I produced records in the 90s and I had a recording studio. Often voice over talent would ask me to record their projects and from this I developed an interest in voice over. So I asked an actor acquaintance I knew how to being this career. “oh, that’s impossible to get into!” she said. “I tried it and couldn’t get an agent blah, blah, blah…”
In spite of this advice I put together a demo and began directly marketing my skills to ad agencies and video production houses. “they’ll just throw your demo away… blah, blah…” Soon I was narrating all the videos for Princess Cruises. From this experience I landed an agent.
You only need to read through a handful of audition descriptions before you run into the word “conversational”. Or you may find the direction more negative such as “no disc jockey or announcer”.
As voice over styles evolve, there is a trend toward a more natural, personal read. But what exactly is this “conversational” sound and how do you achieve it? Here’s how to perfect your conversational technique. Continue reading →
Voice Over is unique artistic performance because it is entirely produced with sound.
There are other performances of sound–a live rock concert for example– that depend on sound but they have other aspects that contribute to the experience: costuming, lighting, pyrotechnics. But voice over is only sound.
Think of an audiobook. The setting, the weather, the characters, the plot and the emotions are entirely conveyed by the reader’s voice. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
But as you create a voice performance you’ll find that some sound is your friend. And some sounds are your foes. Continue reading →
So you raise your voice over audition up properly, give it the finest preparation, a positive attitude and an engaging personality.
You sigh and you heart beats faster as you send your mature baby out into the world. You have such pride and great hopes for its success. And as you leave the casting studio or press the upload button…
You slam the door and think “get out of my life! I never want to listen to you again!” What’s up with this? Continue reading →
But there’s a deeper WHY question that you need to ask yourself.
And that is “WHY am I saying this?”
Modern voice over is not just about reading the words. It’s about about communicating the ideas of the writer. Speech is about moving ideas from one mind to another.
And voice over is also about communicating emotions. Why do I feel this way? Speech is about moving emotions from one heart to another. If you find the WHY in the copy you’ll touch the listener.
So WHY is probably the most important word in voice over
We never say anything to anybody unless we have a reason to say it. So when you’re looking at a script the first question you need to ask is WHY.
Why would I care about this? Why would I be interested in this product. If the listener doesn’t immediately know why they should listen, they’ll tune you out. For good. So for a compelling performance you have to know WHY.
I’ve been teaching voice over for 20 years and now my motivation is the opportunity to mentor other V O talents as they progress in this strange and wonderful career.
I’ve talked about my Three Legged Milking Stool voice over marketing strategy. One leg of that strategy is using Online Casting to begin marketing your talents. The two biggies in this “pay to play” universe are Voices.com and Voice123.com. You’ll hear pros and cons of these sites but they’ve both been around for over ten years so they must be doing something right.
I consider both to be the “minor leagues” of voice over but in a good way. They are a non-critical arena to learn to hit the various curve balls you may encounter in the voice over business. You can practice self-direction, auditioning, recording, editing, taking direction, formatting finished files, uploading files and… getting paid. Continue reading →
There’s a term that has moved from the domain of electrical engineers to the everyday world of the home voice over studio. Unfortunately the “techie” baggage the term brings with it confuses or even frightens many aspiring audio engineer/voice talents. And that term is “gain”, specifically microphone gain.
So what is gain and how do you control it to produce the best voice over recordings?
Tame those “spikes” in your audio with Limiter effect
When you’re recording voice over you want to use my “Goldilocks” theory of recording: Not to Hot or the sound will clip and distort. And not too Cold or your voice will compete with the noise floor of the recording. And you want to err on the conservative side of a lower recording. So you often end up with a recording with a lower volume than the optimum.
Many talents try to fix this by “Normalizing” the final recording. But if there are volume “spikes” in your waveform, normalizing can have little effect–or actually turn down the volume of your recording. This video shows how to do it properly by adding an effect called a “Limiter”.
I’ve been teaching voice overs for twenty years and every student begins with the same declaration: “I can talk and I can read, so I can do this”. One of the first things we discover is that half of these talents can’t read. Now, I don’t meant they read like in the first grade, “See Spot run. Run, Spot, Run”.
I mean they can’t get through a sixty second ad without stumbling on words, missing words or substituting words. Some aspire to read audio books in their career. Well, trust me, if you can’t nail a sixty second spot, you’ll never get through a 257,000 word Harry Potter book. Continue reading →
People come to voice over from a variety of different backgrounds. Some come from the broadcasting world. They bring clear enunciation and solid reading skills. Others come out of on-camera or stage acting. They have and edge when it comes to voice acting, which is a required skill in modern voice over performance. Still more are cartoon or game junkies. And they have an acquired reservoir of of characters stored away in their mind. But what about singing? Continue reading →