And it’s not even a book about voiceover! It’s called Self – Management for Actors and it’s written by Bonnie Gillespie. Her Actor’s Voice column is must reading every Monday. And her book, Self – Management for Actors, gives you the kind of practical and useful information you need in order to approach the business of voiceover as both a business and an art. Do you get the idea? I think this will be the best under $20 purchase you’ll make this year.
Getting started in Voiceover
Remember, we are also in sales is the title of a thread you need to read on the Voiceover Bulletin Board, especially the first post in the thread written by Dan Nachtrab. Not only is Dan a talented guy (listened to his demos, you’ll see what I mean) he’s also a really nice guy, as I’ve noted here previously.
I received an email this morning from Darrell MacInnis, with some questions I thought worth sharing here. (Note: I asked his permission before quoting him here.)
Bob.. recently discovered your website… informative and your blog.. entertaining. After 23 years of tv/radio news and public affairs… (and reduced to part time)… I’ve jumped into voiceovers. Just wanted to say keep up the great work… As a newcomer, competing in a worldwide marketplace for voice services I’m faced with a giant learning curve. People such as yourself, Peter Drew, Todd Schick, Connie Terwilliger, are appreciated! I’ve gathered so much useful information about putting my own voiceover service together from you folks. It’s true… those who are the most successful are the first to offer advice.
(To which I want to say: I’m not sure I belong in the same list as those talented folks, but let’s continue…)
(I hope I have half your success… so that I’ll have something to give back to others.)
My reply: Thank you for your very kind comments. I’m glad to know that my ramblings have been helpful to you. I’m confident that you will have something to give to others, and you may very well have far more than half my success.
I’ve listed myself under new talent on www.voiceoverdirectory.com and on www.commercialvoices.com.
I have enough opening budget left to list on one of the following two directories, voices123 or voices.com. Although I suspect in the end, I’ll list with both services…as I see you and many others have done.
My reply: I really like the folks at Voices.com (formerly InteractiveVoices.com). They are really decent people. Very responsive and helpful. But, I get far more work through Voice123.com. I’d suggest, since you have funds only to join one or the other, that you join Voice123.com and do the free listing for now with Voices.com. Once you’ve done some more work and can afford to join Voices.com, do so at the $100 level. This would be the most cost effective way to go, I think.
Keep in mind, as you’re reading this: Your Mileage May Vary. For you, it may be that joining any of the above mentioned services is a bad idea. Or, it might be one of the smartest things you’ve ever done. They’ve been excellent advertising investments for me, but you have to decide for yourself.
Not sure if I have the microphone set properly for the type of work I am doing. It has switches on the bottom of microphone itself. One for 0 dB and -10dB. The other is for Low cut, with a straight line and a line that branches upwards?
As usual, confused!
The 0dB and -10dB refer to the electrical level coming from the microphone. I leave mine in the -10 position. The Low Cut refers to whether or not the lowest pitches (below 80Hz is a common roll-off point) are diminished or flat. With the switch in the “straight line” position the microphone does NOT diminish the lowest pitches. With the bent line, the lowest pitches are rolled-off or diminished.
To find the best settings for you, try all of the various combinations. Note that when you go between the 0dB and -10dB, you’ll notice a difference in the audio level if you don’t adjust the input level of the MobilePre. Try it without changing the input level to see what I mean. You shouldn’t damage anything.
Anyway, try changing one setting at a time, recording the same paragraph of copy. Pause Sound Forge as you change the switch. Then when you’ve recorded each variation, play them back one right after the other and see which one sounds best.
If you see something here that’s wildly wrong, leave a comment.
As I’ve noted previously, I think Philip Banks is not only a wonderfully talented voiceover artist, but a man with remarkable insights about this business as well.
These are his words, recorded in the archives of VO-BB.com:
1 – Worry as much about Don La Fontaine as he does about you.
2 – Don’t like what the client is offering? Memorise the following phrase “No thank you”.
3 – They critiqued your demo and you lost how much work? Usually nothing. How much is a worthless opinion worth to you?
4 – Find out if your voice coach likes your voice or your $100 per session.
5 – Learn from the voiceovers you respect but don’t try to be the voiceovers you respect; that’s their job.
6 – It’s your demo. Make sure the producer puts all of you in it and none of him.
7 – In a session when the phrase “that read sucks” is uttered, make sure it was by you.
8 – Your voice will get you your first job but your people skills may prevent you from getting your second.
9 – Don’t make false claims, you will get found out.
10 – Count your blessings every day and ensure you pass a few on to others.
Here endeth the lesson.
Karen Commins is a talented voiceover artist with whom I’ve had a few bits of correspondence over the last year. She’s also a talented writer and I try to stop by her blog pretty often to see what’s new. The post from August 7, 2006 is very much work your time. Read. Contemplate. Make these ideas your own.
