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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cartoon and Animation as a Voice Actor

 




Do you find yourself intrigued and creating a variety of voices in your head that would be perfect for animation? If you are still enjoying cartoons as an adult then maybe being an animation voice actor is the niche for you.

Types of Cartoon and Animation Voice Over Jobs

Gone are the days where the only cartoon voice over jobs are with big animation studios. Yes, there are still those opportunities, however, there are many more jobs within this niche.

TV cartoons, character commercials, video games, toys, direct to DVD, plus companies are using cartoons in their business videos. All of these jobs are leaning towards the voice actor to fulfill their needs.

Specific Skills to Focus On

While creating a voice for the character is important, there are other skills that work into cartoon voice acting. If you can master these skills, then you are on your way to being a successful animation voice actor career.

  • A long-form narration that hones the skill of stamina reading and clean character splits.
  • Commercial reads that focus on the art of the sale.
  • Animation projects that prepare for the development of special character work.
Creativity

With cartoon and animation voice acting it requires a great voice and creativity. A creative mind allows you to find the voice that perfectly suits the scripted character. Successful animation voice actors will work through hundreds of different voices until they settle on one.

Questions that Can Help You create the Character

Put yourself into the character and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I?
  • When is it?
  • What do I want?
  • Where have I come from?

These questions will help you determine lots of key features about the character, including accents, pitch, tone, age, gender and more.

Practice and Study

Practice with sample scripts and work with a coach that specializes in cartoon and animation. Another way to be successful is by studying. Study those voice actors that are successful in cartoon voice overs. Researching and studying will give you ideas on the best way to practice and the skills to work on.

Versatility and Consistency

Versatility will enable you to adjust to different styles. With this skill, one can perform voice overs for a wide variety of styles within the cartoon realm. Even after being hired to feature in a single-role.

Consistency is also another key factor. A voice actor needs to be able to offer the same kind of sound throughout a performance involving the same character. Not only in the voice, but the characters laugh, crying and other reaction noises.

Take Every Opportunity

Cartoon and Animation voice over jobs are only expanding and growing as technology advances. So, start working on your craft and skills. It may also prove to be useful to take any cartoon voice actor job as it will build your resume and your demo reel. Furthermore, you will be networking with other professionals in the field who in the future might land you a bigger job. Every opportunity is a way to showcase your talent as you never know where your next opportunity will lie.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Tips on Creating Great Voiceover Demos

 




Your demo is your calling card. It showcases your voiceover work and what you are capable of doing. A voiceover demo is your pre-audition to an audition.

Many questions that I get asked are: How do I keep my demos current along the way to represent my new work and my expanded talents? How do I build a demo that represents me and will book me the most jobs?

Creating demos is an ongoing process, it is something that will need to be updated and kept current as you work on new jobs and projects. Here is some advice on creating a solid voiceover demo, or a set of demos to land jobs.

The Truth About Demos

Demos can be passed on in the first 15 seconds of listening because of simple mistakes. It is important to put the time in to ensure that your demo has the best quality and that you are showcasing the best of your work.

You want your demos to be fresh, contemporary, and relatable to the listener. A demo needs to reflect your skill and range. Consider replacing spots that are old, dated, and don’t sound like you anymore. You want to sound like the person showing up for the job.

Skip the intro music that will not get you the job. They want to hear your voice immediately when they listen.

A commercial demo is historically the type that agents expect above all others, so if you only make one demo this is the one to focus on. A commercial demo you can showcase multiple aspects of your talent.

The Length of a Voiceover Demo

Your voice over demo can range between 30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on the type of demo. However, the ideal length for a demo that features multiple spots is 60 to 90 seconds, so that the listener gets a good sense of what you can do.

Different genres require different lengths of time, as do different markets.

A commercial demo that showcases your skills performing radio, TV and Web commercials should last around one minute. While an audiobook demo will be longer 4 to 5 minutes, so demonstrate your ability to stay in character for extended passages in a story, or to perform different voices from different characters. Narration demos (other than audio book demos) can fall in between but not much longer than 
2:00 or so.

If you are uploading your demo to an online marketplace, you will want to keep it to a minute which will load fast and sound great to the listener.

Send the Correct Type of Demo

The industry standard is to streamline the genre of reads to target your listener. You want to send them the demo of the style you are trying to book. You are working with people who have a short attention span, so you want to make sure they hear what they need. You want your best work up front. If they like what they hear in the first 15 seconds they will keep listening, if they don’t then they move on. I even have demos aimed at specific industries that I regularly work for. Such as Agriculture, Finance and Health Care.

If you record your demo in a studio and have it sound perfect, be sure that the quality of the work later matches. Once you get hired, be sure that your actual work is as good as the demo, if not better.

Focus on Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths and the style of work that you are best suited for is going to get you more work. Don’t worry about typecasting. While showing range in a demo is great, you want to target the types of pieces that you are most likely to get called and booked for.

A quality demo will help you create a successful voiceover career. Having training and skills is the first step. The second step is a quality voiceover demo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Expand Your Voice Over Job Opportunities with Video Game Voice Acting

 




The demand for voice talent has not let up. In fact, there has been an upswing in both union and nonunion opportunities. While there are many types of voice over jobs that are available based on your skills, there is one very large area that you may want to consider.


One of the largest sectors of the voice over acting industry is video game voice overs. Video games are a huge aspect in our culture. There are 2 billion gamers and the industry value of the market is continuously growing and is expected to hit $180 billion in the next year, especially since the pandemic and more people are at home. The skills that are in video game voice acting are similar to other jobs, and they are in high demand.

Video Game Franchises

The most popular video games are their own franchises and have production budgets, crews, and global audiences. The developers are constantly in search of diverse and skilled voice over actors that can perform an assortment of roles. It is essential for the creators to find the best voice over talent to bring the characters and stories to life.

Voice Over Types in Games

There are two primary categories of video game voice overs; video game voice actors and video game narrators.

