If you’re planning to launch a rewarding career in voice acting, you need to prove that you know how to record voice over. This entails making considerations before you record, while you record, and after you record. This chapter is going to illuminate how many of the topics covered in previous chapters relate to the process of recording voice over.
Before You Record Your Voice: Vocal Warm Ups
A professional athlete would never think of playing the big game without first putting great care into warming up and stretching their muscles. The exact same should go for you, a budding voice actor, before you set up to record your voice.
If you haven’t properly prepared, or if you feel tense or nervous, it will shine through in your delivery and detract from your read.
Carrying out a handful of simple vocal exercises ahead of a read will work wonders when it comes to making your lips, tongue, and vocal folds relax—not to mention how much more relaxed the vocal warm ups will help you feel in general.
So, every time you’re gearing up for a new recording session, do yourself a favor and set aside 5 or 10 minutes to prepare your voice.
Here are some voice over warm up tips to get you started:
Start with breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths is important. Deep breaths deliver oxygen to your brain, pump it through your blood, expand your lung capacity, improve your immune system, and simultaneously relax your mind and body.
You will ideally carry out your breathing exercises in a quiet room away from distractions. Find a calm space where you won’t be disrupted by family members, pets, ringing telephones, or blaring screens.
- Arrange yourself in a comfortable standing position.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, feel as your belly and rib cage expand, and hold your breath for about 5 seconds.
- Slightly part your lips and exhale. Empty your lungs completely. Hold for about 5 seconds.
- Repeat steps 1-3 for 3-5 minutes.
After you’ve completed your breathing exercises, it’s time for you to say an assortment of tongue twisters and flex the intricate set of muscles that make up your tongue.
Tongue twisters are perfect for improving articulation and enunciation, plus they wake up your mind.
Start off by reciting them slowly and carefully. Speak each phrase about three times, gradually increasing the speed each time. In order to ensure that you don’t trail off, focus on placing special emphasis on both the first and final words.
There are several troublesome consonants that you will want to learn how to expertly pronounce before you start your recording. Try out these tongue twisters to help you get there:
Betty bought a bit of butter, but she found the butter bitter, so Betty bought a bit of better butter to make the bitter butter better.
Did Doug dig David’s garden or did David dig Doug’s garden?
Do drop in at the Dewdrop Inn.
Four furious friends fought for the phone.
Five flippant Frenchmen fly from France for fashions.
How was Harry hastened so hurriedly from the hunt?
In Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire hurricanes hardly ever happen.
Jack the jailbird jacked a jeep.
My cutlery cuts keenly and cleanly.
Larry sent the latter a letter later.
Lucy lingered, looking longingly for her lost lap dog.
You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?
Quick kiss. Quicker kiss. Quickest kiss.
Quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly…
Round the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.
Reading and writing are richly rewarding.
Theophilus Thistler, the thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.
Ten tame tadpoles tucked tightly in a thin tall tin.
Two toads, totally tired, trying to trot to Tewkesbury.
Vincent vowed vengeance very vehemently.
Vera valued the valley violets.
Don’t Forget These Additional Vocal Warm Up Tips
- Smile and yawn at the same time in order to stretch your throat
- Sing the chromatic vocal scale
- Avoid the dehydrating effects of alcohol and caffeine
- Decrease mucus by drinking plenty of room temperature water at least one hour before you want to record your voice
- If you’re phlegmy, eat an apple
- Stay fresh by getting lots of sleep!
Learn more, and get in-depth practice tips in the 7 Best Vocal Warm Ups that Work Wonders.
Additional Preparation Before Recording Your Voice
Before you start to record your voice, you should ensure that you’re exceptionally prepared, with a comprehensive understanding of what to expect from the recording process.
Ask yourself the following:
How much have you practiced?
Your level of comfort, both in using your voice as an instrument and performing reads to a microphone, will have an identifiable impact upon your readiness to record a voice over demo.
Do you feel confident in your abilities?
A major part of this battle has to do with how you perceive your abilities and whether you think you’re ready to move ahead with a demo. Remember that recording a demo is an investment. Whatever you end up recording will be the crown jewel in your marketing efforts. Make sure you feel confident in your abilities before stepping into the process.
