Monthly Archives: June 2012
Did you know that approximately 80% of the VO work out there is narration? Knowing that commercials are actually the least of what voice-over talents do opens up a whole array of possibilities for you and your voice! Every successful voice-over artist knows their voice, and knows precisely where they fit into the world of voice-overs. As a new talent, this is one of the first things you should begin to understand about your voice. Narration is the largest market for voice-overs, but it includes much more than just "narratives," perhaps you can also imagine using your voice for:
- Telephone messages
- Voices of toys & products
- Video games
- IVR (interactive voice response)
- Barker channels in hotel rooms
- PowerPoint presentations
- Sales presentations
- E-learning training for corporations
- …and more!
Start by getting to know the qualities and versatility of your voice. When you listen to commercials or other recordings, ask yourself which ones you feel you could voice easily. Record them, play them back and emulate them. Ask other VO professionals or a vocal coach what they perceive to be the strengths of your voice. You may find that your natural vocal tones are convicting enough to be a voice that prompts or offers instructions. Or you may find that you have a youthful sound that would pair well with children’s products. If you discover that you would be very popular with a particular type of business, you can do a spot on your demo that showcases that. Once you’ve discovered a true niche for yourself, you can even record a specialty demo. Examples of specialty demos may include medical, law, finance, real estate, animation, children’s books, movie trailers, imaging work, IVR, podcasting and more!
Remember, you’re not just imitating someone else’s voice! Being a voice-over talent, you’re also an actor. You should analyze the emotions involved in the read to help connect yourself with the product. We all naturally have several qualities in our voices that help to get the point across when we are angry, sad, excited or even perhaps trying to get a small child to listen. Take the time to really listen and analyze where your own voice naturally goes in these scenarios and use your acting skills to apply your sound to each spot you read.
Knowing where your voice fits in the industry will help you to create a versatile demo. You can then market yourself to all of the possible clients for your voice with confidence that you aren’t missing out on an area where you would excel. Maximize your potential! Start learning the nuances of your own voice and you may surprise yourself with all of the possibilities that exist for you.
Such A Voice student Kerry Steward recently booked a job voicing two characters in a video game!
Our Instructor/Producer Angela Castonguay was recently selected to act as an extra in the film 42 – The Jackie Robinson Story
Movies… Those fascinating, mysterious, amazing sound and light stories that we love to see. Perhaps more exciting than the actual films are the movie stars that bring characters to life on the big screen. Who among us hasn’t dreamt of being cast in a movie with Sean Connery, George Clooney, or Meryl Streep? Who wouldn’t jump at a chance to be “discovered” when asked to play a role in a period piece?
My stars were aligned when I got the opportunity to be an extra in Harrison Ford’s movie, 42 – The Jackie Robinson Story. 42, a movie about the man who broke professional baseball’s color barrier, is a period piece filming scenes in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. I was selected, along with several hundreds of others, to be cast in a variety of scenes in Macon and Atlanta, Georgia.
This was a new and exciting experience for someone like me, who spends the majority of my day in a 3×5 sound booth with a mic and pop screen! Reporting to the set at 6:00 am followed by wardrobe fittings, hair, make up, and COFFEE! Then that magical moment arrives! You sit and wait to be called to set. You meet other extras, eat breakfast, read your Nook, get a make up repair, meet more extras, eat lunch… All of a sudden the casting director walks into the holding pen (yes, they did call it a holding pen!) and calls your name. You board a small bus headed for downtown. As you get off the bus onto a street that has been transformed into the 1940’s, you see crowds of onlookers lined up behind barricades. They’re waving at you, taking pictures of the scene, the extras, and for a brief moment, you are a STAR.
Now the real work begins. You’re given your directions, a couple of rehearsals, and you are rolling. Five hours later, after walking up and down the same block, with the same extra partner, pantomiming the same hand gestures, mouthing a silent conversation and getting “nose hair close” to one of the real stars, they wrap the scene. This five-hour filming will end up resulting in about 5-7 minutes of film. Hopefully, I won’t end up on the cutting room floor!
