How to really use the power of the internet
by PETER BAKER http://www.voiceovermasterclass.com
The existence of the internet has completely changed the fortunes of the professional voice over actor - for the better. These days, we can forget the old days of driving round radio stations and recording studios in the hope of finding the odd suitable script in the production department's "in-tray" to record; your client base can now be based in an area bigger than your region or even your country. In fact, there are clients all round the world who may feel your voice is perfect for their projects.
You don't need to physically meet them, or even use their studios. The voice over actor can record in their own "home studio" and send them audio files via a file transfer service such as WeTransfer.com. Sometimes clients will want to direct the voice over actor over headphones while you record the script, using Skype, ipDTL, ISDN, or one of many other systems available that are inexpensive and reliant on just a decent internet connection. Usually, you're left on your own to record the script sent to you, then to edit and to send the file.
A good voice over actor won't just get clients from English-speaking countries. English is an international language, and every country has companies and organisations where videos would need an English soundtrack version as well as one recorded in the home language. You may just get sent a Word or PDF document and asked to record it in the style of one of your showreels. Or you may need to record the English version of a video they provide to you. In the week of writing, as an experienced voice over actor, I’ve recorded such sessions from Germany, Spain, Denmark, Italy and UAE.
You'll get a link to view the "foreign" language version on Vimeo or YouTube, to ascertain the timings and the style of the VO. Then you'll get a script which should sync approximately to the non-English version. If a voice over actor can offer a full syncing service as well, where you'd chop up your VO on a video timeline to exactly match the non-English paragraphs, fine, but usually they do this detailed editing at their end.
It is perfectly possible to earn a very good full-time income from becoming a voiceover. You would create a home studio, use the internet connection you already have, and sell your voiceovers to the world... as I do. I don't have a traditional agent and very rarely need to go to other studios in London or anywhere! Life is very flexible, and you'd look to your email "in-box" for your daily income as well as texts and What’s App messages.
As a freelance voice actor, you'd build up your client base to an extent that statistically you KNOW that each morning there'll be a good day's work in the offing, even if you have closed off all jobs the night before. The best thing about being a voiceover is the variety. Doing silly voices, characters for video games, audio books and training video scripts where you learn so much, plus commercials where every split second counts, means no two days or indeed jobs are the same.
So are you already an actor or actress? Do you already "do" voices? That's fine. Being a voice over actor is very similar in that you get into a character voice and stay in character. That character may be of a certain age from a certain part of the world with a certain social status, etc. etc. It's your job to look at the script and think of the character in your head, even down to what they look like and what they are wearing.
Many of the scripts may not really be characters as such, but "narrator" voices, but even here, you still need to create a type of person that you are playing. If you are given a script for the tourist board of Romania aimed at future visitors, you imagine you are a professor at the University of Bucharest, proud of your country and its history. You have written many books about Romania and enjoy walking and cycling in the forests at weekends. There….have you a picture in your head?
You may have an industrial safety video to provide the voiceover for. So you imagine that you are the head of health and safety who has just taken to hospital a person seriously injured after ignoring the safety rules at the factory. You want to stop others having to go through the same trauma. You now have the passion and the fire in your belly and this will come across in the words that you read.
Yes - you are giving performances as a voice-over. A different one for every script that you are given, but they are still performances, and you need to be able to snap into one of many characters very quickly and sustain the feeling, the voice, the stance, the reason why you are speaking.
Of course, you could attend acting classes to understand all this much more fully, but you need to crack this technique yourself first. If you playback your recordings and it sounds like you are merely reading a script, then you must tackle this problem as soon as possible. Often I am asked to record TV or radio commercials where I need to sound enthusiastic. In real life, I may not care at all about the silly product that is being featured, but I would SOUND like I really genuinely cared!
HERE'S HOW TO LEARN THIS TECHNIQUE. It's all down to the melody of the "song" in the voice, the timing of the words, the words that are emphasised, the little gaps, the breathing, the slight imperfections that make speech sounds natural and not merely read off a script. The best way to "get" this performance technique is to find a recording of a professional experienced voiceover which you admire, ideally with a voice style similar to your own. Then transcribe the voiceover or find the script. Play a few words and pause. Now you read the script yourself - repeat the way the words are said, find the "tune" of the words, the way they go up and down, the pauses, the words that are emphasized - every little nuance. Now play the next section and repeat till the end. Go back to the start and do this again, mimicking the voiceover as closely as you can.
Now forget the recording and YOU read the script again and record yourself. Are you now communicating the energy, passion, the feeling, the character of the original voice over actor? If not, try to picture the original voiceover - what would they be dressed in? Would they be holding the product they are enthusing about delivering to a TV camera, or musing out of an open window on a summer's day? Get the picture.
The idea is that you "get inside the head" of the original voice over actor; after all they got the $5,000 gig to voice that national commercial and you did not. So, you would copy them as best you can, do this for other voice over artists and actors that you admire and then with the knowledge in your head, and the ability to snap into various characters, you then develop a personal style of your own.
For more details on how to build and grow your voice over actor career, I have loads of training videos you are welcome to look at. Please visit: www.voiceovermasterclass.com
I also have a Kindle book on Amazon: