its hand to?  While you may have many style options, consider the script when considering the opportunity. Even if you have to make up your own "backstory" (because very little was provided for you in say an audition) you will create an interesting read.

Timing

Timing is key to a good narration.  As a voice-over actor, it is something that needs to be perfected to keep the documentary jobs coming your way.  The voice needs to be paced to match the picture.  REad and understand all the visual cues provided in the script. A voice-over actor is also expected to be cool under pressure while sounding natural.

Creative Collaboration

When auditioning for a documentary, give different readings to the script (if permitted), so that you are giving creative options and possibly adding more dimension to the script.  As an industry professional, it is looked upon for you to give ideas and collaborate.  The goal of the director is to have a film that speaks to the audience and one that they enjoy.

Localization

Some filmmakers will choose to localize their voiceover in a way to appeal to different audiences all over the world.  One example of this is the documentary Planet Earth in the original version David Attenborough was the voice-over actor, however, in the US version, it was Sigourney Weaver.

The good news is that while your voice may not be used in all versions of the film, it opens up the opportunity to voice over actors to work on more films.

Accept Feedback

Accept criticism and constructive feedback about your work.  The only way to progress in the voice-over industry is to learn from each job and improve your skills.

It Takes Work

Always keep in mind that the best documentary narrators understand you do not just walk into the studio, read the script, and it is ready for viewers.  Take the time to understand the script, perfect the voice to match the content and the timing.  As a successful professional voice over actor, it is these skills and understanding who my voice appeals to best, that has given me a successful career. Know thy voice!


Monday, December 7, 2020

Marketing Tips for Voice Over Talent

 



Marketing yourself is a great way to find job opportunities in the industry.  It is not only about being a skilled voice-over actor, it is about being seen and found.  With the voice over talent pool being large and competitive, you need to have a marketing plan in addition to the skills.  Voice over talent is a business and you offer a service.  Here are some marketing tips to help you be seen and ultimately book more jobs.

Website

As a voice-over talent, you must have a website.  Think of it as your online calling card.  The website needs to be user friendly, fast and very easy to navigate.  If your site is complicated, a visitor will not hesitate to leave as fast as they found it.

Having a website without demos will do very little in the way of booking jobs, so make sure to have several examples of the type and style options. Right on your landing page!

Within the website content make sure that you used keywords like voice over, voice-over talent, so that your website has a better chance of getting ranked.

Blog

Blogging is an effective way to get your voice heard, but more importantly, quality content and utilizing keywords will help your search engine optimization.  What that means is it will get you noticed by search engines as a voice-over talent and people can find you when searching.  The more web presence you have, the more likely you will be found.

Email Newsletters

An email once a month with your latest work included will help keep you at the forefront of prospective clients.  Email marketing is a largely successful avenue that draws a big return on investment.  Do not overwhelm your prospective with weekly email newsletters. 

Get Yourself Listed on Voice Over Talent Websites

Get yourself and your demos listed on voice talent sites.  There are many sites specifically for voice over talent, Voices.com, Voice123.com,VOtalent.com, and more.  Besides being on these sites, you need to keep your demos current on them.  The worst thing is having someone listen to a demo that you did many years ago when you have better work to showcase. Just be aware of the business practices of these sites. You need to decide whether or not playing the "crap shoot" style search for getting jobs is really worth the time. Don't sell yourself short either. Bid with a fair price for your ability to bring your unique voice to a particular project. Working only on the low end of a bid will not be satisfying in the end.

Social Media Profiles

Whether you are a social media pro or amateur, you must have at the very least a LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is built for business networking and works extremely well for making connections.  For voice over talent, this is a great place to find directors, producers, agents, and job opportunities.  Focus on setting up your profile to have links to demos, resume, your website, and information about your work.  Also, join voice-over talent groups as a way of connecting and sharing information.

Research Production Companies

Research production companies near you, in your city or state. And because geography in the voice-over industry is not limited, search broader.  Once you have a list of production companies, research the type of work they do and if they hire voice over talent.  If you don’t like their work, then take them off the list, not every production company will be a good match.

With your research, learn as much about them as possible before contacting them.  Find out the info on the creative director and email or call them.  By knowing specifics, it shows that you did your homework.  Send some information about yourself and some demos and see if they are interested in keeping you on file for future projects. This is tedious work so just do this with a few companies each week. That makes for an easier way to keep track of what you're doing and makes follow-up easier. 


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.