Video game voice actors are needed for role-playing games. These feature thousands of lines of dialogue that require dynamic deliveries. Many of the phrases and lines are recorded in a variety of tones and attitudes that matches the player’s experience. While it is the same phrase with the change in tone it takes on a new meaning. This is why having a trained voice over actor is so important. It makes the game content. In this context it is similar to audiobook narration and animated movies.

Video game narrators are a major role in the game. Narration takes place when instructing the player on how to play the game and inform gamers of their progress within the games. Narrators also connect crucial aspects of the game to the storyline such as new characters, antagonists, settings, and more.

Why Book These Jobs

The diverse content on video games allows for you to further develop your voice acting skills. You will be representing diverse characters with unique personalities. It gives you an experience that can further your voice over acting career in a variety of industries.

The video game industry is only growing, so the opportunities are there to book jobs.

Finding the Voice Over Jobs

Just like looking for other types of voice over jobs, finding gaming jobs is fairly easy. Online voice over marketplaces will have postings as the jobs are available.

The video game industry is looking for unique voices, and voice over actors understand this. They want voices to be distinct and recognizable for the branding of the game. The best way to do this is to prepare before the read or sending over the audio of your audition. While it may not be a genre of work that you have considered it can produce some new skills while utilizing skills that you already have and create a new stream of jobs for you to work on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

5 Ways to Improve as a Voice Over Talent

 





The goal of any voice over talent should be to continuously work on their craft. Some people are born with a magnificent voice, however, all voice over talent work hard to train their voice to sound better. There is always room to improve and learn so that you are booking the jobs that you really want to have a successful career. Let’s look at the 5 ways you can improve as a voice over talent.


Take Care of Your Voice


The first step in improving is to care for your voice. In order to have the best performance, you need to loosen up the cords and get yourself ready. Incorporate vocal warm-ups as part of your morning routine. With only 10-20 minutes you can wake up your range and be ready to perform. Warming up can also help minimize the occurrence of mistakes, mouth noise, and voice cracks.

Understand Your Voice


Voice acting is a skill. In the past, voiceovers were all about having that “announcer” style, a deep booming voice with a consistent tone and enunciation. That is not so common anymore, a wide variety of styles are now being used. Voice overs now seemed to be more relaxed and conversational in style and tone.

The one thing that has not changed is the importance of speaking clearly and with vocal presence. Be sure that for any style of work that you are performing to the best of your ability. Understanding your individual style and tone will help you decide the best type of jobs you are suited for.

Learn the Material

Some jobs are very specific, and others give room for flexibility. In either case, you should know the material extremely well. The better you know it, the better you can deliver it. Just like an actor who's been over and over his/her lines until they feel second nature.

Once you have read it a few times test out different styles when practicing. This is an excellent way to train your voice. By testing out other styles, you may find that certain words or phrases sound better in one of the reads. Ultimately, it gives you a better read and performance for the client. It also gives you the voice over talent, the opportunity to learn new voiceover tricks.

Equipment Other Than Your Voice

There is more to selling your voice as talent in this business, it is also about editing and technical skills as well. It is crucial to know how your equipment works and be comfortable using it, while investing in a few quality pieces. Star by investing in a quality microphone/preamp/interface and good audio software.

The basic skills that you should understand are how to record, mix, and edit your audio. This will set you apart from the competition, as many voice over actors focus on their voices, not all can put together their own audio. With the movement to working from home studios, now, having the skills to produce your own audio makes the turn around time faster. It also means that you can market yourself as being a one-stop shop.

Learn from Others

Finally, listen to other voices as much as possible. In addition to coaching, this is a skill that can help train your voice. Learn from successful voice over talent and from your competition. You can find out what it was that landed them the gigs that you would have liked for yourself. DO they emphasize certain parts of the script differently. What type of tone do they use? There are multiple places that you can do the research and learn from. Even the best voice over talent learns from coaches, colleagues, and others to improve and continue training in order to improve themselves and be better at their job.





Thursday, July 23, 2020

Tips for Booking E-Learning Voice Over Narrator Jobs



E-Learning is a fast and efficient way to teach courses online.  Businesses find that this is the best way to train employees and customers.  It is a huge market for voice-over narrators and can be consistent with regular work.  E-Learning also gives the opportunity for repeat voice over jobs.

What is E-Learning?

E-Learning is different from documentary narration or corporate video.  Unlike audiobook voice over jobs, E-Learning places a greater emphasis on the voice engaging the audience without being able to use character voices.  The voice-over narrator has to keep interested over a long period of time.  It is all about using personality and clarity in the voice.

Different Types of E-Learning

There are four main categories that are commonly used in E-Learning, each one has its own style and its important to understand them when discussing the videos with the potential client.

  • Pure Video Narration
  • Click-through / text-based (similar to a PowerPoint presentation)
  • Interactive (includes additional media and interaction)
  • Simulations (highly interactive)

Tips for Researching and Preparing

Listen to E-learning demos from demo producers and other voice talent.

Check out the performance styles the client has used in the past when possible.  It will give you a feel for what their preferences are. See how you can fit in.

Ideally, as a voice-over narrator, you have multiple styles that you can switch between for different jobs.  Moderately paced professional, more upbeat, quick-paced. Work on adjusting your pace and speed to what the client wants. 

Qualities that A Company Looks for in A Voice Over Narrator

In addition to liking your work or your personality, there are several factors that a company will use to make a final decision when hiring a voice-over narrator.

Voice Quality – The voice-over narration should be crisp, clear, and pleasant to listen to.  It is about the likeability of the voice.

Audio Quality – It is not easy to listen to the audio if it is full of white noise, pops, and other distractions.  Many E-Learning videos are listened to with headphones, so pristine audio quality is a necessity.

Fast Turnaround – These projects require lots of editing.  Which means the recording needs to be completed in a timely manner.  Whether you are only doing the voice-over narration or the voice and editing, it needs to be a fast turnaround.  Companies do not want to wait, be mindful of the timeline.

