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Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Best Warm-Up Routine For Professional Voice Over

Warm-ups are incredibly important for professional athletes, dancers, and other professionals who are involved in physically strenuous activities.

Professional voice over involves a lot of strain on your vocal cords. So warm-ups can help you prepare your voice for a flawless performance.

The Ideal Time For Warm Ups

A seasoned voice narrator will usually perform warm-ups on two separate occasions: once in the morning, and often right before a live recording. When we wake up in the morning, our voices are usually not at 100%.

A short warm-up will help clear your throat and get your ready for the daily grind. And live sessions are incredibly demanding situations where you need to put your best voice forward. This makes a quick warm up immediately before a session well worth the effort. 

Rolls & Trills Involving Both Lips And Tongue

Lip rolls and trills are a popular exercise among professional singers. If your voice over work involves a wide range and diverse vocal registers, these exercises will help you sharpen those.

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 involve similar mechanics, but instead of the lips, you will be vibrating your tongue.

To achieve this, keep your mouth comfortably open and try to create a “G” or “D” sound with your tongue pressed up against the roof of the mouth. When done correctly, the tip will vibrate, creating a trilling sound effect in the process.

Other Sound Exercises 

A typical warm-up for voice over can last anywhere from 5 minutes to well over 20 minutes. You can fill up all those minutes with a choice selection of sound exercises for your mouth.

Some of these require you to keep your mouth closed, while others give best results when you keep your mouth open. Remember to keep a constant pitch and move through your vocal range only gradually.

       “M” - works on the front part of your mouth, create sound with your mouth closed.
       “N” - works similar to “M”, but closer to the nose, keep your mouth closed when doing this sound.
       “L” - works on the space close to your throat/back of the head, keep your mouth open with tongue pressed to the roof of mouth when doing this exercise.
       “NG” - works on your nose and sinuses, keep your mouth closed for this one.
       “Z” - works on the front part of your mouth, requires you to keep your mouth open but teeth clenched for best results.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How to Get Noticed In the Voiceover Industry - Part Two

Just as you must get into the water when first learning how to swim, you have to dive into the voiceover industry headfirst and gain real experience to ultimately get noticed.

Don’t be hard on yourself - the entertainment business in Nashville, TN is about as cutthroat and full of competition as it gets. Tons of people want a piece of the pie - but, if you are willing to work hard, use your head, and have thick skin - you will inevitably do well.

Know the Genres of Voiceover to Get Noticed

One of the most valuable skills in a voiceover actor is a thorough understanding of the different script genres, such as:

-       Announcer
-       Real Person
-       Spokesperson
-       Character
-       Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR)
-       Public Service Announcement (PSA)
-       Documentary
-       Promos
-       Audiobooks
-       Inspiration
-       Impersonation
-       Podcast

Each of these genres requires various sets of interpretive skills/talent. Among these (although there are several more) promos, animation, audiobooks, and ADR are the most in-demand. You will probably find that you have a natural talent for one or another (or perhaps several) - it’s wise to focus on these and strengthen them further.

Voiceover Training

In addition to familiarizing yourself with these genres, you’ll need to beef up your skills and get noticed through voiceover training. Things you will focus on in training include:

-       Timing
-       Relaxation
-       Using a Natural Tone
-       Microphone Technique
-       Lowering Inhibitions (naturally)
-       Breathing Life Into a Script

In stark contrast with acting on film, TV, or a stage, you won’t usually have any actors with which you can interact - this will come entirely from your heart and imagination.

Make a Voiceover Demo Tape

After doing a bit of research, begin crafting what you feel is your perfect demo tape. Once you’ve finished it, you can resort to it as an invaluable tool to showcase your talent after contacting potential clients.

If you still find yourself stuck even after taking all these steps, here are some additional recommendations to help you get noticed and seize your first dream job as a voice actor:

-       Take communications/broadcast classes at your a community college (this can help you learn how to use your voice and how the industry works - as well as being great for networking).
-       Do theater.
-       Take an acting class.
-       Spend time volunteering at Public Radio and make connections.
-       Study the habits of successful voiceover actors 

Be patient and work hard - you’re sure to get noticed for your voiceover skills!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Find New Gigs for TV Voice Over

Starting in any new profession is not a walk in the park, especially one as competitive as voice over (VO) work. You need to invest quite a bit of time, money, and resources in the early stages to gain a foothold in the field.

Even after you have received training and created your studio, you may find yourself without any work.

This process is how you learn a critical fact about this work: if you want to make money from your voice-over, you have to hunt for new clients on your own.

Look at Local Businesses

Most firms these days run ads of some sort on TV, radio, and internet. Look for local enterprises in your neighborhood who invest in regular video and audio campaigns. If they do have some ad campaigns, check out the quality of the voice over-employed. I voice a ton of corporate videos each month. They all utilize video!

If you feel that you can do a better job on that TV voice-over, feel free to boldly state that to the company. You never know, it might lead to new chances in the future.