I was in several scenes in the downtown area; walking the streets of Brooklyn, walking through Harlem, getting in and out of fantastic 1940’s cars, filming the historic scene at the ball field when Jackie Robinson comes up to bat for the first time. Arriving on set by 6:30 am and getting home at 1 am in 90+ degree Georgia heat. I have a newfound respect for actors, actresses, and EXTRAS!
Given the chance, would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! I got to see and film scenes with movie stars; Harrison Ford, Christopher Meloni and Chadwick Boseman. I was up close and personal with lights, action, and camera. I was behind the scenes with wonderfully funny wardrobe and hair artists. I was transformed into a 1940’s gal by hair dressers who would burst into Broadway show tunes and do the swing while simultaneously taking out my pink sponge rollers.
The best memories of my first movie gig, however, are all of the EXTRA friends that I made… People from as far away as Quebec, of all backgrounds, all friendly, all those voices to analyze and classify… BIG SMILE AND WE’RE ROLLIN’!
Written by: Angela Castonguay
Our Director of Operations, Heather Costa, has been asked to serve on the Membership Committee for World Voices!
Our Director of Operations, Heather Costa, has been asked to serve on the Membership Committee for World Voices (WOVO). WOVO is a “non-profit member-driven International Guild of Voice Actors, that seeks to educate members in the essentials of operating a private studio, provide mentoring to voice talent across a spectrum of techniques and recording skills, engage membership in a meaningful community, and provide unique levels of certification to all entering members; ensuring proficient and uniform standards for the practicing Voice Acting professional.”
Heather recently shared with us, “having worn many hats in this industry – professional voice talent, coach, producer and Director of Such A Voice, I was truly honored to be asked to join this committee. It will be a wonderful benchmark for all professional talent to strive to meet. It’s a member-driven committee that has only the best intentions in mind for voice talents and clients!”
“It was time to create a certification organization for the members, run by the members and existing to serve only the members” notes founding President Dustin Ebaugh. WOVO is helping to unify standards for voice talent, producers and coaches world wide, standards that Such A Voice is proud to follow!
Dawnn Leary, a Such A Voice alumni and current student in our Personal Career Advisory Program with Such A Voice Coach Anne Ganguzza, was recently selected for a voice-over job through a referral from one of our other alumni. Dawnn graciously shared some information with us about how she got started in VOs. It’s very exciting for us to see the community of our students reaching out to help others succeed!
Here’s Dawnn’s story:
When she was a young girl, Dawnn didn’t appreciate her deep voice. When she played with her friends she was often assigned to play the "boy." However, the older she got, the more she started to appreciate her unique sound. When we asked Dawnn what her inspiration was for getting into voice-overs she replied: "There are two experiences that really stick out for me: My first taste of VO was when I was 9 years old my music teacher landed me an audition with Charles Shultz to sing the wedding song in the Snoopy Special "Snoopy Gets Married". I only got to sing the wedding song, but I had so much fun and thought "this is the coolest!" Afterwards, I created my own "recording studio" with my tape player. Later on as an adult, I ended up doing a lot of volunteer projects for people who liked my voice such as voice messages for nonprofits and PSAs and I always had a blast. Then one day I finally decided it was time to put some energy into becoming a professional VO artist."
After recording a commercial demo with us, Dawnn has been working with Anne Ganguzza for the past 6 months in our Personal Career Advisory Program. She says that joining that program was the "best thing I ever did!" Dawnn will soon be recording her narration demo with us and she is very excited to have that additional tool to add to her resume! "Over time as Anne and I have gotten to know each other we have developed a good mentor/mentee relationship," says Dawnn, "it has been extremely helpful to have someone who is more experienced and knowledgeable in this industry to learn about me and my voice (strengths and weaknesses) and provide me with feedback– what things I need to work on and improve. Self-direction is an important tool for VOs but when you are new you don’t know what your bad habits are and it’s helpful for a more trained ear to help guide you to you figure those out." Dawnn was excited to share with us that Anne has connected her to various resources related to VO equipment for her home studio as well as volunteer opportunities connecting her to other VO artists that are working in areas that she’s interested in (i.e., audio books), "which has been priceless!"
