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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why Every Voiceover Professional Should Be Giving Back to the Community


In addition to the good service that you will be doing others (which has been proven to make a person feel better about him- or herself) and the exposure that can from working with charitable causes, giving back to the community can help you grow as a voiceover actor.   That is, if you choose the right type of community project.

The ones that I have in mind, and which I would greatly recommend to all of my fellow peers, involve children.  Whenever you get the opportunity to help out in a classroom, participate in a story hour, or perform as part of a school assembly, you will be doing good for others and for yourself.  How?  All of these tasks involve speaking aloud, while providing a level of entertainment.  If you hope to keep kids engaged, you are going to have to be on top of your game.  Children’s books are generally written with a lot more visual- and verbal- animation intended than books written for an adult audience.  Furthermore, children are often the most honest- and harsh critics.

You can learn a great deal about yourself, practice your character reading, and really get a feel for what works with an audience and what doesn’t when you volunteer your time to the kids in your community.

Don’t know where to begin?  Call up the local elementary schools, daycares, nursery schools, and libraries to ask about local story hour programs.  These are often the best opportunities to work with children in a way that can benefit your career.  This also provides those organizations the opportunity to invite you to participate in something of a similar nature – classroom presentations, assemblies, etc.  Don’t get discouraged if the opportunity to volunteer in this manner doesn’t arrive immediately.  Story hours are, in many locations, seasonal.  Get your name on the list of available readers.  In the meantime, if you find that you are in a slow slump with the voiceover work, you could always consider substitute teaching in an elementary school classroom for a few days.  Call the office of the school for more information on the availability of local substitute teaching opportunities.

And , of course, there are usually opportunities to teach or entertain kids at your local church and related church community activities.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Learning Better Comedic Timing


Look at the men and women who have been most successful in the voice over industry, and you are likely to find one common thread – a strong understanding of comedy and a perfect sense of timing.  Comedic timing is, in fact, one of the greatest tools that you can possess if you are hoping to build a successful career in the voice over industry.  Yet, for many, this skill doesn’t come naturally.  It is something that requires practice and training.  Some would argue that it is not possible to teach the talent, but that is not the case, and many comedians have admitted that they always wanted to be funny, but failed many times before they hit their stride.

Don’t Learn; Unlock It is important to understand, as you set out to improve your own comedic timing that it is not that a teacher will be able to hand you a textbook that will allow you to understand and adapt the skill.  Instead, the right teacher will pull out what already exists within you.  It is, in fact, already within you to know how and when to deliver a punchline.  You already possess the innate abilities needed to perform improv.  You just need to unlock those hidden talents, which is exactly what an excellent teacher or coach can do for you.

Think Outside the Box Acting- and improv classes are widely recommended to voiceover artists, but these aren’t always the settings that teach the timing that you seek.  It is much more about understanding the importance of pause, or melody, or rhythm, and you may just find that you have a better chance of capturing the knowledge that you desire in a music class.  Singing, playing instruments, or even dance can teach you a great deal about timing, and that can actually transition quite nicely into comedic delivery.  These things can also force you out of your comfort zone, which is where you will have to be if you hope to become a success in voice over.  You must be willing to open yourself to new experiences, an array of different characters, and scripts which you might not to choose to read otherwise.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Better Health for Better Voiceover


You are what you eat.  It’s what most healthcare providers have muttered to patients at one time or another.  There is some truth to the saying.  The healthier the life we lead, the better we feel and the more we are able to accomplish.  This is particularly true when you are relying on your body to be your instrument.  As a voiceover actor or actress, you should definitely be considering how you can take care of yourself in order to ensure a long and fruitful... hee, hee...career!

Healthy Eating Since I have already referred to it, it makes since to start with a healthy diet.  This is a challenge.  Although nutritionists, doctors, and personal trainers may argue otherwise, the truth is that there would be far more thin and trim individuals if healthy eating was simple.  There are many temptations in our day to day life, and that can make our best intentions fall to the wayside.  You shouldn’t give up all of the joys of eating, of course.  Enjoy the sweet treats, the big and juicy burger, or the slice of greasy pizza, but do so in moderation and fill in the rest of the meals with vitamin rich foods, because they really can have a big impact on how you feel and how you perform.

