Category Archives: Technique Tips

Live Session THIS SUNDAY on Adding Music and Sound Effects to Your VOs

Join us THIS SUNDAY, January 27th 8:00 – 9:00 PM Eastern Time with Voice-Over Talent/Coach Ben Marney as he discusses Adding Music and Sound Effects to Your VOs music

Ben will cover:

1. Is it something you will need to master to be a successful VO talent?

2. How to add music (in Audacity) *and the general process using other programs

3. Where to find the music and sound effects

4. The costs involved

5. The royalties and fees (ASCAP & BMI)

6. Questions?

 

If you are not currently enrolled in our Bi-Weekly Live Training Series but would like to join us for this event for $25, please click here to sign up! 

*Once you have signed up, please check your email just prior to Sunday’s session to receive the link to attend.

 
To Your Success!

~The Such A Voice Team

Kelly Libatique started booking voice-over jobs while still in his training with Such A Voice Coach Talia Gonzalez

Kelly Libatique started booking voice-over jobs while still in his training with Such A Voice Coach Talia Gonzalez, before he even had his professional demos produced!

We sat down with Kelly Libatique to hear more about his amazing success having just started out in this industry. Congratulations to Kelly on all of his achievements and we thank him for sharing such encouraging words with others looking for that hope & guidance as they venture into this exciting field.klvoicelogo

 

Q: What inspired you to want to get into voice-overs?

 
A: As a theatre actor since college, I’ve been inspired for years to explore other areas of performing. Also, in the last ten years or so, I’ve been a technical trainer and curriculum developer in the high-tech and telcom industries and have used my voice extensively in recorded training material. After being told numerous times over the years that I’d be good at something like this, I’m so glad I made the decision to give it a whirl.

Q: Who was your instructor at Such A Voice & what about that person made them a good fit for you?

A: My coach was Talia Gonzalez, and I can’t say enough about her. In just a couple of sessions, we had found out pretty clearly what I was good at and what needed serious work. And the stuff that needs work STILL needs work. But her coaching and advice from real-world experience was invaluable. She challenged and pushed me out of my comfort zones and made me see what else I could do. She genuinely cared about me getting things right. It’s an investment in time and resources to get one-on-on coaching, but if you’re a newbie, you must do this.

Q: What do you see as your own VO strengths and why you will continue to succeed at this?

A: My strengths are having a strong, authoritative delivery, and if you need specialized or otherwise technical jargon–no problem. I also pull from my stage and camera experience a lot. But one of the things Talia had to knock out of me was my “default” trainer voice. No matter what copy I read, I tended to return to my flat, heavy-handed, “here’s the info” kind of voice. On the plus side though, I have found that many audiobook authors like this voice for the narrative portion. After that, I pull from my acting training and experience to create characters.

Q: What did you take away from Such A Voice that will be the most beneficial to your career?

A: I took away many things from SAV, but I can name two biggies. The first is the need to stay “one-on-one” when recording spots. The Script Analysis, as it’s called, is fundamental, and is especially helpful once you become good at doing it quickly. Without that, I’d still be doing my instructor/radio announcer voice; I speak to the masses, as it were, by instinct, but in VO, you have to be talking to one person. The second is the overall picture about marketing, even to the smaller markets, that many don’t think of. I’ve read a few books from other sources on the subject since, but you need to have an understanding of the business side of VO. Most of us artists just want to perform, that’s where the fun is. But it doesn’t matter how good the performance is if you’re not out there getting heard by the right people. I can almost never attend the SAV bi-weekly live training sessions, but I listen to the recordings and the real-world tips you get there are chock full of great info.

Q: What VO jobs have you booked and/or opportunities that you’ve had since joining our program?

A: I just completed my fourth audiobook and am already enjoying monthly revenue from that. I hopped on to ACX.com and started auditioning and found work right away. My current book is the first of a trilogy series that the author already wants me to do.

Although it’s a ripe market, audiobooks are not for everyone. They are long hours of recording and editing, and the pay is not as good per hour of effort. But the practice is priceless. If you’re not good with mic techniques or the bells and whistles of your recording software, audiobooks will take care of that. ACX has a strict audition process and even before the author or publisher gives the final Go, you need to demonstrate the ability to produce fully edited and ready-to-publish recordings.

I also did a promo for a Russian startup called Instengine. I booked that when Voices.com offered me 30 days for ten bucks. Why not, right? So I signed up and got the offer after auditioning for about 25 jobs. I was told later that was pretty darn good luck. The promo is featured on their homepage at Instengine.com and also on YouTube

After my 30 days on Voices.com, I dropped out again until my official demos were done by SAV. My demos have now just been completed and are featured on the website I threw together — KLVoice.com. So I may hop back on to Voices or Voice123, we’ll see.

