What Makes You Stand Out As A Voice Over, by Kate McClanaghan

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At first blush, you might think voiceover is all about the ability to parrot famous stars, create cartoony characters at a moment’s notice, and authentically mimic any accent under the sun. And while these skills are certainly useful to us as actors and might be asked of us from time to time, it may surprise you to learn that they’re not the primary skills necessary to keep you steadily employed as a voice talent.

It’s ironic most of us spend a solid six years or more training to “become someone else” as actors, and the primary thing asked of us is to just be ourselves.

Or maybe you thought being a voiceover was solely dependent on having an exceptionally mellifluous voice that cooed each commercial, narration and announcement.

Well, it wouldn’t hurt, but to be honest, there are at least 7 things that make you stand out as a voiceover.

#1. The ability to be yourself. You being you is the most desirable thing you can be. You’re the only one of YOU! Bring it! Everything on the page should sound like it just occurred to you, rather than the client putting words in your mouth. Certainly your ability to assume a believable point-of-view that may be a dramatic departure from your own is the job of every professional actor. Most often with all affectations, accents, dialects, and heightened realities aside.

#2. Proper training. You’re expected to consistently deliver dynamic choices. If you’re not working your performance muscle, it’s going to atrophy, which means you won’t be ready at a moment’s notice. Training consists of proper conditioning. It’s imperative you maintain a steady diet of supportive, honest, challenging training. Work with people that are better than you. A LOT better than you. People you admire and trust. You must learn to self-direct.  This is a keystone to our training at SOUND ADVICE, because it’s unlikely you’ll get much direction at all, especially considering so many voiceover auditions are done from home on your own. Besides, no one can direct you if you can’t direct yourself.

#3. The ability to offer options. You’re capable of a limitless number of amazing takes. If you sound like a broken record on every project, no amount of direction will be able to chip you out of marble. No one is interested in hiring a robot. You’re paid to have a pulse! Master Improvisation to build your ability to think on your feet and stoke your imagination.

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Getting Paid, by Rachel Fulginiti

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This week I received a delightful and unexpected gift. I got paid for a job I thought I’d gotten burned on. Let me backtrack. My business is divided into two parts. There’s the agented side of things: I audition for jobs with my agent (s) either at home, in their office or at casting places and when I book a job they send me to the studio. These are the “Cadillac Jobs”. Kushy and smooth. I am just a voice for hire. I go into an awesome studio, record for a half hour and then get a check sent to me a while later. No engineering, no invoicing, no call for pickups, (unless there’s another paycheck attached!); it’s pretty sweet.

But to make it as a VO in this day and age, you pretty much also have to have a home-based business, as well. On this side of things, I am not only the “talent”, but also the engineer, as well as the accountant and office manager. Most times, I am also the director and sometimes the producer. Jobs come to me through referrals from past clients, online sites, or by people finding my website.  Someone contacts me about a project, I provide a quote and tell them my policies, they send me a finalized script and I record it, either with them on the line or on my own depending on their preference. Then they may come back to me with one round of pickups. After that the job is usually (hopefully) just another good memory. Next. I fondly refer to these jobs (privately!) as “turn and burn”. No disrespect, they’re great. I get paid, complete the job quickly and it’s wrapped up nice and tidy with no unnecessary time and energy lingering. Everyone’s happy.

To this end, I always ask for payment up front, especially the first time I work with a client. I didn’t always do that, but I learned the hard way. Many times, clients seem to magically disappear after they get what they need, and understandably so; they are typically on tight deadlines and still have post production ahead of them. A few times I was stiffed completely. More often, I would eventually get paid, but it might take months and months…and that meant months and months of me following up with them, sending gentle reminders, more terse reminders…you get the idea. The whole process was a hassle, uncomfortable for me, a time suck and just plain not fun. So, I decided to adopt a policy that was in place at a corporate job I had years ago.

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Agents – Part 1: The low-down, by Rachel Fulginiti

Today kicks off the first in a new three part series, inspired by one of my readers (thank you Britt Dyer!). Over the next several weeks I’ll be talking about agents: what they do, how to get one and how to work with one once you’re in partnership. It’s a subject that can often feel mysterious or frustrating. Sometimes it’s a challenging part of getting “to the next level” in your career, but it doesn’t have to be confusing!

What exactly does an Agent do? Well, the short and sweet is: they negotiate contracts. Legend has it, there was once a day when they sought out budding young talent with potential and cultivated it…but that doesn’t happen much anymore. Basically, you and your agent are part of a team. You come to the table a completely formed product, and then your agent (hopefully) helps to sell it. Ideally, they find lots of opportunities for you, they talk you up, push for you and go to bat for you, and when you book jobs, they get you the very best deal they can, which will be mutually beneficial for both of you, as they earn 10% of what you make. With union jobs, that 10% is typically added to the top of your rate, so the agent’s cut doesn’t actually take away from what you’re making on the gig.

