Become a voice over actor— not that simple.

I’ve seen people make voice over acting sound like a get quick rich scheme, make it sound super easy if you pay 600.00 for our training courses, none of this is true. First off, I love voice overs and acting. I am dedicated to my craft, but just like arts and crafts some people can do things that others can’t. I am not trying to say that you can’t be a voice over actor, no, I am saying that you may not be able to be a voice over actor. I am reiterating this, but if you want to read more about this true fact check out my post covering what voice overs aren’t.
Now that you’ve read that post lets discuss trying to Become a voice over actor. The most critical thing to a successful career— or any career for that matter is training. In voice overs it is called coaching. Before choosing a coach try to attend a workshop with them, before attending the workshop look at their imdb profile and see how much experience they have. It is important to note that not everything we do is put onto the imdb. I haven’t put any of the commercials or video game work I’ve done on there, but I will put the best work I’ve done on their soon. It is said that at least a year of coaching is  necessary before making the biggest step in your voice over career that can make or break you— recording your demo. Recording a demo is like a quarterback prepared to win the super bowl, if he goes out there with everything he’s got than he has a good chance of doing well, if he goes out there, but doesn’t know what a football even is, well I think you get my point. The same goes with voice overs, you need to know more than just what are voice overs, you need to know your pigeon hole, everything you can do within that hole and if you’re voice sounds good enough to compete with hundreds of thousands of other voice over actors. How many people are in the pigeon hole I am in? 5. This is so rare, that it basically doesn’t happen. That’s why their is only 5 of us.

You will need to get yourself good equipment. I recommend the blue snowball. It is 80 to 90 bucks and the results are really good. It is the most recommended microphone for voice over actors who are starting out. Now, what editing program do you have? Audacity is recommended by some in Hollywood—- but that’s cause it is free. If you want to get a gig don’t use audacity. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s place, just not for pro voice overs. I’ve heard a few recordings and immediately think to myself “man they hired someone using audacity.” this program tries to remove background noise, but last time I checked it still wasn’t cutting it for pro grade use. I recommend you getting a 30 day FREE trial of adobe SoundBooth and book some gigs. So, this is a super basic look at becoming a voice over actor. There is no guarantee you’ll make it, you have to be really talented or have a real unique voice to really make it. That announcer voice does not sell anymore. Anyways I’ll post a More in-depth article later when I am not writing from my phone.

Creating a professional Voice Over with iPhone 4 Microphone

I previously wrote an article on how my Blue Snowball was broken and that I am currently stuck with only my iPhone Microphone. I also said that I was going to attempt to do Voice Overs with it and tell you how it went. The Voice Over went fine, besides all of the static and noise I heard through my Bose headphones. You should know that you never, ever send in a Voice Over that has an ounce of background noise, because, well, they won’t hire you and even if you do send them a professional Voice Over demo later on down the road they might not listen to it.
So, how did I make my iPhone Voice Over sound professional? I used Adobe Soundbooth. I used the pop and click filter, noise filter, rumble filter, but it still didn’t sound good enough to send in. I then used the mastering filter. I used the fix low muddy end filter, fix hiss filter, fix high peaks, and fix mids. Now I have an amazing professional sounding Voice Over recorded on my iPhone 4! I used the iPhone because it had a microphone, the quality of the microphone wasn’t great for Voice Overs, Adobe Soundbooth is what made it sound so great!

If you have any questions on how to do this just tweet @actorryan or leave me a comment and I will respond.

“The method” and voice over acting

if you’re an actor, then you know of “the method”. I’ll sum up what “the method” is In case you don’t know what it is.

“the method” is used in onscreen acting and some people believe it is why Heath Ledger died. How could something kill you? Well, it is a way of living, that is if you take it that far. Basically, you become the character you are performing. However your character feels or thinks, you think. If you must be really sad, then think of something really depressing to get into that mindset.

How do I apply this to voice overs? Simple. When I look at a script, I don’t read it, I become it! Every feeling I feel, this is when I start the voice over session, well, I am the character no matter how insane or happy that character is. The second I am done recording the script I get out of “the method” and sometimes have to take a break to feel like myself again. The method is all about emotions and can be quite hard on your mind, that is if you go as far as to live the character you are performing.
Earlier I mentioned Heath ledger. He got into being ‘the joker’ so much that he ended up dying. His death had to do with overdosing, but it was because he couldn’t sleep.

I would say not to become a character all day, just for a few minutes before the script. If you have an eight hour recording session, Then whenever you get a break, stop the method and once you are done for the day go do something that is totally you. If you had to be really depressed go do something cheerful.

Use the method at your own discression. I don’t always use it, because sometimes it isn’t applicable, but I do use it when applicable.

Are Voice Overs right for you? If so, where do you start?

Recording your voice at home for 30 seconds and making $100-200 for doing it sounds like a get rich quick job doesn’t it? Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but Voice Overs isn’t a Get Rich Quick Job. It takes dedication, passion, and most importantly talent.

My friends like my voice, so why shouldn’t I be in Voice Overs?
Well your friends may like your voice, but will the world like your voice? That is a very important question you have to ask yourself. What type of voices can you do? What type of accents can you do? These are a couple questions that you may want to ask yourself.

I’ve heard about Voice Over Coaching. I don’t need that do I?

Please, please do not record your voice and try to get into Voice Overs WITHOUT a Voice Over Coach. These Coaches are in the business to listening to voices and knowing what works and what doesn’t. I had the most unfortunate luck last night to see some daft chap tweet a talkshow with their phone number and a link to their Voice Over page. Since this person tweeted a big talkshow they must be great at Voice Overs, so  I went to their Website clicked on their video and left within 5 seconds of listening to the video.