Finding TV Voice Over Gigs on LinkedIn

If local networking is not doing it for you, it may be time to go the national or international level with your hunt for attractive VO partnerships and gigs. Also, LinkedIn is the perfect platform to meet producers and other executives who take their job very seriously.

Just remember to create a new, reliable profile/resume on the site. You can then use the search function to check out promising clients for gigs that pique your interest, like my gigs for cowboy voice over. 

Find Folks Who Need Your Skills on YouTube

YouTube is home to millions and millions of live videos. Not all content creators on the platform have a good grip on the audio and voice over aspects of their content. You can use the search tab to find accounts and videos in your favorite niche.

Find out those that could use your assistance. If they are active uploaders, approach them with your demo reel and angle for some roles - although this method might be a bit of a hit and miss when it comes to guaranteeing you a supply of new clients.

Use Google to Find New Gigs

Smart search features on Google allow you to narrow down your search to find possible matches faster. If you like cowboy-related projects, you can easily search for cowboy voice over for some hopeful leads.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Right Way to Do Email Marketing as an American Voice Actor

Every serious voice-over (VO) business requires a solid marketing strategy. Email mass marketing is a very valuable tactic found inside the savvy modern marketing playbook.

Crafting and sending emails to potential clients is a relatively simple job. The real work comes after you submit the mail. If you want to improve the prospects of your character voice business, read on to learn more.

Track Customer Data Using CRM

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a system used by businesses to keep track of client information, potential leads, and other vital details. If you are an American voice actor looking to grow the business, having a CRM system can make a world of difference.

In the VO business, clients often return months or years after you send an email to them or work with them. A CRM system allows you to respond quickly when a client messages you out of the blue with an offer for work.

Use Mailing Lists for Clients Interested in Your Character Voice

Once a client sends a reply to your cold marketing email, it's time to add them to an exclusive mailing list. The very fact that they took the time out to respond to your email indicates that they are interested in working with your character voice.

You can use database software like Excel to create mailing lists of all your clients. It might be a good idea to have separate lists for clients, leads, and prospects. Use the CRM system to flesh out your mailing list with more info about your customers and clients. I've created quite an accurate email list of my connections on LinkedIn.

Connect with Interested Clients on Social Media

The final step of the email marketing strategy is to migrate the conversation to an open channel like a social media platform. This way, you will have multiple modes of connecting with your client. Also, you will also become more visible to them, increasing your chances of getting a project. Adding a human element with casual conversation to your client search.

For business connections and networking, LinkedIn is hands down the best choice for an American Voice actor. However, if you are an avid Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram user, you can utilize these as well to connect with your clients.

Ultimately, your choice of platform does not matter. Once you connect with the clients, you've already strengthened your relationship with them while also contributing to your overall social media game.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Myth vs. Fact in the Voiceover Business

Like pretty much any other career choice in life, people tend to have certain preconceived notions about working in the voiceover business.

While a few of these are correct, many others have no basis in reality. Here are four or five common notions about the VO business that you need to be aware of if you plan to carve out a career or even work in part time as a voice talent or voice actor.

You Can Only Do Voiceover if You Have a Great Voice - False

This belief is like saying that to be a great guitarist (or a pianist) you need the very best guitar (or grand piano).

Beethoven or Jimi Hendrix would be able to make great music whether they had a standard instrument or an expensive master-crafted design. The same principle is also applicable to the voiceover.

If you have a great voice, that does indeed help. However, the real magic comes from how you deliver that voice, and how you make that emotional pull with your audience from the natural sound you have already possess. 

Talent is All You Need in This Business, and Classes are Overrated - False

The explanation to this is a continuation of the logic in the point above. The greatest actors and musicians all had some raw talent in them. However, nearly all of them attained greatness by working on it and taking guidance from sagacious teachers.

This principle is valid in the voiceover business as well. It would help if you had practice and an understanding of the necessary skill set involved, and that comes from classes, workshops, conferences and by simply reading from the wealth of books/material available written by working professionals.

In Voiceover You Have to Know Accents and Weird Voices - Partially True

The bit about weird and funny sounds is valid when it comes to projects like animation, cartoons, and comedy. Those often require VO talents to deliver outlandish sounds and voices.

However, that is more of a niche, and regular voiceover work requires you to have a normal voice over sound. I believe just about all voice actors should be able to manipulate their voices enough to extend their range. For instance, one of my most popular sounds is a Southern, Western or Cowboy accent. Although, I was not born in the South my voice has a natural affinity for this sound. (And it's in my blood) All voice actors should work to create derivations from the "root" sound of their voice to use in a very natural way when called upon to do so. If you become good enough at that, you can fulfill the client's job of having a few other talent on the same script, satisfy the client's need for various characters and adjust your payment figure accordingly. 

