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Open City Acting Studio

How to Break into Voice Acting and Become a Voice Actor

Voice acting is most commonly used for documentaries and cartoons. It can be an incredibly lucrative and enjoyable career to get into, but becoming successful can take a lot of work and most successful voice actors take voice acting classes. Our professors at Open City Acting Studio have extensive experience working in voice over and are students are getting a lot of work in the industry. We have a highly sought after acting program that provides all of the acting techniques and acting classes that people need to become a top performer in the Film & TV industry.

What is Voice Acting?

Voice acting is the art of utilizing your voice for narration or for the voice of a character in an animation. Unlike regular acting, voice acting doesn’t require the actor to be on camera; therefore, they only need to worry about the delivery of the lines by voice, and not necessarily how the line is acted out physically. Just like any form of art, voice acting also has a history that has been tracked and recorded. The first official record of voice acting was recorded as far back as 1900, and it was used to report the weather. Other voiceovers include Steamboat Willie, which debuted in 1928. If you’re interested in pursuing voice acting, it may seem like a piece of cake on the outside, but it’s tougher than you think. Here are a few things to consider.

Different Types of Voiceovers

Here is a list of 6 types of voiceovers:

  • Animated
  • Video Games
  • Narration
  • Commercials
  • Translation
  • Automated Announcements

Not all voice overs are the same, and certain jobs will require a different style of voiceover. While being capable of performing many different types of voiceovers would be great, it can be hard to become extremely good if you broaden your abilities too much. To start, focus on several types of voiceovers, giving yourself an edge over other voice actors and ensuring that you are the one to get hired. Lets discuss 6 popular types of voiceovers.

Animated

This is one of the most common forms of voice acting. It’s used for any animated or cartoon movies in which the characters are not played by humans. Recordings are done from a sound booth where the performer is given a context to the scene. From there, they must be able to conjure the correct emotions and bring out what the director wants from the scene. Examples of this include Pixar movies such as Toy Story.

Video Games

As this market continues to explode, more and more voice actors are needed to fill the demands for this industry. Video game voice acting can encompass many styles of voice acting, from animated voice acting, to narration voice acting, to announcements. With a wide variety of voice acting jobs available, a voice actor is best suited in this category if they are able to perform a variety of different styles. Examples of this include video games such as GTA IV, Tell Tale’s: The Walking Dead, etc.

Narration

Every documentary will likely feature a narrator. These narrators are required to read off lines to give the scene context and further the narrative being driven home by the documentary. This is a completely different style to animated voiceovers, as not much expression is needed in the words. Instead, voice actors seek to use a cinematic style of voice that can be clearly heard and understood. Examples of this include many National Geographic documentaries and animal documentaries.

Commercials

Commercials offer a similar to a narration style of voice acting. Commercial voice actors are once again required to read off their script, engaging with the viewers slightly more than they would with narration. Once again, directors seek a cinematic style of voice to drive home the advertised products. Examples of this can be seen in various fast-food, cars, fashion, and grocery commercials.

Translation

This voice acting, normally referred to as dubbing, is required when the original scene was filmed in another language. The lines are now translated, and a voice actor reads the new lines which are dubbed over the old lines spoken by the original character. Examples of this can be seen in movies originating in Japan that have been brought over and adapted to movie theatres in North America.

Automated Announcements

This style of voice acting is used in our everyday world to provide announcements and information to everyone. While these sometimes may be computer-generated, they are often spoken by a voice actor. Examples of this can be seen on public transit or store announcements.

These are a few examples of jobs voice actors can choose from around the world. There are many more job opportunities available for voice actors, so long as they make themselves available and become skilled in these categories. To become a voice actor, there are a certain set of skills you must develop and master to become a top-level performer.

What Does it Take to Become a Great Voice Actor?

Just like any occupation or skill, becoming a great voice actor takes years of practice and experience. The number one thing it takes to be a voice actor is a passion for the art. Just like any art, if you are not driven to succeed, you likely won’t.

There are quite a lot of voice actors in the industry, and if you are not doing anything to separate yourself from the rest of them, you won’t become a great voice actor. Next, voice acting requires a great deal of charisma. Being able to read lines from a voice booth while conveying emotion can be much more difficult than you may think. A great voice actor will be able to consistently deliver well-preformed lines and be able to match the energy that is needed on a day in and day out basis.