Here are a couple audiobooks of mine that are out there now: bobbymeets
In Dog We Trust by Neil S. Plakcy
Bobby Meets His Angel by D. Charles  

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring voice talent?

A: There’s an old saying: A year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today. I guess that sums it up for me and VO. I wish I’d gotten serious about it sooner and received the proper training and knowledge to get a real start.

Going back several years, if you were to make a list of everything you’re NOT supposed to do, I did them all. I bought equipment I didn’t know how to properly use. I tried, lamely, to make my own demos. I used copyrighted music for background on demos and auditions. And it got me absolutely nowhere. (Good thing too or I may have been sued!) Discouraged, I put it all aside for a couple of years and tried to forget about it. But I couldn’t. I knew I wanted to try. Then one day I ran into a class called “You’re On The Air” taught by SAV’s Lisa Foster and my fire was rekindled. I saw, laid out, practical steps I could take to get real training from pros. After doing some research on different companies out there, I found that SAV has a good reputation and many of their students are out there doing real VO work. So I signed up and here I am. And hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to say, “and the rest is history.”  :)

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

A: You may try VO and find it’s not for you, but that’s just life. If it’s a desire in your heart, you need to just dive in and give it a go. You may be surprised. My situation is this: I have a day job and two boys, ages eight and twelve at home. Under these sometimes crazy, chaotic, and noisy circumstances, I’ve started a paying part-time VO career. You can do this if you have the determination and the right guidance. What’s the Nike slogan?: Just do it. (But do it the right way . . .)

Audiobook Narration

Have you been dreaming of finding a place for yourself within the niche of Audiobook Narration? Perhaps you have been…. without even realizing it! One of the most common things we hear from people aspiring to be a voice-over artist is “I can do all kinds of voices!” Well, to many people’s surprise, in most voice-over work this actually isn’t a requirement. These days with a “conversational tone” dominating the industry, imitating voices is “out” and sounding like yourself is “in” for most commercials and narrations. However, if beyond your own “everyday voice” you find that there are all kinds of character voices inside of you just dying to be let out…. audiobooks may be just what you are looking for!

Audiobooks have quickly become very popular with frequent book readers, and as a result have become a great source of bread and butter for voice-over talent who excel in lengthy narrations. Audiobooks are a wonderful opportunity to showcase many skills including narration, stamina, character voices, overall acting ability and more. There are many genres within the audiobook niche, so if you are passionate about reading, chances are you will find several that appeal to you. Fiction, Non-Fiction, How To’s, Best Sellers, Classic Literature and Children’s Books just start the list. As you can imagine, each one comes with its own set of special skills required. Can you motivate? Instruct? Bring life to a children’s book? What types of books do you love to read? Pondering these questions will help you to choose which specific areas you should target.

The Audiobook niche works much like other areas of voice-over, and the best way to showcase your aptitude for work within it is to have an audiobook narration demo. Audiobook demos are often much longer than a standard commercial or narration demo, to showcase that needed skill: stamina! Once you have your fully produced demo, you will find your search for audiobook work to be much easier, since this has become a standard expectation when considering talent. Start by searching and contacting audiobook companies, and create an account for yourself on ACX.com (much like voices.com or voice123.com, you can easily audition specifically for audiobook work, but without a fee!)

Once you have an audition opportunity, you should do research on the book first. Break down the script and plan any character voices that may be necessary. Have a dictionary handy for any challenging words or terms you may come across, but most importantly let your love for reading dictate what you do! Authors often have a hand in choosing who will narrate their book, and if you are passionate about what you are reading, it is sure to be recognized right away. Lastly, as you may have heard a million times before… “practice, practice, practice.” So keep on reading, and read out loud. If you have a passion for literature and voice-overs, this may be the perfect niche for you. Practicing is always a lot more fun when it’s something you enjoy doing!

Developing Character Voices

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!

Another New Addition to the Such A Voice Programs is our Accent Reduction Training Program!

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.

Your Acoustic Space

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.

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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!

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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

5 Habits of Highly Successful VO Actors

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.

Face to Face Auditions- Do’s and Don’ts!

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!

Eliminating Mouth Noise

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!

4 – Using “Entertainer’s Secret” or “Mouth Kote” to moisten your mouth while recording, are tools that many professionals use every day!

5 – Be well rested! Your body is your instrument, the better you feel, the better you’ll sound.

Watermarking Your VO Auditions

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.

We are proud to introduce our latest offering: our Accelerate to Booking VO Jobs program!

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!

Online Voice-Over Auditions- Where do I Begin?