We asked Dawnn what she would consider to be her own VO strengths and why she’ll continue to succeed at this. She answered, "because I really enjoy it and I want to do it as much as possible. It’s been a long time since I had something in my life that really gives me joy and doing VO’s does that for me, so no matter what, I am going to keep moving forward."
Dawnn is currently a part-time VO artist with a full time job. She plans to continue to develop her voice-over business with a faithful clientele so some day she can become a full-time talent. Her recent VO credits include the "voice of God" for a nonprofit’s annual gala in DC. She also recorded the voice mail greeting for the Heritage Signature Chorale in DC and she booked a job to do a series of webinars through the Such A Voice alumni referral! She is also a volunteer for AIRS LA where she reads articles in Women’s Health magazine for a weekly podcast as well as volunteering for Learning Ally in DC.
When we asked Dawnn if she could list 5 things that stick out as things she learned from working with Anne, she replied:
- Never stop learning
- Keep practicing
- Keep auditioning
- Market, market, market yourself
- HAVE FUN!
"Three pieces of advice that I would give aspiring talent," says Dawnn, "are 1) patience – this is not a "get rich quick type of business" that I think it sometimes is portrayed to be. It takes time, but if you enjoy it, then that will motivate you to continue and keep pushing. It’s amazing how much I have learned and now looking back I am glad it took awhile before I booked my first few paid voiceover jobs. I wouldn’t have been ready if I was hired earlier. Don’t be in such a rush. 2) Sign-up for Such A Voice’s Personal Career Advisory Program and the Bi-Weekly Live Training Program! The Advisory Program has been so valuable and the sessions have helped to increase my knowledge. 3) Volunteer! Volunteering is great! It gives you experience, while helping you to practice and helps to build your resume all at the same time!"
Congratulations Dawnn on all of your success! We look forward to hearing more about your journey as you continue to reach your goals. We have no doubt that you will achieve everything that you set out for. Best of luck!
When you feel that your current demo spots aren’t doing you justice anymore, that’s when you should consider creating a completely new demo.
After your initial demo, your voice will continue to develop and you’ll become a more established voice-over talent. If your current demo still sounds like you, showcases you well and is booking you work – then there’s no rush to record a new one. When the time comes that you feel the need or the industry trends have changed so much that your demo has become dated, you can tweak the demo you currently have. Do this by adding a few things such as mock spots and real work (as long as the real jobs truly showcase YOU well and not just the product!) Keep the best parts from your original demo and make sure those spots are right up front. Re-do, shorten and move things around! Even if things are only slightly changed, you can send out "new demo" advertising to clients.
Don’t ever assume you’ve reached a point of perfection where you don’t need further practice and refinement!
All successful voice-over artists know that they must keep honing their skills. The more opportunities you have to work with different coaches, casting directors, voice talents and agents, the better you’ll be as a voice talent! Even when you get to the point that you can confidently say "I’ve made it!" There’s still always more to learn.
OK, I’ll try to keep this brief, because there was so much information, memories, and connections made this week!
Picking up where I left off last time, the main event Friday was the Garden Party, hosted by the fabulous Joe Cipriano. Out on the grass beside the pool complex, the day’s weather was perfect and a bona fide schmooze-fest! Joe brought along some great friends like Dave Fennoy, the voice of Hulu and Scott Rummel, the great trailer/promo voice actor, to name just a couple. Add in a few big name talent agents and it was electrifying! Although getting signed to a top agent’s roster is sometimes difficult, they were very open to discussion and mixed well with all of us awestruck VO talent!
The last day of the event, Saturday, was a whirlwind of presentations, packed with both information and entertainment, starting with the first keynote presentation by Marc Cashman. This was his third installment of “We’re Auditioning for a Muse” (Moose), a hilarious collection of actual preposterous direction and copy from the past year.
The late morning sessions were: Mutual Muscles with David H. Lawrence, Rob Sciglimpaglia’s Mysteries of the VO World Answered, and the one I attended, Bill Holmes The Voice Doctor Consults with the Specialists. This was a hilarious, entertaining and informative panel of heavyweights in the industry answering questions from the audience. Just hearing the banter, memories, impressions and story-telling from the inimitable pair of Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen was worth the E-ticket price right there!