Essential Skills for Voice Actor

There are many skills required to be a voice actor, and while many of these falls under the technical side of voice acting, there are some that differ. A voice actor must be able to market themselves in order to gain job opportunities. A job market like this is absolutely cutthroat, with many people going after the same job. Not many people can have mentors in voice acting that would urge you to apply, create a demo tape, or practice your skills. Therefore, you need to know how to be able to market yourself and get the most out of your name. Building off of that, any good marketer needs a large amount of work ethic to succeed.

As stated above, those who don’t possess the drive to create their own demo tape or practice will be lost forever in the sea of other voice actors. Talent and hard work get recognized in the scene, while those who are seen as slackers will be written off and have trouble finding jobs in the market. An excellent voice actor is also able to be extroverted when the situation calls for it. This doesn’t mean that you have to be full of energy and excitement at all times, but when it comes time to record, you have to be able to flip a switch, and summon that energy and deliver a solid audition.

Finally, as a voice actor, you need to have adaptability and be able to work with change as it comes. If the director decides to change the lines up, you have to be ready to confront that challenge and give it your best shot. Failing to be adaptable can cost you future employment opportunities. These are a few of the essential skills that will help to guide your acting career and help put you at the front of the pack.

Technical Skills Needed for Voice Acting

Here is a list of 5 technical skills needed for voice acting:

  • Clarity
  • Cleanliness
  • Consistency
  • Connection
  • Control

Once you have done what you can to hone your skills working with people, now it’s time to improve your skills in the VO booth. No amount of adaptability or marketing skills will be able to save you if you don’t take the time to advance your craft. Here are a few technical skills you need to perfect and practice to make yourself a better voice actor.

Clarity

When speaking, you have to have a natural tone; and you can’t mumble your words. Clarity is essential for this job, and those who don’t practice will find themselves either tripping over words and stuttering or over-enunciating words and sounding robotic. While it might sound easy to generate speech with clarity, when you are put in the VO booth expected to voice an extremely emotional scene, it can be difficult!

Cleanliness

This refers to mouth noise and the noises your mouth makes when you open and close it. It also refers to any excess sounds that are produced when forming consonants. While getting rid of this mouth noise entirely is impossible, look to cut down on the amount of saliva your mouth produces through consistent practice and sprays.

Consistency

This is the ability to re-create your lines over and over again with little to no variation. If the director loves a take but would like one or two areas improved, you have to be able to reproduce exactly what you did before with the corrections they want. A voice actor who is able to consistently deliver their lines on every take will be a dream for any director.

Connection

A voice actor needs to be able to build a connection with what they are reading and put themselves into the story. If they don’t feel a connection to the character they are representing, there will be no emotion in what they’re saying. It can be extremely difficult to invest yourself in the script and channel the emotion.

Control

An excellent voice actor is able to control their voice at all times and get what they need out of it. They can control their volume, their tone, and their breath to create long emotional passages as needed. Control ties into consistency; a great voice actor will be able to apply stress to their voice on a consistent basis despite how tough it may be.

Voice Over Coaching and Training

Getting trained and coached in voice acting from experienced vocal coaches will help you quickly gain the skills needed to perform the job. Vocal coaches can help you develop all of the above technical skills and teach you how to go about using them effectively and convincingly. A lot of vocal coaches will stress the importance of diacostal breathing, which is the combination of diaphragmatic and intercostal breathing. This form of breathing allows you to control your breath and project your voice in a way that wouldn’t be possible with regular breathing. A vocal coach will help to make this breathing part of your regular routine.

In terms of training techniques, one of the best things to do is gather several different scripts and read them out loud. Make the voices of the characters yours. Practice bringing them to life instead of simply reading off a piece of paper. There is no better way to train than to work with live scripts. As you do this, record yourself and play it back. Be highly critical of yourself and determine if you sound natural when reading the script. Did you apply proper tone, breathing, and expression? Give the recordings to other people and ask for their opinion as well. Take these recordings to a vocal coach also, which will could provide comments and criticism on what you are doing well and what you can improve one. The most important thing about training is that it is consistent and ongoing. You won’t improve if you don’t put the time aside. Along with that, you won’t improve if you don’t take the techniques taught by vocal coaches. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Your Earning Potential As a Voice Over Artist

As a voice over artist or actor, you are not employed by one company, you are a contractor and must consistently look for work. Therefore, it’s up to you to determine your rates and how you will charge a company or agency for your services. A start-up voice actor can look to make several hundred dollars per job and can expect themselves to make roughly $50,000 in their first year if of work. Payments all depend on the number of jobs taken and the amount of payment per project.

