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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Will you Make a Good Voiceover Artist?

In the vast majority of cases, we cannot say with any certainty, even upon meeting, that you will- or won’t make a good voiceover artist.  However, there are certain traits that most of the successful voiceover talents share in common.  So, perhaps by considering this list of those characteristics, you will get a better feel for whether or not this line of work is for you.

1.    Interesting Voice An interesting voice doesn’t mean that a person must be able to mimic various dialects, take on the voice of a cartoon character at a moment’s notice, or even must possess a sexy gravel to his voice.  It simply means that your voice is easy to listen to.  Does this mean that you are ruled out simply because you don’t have the most attractive voice?  No.  But, that will make the job harder for you.

2.    Flexibility of Schedule Do not make the mistake of believing that voiceover work can be completely arranged to fit your desired work schedule.  The fact of the matter is that there are times that you will be asked to be out the door in the early hours of the morning to meet with a casting director, and there are times when you will have to work late into the evening, in order to meet a tight deadline.  Therefore, flexibility of schedule will increase the likelihood that you succeed in this field.

3.    Malleable Personality While it would be brilliant if you could get the most desired voiceover work from the start, chances are that you are going to have to take a wide variety of different work in order to get your start as a voiceover actor.  That means that you must be malleable, able to shift from a playful script to a dry, purely informative piece.

4.    Enjoys Performance The best voiceover actors generally share one thing in common – a love of performance.  They’ve had their own fair share of acting classes.  Most of them have performed on stage in the past, or even continue to do so.  But, they don’t just enjoy doing it, they also enjoy watching others perform.  This is important, because we learn a great deal about what works and what doesn’t by watching and listening to others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keep it Friendly with the Voiceover Engineers

While appealing to casting directors may get you the job, keeping it friendly with the voiceover engineers will ensure you keep it.  You want the voiceover engineers to speak in favor of you as a voiceover artist, but just as importantly, by keeping the peace with the engineers, you will better ensure that the time spent in the recording booth will be pleasant.  So, here are a few tips to make sure that you win over the engineers.
Don’t Touch the Mic Keep your hands away from the microphone. Once the recording starts, you absolutely shouldn’t touch the mic for any reason, or else you risk the wrath of the engineers. Each touch means more editing of the final recording.

Don’t Wear a Lot of Jewelry and Accessories This may sound silly, but jewelry often causes background noise. Wearing multiple bracelets can mean jangling every time you move your arm. Chunky rings can clink against various surfaces when you set your hand down. Even clothing like polyester can create unwanted noise while moving. Wear soft cotton, wool, etc... noiseless clothing.

Don’t Jump in Too Early Keep yourself cool and calm, and be sure to allow a little time between your lines and the lines of other voiceover actors. This is most important, obviously, when there are multiple speakers, but it is a good idea to always remain conscious of future editing that may occur.

Do Keep the Page Shuffling to a Minimum Flipping and re-stacking pages creates a lot of noise that must then be removed from the recording. If you've had time, transfer the script to your tablet device and read from that.

Do Silence Your Devices This one is obvious, but don’t stop at your phone. Be sure your smartwatch, any tablets or computers in your bag, or other such devices are silenced as well.

Do Give a Good Level When asked to provide a level, be sure that it is actually at the volume that you will be speaking throughout the recording. Just read a bit from the script ...in character.

Do Maintain a Good Distance from the Mic Too close and the microphone will pick up every mouth noise. Too far from the mic and the delicacies of your voice may be lost. Bring along mouth moistener to help eliminate dry mouth and clicks.

Do Bring a Bottle of Water A dry mouth is your enemy when working in voiceover. It’ll cause trouble for you, and it will also result in a lot more mouth noise – crackling, popping, etc. -- for the engineers to edit out of the recording. Green apples are also a good remedy for dry mouth. Just about every studio keeps them around.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Difference Between Positive- and Negative Client Personas

As a voiceover professional, chances are very good that you are also operating as an entrepreneur.  You are running your own business, building up your own brand, and establishing your own client base.  That means that you must understand basic marketing principles in order to ensure continued success for your company.  One of the most important things that marketers do, as they work to build up the brand reputation and the consumer base, is to create personas for their customers.

