Beginner’s Guide To Voice Acting

Introduction To Voice Acting
2016

Whether people have told you your entire life that you have a great voice or you’ve recently discovered a hidden talent for creating characters, this book is for you. The Beginner's Guide to Voice Acting is packed with helpful information that explains in plain English how to use your voice to make money, interpret scripts, audition like a pro, and build your own home recording studio. Everybody starts somewhere, and this book is the best place to begin when exploring your voice acting abilities and discovering more about your unique voiceprint.

Being a successful voice actor takes time to figure out how to use your voice. We repeat an important message through this book: It’s not just about your voice, but also how you use it. Although you use your voice in voice acting, it’s much more than just talking, and the craft can bring you a lifetime of enjoyment.

The guidance you find in this book is similar to what you may receive from a voice coach or hear at an industry conference. By employing the tips and ideas here, you can improve your voice acting skills and experience a dramatic difference in how you approach the written word.

Today most voice actors work from home recording studios, away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Voice actors generally rely upon their skills honed from years of working with casting directors, voice directors, producers, and instructors. This book explains how you can assess your voice, look for clues in audition copy, and serve as your own director as often is required for the workaday voice actor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Voice Acting

With step-by-step explanations and an abundance of examples, this guide clues you in on recording and producing voice-overs and promoting yourself as a voice actor with info on:

  • Creating your first demo, a short audio recording used to promote yourself and demonstrate the types of voices you can perform
  • Finding your signature voice, no matter whether you’re young or old or have an accent or not, and then leveraging your previous life experiences into recording compelling, believable voice-overs that clients will love
  • Getting the bare necessities (if you don’t already have them), including a microphone, recording software, and an audio card
  • Using audio-editing software and adding bed music and sound effects for a signature finishing touch
  • Interpreting scripts, deciphering characters, directing yourself, and delivering believable performances
  • Recording, understanding file formats, and capturing or minimizing ambient noise

The advice we present here is tried, tested, and true. We’ve been working with voice actors now for more than a decade and have been in the business of using our gifts for voice and audio production even longer. Having attended workshops with some of the finest teachers and actors working today in voice acting, we owe a great debt of gratitude to many wonderful people who have shared with us of their time, voices, and expertise. Now we share that information with you.

It's All Acting

Many people with a "good voice" think they can waltz in and start voicing ads for big brands or cartoon shows without any preparation, but here's the deal; it takes dedication, multi-faceted skills and, most of all, time.

It doesn't happen overnight so if you are really committed to trying your hand at it or, rather, your voice, then of all the things we could stress about getting started, it is the importance of training with a professional voice-over coach.

A voice-over coach will help you find your "signature voice." Your signature voice is that sweet spot where you sound the best. They will help you develop that style for the various niche markets that your voice is suitable for. They can also demystify the recording equipment you will need as a voice-over artist and will help you prepare your first voice-over demo. Your demo will be your calling card, comp card, and resume all in one so it is vital that you have it professionally produced.

You've likely gathered by now that there is more to voice-over than just having a "good voice." Whether you doing freelance voice work or work with an agent, or both, there are a number of complementary skills and attributes that can help to ensure you are headed in the right direction. Remember, skills you don't already possess can always be learned.

Required Skills

  • ACTING
    Exhibiting acting skills.
  • TECHNOLOGY
    Being comfortable with technology.
  • BUSINESS
    Running your own business.

Acting Abilities

Do people hang on your every word when you tell a story? Are you able to mimic characters on television or in the movies? Do you enjoy reading out loud? Are you animated when you do, giving the characters different personalities as you read? If you answered "yes" to the above questions then you are in good shape because, whether you realize it or not, you are already exhibiting acting skills - and acting is the cornerstone of voice-overs.

Does that mean you're ready to jump right in?

While some people require minimal training, it is to your benefit to hone natural acting skills by studying with a voice-over coach. They will help you train your voice and develop performance skills for all aspects of voice-over including animated characters in feature films, television programs, animated short films, and video games, as well as in radio and television commercials, audio dramas, dubbed foreign language films, puppet shows and amusement rides.

Even if you already have on-camera or theatrical experience, ongoing training with a voice-over coach is advantageous. Acting behind the mic is a totally different experience. When you're in the booth, your voice is center stage and you can't rely upon physical movements or facial expressions to add to your performance.

 

Technology Prowess

Being comfortable with technology is important for voice-over artists today. While you don't necessarily need to be a recording studio tech-guru, it is important to understand how your equipment works and be comfortable using it. From recording gear to working with digital files and navigating the Internet, there are a few basics that every voice actor should have in their home studio. We'll get down to specifics a little later.

Not exactly what you'd call technically inclined?

That's okay. If you typically run in the other direction when someone mentions technology, don't let that deter you from pursuing voice-over. You can hire someone who can help you with your studio setup. Find a reputable company who will explain how things work and why; such as V.O.StudioTech. You could also pursue training from local recording studios or, better yet, talk to a company that specializes in training home-based voice-over artists, such as Edge Studio.

 

Business Acumen

You are the CEO of YOU. Your voice is your product. You are the sales team, marketing team, customer service team and accounting team. Running your own freelance business means you will be responsible for all these areas and more.

What's so great about all that responsibility?

You are in charge of your career. You set the groundwork that will help you get to where you want to be. You will build a book of clients from the ground up and will never have to answer to a "boss." You will do it on your own time, at your own pace. Embrace the challenges this presents. Take courses in areas where skill development is needed. When you adequately prepare for running a business, you will succeed in its management, even if part of managing your business means hiring out in areas that you know are not your strongest.

 
Percentage of your time spent on marketing your services.
 
Percentage of your time actually doing voice-over work.

That's right! Voice-over is about 80% marketing and 20% doing the actual work. As with any business owner, you will spend the most amount of time and effort promoting your voice and growing your client base. In order for people to know you exist, you have to tell them.

What do I need to market myself?

Plan on a three-tiered marketing approach. Once you have been trained, have established your business (home studio included!) and have demos to promote, you are ready to join a marketplace like Voices.com, to create your own website, and send your demos to voice talent agencies. You can also gain experience when you're just starting out by sending your demos to local businesses. Offer to record their telephone prompts or send your demos to some local advertising agencies and let them know that you can provide professional voice-over recordings for their clients' radio and television commercials or explainer videos.

Where To Go From Here

No Experience

If you have no voice acting experience, start at Chapter 1, Meeting The Industry and work your way through the chapters in order. That being said, this book is modular, meaning that it’s designed for you to jump in anywhere you want. Peruse the table of contents or index for different topics. If something piques your interest, by all means, read it first.

Some Experience

If you have some voice acting experience, choose whatever chapter appeals most to you. We've also created a more advanced guide for you called the Professional's Guide to Voice Acting. You may have to refer to other chapters from time to time, but otherwise choose your own adventure at your own pace and in any order. If you choose to go full out and take voice acting from the realm of hobby to that of a business, you can find that each part has useful information that you can apply almost immediately to help you turn your aspiration into a career.

 
THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO VOICE ACTING