What’s one of the biggest challenges for voice actors in today’s industry?
It’s not getting work… it’s self-direction!
Find out more about how you make each performance a dynamite one here at VOX Daily.
Working As a Voice Actor From Home (Alone)!
Before the phenomenon and boom of the professional-grade home recording studio, people in this profession used to go to studios to do auditions and also went to recording studios to complete work they were hired to voice.
Recording at the studio was:
1. Far less of a technical process for the voice actor
2. More social and interactive than being alone at home
3. An environment where voice actors were coached and directed while performing
A Changing Landscape and Career
The role of the voice actor has changed dramatically over the years, mainly because recording technology has become more economical and easier to use.
Since then you’ve been required to take on additional roles and responsibilities such as becoming an engineer, business person, manager, you name it.
What else do you need to do now that you’re working from home?
Most voice talent think that they are just delivering a message, but the truth of the matter is that you’re acting, just as an actor would on stage or in film with the key difference that you are reliant entirely your voice to communicate subtleties, objectives and context.
When you read a script, you need to prepare yourself for a role, and not just deliver a regurgitation of what is written on the page.
This applies to all applications of voice over, not just animation or commercials; every job that you take on is another role you will perform, even work that you may perceive to be corporate including telephone system voice overs, podcasts or business presentations.
Back to Basics – Understanding Your Role
Decide who your character is and give them a life history. What makes them tick, what do they like, and what kind of person are they? Is your character an influential person?
If you’re really keen, write a character sketch, including physical attributes and personality traits. By setting the stage for your character and developing a persona for them, you’ll be able to slide into the role and create a more authentic, organic performance.
What is your character trying to say? Whose attention are they trying to get? What makes their message important and worth listening to?
If you can distill what the main objective of your character is in relation to the people they are trying to reach or persuade, you’ll have more purpose and authority behind your words.
Why should people listen to your character? Why does your character need to share their message?
You really need to get inside the head of your intended audience for this one. Make them care about you and help them to grab hold to your cause by way of artfully communicating the message.
Where is your character when delivering their lines?
You might not think it’s all that important, but for context’s sake, you need to know where your character is while they are delivering their message. It will affect your read and also make it easier for you to create an ambiance if you are using sound effects or a music bed.
How is your character relevant to the people they are speaking to? How is your character motivated?
Remember that character sketch you created earlier? Go back to that now, identify the target market / audience for the message and then piece together how your character relates to the audience they are speaking to. What would inspire your character to speak to this audience in particular? How much do they have invested in successfully delivering the message to those people and what is the desired outcome?
Making Art and Having Fun
Now that you’ve formed your character, know why they are speaking and to whom they are speaking, you’re ready to start experimenting with the copy and make meaningful art.
By giving each line a few different kinds of reads and feeling out the copy, you’ll be able to direct yourself with greater confidence and achieve the kind of performances you might get when directed by another person.
As many great voice actors have said, it’s all about the process and having fun while you’re at it.
Series of Three
Using the Series of Three (courtesy Pat Fraley) is an excellent way to self-direct. Essentially, you prepare 3 takes when auditioning or delivering lines for your character when working at home.
The first is your primary interpretation (A), the second is different from the first (B), and the third is mix between takes one and two (C).
Most directors will end up casting your third take, in other words, your C role.
You could think of this as the Goldilocks method: Too hot, too cold, just right.
To add my thoughts to that, you could easily make your C role how you interpret the copy for any voice over job, not just character voice work. You’ll certainly notice a difference in how you perform and I’m sure your clients will, too.
How Do You Self-Direct When Recording Voice Overs?
Looking forward to hearing about any tricks or special things you do to help you deliver your best performances!
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