The last session before the banquet in the evening was an afternoon with Goofy, the voice of Bill Farmer. Yes, I purposely reversed that description, because it works either way. Bill has been the voice of Goofy for the last 25 years and has so many wonderful stories to tell about how the industry gave willingly to him as he started out, and how he’s giving back as well. Goodness Gracious; who knew such great stand-up comedic talent hails from Kansas?!?
Our banquet started off, most appropriately, with Bill Rogers and Camille Adams, the voices of Disneyland and California Adventure parks respectively. This engaging husband and wife team were so hospitable and gracious to those us (read: me) who were starstruck, thinking these two had one of the greatest jobs in voiceover!
The evening ended in grand style with a very nice interview of Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, animators and producers of dozens of cartoon series over the decades, not least of which is the generation-binding Scooby-Doo series. Our hosts, James Alburger and Penny Abshire, did a wonderful job of interviewing the pair, from the beginnings of Hanna-Barbera to their own company, Ruby Spears Productions. We all treated them like the Rock Stars they are. Penny summed it up best by thanking them for providing so much voiceover work for talent over the last 40+ years!
If you ever find the means to attend the VoiceOver Interactive Creative Experience conference, you will find the Return On Investment to be almost limitless. Once again, the people who have achieved the highest level of success in this craft, continue to devote their time to the event and are all accessible! This industry reaches out, encourages, mentors, motivates, and communicates better than any other industry I’ve personally been involved with. Make your plans right now and mark your calendars for June 2014 for the next VOICE conference!
Thanks for listening and drop me a line if you have any questions, comments, or stories to share, I’m always available!
The edition of VOICE is fast becoming the best ever! The incredible vibe and energy pulsing through the sessions is only partly attributed to the fact we’re at the Disneyland Hotel. Participants have come from around the globe to attend this event, so this is truly an international conference.
The sessions are first of all categorized by color to identify what aspect of the business you would like to discover more about: Business/Legal issues, Marketing/Advertising, Voiceover Performance, Secrets/Tips/Truths, Script Analysis, Technical, Skills, and others.
Thus far, I’ve enjoyed a panel discussion, hosted by fellow Oregonian Dave DeAndrea, on Everything You Need To Know About Demos. This was very informative, since I also produce demos for Such A Voice. Great panel comprised of Stephanie Ciccarelli, Eric Sheppard, Marc Cashman, MaryLynn Wissner, and Chuck Duran. These people might represent 100 years of collective experience between them!
We have Audio Processing presentations, Acting and Vocal workshops, Branding & Marketing sessions, along the reprise of Social Media and the VO Industry, with Dave Courvoisier, Terry Daniel, and Trish Basanyi. Fabulous presentation that started out with a YouTube video set piece choreographed to look like Terry had overslept and was late for the presentation. Hilarious!
So many topics and so many great presenters. I’ve quickly discovered that, although I have a level of experience in a certain area of the industry, I can always learn more. The industry is changing constantly, the craft is ever-evolving, and the journey to achieve the highest potential in the craft (and business) of voiceovers is never-ending!
So much more to talk about, I will post more thoughts tomorrow!
I’ve always loved conferences. I’ve been involved in many over the years, both as an attendee and as part of the behind-the-scenes administration. Great opportunity for an industry to come together, share ideas, and advance their business.
This is true for the voiceover industry as well, but for additional reasons. The VOICE Conference (VoiceOver Interactive Creative Experience) gives voiceover talent the chance to get out of the home studio for a while and actually meet their industry colleagues in person, changing virtual / online friendships into real ones. Those involved in voiceovers tend to be talkative and social beings, so this is a real treat!
The event kicked off with a bang with the Red Carpet Reception last night, and the first day of sessions began with a keynote interactive presentation by Pat Fraley, one of the truly great teachers in our industry. What he gives back to the community of voiceover professionals is amazing!
Sadly, the inevitable occurred on the first day, with multiple presentations I wanted to attend scheduled simultaneously! A great problem to have. Diving into topics ranging from Maximizing Your Online Audition Opportunities on Voices.com to Everything You Need To Know About Demos; I already feel empowered, motivated, and enlightened.