How Voice Actors Are Able to Increase Their Rates

Just like any job, experience in the career is a surefire way to increase your rate. As the industry becomes more familiar with your name, you will find that you will be more in demand. If you continue to provide quality work over the years, you will begin to charge more per role. Also, by becoming more versatile, you can find yourself being hired by a company to perform a multitude of tasks (sometimes even for more than one character). This flexibility will naturally increase your rates and get you earning more each year.

How to Get Voice Acting Work

There are several ways to go about finding voice acting work. The first way would be to create a profile on Pay to Play sites. These websites are often frequented by companies looking for voice actors, and by putting effort into your profile and making yourself stand out, you can find yourself getting a call. Look into local businesses in your area and establish a connection with your local radio and nearby businesses. By creating this connection, it’ll be likely that they will come to you when a job is needed. Finally, ad agencies and production companies will post job listings on their website. By actively checking these, you can see if any new positions have opened and can be sure that you are one of the first to apply to the job.

How to Market and Develop Your Voice Over Business

The most important way to market and develop your voice over business is to establish an online business. When first starting out, look to create a profile on Pay to Play sites and create connections within ad agencies and production companies. Create business cards, and after every job, leave a copy of the card with them as they can establish future contact with you. Finally, once you have started to build up a larger following, create your own website featuring your rates, information, and ways that they can contact you. An online marketing presence is essential to succeed in this business. Along with this, you can look into local advertising by taking out an ad in a newspaper; however, they are not nearly as profitable as the internet can be. Focus your marketing tools to the online realm to push your business to the next step.

Recording Your Demo

There are several important things to consider when going about recording your demo. Firstly, you have to show that you are able to convey a wide range of emotions and styles. A director wants to see your versatility and your ability to make convincing performances demonstrating anger, sadness, regular conversation, etc. The more of your talent you show off, the better it will be, but be careful not to make the demo too long as companies won’t listen to the whole thing. Keep each point and emotion short and effective. Remember, this is only a demo.

What Equipment is Best to Record Your Voice

Here is a list of 7 several pieces of equipment that you will need to create professional voice over recordings:

  • A microphone
  • A pre-amp
  • Headphones
  • Mic stand
  • Shock mount
  • Pop Filter
  • Recording Software

Although pricey, investing in all of these things will help to make your demo that much more appealing to companies you send it off to. View this as a necessary investment for your future career.

What to Consider When Creating Your Home Studio

The biggest thing to consider when creating a home studio is the layout of the space itself. A room with a lot of reverb will cause plenty of echo within the microphone, while recording, and will be a huge problem going forward. Using materials such as foam panels can help to reduce reverb and dampen the acoustics within the room. Creating a room within the room, specifically for VO work, will help to cut out any background noise. Using foam can also help to eliminate and dampen noise from the outside entering the room, ensuring that you do not need to worry about external noises while recording. A home studio can take up a lot of room, so make sure that you have the space available to put in all of your equipment and create a soundproof booth necessary for VO.

Choosing your Voice Over Microphone

There are plenty of high-quality microphones that can be purchased without breaking the bank. When looking at microphones, one of the buzz words to look at is ‘studio microphone.’ These microphones are created especially for studio work and recording and, therefore, will produce the best quality for your line of work. These microphones can get extremely expensive, so it is recommended when starting out as a voice over artist to look into a microphone in the $200-$300 dollar range.

Choosing the Best Headphones

When looking into headphones, you will want closed-back headphones that won’t transmit any of the noise within them onto the microphone. As some voice acting will require you to speak over a song or other dialogue, you will need to have these playing while you record. If you do not have a good pair of headphones, these sounds will make their way onto your recording and ruin your progress.

Software Requirements for Getting Into Voice Acting

There are many VO tools available online for you to record your demos. These can range from being free to costing thousands of dollars. When going about choosing software, once again, consider your budget. Free software will severely limit you and will produce audio files at a much lower quality than high-end recording software. High-end software will do a fantastic job and allow for plenty of editing and mastering; however, you will find yourself several thousand dollars down. Getting a good voice over program at the start that can produce a decent quality recording is often the best bet, as you can upgrade later on as work becomes more constant.

Conclusion

Look to practice your skills, market yourself, and invest in a studio to create your own demos. Just like any job, the work can be stressful but can be extremely rewarding as well! This breakdown should help you get started on the right path to voice acting.

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