Originally from New Zealand, Marianne Coleman-Hipkins moved to North Carolina 3 years ago. She started doing voice work at the tender age of 11 reciting poetry at the local talent and speech competitions. She was a nurse until a work related back injury forced her retirement 30 years later. During her entire nursing career Marianne continued voice work in the form of musicals, plays, TV roles, and movies. Since she has been in the US, Marianne’s focus has been voice over work. She has a passion for medical reads and related jobs as well as children’s audio books and narration. Her most recent jobs include a part in the latest Tyler Perry movie, “I can do bad all by myself,” an infomercial as an onscreen talent due to be released this month, and a child’s interactive audiovisual story in which she voices 3 characters, 2 children and an adult.
Librivox.org is an extraordinary site, one that relies entirely on volunteers in all aspects of the organization. Let me tell you a little about them and what they do, and how as a voice over student this site can truly benefit you and how you, in turn, can be of much use to them.
Librivox in a nutshell: An open source audio-literary attempt, to harness the power of the many to record and disseminate, in podcast form, books from the public domain. But that simplistic explanation does not do justice to the volunteers and the original organizers of this site and great undertaking.
Librivox has volunteers record books that are all in the public domain; more specifically, books that are at risk of disappearing forever on some dusty shelf, forgotten in the annals of time. It is a truly worthy undertaking for the preservation of some really important books. In translating these books into audio, it allows the visually impaired access to books that they perhaps would not have had access to before. Not only are novels recorded, but poetry, plays, autobiographies, medical and other textbooks, art books….the list goes on!
So you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with me as a voice over student? Plenty! Librivox is a fantastic opportunity for any voice over student to hone their voice skills in many different fields. As a volunteer, you can record chapters from novels and practice your narration and acting skills at the same time. It’s a perfect win-win situation! Not only do you get to practice your voice over, but also your recording and editing skills. It is a fantastic opportunity to help others and by doing so, yourself, along the way.
You also get the added benefit of public exposure, being listed on the search engines under the Librivox banner, and are possibly listened to by possibly hundreds of people. I had only been there for a few weeks when someone heard a poem I read, emailed me, and asked if I would be interested in recording some audio for students learning English as a second language. Also, in every recording you do, at the beginning or at the end, you have the opportunity to promote both yourself and your website.
Another benefit of doing this as a student is that you can see how much you are progressing in your voice over work. When I listen to some of the earlier recordings I did for Librivox, I cringe. However, I can hear how my voice is progressing and I can hear how my editing and recording skills are improving. People at Librivox do not judge your recordings or your voice, they will, however, help you get your recordings to the standard that they set for the site by giving you tips and pointers. They are a very, very nice bunch of volunteers, all totally passionate about the work they are doing.
Did I mention there is no pressure on you whatsoever? None! Record as much or as little as you desire, and if for some reason you are unable to complete a project you started – no problems! They are all volunteers there and realize that sometimes we over-commit ourselves, or life intrudes. Simply let the project controller know, and someone else can take over for you.
There are so many fantastic opportunities that this site offers the voiceover student. The voice over professional can also put the power of their knowledge into a community project that genuinely benefits the world wide community… any language, any country!
What better way to give of your time and voice over talents than in helping preserve some very valuable and old manuscripts for generations to come after us? Join me and hundreds of others to volunteer your talent for a worthy cause? For more information visit www.librivox.org.
I look forward to seeing you there!
P.S. Another thing that Librivox has just done is to create a file of all the different accents from different countries that record there, all recording the same story. If you are looking to hone a foreign accent for your voice over work, then you can use these to practice with. It is a great resource!