The title of this post is one of those standard lines from the movies, usually uttered by a character right after someone has given him (or now and then her) a slap to the face.
So, today, here’s a bit of that from the far side of the pond, courtesy of the talented voice actor, Philip Banks. What follows is the largely unedted text of his standard response to the inevitable emails from folks looking to get started in voiceover. This comes from the archives of the Voice-Over Bulletin Board.
“Nice to hear from you.
So how do you get started in voice overs? Well do you know who they are and what they do? Why do you want to become one?
Things for you to do and think about.
What you need to do first?
1 – Get involved with your local hospital radio station. It will give you technical experience, mic experience, everything you will need to give you a thorough grounding in using your voice.
2 – Do you have a local theatre group or amateur dramatic society? Find them and volunteer, voice over work IS ACTING!!! Even the simplest voice over requires performance skills.
3 – Got a mobile phone? Change the voice mail message on it everyday, try to impress people with it. Make a note of what works and what doesn’t.
4 – Find someone to whom you can regularly read a story. If you’re good at characters, well a good story will give you plenty of opportunity to prove it.
5 – Do you want to go on a course and get some professional training? Get in touch with http://www.voxtraining.com/ , they’ll teach you how to get the best out of your voice.
Enthusiasm is great and it will get you through the tough times, but a space shuttle pilot got to sit in his seat through a combination of training, experience, dedication, enthusiasm and hard work now you must do the same.
Of the list above I did four out of the five, so tell me which one you’d rather not do then go and do the rest.
I suspect like most people keen to follow a career in VO work you would like to phone someone up tomorrow morning and be paid to voice something for them tomorrow afternoon, I’ve never known that happen for anyone. Now it’s time for you to put the work in.
A good voice or a clever/flexible voice is only rung one on a very long ladder. Imagine I am a producer and you need to give me a reason why I should use you in preference to someone else, what would you say? You can’t say good voice, good impressions, good at accents, he’s got that already.
Work in the industry can be feast or famine and in the early days it will be thin on the ground, you just need to keep telling people that you are out there. Remember it is not a salaried job so if you don’t work you don’t eat.
There can be travel involved, it depends what you are doing. In the past 12 months I’ve been as far as Holland.
With the right equipment it is possible to work from home, you can set yourself up for about Â£3,000. Using ISDN technology you can be accessed live from around the world, most local radio commercials are voiced this way.
It is possible to break in and there are lots of people who will give you a first chance but if you try before you are ready you could very easily blow it. Producers talk to one another so your first session could also be you last.
Practise reading aloud, record yourself, listen to voices on TV, radio, film and ask yourself why they are good or bad. Could you have done better.
You will need to make a demo of your voice and put it on CD. Ideally it should last no longer than 3 mins. What are you going to put on it? That’s up to you, but before you decide get advice from the experts.
Remember Philip is based in the UK, so there are a few references in his note that are specific to his country, but the advice is highly relevent anywhere voiceovers are done.
That’s the title of a thread Philip Banks started and finished on the Voice-Over Bulletin Board last year. In the two messages that start and end that thread, Philip provides you with an amazing amount of wisdom about how to conduct your voiceover career.
As you’ll see when you visit his site, Philip is based in the United Kingdom. But, if you need top drawer voice work anywhere in the world, you’d likely not go wrong working with him. Listen to his demos. They’re right there on his main page. You’ll see what I mean.
(Update: At Philip’s suggestion, I’ve added links above which take you directly to the message thread in question.)
I wrote this past weekend about a note I had sent to Bonnie Gillespie, responding to her column about how sometimes bad news is really good news on hold. Bonnie writes a weekly column for Showfax.com called The Actors Voice. Bonnie is a casting director in Southern California and much of the time what she writes is specifically for actors living and working there in the film and television industry that’s centered in that part of the country. But, a great many of her comments apply to us in the voiceover world too.
Now, candidly, this post was sparked in large part because Bonnie provided a very nice comment and link pointing to this blog in the comments section (called Your Turn) at the bottom of today’s post. But, even if she hadn’t done so, I was going to write again about her column because as I’ve read through a good bit of her column archives, I’ve been hit between the eyes again and again. These are really valuable, and more importantly actionionable, suggestions and insights.
I’d like to offer you just one example, also linked from her comments section today. Read this column from earlier this year. When you’re done, come back here, OK?
Back? Good. Now, did you see how Bonnie drove her point home with the anecdotes about the two letters? One actor isn’t experiencing much success and the other is. The key difference? They both think they’re open to learn, but in truth, only one is. The secondary point? When we invest ourselves in others, we inevitably enrich ourselves in the process…and I don’t mean financially, or at least not just financially.
