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.

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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.

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The Biggest Misconceptions About Voiceover Demos, by Kate McClanaghan

voice over demos myths

A voiceover demo, by definition, is a professional demonstration of what you do best and what you want more of. Yet many well-meaning, even experienced talent fall prey to the following misconceptions regarding what should be included on your voiceover demos.

  1. “My make-shift demo oughta hold me for a while until I start working steady—then I’ll make a ‘good’ demo.” 

Okay, who’s foolin’ who here? The truth is you can’t book work with a lousy headshot—or a lousy voiceover demo. Period. Do it right the first time and save yourself time, money and frustration.

  1. Your demos were created solely for talent agents. 

The standards for what should (and shouldn’t) be included on your voiceover demos are defined primarily by commercial creatives (producers, copywriters, and creative directors) from advertising agencies. They’ve been creating demos defining their own aesthetics for more than 50 years now with the intent to remain employed. Producers and their assistants contact casting directors and your talent agents when they are looking to hire you. If you’re not servicing the producers with your demos, you’re not hitting your target audience. They’re who you created the demo for in the first place.

  1. Every spot on your demo is a something you were paid to voice.

Just because you were paid to voice the job, doesn’t mean that segment belongs on your demo. Many of the jobs we book don’t necessarily best define us professionally and therefore should NOT be included on your demo.

  1. Commercial and Industrial spots can all be included on the same track.

A commercial demo consists primarily of spots that sound like national caliber TV spots. Industrial demos (also known as Corporate Announce, or Narrative, or Non-Broadcast) by design are meant to service producers looking to hire voice talent that demonstrate narration typically reserved for training films, documentary, medical, corporate sales, or tradeshow style narration. (To name a few.) Consolidating a variety of voiceover styles on the same demo cancels each other out. It exhibits a lack of understanding for the client’s professional needs, and therefore a lack of professionalism overall.

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Why Self-Direction Matters, by Kate McClanaghan

audition-direction

When was the last time you heard another actor say, “I auditioned for that role. I would have done that—if they would have they told me to play it like that”? Maybe you heard yourself say it.

Frankly, it’s doubtful you would have been told exactly how to play it for the simple reason no one told the actor who booked the job precisely what to do. Most talent bring the core of their performance into the room during the audition. Auditions demand you make dynamic decisions if you hope to get booked. Yet, one of the greatest misconceptions about this industry is whoever hires us already knows precisely what they want and will direct us.

It may come as something of a surprise, but you’re not likely to get much direction at all. This is the case for auditions and sessions alike. All the more reason why you must effectively self-direct rather than wait to be told what to do.

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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.

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