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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Four Secrets That a Professional VO Artist May Not Tell You

If you are entering the voiceover industry, then you are likely to be greeted with mixed emotions by the other professionals working in the field.  You are, after all, their competition, in a sense.  They may offer up some advice and tips, but these are the secrets that you might not have been told in the beginning:

It’s Not All PJs and Comfort Working from home sounds so attractive.  The majority of us started out with the same impressions of the heavenliness of it all.  We’ve all had those moments when we envisioned sinking into a comfy chair with our favorite coffee mug and a laptop.  That, however, is generally not the reality of the situation.  This can be a very stressful- and, at times, boring profession.  You will be forced to market yourself, to manage your money, and to audition.  That means taking on unexpected tasks, leaving the house to meet and greet, and dealing with the frustration of failed attempts.

There is a Stigma Wer'e considered the crazier cousins of stage and screen actors.  It is also a common myth that we are all physically unappealing.  After all, we spend a great deal of time in an enclosed space talking to ourselves.  If we were prettier, it is reasoned, we’d use our skills for television or stage productions. 

You Will Be a Starving Artist There are times, for most (probably all) voiceover actors when the work load dies down.  Those lulls can be really hard on the bank accounts, making you sympathize with other starving artists around the world.

It Isn’t All Cartoons and Accents Take a listen to a lot of voiceover demos and you’ll find that a large percentage are littered with impressions and various dialects.  But, the truth is that your ability to sound like Daffy Duck or to speak with an impeccable British accent won’t be the deal maker that you may expect it to be. Most of the work will require you to speak in a voice much closer to your own. Especially with your "signature" voice.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Teaching, Training and Taking Care of Your Voice

Being a voiceover artist doesn’t necessarily mean what many assume it does.  There are definite perks to having a job that will often allow you to work remotely, and even from the comfort of your own home.  But, this isn’t a profession that you easily slip into to start earning a decent wage.  It takes time, dedication, and, perhaps most importantly, it requires persistence.  You never master this craft and that means that you must keep going out in search of new clients.  You must continue to market yourself to ensure that the future is brighter than today.  And, you must continue to train in order to hone your craft.  For many this means taking regular classes or working with voice coaches. 

Private Coaches One of the more popular methods of improving as a voiceover artist is to hire the services of a reputable voice coach.  These professionals have the knowledge and experience that can help you as you dial in your voice to make yourself as appealing as possible to casting directors and potential clients.  Learn some tricks of the trade, more about caring for your voice, and exercises that can help to better ensure a great recording every time. Maintain your sense of humor throughout.

Tried and True Schools Although most will tell you that there aren’t college degrees in voice acting, the truth is that there are many recognized schools that offer classes and courses that can benefit you greatly on your path to becoming a professional voiceover talent.

Improv and Stage Acting Your voiceover education doesn’t have to be that literal, however.  Many find that they make great strides simply by racking up their hours of practice.  While time in the recording booth will count toward this, you should also consider stepping out of that comfort zone.  Consider trying out for a community play, taking an improv class, or volunteering to help with a local children’s theater program. Or the Library For the Blind. All of that time performing will prove beneficial in your career.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stay Cool, Calm and Collected for Your Audition

There are times when a client will hire you purely as a result of your demos or a follow up demo recording that you sent his or her way.  There are other times when a telephone call is all that stands between you and the next voiceover job.  However, often, you will be asked to audition – either in person or via recording.  This can be a very stressful time for many VO artists.  Even the very experienced professionals can have a case of the butterflies when approaching an audition situation.  It is important to stay calm, so you can put your best self forward.  Here are a few ways that you can keep your wits about you and stop the shaking.

Be Prepared The most important piece of advice that I can offer is to enter any situation like this with a clear mind.  This means being prepared.  Get up early and allow yourself extra time to get ready before an audition.  Eat a healthy meal and have plenty to drink to lubricate your voice.  Read through any materials sent ahead by the potential client.  If you get a copy of the script beforehand, create a few sample recordings, so you can tweak little spots and have the best possible reading for the audition.  Preparation is the key to staying calm.  You will feel much more confident if you know that you are ready to read when you arrive. Be appreciative of live, in-person auditions. They have become a rarity these days!

Focus on the work, not the people in the room It is so easy to get caught up by the new faces in the recording studio, or in the room with you.  Of course, this isn’t ever going to be as comfortable as reading in the quiet studio you are accustomed to.  Nevertheless, if you are able to stay focused on the project, you can overcome the stress of having others listening in.

Aim to entertain While it is a good idea to focus on the work, once you start reading and get past the worst of the nerves, don’t be afraid to engage your audience a bit.  Read for a reaction, when the script calls for it.  If you can entertain those in the room, then you know you have a much better chance of entertaining those listening to the finished product.

Set aside the failures Don’t let past failures eat at you when heading in for an audition.  You can overanalyze things later.  You can worry about what you did- or didn’t do when the audition is done.  For the time in the audition space, focus only on what lay before you. Actually, temper that "after audition" thought with the idea of just letting it go... blow it off... and don't allow the experience to eat at you. There's alway the next audition!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three Ways to Become a Better Voiceover Talent

If you are working as a professional voiceover artist, then the goal is obviously to continue to grow and improve your craft so that you continue to be seen as a viable candidate. In fact, you don’t just want to be ‘viable’, you want to be the voice that all others are judged against. There are three things that you must do exceptionally well, though, if you are going to reach that status.

1. Blend with the Brand It is when a person seeing an advertisement or listing to an audiobook becomes so immersed in what is being said that you know you’ve done great audio work. When you speak the message or story in the right way, people will forget to critique your work and will just enjoy what your client intended to say. This is accomplished by adapting to the work in front of you. You shouldn’t be reading every piece with the same intensity, tone, and pitch. You should be adjusting those things to make sure that you are reading the words as they were intended to be read. Malleability is a blessing in this industry.

