Monthly Archives: August 2012
SAV Coach Ben Marney has an Audition Ranking of 362.50 on Voice123.com… higher than 100% of all Premium Subscribers!
Now that doesn’t mean that Ben booked 100% of the jobs he auditioned for, but we are very impressed with the high approval ratings he received back from prospective clients! Voice123.com is one of many pay2play sites, but is the only one that offers this particular ranking tool.
On most sites, the only feedback you receive is whether or not your audition has been reviewed by the client. However, Voice123.com‘s ranking tool breaks it down into several categories: Finalist, Considering, Maybe, Not Likely, Will Not Be Considered and Never Again! They can also show where you rank among the competition within each category, for example 1st out of 30 or 5th out of 30, etc. Voice123 then calculates your ranking percentage based on this information. You can also see on the same page how many auditions you have done compared with other VO talents in your category.
There are a couple of catches that prevent this from being entirely accurate… or something to focus all of your attention on! Only one out of three or four clients actually do the rankings, most do not give feedback at all. It is still a very helpful tool for talent to use though, because from the ones that do provide feedback, you can see how well you are doing with your auditions! The other point to consider is that sometimes you may still not end up with the job, even with a perfect ranking. As Ben says of his experience, “More times than I can count, I’ve been ranked ‘Finalist 1st out of 20’ and still did not get the job… but it’s a great and instant feedback on how you are competing out there. What’s important to understand is… Many times I have not landed the job I was auditioning for, even if I was ranked very high; however later, (weeks, even months later,) I’ll get a call and they hire me for another job… and then they turn into regular long term client!”
Simply put, the more that people hear your voice and like it, the greater your chance is of building a paying client list!
Such A Voice alumni Rob Sciglimpaglia is a nationally featured talent, and now a published author as well!
Chances are you’ve heard the name Rob Sciglimpaglia already throughout the Voice-Over Industry. What you may not know though, is that he originally got his start right here at SAV!
Since completing his training, Rob has been featured in national spots both on camera and off, including a Super Bowl commercial, a national radio campaign for Waste Management, and he is the voice of Tesoro Fuel, as well as the Apple NBC “Your City” apps. In fact the very first gig he landed after producing his first demos with SAV was a national gig on the PBS American Experience television series. Campbell Scott narrated the particular episode called “Hijacked” and he played a couple of voices on that episode, and the rest unfolded from there!
Rob got his start in voice-overs after training with SAV, but prior to that… he didn’t even know what voice-overs were! So how does someone go from a practicing attorney in a law office to voice-over success? “I had done a couple of call-in radio shows on Legal issues, and was a DJ in college, so I was always intrigued by radio. I saw a listing for an adult education class on voice overs in my local community college brochure. I did not know what voice overs were, but I thought the class looked fun. So I signed up, and have never looked back since!” says Rob.
Of course we all know that personal ability and drive plays a large role in one’s success. For Rob, knowing his strengths and weaknesses have been key, “I have been called the ‘king of the understated’ by a few casting agents. Meaning, my soft spoken nature of speaking is my bread and butter. I know this is my strength, but I also know that the opposite are my weaknesses, so I continue to work on my weaknesses while exploiting my strengths. I know I will continue to succeed because of the momentum I have been able to build up. I don’t think I could stop that tide even if I tried to.”
Rob also insists that success in the voice-over industry comes from much more than just talent. “Such a Voice gave me a solid foundation about the fundamentals of voice over performance and the business, so I was able to build from there and really learn the nuances involved with my performance and the industry. LEARN THE BUSINESS PART!!” He advises, “It is called SHOW BUSINESS for a reason. That includes learning the legal aspects, the players in the business, their functions and where they fit in. Once you learn this, marketing, and getting gigs, will be much easier, more fun, and much less of a daunting task.” He recently wrote a book called Voice Over LEGAL to help in understanding some of these business issues facing voice artists. We highly recommend it as a great tool for all those starting their own voice-over business, as we know first hand that Rob is a wealth of knowledge on this subject!
One last piece of advice from Rob… “Don’t ever worry about what you cannot control. Do auditions like you think they should be done, and don’t try to figure out what ‘they are looking for’ because, believe me, most of the time they don’t know. They only ‘like it when they hear it.’ Do the audition and move onto the next one, and don’t think about it again until you get called in for the job. Persevere, persevere, persevere!”
Join us in this short video by Such A Voice’s Director of Operations, Heather Costa as she discusses developing character voices. This is a great introduction to finding the character voices within yourself. Join us in learning how to produce these voices, find out great recommendations for practicing and building up your characters!