Audio Technical Specs – The audio file format can vary greatly.  As the voice-over narrator, you are the expert and should have the ability to recommend the best format and/or be able to set it up in the preference of the company.

Voice Over Acting is a Business

You need to think of your voice over acting as a business, not a job.  When you train your mindset to consider yourself a brand, and your voice-over narration as a service, it will help you book jobs.

Marketing is a huge part of making the connections to book the jobs. 

When looking on job boards you want to search for companies who are looking for someone who will hire, manage, and work with voice actors.  This is an indicator that they have projects in the works and will have opportunities for voice-over narrators.  Reach out to the company and ask if they happen to need voice actors.  Many times, you will find they are responsive and ready to discuss right away or put you on the list when the time comes to reach out.  You are then top of mind.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Email Marketing Tips for Voice Over Actors



One of the challenges of voice over work is finding new customers and booking jobs.  Marketing is often one of the most intimidating and confusing parts of running your own business.  There are multiple ways that voice over actors find business, whether it is agents, referrals, websites, ads, and email marketing.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a type of direct marketing that promotes a product or service while developing a relationship with potential clients.  For voice over it is focused, targeted, personal outreach to potential clients who will hire you.

It is a long-term strategy that keeps you top of mind.  Keep in mind, it will not get you booked immediately.  The goal is for them to be interested to learn more about you by either listening to your demos or visiting your website.

Set up Your Strategy

First, take into account what your strengths are and what types of jobs you are best suited for.  Think about who your clients are, is its commercial work, corporate, radio, e-books, etc.

If you are a voice-over actor that works in several areas, you will need to create more than one template.  You want to have an email that speaks directly to the type of voice over actor their projects will require.  The content will vary as well as the links that you share showcasing your work.

Intriguing Subject Line and Personalize It

The subject line is the first thing that they see, and so you want to make sure that it is opened.  You want the reader to understand what the email is about and interested to read it.

The email needs to be personalized, it should have their name and other key points, their company, the type of work they hire for.  Doing the research and making it personalized will give you the edge.

Keep your message simple, informative, and short.  The worst thing is a long drawn out email.

Focus on Your Client

A strong email marketing campaign focuses on what they are looking for, what their needs are, and then how you can help them achieve that.

You want them to see you as the voice over actor expert.  Keep your tone friendly, casual, and professional.  Be sure the content of the email states clearly you are a voice-over actor and how you are ready to help them. What is the one unique thing that you alone can bring to their projects.

Call to Action

You need to give them something to do, also known as a call to action.  If you end it with something like “hope to work with you in the future”, it doesn’t make them reach out or contact you.  You want them to reply to discuss with you opportunities or go to a demo reel, so they can hear your work.  It is far better to have a link so they can hear your voice versus describing your sound.

Stay Connected with Previous Clients

Email marketing is a great way to stay connected with previous clients.  This way they don’t forget about you.  Have you added a new voice over skill set, increased your level of production work or added editing options, anything that will make working with you a better solution... a better value to them.

 


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Auditioning Tips from A Seasoned Voice Over Actor



Voice over work has tons of opportunities based on your style and expertise.  However, when it comes to auditioning, it can be overwhelming.

Unlike other acting professions, it is just your voice being reviewed and how you choose to read the piece makes all the difference between being hired or being passed over.  There are things that you can do to prepare before you arrive at or digitally submit the audition that will improve your chances of being hired.

The List of Jobs

Choose jobs that best showcase your style, your tone, and your training.  While it is good to add to your list of possibilities, some voice-over actor jobs may not be the best fit.  If you like nonfiction audiobook reads, then look for more of those types of jobs to gain employment, and then look for other jobs to try out to expand your resume.

Review the Script

Read and study the script multiple times to get familiar with the words, the pronunciation, and any group of words that may get your tongue-tied.  When it comes to specifics make sure that you are saying the names of cities, places, etc. the correct way.  The best impression is getting it correct at the voice-over audition without a correction.  It will show that you did your homework and took it seriously.

Take Notice of the Clues

In a script, there are hints about the character, product, or piece.  When you are representing a character, you will see the style that they speak, the tone, or the emotions.  When the script is about a product, it is about making that product stand out, a must-have.  However, it must not be overly salesy, or you will not book the job.  Scripts have details in the text and subtext that a seasoned voice-over actor will look for and so should you.

Keep in mind that you have your voice style and that within the guidelines and clues you are giving them your unique voice.  It is always a blend of giving them what they want and giving them a fresh way of hearing it with your sound.


The Delivery

Many times, the client will have a very specific idea about what they want to hear at the audition.  Practice the delivery using their notes.  You can also have some alternative versions of your own for the audition.  However, they may never hear these based on the notes they give or details that you get when meeting them.  Be flexible.

Take A Deep Breath

Nerves can make a skilled voice crack under pressure.  Before you read take a deep breath and it will bring a calmness and readiness to your performance.

Above All Take Direction

There many times that you have given an excellent read and they will give you feedback. Listen to the feedback from the client and agent, take it in, and then give it to them.  Feedback and notes are not a bad sign.  They have some guidelines for specifics that they want.  If you can take the feedback and re-do the read with it, you have a stronger chance of getting the job.  It also shows that you can take direction and make it work.  A voice-over actor that is easy to work with and will give the best work.

Don’t Let a No Get You Down

Voice-over acting is a tough field, especially when you are starting out.  There are many jobs out there that will be perfect for your voice and style.  Take notes and always work on honing your skills and finding good matches for what you bring to the voice-over acting industry.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Finding Your Unique Signature Voice to Define Your Voice Over Niche



When you are in the voice over business it is a common question that is asked of you or you may be asking yourself, “What is my signature sound”?

Finding your niche

Just like an actor who you notice is always in comedies, or action movies, they know what genre they fit best in.  Finding your voice style, your genres where you can make your voice work best for you and in turn your clients.

If you are unsure about where to start, ask yourself some questions.  Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers, just your answers.

·         Age Range – When you read different characters what age range do they fit in?  Can you sound younger or older than your age?

