I just wanted to take a moment to express my love for video games. I was working on one this week, and the CGI animation was so gorgeous. I got so involved in watching all the cut scenes that I forgot I was there to work! Haha! My character is quite a bad ass, and i LOVE voicing bad ass women with bad ass attitudes. Video games are a place of fantasy, and since I’m not exactly a bad ass in real life (I would say I’m more of a playful person), I really get into the role when I’m working!
Demos are very important in the VO industry. They give casting directors and clients an idea of your range, personality, and style. If you are trying to break into the biz, you may be working on your demo right now, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the process.
The first thing you should do when you’re creating your first demo is to listen to other professional vo artists demos. Usually VO agencies will have their own web pages, and on them they will list the vo artists they represent with links to their demos. Listen to how the pros put theirs together. Pick out which ones you like and try to organize your demo accordingly.
Next, figure out who you are as a vo artist. What are your best vocal qualities? Where do you really shine? What type of script really puts you in the “sweet spot” with your read? For commercial and promo demos, prepare by going through magazine ads, listen to the radio, watch TV, and pick out ads that you feel you could really add your touch to, and are right for who you are as a voice over artist. If you have a wide range, great, if not, that’s fine too. The point is to understand who you are as a vo artist and concentrate on presenting that in the best way. If you have the money, you can go to a recording studio and hire and engineer and/or director for an hour or two. The benefit of this is that the engineer will cut your demo together. Many time, especially if the engineer has experience working with ad agencies or studios, he or she will add music and sound effects for you as they edit, giving your demo a professional and broadcast quality to it. Having a competent director can help you get some great feedback, take your own critique of yourself out of the equation, and produce your best read. If you don’t have the money for extra help, you can record and edit yourself at home. Try to add generic music in some of your reads that doesn’t overpower your read, is non-distinguishable, but gives the demo SOME life. Again, listen to the pros and try to emulate your favorite demos. I think a minute is enough time to show off your voice. The longer the demo gets, the less likely it is that someone is actually sitting there listening to the whole thing. Time is money. Don’t try to read every type of script you are capable of; Pick the best of what you can do.
Animation demos are fun. Again, the goal is to show off your best attributes. Demos in animation range greatly in style and organization. Animation is more creative and there is more freedom to add your own personal flair. I personally like to write my own scripts for animation demos (vs. picking ad campaigns already in existence and giving them MY version). Give each character about 5-10 seconds. Lengths on animation demos vary, and that is because some people really do love to show off their range. Range is much more important in animation than it is in commercial or promo. In fact, it’s almost necessary in Animation. When you’re hired for an animation project, 99% of the time there are secondary or “incidental” characters in a script that you will have to take care of in additional to your main character, so it is important to show that you have a wide range and can change your voice.
I think the best advice I can give to people just starting out, who are putting together their demos, is to listen to the pros and spend a good amount of time on preparation. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Get a list together of demos you like, and try to emulate the qualities about them that stood out to you. Pick copy that shows off your voice. Pay attention to the length-give the casting director, client, or even potential agent a good idea of who you are, but don’t ramble.
The promo world of voice over has always been dominated by men. That is to say, when you see a commercial on a network promoting that network and you hear a voice telling you that so-and-so is up next, at such-and-such time, on (insert network here), most of the time, that voice is male. The same is true when you hear a promotion for a network and its shows on the radio. I think it’s VERY important to hear women representing networks and their shows. We need to start changing the aural landscape of network TV to include the feminine.
This week, CBS has starting airing “Big Brother” promos with a female voice and NBC has (for almost a year now) a female promoting the “dot com” of many of their primetime shows.
If you are as happy as I am hearing women promote your favorite networks or primetime shows, let the networks know!!! Email, facebook, or twitter them! Thanks so much! It really does tell the networks that these things matter when they hear from their audience. AND it really does help female voice over artists have new opportunities open up to them.
So I’ve known Phil for a while now, but we’ve never actually worked together. Today we finally got that chance!! We recorded some really funny radio spots today. I was a super sweet character and he was a cheesy Barry White-ish sort of character. Can I just tell you how hysterical we were? Voice over is definitely work. It takes concentration, skill, and an ability to take direction (among a plethora of other things) to have a successful career, but sometimes, you just get to PLAY! I hope Phil and I get to work on many future projects together. I think we made a great team!
One thing that has changed radically in the entertainment industry is the rules for sharing your work. We live in a facebook/twitter/blogging world where anyone can post anything. However, companies are VERY PROTECTIVE of their products and ideas, so you must ALWAYS ask before you post something you’ve worked on. Remember, if you are working for someone else, you do not own the project you work on.