Click here to watch!
We are pleased to announce that Such A Voice is now offering audiobook narration and animation demos! We are honored to have coach Michael Yurchak, a highly successful animation talent and audiobook narrator, join the SAV team!
We invite you to join us for a complimentary teleconference with Michael, Wednesday August 29th, from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EST to find out all about these exciting genres! Click here to join us!
In this live session you will:
- Observe as Michael coaches Jillian Nielsen on audiobook narration technique and Nick Kaiser on animation technique.
- Learn about these specialty niches and how Michael has found so much success with them!
- Ask questions and get answers from Michael on any topic related to animation and audiobook narration work.
Could animation or audiobook narration be a potential VO niche for you? Come and see what it’s all about! After all… it’s FREE!
You must RSVP for this complimentary event in order to receive the information to attend. Please click here to join us!
Michael Yurchak is an award winning actor, voice over artist and educator from Los Angeles, CA. As a voice artist, Michael currently holds recurring roles on the hit animated shows Avatar: The Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon) and Naruto (Disney Channel). He has also voiced roles on Pokemon (Cartoon Network), Stitch! (Disney), Spang, Ho! (Cartoon Network), and many others. He has voiced dozens of video games (including the Saints Row Series, The Darkness, Spyro, Spec Ops, Ratchet & Clank, Sonic the Hedgehog, Dino-Crisis, Grand Theft Auto, etc.); commercials (including Coors Light, Coke, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Bud Light, Ford, Levi’s, Toys R’ Us, Volkswagen, etc.); and promos (including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, PBS, ESPN 2, Spike, A&E, and NY1, for which he was nominated for a New York News Emmy Award and given the Silver Promax Award for best news promo two years in a row). Michael has also recorded over fifty audiobooks, including The Iron Duke & Where Angels Dare (Audiofile Magazine’s Golden Earphone Award Winners) and Orders is Orders (Audiofile’s top 10 audiobooks of 2010).
On-camera, Michael appears in multiple films (including You Are Here, The Babymakers, I Heart Shakey, Beerfest, Watching the Detectives, The Lather Effect, Club Dread, The Slammin’ Salmon, etc.); and television programs (including Modern Family, Mad Men, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Farrelly Brothers’ Unhitched, etc.) Michael also has extensive stage credits in both LA and New York, (including Death of A Salesman, The Country Girl, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, etc.).
Michael has taught voice over and acting seminars and workshops around the country to all levels of students. Having received a BA in theater from Colgate University and an MA in Educational Theater from NYU, Michael serves as a Lead Teaching Artist and Project Faculty Member for The Center Theater Group and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in LA and worked with the Roundabout Theater Company and The New Victory Theater in New York.
Bill was awarded the voice-overs for a new Learn2Learn video series with 20 videos, which is being produced by his current client, AFX Animation. In this past month he also voiced another 4 modules in a STAM Interactive eLearning course for the drilling industry. We are excited to see Bill keeping so busy outside of coaching his many students! Congratulations on all the new bookings Bill, we are proud to have you representing SAV!
Train with accent reduction specialist Talia Gonzalez to reduce your accent or regionalism. Developing a neutral accent can open up many more possibilities for VO artists with a strong accent or regionalism. As a Boston native, Talia has neutralized her own accent and now works as a highly successful VO artist based out of New York. She has also trained students from all corners of the US and beyond to neutralize their accents. Click here for more information.
By: Such A Voice’s Post Production Coordinator, Brendan Coyle
The biggest challenge to getting quality audio from a voice-over recording is getting a good “signal to noise ratio“. The signal is your voice – the noise is any other sound that is not your voice. We want to be sure we get more voice and less noise. Noise can be anything that is not your voice – traffic outside, a lawn mower, the hum of a refrigerator, the hum of your computer, the sound of your voice echoing back in the room. Here are some ideas on how to eliminate these sounds:
Where should I set up my studio?
The simple answer is the quietest place in your home. Don’t set up in a room with high ceilings or all wood floors. Rooms with carpeting, chairs, couches and other padded furniture can help absorb noise. Upstairs is usually better than down stairs, as you can avoid the sound of footsteps from traffic on the floor above. There are exceptions to the rule of course. If you have a quiet basement with no one walking above you, this may be a better option.
Think about these:
A room between two other rooms is often better than a room with two exterior walls. This may help keep outside noise… outside!
A rear room may be quieter than a room that faces the street which may have traffic noise. Experiement with your acoustics.