As I’ve written multiple times, and to further illustrate this second point, this is why there are links to other male voice-over artists here. In fact, if you count, there are more links to men than to women. And some of those links go to guys with voices that are pretty similar to mine. Guys who might be taking work away from me. Except, you see, they’re not. Everyone’s voice is distinct. When mine is exactly the right voice for the job, and I’m known to the people doing the casting, I get the job. Regardless of how many links I provide to other guys. And of course, if my voice isn’t right, I don’t. (And of course, if I’m not known to the people doing the casting, that’s my fault, not theirs.)
But, back to the primary point, about truly being open to learn. This means more than giving lip-service to learning. It means more than spending time and money taking classes, reading books, working on demos, etc. It means actually listening. It means living the conviction that there’s always something valuable to learn from any and every circumstance.
To further illustrate, I’ve attended The International Radio Creative and Production Summit every year since 1997. I vividly remember only two sessions that were not well liked by my fellow attendees.
One was a session on creating promos by Bobby Ocean, a session called Advanced Cat-Skinning. Bobby revealed some very specific techniques and ideas that he uses when he’s working on a station promo in this session. He did so while building a promo before our very ears (and eyes, since we were all in the conference room with him) and I think a lot of folks didn’t understand that he was showing us how he goes about solving challenges. It wasn’t about that specific promo, it was about the principles he was teaching us.
The second session was by Joe Sugarman, one of the most successful direct marketers in history. How successful? He lives in a custom home on Maui. During his session, he spoke about many of the techniques he had learned in 30 years of direct marketing about adapting and focusing the copy in his ads to make them more and more successful. Then, in the middle of his session, he demonstrated the very process about which he was talking, by selling us some of his products. That is, he refined his pitch, his offer, and his language as he was offering to us a chance to buy some of his books. As I watched this unfold, I could hear a kind of angry murmur start up among some of those around me, people taking offense at being pitched to buy some books in the middle of this guy’s presentation. What did I think? I thought, here’s a guy willing to sell me a significant part of his hard earned knowledge about how to write advertising copy more effectively, and he’s come down to $100.00. Are you kidding? I got out my checkbook and paid for the books on the spot. It was the cheapest price I’ve ever paid for such valuable information. (And, by the way, much of Joe’s wisdom is distilled in his book Triggers, available for much less than $100.00.)
Look, I’m not perfect at this either; but if we’re paying attention, the opportunities to learn, to grown, to become much more successful than we are, they’re all around us. They’re happening every day. And one of those opportunities is sitting right here on the Internet in the archives of The Actors Voice. Happy reading. (updated to correct verb/subject mismatch)
And Bonnie, thank you again for your kindness.
On Doc’s site you’ll find a few articles he’s written. All of them are good reads, but don’t miss the one titled So You’re Considering a Career in Voiceover? (updated to correct spelling) You might expect from the title that it’s filled with ideas of where and what to study and how to work on your first demo. Stuff like that. Doc’s advice is much better than that.
Joe Cipriano, as I’ve mentioned previously, is one of the guys who works in the major leagues of voice-over.
On his blog a few days ago, Joe mentioned a book that sounds like something well worth a few of your dollars, and mine. The title of the book is Secrets of Voice-Over Success. It’s just $12.32, as of this moment, at Amazon. (UPDATE: price corrected after looking at Amazon.)
If you want to get started doing voice-over work, here are two solid recommendations:
Several days ago I mentioned that the Voice Over Contest at Minewurx Studio had started. Here’s the page where you can hear the current contestants. And here’s the latest news about a prize that’s been added since my last post.
So, if you’re just getting started, go thou and do likewise. Uh, I mean, enter the contest. After all, you could win. And as Michael Minetree, the owner of Minewurx says, if you do, you’re going to be very happy.
To quote Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, the game is afoot!
The MineWurx Studio voice-over contest I wrote about a few days ago has begun. Full details are available here. And, Michael Minetree’s blog post about the contest is here.
If you want to get into voice-over, enter this contest. Even if you don’t win, you’ll learn something valuable. And if you do, you’ll have a great start on your voice-over career.
If you are just getting started in the voice-over business, you will want to watch for the start of a contest sponsored and hosted by MineWurx Studio. I’ve written about Michael Minetree, the owner of MineWurx Studio previously, in a post title A Kick in the Pants.
As I write this, Michael is in the preparation stages of a contest that will be open only to folks who are just getting started in voice-over, or who’ve been trying for a while with no real success. You’ll find his blog post about the contest, here. Just look for the post(s) about the contest.
In the interests of full disclosure, you should know that Michael has asked me to be one of the contest judges. I’ve agreed to be one and in fact told him I’d be honored to do so.