Have you ever heard a voice on the television or radio and wondered if you too can deliver it? If you think you have a naturally great voice, you may want to consider working as a voice artist. If so, you should learn more about voice-over requirements. Voice over is usually used to move, tell stories, instruct or convince and have become popular since they are a vital part of documentaries, announcements, gaming, and applications. With a growing demand of voice overs around the world, following are few sectors possessing huge opportunities for voice actors:
- Animation industry: Animation industry has a huge demand for voice overs due to the various opportunities this industry offers in animated characters and cartoons. Professional Animation voice overs in Hindi require a range of voices for same or multiple characters, that needs constant improvisation and lip syncing.
- Advertisements: Advertisement and commercials for television, radio or internet present huge opportunities for voice artists. The basic requirement of the voice artist is to understand and fit into the tone of the brand and sell the product to the target market and demographic.
- Audiobook industry : Audiobooks have emerged as one of the fastest growing sectors, thanks to the voice artists who make the journey of listening to audiobooks enjoyable and engaging. Living different moments of the characters in an audiobook and bringing them to life through voice is the primary role of any audiobook voice over artist. Identifying with a character’s voice requires the voice actor to deliver the same quality of sound throughout a performance.
- Instructional voice/overs : These are no longer just instructional or how-to-do-it videos. With the rise of virtual assistants for mobile applications, guides for smartphones, laptops, tablets, there has been an exponential increase in the requirement of quality voice overs. Also, as the Elearning industry is booming, the need for voice overs that sound knowledgeable, engaging and dynamic is also on the rise.
- Video Game Industry : Video game industry is one of the most sought after industries globally! The characters in video games are complex and can be made compelling only when the voice provided to them is dynamic and engaging. Expert dubbing services in multiple languages for Video Games can make a video game character memorable and by portraying different aspects of the character.
- Radio : This is a specialised and oldest area of voice work that often requires voice over artists who sound conversational and can engage the audience better throughout the show.
- Telephone and IVR: Companies and telcos look for voice over artists who sound professional and engaging for better customer relations. A human IVR voice over is often deployed by the company to add a personal touch to any message.
Voice overs can make a huge difference to the story telling and attributes of any character. While voice over acting has grown into being a recognised career path, it still seems an off-beat career trajectory to most people. If you’re exploring the path of voice acting, we’re here to help. We have some tips for you, directions that can help you achieve your goal. It will take some effort, but we assure you the result will be worth it.
Essential Voice Acting Skills
Whether you have incredible natural talent, or incredible potential, you need to develop certain traits in order to reach your full potential. If you’re wondering where to start – then you must work on your voice over skills and develop versatility and knowledge to stand out from the crowd. While one does not need any educational background to start their career as a voice artist, here are the traits and qualities you should focus on to succeed as a professional voice over artist/actor in the voiceover industry.
- Having Clear Enunciation : The first skill that you need to master is Enunciation. A good enunciation means pronouncing words clearly and distinctly. Clear enunciation is crucial because mumbled words might annoy listeners -- which eventually will drive away potential customers.The second reason why enunciation matters is because it helps to avoid a mix-up of phrases. A voice actor’s articulation needs to be impeccable so that the audience can understand the purpose clearly. As a voice artist, every word of yours needs to be distinctly understood and actors need to make sure that they’re balancing their enunciation between over articulation and under articulation.
- Consistency In Speech : In voiceover, consistency is a highly valued skill. If you’re consistent in your volume, energy, pacing, articulation, characterization and your eye-brain-mouth coordination, you’ll be every director’s dream, because you’ll be a voice actor they can rely on to deliver what they want every time.
- Connection With The Script : Being connected to what you’re reading is vital to your performance and the believability of your interpretation. A professional narrator always sounds like they’re intrinsically interested in what they’re talking about, regardless of whether they are. Voice actors use a number of different techniques to stay connected: using their hands to make points or gestures; inflecting when and where appropriate; making facial expressions to convey emotion and using their body to physically interpret action into their voice.
- Discipline Is The Key : It takes a lot of discipline to run a voiceover business. You will almost certainly be working for yourself and will spend a large amount of time on your own in your own home studio and office. There will be a lot to do. As well as the daily practice, you will need to invest time in setting up your website, opening social media accounts and running them, recording demo tracks and publishing them on your site and sending to agents, writing your cv, keeping a record of your credits, invoicing for jobs that come in and chasing the late payers! Following a disciplined schedule will help you reap the benefits in the long term.
