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28 Veteran Voice Actors Give Brutally Honest Advice to Their Former Noobie VO Selves

veteran voiceover advice

The following is a true voice over story. Pretend you are this person as you read it.

You’re an aspiring voice over actor.

You practice the craft, research how to break through, figure out how much work it is, and buy the right equipment to become a successful voice over pro.

You setup a great recording space. Your mic is ready to go, plugged into your interface and connected to your recording software on your computer. You’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s. You’re all ready to say goodbye to your full-time career and say hello to your dream of becoming a professional voice actor.

You hit the record button. But something is off. It sounds like you’re speaking in a deep well or tin can. You check the connection, the equipment, read the forums online, ask the experts at the store but no one can figure out the problem. You continue to record auditions for voice over gigs, have a recording go live on the radio, but you are constantly tinkering with the recordings and amplifying them because you can’t seem to make them sound right – they just sound OFF.

You start to seriously doubt you will ever figure this out – you are not an idiot, you used to be the IT person at your previous job, but you are NOT an audio engineer and you are not sure if it is your equipment, your settings, your space…you are at your wit’s end.

Maybe this is a sign that this career isn’t for you. You start to shut down and not believe in yourself because you can’t seem to make it work and you feel like you never will.
But you were laid off from your full time job, so you are forced to try to make a living doing this. You MUST face your fears and figure this out.

You decide to reach out to someone on twitter to help you with your problem remotely. He can’t figure it out either. WHY WON’T THIS WORK?! WHY DO YOU SOUND SO FAR AWAY??? He decides to look up the microphone online to make sure he isn’t missing anything. He tells you to describe what you see when you are looking at the microphone and you tell him.

He starts laughing. Why is he laughing? This has cost you time filled with immense stress and self-doubt and now he’s laughing?!

He then tells you the news – Your microphone is backwards – it is facing away from your voice.

You start laughing too in a mixture of embarrassment and hope…could that REALLY be the problem????

This whole time… you have been recording with the microphone turned BACKWARDS. AHHHHHH!!!

You can’t believe it. You feel SO dumb, but you are also so relieved and grateful that this twitter stranger (now friend) took the time to really try to figure this out. It only took a year of frustration to realize that the simplest answer is often the correct answer.

 

Michelle Falanga Voice ActorThe Person Behind This True Story 

 

This actually happened to a very talented voice actor, commercial actor, and writer named Michelle Falanga. I loved this story when I heard it and had to share it. She is an incredibly good sport for allowing me to tell this story. She now has her mic turned the right way and has done some really great work. Listen to her do her thing here: http://www.michellefalanga.com/voice/.

Not all voice actors starting out make this same mistake, but many wish they would have done something differently or followed certain advice when they first started out.

If Michelle had the chance, she would have told her noobie voice over self this:

Voiceover Microphone Quote

 

27 Other Voice Actors Get Honest With Their Former Noobie Voice Over Selves

 

Honest Abe

Honest Abe

It’s okay to make a mistake. It builds character. But in some situations, if you had the chance, you would have rather not made the mistake in the first place. So, I asked some seasoned voice actors to share 1 piece of advice they would like to tell their former noobie voice actor selves. There were 27 responses, many with more than 1 thing to say. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or brand new to the field, you’ve gotta read their “Honest Abe”-like advice.

p.s. If you’re on Twitter, look closely for links to tweet out some of these quotes. When you click on the link provided after the quote, it’ll automatically generate a nice tweet for you to send out to your followers. Just one click and tweet. Have fun!

 

 

1. Beau Stephenson – “Bid high. Under promise.” (Click here to tweet Beau’s quote.)

2. Jordan Reynolds – “Stop trying so hard.” (Click here to tweet Jordan’s quote.)

3. Christian Lanz – “Trust your own instincts more than the advice of others.” (Click here to tweet Christian’s quote.)

4. Jewel Elizabeth - “It’s gonna be worth it, just trust it.” (Click here to tweet Jewel’s quote.)

5. Jan Anderson - “Patience, Grasshopper.” (Click to tweet Jan’s quote.)

6. Garnet Williams - “Move to L.A.” <- Garnet is referring to wanting to do TV and film animation and how L.A. is the best spot for him to do that.

7. September Day Carter - “If your coach is still going on about their 2002 Emmy and has nothing current, move on.”

8. Dan Hurst - “Give yourself 10 years to support yourself full-time. If FT is not within your plan, enjoy the opportunities and options that come along! And most importantly, build relationships with your clients based on integrity and professionalism. I took that advice.”

9. Jay Shields - “Get a quality coach. And work on really listening to your work and remember all you can do is your best and never get down if you don’t get booked.”

10. Laurel Thomas - “Take the time to read, absorb and learn as much as you can now… because there will still be more to learn later and you’ll be that much more ahead of the game.”

