The mic can be rather daunting when you first start out in voice-over! Practicing at home with one will help to reduce the newness of it, and the distraction from it. Here are some tips to get you started!Read More
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1. This exercise is to help you begin to compile your own practice copy for you to work on and then eventually use to create your commercial or animation demo reel.
2. For commercial copy, find magazines, see which ads visually pop out at you and write down the advertisement (or if the magazine is yours, pull the page out). Remember that print copy reads differently from commercial audio copy, so use the print as a starting point and then make slight adjustments to help the line flow.
3. To build animation copy, find an inanimate object in your house, then begin to write a monologue or conversation this object/character might have with you about its needs or hopes or dreams. Another wonderful way to create animation copy is to write down your favorite characters from animated shows, then rename them and make changes to what you know of their experiences, then try building a history or story for them that you find interesting.
4. Note which type of ad goes with the different types of commercial types (hard sell, soft sell, partner read, tag, etc.) also review your animation copy to see what types of characters you’re showing off and make sure you have some variety that works with your voice.
5. Put all your found (and massaged) copy into a binder, and practice randomly flipping to different pieces and reading and performing them as you would if you were in the booth.
Wonderful. You’ve had the chance to hone your unique vocal qualities and become more familiar with your natural voice. You’ve also probably gotten to see how your body reacts to a warm-up and how that can better prepare your voice for a session. You’ve read copy and made choices and have begun the process of building your own personal stack of practice copy that you can use as you move toward making your demo reel.
Voice-over isn't like it used to be where only 'certain' voices worked, now there are voices of all kinds and varieties to make up the spice of life. Basically, if you are a solid actor, are professional and considerate and you have good mic technique there is no reason you can't work in VO, of course, someone would have to hire you, so you'd need your demo reel ($$$$, time, energy) and most likely you will need to secure an agent to represent you and get you auditions (time/energy) as well as giving yourself as much as an edge as possible by taking classes, practicing your craft, knowing your voice and how to take care of it; so planning a career in voice-over is an investment.
The wonderful world of voice-over allows you to create amazing characters, to teach, to entertain, to offer new alternatives and to go on a whole new adventure. Remember, voice acting just “acting” without the bonus of using your facial expressions or body language to convey something visually, so your intention has to come across with just your voice helped by your imagination. And we all have one of those…
PRACTICE WITH SCRIPTS & COPY So, your body is warmed up, your mind is awake and you’re ready to get your hands (well, your vocal cords anyway) dirty with some actual voice-over work. There’s a lot to take in when you are looking at a script so here are a few helpful (non-acting) hints and reminders.
As we mentioned in the book, if you’re working on ADR/dubbing, there might be notations in the script to let you know where pauses (sometimes called ‘hitches’) fall, at what time-code the line starts and ends, and what lines might be on-camera and not. If you’re recording original animation there might be loop numbers before each line of dialogue. Let’s review briefly some common notations, as any extra information you can mine from the page can help to inform your performance.
Hitches (means pause) (^, …, /_, ) MNS – mouth not seen, OM, CM – open mouth, closed mouth _______ - off screen Time code – 01:02:03:04
Below is a practice script, some fake commercial copy for you to practice with. Create a practice work session that you can go back and review by using some sort of audio recording device to record yourself while you practice out loud. Enjoy your session!
1.As you read, try circling all the notations you notice as well as be extra aware of any information you can mine from the page. 2 Ask yourself the Who-What-Where-When-Why-hoW questions to see what comes up. Underline this information to help you see if it affects your interpretation or acting choices.
Your new voice-over agent would like you to read some of the spots they just got in today so they can see what would best suit your voice. Often agents will have you read for all sorts of things when you first sign, as a way of throwing things up against the wall to see what sticks. So, go ahead and read the various copy that’s come in
Luxury: The Jewelry Outlet at KnollCrest is having a pre-Valentines engagement ring sale. Come on down and surprise your loved one with the proposal of a lifetime. We have 24 karat gold and platinum rings on sale for almost 30% off, this weekend only. High Energy: It’s Faaaaaaantastic. Super Fruit Bowl ‘O’Sugars get you ready for a day of fun in the sun. Filled with vitamins, minerals and naturally sweetened real fruit pieces, Bowl’O’Sugars are part of a complete breakfast. Start your morning right, be fan-tastic.
Promo This October, The Best Show on TV is moving to a new time…five days a week. Catch your favorite characters Mindy, Bobbi and Karl now at 7pm on KOOLTV.
