Former Students Who are Working?

20170408_163458Looking for a VO Workout in San Diego?

I decided to offer one – perhaps even once a month. First one is set for Tuesday April 25th, 2017 with more planned for the 4th Tuesday of the month. (No May due to travel.)

Read a variety of commercial and non-commercial copy with a small group of voice actors. Emphasis on helping hone your self-directing skills. Limit 8 people. $25. In studio.

The class is for those who have more than a basic understanding of voiceover and where they might fit. This is not for beginners. If you have any questions, please drop me a note.

In preparation for the class, I want you to think about what you do best. What kind of voice work is your bread and butter? Think about your recent auditions. Bring some of that copy if you have it. Did you land the gig? We need to make sure we are auditioning for the right things. And doing those auditions well enough to grab the producer’s attention.

The link above is a Facebook Event link. If you are not on Facebook, then you can click this button to access the Payment Page. $25.

Advice from Top Casting Director Pamela Fahey

Thinking about “getting into” voiceover? Here’s a little tidbit from Pamela Fahey…

Watch commercials. Listen to them carefully. Create some scripts from the ones you like and think are right for your voice, and then practice like crazy. Everyone has the capability to record him or herself—even if it’s on your smartphone—just do it. See what kind of range you can create by reading one piece of copy.

Hmmm. Sound familiar to those of you who are taking or have taken my Intro to Voice Acting Class at City College?

Get Ready for Characters!

MartianIn a few weeks we will be starting to develop some characters for commercials, animation and video games, so it is time to really start listening to anything and everything where you hear something different than your own natural voice.

What you may start hearing is that the “characters” are not all extreme characters. They are just real people that sound different than you. People with an accent or regionalism. People with unusual cadence to their speech. People with different levels of education and polish.

Another newsletter from Edge Studio arrived today with a great column about finding those “real” characters. If you ever want to compete in the animation business, you need a whole bunch of characters in your bag of voices. Characters that can evolve into other characters.

So where do you find them? I tell people to watch documentaries or any other show where “real” people are speaking. Talk back to them, trying to match the attitudes, accents, pitch, placement, tone. I suggest eavesdropping on conversations and then (when you can find a private spot) try to recreate what you heard. Again, focusing in on what made that voice so interesting.

Edge Studio suggests the same kind of thing in this weeks newsletter that arrived today. As usual, it has some great advice!

The world is full of real characters. How many are in your VO toolkit?

Breathing – we need to breathe

One thing voiceover people (at least early on their career) dwell on is their breathing. We think about whether or not we should reduce the amplitude of the breaths that appear in our recordings. Cut them out completely. Or leave them alone. Well, that depends on HOW you are breathing.

Here is a great demonstration by my pal Patrick Fraley that shows you how you can breathe naturally and then just not have to think about this at all!

The example he shows us in this clip is from audiobooks which is a bit different from commercials where you are often pressed for time and can’t necessarily breathe naturally, but the concepts are the same.

6-Word Stories as Acting Practice (Edge Studio Tip)

Another great blog today by Edge Studio. I may use the concept of this one in class this semester. We sort of do with one exercise, but this post really lays it out clearly with more examples.

It asks the question – how many ways can you read a 6-word story?

The answer is A LOT of different ways using pacing, pauses, emotion, stress, and character. Each take should bring more and more story to the words. Try it. Record it. Play it back. Listen for the differences. Didn’t hear any? Then you need to work on your self-evaluation skills.

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7 Bad Habits of Struggling Entrepreneurs

My friend and bi-lingual voiceover colleague, Dan Hurst just posted a fabulous blog about things that will derail a voiceover career.

Read them. Heed them.

Think back to class when we talked about needing to know how to distinguish between what is good and what it not so good and what is great? Dan addresses this in his post…

2. Not Knowing The Difference Between Good, Better, and Great

This is a common failure among voice talents.

Good is based on the market standard. One isn’t even competitive until one is good. Better is stepping beyond good to get noticed. But great is what the client chooses.

How do you do this in the vacuum so many of us work in today?

Study, Listen, Practice, Evaluate, Repeat.

For those of you who do not own a TV – or watch linear TV and skip the commercials – better find a way to watch NEW TV spots. If you only listen to satellite radio, or Pandora where the spots are homogenized, listen to broadcast radio and STUDY the commercials. You MUST know what is selling, how the scripts are being written, what kinds of voices are being used, attitudes, etc.

Trying to find new spots on YouTube is an inefficient and ineffective method. Until broadcast TV and Radio go the way of the Do-do bird, you need to park yourself in front of a TV or radio and LISTEN to the spots.

While you may not end up doing commercials in your voiceover career, you still need to be able to differentiate between good, better and great. The concentrated nature of a block of spots is the most efficient way to do this.


Want some practice? Volunteer for a Reading Service

This information comes from my Yahoo voiceover message board – from Art Hadley who is an audio producer for a reading service.

–          There are over a hundred reading services for blind and print-impaired people, all across the U.S.  In general, they provide their services (and a closed-circuit FM SCA radio) for free, and read newspapers, magazines and best-selling books.

–          Reading is done by volunteers.  Volunteers are auditioned and trained, standards are high.  (Everyone wants to read their favorite books, but what actually needs to be read is dozens of hours of newspapers every day.)

–          Newspaper reading is great VO exercise.  Sentences are not written to be read aloud, and your ability to make them sound sensible will be challenged.  Reading obituaries for fifteen minutes will never go on your demo tape, but you’ll be better for it.  Good training for a VO pro, and also something you’re probably already good at, so your skills would be valued.  Forget reading thirty seconds; you’ll probably read for an hour.  You’ll need to pace yourself.  Very good training for narration and long-form reading, which requires techniques that differ from intense thirty second spots.

–          Most services want you to commit to at least  an hour or two per week.  Reading is a mix of live and pre-recorded.

–          Your local service would probably LOVE to have you sign up as a volunteer, as long as you don’t go in and act like you know more about it than they do.  After you have established that you DO know more about it than they do, they would probably love it if you’d do a volunteer workshop and train other readers.

–          Many services are members of IAAIS, and on the IAAIS web site there’s a directory where you can find Audio Information services around the country.