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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Are Your Demos Over Produced?

Before I explain the title of this article I should mention a few things first. Like many beginning voice talent back in in the early 1990s I did not have a lot of actual recorded work to create a good demo from. So I had to fake it a bit by recording sound clips from scripts I found or wrote myself. Back then, I was recorded on 2” analog tape. Which was then transferred to DAT tape from which I made my cassette tape copies. Whoopie! Pretty high tech stuff, huh? 
The recording quality, however, was excellent since I was being recorded by a good engineer in a famous Nashville studio known for it’s music production. But still, every cut on the demo sounded the same… too similar. So, it was really obvious that my demo did not consist of actual work but was all “fake” work, recorded at the same in the same place. Music and SFX were created by the engineer. I can spot this type of demo easily when I listen to some demos from newer talent. 

When faced with this dilemma I suggest you at least record your “clips” at different studios or with different mics to vary the sound a bit. Not that you are trying to fool anyone but that it shows that you are at least getting around doing voiceovers. This will also add interest and diversity to your demos. 

Just make sure that your demos are not overly “produced”.
Back when I made my first few demos, all the production work was BIG. But I believe that today a HUGE, over produced demo from a voice actor/voiceover talent is overkill. Most clients… film & commercial producers, TV/radio producers, video production companies, etc.
are more interested in hearing your VOICE and a good strong, authentic performance. Rather than an overblown demo, all recorded at the same time, same place. But you still must maintain a broadcast quality sound throughout your demo. 

Now, having said that… here’s the thing! When you have enough great material to put together a strong, interesting demo that is a good repeatable representation of your voice and what you can do with it, then by all means make your demo by combining those clips. Now, what’s pretty slick is… those clips you have from actual work have already been fully produced. So, you simply have to put the clips together in an interesting, clever, professional way to create an effective demo. Since your voice is often EQed/processed and/or mixed differently by different producers, you will have a diverse sounding demo that showcases you as an obviously working talent. 

These days I produce my own demos. Many of which are geared toward the various industries that I tend to work in. Such as with my Agriculture Demo, Health Care Demo, Financial Demo, etc. Maybe the word “produce” is a bit of a stretch since I’m using clips from the work I’ve done (already fully produced), tweaking the levels or EQ a bit maybe and overlapping/quick-fading each clip to create a 1:00-1:30 demo. 

Now, I don’t always recommend that talent create their own demos. Especially if they are a newbie and are still learning their editing equipment. And some talent just don’t have the “ear” for that. 

When I create my own demos, I have to “sit” on them for a while. Getting opinions and simply coming back on different days with fresh ears to review what I’ve done to make sure I’ve put together a dynamic, effective demo. This can be a tedious process but is well worth the result. I’ve found that my self-made demos work quite well helping to secure new work.

There is much more to consider on this topic… much more to talk about regarding the creation of VO talent demos. I’ll have to cover that in future articles. 

So.. go out there and make some great demos!

*If you'd like, check out some of my DYI demos at www.ricklancesudio.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Voiceover is not just the narrated sound behind your video but a connection that audience feels. The voiceover actors are not restricted to a particular region, but they are providing their services around the world from the comfort of their homes. It is definitely the new trend in Nashville, Tennessee and the rest of the world which has caught everyone’s attention. Read on to know everything about this new trend.

A lot of people believe that voiceover talent is natural and no training is needed. However, it is not completely true. Voiceover artists may have some skills naturally but still they need training to enhance and polish their skills to make their art professional.

2.      ONLY GOOD VOICE IS NOT Enough:
For voiceover, you definitely need great vocals but voice is not the only thing required. You also need to have the accent, skills and the kind of energy, the medium requires.

Copying voices of other voiceover artists is very common among voiceover actors and it is not considered as imitation. It helps you with learning and constructive self-criticism.