Before you start setting up your microphone, stand, cables, computer, etc., you’ll need to do some listening. Grab a chair and sit near the space you want to set up your studio. Close your eyes and listen quietly and carefully – listen for clocks, central air, a celling fan, a squeaky chair, computer noise – anything that can be picked up by your mic. Move the chair to a different spot (or different room) if you need to, and listen again.
Once you identify where any noises are coming from, do what you can to eliminate the sounds – move the ticking clock to another room; put your computer under your desk to lessen the fan noise; pull the desk away from the wall if it taps or rubs when you touch the surface; unplug any devices that you can which come on automatically or have any ambient sound.
If you’re on a budget, thick blankets can be good for dampening sound coming through a wall or from under a door. You can also pick up inexpensive egg crate foam from stores like Walmart and Home Depot. You might even consider a cheap folding room divider that you can pad or cover with foam or blankets. Depending on the size (and how many) you have, you can create a fairly well insulated “recording booth” for very little money – plus, it’s easy to move. Some VO artists even build pillow-forts on their desk around their mics!
Here are some photos from our coaches’ home studios.
Notice how not only is the mic isolated from reflective sound coming from the corner with the Auralex Mudguard, but the window is treated with heavy curtains, which may not only stop the reflection off the glass, but absorb or diffuse the sound waves away from the mic.
Keeping your computer as far away from your mic is very important, that’s why it’s a good idea to have a long XLR mic cable. Large diaphragm condenser mics are very sensitive, sometimes more sensitive than your ear, so if you can hear your computer or anything for that matter, your mic will too!
Be careful when setting up your mic with your back facing a corner of a room like the image below. Try this exercise, stand right in a corner of a room with your back facing the corner and begin to talk. Now, slowly walk out into the center of the room while still talking. You may notice that the sound of your voice has more “heavy” low frequencies, or “bassy” qualities when you stand in the corner of the room. As you walk to the more “open” center of the room, those low frequencies become less, making your voice a bit more clear. Low frequencies can really “build up” and reinforce themselves in corners, and this can cause your sound source (your voice) to become really “muddy”.
Here’s a little portable studio created by a v-o artist on the go. It’s made with packing blankets and PVC pipe. You can buy porta booths like this such as the Harlan Hogan’s Porta booth online for around $350, but if you are handy, you can also make one yourself. Be aware that these small booths are not necessarily a “cure all” for your acoustic treatment. You will still need to consider the room in which you are recording. If you were to use this booth in a room with a lot of sonic reflective surfaces, like a tiled bathroom, this booth would do little to protect against all that reflective sound coming back to the mic, however if you set this booth up in the center of a quiet room, it will be much more effective. Also be careful how far back into the porta both you set your mic. Certain frequencies can build up in these types of boxes as well. It’s a microcosm of what I mentioned above about frequencies building up in corners. With these prota booths, you can get a “box-y” sound, which depending on the timbre and pitch of your voice, can sound “muddy” and not as clear.
Also, if you have to make a recording and you find yourself in a hotel room with no porta booth, you can also try and make one out of pillows. That’s right, revisit your childhood and create a pillow fort around your mic.
Remember to always use a good pop filter to help eliminate popping “B” and “P” sounds. When you pop your Bs and Ps, it can really distort your recording and it’s not always the sound itself that does it, it can be the gust of air that leaves your lips and hits the diaphragm of your mic, which can distort the sound, or at least create a high volume “pop” that will make the listener jump. A good pop filter can diffuse this gust of air so it doesn’t hit the mic and as an added bonus, it can keep spit off your very expensive microphone as well!
Also, be careful about the placement of your music stand which holds your copy. A music stand can be a great source of unwanted reflective sound coming back into your mic, creating a tin like echo effect. If you want to keep your stand in close proximity of your mic, that’s fine, but you may want to consider treating it by putting a piece of square carpet or a towel or blanket over it. You should still have room to put your copy over that.
Check out this YouTube video on how this v-o artist sets up her own home studio: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=VIDlu9exIek
If someone doesn’t succeed in the voice-over industry, chances are the person neglected one of the three legs of the stool that a successful voiceover artist relies on: voice-over training, marketing and technical ability. If one of those three legs is shorter — or non-existent, the stool will topple, taking the would-be voice talent with it.
There are, however, common habits and attitudes that professional voice talents share. See if this sounds like you — or if it sounds like your voice-over career could benefit from doing these:
1. Never stop learning. Successful voice-over artists are constantly working on their technique through auditioning for voice over jobs, spending hours practicing, reading a book or blog, or taking a lesson. Embrace new technology, and stay on top of marketing trends.