Many attendees took advantage of a wonderful private viewing of the spectacular World of Color Water Show at Disney’s California Adventure Park. This was a free event for conference attendees and friends and family were also able to join in on the fun!
Well…that was an exhausting first day! I have already learned a ton of new things, reacquainted with old friends and have already met new friends. I can’t wait for what tomorrow’s events will bring and what memories will be generated.
Look for another recap of my experiences here at VOICE 2012 tomorrow!
– Bill Sleeper
Voice Actor, Coach, Producer
“Peculiar Podcast” started over dinner when she and her former radio partner started playing around with the idea of starting a podcast. Knowing that their schedules did not permit launching a new radio show, Lisa Foster and Pat Cashman decided that the idea of launching a podcast instead was ideal.
Lisa Foster tells us, “We really knew next to nothing about podcasting, but deciding to jump in anyway. Since the medium was so under-utilized and not something embraced by the common user, we knew that we weren’t jumping into a very crowded pool, so the chances of us hitting our heads on a rock were pretty slim. Even though we didn’t know really how to swim in these new broadcasting waters, we decided to risk it. “
Podcasts have only been around since the early/mid 2000’s, and while everyone knows what the radio and TV media is, over half of the population is not familiar with podcasting. Podcasting is strictly an internet medium, meaning, if you don’t have access to a computer, you cannot listen to podcasts…
Fans of their radio show were delighted to know that they were “on the air” again, but it has still been a struggle explaining to new listeners HOW to listen. They are still going through the infancy phase of the podcast – but since there are no rules, they are free to try out new ideas. “As podcasting starts to slowly climb onto the same playing field as radio and TV, we hope we can sustain a solid listenership. For now, monetizing these shows is still an experiment; we basically are doing it for ourselves and our fans at this point.”, says Lisa.
Most of the podcast is unscripted, although some of the supporting material is added in post production. The challenging part of putting the podcast together wasn’t content, but understanding the technology behind it. “Since podcasting is internet-based, it was an area that took a lot of research to determine how to get the product to the consumer. RSS feeds, iTunes approval and subscriptions, FTP uploads and the like had to all fit together before listeners could even HEAR the show…”
Lisa Foster’s advice to start a podcast is to focus on content first. Get a few shows done, script them if you need to, and then learn the technology that brings them to your listener. There’s more to launching a podcast than just talking into a microphone.
If you would like to listen to Peculiar Podcast, check out the site here: www.PeculiarPodcast.com.
VO work for The Voice of Authority (my “brand”) has continued on a steady and varied pace. I recently had a very interesting experience with a new client. The story begins with a lesson I learned in sales and marketing a long time ago (and one that SAV rightly promotes too): push every button, pull every lever to make yourself known to your market as you try to reach prospects. In this case it was my joining (for only $10!) – New England Actors. Although most of their gigs are for on-camera actors, they do accept voice actors also. The real value I saw, however, was gaining access to their list of audio/video production firms (cloaked until you joined). Cold calling this list of 14 firms has so far resulted in two jobs with 2 different firms, and likely repeat work from both.
The second job, for a production shop called Visual Concepts, is the subject of my experience. I cold called the principal in March and then emailed a link to my SAV personal page and sent demo MP3s. I followed up with him in April, but there was nothing doing. Last week though, I got a call from him saying that he had a client that wanted my voice for a product overview to be introduced in July at a big Las Vegas trade show, to 500 doctors. The product is a kidney dialysis machine made by UltraCare. I won this by ‘electronic audition’ – Visual Concepts presented my narration demo, along with demos of five others to UltraCare, and I was chosen.
I expected to record and FTP the file on my own, as I usually do with jobs like this. But – as both Visual Concepts and UltraCare are local to my office and home studio, my surprise came when the producer said he wanted to come to direct me live. Then, a day later, the end-client at UltraCare, who’d said he wanted to be live by phone patch, announced that he too wanted to be in-studio! While I’ve done studio auditions, this was the first one in my studio. A mad dash ensued to clean my office, remove our dogs and cats, and otherwise “up” the professional image.