Partner read: A: Honey did you forget to pay the phone bill? B: What do you mean, I thought it was automatic? A: Oh, right, its just so easy, I keep forgetting? B: Yeah, now we can spend time thinking about more fun things. A: Like if you paid the cable bill? Announcer: Don’t let bills get you down, use the automatic bill pay feature offered by Earth Bank to pay for all your charges throughout the month, even if your provider doesn’t have an auto feature set up. Earth Bank the bank of the Earth. Not available in intergalactic space station Giltex. Soft sell: Soft CleoPattra Egyptian sheets are specially designed to become softer with use…and every time you wash them the natural bamboo fibers relax just a hint more…which makes your bed even more comfortable to get into….who wouldn’t want to sleep in…Soft CleoPattra Sheets. Easy to sleep on, easy to sleep in. High Energy: I love hitting the BergerJack on the way to the game. I can fill up on all my favorites, a real ice-cream shake, a 100% beef patty and a large Idaho potatoes home fries for under 5 bucks. And I can even grab something for the coach, so if I’m a little late to practice sometimes, no harm done.
Tag: Prices based on participation and subject to change without notice, offer good only in the continental United States, all entries must be postmarked by July 4, or will not be considered.
The above copy will give you good practice in looking for clues on the page as well as making cold choices. Of course, there are so many different types of spots always remember you can tune into the radio or TV to see what is currently running.
Roll your tongue on the roof of your mouth (in a “Spanish ‘R’ ” sound) while going up and down the scale Doing trills combines warming up your vocal cords with waking up your tongue. Since your vocal apparatus is like a machine, you want all of its parts warmed up, well-oiled and working together to create your best, strongest, most versatile voice.
Great articulation, and rapid tongue movement is what a ventriloquist uses when throwing their voice.
1. Keep your mouth and lips closed and begin to hum.2. Start chewing, as if you were eating something tasty, as you keep humming. 3. Now use your hands to feel the vibration in the front of your face, your nose, your cheeks, and gently allow your hands to move to your neck and throat, and perhaps even onto your belly so that you can feel how your voice resonates in different areas of your body.
Using the chewing hum can warm up the different areas where your voice will resonate. Once again, when your voice resonates, it bounces around a certain area of your body, whether that’s up in your face, nose or head area, your throat, or your chest or belly.
Now to begin to identify where your voice is resonating, let’s concentrate on specific sounds that tend to resonate in different areas. Certain sounds we create generally vibrate more toward the head, while others, because we use different muscles to make them, may vibrate lower, toward the belly. If you can learn to control where you choose to place your voice, you can begin to use it in more powerful and interesting ways.
1. Keeping your lips together, like you were making imaginary car (or motorboat, if you prefer) “brrrm, brrrrm” noises, and allow your lips to make a “raspberry” type sound (like a good old-fashioned Bronx cheer without sticking your tongue out), or lip trill. Begin at the bottom of your possible range and while continuing the lip trills gradually raise your pitch until you hit your highest note possible.2. Now reverse direction. Start at the top of your range and move downward thru your natural pitch to your lowest note. 3. Continue your lip trills while going from low to high and back to low again. It’ll sound a little like a siren. 4. Repeat the sirens 3-5 times until you feel like your voice is beginning to get warmed up. 5. This can be hard to describe on paper. Feel free to visit this link ( ) to see an example.
Lip trills are a great way not only to warm up your face and resonators in your sinus cavities, but also helps keep your vocal cords and neck muscles from tensing up while you’re warming up your voice. Don’t worry if your voice cracks during the sirens. That’s just a natural part of expanding your range. We all have “head tones” (high) as well as “chest tones” (low) in our range, and in order to move back and forth continuously from one to the other, you have to move through your natural “break,” which is the sound that often people associate with a teen boy going through puberty. One of the reasons for this is that the vocal cords are actually growing and stretching and sounds that used to be easily within one range move to a different register, and the voice “cracks” as it pushes through unfamiliar territory. So in addition to warming up your voice, this exercise can also help you widen your vocal range.
Sirens w/out Lip Trill
1. Allow your mouth to hang slightly open, and begin an “ee” sound at the bottom of your range. As you exhale, slide your pitch higher and higher until you hit your highest note possible. 2. Now reverse direction. Start at the top of your range and slide your pitch downward until you hit your lowest note. 3. Make sure your face and jaw are relaxed and comfortably open while making the siren sound. 4. Repeat the sirens 3-5 times until you feel like your voice is warming up. Practicing sirens can really begin to stretch your range and gently allow the musculature in your face and neck (as well as your vocal cords) to begin to become accustomed to the sounds you’ll be making while acting.
