5 Voice Over Things You Can To Do Right Now!

I know you all know how to study, how to take workshops, how to practice but when it comes to actually taking the next forward action – do you freeze? I have noticed some people just stay in classes or maybe you could call it hiding but I don’t want to presume. I just know that getting out there and doing it  – Acting like you’re a professional/Being a professional is being actively responsible for your career.  You can’t wait until you think you’re absolutely perfect at it.  You need to get going and make mistakes, learn from them and get to work!

I made a little list to help out those of you who may be a little “stuck”.  I hope it can help shove you out of the nest bit if you need it!

  1. Get Your Home Set Up Going – If you don’t have a usb microphone, some decent software  and a quiet place to practice auditioning you are missing out.  Most talent agencies have cut way back or just eliminated “In-house” directors for auditions so most are auditioning from home.  In fact, I think some of these agencies are being run out of someone’s bedroom and have no brick and mortar address but still, you need a good set up. You can see a past blog of mine where I listed several options for microphones.
  2. Learn How to Self Direct – Script analysis and technique will be key here. You need to be able to figure out what they want quickly and deliver. It can get crazy if you’re not sure. Too many takes leads to insanity and plenty of editing time. Know what is going on in the world and the Zeitgeist of voice over art. “The Zeitgeist is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.” If you are current, you should be able to read any commercial script and understand it. After that GET THE JOKES! They love that. In animation, you better have had some scene study or improv. Think on your feet and get those characters out onto the airwaves.
  3. Network – Yes, I said it. In Los Angeles the voiceover community is tight. There’s no one place, no local bar or clubhouse where everyone hangs out but there are some opportunities to meet and mingle. Our beloved Rob Paulsen “(TMNT, Animainiacs,Pinky and the Brain etc.) has a fantastic live show called “Talkin’ Tunes” at the Improv on Melrose Ave. I have been several times and each time he has a theme and a fantastic panel lined up to interview. There were more voice actors intuit nightclub than I had every seen together. Have been back several times and not only learned but met new people and had access to some very sought after voices. There are also “Meetups” in town or, you should start your own!
  4. Social Media – I know, it’s a very weird thing to say but if you haven’t heard or seen people be discovered onTwitter or Facebook, you’re living under a rock. I am going to be starting up my Twitter Chat again next month and hope to have some interesting people for you to meet. The chat was something I learned when I took Madalyn Sklar’s “Twitter Smarter” webinar. http://www.madalynsklar.com/twittersmarter/  Madalyn is mostly a music consultant but I learned so much by digging deeper into Twitter with her. You will need to promote yourself. I encourage you to come up with an original idea for a weekly SM post. This could be a recording, a Vine, a video of you at the mic, anything that is fun, creative and entertaining. Not only is it good for exposure it is fantastic for your creativity!
  5. Forget the Competition – You are only competing against yourself. Stop telling yourself how hard it is and start loving the journey! For the most part the V.O. community is friendly and supportive….most people want you to succeed!  That is true in life. People want you to be good and get that job and have a happy life. If you find some that don’t “Ain’t Nobody Needs That In Their Life”  Move along. You will find that doing voice over work and preparation, imitating the greats, experimenting and creating new fun things to work on are all positive and the universe knows it! By the way, do something for someone else today…they don’t have to know about it either….just make a nice gesture or be helpful, it feels really good.

There’s No Such Thing As Part TIme Voice Acting (Six steps for training to be Full Time)

I have recently received a lot of calls from people, some of them actors and some just curious people who are looking to pick up extra money doing voice over part time.  This is always astonishing to me.  Doing Voice Over work part time? I wonder if my doctor is just part time, didn’t she put in years and years of hard work and training to become a doctor?  The same goes for being a voice actor.  The operable word here is ACTOR.

Part time – nothing could be further from the truth.  The training, the scene studies, the improv workshops, the workout groups, and the home studio equipment are all an investments in a Full Time career.  I don’t know how anyone could keep up with auditions, continue to work on their voice and acting chops, do the work required in sessions and consider it “part time”.

