Voice-Over Voice Actor

A Peek Into The Secret World Of The Voice Actor

Interested in pursuing a career in VO? Curious what goes on behind the scenes in a business where people talk funny for money? This book offers a fun and comprehensive look at what it takes, what goes on and what it’s like behind the mic from two working pros who started from scratch.

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Voice Over Actors: Taking Care of Business!

It is true that as actors we can often be more focused on the craft of acting and forget to put energy into the business side of our voice-over acting. This part, while essential, may not be as much "fun..."  But it is just as important as tuning your vocal instrument.

You must find out who might hire you to use your voice and where they are located. It's a pro-active way of forwarding your career in voice-over. So for a moment look at VO as a military objective. Select a few targets and do a little recon, or research. And you won't even need to get your hands dirty.

Start with what you like. For example, if you really like the show Naruto, you might search and find out that in the United States, Naruto is licensed by a company called Viz. A little more looking (with your friend Google) might turn up that the English dub for Naruto is recorded at Studiopolis. Voila! You now have a production company to add to your hit list when you have a demo to mail out! With commercials, you might have to be a little more investigative, but there are resources (such as adforum.com) out there that can help you find the ad agency who produced the commercial and who's associated with the promotion of that product.

So, for this exercise, pick an area to start with: animation, video games, or commercials. Now choose three of your favorite shows/movies, video games or commercials. Begin to do a little Internet legwork. Find out who the production company is, and in the case of commercials, the ad agency who commissioned the spot. Try and discover if the company/agency casts their projects in-house, or if they have a relationship with a separate casting company. In some cases, you may even find that the same studio/ad agency produced more than one of your selections, then you know they're definitely somebody you want to target.

There is plenty of information available on the Web, and a little digging could turn up e-mail addresses or maybe phone numbers that you could use to contact the company and find out who might be best to send your reel to. Start a file and keep the info you find for future reference.

Good hunting and good luck - make it fun!



How Does Voice Over Work for Video Games?

Similar to dubbing animation, voice-over for video games is most often recorded one actor at a time, alone in a booth. But as with recording for pre-lay animation, there is seldom a need to record to an already created animation or picture. When you begin, you may have a character sketch or some sample gameplay (a demonstration of what the game will look like when the player is playing it), but there's rarely more than that to hang your hat on. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this – the first being when you’re recording a version of a game that was originally produced in another language. In that case, you may have reference tracks in the original language, cut scenes (the short movies that play in between gameplay) that you’ll have to match, and strict timing concerns to be aware of.

In another scenario, near the beginning of a game’s development, you may have done some work on the game while no animation was yet available; and then eight months later the producers ask you to come back and do more work on it. Only now they’ve got animation and gameplay to show you as a reference.

But most often you’ll have very little (if any) preparation, and not a lot of time to learn about the game before you’re thrown into the fire. And this is where the director will be your best friend, giving you context for your dialogue – which you will sometimes record very quickly, one line after the other, two or three takes per line (i.e. two or three different recordings of the same line), with not even the other characters’ dialogue for reference. Other times you might get the entire script, but it’s unlikely you will have the time to do much more than scan it as you jump from line to line.

We’ve said that a strong imagination will help you in this business. To make this stuff work, you're gonna have to imagine quite a bit. So, listening to the director, using your imagination, and making bold choices – all at high speed – are important, and together can often be the key to finding yourself on the top of the call list when a studio is auditioning and booking future jobs.

Very often these days, video games are developed in tandem with major motion pictures so that when the movie comes out, the game based on that movie is also available. Now before you get too excited about doing the VO for these video games, we have to let you know that voice actors in video games get paid a lot less than their on-screen counterparts. Why? Because the budgets for video games are nowhere near the budgets of the movies they accompany.

But now’s your chance to get excited again because, in most cases, a major motion picture actor will not want to lend his or her voice to the video game; the salary paid is simply not worth the time involved. This is where you come in: the game will likely require a voice actor to voice match the actor from the film. See, you always knew those impressions would come in handy one day.

On the downside, video game work, because of the nature of video games themselves, can be very stressful on your voice if you’re not careful. This is certainly a place where vocal control is important. If you play a lot of video games, you know that they’re chock-full of shouting, screaming, yelling, getting blown up, being set on fire, and falling from great heights. And that’s just in the opening cut scene.

These recording sessions can last up to four hours at a time. There have been times when we’ve emerged from them sweaty, hoarse, and shell-shocked – as if we’ve actually been through the war we were just playing at. Many voice actors refuse to do video games for this reason, and some will intentionally schedule VG sessions in the afternoon on a Friday so that they have the whole weekend to recuperate. But don’t let that scare you. Just keep reading: we have ways of keeping you safe.