Are you in the proper position?
Before hitting the record button, be sure to position yourself in an open, upright posture that will help you project your voice clearly.
Use a music stand to hold up your script or place your computer screen directly in front of your mic, at eye level. Adjust the mic so that you are either speaking into its side, or just above it, to lessen the pops, esses, and other mouth noises.
In front of your mic, practice reading the script aloud a few times to achieve the right emphasis, speed, and flow. Now you’re ready to record.
Are you taking advantage of free resources?
You can listen to countless demos online on our Voice Actor pages, and check out who’s currently thriving by taking a look at the site’s Top 100 Favorites, New Voices, Recently Hired, or Most Listens.
We also encourage that you record yourself delivering a read of our sample scripts for your voice over demo. We have an abundant archive of original sample scripts that are formatted exactly like a job posting that would appear on Voices, and they cover a wide range of voice over categories. Our sample scripts are royalty-free and completely free for you to use!
Ultimately, there’s no shortage of ways that you can find out more about voice acting and what goes into a great voice over demo. Do everything you can to take advantage of credible resources online to help you develop your voice over recording skills.
How to Record Voice Over: The Technical Recording
Now that your voice is warmed up, and you’ve taken the time to ensure you’re aptly prepared to record the demo, audition, or job at hand, you’ll move onto the actual recording.
When it comes to producing professional-quality sound, there are several considerations to keep in mind. Ensuring that your recordings sound as polished and clean as possible is often what sets great recordings apart from the ‘good’ or ‘mediocre’ ones, so considering quality is key.
Here is a roundup of helpful (and slightly more technical) YouTube videos and blog posts that will help you to create stand-out voice over recordings from your beginner level:
How To Set Your Microphone Gain / Mic Levels
How to Save Time in the Studio Using Presets and Session Templates
6 Tips for Removing Breaths from Your Audio
A YouTube Playlist of More Audio Production Tips
Reviewing Your Voice Over Recording
When you’re finished performing your voice over recording, put on your noise-canceling headphones and listen to the playback a few times over. Try to detect any errors, heavy breaths, or mouth noises that were picked up by the mic during the recording.
You shouldn’t be surprised if you have to record the script several times before you get it right. Even pros can require a few takes.
When you’re listening to the playback of your recording, pay less attention to the sound of your voice than the quality of your performance and the audio (e.g. does your mouth sound too close or too far from the mic? Can you hear your neighbor’s air conditioner turn on?) Here are a few videos on how to improve the audio quality after you’ve finished recording.
Lastly, consider trying out different vocal tones or ranges to break up the content, pace, and tone of your demos. You can also incorporate musical backgrounds, known as music beds, or other non-musical interludes to transition between spots on the recording. These breaks, called ‘bumpers’ or ‘sweepers,’ give your listeners a quick interlude in order to digest the content of your demo—they should be 3 seconds at most.
Checking the Quality of Your Voice Over Recording
Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of your voice over recording, make sure to run it by a few seasoned sets of ears before sharing it with the world.
Here are a few options for getting your voice over demo reviewed:
- Ask your peers in the voice acting industry if they can listen to your demo. While your peers may be a daunting group to turn to for support, their opinions will likely be the most constructive. This option is also free.
- Ask your vocal coach to review your demo. Their feedback may be supremely insightful, especially if they have a strong casting or agency background. A good vocal coach will have their finger on the pulse of the industry and possess an aptitude for determining what sounds good and what doesn’t, and they’ll likely respond with a number of helpful tips for improving your demo, even if you already think it’s great. You can bet that you don’t want to send out demos that fail to meet contemporary standards, or ones that present a diluted, inaccurate representation of you and your vocal abilities.
- Seek out voice over forums or online networking groups. This won’t cost you anything, and you may decide you want to participate in a thread devoted specifically for users reviewing other users’ demos. One downside is that not everyone who shares their opinion on these forums will be listening with the ears of a casting director or someone who genuinely wants to help you, but it’s never a bad idea to expand your online presence by connecting with your industry peers online.