Customers are real.  Personas are a representation of what those customers share in common.  For instance, when a clothing line is asked who they are advertising their goods to, they may answer “Females between the ages of 14 and 21 who are enrolled in schooling and are likely to have financial support from their parents.”  This is a persona.  Great marketers will often go even more in depth, with personas that draw upon emotions, habits, likes, dislikes, and more.  They will create two sorts of personas as well – one for the customer they want to attract and one for the customer who will add little value to the brand.

As a voiceover artist, your consumer base is different, but the principle is the same.  You should know who you are trying to appeal to, and which potential clients you would do best to avoid.  For instance, a potential client who has worked with voiceover artists before, understands what is to be expected from the voiceover artist versus the voiceover engineers, and who feels a sense of loyalty to artists he or she has worked with before, is a very appealing prospect.  You can narrow your list of potentials down even further by dictating which area of voiceover work you wish to work in – corporate, audio books, animation, training videos, e-learning, etc.  On the other hand, you don’t want to waste your time with the prospective client who fails to return phone calls or emails, has never worked with voiceover artists in the past, who makes you wonder about his or her ability to pay when the work is completed, and who is unlikely to be seeking voiceover work again in the future.

Know the personas and market your brand accordingly.  You may be amazed at how much further your efforts get you when you have that sort of direction.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Approaching Your First Casting Call

For voiceover actors and actresses, there are jobs that will not involve a true casting call.  Talent demos or talent audition demos are used to gauge the ability of the voiceover professional, and there may be a telephone interview that serves as an opportunity for the casting director to get a good feel for who you are as a person.  However, that is not always the case.  You may be asked to come in for a casting call or studio audition, especially when working for local brands, shows, or series.  It can be a very intimidating, nerve-racking experience for anyone.  However, if you enter the room in the right mindset, you will have a leg up on the competition, so to speak.

The first thing that you should know is that much of the vetting of candidates happens before the casting call.  The information that you were required to provide in order to apply for the spot is used.  They look (and listen) through that material for many candidates and weed out all of those who simply won’t suit for the job.  Therefore, if you’ve received a casting call, then you already have a much greater chance of receiving the part.  Casting directors and their teams don’t want to sit in a stuffy room, meeting with people, and listening to the same lines over and over again, if they don’t have to.  Therefore, a casting call is usually only issued to those candidates that are extremely likely to fit the role. This goes for voice acting audition sessions as well.

When you go in, you can present a much more professional image if you are well equipped.  That is to say that you should dress to impress, carry a resume of past experience, and maybe your demo CD with you.  It is essential that these materials appropriately represent you and your talents.  If you cannot reproduce the voice (tone, pitch, etc.) used on the demo, then it shouldn’t be on that demo.  When you have received a casting call it is because something on that demo appealed to the casting director.  If you cannot live up to what is on the recording, then you aren’t likely to get the job, and you could also leave a bad impression upon that casting director, potentially ruining your future chances. This happens a lot, according to casting directors/directors and it really irritates them since time is money and auditions are gruelling enough already for everyone involved.

The most important thing is that you are prepared, confident, and relaxed when you walk in.  Enjoy the opportunity, the experience, and don’t worry about what comes next.  Treat the casting director and others to a show, so they can see just how much you love what you do. In other words, treat it as another chance to perform and not something you should dread.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Creating an Editorial Calendar to Keep Your Voiceover Business on Track

Calendars, even in the digital age, are a very powerful tool to have on hand.  Of course, they have changed form a bit, in this era, but they serve the same purpose as they always have – helping you avoid double-booking, and ensuring that you meet deadlines.  An editorial calendar is not overly different than your average calendar, but it is focused entirely on growing your business, and can, in fact, offer a sort of road map to reaching your goals.

There are three things that your voiceover editorial calendar should be doing for you:

1. Ensure that your marketing objectives are managed in a timely manner.

2. Help you keep track of important deadlines

3. Allow you to make time for important tasks, meetings, or casting calls

Digital calendars – like those in your smartphone or attached to your email server – are valuable, especially because they can provide alerts and reminders.  Furthermore, you can sync your calendar with co-workers, partners, or your spouse to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be done and when you will be tied up.  The calendars of this day and age are also great because they allow you to color code events, so you can block out your day more effectively.