Wait, how are Agents different from Managers? Technically, to call themselves an agent (at least in the state of California), they have to have a license, adhere to certain guidelines and practices, and they can only take 10%. There are no requirements for someone calling themselves a “Manager”. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some great managers out there, and typically they get more involved in the day to day career of the talent (or at least, they used to), but beware, there are tons of unscrupulous ones out there, as well. Most managers take between 15- 20%. A lot of times they will add an additional percentage onto the client’s bill and still (also) take 15-20% out of your cut. That being said, if they are getting you work that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, then it’s probably still worth it.

So, do I need one?

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9 Insider Tips for Creating a Killer Explainer Video, by Andrew Follett

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Are you considering investing in an explainer video this year? You know; the videos that explain your product or service in 60-90 seconds?

Explainer videos are a great way to engage potential customers and familiarize them with your business. The hard part is to get them right.

Since an explainer video may be smack dab on your homepage, and the first thing your visitors experience, it’s essential to nail it the first time. Here are 9 insider tips for creating a killer explainer video that clearly describes your business and drives more sales.

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Top 10 eLearning Content Development Companies For 2015, by Christopher Pappas

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As “top” can mean many things, we created this year’s list by following the same process that we used for the top 10 eLearning content development companies for 2014 list. Taking a closer look at the companies that are leading the line when it comes to eLearning, we selected the top 10 based on the following 7 criteria:

  1. eLearning Content Development Quality. 
  2. eLearning Expertise. 
  3. eLearning Industry Innovation. 
  4. eLearning Company’s Economical Growth Potential. 
  5. Customer Retention. 
  6. Employee Turnover. 
  7. Company’s Social Responsibility. 

As you can guess, the companies on the following list are the eLearning content development crème de la crème. Don’t hesitate to review their official websites and contact them to know more about how they can help you align your organization’s learning and performance goals with its business objectives. If you are looking for the best eLearning content development companies that create high impact and super engaging and immersive eLearning courses, here you are:

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Why PLAY Matters To Your Performance, by Kate McClanaghan

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As an artist you need to give yourself plenty of room to play. You need room to create and discover, often under time constraints and the pressure to deliver your very best on the fly. At SOUND ADVICE, we refer to this technique as ‘stretching the canvas’.

We call it that simply because far too many talent attempt to ‘ramp up into their performance’ anticipating a longer runway than we are typically given, especially at an audition, where we‘re often given only a single take or two (if we’re given the luxury as voice talent of auditioning in front of those most likely to hire us). By giving yourself a broader playing field right off the bat you’ll more than likely deliver a far more impactful, desirable performance rather than revving up into it and, ultimately, offering only a mere passable take.

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The ‘Conversational’ Voice Over Read: Five Ways To Please Your Clients, by Pam Turow, Voice Actor

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I mean, really, come on.

Can we all just decide what constitutes a conversational v.o. read already, for once and for all?

I’m determined to define this type of read so there are no mistakes, no questions, so it’s 100% clear.

But alas, I fear that it’s not just implausible but completely, thoroughly impossible. Impossible like asking Charlie Sheen to be thoughtful, magnanimous and reflective. Impossible like seeing Lady GaGa on TLN. Because it’s just way too subjective.

Are You Suffering From Mic Fright? by Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

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While listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab, I discovered an interesting fact.

Before legendary producer Allen Funt created Candid Camera, he experimented with a different show based on the same premise.

It was called The Candid Microphone, and it first aired on June 28th, 1947 on ABC Radio. Funt came up with the idea while producing radio shows for the armed forces at Camp Gruber.

One of the shows he worked on was called “The Gripe Booth.” Funt asked soldiers to come into his studio and talk about things that bothered them. Here’s what he found out.

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My Approach to Creating a Website, by Kristine Oller

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Let me start with some full disclosure…

…although I built this entire website (using a theme) and created most of the graphics, I would not call myself a web designer. (Aesthetics, in general, are not my strong suit, so I did solicit the help of my stylistically gifted consigliere during the final phase of this project.)

My particular skillset is probably most accurately described as a “web organizer.”

I am able to elevate a website that is cluttered and unfocused into one that reflects the owner’s true level of expertise, and I am able to simplify the multitude of decisions that this type of project requires. Then, when my clients have the means and inclination to do so, they can find individual experts (designers, writers, copywriters, branding/marketing consultants) who can make their site super fancy.

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