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Voice Acting Tips, Demos / Samples, and Training A place for aspiring voice over talents to exchange tips and ideas, share stories, post demo and recording samples, and other training sources.

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Old 10-28-2013   #1
RenoRebirth
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Default My Two Cents

While I believe it's established that quite a few people on this site "dislike" me, or have a problem with my attitude, I have a few things to say to all the aspiring voice actors out there, as someone who started out using a built-in laptop mic, auditioning for an abridged series I KNEW was never going to come out, to voice acting in video games, animations, and live action film.
I guess you could consider this article as "advice" as opposed to a "how to," but take away from it what you will.
If you don't like my opinion, don't read it. If you do, then awesome.
If you have anything to say about it, then do so.
I will apologize ahead of time that some of my wording might come off as impolite, but I only do this to make sure my words are SPARKLING clear.

Tip One: Know Your Range
Everybody learns something new every day, this cannot be denied. But before you try to get out there, it is vital, in my opinion, to have a good idea of what your vocal range is. If you can do a young teenage voice, that's great. If you can do a deep, sinister voice, that's great. If you can be a loud, booming, intimidating bad ***, that's great. If you can achieve ALL of these things, then that's great. It's not entirely necessary for you to be able to disguise your voice around every corner. If you don't have a very wide range, this doesn't mean you will not find work. It just means that the number of roles you will fit might be limited.
BUT it is very important to be aware of this, if this is the case. If you can not lower your voice, and your natural voice is very high and young sounding, best to not try out for a character that seems to demand a deeper voice.
HOWEVER, I honestly believe that you should not give up. Just practice, practice, practice. Spend some of your down time practicing higher or lower voices. Really try to stretch your range. Once you've got a good idea of what characters your voice could fit, that's the first step.

Tip Two: Invest In Decent Equipment
So... yeah, this is a big one. I hate to be a prude guys, but if you're just starting out and you're using a built-in mic, then that's fine. If six months pass and you are STILL using a built in mic, then... really?
Look, I get that money is tight for a lot of people. Hell, my money situation isn't too great right now. But you can get VERY good microphones for VERY cheap. I personally recommend the Samson C01U USB mic. I got one on Amazon for $35!!! It's not like you have to burn a hole in your pocket for this stuff, people! Hell, ask your friends. See if they have a Rock Band mic lying around that they don't use anymore. You'd be surprised how good you can make on of those sound.
Don't try out for professional grade projects with a webcam mic. Just... just don't.

Tip Three: Do NOT Rely On Impressions
Oh yes. You can do a good Peter Griffin. Oh, you can sound JUST like Edward Elric. Aw, well that's very cute. But it seems that very few people have the guts to say it, so I might as well.
In the words of Kyle Hebert: "Impressions are imitations - not acting."
If you want to make a professional demo reel, do NOT pack it with impressions of popular characters. While they might be cool to your friends or anybody doing a fan dub, professional directors will look elsewhere if you are imitating an already established voice in your demo reel.
Aside from demo reels, don't limit yourself to unoriginal or fan-made projects. Actually look for something original to be in. And don't give me the excuse that it's hard out there. Of COURSE it is. But you will never get anywhere if you don't try. I used to say "Oh, I'll just audition for gits and shiggles. I won't get the part." Then two weeks later I get cast as the main character. You will NEVER know unless you T-R-Y!!
So don't stick to impressions if you actually want to get somewhere. If you want to do them for fun, go for it. But try to stick to coming up with your own original voices.

Tip Four: Get Rid Of Background Noise
Turn your TV off. Turn your fan off. Close your windows. Stack some cushions or pillows or blankets or foam on your walls. This isn't rocket science people.
If you're just voice acting for fun, then go crazy I guess. But if you're looking for professional work, you're gonna have to put in some extra effort.

Tip Five: Don't Be A Kiss ***
It just makes you look desperate. If you want to get into a project, then the best thing you can do is audition (it helps if you audition rather early on) and wait for a word from the director. You should not contact said director and attempt to butter them up. Most directors see through this. Most directors have busy schedules and do not have time for it.
The best thing you can do is submit an audition, then wait. If you get the part, then I suppose from there whether you and your director have a strictly professional or a more friendly relationship is up to you.