- Build A Strong Focus : Build a set of realistic goals. Without goals, you lack focus and every unfocused action you take is likely to result in wasted opportunities. If your goal is to voice promos for a national network, formulate a plan and stick to it. Make sure your decisions at every step of your journey are influenced by this goal. Remember, if you are nudged at least one inch closer to your goal every day, then you are most likely on the correct path. If you find yourself spinning your wheels, you may need to readjust and refocus.
- Develop Business Acumen : As a voice over artist, you will be running your own business, therefore you need to gain some business skills. These include: setting rates, time management, revenue count, sales and marketing, customer acquisition and retention
- Patience : Becoming a successful VO artist takes a lot of time and practice. An ability to take lessons from failures, move on from negative situations, and maintain focus amid rejection is crucial in reaching your goals.
Basic Recording Equipment
After finding out if you have a voice and personality that is suited to this type of work, you need to know which equipment is best for recording the vocals. Producing a technically acceptable voice over isn’t as difficult as you might think. With some basic equipment you can produce a reasonable quality recording. However, the quality of your voice over recording will depend on the quality of the equipment you use. Below is a list of few essential studio equipments that are required for any voice over recording:
- Select the right microphone : Well, one of the basic things that you definitely require for any voice over recording is a quality, sturdy microphone that’ll help you to get professional and impactful recordings. Microphone is essential equipment required to capture your voice in the best possible manner. With so many microphone types in the market, it is also crucial to research for the right guide to select microphones for voice overs, that will help you to choose the mic which fits your requirements as well as the budget. As different microphones function differently, it is essential to know your type from below:
- Condenser microphone
- Dynamic microphone
- Ribbon microphone
Out of all these, the condenser microphone is an ideal choice for any professional as it has a good pick up range and strong audio signals that will help you to get reliable and better recordings. If you are looking to go after large diaphragm mics, then remember that these are great at picking up low frequencies, while for higher frequencies of that of a child or female’s pitch, it is better to opt for a small diaphragm/capsule mic.
- Pay attention to the Microphone stand : This might seem like something that you want to skip adding to your list but this basic item plays a huge role in the quality of your recorded output. Microphone, ideally should not be handled by the artist while recording as it might cause distortions and fluctuations. By having a good and robust mic stand you can expect consistent recordings that will sound even and high quality with no trembles.
- Use A Pop Filter : A pop filter is an essential part of your microphone kit. It lessens the amount of distracting mouth noises the mic will pick up, by blocking the air that’s pushed out from your mouth when you speak. Pop filters will help you get a nice, clean read even if you’re having a dry mouth.
- Good pair of Headphones is essential : For delivering any recording it is also necessary to listen to it for your own assessment. A good pair of headphones that can be worn for long hours is helpful to provide you better sound without any noise. Although it is dependent on the artist whether to use the headphone while recording or only while doing the editing, it is usually considered a good investment for any voice over artist.
- Invest in quality Editing software : Editing and recording software can be considered as the final stroke to any recorded output. These software’s help you to polish, refine and provide quality audio recordings. It is essential to find the right software as most of them have varying complexity and ease of operation. The softwares can be broadly divided in four categories: Audio Editors, Plugins, Multi-Track Recorders and Miscellaneous Studio Softwares and can be selected as per the artists requirements.
Build Your Home Studio
The quality of your sound is paramount to your success as a voice artist. After having a thorough understanding of the studio equipment, it is time to put that information to use. Setting up a home voice recording studio is all about flexibility, cost-effectiveness and the freedom to work at your own pace. It does not matter that you are a fresher or a professional voice actor, the basic equipment that are a must-have to build a home studio are a quality Microphone, a sturdy Microphone stand, Headphones, Pop shields, Audio Interface, Monitor speakers, Computer and Recording/Editing software.
Whenever you are building your home studio, one thing that needs to be prioritized is soundproofing. Whether you are recording for a podcast, advertisement, or any other audio work, soundproofing your home studio will yield unbelievable results. You can get the most expensive microphone or the best editing software but if the studio does not have a good enough sound blocking, your recording will be filled with some amount of outside noise. So, use the best materials you can afford to soundproof your home studio. Some things to consider:
- Start small : You can use a walk-in closet or space under the stairs.
Buy some inexpensive duvets/comforters and drape them around your space. Cover everything! Especially windows or table tops. Cover those pieces of carpeting or something to dampen that noise because your voice will reflect off of it.
- Watch out for entry and exit points : It does not come as a surprise that doors or windows that serve as an entry point for you, also do the same for unwanted noises. These spaces allow the noises to come inside and also escape, creating a lot of distraction while recording. Always ensure that there are fewer cracks and spaces in your doors and windows and use fillers wherever possible to filter out the noises. You can use a floor sweep and seal all the gaps with right-sized foam gaskets to block out all the noise. You must always choose a solid wooden door instead of glass doors. Also, you can opt for double-pane windows to achieve a higher level of sound dampening. Try to seal all cracks and use heavy curtains to dampen the noise.