2. Allow the Message to be the Star This goes along with the message of malleability. For when you read the piece as the client intended, you allow the message to ring through. Those listening will not hear your inflections, your pronunciation, or any other element of speech. They will simply hear what the company or author has to say.

3. Give Your Best Performance Every Time The most important thing that you can do for the sake of your voiceover career is to put your all into every single job. Whether it is a full-length novel or a sixty-second radio spot, you should give it the emotion, the energy, and the dedication that it deserves. When you consistently give a spotless performance, casting directors and clients will notice. It is the very best way to ensure future work and success.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Three Things You Must Cling to When Working as a Voiceover Talent

If you are new to the voiceover industry, I welcome you. This is a profession that is very appealing to many people, for many different reasons. For those who have stuck it out for a year-, two-, or ten, congratulations. While this career path does appear fantastic in the beginning, there is also a big burnout ratio. A large number of people will not remain in the field for long. However, if you can hold on to the following three things, then you may just stand a chance of becoming a staple within the industry.

1. Your Sense of Humor Most who enter the realm of voiceover do so with a happy, go lucky personality. The majority enjoy a good joke and strive to instill a bit of humor in their demo reels. Unfortunately, long hours in the studio and being asked to read through the same scripts over and over again can really put a damper on a person’s mood. It is essential, though, that you hold on to that spark of humor that made you love the job to begin with. Sometimes saying it with a smile and a wink in your voice.

2. Your Health Voiceover work can be very sedentary. Also, most voiceover talents today work out of their own homes. This means very little exercise and the ever-present temptation to go to the kitchen for a snack. Additionally, there is always the concern that illness – a cold, respiratory infection, the flu, etc. – could make it impossible to get clean recordings for a day, a week, or longer. It is very important to maintain control over your diet and exercise plan, so you can stay in good health and reduce the chances of voice-damaging illnesses.

3. Your Patience Unfortunately, when you work in voiceover, there is always a chance that you will come across the occasional client who is never satisfied. The constant critiques and criticism will certainly test your patience. You are also likely to encounter slow spells that will add undue stress to your life. You must hold onto your patience. It will keep you sane and will also make you a more desirable candidate for future work. And be sure and indulge those individual activities that manage to keep your sanity in tact.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

In Voiceover, Sometimes You Have to Take a Chance

You should recognize your niche. It will make it easier to market yourself as a voiceover artist. There will be considerations that you will want to keep in mind as your define yourself as a professional voiceover actor. The typical tone and pitch of your voice may make you better suited to a bubbly, upbeat children’s-book-like piece, or perhaps you are better fit to the mysterious and sinister. Some work better when they are able to spend more time with the character, so they can develop along with him or her. That would likely make them better suited for e-books, movies, or television. Others may prefer the quick pieces that don’t require the same length of attention span. Recognizing these things about yourself will ultimately make it easier to find a niche market for yourself. However, there are times when you should step out of your comfort zone to consider trying for unexpected roles.

Recently, Mashable hosted an interview with John Roberts, who does voiceover work with the animated television series, Bob’s Burgers. John was invited to try out for the role of ‘Linda’ after the casting director discovered some of his work as a comedian on YouTube. The videos featured him imitating his mother in a variety of comedy sketches about his own life. Likely, John Roberts didn’t define his niche as animated, middle-aged, female characters. However, when presented with the possibility, he decided to go for it, and the rest is history.

In addition to recommending that professionals consider stepping away from what makes them comfortable, John Roberts suggests that great voiceover begins with great listening. With his start coming from a career in comedy, it makes sense that he would also recommend watching a lot of stand up to get pointers on becoming different characters. And learning to be ready with your character voices at a moment's notice.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Voiceover 101: Learning by Listening

Honing your craft is an endless process when you make your living as a voiceover artist. You must constantly work to improve yourself, to staying sharper, smarter, and smoother than the competition. There are many ways that you can do this, including taking acting or improve classes, critiquing your own recordings, updating your demo tapes on a regular basis, and by listening to others who have done voiceover successfully.

For this sake of this article, we are going to look into the latter option. Listening is an essential step in the making of great voiceover. There are many levels of listening. You can learn a lot about becoming the character if you find real life people who are of a similar nature, background, or culture as the person you are to portray. You will have much greater results if you really listen to the critiques and feedback from others involved in the project. You can also become a better voiceover talent if you take cues from the greats in the industry.

Some of the very best voiceover artists have recorded countless hours of audio and much of that can be found on the web. You just have to know whose name to search. Although there are many who have done this job very well, the following are ten of those who you should absolutely make yourself familiar with:

1. Mel Blanc, known as the ‘Man of a Thousand Voices’, famously voiced Roger Rabbit

2. Seth MacFarlane, best known for his work on The Family Guy, American Dad!, and Sing

3. Dan Castellaneta, best known for his work on The Simpsons

4. Nancy Cartwright, best known for her work on The Simpsons

5. Tom Kenny, best known for his work on SpongeBob SquarePants

6. Rob Paulsen, best known for his work on Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pinky and the Brain.

7. Billy West, best known for his work on Futurama, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and Space Jam

8. Tress MacNeille, best known for her work on The Simpsons, Animaniacs, and Tiny Toons

9. Casey Kasem, best known for his work as a radio DJ, but also for his voiceover work in Ghostbusters, The Transformers, and Looney Tunes.

10. Carol Ann Susi is best known for her work on The Big Bang Theory, and the CSI: NY video game

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.