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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A recent article in the L.A. Times about how voicing video games can potentially be damaging to vocal cords, by Tyler Hersko

 grand theft auto voice actors

 

Those blood-curdling screams you hear in video games might be causing voice actors permanent damage, union says.

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors and other performers in Hollywood, recently asked the state of California to open an investigation into allegedly unsafe vocal recording sessions held by companies in the video game industry.

In a letter sent to the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health on May 25, SAG-AFTRA said that long hours, coupled with the need to record loud and strenuous noises such as violent screaming and inhuman voices, were damaging the vocal cords of its members.

David White, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, sent the letter to Cal/OSHA regional manager Hassan Adan after collecting months of feedback from the union’s members. SAG-AFTRA began reaching out to the agency in early February after receiving a strong response from its members concerning unsafe voice acting practices in video games.

According to the union, its members have suffered from issues including cysts, polyps and cord hemorrhaging. SAG-AFTRA warned that the practices would cause permanent and “career-ending” changes in vocal quality or complete vocal cord paralysis.

White added that the union’s members were given insufficient time to warm up their voices and, in some cases, were given special candies to stop the actors from feeling the damage they were inflicting on their vocal cords.

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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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