A lot of people who start their career as voiceover actors assume that once they get trained, they can make easy money. This is true only in a fantasy world. In the real world, you have to get and pass the auditions and still work out of the box to gain a significant position.

Voiceover agencies services might be underrated but they play a key role in the career of voiceover actors. These agencies work as a catalyst in getting the job, they can put your ad on the casting list for voiceover actors and get you your desired roles.

The voiceover talent is professional and experienced because they understand the medium and the objective the brand requires for the voice. The voiceover actors are versatile and can be cast for several diverse roles. 

7.      80/20 RULE:
A fact about voiceover acting industry a lot of people may not be aware of is that only 20% of voiceover actors are hired and they make 80% of the money.

8.      EQUIPMENT:
The voiceover actors possess some basic equipment required to record their voices. The equipment includes a quiet place, recorder, microphone, and an editing software.

Since the voiceover artists have basic equipment at home, they prefer to work from their home premises. Voice actors are trained to work with diversity and for different regions. Therefore, they work with a lot of companies around the world.

There are endless opportunities for voiceover actors around the world. That is why, they don’t always depend on just long term projects. They keep on looking for bigger and better opportunities.

These are some facts about voiceover jobs and actors. Although, being a voiceover actor is not as easy as it looks, but if you are good and honest with what you do, you can make a decent future out of it.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

How To Build A Budget Recording Studio For Voice Actor

A home recording studio is something most VO professionals need to have. A professional-grade studio setup might seem out of reach for most beginners in this field.

After all, quality audio equipment does not come cheap now, do they?
However, it costs are much cheaper than previous years.

But these days, even if you are a rookie Voice Actor on a tight budget, you too can set up a decent recording studio with minimal investment. Here is how it can be done.

The Lynchpin - A Decent Mic

At the heart of your home recording studio lies the mic. This is where you should spend most of your budget... starting with a top notch mic. In these days of podcasting frenzy, you can find tons of mic options in the budget and bargain basement segments online.

While some USB mics can be had for as low as $25, it is recommended that you aim much higher than that for a cleaner sound, more natural sound.

Ideally, you should be looking somewhere around the $200-$300.00 range for a decent recording mic. The keywords to look for are “cardioid condensor microphone.”

These microphones are ideal for voice recording as they have excellent noise canceling qualities. Audio Technica and Blue are two newer brands that have some strong contenders around this price bracket.

Essential Accessories - Pop Filters and Pre-Amps

Every aspiring voice actor should have a decent interface between their recording mic and the PC/mobile devices.

You can look for simple pre-amp interfaces that cost under $100. Although, the better pre-amp/interfaces will cost more. Look for devices that have a power rating that matches your mic specifications. If they can hook to both Android and iOS devices, that is another plus point.

If you are a beginner voice over talent, you will also need a pop filter to weed out the nasty “booms” that arise every time you utter a word involving a “B” or “P”.

These sounds create air bursts from your mouth, called “plosives” in professional VO circles. A good quality pop filter worth all of $10-$20.00 will put an end to your worries about unwanted booms in your recordings.  

Sound-Proofing Your Studio For Voice Acting

To produce the best quality audio, you need a sound-proofed recording space. This can be had by using some good quality acoustic foam. Numerous options are available in the market at various prices. For a small room, around $100 worth of foam might be enough.  

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Three Insights You Learn When You Work On Audiobooks As An American Voice Actor

Professionals in the field of voice over recording often get to work on different types of material.

Some are as short as a few seconds worth of ad scripts, while other gigs can involve reading an entire book (even boring non-fiction works no less!). Working on audiobooks can be a mixed bag.

Some can deliver a very pleasing and fulfilling experience, while others yield nothing but a dull, endless grind. Here are some pieces of wisdom that experience in audiobook creation brings to one’s mind:

The Importance of Time Management For Voice Over Recording Nashville, TN

An American voice actor once noted, the longer the source material, the more crucial time management becomes for a professional. It doesn't matter whether you are dealing with a piece of fiction or non-fiction.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the number of pages and chapters you have to finish. You need to plan in advance to get the job done properly. Mad dashes towards the end of the deadline will not work here. That will suffer your performances.