As a Voice-Over Artist, mastering the art of auditioning should be high on your to-do list because you will undoubtedly audition plenty! Plan to audition a great deal more than you actually record jobs, as that is the nature of the industry. Thanks to today’s technology and the internet, voice-over auditions have never been easier to find. One of the best means to audition online are through various “pay to play” audition sites, such as voices.com and voice123.com. While there is a fee to be able to audition through these sites, you can practice this skill by auditioning 24/7 if you wish!

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin this chapter in your career:

– Select the auditions that are best suited for your voice and niche. Focus on those for the best use of your time.

– If the client provides a script, record exactly what they ask for. If the product name is xxx out, replace it with another name so the read still flows correctly.

-If a script is not provided, research the client and use a published material related to their product as your script. Paul Strikwerda recently published an article on VoiceOverXtra discussing this very topic!

– Don’t under-price yourself. Quality is worth the money so if you accept a very low price for the work, serious undercutting can hurt your reputation, not to mention the industry in general. If you’re just looking to build your resume, you’re better off offering services for free to family and friends or non-profits rather than accepting a ridiculously low paying job. Donate your time, not your money!

Another method for auditioning virtually is emailing an mp3 of an audition to a client. This may occur if a potential client contacts you directly, perhaps in response to your initial reach out to them, or finding you online or having received a referral of your work. This may also occur if a regular client wants to hear you read something in a slightly different style than what you’ve done for them in the past. In this scenario you will also want to be sure to record the script they provide. If a script is not provided, ask what they’d like to hear and record that. Don’t just assume that your demo is enough! In most cases it is, but in some cases something custom created is what it will take to seal the deal. You should also try to keep auditions and price quotes in separate conversations. Ideally it would be great to have a sense of their budget before spending time auditioning, but don’t overlook the possibility that if they love your voice and realize the value and quality, they may be willing to pay more than the initial amount they had in mind. Always ask for a budget first (if you can) before offering up your rates.

Lastly, remember that this is just a part of your job, and don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the amount of other people auditioning for the same job. You never know if they are more or less experienced than you- so just let all of those thoughts go and enjoy the process! Do your best and submit your audition. Once you do- put it behind you. Don’t think about it any more, don’t stress over the results, or keep track of those that you have submitted. Just move forward and take what you can learn from each experience with you. You will never win every audition you submit, but you will definitely improve your auditioning skills with time, and undoubtedly book more jobs as a result.

What’s the [Back] Story, Morning Glory?

When working with a short commercial script, you don’t have time as a voice talent to “develop” the character as you go along. Part of your pre-recording practice involves breaking down the script to figure out things, like: Who is your character? What is the point of the script? Who is the demographic you’re trying to reach?

Whether you ascribe to method acting or not when it comes to voice overs, asking yourself what was going on the moment before the script begins can be a valuable tool to helping you get into character. Short scripts usually fall into two groups: 

1) The character is easy to relate to and the problem or situation tends to be boiler-plate. If these voice jobs are your niche, you usually know what to do with it.

2) The script is so short or vague that you’re not sure what to do with it! Sometimes copywriters don’t flesh out their vision as well as they think do, and you’re left wondering what they’re looking for.

In either scenario, imagining a back story can help you get into character and sound more natural.

Figure out where the script takes place, what your character was doing right before the script picks up, and who he/she is talking to. Pick a scenario and commit to it. Then match your pitch, attitude, volume and energy to fit that situation. Your performance will likely become very natural after that.

Keep in mind that when you play it back, you may find your interpretation didn’t actually make sense at all. That’s OK! Tweak the back story and your character, but make sure to be specific with your interpretation. Fleshing out the character can make the difference between someone with a nice voice reading a script and a professional voice actor acting the script.

You can’t voice act with your hands in your pockets!

Think back to when you just started voiceover classes. When you stepped up to the mic, what did you do with your body?

Many students who are practicing to become professional voice actors have subconscious mannerisms that actually inhibit their ability to perform. One bad behavior pattern to break early on is putting your hands in your pockets.

When you put your hands in your pockets, it is nearly impossible to get into character. “If you look happy, you sound happy. If you look like your hands are in your pockets, you sound like your hands are in your pockets,” says Brendan Coyle, Post Engineer.

Not putting your hands in your pockets is part of a greater lesson to learn to relax when you step behind the mic. As soon as you get your home recording studio put together, make sure to spend all of your practice time in it.

The more you practice in front of the mic, the more comfortable you will become. When you feel comfortable behind the mic, you will look and sound comfortable. Your body gestures will sync up with the character and the voiceover job and you will sound like the professional voice actor you want to be!

Finding Your Niches in Voice-Overs!

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:

  • Finding Your Niches in Voice-Overs!Telephone messages
  • Voices of toys & products
  • Video games
  • Websites
  • Audiobooks
  • IVR (interactive voice response)
  • Barker channels in hotel rooms
  • Documentaries
  • 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 have-your-voice-heard[1]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.