·         Sex of the Characters – Can you do the voice of the opposite sex?  Or do you stick to male or female-only?

·         Traits – Does your voice have a serious tone?  Warm?  Cheerful?  Inviting?  Deep?  It's about pairing your voice to adjectives that best describe them.  Once you have a list of these adjectives, it is easy to translate them into characters and into genres.  If you have a serious voice, then non-fiction books, or PSA’s with a seriously important message will be perfect for you.

Do Your Personality and Signature Voice Match?

Your voice over work will often coincide with your interests and personality.  If your personality and signature voice matchup, it can be very easy to start working right away.  Whereas, some voice-over actors find that they are consistently hired for a niche, that is not what they are naturally drawn to.  One way to think of it is as your “alter ego” is your signature voice.  Incredibly famous singers often refer to their stage presences as an alter ego.

Multiple Avenues or A Specific Niche

Once you answer some of these questions, you may find that you can transform your voice into several different characters offering you a greater list of opportunities.  It is great if you are able to adapt to the job and gives you opportunity to work more.  However, narrowing down to a specific niche helps you create your brand and establish a well-known reputation.  A brand and reputation that will get you noticed and hired without auditioning if that is the style the client is looking for. Sometimes all you need to do is listen to your clients review of your work. What terminology do they use when they describe your work? What kind of work keeps repeating itself? It may be more obvious than it appears at first. When you hone in on that... make that your signature sound and work to further refine it. 

Your Signature Voice is Your Money Maker

Your signature voice is what gets people to hire you, it is your money maker.  It tends to be the vocal sound that you deliver on a narration; it is the one that comes most naturally to you.  It is the one that you should consider your go-to.  While you may have trained and mastered fun cartoon styles, but the voice that is the most natural is the one that is your signature and it is what you will be most hired for. 

Discover Your Particular Voice Over Qualities

Finding your signature voice and style may take a while.  Don’t worry, the most important thing is to discover your particular voice qualities and sound.  There are so many opportunities in the voice-over industry that you will be successful by using what you have. Once you've got a grip on those qualities, keep your focus on that sound and direct your marketing efforts in that direction.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Steps to Start a Voice Over Acting Career



Voice over talent brings a book to life, a guide through a learning module, a fun voice in a commercial, a GPS device, there are so many times a day you hear a VO talent.  If you are thinking about starting your voice over career here are some steps to get you down the career path.

Understanding Your Voice

When deciding to be a voice-over talent you need to have an idea of your voice and the ranges, and what skills you naturally have.  Giving you a good starting point on what you can leverage and what skills you need to work on.  Here are some things to consider.
  • Is your voice low pitched or high pitched?
  • Can you make your voice sound older or younger? This speaks to your vocal range.
  • What acting or musical skills do you have, dramatic voices, fun sing song, or types of narratives.
  • Can you take direction? Can you mimic the delivery of another actor?
  • Are you a good speaker?
  • Can you read out loud flawlessly? Can you read something the first time – a dry read and do it well?
  • Are you fluent in several languages?
What Voice Over Talent Category of Work?

There are several types of work categories for voice-over talent.  The three main categories are character, commercial, and narration.
  • Character VO – This includes live-action, animation, automated dialogue recording (ADR), and video games. This category requires acting skills, vocal versatility and stamina.
  • Commercial VO – This includes radio, television and online ads and promos, and marketing videos. Voice over talent needs to get a message across or compel the audience to buy a product. It requires adaptability as you may work with directors, reps, and clients on a project and receive lots of notes or direction during a live session.
  • Narration VO – This type of work has three subcategories. Educational narration, corporate, and narrative. Educational includes e-learning and audio guide, corporate narration contains training modules, corporate videos, and narrative involves documentaries, audiobooks, and audio description. The scripts for these projects may be long and being a good reader is going to make a huge difference.
Training for the Type of Work

If you have an idea of the category that most speaks to your natural talents and interests, then it is time to find the best training and coaching for you.

There are a variety of opportunities that are available schools, online lessons, coaches.  Some schools offer opportunities to acquire professional automation, demo reels to take with you, and job opportunities for graduates.   Do your due diligence when choosing the best opportunity.  Training is the most important to take your career to the next level.  Just be very particular about the on-line coaches you choose to work with. Go with only the most popular instructors out there. Many are simply trying to make a quick buck! Also, remember training and honing your craft is a never-ending process.

Industry Associations and the VoiceOver Community

Taking an active role in learning the industry will further your job possibilities.  Look at both associations and online communities to make connections, learn more and have access to resources.  There are a ton of online opportunities if you don’t live in a major city.  The tips and information is endless when you have connections. Join some professional groups and learn from your colleagues.

Friday, May 1, 2020

COVID-19 and the Voice Over Actor



The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way the world operates right now, and that is true in the voice over and acting industry as well.  While there are many changes to the way the industry is working, there are also many opportunities out there for a voice-over actor.

In-Home Recording Studio

While many have some type of studio set it up, it might be time to develop a more technically savvy set up so that you can offer more options.  If you don’t have a studio at home, it may be the time to start working on putting one together, even if it is just the basics.

For many that have or are creating a professional studio in-home that produces quality work, this may be the opening that you have been waiting to get into bigger markets.  It is the chance to get auditions and opportunities for more lucrative brands and campaigns.  With auditions being online or submitting virtually, the location is not a factor to hold you back. It's your opportunity to launch yourself... maybe even convince yourself... into the next level of professionalism in the VO business.
NOTE: Be sure your studio is getting hooked up with the necessary client connection tools such as ipDTL, Source Connect, Skype, Zoom and digital phone patch. 

Training

Some agencies are offering a virtual booth platform.  This allows voice over actors to connect with agents, audio directors, and engineers to get feedback on projects.  This may be the time if you are looking for feedback to connect with your agent and see if this is a possibility.  Or perhaps find a mastermind or voice over talent teacher to work with virtually. I just began working with a well-known coach specializing in TV narration. 