Meditate, Do Yoga, Take a Bath, or Get a Massage Voiceover work (like so many professions) can come with a lot of stress.  When you are struggling to keep your anxiety at bay due to a pressing schedule or because of a slow spell, take a moment to breathe.  I mentioned a few options, but there are many, and the idea is to choose the one that relaxes you most. Whatever that may be! High stress levels put us at greater risk of getting sick, gaining weight, and making missteps on our career paths. 

Take a Class It isn’t just the body that needs care, but also the brain.  We exercise to keep the body in shape.  Likewise, we should aim to keep learning in order to keep the brain in peak form. Don’t feel as though you have to limit this to acting and voiceover classes.  Consider learning a new language or study a new culture. Or maybe a new exercise class. 

Exercise The diet is only part of keeping the body in good form.  You also have to be active if you hope to be in good shape.  Exercise has been shown to ease stress, help a person sleep more soundly, clear the mind, and lower the risks of many common but serious health conditions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Remembering Those Who Hired You First


The voiceover industry, much like the entertainment profession as a whole, can be highly competitive.  You will undoubtedly have to take on several smaller, less attractive roles in order to begin to build your resume before you will be considered for more substantial voiceover spots.  While it will be very exciting when you reach that point when you are being considered for full length novels, animated films, and other such parts, it is important to appreciate those who hired you before you had really established yourself.  And, it won’t just be a matter of convincing yourself to take on a smaller role with a repeat client in order to keep those positive relationships intact.

In the past, on a couple of occasions, I have written a bit about what it takes to secure a voiceover agent, and about how difficult it can be to get that sort of ‘in’ in this industry.  If you are fortunate enough to have been signed by an agent, then you will certainly want to do what you can to ensure that the relationship lasts.  Yet, you also must realize that not all agents are created equally, and there are times when you will have to speak up for yourself in order to make it work with your agent.

It is your agent’s job to sell you, (that is, to a limited degree since a personal manager is more equipped to perform that role) but if you have already been signed, then chances are good that you have been in the industry for a while.  That means that you might have already formed relationships with clients, and that those clients may want to work with you again in the future.  You want to be sure that it is clear with your agent that, while you hope for bigger roles in the future, you definitely want to show appreciation for the clients who chose to work with you in your earliest days.

The repeat work may not pay as much, may not be as widely recognized, but it can serve as the foundation of a highly successful career.  Don’t overlook the importance of client appreciation.
It can help you maintain your integrity in the business world. And we sure can use more of that!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Side Job Ideas for Up-and-Coming Voiceover Artists


While most hope, when entering the voiceover industry, that the workload will quickly escalate and become the full time position that is aimed for, the truth is that it takes time.  Just as in other profession, it takes time to establish yourself as a voice over talent.  The jobs are likely to trickle at first, which means that you may have to take on a side job in order to support yourself, while building up the voiceover business.  Fortunately, in this day and age, there are many part time gigs that can help you make some extra cash, while providing you the malleability of schedule needed to keep operating as a voiceover actor or actress.  Here are a few ideas to consider if you are trying to earn a second income to supplement what you are making in voiceover:

Uber or Lyft: Both companies offer essentially the same service, and both need drivers like you.  If you have a car and know your way around your city or town, then you may be able to make some extra cash carting people from one stop to another. 

AirBnB: This alternative to hotel stays has really appealed to many travelers around the world.  If you have a house, converted basement, or even a spare room that you are willing to loan out to individuals or families, then you can make some extra money.

Turo: Like AirBnB, except for vehicles, Turo arranges for an exchange of cash for a borrowed car without the rental company. You can loan out your ride and make some cash that you need to cover your expenses. 

Rover: Love animals?  Babysit a pup for a night, a weekend, or a week to make some cash.  Dog sitting is a highly desired service, and many dog owners really want to see their dogs spending time in an open space with company, rather than the typical kennel setting.

Wag!: If you don’t really want to bring the dog home (or your landlord doesn’t allow you to), then consider just spending an hour or two with them.  Dog walking is still a viable way to make some extra cash in most cities and the Wag! Service makes it easier than ever before.