Whether you have a high or low-pitched voice you can also begin to think about the placement of the sound you’re making. This is separate from the pitch. Placement relates to the physical location in your body where your voice is resonating. For example, if you have a head cold and are all stuffed up, you might sound very frontal, or nasal, since your sinuses are blocked and thus blocking the sound from escaping completely, therefore creating a very frontal resonant sound. If you drop the sound way back to the back of your throat, then you would almost sound like you were swallowing the sounds, creating a very different quality altogether.
Begin to play around with extremely frontal, a mid-range placement as well as a back placed sound. This is something that you can bring into your work and begin to pick and choose where certain voices you create will be placed and where others will lie instead. [Should this be a new exercise to help develop awareness of where you’re placing your voice?]
Even if you have no aspirations towards a career in voice-over, there’s a lot you can learn from this book.
Our last blog exercise hopefully got you going, stepping out of your natural voice. Now, use the following exercise, which we like to call “The Phrasinator,” to shake up your own rhythms. Read each phrase on the left with the emotional intention on the right.
Exercise: The Phrasinator
- Over here.........................................Uncomfortable
- I need that........................................ Scared
- Let go...............................................Frightened
- What are you talking about..................Awe
- Don’t do that......................................Sleepy
- I don’t think that’s a good idea..............Happy
- Give me the new one..........................Overjoyed
- Try it again........................................Uncomfortable
- Listen to me......................................Angry
- Stop right there..................................Frustrated
- Wow that’s huge................................Excited
Was the word on the right not always the word you might have naturally associated with the phrase on the left? Did you discover some fun things simply by shaking things up a bit in this way?
Now, let’s take it one step further, and crank up the phrasinator. Try reading the first phrase with each of the thirteen words in the right-hand column, one at a time. Then move to the second phrase and do the same thing. Then the third, and so on, until you’ve gone through all the phrases and all the descriptive words. Do you begin to feel your old boundaries melting away as you expand your vocal tool box? Are you beginning to see the potential in this exercise for setting your audition apart from how another actor might automatically read a line?
If you want to continue playing with these phrases, take it one step further by adding punctuation (? . ! …) and see how that might change the way you say the lines as well.
Stepping outside of your natural voice can be a lot of fun! Once you understand what your natural vocal qualities and “sound” are, you can begin to play outside the box and expand the range of characters and qualities you can offer. This exercise helps you play with a range of emotions. As you read the following phrases, you’ll notice that we have removed all punctuation, which can often be a clue to a phrase’s tone. But in order to expand your range, let’s play around with the many different ways the same phrase can be said. First, see what your natural inclination is when you read the phrase. Copy and paste this blog to a Word Doc, and after each one, write down the adjective that you feel most fits the phrase/sentence. For example, a sentence such as “stop,” might be angry. As you read the phrases, see how you naturally interpret the emotion associated with saying the words.
- Over here
- I need that
- Let go
- What are you talking about
- Don’t do that
- I don’t think that’s a good idea
- Give me the new one
- Try it again
- Listen to me
- Stop right there
- Wow that’s huge
Now, review your phrase list and see how you naturally ‘heard’ the specific words. Perhaps your “no,” was “frustrated,” because you assumed that if you are telling someone “no,” it’s because you’re frustrated about something.
Becoming familiar with your instincts can be very helpful because it’ll allow you to make a choice outside of your natural inclination, which can yield very interesting results.
The international book tour is going gang-busters with great signings in the US and abroad. Next up, stops in:
New York City, NY Join us at The Drama Book Shop for a FREE voice-over workshop and talk as well as a book-signing this Friday, October 8th at 5pm. The Drama Book Shop is located at 250 W. 40th St., NYC, NY 10018.
More stops to be announced soon for California, and possibly Florida .
We're also in various local stores throughout the United States, so stop by Barnes & Noble or Borders to pick-up/request your copy today, order online via Amazon or our website as well as the new eBook on lulu!
We will add details and more cities as soon as they are confirmed, so check back to get more details!
Los Angeles, CA. Stay tuned for more info!
In the meantime, need reviews on Amazon.com which YOU can help us with! So if you've read the book, we'd love for you to review it for us, CLICK HERE and write your VOVA Amazon review. Thank you :)
Below is a list of places we've visted and done book signings or voice-over talks! Thanks to everyone who stopped by!
MONTREAL, CANADA at Fantastic Film Festival, doing a VO talk and book signing, July 17 & 18
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA at ComicCon July 22-25, please check Comicon schedule.
LONDON, ENGLAND, c/o London Expo Saturday/Sunday May 29/30, at Excel London, E16 1XL
DUBLIN, IRELAND Saturday June 5th from 12 noon - 2:30 pm at at Forbidden Planet Dublin, 5-6 Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, Super Happy Tokyo Love, 8p-10p Sat March 8, Royal T, 8910 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA90232
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - CANCELED DUE TO ILLNESS, our apologies!!