I am posting a radio spot for AT&T I worked on a few weeks ago, and I made sure to tell the producers, when I asked for a copy of the spot, that I would be posting it on my blog. If you’re not sure if it’s ok to post, DON’T. If you’re not sure if it’s ok to share specific details about a project you’ve worked on, including the name of the project, DON’T. It’s much better to err on the side of being professional and discrete than it is to have an angry client who doesn’t want to work with you again! Check out my picture of me working on the sot too!! I have to give a shout out to my pal Andy at Buzzy’s Recording Studio in Hollywood for being the super cool engineer on this spot! I always enjoy working with him! Click on the link below the picture to hear the spot.
Hope you’re all having a great week!
A lot people ask me to recommend VO classes or coaches. The truth is, I have never taken any, so I can’t personally speak to any classes or coaches. But in my opinion, the best thing you can do for yourself if you’re trying to break in to the industry, or you’re still feeling your way around, is to take classes with companies who cast. Commercial casting offices are great places to get a feel for the audition process and are taught by people who call in actors with whom they have had some relationship. If they know your read, they are more likely to call you in for an audition, and that is definitely a good use of your time and money! With animation, I recommend working with an animation director. Again, who better to teach you the ins and outs of the industry than someone who hires actors AND works with the producers wishes for what they need for their project? Once you get a feel for the voice over world, you can ask whomever you are working with to refer you to someone who works more one-on-one at refining those skills.
Catch me as the VO announcer for The Soup at 10pm on E! Entertainment.
I can’t tell you how much I LOVE working on this show. I record Wednesday evenings, and they play my voice live during the taping on Thursday. We record me saying every possible show they think they will talk about, multiple bumpers, openings, and pretty much anything they can think of that might make it into the show. Then they edit everything together right before they record live, when they have a better sense of what will make it into the show. The show required a high energy read, so I always have to conserve my energy for the end of the day. I think my read for The Soup is the most like me. I just get to have fun and play around, and that is how I am when I’m not at work.
I have been to tapings of The Soup, and YES, there is a live audience. It’s so much fun (except when Joel makes fun of me!! hahaha). The writers and crew are so nice and fun, and Joel McHale is hilarious (and my favorite host!). I am lucky they hired me to be a part of their amazing show.
I get a lot of questions about what it’s like to be a voice over artist. I hope I can answer a lot of them as I go through the process of blogging, but today I want to answer the following FAQ: How does one get a voice over job?
The answer to that is simple: auditions, auditions, and more auditions!!
Most voice over artists I know probably spend more time going through the audition process than they do actually getting paid to work (and for those who have the opposite experience, I WANT YOUR LIFE!! hahahahaha). It is a reality of the industry that once you have the building blocks of what it takes to be a VO artist (talent, ability to take direction, etc etc, that is for another post!!), booking a job is a numbers game; the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you create, and the better the chance is that one of them will stick.
Most of my auditions are done at my agency’s office. Most of the time, I drive to the office in Beverly Hills, and wait in the lobby with many of my other colleagues until my agents hand each of us our “copy.” Copy is the industry jargon for “script.” I’ll take whatever time I need to create the sound I think works best for each piece of copy, and then it’s into the booth to record my audition! After the audition is over, my agents send out all the reads to the client. After I finish an audition, I completely forget about it. I have that once chance to make my audition the best that I can, and then I just let it go, and hope I stand out among all the other very talented voice over artists, and the client chooses to hire me. But once I’m done with the audition, it’s out of my hands, and I just need to move on to the next opportunity. If you put any energy into thinking about somethign you have already done, that is no longer in your control, you will drive yourself crazy, and that kind of energy is destructive to your next audition.
Sometimes I record my auditions myself in my home studio. This is my favorite way to record animation auditions myself because I can take as much time as I want to play with different characters. There are no other voice over artists waiting for their time in the booth. so I can go nuts with different reads and really let myself experiment. I do wonder what the neighbors think about what I’m doing over here though! One negative aspect to recording yourself at home is the objectivity needed to judge a read. I am my own worst critic, and sometimes I can get so carried away with making something sound “perfect” that I lose all sense of my personality in the read. I believe there is a “sweet spot” for myself where I feel like my personality is really coming through and my read feels genuine. Each voice is unique, and when that uniqueness is really shining through, that’s exactly the spot I want to be when I aim my voice towards that microphone! The trick is learning to recognize how that feels in your body, and that just takes experience.
So that is a little bit about the audition process. I hope there was some interesting information and advice in here.