Companies like Backstage are creating a new on-camera series called The Slate.  It is featuring insights and direct feedback from casting directors, trainers, agents, actors, and creators.  These interactive group classes will focus on a variety of industry processes and knowledge.

Job Opportunities

Voice over talent are still needed in different types of jobs than you may normally take on.
While retail advertising may be slowing down for a while, there are some other jobs that are picking up.

· Company Phone Messages regarding COVID-19

· Revised messages about changing schedules for hotels, showrooms, and other large venues.

· Advertising messages and PSAs including the newest "We're all in this together”campaigns.

· Science and medical voice-over regarding protecting oneself, hygiene, training modules.

· Life science companies promoting treatments and research

· Companies putting together more training videos and online learning resources.

· PSA work towards mitigating the effects of the virus.

. And manufacturing companies trying to get ready for an upcoming explosion of new products.

Audiobooks

The audiobook market has been huge over the last few years and with that voice-over job opportunities are flourishing.  Voice actors are a perfect fit as narrators. Authors realize that having a trained voice is the best option for them. The book needs to be read by an engaging professional, whether it is a non-fiction or fiction book. Many authors feel "left out" if they don't have an audio book version of their latest book.

Many authors who already have a book(s) out there are finding now that they have the time to turn it into an audiobook.  And now is the perfect time to take on an audiobook project as they do tend to be a longer narration jobs.

The Future

While the future is unclear on exactly what will stay the same and what will go back to the way it was.  The home studio will serve you whether it is for auditioning virtually or having the option to work from home when you can.

During this time, it could be a great season to take on some new projects, train on skills to perfect your craft, or update your older demos. There will always be opportunities out there for voice over actors. Just don't lose faith!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Create a Powerful Voice Over Talent Brand Online



Are you taking advantage of the online opportunities to get hired?  As a voice-over talent, it is critical that you are strategic.  You want to be sure that you are visible in searches and that once they find you, they can see your portfolio of audio/video work.  Here are some digital strategies to help increase your visibility and book more jobs.

Google My Business

Google is the largest search engine out there that reaches millions of people daily.  In 2019, it was estimated that 97% of searches online were to find a business.  Are you taking advantage of that?
Google my business is free and helps you appear on google search and maps.  It is the perfect way to get your information out there, whether you are a seasoned voice-over talent or new to the industry.  It makes it easier for customers to find you.  Google Business dramatically increases your search visibility.  For example, if someone types in “voice over talent in Nashville, Tennessee”, businesses matching that will pop up. Hey, including mine!

Not only does it help with customers finding you physically, but it improves your digital search visibility in Google.  When a prospective customer is looking for local businesses, they are ready to hire.

Google Business lets you post useful information and makes it easier for customers to leave reviews.  Add information like your name, what you do, location (if you don’t want your home studio to appear, a city is fine), phone number, website, and pictures.  You can capture their interest in your listing.

Social Media Presence

Be consistent with your brand and imagery.  Keep your content interesting, informative, and fun, followers want to be entertained.  Include your website information on your social media and cross-promote your social media channels with one another to increase your brand’s visibility. 
  • Instagram – Showcase your voice in videos, behind the scenes of a job you are working on or a training that you are doing. Think of Instagram as a portfolio of photos and videos of your studio, equipment, events, trainings, and clients.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn is mainly a professional networking platform. Your content should be focused on potential clients. It is the perfect place to link to your demos, your resume, and completed projects. Your aim should be showcasing your professional personality.
  • YouTube – Set up your YouTube channel to stream your demos and voiceover recordings.
No matter what social media channels you post on, you want to plan a schedule relatable content consistently. Consistency is major. Also, be aware of trending hashtags and ones that include your location. People follow hashtags and if you include one, they will find you easier.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You should already have a website, if not that is the first step.  Once your website is live, you will want to make sure that your voice over talent website appears in Google searches.  That is what SEO is all about! It's about making sure that your website has the correct keywords in the content.  For example, you can look at the common search result suggestion of people when they type in the word “voice acting”.  From there, you can study the pattern on what keywords are mostly used for researching voice over talent and be sure that your content has them built-in.  This way, Google will find your site and potential jobs will be for your consideration. These days Google search engines seem to be more sensitive to images and video as well as keywords and content.

Tracking Your Results

You can make use of google analytics to track the engagement of your website and your social media.  This way you can see what is working best for you and ways to improve your online presence.  Your efforts will help get your voiceover talent brand more visibility.  More visibility will give you more opportunities for potential jobs to come your way.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Warm-Ups Are a Must for a Voice Over Actor



Athletes, singers, and other professionals warm up before they perform. Why wouldn’t a voice-over actor?  Being a voice-over actor involves strain on your vocal cords, so warming up is a must.  Warm-ups will help get your voice into perfect condition for a great day at the studio.

Why Is It Important?
The more you tone your vocal cords, the more versatile you will be while reducing your chances of injury.  Most seasoned voice-over actors will perform warm-ups after they wake up in the morning and then again before a recording.  Sessions can be demanding for a voice-over actor and a warmup will keep you in top performance shape.

Relaxation Begins with Breathing
Breathing releases tension that can interfere with effective voice production.  If you are holding on to tension, it radiates to the voice box muscles.  Start with relaxing your shoulders and chest, take a regular breath in and then exhale.  The next breath-hold an “s” sound like in a hiss when you exhale.  You want the focus of your breath to come from your abdomen and not your chest and shoulders.  Place your hand on your abdomen as a reminder.  Repeat a few times.

Stretches for the Body
A limber body means a more relaxed voice.  Start with side stretches, they are great for expanding your rib cage and making your lungs feel like they are full of air.  Raise your arms up to the sky and exhale and lean to the right, lengthening your body.  Gently hold it there for a few seconds and then back to center and then to your left.

Gentle neck rolls will help warm up your neck and throat muscles.  Gently rotate your head clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Humming, Lip Trills, and Tongue Trills
A loose, gentle modulating hum is a way to ease your facial muscles and create space for resonant sound.  It gets your resonators warm which helps restore your vocal tone quality.

Lip trills and flutters are also a good way to loosen facial muscles and get your vocal cords warmed up.  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 relax the tongue and engage breathing and voice.  Place your tongue behind your upper teeth.  Exhale and trill your tongue with an “r” sound.  Hold the sound steady and keep the breath connected.  Try to vary the pitch up and down the scale while trilling.

Tongue Twisters
Articulation is one of the most important aspects of your job.  If you don’t articulate and enunciate clearly, then no one is going to understand what you are saying, and that means you will not be hired for the job.  Tongue twister exercises are a great tool.
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • A big black bug hit a big black bear.
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • These are ideal phrases... but they are tough for me too!
Yawning

Yawning naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen while extending your soft palate.  It relaxes your throat muscles and vocal cords, and as soon as they relax, the tone drops.  There are many actors that swear by this technique.

Warm-ups in the Shower

The humidity will help as the moisture will coat and protect your throat, vocal cords, and more.  Plus, the acoustics will be an added bonus.  Wherever in the morning, your warm-up in the shower or in your bedroom or kitchen.  Just remember voice-over actors are like athletes, they need to warm up and train to keep their voice in top condition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tips for Finding Voice Over Work and Understanding the Posting



As a voice over actor, you need to be on the lookout for opportunities, while some may naturally come your way, not everything will. For a new voice over actor, getting established will take some time, so put in the energy and time and it will pay off.

Finding Voice Over Work
There are four main ways to find voice over work, online sites often called pay-to-play, local businesses, advertising agencies, production companies... plus, word-of-mouth (no pun intended).

· Pay to Play (online sites) – The most common ones that are around are voices.com, voice123.com, Voices Pro, Bodalgo.com and a few others. The businesses that post jobs here are anywhere from small to large. They want professional voice over actors to work for them and on their projects. A range of types of jobs can be found on these sites. But use discretion when auditioning with these sites. Choose projects that suit your voice/style best. Don't waste time auditioning for those that don't.

Read the Entire Posting. Understanding all the details in the posting will help you not only decide if it is a good fit for you, it will also help you nail the audition. Some keys in a posting that are important to take into consideration.

· Work Type – When it comes to the types of work for voice over actors there are many. Each with unique and specific requirements. Think about your ability and strengths and focus on those. If you want to add more opportunity, you may want to consider training in workshops or with a private coach.

· Language, accent, and dialect – Make sure that you have the skill or have time to train with these. If there is a specific accent they want, no matter how amazing a voice over actor you are, it won’t matter. Hone in on your skillset.

· Consider the Specifications – Clients will always set a deadline for accepting auditions and when the final product needs to be done. If you are not able to meet these deadlines, then don’t apply. Never set yourself up to be considered unreliable. That could follow you around your whole career. Be sure you can realistically meet all the requirements needed for a specific project.

· Gender – Some voice over actors have the amazing ability to transform their voice to that of a different gender. However, this is a small group of people. Unless you are able to carry that voice transformation throughout the entire project, don’t take the job. There will be other opportunities that are a better fit.

Local Businesses
If you are in a larger city or near a larger city, then the opportunities are more available. From networking, to presenting to owners, to cold calling, emailing, you can actively look for ways to connect with people. And of course, if you are savvy with your email there is work to be found simply by contacting the right voice seekers.

Advertising Agencies and Production Companies 
Building a relationship with advertising agencies and production companies is going to help over time. They have a roster of voice over actors and will call first when opportunities arise. They have opportunities in video, radio, television, web advertising, audiobook, e-learning, and more.

Always Have an Excellent Demo Reel
Demo reels and audio samples are crucial. You want them to showcase your best work. Have them ready to send at a moment’s notice. Waiting will only allow more time for you to be eliminated in favor of other talent. The VO world moves swiftly and you have to be ready for it!

Talent Agencies
These companies will prove to be a vital source of premium paying jobs and high level industry connections. But you have to be far enough along with your skill level to approach them. Your demos must be steller and your work ethic very strong. They are in the business of finding work opportunities for their roster of talent. The best agencies are already full of many talented voice actors. You will need to impress them to become part of their stable. And supply them with all the tools they need to work with you to find work opportunity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Build a Voice Talent Studio in Your Home




Being a voice talent with easy access to record anytime is essential to being successful in the voice acting industry. By setting up a studio, you are now able to produce quality recordings from the comfort of your home. It is a great way to subsidize your income and put the work in on a schedule that fits you. As a voice talent, it also makes it easier in times of crisis to be able to continue to work.
Here is some basic information you can use.

Voice Over Equipment You Will Need
· Microphone – The type of mic that you need is one that works best for your voice and your budget. A large diaphragm mic is good for a warmer tone and lower frequencies, like a bass guitar or deeper male voices. A small diaphragm mic or small capsule mic is good for higher frequencies like cymbals or a female voices. But these can be used interchangeably to suit your desired sound. Look at polarity of each mic, cardiod (wider direction) and hypercardiod mic’s (more directional) are the best type for voiceovers. There are many very popular mics available now and vary greatly in price. The best way to choose a mic is to visit your local music store, if possible, and listen through your favorite headphones and choose your favorites from a variety of mics. Best to spend your money on a good mic than almost any other thing... other than the room acoustics you will be recording in.

· Pop Filter – This is vital to your setup. It decreases the amount of distracting noises that the mic picks up by blocking the air that’s pushed out from your mouth when you speak. They give you a nice clean read without the annoying "popping" sounds.

· Audio Interface – This is a piece of hardware that is necessary to connect your mic to your computer. It operates on 48 volt (phantom power) and may enhance the sound of your voice as the signal travels to your computer. Again, these are relatively inexpensive and have become much improved in terms of power, clean sound and portability. Be sure to buy one that is popular amoung voice talent.

· Computer – You will need to use a computer that has the capabilities to run all of your programs and software successfully and quietly... as to avoid background noise while recording.

· Recording and Editing Software – The software is a big deal, it allows you to enhance your voice overs with music, sound effects, and edit out pauses and loud breaths. However, I caution newer VO talent to use very minimal voice processing. It is best to provide your client with simple clean audio files recorded at the proper levels. Allowing THEM to enhance your voice as they see fit.

Additional items that are great supplements. If you have the budget, then purchase them right away. However, if not these can slowly be added to your studio later.

· Headphones and/or studio monitor speakers
· Music Stand or Mic stand
· USB Flash Drive or Hard Drive for file storage

Choosing and Sound Proofing Your Space
Start with looking at the rooms in your house, a cozy space that has enough room for you to stand or sit comfortably in is fine. If the room has carpet, it can effectively absorb sound versus wood flooring. Does the room share walls with neighboring rooms that are noisy, like a kitchen, laundry room, or a bathroom? Try to avoid these rooms if possible. If you live with others, arrange for recording during those quiet times.

Soundproofing your voiceover studio is important. It is more important to prevent sound from entering the room rather than preventing the sound of your voice exiting.

Soundproofing can be expensive. However, there are tricks that will help you soundproof it yourself. You will want to install insulation over windows, walls, and ceilings. Cork, rubber, or foam insulations are good options for soundproofing. Hang heavy curtains around the room to help absorb sound. Keep in mind that you may be creating an airtight box, and you will need to have quiet ventilation.

Voice Talent really can work from a studio anywhere now. There are portable options now available. But that's for another blog article to discuss. Meanwhile, get busy setting up your home studio.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tips for a Voice Actor to Become an Audiobook Narrator



The publishing industry has watched the market fluctuate the last few years, however, the one thing that is on the rise is the audiobook market.  Long commutes, busy lifestyles, mobile devices have made this market explode.  For a voice actor, this is a fantastic opportunity to make money working in this market.  Here is a guide of where to start.

Voice Over Actors as Audiobook Narrators

Voice over actors are the perfect fit as narrators.  We are trained in this skill. 

When you are narrating a book, you have to vocalize what you are seeing and hearing in your mind.
An audiobook listener relies entirely on the narration, painting the picture just right.  Which is what makes it different from voice-over work like commercials, where images and videos complement the narration.

Narrating fiction requires acting skills.  They are heavily character-based so you are going to have to handle different voices.  Nonfiction is a different challenge by keeping the content interesting even if the content is dry.  Whether or not you enjoy the subject matter is about enjoying the process of producing the book for readers.

Technique

While voice actors are great narrators, there are some techniques and practice time until you are a pro at audiobook narration.  It is all about practicing and realizing that it can not be done all at once.  It is exhausting and you need enough energy so your voice doesn’t drop.  Your error rate will increase as you become tired, so take breaks throughout and plan on several days of recording.

Find Your Niche
In voice-over work, in general, it is about finding your niche, the same is said for voice narration of books.  Your voice will naturally fit better in certain genres and you may prefer fiction or non-fiction style as well.  Once you realize what niches are best for you, the jobs will roll in faster.

Quality Recording

There are specific technical requirements to publish audio on the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).  The quality must be excellent for the client and the listener.  Whether it is going to a professional studio to record or if you are like many voices over professionals in your own soundproof studio at home.

On a side note, you will need to read from an electronic device, you can’t make page-turning noises.  Also, turn off the wifi on the devices as they can make a static noise and it will get picked up by the audio when recording. Also, use a microphone that produces a "warmer" more intimate tone as opposed to a very "hot" broadcast mic like the Sennheiser 416. Which is a great industry standard mic but lacks that more intimate sound. Remember, you are often talking to the listener directly into their ear via earbuds or headphones. 

Producing and Editing

If you work through ACX, you will have to do the producing and editing yourself.  This might mean that you need to work on your technical skills if you don’t regularly do it for other voice over projects.  Audiobooks require hours of editing, making them more labor-intensive. You can also hire audio editors who may work for as little as $25.00/hr to go through your entire file. However, your budget may not be sufficient for using any outside editors.

Note: Although excessive breaths can become annoying when listening to audio book narration, I believe that excessive REMOVAL of every single breath leaves your narration devoid of life. In other words, having NO breaths in the narration can suck the life out of a good performance.

A great way to practice your editing skills is to look for smaller projects like promotional videos or corporate training.  It is a great way to work on editing on a more manageable sized project when starting out.  Online course videos are the next step in project size as they will take a few hours.  Audiobooks range from 10-15 hours of editing.



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Voice Over Talent Guide to Getting Hired from Your Website



As a professional voice over talent, it is critical that you have a website that showcases who you are and what you can do.  Just having a website is not enough and having an older website not showcasing your work can be detrimental to booking new voice over jobs.  There are several components that your website should have.

Why Have a Website?

In this day and age, everyone has a website for everything. If you send someone who wants to hear a sample of you work to your agent or a voice-over talent website, they can always see your competition.  You are giving them opportunities to hire another voice-over actor. Not a good thing!

You also want them to be able to see all your work, credits, testimonials, your bio, your studio capabilities for them to get to know you.  People work with people that they connect with.  Give them the opportunity to know who you are and what skills you have.

Clear Content

When a potential client finds your website, they want to know what type of work you do within the first few seconds.  Be sure to say voice over talent, what you specialize in, and how long you have been in the industry.  There are so many websites that are beautiful, but the visitor has no idea what they do or if they are a good fit. Don’t make that mistake.  Be clear about who you are, what you can do, and how to contact you.

Demos

Demos and audio samples are crucial.  You want them to be very clearly placed on your website, no potential client wants to hunt to find them.  I suggest putting them right there on your landing page. They should showcase all the genres and types of work that you have done.

Put a link that allows them to download your demo with your name and demo type written on the file label. There are many clients that will keep a folder of the talent they like so when they have a project they will know exactly who to contact.  Be in that folder, so they come back to you.  Be sure to not give it a just a generic label “commercial voiceover”.  You want it to have your name, so they have a reference like, “Rick Lance-Commercial”.

