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Learn: Becoming Voice Over

Voice Acting is more than just, “I’m going to record my voice and get paid to do it.” There are some things that help you along the way though, and I am figuring these out as I go – reading books and blogs, taking classes, watching YouTube Videos, learning how to build a home studio, learning the technology, purchasing software and equipment, practicing, networking, and creating a website. All this takes time.

According to ZipRecruiter an entry-level voice actor makes, on average, $13,500-$31,999 per year. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t earned a dime yet. I’m taking 2022 to prepare and in January 2023 I will start auditioning.

My Voice Over (VO) journey started in January 2022 with Paul Liberti’s class, AUDIO BOOKS - Narrator/Author Connection!, which I found through Actors Connection. This was a 5-week class that met online, via Zoom, once a week for 3.5 hours. I learned SO MUCH not the least being:

  • There are super-talented actors out there who are both working in VO and taking classes to get even better (and they are in class with you). In my class was a woman who had already recorded 20+ audio books, a Broadway actress, actors who work in Commercial VO expanding to audio books, and a woman who later won an award for her VO work.

  • When I am nervous or seeking approval, my voice pitches up, if I'm not careful, and I talk in a “head voice” that comes across as unsure of myself.

  • “Chest voice” is always stronger.

  • Vocal warm-ups are important.

  • It is helpful to listen to the coaching given to others, not only yourself.

  • As Paul says, “It’s head, heart, body.” And you need to engage all of them.

  • Form connections with your material. Picture who the characters are to you. See their eyes.

  • Do your research. Learn about the author because this helps you know about the book.

  • It is exciting to perform excerpts from a book for the book’s author (especially one whose Newberry Books are in your personal library). Our last class was dedicated to reading in front of the author with Paul coaching and directing each student. Getting the author’s reaction is pretty cool. Our author was Erin Entrada Kelly, who writes middle-grade fiction, my favorite genre to read aloud.

I’ve taken several of Paul’s classes since January 2022: ACCENTS ON ACTORS – Accents for the 21st Century Levels 1 & 2, Online Character & Animation V/O Technique Class, PRO SECRETS for CREATING YOUR VOICE OVER DEMOS - Online Intensive, HOME STUDIO PRIMER 101: How Do I Set Up A Voice Over Studio at Home?, Level 1 INTRO TO COMMERCIAL VOICEOVER, and ADVANCED Online BOOK IT! - Home Studio Voice Over. These are all offered through Actors Connection.

I’ve also taken Debra Sperling’s AUTHENTICITY IN VOICEOVER. As Debra says, “There is not one class that will teach you everything you need to know. But each class you take is another tool in your Voiceover toolbox.” This class is limited to 5 students per class and is in high demand. It is one night, for 3.5 hours.

Frank Verderosa co-taught HOME STUDIO PRIMER 101: How Do I Set Up A Voice Over Studio at Home? with Paul Liberti through Actors Connection. I also took Frank’s SOURCE CONNECT class, his GARAGEBAND class, and his RX ELEMENTS class available through his website. He also helped me create my home studio, but that’s a different blog post.

In addition to classes, I took Rob Holt’s Voice Box VO BUSINESS AND MARKETING SEMINAR to learn more about the business side of VO.

Things I have learned:

  • Commercial VO is different than Animation VO is different than Audio Book VO is different than Video Game VO is different than Narration VO is different than Announcing VO is different than Promo VO is different than E-Learning VO is different than Corporate VO. They require different sounds, pace, characters (or not), energy levels, and even microphone types.

  • Demos are expensive so wait until you are ready and work with someone who knows the VO industry.

  • Know how to sound contemporary in the VO area for which you are auditioning. How do you know? Take a class!

  • You can set up a home studio, but it takes work, and it is not free. And you will need help.

  • Some accents are easier to do than others, it is not just getting the pronunciation correct, it is getting the music and lilts, as well as the placement of the words in the mouth. Accents need to stay consistent, and they all take PRACTICE!

  • Learn accents prior to needing them. Like a long time prior to needing them.

  • Animation characters are not the same as video game characters which are also different from audio book characters.

  • Animation characters talk FAST and leave no dead air. Pausing is not a thing in animation.

  • There is more than one way to read a script and have it sound fabulous.

  • There are techniques you can learn that help your auditions stand out.

  • Remember when I quoted Paul earlier with, “Head, Heart, Body?” That is important. Whatever you are working on needs to involve all three.

  • As a voice actor since home studios became the norm, you must know how to edit and send audio files, manage your time and auditions, send invoices, and collect payments. You are your own small business.

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