2. Never settle for mediocrity. A job is not done until it’s perfect, even if it is late and you want to get to bed! Professionals aim for perfection in each recording, editing session, and communication they have with clients. If the client isn’t thrilled with your work, then you shouldn’t be either.
3. Always be fair with pricing. Try to be accommodating with a client’s budget without hurting your reputation (or the industry!) but without constantly turning down jobs either. If a client has a very small budget, see what else you can work out – maybe they’d be willing to sign a contract for future work by you agreeing to do the first job at a lower price? Or perhaps you can do an exchange of services… try to be creative!
4. Maintain sincere relationships with clients. The problem with a sales pitch is, well … it sounds sales pitchy. Regardless of whether you’re the client or the employer, everyone wants to do business with someone genuine. Be your professional self from the get-go, and send quarterly voice-over newsletters or hand-written notes to stay in touch.
5. Love what you do! Love it, and have fun with it! If you don’t love it from the get-go, you might want to re-think your career path. Never lose your faith in your ability to achieve, as long as you are putting in the hard work.
While much of the auditioning in the voice-over industry is done online, you will want to be fully prepared for those in person auditions as well! Here are some tips to help make sure you are representing yourself as a true VO professional:
Do’s and Don’ts:
* Do… Make sure that you get to the audition in time to read over the copy and feel confident that you like the way you’re reading it. Arriving at least 20 minutes or so early is advised. They may be behind, but you need to make sure you are always on time!
* Don’t… Sign in if you’re early and want to study it – go to another room or outside to practice.
* Do… Keep your appointments unless you absolutely can’t.
* Don’t… Ever be a no-show. Always call!
* Do… Learn how to be spontaneous and prepare quickly! Unlike other acting jobs, copy is usually not available beforehand so you can’t get it to study. The copy is usually only available at the audition session.
* Don’t… Get discouraged if your partner in a group read doesn’t want to practice beforehand. If the audition is a group read, you may have been paired up beforehand, but you may not know who you are reading with until the casting director comes out and tells you. At that time, you can read with your partners if you all choose to, but some people prefer not to practice together beforehand.
* Do… Wear comfortable clothes- you will want a little room to breathe and move!
* Don’t… Wear noisy jewelry or clothing.
* Do… Stay still at the end of the take. No matter how happy or sad you are- be silent!!
* Don’t… NEVER, EVER, EVER touch the microphone or microphone stand!! If it needs to be adjusted, ask the engineer. You can touch the music stand, but nothing to do with the microphone – this goes for auditions and sessions!!!
* Do… Have a few options and attitudes prepared! When you go in to read, you usually get to read more than once.
* Don’t… Ask questions about the read during your level check. Give the level check read when the casting director asks for it, and read until they tell you to stop- even if it means repeating the copy. Right when you walk into the session is the time to ask any questions you may have about the copy, if there’s anything you don’t understand or you’re not sure how to interpret.
* Do… Make yourself available! You often get calls the day before or that morning for auditions at the times they have open.
* Don’t… Think you can’t read for union commercials just because you aren’t in the union. It is not required for an audition!
* Do… Take notes while listening to a scratch track. If it’s a TV audition, they may show you the visual (on the left of the page) and the audio (on the right on the page.) If there is a scratch track available, the casting director may play that for you first. You will watch it and then do your read, so write down notes as you’re watching on where to breathe, accents, speed, etc.
* Don’t… Ask if you can call later to find out how you did.
* Do… Ask the engineer “are you going to slate, or do you want me to?” If you are slating at an audition all they need is “Jane Doe, take one.” (Insert your name in place of Jane Doe!) Some clients may only want your name, if so they’ll most likely indicate that to you beforehand.
* Don’t… Touch the copy. When recording, put the copy on the stand in the beginning. If you don’t have a stand, firmly grasp the copy a little below the middle of the page and hold it at eye level. If you’re holding 2 pages, put one in each hand and move quietly and seamlessly.
* Do… The same thing you did the first time if you are asked to come in for a callback as well as any additional styles they’re looking for- they obviously heard something great initially, but they want to see you take it a step further this time. Treat it exactly the same as you did during the first audition!
* Don’t… Take the copy home with you. When you’re done reading, leave the copy on the stand in the audition booth or bring it out of the room and place it back on the pile of scripts in the waiting area. Thank the casting director and walk out of the room.
Lastly, after the audition- just forget about it! Don’t make calls all around or obsess. Write down the name of the ad agency and send them a current demo if you’d like, but let it go and move on to the next audition experience!