Testimonials

Testimonials are powerful when it comes to proving your credibility as a voice-over talent.  They go a long way in establishing trust with a new potential client.  A single testimonial from a happy client can mean more than an entire page of information that you write yourself.

A Bio in the About Me

The home page may have some information about you, however, a strong voice over talent website will have an about me or bio page.  A detailed bio will provide a fuller picture of your background, experience, training, past, and current clients, and any other information that will give them a better sense of who you are and what you can do.

User Experience

A website that caters to a user’s experience is key for any professional or company.  Keep in mind that you want your website to look good on a computer or a mobile device.  Make sure that all the links to your samples and demos are working.  This is especially important if it goes to another website or client’s site. 

As a voice-over talent the visitor knows that you also know how to edit for jobs and if the website looks outdated or the editing looks bad, they may think that it is a reflection of your work as well.  Even though websites and audio editing are very different.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How AI Will Give Voice Over Actors Opportunities



As a voiceover actor or voice over artist, you are uniquely positioned to influence how AI (artificial intelligence) technology will evolve.  The opportunities for voiceover actors to create both static and dynamic audio content are vast and growing.  As the smart speaker and home assistant revolution grow, the voiceover industry will see growth as well.

Americans love AI

One in every three people owns some sort of smart speaker.  We commonly ask Siri and Alexa questions and they each have a unique voice that is recognized.  Americans are constantly looking to upgrade their homes to “smart home”. The features of AI are constantly growing and expanding.  Its presence in homes allows for automation of appliances, the temperature in the home, and offering solutions to everyday tasks.

What does this mean for voiceover actors?  More jobs or less?

Creating “Sonic Identities”

Brands will be looking for voice actors to build “sonic identities” for their customers. A sonic identity is the brand’s proprietary sonic voice that conveys the brand story, enhances emotional connection and builds brand attribution.  It ties together talking points across communications, live and digital experiences.  Apple has Siri and Amazon has Alexa, companies, and brands that will need their own versions.

How Voiceover Actors Fit with AI

Artificial intelligence creates opportunities across the board, and this includes the voice over industry.  While you may think that computer power AI applications generated voices, the voices originated somewhere.  That somewhere is a voice-over actor comes in. Those automated voices will need to sound more and more real, based upon good VO actors.

For a voiceover actor, the art of making AI sound human is the key.  Computerized voices need a human voice to establish the foundation of the vocal database.  Siri is voiced by voiceover actor Susan Bennett.  VO actors will be able to help create a more meaningful connection between people and technology they interact with by replicating everyday conversations.

Virtual Assistants and Voice Apps

Any device, app, or assistant that has a voice response option has started with a human, specifically a voiceover actor.  The same is true for virtual assistants and voice apps used across a variety of industries.  A VO actor originally recorded the voices that are there.

While some AI apps currently do not have a voice response to date, they are planning on adding the feature in the not so distant future.  Brands like Google which means more job opportunities.

More Work for Voice over Actors

Companies will need voiceover actors' experience in reworking scripts, audio cues, and prompts.  The opportunity to be the creators of vocal artificial intelligence is there for VO actors. The voiceover industry is poised for an exciting new platform of personalized communication.  Companies realize that the relationship between personalized content and brand loyalty is critical.  It poses a new area for voice over actors.

Artificial Intelligence is an emerging line of work for voice actors and more and more brands will seek to develop their own branded voice.  This new year is the time to expand and hone in on your craft and look for opportunities in this growing job opportunity arena.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Business Trends in 2020 That Will Positively Impact the Voice Over Industry



Business trends and media trends for the upcoming year can help you as a voiceover actor plan and prepare to increase your business.  They will need voiceover actors more and more on specific projects and you may need to look at your demo reels and be ready to hit the New Year running.

Increasing Demand for Training Content

This includes the development of educational content from training employees to courses training their clients... E-learning.  Industries are feeling the pull to create more content to keep up with the demand of the ever-evolving workforce.

 The training videos require a lot of moving parts to synchronize, grab a hold of the learner’s attention, and achieve real learning.  A bad script can hurt the project, but the voice can make or break a project.  Which is why the demand for a professional voiceover actor is needed.

For voiceover actor training, content requires a range of styles, roles, accents, and languages.  The trained actor understands how to deliver a performance that values the brand but interprets the script to the audience and engages them. A voice that does not become distracting from the content and can convey the message clearly. Without "getting in the way" of the content.

Digital Audio Advertising

Digital audio advertising is growing rapidly as businesses are racing to place ads where people are.  This also includes podcasts, internet radio, streaming services, voice-enabled, and voice-assisted devices.  Including mobile phones, tablets and watches.

As a VO actor, this will mean that it will be important to make effective audio ads.  Training in effective commercial communication and possibly updating your commercial demos should be at the top of your list, to land these types of jobs.

Podcasts Are Even More Popular

Podcasts will continue to rise in popularity as a form of entertainment, inspiration, and educational content.  The audience in 2019 grew and it will continue to have significant increases in 2020.  51% of Americans 12 years old and up have listened to a podcast.

For the Voiceover Actor, your technical recording knowledge needs to be current.  Make sure that it showcases your editing skills on demos.  Many podcasters will need help creating intros and outros for their podcasts as more and more outsource this to get the best voice possible.  These intros and outros will need to be short, clear, concise and possibly with music and SFX added.  They will look to you as the expert to help them.

Voice Powered Apps and Devices with Sonic Branding

Sonic Branding is the strategy of using music, voice, and sound, to help reinforce brand recognition and enhance the customer experience.

Audio content is at an all-time high and voice interaction is becoming the norm.  Brands are considering their audio branding based on the rise in popularity of podcasts, streaming services, voice assistant and other audio-driven media.  This trend will not only be for large corporations, but it will also impact businesses of all sizes.  Those who do not build an audio brand will get left behind.

The human voice has huge applications for voice-first devices and apps.  The computer-generated voice is based on a voice actor. Distinct voices that match the brand’s tone is what brands will need.  Which means more job opportunities for voiceover talents.