Here are six steps to learning to become a voice actor that you cannot skip or complete part time:

  1. Taking Workshops – Learning from many sources is imperative in voice acting.  A director, an actor, a casting director and an agent all have invaluable information on not only technique but how to conduct a business (your career is a business).
  2. Improvisation Training – Yes, this is important for your work.  Thinking on your feet is a very important skill and character development and creation are what you’ll learn here.
  3. Scene Study – Yes, a true and honest look at this kind of acting is immeasurably important. You will be working with other actors, you will be analyzing characters, you will be giving your performance dimension as well as learning the fundamentals.
  4. Workout Group – If you can find a good workout group that has guest directors that are agents, producers and casting directors you will learn a whole lot in a short time.  This is a concentrated way to learn to audition and be confident in your choices.
  5. Learn to Record and Edit – This industry has taken a turn into home recording your auditions.  Some talent agencies are completely eliminating booth directors for auditioning. In order to make your home recording competitive, you ‘ll need to learn how to record, edit, master and send an MP3 of your work. This also means an investment in quality equipment such as a good microphone and a working knowledge of recording software.
  6. Learn to Self Direct – OK, now you’re on your own when it comes to auditions. Too fast, too slow, too loud, the wrong direction, a BIG character or a moderate or small character, am even in the ball park?  This comes with trial and error but it also comes from TRAINING! This leads back to workout group and casting director’s advice and direction.

So, if you can do all of this part time have at it!  You’re amazing!  If you are just starting out, I hope this list will be a guide to send you in the right direction.  No matter what…I wish you success!

As usual – Take my advice, I won’t be using it.

I’m Back and Bigger Than Ever Before! (Dial In The Cheesy V.O.)

Well, I’m sorry.  I have not been around for many months and I’m sorry.  I would have helped me I’m sure if I had just logged in and journaled a little bit but, I know you don’t want hear about my private life.  Or do you?  Maybe…

Well, my Mom passed away after along and uncomfortable illness. . She was 90 years old and lived a great life pretty much doing whatever she wanted to in her retirement years which included volunteering, traveling and reading. She was my best friend and I miss her every day and always will.

Well, did you really want to hear that? Maybe….

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on, so now :
I’M BACK AND BIGGER THAN EVER BEFORE!

Those of you born after 1979 will not recognize this slogan. It was used quite often in advertising, film promos and probably even professional wrasslin’. It was the kind of Voice Over that punched you in the gut, pounded your head and boxed your ears. Sort of like the Pomona Speedway announcer screaming SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! We used to laugh and then as I got older it got annoying like any advertising that never changes and rams it’s copy down our throats! This is not the type of voice over that is popular now. In fact, it is mostly shunned and mocked as an example of what not to do. However, I have come across many times when actors need to know how to perform that style of voice acting and have no idea how to.

I teach it this way – “dial in the cheesy”. This means cheesy announcer, circus barker and used car salesman. I have a stack of many, many scripts in animation and commercials asking for this type of read as a character. Sometimes he’s a Mayor, sometimes he’s a principal…whatever. Larger than life, maybe dishonest, definitely disingenuous and certainly a fun character to play. It’s a character men should have at their disposal.

To my new students I always say – if something like this doesn’t feel “over the top”, it ain’t right.

I hope this little tidbit may spark something in your brain.

As always, take my advice I won’t be using it.

Lauren

What Voice Actors Need In Their Home Studios

I have heard auditions and I have heard what is supposed to be “finished work” from home studios. Most of it is fairly good “sounding” but a lot of it is not.  I have talked about this before.  If you don’t have the right equipment, you will not present yourself in the best possible way.  I have quite a few microphones in my studio (which is not in my home) and some average sounding ones for different musical endeavors and effects but I would never send in an audition or finished work on anything but the best.  Now, you might say “I don’t have the money to buy a decent mic, recording software and DAW (Digital Audio Workstation or pre amps)” but that’s not true!  There are plenty of decent mics for under 300.00 or lower, plenty of FREE software and plenty of affordable Audio interfaces. Yes, there is an investment here but no, it doesn’t have to break the bank.  You can do your own research but here is where you can start.