11. Bob Bergen - “You know that passion and drive you have?? You know how you want this more than anything else on earth? You know how you work on your craft every waking moment? You know all the hours put in with that little portable cassette recorder? You know the time you devote to your vo, acting, and improv classes throughout the week?? You know the miles of day and night jobs you have to pay your expenses and bills?? It’s all gonna pay off!!! But the hard work and drive will continue, so don’t think you can ever slow down!”

12. Terry Daniel -

“Slow down and enjoy life a little more. Don’t be consumed in voiceover land 24/7. Take time to breathe, reflect and recharge.”

“Don’t let rejection from a talent agent stop you from pursuing your dream.” (Click here to tweet Terry’s second quote.)

13. Jeannie Stith - “Don’t try to sound like anyone else. The more you sound like YOU, the more perfect gigs come along.”

14. Kirsty Gillmore - “Take those acting classes you always wanted to do. Don’t worry that you might not be the most amazing actor or that other people think you’re wasting time and money when you don’t want to be a “proper actor” and could be advancing your “real” career. The skills and techniques you will learn will give you confidence in your abilities on the dark days and will encourage you to take risks.”

15. Mike Pongracz - “As with anything in life, don’t take what other’s say or do at face value ESPECIALLY on social media. In this fairly anonymous platform, it doesn’t take much to look like you’re a player. But with a little research, you can pretty easily (and quickly) discover who the real goods are and who’s just full of shit. Sadly, I fall into that latter category. *wink*”

16. Chuck Davis - “There’s no such thing as “aiming too high”.” (Click here to tweet Chuck’s quote.)

17. Melissa Reizian Frank - “Don’t spend hundreds (thousands) on every piece of equipment “someone” tells you you need, or need to upgrade. Those quick-advice-givers a) may not be as knowledgeable as you (they) think they are…and b) it ain’t THEIR Visa card!”

18. John Melley - “No experience is ever wasted. Even so-called “Non VO” jobs and experiences will all provide value to what you bring to your VO performances.”

19. Marie Kopan - “One step always leads to the next, but it is up to you to Take the first step….take risks and enjoy!”

20. Doug Turkel - “Don’t worry about being discovered. Just be discoverable.” (Click here to tweet Doug’s quote.)

21. Dave Wallace - “Dude (and yes, I would use the word “dude,” as I was in college when I began VO), not to undervalue acting ability, but learn about marketing! This is a business, and you’ll experience success a lot quicker if you learn how to market rather than taking acting classes and hoping something magically happens. Also, quick side note, cut your hair.”

22. Mike Cooper -

“#1: Don’t automatically say yes to everyone. Some clients/projects are way too much like hard work, suck your soul or go against your morals. Learning to spot which ones is what takes time though.

If I could have one more? #2: Work out what your time is worth, and don’t let anyone talk you into going below that figure.

And if I could be really naughty and do a third? #3: Get into the habit early on of asking for 50% (or 100%) before you deliver the files. It’s not how the industry works, but it would have saved me countless hours in chasing up payments over the years if I’d made it my model to begin with.”

23. Lee Gordon - “It’s not just about your voice.” (Click here to tweet Lee’s quote.)

24. Maxine Dunn -

“1. Pay close attention to your GUT. Your intuition. Don’t do something that your intuition is telling you NOT to.

2. Don’t do something “just for the money.” (Click here to tweet Maxine’s quote.)

3. Be fully prepared, both mentally and physically, to WORK YOUR ASS OFF, even during all those times when you don’t feel like it, when your career seems to be going down the toilet, or when you feel overwhelmed. If you want to succeed in voice-overs, you have to be in it for the long haul. Accept that there is no “overnight success” or “quick fix.” You’ll have to “Do The Work.” (A Steven Pressfield book title.)

4. Don’t let your voice-over career take over your whole life. Stay closely connected to your family, your friends, your hobbies, your spiritual life, your health, and NEW interests. Don’t become a hermit or one-track-minded. Your voice-over career is just ONE aspect of your life. What Terry Daniel very astutely said: “Don’t be consumed in voiceover land, 24/7….”

25. Rebecca Michaels Haugh - “Remember that vision you had of that microphone in the window? Go for it! (Glad I did!)”

26. Marc Scott - “Start reading books about business, sales, marketing, etc… from day one!” (Click to tweet Marc’s quote.)

27. John Lano (I had to put my own in here.) - “When it comes to a voice over audition, send it and forget it.” (Click to tweet John’s quote.)

 

Thanks for reading all these quotes and thank you, contributors, for giving me your permission to share your words of wisdom.

p.s. If you enjoyed this post, you should subscribe to receive all of my new blog posts delivered right to your email inbox. Simply scroll up and look on the sidebar to the right where you’ll see a box that says “Don’t Miss Out.” Just fill in your name and email address.