Freelancer.com: If you have a talent for writing, website design, marketing, or app coding, then you can make cash doing it as a side gig.  Upload your resume and create a profile on Freelancer.com, so you can start bidding on the huge list of available jobs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Knowing Your Personality, Recognizing Your Voiceover Niche


Voiceover work does differ substantially from stage and screen acting, but there are some similarities.  Just as a stage actor would find him- or herself eventually typecast, seeking a certain type of character over and over again, there are definitely ‘types’ in the voiceover realm as well.  If you can define your ‘type’ well, you can actually use that knowledge to get more jobs and greater recognition.

Age? This isn’t necessarily defined by your actual age, but rather but the range of ages that your voice works for.  It can be difficult to determine this on your own, so ask for advice from others who can be trusted to provide honest critiques. 

Sex? Again, this isn’t necessarily limited to your actual sex.  Some voiceover artists are able to voice both male and female characters, but most are not.

Vocal Traits? How do you define your voice?  Is it sexy? Serious? Deep? Warm? Inviting? Authoritative? Funny? Consider the adjectives that best describe your vocal traits and then consider how those translate to various characters.  For instance, a voice regularly described as funny and lighthearted would be better suited to a comedic novel than to a murder mystery. Similarly, a childlike innocence to your voice wouldn’t necessarily be desirable to those recording US Army training videos.

Some voiceover artists are more versatile than others – able to seamlessly shift from instructional videos to cartoons, audio books to radio advertisement.  It is great if you are malleable and able to adapt to the job, but narrowing down to a particular niche can actually make it easier to market yourself and will help you establish a reputation within that specific arena.  You will spend less time vetting potential jobs.  You will be able to narrow your search to those sites, sources, and publications serving your niche.  And you will make it that much easier to be found by voice seekers/clients. Furthermore, you will quickly build an impressive portfolio that will appeal to the casting directors in that particular niche, while honing your skills in that area as well.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What Language Should You Learn?


So, you want to expand your range of abilities as a voiceover artist?  For that, I commend you.  Learning a new language or dialect is definitely a great way to open the door to many new opportunities.  However, it is important to carefully consider which language or dialect can benefit you most.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to a voiceover actor or actress living in America that I would first recommend Spanish when deciding upon a new language.  Nearly half a billion people speak the language and more than forty million of those individuals reside in this nation.  It is the fourth most common language in the world and the second most common in the United States.  It’s easy, when considering those numbers, to see why it would be advantageous to know how to speak Spanish as a voiceover artist.  There are several Spanish dialects, however, and you’ll likely want to focus on just one of those as you get started on your education.  Latin American- and Puerto Rican dialects can differ quite substantially from native Spanish, much like British- and Australian dialects differ from what the average American speaks.

If learning a new language is the goal, then another one to seriously consider is Mandarin, the primary language in most areas of China.  With the business relationships between the United States and China having improved so much over the past few decades, it makes sense that voiceover professionals focusing on corporate-style work would want to consider mandarin as a second language.  It also happens to be the primary language of nearly one billion people, making it the most spoken language in the world.  That means that learning this language would certainly open up a very large audience for you.  It may be a hard one to learn, but you can be certain that it will give a significant boost to your career if you can master it.

Even if your "American" accent may come through when speaking a foreign language, you will still find it a valuable skill when recording, or getting hired to voice a foreign language project.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sore Throat Season Plagues Voiceover Talents: How to Beat it


This is a hard time of the year for many people working in the voiceover industry.  The cold and flu seem to be lingering just around every corner.  It makes a person want to live like a hermit until Spring springs.  Unfortunately, that is not possible during this busy season, and so we must take our chances, knowing that each handshake, visit to the restroom, or kiss under the mistletoe could mean days or weeks of suffering in the recording studio.

There are a few simple rules that can help you avoid (and treat) the sore throat that threatens your voiceover work.

1.  Drink a lot of Water Eight glasses per day is the general recommendation, but as a voiceover artist, you may find that you need even more than that in order to keep your voice properly hydrated, especially on busy recording days. The extra fluid can also keep your throat well lubricated, which is always a good thing, but especially beneficial when you are getting a cold.

2. Avoid Menthol Cough drops may seem to be the obvious answer when your throat is aching, but the menthol in them can actually dry out your throat faster, which will make it even more of a challenge to produce high quality recordings.

3. Rest When Necessary This isn’t just referring to the ‘already sick’ in the crowd. A good night’s sleep is one of the greatest defenses against illness. When you do come down with a cold or the flu, adjust your schedule to provide periods of rest for your voice whenever possible.

4. Consider Natural Remedies Be careful, of course, to do your research. Zinc, for instance is considered a natural cough suppressant and throat soother. However, many of the vitamins and supplements on the market are not tested by the Food and Drug Administration. You might find that you have just as much luck gargling with salt water. Which is still a good thing to do.

5. Get Some Fresh Air Most doctors recommend laying down on couch or bed when sick with a cold or the flu. However, you might find that your voice is soothed by taking a few deep breaths outdoors, where heating systems haven’t dried all of the moisture out of the air.

6. Pop Vitamin C Tablets I know this may or may not be based on scientific study, but I believe that adding extra Vitamin C... 2-3 times my normal daily intake, helps keep my immune system strong and fight off colds and flu. I've even read small studies of doctors using high doses of Vitamin C to treat certain types of cancer. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2 Questions You Must Ask When Hiring a Voiceover Professional



Ask any marketing guru about the power of video and you will get an earful.  Since the dawn of YouTube, the interest in video has been steadily growing.  The medium is now considered one of the most influential in the world of marketing, and most would suggest that it is a must for nearly every company.

The difficulty, of course, is that video generally requires more of a production process than images or text.  Part of that process, in many instances, is the finding and hiring of a voiceover professional.  When you need to have a video completed quickly and on a budget, you should hire me.  Alright, alright, that’s not the answer for everyone. You can’t blame me for trying, though, right?

Truly, you have to know what questions to ask, though, if you are going to try to hire a voiceover artist quickly. Ask the right questions, and you will generally be pleased with the outcome. Fail to do so, and you may just find that your time, your budget, and your patience are soon exhausted.

Does this person fit the character? This is a question that you can likely begin to answer before even listening to the demo.  If you want to have a voice for a motherly character, then you can rule out men and children immediately.  You can also create a target age range for the voiceover artist, because age does often come across in the voice.  Finally, listen to the demos not for the words being spoken, but for the pitch, tone, and emotion in the voice, until you have found one that suits the character that you had in mind.

How would you describe your voice? With this question, you can get two bits of information all at once. Firstly, you can learn how well the person reacts in the moment, which is important when in the recording studio. Secondly, you can better gauge how peppy that person will sound in a recording. If you are looking for a serious tone, then you’d probably be pleased with answers like “engaging”, “confident”, or “inspirational”.  On the other hand, you probably would want to stay away from voiceover artists who describe their voice as "exciting", "upbeat"and "energetic."

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Apples or Bananas? The Answer is Great Voiceover


The power of voiceover is once again made abundantly clear in an advertisement that is going viral.  The marketing piece I'm referring to was a campaign launched by CNN as a result of continued suggestions that the media source was putting forth ‘fake news’.  In truth, the allegations haven’t hurt the news station, which enjoyed it’s “most watched” period in the last quarter.  If they hoped to continue building momentum, then it appears as though they accomplished their goal with the advertisement being discussed far and wide.

So, what does it take to create a viral-worthy video?  If you are the innovative minds at CNN, you just need a picture of an apple and a proven voice over professional.  The ad contains a single image – an apple.  The voiceover (and captioning) are what make it a piece of creative genius.

“This is an apple,” says the voice, “Some people might try to tell you that it is a banana.  They might scream banana, banana, banana, over and over and over again.  They might put banana in all caps.  You might even start to believe that this is a banana, but it’s not.  This is an apple.”  The whole time, the voiceover is smooth and concise.  The idea was to let the message be the commercial, and by choosing a voiceover talent who could work with that vision in mind, CNN created something that will undoubtedly add to an already heated debate.

You can watch the commercial here.

Laying all politics aside, (since that is not my intention here), this just goes to show that great voiceover is really all that you need to create a very evocative advertisement.  If you are ready to create something of great meaning, with a message that should be the most important part of the campaign, then perhaps now is the time to start interviewing voiceover candidates.  The belief that you need a huge video budget to create a great advertisement isn’t exactly true, is it?  Perhaps that is just bananas…