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

Five-Stars

 

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.

Read more…

Zootopia: Jason Bateman On The Challenges Of Voice Acting For The First Time, by James Viscardi

bateman-172880

By now it’s no secret that Walt Disney Animation has a hit on it’s hands with Zootopia which stands to take home $70 million dollars opening weekend. The latest installment in an historic run of animated films, features top notch voice talent including Jason Bateman who is voice acting for the very first time.

Earlier this month ComicBook.com had the opportunity to head out to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and chat with the Zootopia star about how he got the gig, working as a voice actor for the first time and what the experience was like for him.

The family-friendly picture about Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) attempting to solve a missing persons case, that turns into something much bigger and at one point, was something completely different.

I can’t believe this is your first voice job.

Jason Bateman: Yeah, and it’s sneaky tough. You know, my wife is a voice actor, and she gets stuff all the time. I’ve never been able to book stuff. There’s definitely a specific and subtle thing that one needs to do, and I’ve tried to learn how to do it for a long time. The directors were really helpful.

We heard that your character was originally the lead character, and it got switched up. Were you on the project at that time, or did you find out as you were going along?

Jason: Yeah. You know, it’s a really interesting thing, because they didn’t say anything to me about the switch. I started to kind of sniff it out in the scenes a bit. At one point I said to them, because we started redoing some stuff from the beginning of the movie, and it was clear that the perspective had switched. We start with Judy’s character and we follow her journey, this optimistic and enthusiastic character going to the big city to make it. I said to them, “it seems like you guys have done a bit of a pivot here and you’re going to follow a brighter end to the movie than starting with the guy who hates Zootopia and is very reluctant to admit that anything can come out of here.”

They said, “Yeah.” They explained the obvious reason why one would want to do that. I felt like an idiot for not thinking of it earlier. Of course, that’s why they get the big bucks. It’s a neat process, what they do. They really are open and honest about what’s working, what’s not working, what is the best path to communicate the things that they want to say and get the plot points across. It’s a big family endeavor over there.

It still works as both their stories. You start out, and you’re leaning a lot toward Judy and you’re kind of suspicious of Fox. Then the second half, it flips, where Judy’s doubting herself and you understand Nicks back story and this feeling of empathy. Were you excited to bring that story to the screen?

Jason: Yeah. It’s a fun structure, right? The fact that she’s the inside out kind of character and I’m the outside in kind of character. She’s all hard and I’m all shell, and then those things kind of cross. I usually end up playing these prickly characters or these ethically challenged characters, and it’s always fun to identify the scene or the sequence, or sometimes it’s just the line, where you can expose that soft, chewy center for this audience that this character’s trying to hide. You can kind of crack it and break it through a little bit, and it become very compelling for an audience. Like, “oh, I know something about that character that he thinks he’s hiding from me, and certainly the characters in the movie it’s hidden from, but I, the audience … I’m starting to feel empathy for this ‘bad guy’,” in quotes. That’s a fun thing to do, as an actor.

Being your first voice over job, what was the biggest challenge that you faced?

Jason: You know, just trying to figure out how much or how little to do with my part of the process. Do I just read these lines and speak into the microphone? Is that enough? Like you’re just leaving a message for somebody? Am I supposed to talk like … How much of it are you supposed to do, and how much are you supposed to just trust will be finished later? You just defer to the directors. You just say, “I’m your soldier. Tell me what you need from me.” Those guys obviously know exactly what they’re doing, and I’m just a part of what they’re putting together and working on every day for years. I go in there once every few months for a couple of hours. Just do your part and leave the rest up to them.

Read more…

 

To Be or Not To Be a Voiceover, by Kate McClanaghan

One sign reads 'Come over here'. The other reads 'How?'.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you come from a business background and always wanted to transition to voiceover. Let’s say you’ve been doing a bit of “fact finding” and finding a lot of contradictory information about this business. Not the least of which, will any one tell you honestly if you can cut it as a voiceover?

Careful what you wish for. There are plenty of people of varying degrees of expertise who are more than happy to quickly tell you “you can’t”—sight unseen, without ever testing your mettle.

What you really need to know is whether you’re applying yourself or not. You need to know what you should be doing and how to apply yourself in nearly any situation in this field. That’s proper coaching, provided the experienced source offering the advice is offering more than just their subjective opinion.

Ideally, your coach/demo producer is in this industry for the long haul and you are too. But, if you’re asking, “Will you tell me whether or not I can join this very exclusive club called voiceover?” then maybe you need to ask yourself something else, such as, “Do I want to be in this industry?” Because NO ONE has the right to tell you whether you can or cannot have a career in this business—or any other for that matter! It’s elitist. And, to be perfectly honest, you don’t have to take that form of browbeating from anyone. Ever.

Granted, a great many people are not all that forthcoming with information in this industry, and hold their cards very tight to their chest. It could be that they’re afraid you may discover how little they actually know about the subject. Or maybe they view you as a threat to their livelihood. Perhaps they’re laboring under the misconception that there is “not enough quality work to go around” and you might cut in on their business. To add to this, what if you know something they don’t?  What then?

Frankly, there’s plenty of room in this industry for everyone—provided you’re trained and make yourself available to the work. In fact, there’s been more than a 2000 percent increase in the amount of voiceover being produced annually than there has been in the last two years. This can be attributed to the rapid expansion and consolidation of media through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, cable, network, Internet, interactive games, ADR (looping), animation, commercial and corporate/industrial, e-Learning, and various forms of new media. This explosion of media has become commonplace in today’s entertainment industry—all of which require voiceover of some capacity or another. To add to this, the demand for corporate presentations and the necessity of continually updating various content, in order to effectively and professionally forward brand message and represent various industries on multiple platforms, has become a given. They all require professional voice talent who are trained, reliable and available to deliver their best in order to properly embody a successful vocal brand.

Read more…

Getting Paid, by Rachel Fulginiti

Figure_01_04_01

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.

Read more…

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?

Read more…

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

top-10-elearning-content-development-companies-for-2015

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:

Read more…

Why PLAY Matters To Your Performance, by Kate McClanaghan

play-performance-300x194

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.

Read more…

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

pamturlowshrink

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

Screen-Shot-2015-10-28-at-8.40.32-PM-500x338

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.

Read more…