It was clear that this dude had no training in Voice Overs and had just grabbed a camera and posted a video on Youtube. For your sake and those who listen and or watch your sample don’t do this. I know of a great school called VoiceTrax West in Studio City,CA that I personally have attended and will be attending again soon that has some amazing coaches!
What does a coach do?

A good  coach will asses your voice and if you ask will tell you, if you even have a chance at a career in Voice Overs after listening to your voice for a while. Wait a month or so before asking that question, because your voice will hopefully reach new areas  that you never thought were possible within that month.

I’ve read that all people need to do is buy a microphone to make it. Is this true?
No, you need training before buying a microphone. The most popular Microphone for those who are new to Voice Overs or just want an inexpensive good microphone is the USB snowball which is around $90.
NOTE: Last I read this microphone will not work on linux based machines like ubuntu.
Here are some extra tips that will hopefully help you out
tip one: The microphone is your best friend and at first your worst enemy. It can tell when you are lying, when you are sad, mad, angry, what ever emotion you are conveying with your voice it will pick it up.

Tip 2:

When you record a voice over about how wonderful a car is, where are you? Who are you? What is your motivation? Who the heck are you speaking too? Are you talking to a person or a goose?  Just like onscreen acting you need to know all these things. I would like to note that I read an article which covered this on voices.com or voice123.com. I am just giving you the basics of what I read and adding some of my own flair to it.
If you don’t know who you are talking too, or what your motivation is, no one will believe you because your best friend the Microphone lets everyone hear every single tremble and mess up in your voice.

To overcome this issue think of the microphone as your friend, your dog, whoever fits the part for who you need to be talking too. By thinking about the Microphone that way, you are giving yourself a major advantage.

tip 3: I’ve heard and seen a lot of people afraid of their script. It is just a piece of paper or on a computer screen. It can’t bite you, it can’t kill you, so what are you afraid of? If you think of it like that, you should feel less afraid.

tip 4: Stay in character at all times?

Do you think the Voice of Homer Simpson gets paid 250 thousand dollars per episode, because he reverts back to his normal voice while recording? No, he gets paid that much because the show has been going for 25 years and he stays in character. he is Homer. He is his character. When you audition you should think like your the character, and everything that the character is doing is what you are doing and you should react the way the character reacts. Everything is real. The pain, the sorrow, the excitement, the sadness, it all has to sound real or someone else will probably get the job.

Oh by the way, Don’t get your hopes up about making the type of money the guy who does Homer Simpson makes. As far as I know,  he is the person who makes the most money per episode than anyone else for doing a characters voice on a TV show. Typical pay for a 30-60 second radio spot is $100 – $200.

You should definitely contact your local colleges and see if anyone needs a Voice Over for their independent film  and do it for free. That way you have helped out a student and helped out your portfolio.

Well I think this is enough info for one blog post.

If you need a Voice Over Actor, visit my site www.ryansatterfield.com and listen to my samples. I am recording my Animation Demo very soon.

I’ll cover what a demo is in my next blog entry.

Voice Over Actor survival guide

When you are in the business of Voice Overs you never know when you will be auditioning. You could be eating dinner, get an email from a job saying you got a part we need this recorded and sent to us in an hour.  Since this is the case you need to  make sure your voice is in the right condition to record a Voice Over at all times that is why I’ve written some tips to help you out.

Tip Number one: If you auditioned for a part and are hoping for a callback or are on break from an audition, don’t drink milk! Milk is like Voice Over doomsday. It makes your voice sound yucky to put it mildly. I recommend to always have a bottle of water on you at all times. I stick with water, even though you can drink a lot of juices that won’t mess up your Voice Over voice.

Tip Number two:
Have you ever performed a theater play and had butterflies in your stomach the night of the first performance? While “butterflies” or nervousness is a natural reflex for the human body when performing you can’t let even the tiniest hint of it resonate in your voice, because the Microphone will pick it up and you won’t get the part. Instead of being nervous think about where you are, who you are, who you are talking too, why you are talking to them, what your motivation is, are you supposed to be a  dog or sound emotionless? These are all things you should know when you walk into the Voice Over booth or even your own Home Recording studio. How can these help you from being nervous? You are occupying your mind by thinking through your performance, which in turn makes you less nervous because you feel more prepared. If that doesn’t help you read my third tip.

Tip Number three:
The Microphone is your friend. When you talk to your friend he or she can tell when you are lying or nervous. So can the Microphone. Your friend can also tell when you are happy, sad, angry, upset, excited, tired, or any other emotion. So can the Microphone.

Every Microphone you use is truly your best friend in Voice Overs, because not only does it know your voice inside and out it is a visual aid that can help you replace that it is a microphone in your mind and think about a real friend you have and pretend the microphone is that person. You aren’t going to be nervous talking to your best friend are you? I’d hope not.

tip four:
I’ve read on twitter and met  people who are scared of their script. What is so scary about your script? Did it grow eyes and legs and try to attack you? NO, because it is only a piece of paper. It can’t harm you, you are only harming yourself by being afraid of it.
tip five:

Put your all into the Voice Over you are recording, but don’t record a Voice Over that is uncomfortable for your voice, because you are hurting your voice and you have a higher chance of booking that job. It is not worth ruining your voice just to book one job. You may think “this is a small role it won’t hurt if I do this raspy voice that hurts.” Small roles can turn into big roles, actually I would say in at least every show I’ve watched one minor character has become a main character or at least a character whose voice is heard every couple episodes.

Okay, so good luck and say hi to your friend mic. I will be writing plenty of more entries, so stay tuned.

If you need any extra Voice Overs  please  visit my site and listen to some of my samples. You can always leave a message or chat with me live via my site!
www.ryansatterfield.com