Here is a list of some things you might consider for your home studio to make it sound better than a cassette recorder with built-in mic.  (Look up “cassette player” in your old people’s dictionary)

MICROPHONES

The Audio Technica AT2020 USB 

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These are both good, affordable mics.  The USB is optimum for direct plugin to your computer or laptop,.  There is also an AT2020 that has xlr connection.

AT2020 USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

AT2020 USBUS $229.00
Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
Side-address studio condenser microphone with USB digital output (Windows and Mac compatible) offers studio-quality articulation and intelligibility. Based on the critically acclaimed AT2020. Includes tripod desk stand, pivoting stand mount, USB cable & storage pouch.AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

AT2020USB+US $269.00
Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
Audio-Technica’s new AT2020USB+delivers the renowned articulation/intelligibility of its namesake in a digital-friendly design equipped with USB output; high-quality A/D converter (16 bit, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate); headphone jack for no-latency monitoring; and mix control.

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SE ELectronics X1 USB 299.00 
The X1 USB offers the same robust performance as the original X1, but with the added convenience of plugging straight into a USB port on a PC or Mac, negating the need for an audio interface or external power supply. A very nice sounding mic.
yetipro
Blue – Yeti Pro Under $200.00

The Yeti Pro is the world’s first USB microphone combining 24 bit/192 kHz digital recording resolution with analog XLR output. Featuring three custom condenser capsules and four different pattern settings, the Yeti Pro can capture digital audio with up to four times the clarity found on CDs. Plus, the Yeti Pro features a cutting-edge A-D converter chip and separate analog circuit path for use with professional studio mixers and preamps. You also get a built-in headphone amplifier for zero-latency monitoring, and direct controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, mute, and microphone gain. So whether you record at home, in a studio (or in the Himalayas!), the Yeti Pro is your ultimate sound solution.

DAW – Digital Audio Work Stations
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Focusrite Scarlette Solo  $99.00
Scarlett Solo is a member of the top-selling range of USB audio interfaces in the world – a range that sells on its sound quality. From the simplest to the most sophisticated, each Scarlett USB 2.0 audio interface provides the perfect combination of top-quality precision digital conversion and Focusrite’s legendary mic preamps. Like all Scarlett interfaces, Scarlett Solo is fully compatible with Macintosh® (including Yosemite®), and Windows® computers, and with the included Red 2 and Red 3 AAX plugins, it’s a perfect partner for Pro Tools®.  I own the 18i8 and I adore it!
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 Presouns Audio Box iSeries $169.00 For iPad!
 If you have an iPad you will love this!
The USB 2.0 bus-powered AudioBox iOne and iTwo provide high-quality audio I/O for Mac®, PC, and Apple iPad®. These compact, ruggedly built interfaces offer high-performance Class A mic preamplifiers, record 24-bit audio at up to 96 kHz, and include powerful, easy-to-use Studio One® Artist DAW for Mac and Windows and Capture™ Duo recording software for iPad.
RECORDING SOFTWARE
AUDACITY – FREE
Audacity is a free download and fairly easy to use.  There will be a learning curve but it is decent software for voice over. Audacity is a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application, available for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux and other operating systems.
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SOUND STUDIO – APP FOR MAC $29.99
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Super easy to learn and use.  I use this at home after I record on my HD Audio Recorder Pro App on my phone, when I am away from the studio. I just put the recording into Sound Studio and edit in there.  It’s handy and you can use on several devices for one price.  Record, edit, and produce your audio with Sound Studio, an easy-to-use Mac app for recording and editing digital audio on your computer. Digitize tapes and vinyl records, record live performances, create your own mixes with crossfades, tweak the levels and EQ, apply digital effects and save in all major file formats with Sound Studio!
PRO TOOLS 12 Subscription $29.99 per month  (There is a free version also)e8f041a2
Although Version 12 is out now, I have not upgraded to it. It is now a monthly subscription so, if you can get ahold of 11.0 version you can actually own it.  There is also a free version called “First”, which you should probably start with. Pro Tools is  industry standard .  Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation for Microsoft Windows and OS X developed and manufactured by Avid Technology. Pro Tools can run as standalone software, or operate using a range of external A/D converters and internal PCI or PCIe audio cards with onboard DSP. There are currently two main versions: 11 and 10. It has also been announced two other releases known as 12 and First, a free version of the DAW.
As usual…take my advice. I won’t be using it.

Voice Over Health: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself and Your Voice On the Road

(Written on Virgin America Airlines Flight 327 March 10, 2015)

I am on a jet right now traveling from the East Coast back to Los Angeles, CA. Before I left, I asked my pharmacist for some surgical masks or whatever they are called. He always smiles and laughs but I refuse to get sick on a jet. I don’t always use it but today the smelly 20 something with the cough is enough to make me don the “Germaphobe” mask. The surgical mask is not the only precaution I take and I offered this to my seat mate but he declined saying, “It’s a little too late for that”.

Here is a list of things you might want to consider for your health, your voice and your general well being when traveling.

  1. Hydrate The first thing I do after security is buy a large bottle of water. Jets can be extremely dry inside and you need to keep your throat well lubricated. Not only for hydration but to ward off infections flying around. Most commercial airlines fly in an elevation range of 30,000 to 35,000 feet, where humidity typically runs at 10 percent or lower. At very low levels of humidity, the “natural defense system” of mucus in your nose and throat dries up and is crippled, creating a much more tolerant environment for germs to infect you.
  2. Bring Wet Ones or Wet Naps, whatever you feel is best. For years, I have wiped every inch of my area clean when I get on a jet, from the tray table to the seat belt to the air blower to the window shade. I refuse to get sick! Today when I lowered my tray table there was what looked to be spilled wine all over it and on the handle too. Ever wonder how clean they actually “clean” these things between flights? I noticed that as the pilots were walking off the plane, they were already calling for first class to board. That doesn’t allow for a clean seat!
  3. Turn the air on and let it blow across your face for the entire flight. This will let the germs blow away. Honestly, two doctors have told me this very same thing. It circulates the germs away from your eyes and nose.
  4. Wear a surgical mask if your seat mate is sick. This guy is hacking up a lung into his hand and then touching the screen all over the place on the headrest or wiping it on his pant leg. Yuck. Mask.  Your pharmacist will give you some or you can purchase them.  I am not embarassed by wearing it at all but then again, I never care what people think.  BTW, there were three of us on this flight wearing masks.  I have a friend who is a flight attendant and frequently flies in and out of Narita Airport in Japan.  She says, they take your temperature (from outside your body) as you are exiting security.
  5. I know you know this but…wash your hands, a lot. Every bathroom break deserves a hand wash! I still use hand sanitizer after I wash my hands on a jet.  I’m not fully convinced that the water is as clean as we think.
  6. Use earplugs  The noise of a jet roar is deafening. I usually block it out by plugging in my headset to listen to music or watch TV but if you don’t have that option or are trying to get some sleep, use earplugs to save yourself from fatigue and tinnitus.(more about this in a future blog)
  7. Sleep! Stay healthy enough to fight these viruses by getting enough sleep, eating little to no sugar and exercising
  8. Probiotics take a quality probiotic. 70% of your immune system is controlled by the gut.
  9. Toothpaste Yes!  Believe it!  You can use mouthwash or brush your teeth to save your immune system too.  Your gums and mouth can be infected just as easily. So, on your bathroom run – Brush your teeth too!
  10. No Alcohol Momentary euphoria, immediate dehydration.  Your choice.

From http://www.mayoclinic.org

Although more than 100 viruses can cause a common cold, the rhinovirus is the most common culprit, and it’s highly contagious.

“A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. But it also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure, you’re likely to catch a cold.”

There you have it.  Take My Advice, I Won’t Be Using It!