Mouth noise can be frustrating for a voice talent when you get behind the mic. Even the slightest sound that you don’t necessarily hear in your every day speech, can be picked up by the microphone. The more you can be aware of it for yourselves, the easier it’ll be in eliminating it during a voiceover recording.
To help eliminate mouth noise while you’re recording, here are a few tips you can try:
1 – Keep yourself hydrated – drinking water when you already have a dry mouth won’t necessarily remove the mouth noise, it might actually make it worse. The more hydrated you are before your recording, the less mouth noise you will probably have.
2 – Brushing your teeth and your tongue and using mouthwash right before you record. However, if your mouth is overly dry to begin with, sometimes using mouthwash can make it worse.
3 – Eating green apples, drinking cranberry or grape juice and/or using a hard candy to moisten your mouth (and then of course remove it when recording), a slosh of olive oil or eating a few greasy potato chips right before you record are also great tips!
5 – Be well rested! Your body is your instrument, the better you feel, the better you’ll sound.
A Watermark in the audio world refers to a second audio file that is laid over the voiceover to protect it from being used by a client who wants to use your talent without paying for it. An example of a watermark for a commercial you audition for might just be a ding every few seconds that doesn’t obscure the quality of your sound but would prevent the client from using the whole script without you knowing it. Another common method would be to insert, “This is just a demo by Jane Smith,” after 15-20 seconds of a full script audition. Or you could change the product name or phone number/address in a script so that they can hear you read the spot but obviously can’t use it without the right information.
Although watermarking can protect your voiceover jobs, it’s not advisable to watermark every audition. Especially if you are working with a well-known client or someone you have worked with in the past. In that case watermarking an audition could be interpreted by the client that you are distrustful of them. They might pass up your great audition that was watermarked because, “What, did he think I was really going to use his voice over without paying for it?”
The risk of having a dishonest client rip off your work often doesn’t out-weigh the risk of offending a potential client. Good working relationships are vital to your success in this industry.
So, when is it a good idea to watermark your work?
It depends. As a professional voice-over artist, it is up to you to use your own good judgment. Instances that you might consider watermarking your audition could include:
- Submitting an audition on a “pay 2 play” site
- A new client you haven’t heard of who would like the entire script read for the audition; or,
- An “unknown” client or project that was posted through a questionable venue. (We love Craigslist, but anyone can post jobs there with any goal in mind.)
One good thing about the highly globalized world we live in today is that it’s easy to network with voice-over artists all over the world. If a client treats you badly, you have the option to let the world know through social media. If someone is trying to scam you, it’s also easy to get that information out there to protect future victims.
Such A Voice Technique Coach/Instructor Bill Brooks has been a Voice Artist for over 30 years and now specializes in International Media and Entertainment. Recently Bill was hired as the English Speaking Voice Talent on an International TV Network based in South Korea. However, it was his most recent trip to El Salvador in Central America that caught our attention.
He has just returned stateside, but now boasts having produced and played a leading role in a stage musical at the Presidential Theater in San Salvador. There were 9 performances with a total of 20,000 attending… but there was something just a little more special than usual about these 20,000 attendees.
The stage musical was a part of the 4-14 Global Initiative, a faith-based initiative dedicated to the educational, nutritional and spiritual enhancement of children between the ages of 4 and 14. In addition to seeing the musical, each of the 20,000 children received a medical examination by a team of U.S. and Korean doctors as well as educational supplies and food.
Earlier this year, Brooks spent one month in the African Countries of Ethiopia and Tanzania where this program was presented to over 100,000 children! Making its way around the world, the next project of this kind is scheduled for September to the children of Harlem. The musical will be presented in the famed Apollo Theater in New York City.
In addition to being a Voice Artist, Bill is a music-recording artist who has just released his 30th CD. He is also an actor, public speaker, producer, and live MC. Bill resides in Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX when he isn’t traveling the world, helping to make it a better place. Thank you Bill for all of the hard work you do, we are very proud to have you as a part of our team!
This program is devoted solely to guiding you through the process of selecting online auditions, submitting your recording or demo, and/or selecting appropriate businesses to contact and market yourself to, along with guidance through the actual process. It also includes audition check ups as you take the reigns on your own. Working hand in hand through this process with a Voice-Over Professional will help to alleviate that learning curve of finding paying work. Click here for more information!
Such A Voice is proud to announce “VO Meet and Greet: Learn from the Pros & Agents!” An event that you can attend from the comfort of your home, that includes SIX seminars with nationally renowned voice talents & top-notch agents and THREE complimentary agency auditions! Purchase your pass today to ensure your spot in the event! For more information go to: http://www.suchavoice.com/JumpStart2012