I got the scripts an hour in advance, and learned there was ‘politics’ involved – three scripts representing the view of different “factions”. With both men sitting nearby, I read all three and also helped them with some re-writes. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but their direction was minimal as they liked the reads. We were done in a little over an hour, and the best part was that I wasn’t tasked with any edits! The video is in post-production now, so I don’t have access to it yet. Overall, while there were a few ‘curve balls’ thrown along the way, it was a positive learning experience. My sense is that Visual Concepts will be sending me more work.
I’m excited to be attending my first VoiceOver International Creative Experience convention (VOICE) at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The convention officially kicks off with a Red Carpet Reception, Tuesday, June 12th starting at 6pm. VOICE "is an industry-wide convention for anyone involved in voiceover for radio and TV commercials, animation, audio book narration, ADR, film, radio imaging, TV promos, audio production, and the recording arts in general. VOICE brings together performers, coaches, agents, studio engineers, producers, directors, equipment manufacturers and other vendors for the purpose of sharing ideas, enhancing skills and knowledge, and raising awareness of standards and practices of the voiceover industry (voiceacting.com)."
I have been part of the Facebook group VOICE 2012 since December of last year and can tell you that there are a lot of people, both new and past attendees, that are truly excited about coming to this convention so I know I am not alone in having high expectations. I am almost done packing (as a girl can never have too many outfits and shoes) and as I ponder what I’m looking forward to the most, these are the things that stick out:
1) Meeting people who are in the trenches both new and experienced
2) Networking with everyone especially those who hire VO talent
3) Learning! I love to learn and this week proves to have a schedule that will satisfy any mind. The classes I have set out to attend are:
- Maximizing Your Online Casting Opportunities
- Branding and Marketing for the VO Professional Voice Actor
- How to Succeed in Corporate Narration
- Audio Processing
- Business: Simplify how you run it
- Goals and Action Plan: Putting it all together and getting it done
4) Testing out different mics especially the high ends ones so that I know which one is best suited for my voice. I will also get to see what every VO talent does while they are on the road.
Lastly, I am part of the Ambassador team which means that I will be volunteering to help run certain aspects of VOICE. I did this not so much so that I could save a couple hundred dollars on my admission but to be part of a "team" instantly when I arrive.
It is my hope that this upcoming week will prove to be as amazing as I have envisioned it to be for my voice-over career. I also look forward to sharing my insights with you as you take this journey through the eyes of a new attendee of VOICE 2012.
Our Voice-Over Career Consultant Faith Coons recently landed her first on-camera gig for a corporate video for Human eSources! This opportunity led to securing voice-over work for the company since she was able to interact with the owner of the company as well as his creative director who hires all of the talent. Both the owner and creative director were impressed by Faith’s professionalism and "do whatever I can to help" winning attitude. This was a great opportunity to learn what happens behind the scenes of all the videos you end up narrating for, so she was able to see the whole process through. In addition to this, Faith can be currently heard in a radio campaign for OmniTrans in the San Bernardino Valley area. OmniTrans is a repeat satisfied client of Faith’s work and she is always happy to lend her voice to their radio campaigns. Here is the latest feedback she received from them:
"Once again, it was a key step to get your tracks in-hand and at the ready. I know what you deliver will be pro-grade, high quality. Thank you very much for the quick reply and turnaround with the reads. I really appreciate your time, talent, and interest. Onward to the next project."
Congratulations Faith, we look forward to seeing more of your on-camera work as you continue to expand your acting services!
From June 18th through June 22nd Such A Voice will be holding a FREE educational week of events – all from the comfort of your own home!
You’ll have the chance to listen in on a live coaching session and learn all about voice-over technique, as well as a career advisory session which will focus on marketing and career development. In addition, there will be multiple opportunities to talk with our coaches and ask all of your VO questions! There will also be articles, videos and previous Bi-Weekly Live Training sessions released.
This is an event that you don’t want to miss! If you’re not already on our mailing list, go to www.SuchAVoice.com and enter your name and email address and you’ll receive all of the FREE information. PLUS there will be a special bonus announced at the end of the week for those who have attended any of the events. We hope to see you there!