Tip Six: Be Able To Take Criticism
Not EVERY director offers feedback. But when they do, TAKE IT TO HEART!! Do not just brush it off like "Oh, well that's like... your opinion, man." Actually work towards improving.
If somebody says your voice sounds unnatural, then work towards making it flow more naturally. If somebody says your acting is awkward, work on improving your delivery. Do not take everything somebody says to help you personally.

Tip Seven: Give A Believable Delivery
This is the most important tip. Above all else.
It does not matter how good your voice is or how good your equipment is.
Being able to act and express emotion is CRUCIAL! A director might be willing to work with you on how to improve your delivery for a specific character, should you be cast. But most directors I've met don't take chances. If somebody does not give a decent delivery, most of the time, the director will look elsewhere.
I will repeat. Your voice is NOT the only thing that matters. Voice acting is more than just talking into a mic. That's why it is called "voice ACTING." Expressing emotion and breathing life into a character are the most important part.

Tip Eight: Invest As Much Time And Effort As Needed
This one can be tricky, since a lot of people, including myself, are under a lot of stress and sometimes suffer from depression as well. If a director is hounding you too hard, or things are just not working out, then do not feel obligated to continue working under those conditions. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Do not feel as though quitting a big project will mean the end for you.
But, if you are like me and have a higher threshold for idiots and egotists, then it is important to dedicate as much time to your role as needed.
For example, a character I am set to voice is suffering from severe mental/emotional anguish, so I have been starving myself to assist in getting into his mindset. Before I record their lines, I turn the lights off and ball up in the corner for fifteen-twenty minutes. Hell, I once made my throat bleed while voicing a character, but I just played it off and kept the scene going.
I'm not saying everybody has to be a method actor here. But do research. Look into personality traits that your characters have. Put yourself in their shoes. Feel what they feel, know what they know.

Tip Nine: Don't Get Cocky
I do not have an ego. In fact, I have an inferiority complex. But I DO have confidence in the fact that I actually know what I'm doing. Being confident and being arrogant are two VERY different things. Learn the difference people.
But being cocky can mean a few different things as well. You might talk down to people as if you are high and mighty. OR you might think you've got it made and have no reason to put in any additional effort.
Let me explain.
A friend of mine was just starting out in voice acting. He has a job, so he was able to afford studio grade equipment, and he had been in theater for a while beforehand, so he wasn't lacking in acting experience.
On his first shot, he booked a $5000 gig, which was nothing more than a simple commercial. He figured "Oh, this is easy!"
So, he quit his job and he stuck to auditioning for just a few things here and there, thinking "After this, directors will be coming to ME!"
Funny thing. He didn't book a paid gig for another 2 years after that.
He has since learned his lesson, however he learned it the hard way.
Do NOT do what my friend did.
Once you get a big break, don't think of it as an opportunity to relax. You gotta keep trying out for a bunch of different things, paying or non-paying.
Work will find you eventually, but until then, and even AFTER then, you just gotta keep submitting auditions and getting your name out there.

Well, that's about all I had to say, and that's all I'm gonna say.
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Old 10-28-2013   #2
PsychicVoiceSpy
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Nice tips. I had most of this in mind before hand, but sharing your personal experiences on the subject was informative.
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Old 10-28-2013   #3
T-Flow
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Good stuff. Every novice or wannabe voice actor should keep all of this in mind. As an aspiring voice actor myself, I had to learn all of this too. One thing that should also be mentioned is how much of a business/entrepreneur mindset you need to have in order to succeed in the voice over field. A lot of VO coaches now are pushing the fact you need to be able to market yourself in addition to knowing how to act.
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Old 10-28-2013   #4
RenoRebirth
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Flow View Post
Good stuff. Every novice or wannabe voice actor should keep all of this in mind. As an aspiring voice actor myself, I had to learn all of this too. One thing that should also be mentioned is how much of a business/entrepreneur mindset you need to have in order to succeed in the voice over field. A lot of VO coaches now are pushing the fact you need to be able to market yourself in addition to knowing how to act.
I kicked myself afterwords because I forgot to mention that.
One NEEDS to be able to advertise themself. I mean, I know quite a few people who have been doing this for longer than I, yet haven't built up the reputation that I have despite all their years.
This is mainly because I have a bit of business savvy, which apparently carries in my family, but anywho. Part of the reason I have gotten a number of the roles that I have is because I stay "in the know" in certain communities.
YouTube and Newgrounds are great places for amateurs to start. Upload an occasional demo reel. Start a free webpage and advertise your services. Post your resume somewhere.
Make yourself available for scouting. I got my biggest role yet because of a demo reel I posted on Newgrounds.
Just let people know what you do. Who knows? You might just get yourself discovered.
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Old 10-29-2013   #5
Lapianoman
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Your advice is worth much more than $.02...thanks for taking time to post this.