The World Is Full Of Things You Had No Clue About

There are folks all over the place writing about the strangest, weirdest things possible under the sun! And as an American voice actor you often get to read in-depth about some of them.

Not only do you get to learn about new stuff, but you might also turn into a bit of an expert on some of them as well. The whole process of reading the text aloud and then listening to the recording gives you a chance to absorb all that stuff into your brain.

Editing is Important & Underrated

When you buy a poorly edited book, you don’t have any compulsion to finish it off. In fact, many books in the realm of non-fiction are never completed by their readers, which is often not the case in fiction.

But when you delve into the world of voice over recording , you have no choice but to complete the book to satisfy your paying clients.

In the course of your work, you will inevitably come across long, rambling tomes that feel as though they were never put through the wringer that is the editing process. Once that happens, you will truly start to appreciate the effort put in by editors out there in the world of publishing!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Why The Art Of Storytelling Is Important For A VO Narrator

If there is one thing I have learned in my long years in the business of voice over work, it is the importance of storytelling. When working as a professional Narrator, you will come across scripts of all styles and lengths.

Regardless of whether it is an ad for a new product, or a PSA, or a work of non-fiction, a script always has a story to tell. As the voice-over professional, it is your job to find the story hidden inside and relate it the best way you can to your audience. 

A Good American Storyteller Always Analyzes the Script

Never look at a script as just something that you need to mindlessly spew out of your mouth in style. That is simply the wrong way of working as a VO artist. All scripts have an underlying message for the audience.

Look at the words that try to speak to the listener, and thoroughly understand what they are trying to tell. Your's will become a much more convincing and persuasive voice when you know the story you need to tell with your own unique way of telling it.

Understanding The Product vs Becoming a Character

Some scripts for a narrator simply involve you delivering a few lines about a specific product. The storytelling aspect may seem a bit thin in these scripts, but they are nonetheless present.

The story here is all about the product: you need to understand it and how it relates to the audience. Visualize the situations where the product offers maximum value.

In other scripts, you are not just a floating voice, but an actual, concrete character. These scripts are easier to grasp as the storytelling aspect is often quite deep here. Character stories can be much easier to read and analyze.

If you want to become a great American storyteller, you need to learn the words and phrases in the script that need maximum emphasis.

The Art of Pause and Emphasis

Some bits of dialogue come across better when you say it with added gravitas and emotion. Often, slowing down the speed of your speech or using vocal dynamics is a nice trick to grab the attention of the listeners. To make the most of this technique, you need to focus on the keywords and phrases in the script.

This is where analysis of the script becomes so critical. When you start to look at every script as a kind of story, you learn to zoom in on the richness of content within the script.

But that kind of awareness does not happen overnight. It takes time to perfect, and that is why, as an American storyteller you should focus on the art of storytelling when you embark on a career in voice over acting and recording. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Recording Studio Set Up Guide For Professional Voiceover

In another blog post, we examined how you can easily get all the equipment you need for a beginner recording studio for just a couple of hundred bucks or so. But having professional-grade equipment at your disposal is only half the battle won.

To get the best out of your voice over Nashville, TN studio, you will need to know the best way to create a recording environment.

Ideal Space For Recording Voiceover 

VO recording is best done is small, intimate spaces. All you need is enough room to comfortably accommodate one person, namely, the professional voiceover talent... which is probably YOU! When it comes to selecting the ideal space for your recording studio, always keep in mind that less is more.

Giving All Surfaces The Foam Treatment

This is a very crucial aspect of prepping your chosen space for professional-grade VO recording.

There is no such thing as too much soundproofing. If there is an open surface inside your recording space, cover it with foam. And we are not just talking about windows and doorways here. Get some foam over the walls, the ceiling, and every other surface around.  

