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
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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.
Even if you have no aspirations towards a career in voice-over, there’s a lot you can learn from this book.
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.
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.