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.

Filtering by Tag: exercises

Microphone Technique

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!

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Take Action #27: Getting your own practice copy together

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…

Take Action #26 Practice Copy

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.

Take Action #15: Front-Mid-Back Sounds

1. Using a “nee, nee, nee, nee” sound, try squinting your eyes or scrunching your face muscles between the sounds and on some of the sounds to create a more nasal resonance2. Switch to humming to feel a very mid mouth placement 3. Now move the sound to the back of the mouth and throat by making a “guh, guh, guh guh” sound. 4. Try switching between the “nee”, the hum and the “guh” tofeel how your voice resonates in different areas of your body.

It can be very fun to learn to control your voice and be able to switch between a voice that is more frontal and a voice that is further back. Try reading this paragraph out loud in your natural voice and while doing so, move the sound toward your nose for a bit, and then reverse it and move it toward your throat and belly. Pay attention to where your voice is most comfortable as well as where it’s beginning to expand to offer you new and exciting options.

Take Action #11 - Can You Shake Up Your Rhythms?

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
  • No....................................................Annoyed
  • Try it again........................................Uncomfortable
  • Listen to me......................................Angry
  • Alright..............................................Secretive
  • 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.


Take Action #10 - Can You Step Out of Your Natural Voice?

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.

Exercise: Phrases

  • 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                   
  • No                                                         
  • Try it again                                         
  • Listen to me                                      
  • Alright                                                 
  • 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.

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Take Action #7 – How do these words make you feel?

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.

Adjective/Adverb List

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."