Self-Direction in Voiceover Acting

Voiceover Directory

Self-Direction in Voiceover Acting


You've got your studio set up. You've got your ISDN line and your method of transmitting voice over readings remotely. You've got a script, a deadline, and specifications. In this DIY-recording studio, do you really think it's a smart idea to do it ALL your way?

How many times have you submitted a remote reading, only to have to revise it and send it back? How many repeat clients do you have – that is, how many production companies return to you for their voice over needs? If the answer is anything less than "every production company I've worked with has asked me for repeat performances," you would be wise to put down the flag of independence and start listening to the beat of the band, so to speak. You do want to march in the parade, do not you? Well, you need to know the steps. You need to understand and practice what producers need to hear in order to make any use of your recording. If you can not follow instructions, you can not do it yourself. Here are some priceless tips (although you can measure the damage done by not following these tips, in your lost income) from the person who will be either writing your checks or scrambling for another, more professional artist who indeed can practice smart self-direction .

VO ARTIST: What's the first thing I should think about when I sit down to record a remote voice over?
PRODUCTER: You should immediately ask yourself, "How can I provide the producer with the best choices in readings for their project, and what can I add to the performance?"

VO ARTIST: What should I do if I'm unsure of what the client wants?
PRODUCTER: It's always best to communicate to the producer any questions you may have; if it is impossible to do that, provide as many choices in reading styles as you can think of. That way, the client is more likely to find one of your readings that fits the bill.

VO ARTIST: How can I tell which direction to take, just from reading the script?
PRODUCTER: Always request delivery instructions from the producer! Take the time to understand how the audio will be used, what type of industry it's for, what genre it's in, and what message is being delivered.

VO ARTIST: Are there any universally-accepted key words or commands for voice over direction?
PRODUCTER: Each producer has a little different style. however, words like conversational, instructional, or friendly are often used to describe the style of voice desired. Get familiar with the meaning behind these adjectives.

VO ARTIST: Should I send multiple versions of the voice over reading, just to be sure?
PRODUCTER: Definitely, and always group them together in the same package, as it makes editing for the best choice much easier than having to go hunt for variations. Producers and clients alike appreciate this. Remember, you're saving the time and expense of having to physically go to the producer's studio to record and, in most cases, getting the same compensation. Take the time to ensure that what you're sending reflectively posits on you as an artist and that you are showing an interest in achieving what the client is seeking.

VO ARTIST: What tactics have you heard of voice over actors using to get "in scene"?
PRODUCTER: Often, voice actors will be extremely animated when reading. I encourage actors to look themselves or someone in the eye as they speak; this will usually result in a more genuine and believable read. Above all, do not lose your smile (case dependent, obviously – you would not want a PSA about cancer to be cheery). I would encourage each artist to record themselves without a smile, and then again with a big cheeky grin. Just listen to the difference it makes in the sound of the delivery. It is quite remarkable.

VO ARTIST: Is self-direction something that can be quickly taught, or is it just gradually learned?
PRODUCTER: I think it depends on the individual, but I can usually tell if the actor rushed through a read or took their time, based on what I receive. The job at hand is what a producer judges the next job on!

VO ARTIST: How can you tell a less-experienced person's voice over reading apart from a seasoned voice over actor's? Is there really a difference, when it comes to self-directed voice over readings?
PRODUCTER: Yes there is a difference between an experienced and inexperienced person's voice, and the word "reading" is key. No one wants the recording to sound like you're reading.

VO ARTIST: Let's say my voice over is neck-and-neck with another person's. What is that tiny little difference that will get me the gig, instead of the other person?
PRODUCTER: Personality and accuracy in pronunciation are key. Remember, the client knows this stuff cold, and they want to feel like you do too. Also, making sure the read is delivered within the time slot needed is important. Of course making deadlines is imperative, but a producer hates to receive a read for a 60 second spot that comes in from the voice over artist at 63 seconds. It shows a lack of caring and attention to detail.

VO ARTIST: Can you give me some general guidelines for various reading styles (narration, character, announcer, etc.)?
PRODUCTER: When reading for narration, consider yourself a storyteller. In the world of grammar, the informative sentence rules. You are stating facts in a pleasant manner. When reading for announcement, consider yourself a broadcaster. Your tone should be loud, and I'm not talking about volume. A "loud" voice is confident without having to yell; far-reaching without screeching. When reading for a character, you probably already have your go-to characters lined up and have been asked to perform that character. If the character belongs to the producer or client, learn about that character or create a personality around that character. This small exercise is important for determining how the character would sound if it was a living, breathing creature. For message on hold, your voice should match the industry. For a dentistry practice, a caller wants to hear reassuring, friendly, and professional voices, for instance. A legal firm would desire a more hard-hitting, direct tone of voice.

VO ARTIST: Where can I send my demo?
PRODUCTER: Send an email with your.mp3 demos to ; If you have a one-sentence description that has served you well, feel free to include that. We have in our ranks some of the most talented writers in the Rochester area, so we can certainly give you a professional, compelling description to accompany your demo. These descriptions help our clients to "preview" your voice before listening to it, which allows them to audition more talents in less time. Lastly, do not hesitate to send a head shot. These things help us to promote you. We consider the audio production industry to be co-operative; besides, your voice could represent us as a production company. We want you to sound your best, even in the promotional period that comes way before you ever step up to the mic.


Source by Sarah Pilato

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