On a related note, Bryan Cranston hits the nail on the head with this acting advice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1WiCGq-PcY
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Old 10-29-2013   #6
MilanTheVillain01
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Default Re: My Two Cents

That was VERY well said, Reno!
In fact, it's solely due to your advice during your Sengoku Basara & Unshakeable projects that's helped me get to where I am now.

I said this before when I was cast in your Sengoku Basara project & I'll say it again here.

As a director, you've got an uncanny ability for casting the right actors for the right characters.
You're an extremely confident & competent director. You've got a real instinctive knack for knowing who & what sounds right & you know how to get us there.


I was honoured & privileged to be cast as the character that I was.
(Even though I was the only audition for said role. But alas, I digress).


The thing I like the most about doing auditions like those.... is the unexpected.
& Reno, you bring out that unexpected quality.
Now, you're not, & you're probably proud to say this, but you're not.... a classical actor. We have those out there in the real world, on camera.
But, it's that whole melding the classical with the unexpected that you bring, that makes for excitement!

Last edited by MilanTheVillain01; 11-27-2013 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 10-29-2013   #7
RenoRebirth
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Quote:
Originally Posted by MilanTheVillain01 View Post
That was VERY well said, Reno!
In fact, it's solely due to your advice during your Sengoku Basara & Unshakeable projects that's helped me get to where I am now.
My my. I must say I'm quite flattered. I take what I do very seriously. I'm always happy to here that I'm helping somebody else achieve their goals as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MilanTheVillain01 View Post
I said this before when I was cast in your Sengoku Basara project & I'll say it again here.

As a director, you've got an uncanny ability for casting the right actors for the right characters.
You're an extremely confident & competent director. You've got a real instinctive knack for knowing who & what sounds right & you know how to get us there.
Ah yes. I shall resume progress on that once I get everything sorted out in my personal life. As well as a new computer.
I don't like to toot my own horn, but I do take pride in my competence. Many people out there are severely lacking in it, so I do like to be that "breath of fresh air" I guess you could say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MilanTheVillain01 View Post
Now, you're not, & you're probably proud to say this, but you're not.... a classical actor. We have those out there in the real world, on camera.
But, it's that whole melding the classical with the unexpected that you bring brings, that makes for excitement!
Well I do one day plan on getting into stage and screen acting. While it is primarily reserved for the more "beautiful" people, I feel confident enough in my abilities as an actor.
But if that day comes, and even after the fact, I will ALWAYS be a voice actor. It's got a special place in my heart and I would not abandon it for anything.
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Old 10-29-2013   #8
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lapianoman View Post
Your advice is worth much more than $.02...thanks for taking time to post this.
I gotta find some way to make money through this, because I have plenty of advice to give. I'm just not sure I'm at that level yet where people would be willing to pay to get my input. I'm not like Kyle Hebert or Crispin Freeman or Todd Haberkorn. I don't have the notoriety yet to really turn a profit off of this. I should really look into becoming a vocal coach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lapianoman View Post
On a related note, Bryan Cranston hits the nail on the head with this acting advice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1WiCGq-PcY
Ah yes. The man, the myth, the one who knocks. One of my inspirations.
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Old 10-29-2013   #9
Der Grapist
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Default Re: My Two Cents

Here is another tip that a majority of voice actors will tell you.

Do theater. If you want to get into ANY form of acting, it is always best to try out for a theatrical production; whether it is in high school, community theater, college, whatever, try out for it. You can get a LOT of valuable knowledge through it. Now, please note, voice acting and theater acting are different in several ways, since you have to be loud and grand in the theater, so the people in the back can hear you. But, it is still a very valuable learning experience for any aspiring actor.
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Old 10-30-2013   #10
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Default Re: My Two Cents

To add to the theater point, performing in general, live performance in particular, is a great way to get more comfortable performing for others and in entertaining people, among other things. Nearly every famous voice actor out there has a background in some form of performance, whether it be theater, stand-up comedy, music, etc.
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