You can use acoustic foam panels, bass traps, throw pillows, and even thick comforters to get the job done. Although, I highly recommend installing profesional acoustic foam such as that made by Auralex Acoustics.

One important area that many beginner voiceover talent miss out on is the wall surface behind them. Since the mic is positioned towards this space, you should be looking at making this surface as acoustically dead as possible. 

Where To Place The Mic

There is no single right answer to this conundrum. There are many different ways in which you can place a mic in your recording space to get the perfect sound. Some folks place it in a corner facing the rest of the space, allowing the person to speak into the corner, reducing reverbs and reflections.

Another option is to place the mic in the center of your recording space, ideally 7-8 inches away from your mouth, depending on the mic itself.

Make sure that the mic is angled away from your mouth, but still pointing towards it, This will help it avoid catching your breath (plosives)while still capturing the sounds coming from your mouth.

If you want to do pro voiceover you will also need a pop filter in your studio. Keep it right in front of your mouth so that it can deal with any plosives that you emit during your speech.

Of course there is more you will need in terms of recording/editing gear which I'll cover in another blog article.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How to Get Noticed in the Voiceover Industry - Part Two

Although there are more opportunities than ever for voiceover actors thanks to the technology boom, the competition is stiffer than ever. Sometimes it can feel like you’re lost in the crowd, despite your enormous talent - and you know that if you could only be noticed, your career would instantly take off.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much you feel like you’re trying and trying with no results - there remain far more people who don’t know you than who do.

Contact Prospective Clients Directly

When questioned, many producers surprisingly say that they don’t often receive direct communications from voiceover talents who want to introduce themselves and get known - producers go on to say that they are completely open to these sorts of prompts from voice actors, and are shocked that it doesn’t happen more frequently.

We exist in a modern era where people expect immediate results. To stay relevant as a voice actor, it’s key to respond as quickly as possible to emails or phone calls. If you’re unavailable when a potential client wants or needs something from you, they are liable to simply move on to the next person on their list.

Utilize the Internet to Get Noticed

The internet is one of the top ways for people to do business these days, and as such maintaining an appealing, up-to-date website and intelligent sounding blog are imperative. Starting a YouTube channel and posting videos that showcase your talent are another excellent way to establish a strong voiceover presence on the web.

If you don’t have a demo - create one; if you already have a demo, share it online in as many avenues as possible, using popular sites like SoundCloud, Twitter, VoiceBunny, VoiceRealm, Bodalgo, and FaceBook. Don’t forget to mention your contact information when sharing, and also include your name in the file name of your demo.

Sending newsletters via email can be helpful, but tend to be cumbersome and too long for a potential client to read thoroughly. An effective alternative is writing emails once every few weeks that highlight your most recent works - this will assist in keeping you at the forefront of the minds of potential voiceover employers and clients.

Don’t Disregard Snail Mail

Sending out personalized postcards with your photo alongside a hand-written note can be an easy and personal way to grab a potential client’s attention. Producers will enjoy connecting your name and voice with a face - giving you a huge edge over those who contact them exclusively through text and email.

This old-school method of communication is underrated in the current digital age - but it gives you an excellent shot at standing out from the pack.

Work With a Voiceover Agent

Working with a voice over agent to represent you is a great idea if you’ve already had some training and experience, and also have high-quality demos you to promote. Even if you have little to no actual experience doing voiceover if you have a solid demo an agent may be willing to take a gamble and represent you.

Agents find opportunities (such as auditions) and have excellent negotiation skills. They have a lengthy list of connections with studios and casting agencies, and usually know about upcoming auditions and projects.

To thrive in the cutthroat voiceover industry, agents must stay current with the hottest trends - meaning they're always looking for raw, undiscovered voices and talent. Finding the right agent can create a mutually beneficial relationship that gets you noticed and lands you your first big break.

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 One

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.