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, c/o Supanova Con Saturday & Sunday April 10 & 11, RNA Showgrounds
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, c/o Supanova Con Saturday & Sunday April 17 & 18, Melbourne Showgrounds
SAN FRANCISCO, CA The Comic Outpost, 12:30-2:30, Sat. March 13th, 2381 Ocean Ave, SF, CA 94127
LAS VEGAS, NV Alternate Reality Comics, 3:00-5:00pm, Sat. February 20th, 4800 S. Maryland Pkwy, LV, NV 89119
Begin by reading the list below and noting what each particular word means to you: how each word affects you, or what kinds of thoughts or feelings come up when you read them. What are the attributes or qualities of each specific descriptive word? Of course, if there are any of these words that you are unfamiliar with, do not hesitate to look them up.
Wry Calm Perky
Honest Open Cut-to-the-chase
Sarcastic Happy Clipped
Giddy Haughty Innocent
Secretive Emotional Bored
Inquisitive Playful Cool
Sexy Witty Crazed
Earnest Angry Grounded
Trustworthy Confident Relaxed
Start with the first word on our list: wry. Think about what it means to you. Who is someone you think is wry? What are the qualities you associate with wry? What pictures or images come to mind when you think of that word? As they come to you, jot them down.
For example, when I think of wry I imagine someone who cuts-to-the-chase, makes no-bones-about what they are saying but does it in a very tongue-and-cheek kind-of-way. Someone who is wry almost seems to be smirking as they tell you the facts; I can picture a weary mom telling me about a trying to keep her kids’ clothes clean with a wry, “What are you gonna do? I love them, but they just get so darn dirty."
We stress the importance of reading out loud. It may seem simple, and maybe you haven’t done it in years, but it can be hugely effective in improving everything from your acting to your ability to quickly assess a script, make choices, and pull the words off the page. Sir Ian McKellen claims that reading out loud was how he learned to act, and I think most of us will agree that he knows his stuff in that area. So, good enough for Sir Ian, good enough for us. Here’s a simple exercise you can almost anywhere and on your own time: Pick three things to read. Any bit of written media will work. Start small if you want. A pamphlet, a matchbook, a newspaper article, a newspaper ad, a comic book, a shopping list, someone’s blog, anything. Over the course of the day, collect those three things. Now-- and this is where it gets tricky –read them. Out loud.
Read each one at least once through, and if you’ve got time and you’re enjoying yourself, read them through again. See if each time through differs for you. See how the writings may be different from each other. Is one a story? Is one just trying to sell a product? Is one using a story to try and sell a product? Is one just a list of numbers on a receipt? If you’re having fun, give a different “character” to each one, or even switch it up within the writings.
You may not feel a change after doing this exercise, but trust us, it gets your brain and mouth working in all the right ways. Most importantly, as long as you’re reading out loud there is no wrong way to do this exercise. Unless of course you’re a monk who had, until this exercise, taken a vow of silence. Or if you’re in a library where they frown on doing anything out loud.
Sure, breathing is important to staying alive, but because we do it all the time, we kind of take it for granted and we sometimes get lazy with it. Breathing is crucial in voice-over. You can't speak without breathing, and you can create powerful (and safer) vocal effects with proper breath control. To increase your breath control try this simple exercise. Start standing. Simply notice your breath. Now, exhale all the air in your lungs and hop/jump up into the air as you inhale as much air as you can. Then as you land begin counting aloud, "one-two-three-four..." up as high as you can on that breath. When you've emptied your lungs of air once more, jump up as you inhale as much as you can, and then land and begin counting out loud again. See if you can't get a few numbers higher than the first time, speaking as you exhale, or "on your breath."
Do this several times. Try to see if you can best your initial count by 10. Do this every day and you should begin to notice that you have better breath control and increased lung capacity. This will help sustain and protect your voice as you speak "on your breath."
** If at any point during this exercise you begin to feel dizzy, or otherwise uncomfortable, stop immediately. As with any other exercise, consult a physician before engaging in a new or unfamiliar activity.
(Exercises re-published with permission from VoiceOverVoiceActor.com) Flip channels on your television or radio for 5 minutes to listen to commercials. Each time you find a commercial, try parroting the voice actor who is speaking. Try to repeat not only the words, but the musicality, the nuances, the tone, and the inflections.
Then turn off the radio or TV and pick up a random piece of text (it can be an advertisement in a magazine, a book, a piece of mail, etc). Try to use the same vocal patterns, tonality and style you were just mimicking as you read this new material.
Practicing this will begin to train your ear, attune you to what is currently "hot" in the advertising world, and get you reading and speaking aloud, which is important in and of itself.