We sat down with Natalie to see what she’s been up to and we were very impressed!
Despite studying theater and drama in college (and always having an interest in the arts), Natalie Donegan never had any desire to be in front of a camera or on stage. At 20 years old, she discovered that voice-overs existed, but didn’t have any space in her busy schedule (she was single, had a mortgage and a very demanding job as a sales manager of a daily newspaper) to pursue a possible career shift into voice-overs. 12 years later, Natalie was married, a mom and she was looking for an outlet that would challenge her creatively. That was when she searched out Such A Voice.
When Natalie was ready to step into the voice-over booth, she was happy to have a trained producer, Heather Costa, from Such A Voice by her side “In an area that I knew nothing about I was happy to have someone so well-versed in recording demos. I had invested in Such A Voice to create my demo because I new I needed to make sure I got the best demo I could. When you have an empty resume that is what you’ll be selling yourself with at the beginning! I was on a tight schedule, very eager to get things done, but also extremely nervous… at this point I had never stepped foot into a recording studio, spoken into a microphone to have my voice recorded or even worn audio headphones. Heather kept me focused and to this day I still remember many of the tips she told me.”
Natalie did a great job marketing herself, she attributes this to the fact that she was in advertising sales for 9 years when she entered the voice-over industry. “I am determined and I know how to sell, I’m just selling my voice now instead of a product. When I first started in the business I created lists of local potential clients: advertising agencies, marketing agencies, TV stations, radio stations, producers, telephone on-hold companies and more! I had no problem picking up the phone and calling them to sell myself and get my demo’s out to as many people as I could.” Natalie has since recorded over 100 voice-over tracks, of which almost 50% of these have been telephone recordings. “I recall that amongst the Such A Voice resources there was a suggestion to find your niche. However I didn’t have to find mine… it found me!” When Natalie started recording voice-over tracks to build her resume she accepted any work that she could get, it appeared a lot of businesses wanted to take advantage of her professional, friendly and genuine British accent to represent their companies on the telephone voice mail and IVR messages. Natalie has now tapped into this niche.
“I found myself sitting at home with this great demo and no idea where to start to get my name out or how to land work. The Such A Voice resources thankfully had step by step guidance for what to do to get going. Everyone has heard of CareerBuilder.com, but until I started working with Such A Voice I had never even heard of voice-over marketplaces. Such A Voice pointed me in the right direction and even gave me a free month on Voice123.com which I have continued to be a member of. The Such A Voice resources also gave me guidance on a business plan, marketing plan and legal tips. I am so glad that I was able to do these things at the point when I set up the business from home. Once up and running these are the essential things that don’t get done if not at the beginning. Otherwise you are a ship sailing without a compass.”
Natalie has voiced for over 100 companies in Asia, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand and the USA on projects that have included Telephone Voice Mail, IVR, On-Hold, Educational and Travel Videos, Corporate Presentations, e-Learning, Video Games, GPS Prompts, Radio Commercials and Competitions, Television Commercials, Internet Videos, Tag Lines, plus more. Natalie specializes in Telephone Voice Mail, IVR and On-Hold messages which can be dry-voice only by hiring Natalie directly or if a client prefers their telephone script prepared, recorded, edited and royalty-free background music added Natalie works with Go On Hold.
To continue with her training on Pro Tools and working towards her goal of running her part-time business as a full time business within 5 years, Natalie is also currently a sophomore studying a Pre-Recording Industry Management degree program. “My goal is within 5 years to have gained my Recording Industry Management degree, to be able to offer complete production pieces from my home studio and to run my voice-over business full time.”
When we asked Natalie what her advice was for aspiring voice-over artists, we couldn’t help but nod emphatically as we listened to her answer: “If you are getting into the industry, get a professional demo cut! Use every avenue you have to promote your name. I requested testimonials from every client I worked with and asked permission to quote their company name. Within a short period of time I had an impressive resume for voiceovers!”
I also took the advice of Robert Sciglimpaglia with his opinion on the benefits of a voice talent incorporating as an LLC, after reading this article. So I am now British Voice Over Talent Natalie Donegan LLC.
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!
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
Such A Voice Coach Alan Schwartz has had a very exciting couple of weeks landing jobs for McDonald’s, GE, ExxonMobil, Sam’s Club and Cisco!
Alan Schwartz, a NYC based VO talent, with over eleven years of diversified experience as a voice-over artist, recently landed four exciting jobs with some pretty high profile companies. He was hired to record radio spots for McDonald’s and GE, orientation/employee training videos for Exxon Mobil and Sam’s Club and several branding videos for Cisco!
He secured these jobs from producers who were existing clients of his. Alan reminds us that “establishing ongoing relationships with producers is a wonderful way to not only get reoccurring work, but to receive opportunities to voice some big time projects!”
All of these jobs were recorded in Alan’s home studio, some with the producer directing him over the phone, the others autonomously, a skill that every professional voice talent, even a talent in major market NYC should master.
Congratulations Alan, these clients are lucky to have you!
Our Director of Operations Heather Costa shares a few ideas to help voice-over talent achieve the successful results they are looking for. In this short video, along with the provided worksheet, you will find ideas to help organize your schedule and set realistic goals for yourself. Click here to watch!
SAV Director of Operations Heather Costa, Records Hundreds of Radio & TV Spots for Carrier and Cub Cadet Quarterly!
I have been very fortunate that each quarter, for the past two years, I have been hired to record hundreds of radio and TV spots for Carrier AC & Heating and Cub Cadet, a lawn and garden manufacturer. These spots air all throughout the United States. Back in May 2010 I was approached by a Florida based production company who had found my website while doing an online search. The relationship started out with just a few commercials here and there. Then within a month, they sent me the first large project requesting 44 radio spots and 133 commercial spots for Carrier AC & Heating! I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was very excited for the opportunity and provided my best work possible with a quick turnaround. With each project since, the number of spots have increased.
I record commercials with this production company on a regular basis (ranging from 5 second tags to 60 second spots,) however, I can always count on receiving those big bulk projects for both Carrier & Cub Cadet once a quarter as the seasons change and it’s time to revamp their marketing!
Carrier uses this production company to create commercials for many of their distributors, such as Mike Morello, Air Pro Services, Baxter Oil Company and more! Cub Cadet does the same, so the projects I record are again for distributors such as Hoyt’s AG Supply, Clermont County Equipment and Gossett Farm Equipment, among others.
I’ve also had the opportunity to record numerous car dealership commercials for them and believe it or not, motorcycles too! I never would have pegged this as a niche for myself, but the client apparently did! It’s wonderful having outstanding relationships with production companies that rely on you and you on them as well. It’s also a great opportunity to share the jobs with other VO talents. I’ll occasionally be asked for referral recommendations for different types of voices that I obviously can’t provide, such as male, Spanish, etc. After all, VO success doesn’t just include booking jobs, it’s also about building relationships.
Click here for some Carrier & Cub Cadet spots that Heather recently voiced: