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The one I received today includes some valuable practice tips for those of you just starting to hear and understand your own voice. I have mentioned most of these during class so far, but here they are in one fell swoop.
First, PRACTICE TIPS
1. Practicing incorrectly can do more harm than good – so read the following carefully!
2. When new to voice over, do not record more than 30 seconds worth of copy without listening back. If you are reading incorrectly, and you read for long durations, the incorrect delivery will become reinforced.
3. Do NOT ask friends and family “how you sound.” Their ears are not trained. They will miss things and you will reinforce bad habits.
Next, PRACTICE METHODS
4. Listen to commercials and documentaries on TV. Close your eyes and pay attention to just the voice over…extracting the music and sound effects. (Tune out local commercials which sometimes are recorded by business-owners and other less-experienced talent.) Notice how the voice over is less energetic than you originally thought. Then gauge how much energy the visuals, music, and sound effects added, so that you do NOT overdo it when recording. In other words, if a script needs an energy level of 7, perhaps reading at a 5 is sufficient since music, sound effects, and visuals will add more energy.
5. Next, practice the art of using your natural voice in front of the microphone. Simply record your own natural conversation (while speaking with someone). Then transcribe it and re-record yourself reading the transcription. Listen back to both recordings – they should sound identical. If they don’t, you have more practicing to do.
6. Record, play-back, and critique your practice sessions. (Note: do not critique your performance during recording, as it is tough to concentrate on both simultaneously.) If you do not review your recordings, you’re liable to miss your mistakes, and therefore reinforce bad habits.
7. Practice reading long scripts (“duration training”) such as audio books, narrations, biographies, documentaries, and so on. After recording 5 or more minutes, quickly listen back to the beginning, middle, and end. Listen for consistency. If you were consistent, try a longer recording.
8. Read to groups of people, as this will prepare you for reading in front of directors, engineers, clients, scriptwriters, and so on. Libraries, schools, radio stations, and care organizations offer reading for the blind, reading for children, and reading for the aged.
9. Mimic professional voice talent. This will increase your ability to mimic directors when they suggest how they want you to deliver the copy during a recording session. To do this, record a professional voice over, transcribe it, and then mimic it back into your recorder. Then listen back to both recordings to ensure they sound the same. NOTE: Do NOT try to imitate the voice-type of the professional (in other words, use your natural voice) – rather mimic the speed, energy level, emphasis, word flow, and comfort of the professional.
10. Practice with as many styles of voice over as possible, so that you can increase the amount of services you offer your customers. For example, during one practice session, work with children’s scripts, and during another session, work with audiobooks. Go to http://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over/practice-scripts and find many categories of scripts to work with.
11. Practice with as many characters as possible, as this will increase your ability to take direction as well as get you thinking outside the box. Listen to characters on cartoons, animated movies, talking toys, videogames, and so on. Record them, transcribe them, record them yourself, and then listen back to hear if you’re as “vocally free” as they are. Go to http://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over/practice-scripts and find categories of scripts such as “kid’s”, “animation”, and so on to work with.
12. Get free feedback from your peers. Go to the Feedback Forum, upload a recording, and receive insightful, candid peer reviews and suggestions.
13. Have fun while practicing with our Weekly Script Recording Contest. Each week, Edge Studio hosts a free script recording contest. But the most beneficial part is what comes after: You can read why the winners won and why others didn’t.