 

Abraham Lincoln photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoartdepartment/.

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1 Romantic Move To Get A Voice Actor In The Mood (For A Script)

Of course I was talking about getting in the right mood for a voice over script! Sheesh…Voice Over Emotion

But seriously, let’s get it on…

…with getting in the mood for a voice over script.

Again, obviously I was talking about a voice over script.

Okay… let’s do it.

Alright, alright. Enough with the innuendos.

So the following move can help many voice actors get in the right mood or emotion for a script. But I don’t want just voice actors to heed this advice. Those who hire and direct voice actors should also try this when trying to yank out the appropriate emotional quality in a performance.

Many voice over coaches teach voice actors to use pictures or visualizations in their head to help visualize the situation or get in the right mind frame for delivering the appropriate emotions in a read, whether that’s happy, concerned, angry, bummed, jealous, shocked, apathetic or bored. For example, someone might look at a cute puppy when trying to get in a lovable and caring mood. Okay, I couldn’t help it… Here’s a picture of my parents’ 9 month old Cockapoo named Bosco.

Bosco

Yes, seeing this picture of the li’l guy makes me feel caring and lovable. But that doesn’t always work for everyone.

There is another trick that I don’t hear about very often in the voice over world and there’s some psychological research showing that it could be quite effective:

 

Listening to music.

 

Music has been used for years to help set the mood in numerous situations, like playing the soulful sounds of Marvin Gaye or Barry White during a romantic evening with your partner.

Music can act as a powerful trigger within the human brain. Watch the video below and see how this patient with the heart-breaking and crippling disease of Alzheimer’s reacts during and after listening to music. It’s an incredible transformation. (Skip ahead to the 2:00 mark if you are crunched for time.)

 

 

So how can the power of music help voice actors get in the right mood for a voice over script?

 

1. Music can cause genuine happiness.

Researchers have found that listening to happy music with the goal of elevating your mood can cause a genuine happy mood. An important caveat here is that you must have the goal of being happy when listening to the music. Specifically in the study, “participants improved their mood after being told to try to do so, but they only succeeded when they listened to the upbeat music of Copland, as opposed to the sadder tunes of Stravinsky” (Boothby). If you don’t know who those composers are, compare their music below.

Happy Copland

 

Sad Stravinsky

Voice actors and directors do this:

Use music in conjunction with pictures. Before recording or directing a script that calls for a happy or elevated mood of any kind, voice actors should listen to the happy sounds of Copland or some other song that is happy to their ears while focusing on the goal of being happy. After that, the voice actors should look at a picture of the product they’re is talking about to connect that emotion with the product. Then, record away.

 

2. Music can make you sad, too.

Researchers have also found the opposite. Listening to sad music can cause sadness (MedicalNewsToday). However, it has to be music that you can consider sad. Also, you don’t need to have the goal of lowering your mood like you need when listening to happy music.

Voice actors and directors do this:

Before recording or directing a script that calls for a sad or lower mood of any kind, voice actors should listen to music that they find sad. This won’t be as common in most voice over scripts, but it may be helpful to also look at a picture of the product or whatever the situation is within the script. Then, record away.

 

3. Emotion, language and memory centers in brain connect when listening to music.

Music truly does do incredible things to your brain. When you listen to it, the emotion, memory and language centers of your brain connect (Mohana). While it is not clear what the effects are for voice actors, I think this linkage in the brain can be an important tool when voice actors are trying to find a very specific emotion or mood for a script.

Voice actors and directors do this:

Instead of general sadness or happiness, voice actors can find a very specific emotion to channel when performing a script. Voice actors should listen to a certain song that is tied to a very specific memory or emotion from their past. They can then do an audit of important songs to them throughout the years, and make a list of the exact emotions they felt at the time. When a certain script calls for that type of emotion, they can quickly listen to the song and be transported back to that emotion and time to create a genuine performance. The connection that music makes between memory, language and emotion can perhaps create a more realistic performance when compared to only looking at a picture. Once actors make this connection after listening to music, it’s time to record.

 

Your Turn:

What songs do you associate with happiness, sadness, or any other specific emotion? Share you answers in the comments below so others can add it to their list.

 

 

Boothby, Suzanne. “How Music Affects Our Moods.” Heathline News. N.p., 17 May 2013. Web.
Mohana, Malini. “Music & How It Impacts Your Brain, Emotions | Psych Central.”PsychCentral. N.p., n.d. Web.
Rattue, Petra. “Sad Music Can Bring On Real Sadness.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 12 Feb. 2012. Web.

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Posted in All Posts, Psychology and Voice Over, Voice Over World
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