For instance, you should set aside time each day to check in on social media and email, so you maintain a regular presence and reply to questions and concerns in a timely manner.  This may be deemed a marketing objective and therefore may be recorded in green.  Later in the day, you may have a casting call, which is business development and may be recorded in blue.  Invoicing and bill paying time can be blocked out in red, as a general business practice.  And, the time spent in the studio is recording time, to be recorded in black.  By color coding blocks of time each day, you can easily see where most of your time is being spent, and, if necessary, adjust your time management accordingly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Creating an Audiobook? A Few Things to Consider

If you are thinking about creating an audio book to correspond with your novel, then there are undoubtedly a lot of questions circling your brain.  However, there are a few that are more important than the others.  The following is a list of essential considerations for those producing audio books:

#1. Determine the Niche Before you do anything else, take some time to investigate the success of other audio books in your particular niche.  There are some types of books that perform very well as audio books – those most likely to read them are just as apt, or perhaps more so, to listen to them.  Other niches will prove less than accommodating for audio books.  For instance, there isn’t as large a market for children’s audio books as there is for action-adventure audio books.  Know your niche and determine how successful an audio book could be within that category.

#2. Define the Audience It’s not enough to define the niche.  You must also understand the readers seeking books (and audiobooks) in that genre.  Understanding when, where, and how they prefer to read and listen to books can really help you create a plan of action for the creation of your audiobook.
#3. Know Your Budget There are costs associated with creating an audiobook.  You should be perfectly aware of how much you can afford to spend on this project, so you don’t get yourself into a situation that would make it nearly impossible to turn a profit (or worse, to finish the project). And be sure to give your narrator plenty of lead time to complete the book. Considering the time needed for pre-reading, research and final editing, besides the recording itself.

#4. Hire the Right Voice Over Artist Your choice of voiceover artist can really make or break the potential success of your audiobook.  A voice that is deemed annoying, monotone, or uncomfortable to listen to can turn people away before they have even heard your story.  However, the right voice can bring readers (listeners) back over and over again.  So, look for a voiceover talent who is experienced in your niche, who will appeal to your audience, and who can provide the right ‘feel’ for your audiobook.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Still Having Trouble Building Your Voice Over Brand?

Voice over work sounds like a great deal of fun to many people.  There certainly are a lot of advantages.  Most voice over performers are able to do a lot of their work out of their homes, which means making their own schedules and not having to contend with a daily commute.  There is also a lot of fun to be found in the work, which can be both animated and informative at times.  However, just as is the case with every other job, voice over work is not all sunshine and rainbows.

One of the most difficult aspects of the voice over profession is coming to understand how much self-marketing is involved.  This is the number one cause of failed voice over careers.  Building a business is not easy, and voiceover is no exception to that rule.  You may have the best, most enticing voice in the world, but if you don’t know how to market your skills, then it is essentially worthless.

So, how do you take your business from stagnant to stellar? The first thing you must do is build up a product that you believe in.  If you have self- doubt and don’t trust yourself to be the best candidate for the voiceover job, then you don’t stand a chance of convincing the potential employer that you are just that.  So, be sure that you have armed yourself well.  Create a great demo that showcases all of your strengths.  Read the advice of the pros and take as much as you can from them, so you avoid rookie mistakes.  Take acting classes, which will serve you well in the recording studio, but also improve your confidence at casting calls.  And, practice.  Practice regularly.  When business is slow, don’t play games on your computer, watch the telephone, or call a friend to complain.  This is the time that you should be using to hone your skills and to seek out potential voice over opportunities.

Once you are feeling confident about your skills and your abilities, it’s time to get creative.  You must have a marketing strategy, a road map of sorts.  This will change over time, undoubtedly, but you should lay out your goals, your budget, and your plans for the short term, so you have direction when you invest in marketing campaigns.  Look to services like Facebook- and Google Ads.  These can be inexpensive ways to get your name in front of potential customers. 

Also, call on connections that may be willing to introduce you to some of the big players in the field (after all, it’s all in who you know, right?).  Create content and ads that people can’t ignore, and you will find that your name is mentioned more often, hopefully in the right circles.  But, don’t just create content, comment on others’ articles, social posts, etc.  Share, comment, and like your way into new relationships.  And once a common thread is discovered, keep the conversation going because this is how loyalty is established.  Once those relationships are formed, those people will be more apt to recommend you when someone mentions the need for a voice over talent.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why You Should be Acting Out Your Lines in the Studio

 There is a horrible misconception that surrounds the voice over industry, which suggests that those doing voice over work could never cut it on stage.  That, of course, is an absolutely incorrect assumption in the vast majority of cases.  Many of the voice over artists currently working in this field started their careers on stage.  And, an even greater percentage have taken multiple acting classes to hone their skills.  In fact, the best voice over talents are acting every day… in the studio… with or without an audience.

Why should you be acting out your lines, just as a stage- or screen performer would?  Your body language (even the smile on your face) can have a drastic impact on your pitch, tone, and impact of your speech. You should address the microphone as you would when addressing a person. I'm sure you would be moving your body, your hands, making facial grimaces and just being real. Do the same at the mic, just keep in mind that you still need to maintain proper mic proximity for recording.

Of course, there are many degrees of acting.   Some voice over artists will do very little physical movement while recording, relying almost entirely on voice and facial expression to ensure a great finished product.  On the other hand, some will stand in the studio at a standing microphone, so they can move more freely and really put on a performance. 

It’s true that many will prefer the final recording of the latter voice over actor.  The movement can actually be detected in the voice, providing more realistic vocal expression, and even provides the realistic change in voice that comes with partaking in physical activity.  For instance, reading the lines of a ninja, in the midst of battle, is going to sound much more realistic if the voice over actor is a bit winded, breathing a little harder than normal.

Does that mean that you have to stand up and perform for all of the recording you do each day?  Not necessarily.  Some scripts require less acting than others, and for those sitting may make you more comfortable and therefore more apt to put in a great performance.  But, if you have found that your recordings are sounding a bit flat, then it may be time to consider how physically acting out the lines could improve the final product.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Looking to the Future of Voice Over

This is an industry that has seen a lot of change in recent years. Technology has driven a lot of the growth that the industry has seen, making it possible to work from home, send in demo tapes instantly, and to connect with potential clients even from hundreds of miles away.  This growth isn’t expected to slow any time soon, but there will be increased competition among those doing voiceover work. Why is that?  Because all of that convenience means that more people want to break into this line of work.  With more new voices joining the profession each day, the level of competition is going to undoubtedly get stiffer.  That simply means that you must be prepared to face off against other talents, making yourself the more attractive candidate.

Before you Read, Try to Understand the Writer If you can get into the head of the script writer (figuratively speaking, of course), then you will be much better prepared to give a winning reading of the script.  After all, there is a tone, an approach that the writer and the team had in mind, even if they didn’t realize it initially.  Understand their vision and you can give them the winning voiceover.

Create a Winning Home Studio A home studio is fairly essential these days.  Once upon a time, a voiceover talent had to commute to a professional studio each time her or she had work to do.  That has changed.  Home studios – in large part because of better technology – are more than adequate for creating professional sounding recordings.  It will require, though, that you do a bit of work to create a sound-proof space, with a good microphone and the right recording software.  The most important thing is that you block out as much background noise as possible, to prevent excessive editing. Of course, I'm simplifying a bit but there is lots of information out there about building a great home studio.

Select the Right Voice Coach A voice coach can be a powerful ally, helping you to continually improve your talent, helping you find valuable acting classes, and even leading you in the direction of casting calls.  You have to choose a voice coach, though, that will stick with you through the long haul, one that is becoming- or has become a fixture in the voiceover industry.

With healthy doses of intelligence, talent, and effort, you can continue your climb to the top of the voiceover industry, despite increased competition. You just have to be dedicated to what you are doing and persistently going after VO work to be taken seriously and stand out from the crowd.