You Can Do Voiceover from Home - Partially True

If freelancing is all you plan to do in this field, you can harness the power of the internet and work from any part of the world.

At the present time, most of the movie and animation work is centered around NYC and LA, but is changing for certain projects when there is a need for supplemental voices.  And , of course, anytime you have the opportunity to work in a "live" session in another studio it will be super rewarding, fun and career boosting. Especially if you are working amongst a group if good voice actors.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

How to Deal with Live Directed Sessions as a Voice Talent

There are mainly two ways in which you deliver content as a voice talent.

You either go to a studio for recording or record at home with your own equipment and send the audio file to the client. However, live directed sessions are becoming common as a third way.

Here, clients ask voice-over (VO) talent like to have a system where they can listen live while you do the recording. New technologies like the internet (iPDTL , Source Connect NOW, etc.) and Skype have made this a viable alternative. Or with stand alone digital phone patch systems like the Telos system I've been using for years.
There are several ways a voice actor can set this system up if the client requests.    

Basic Phone Calls

The simplest and cheapest option is to use a phone call to set up your live directed session. (such as the Telos) Call your client on the phone while you record the voice on your home system.

Just remember to turn off notifications, alarms, and other sounds that may interfere with the session. Plugging your phone into headphones may be a wise idea as well, to prevent the mic from picking up any stray noises from the client’s end.

For cowboy storytellers like me, phone calls have the advantage of being cheap and easy to set up. However, on the downside, the audio quality is often quite low, and you always have to worry about disruptions and dropped call quality.

Skype for Voice Talent 

If you have a computer or tablet with a Skype account, you can use the free software to make calls as part of your live directed session.

The software has the advantage of advanced configuration options for your audio input and output interfaces. Skype calls can be recorded at your end as well as the clients.

You do not have to worry about stray noises disrupting your recording session, as all incoming audio from the client can be routed directly to your headphones. Also, it would be best if you did not worry about multiple mics, as Skype software can receive audio input from your main mic.

Skype offers better call quality and can be used to connect with multiple users simultaneously. However, it is a bit complicated to set up and is still vulnerable to dropped calls as the technology requires uninterrupted internet connectivity.
Personally, I still rely on my Telos unit for conference calls as well. Since many times the clients listening in are in various locations. And they use a conference call service to link all parties together to hear me.

Other Browser-Based Audio Calling Systems

You can use your computer browser to connect to your client. There are numerous services available online, from big names like Google and Facebook Messenger, as well as other smaller brands. And then there are the subscription based Chrome Browser based services that provide a quality link from your mic to another studio via the internet. Producing broadcast quality digital audio sent directly to them.

Many of these solutions are absolutely free and very easy for even beginner voice talent to operate.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How to Avoid Mouth Clicks as a Voiceover Talent

If you are in the voiceover business, mouth clicks are a major annoyance. Any time one of these pop up on a recording, they can bother everyone involved, be it the voiceover talent or the producer and sound engineer.

And the worst part about mouth clicks is that it can happen to anybody, even the best voice over (VO) artists like Sam Elliot.

What Are Mouth Clicks Anyway?

The human mouth and vocal cords comprise of an incredibly complex sound-making system with many moving parts.

Three parts of this system are involved in the accidental creation of minor clicks and pops we call “mouth clicks.” The movement of the tongue and jaws create little saliva bubbles inside the mouth that often pop, creating small noises, or mouth clicks.

Why are Mouth Clicks a Problem for Voiceover

Mouth clicks happen all the time when we speak. But they do not pose a problem in daily life because the human ear is not sharp enough to catch the noises over our voices.

A high-performance mic inside a recording studio, on the other hand, is capable of catching and amplifying these faint noises. Once they become a part of the recording, they cause interference, distracting the listeners.

What Can a Voiceover Talent do to Avoid Mouth Clicks

Hydration is key to preventing the occurrence of mouth clicks during a recording session. Drink plenty of water starting several hours before your recording session to avoid having a dry mouth. Eating green apples can help as well. Also,... believe it or not... eat some potato chips. The oil from the chips can actually coat your mouth leaving a film along your teeth and gums that softens mouth clicks. 

Another thing that you can do is stay a bit away from the microphone.
But you have to be careful not to overdo it, as that can result in a fainter voice recording with plenty of ambient noise. To compensate, you have to learn to project your voice a bit further. This allows you to stay farther away from the mic without impacting the audio quality. But, of coarse, there's a delicate balance to achieve here when you're trying to speak in a natural way.

Sound Engineers Can Also Do Their Bit

If the role of the voiceover talent is to prevent mouth clicks, the role of the engineer is to clean up what has already been recorded. They can use digital audio workstation tools to draw out the offending waveforms from the recording. But this can be tedious work and not really the best way to handle the problem. 

This is a rather cumbersome process and can earn you the ire of sound engineers, even if you are a big shot like Sam Elliot! These days, modern plugins and sliders have automated the job somewhat, making their lives much easier.