- Soundproof the walls : You can use mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) for reducing the amount of noise coming through walls. You must try to increase the amount of material and choose thicker drywall to absorb more sound. Even after creating a denser wall, you can add absorbent panels and foam mats to absorb more noise.
- Eliminate floor noises : You can soundproof your floors to dampen noises coming from the lower floors. You can use thick carpets or add a layer of drywall similar to the walls. Fill the additional gaps or cracks with fillers to get a perfect soundproof floor.
- Minimize internal noises : All the stuff inside a room contributes to all the unwanted noise generated. It is important to soundproof these internal objects to achieve a noise-free recording. Large, irregular objects kept at various angles help to diffuse noises which are good for recording. You must also check other equipment such as a computer, AC or fan and switch to silent devices. Also, you can always use good editing software to correct the noises and achieve better results.
While building and soundproofing your home studio is a time-consuming process, you will be amazed how drastically the sound quality gets improved by soundproofing and noise blocking!
Record Professional voice over demos
Here are some tips on how to produce your first voice over demo and strengthen your chances of getting hired for the best voice over jobs.
- Practice the script : It is really important to practise the voice over script if you want to unleash the most natural conversational voice in the recording. Audience connects better to a stylistic relaxed, “real” delivery. Learn to master it and practice it daily. If you have the whole play or script, read it all to know the crux of the story and how you can recreate the narration without omitting the essence of the character. Whoever you’re portraying, they have an objective within that film or play. Know this objective, and understand that interpreting the script and performing it is totally in your hands. Mastering your practising skills alone will help you to produce quality voice over recordings.
- Figure out your strengths : Pay attention to the voices on radio, on TV, and in film. Look at the visuals and then turn away and see if you can distinguish your sound in the mix. Identify the qualities and tones you hear. Don’t make the mistake of worrying that you will be typecast. While it is important to feel the levels and dynamics in the scene it is also important to not overdo any action and enact naturally. Voice acting requires skills that are developed through experience. To not feel ‘forced’, you need to let the character speak for you and then see where you are going to end up. Knowing your strengths leads directly to more work, so although you’re looking to show range in your demo, target the types of pieces you’re most likely to get called in for.
- Make a Professional Demo : Your voice over demo can range between 30 seconds to 300 seconds, depending on the type of demo. The ideal demo gives ample time to the listener to appreciate your voice and what you can pull off. An advertisement demo will be comparatively shorter that an audiobook demo.
While it is important that you look out and audition for latest gigs, it is also essential to work smarter and explore options that can give you maximum benefits with bare minimum investment. Online voice over agencies are a great place to help build your voice over career as these are increasingly popular for businesses of all sizes who are looking for voice over actors. If you plan on uploading your demo to a reputable online voice over marketplace like Voyzapp, you might want to keep it within the one minute margin, so that it can demonstrate your vocal abilities as well as sounds crisp. As clients have a short attention span and they literally skim through numerous auditions in search of the right voice for their project, your demo must have the ability to grab your listener immediately, while quickly showing all that you’re capable of doing.
- Make a crisp demo to allow prospective clients to pick and choose what best applies to their needs.
- Produce a number of shorter demos in a variety of styles, you stand a better chance of those demos being listened to.
- Promote and market your demos online to achieve your goal of being heard by a larger audience.
- To get the undivided attention of the client, what you’re saying and how you’re saying needs to be worth their time.
- Put your best clip right in the beginning. As the client wants to hear your voice, music and major production work can be added at the end.
Taking Care Of Your Voice
As a voice actor, whether you’re just getting started or find work regularly, caring for your voice is of utmost importance. Though it may seem obvious, keeping your vocal cords healthy isn’t as simple as avoiding yelling or preventing strain by talking softly. While these tasks can certainly help, there’s plenty more you can and should do. In maintaining healthy vocal cords, you also need to be aware of the many factors that can put strain on them. Here are some points to keep in mind that will help you get the most out of your voice:
- Stay hydrated: To provide conversational TV and Radio Advertisement voice over, it is very important to keep that voice hydrated so that it sounds good all the time. All professional artists know the importance of keeping and bringing a bottle of water to studios or recording sessions.Believe it or not, recording sessions can play havoc on your voice and hydration can help you overcome that hoarse voice. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, hydration does not happen instantly. Drink lots of water and carry a big bottle at room temperature to help you deliver a great recording performance.
- Watch what you eat: It is really essential to know your fuel, i.e., food to ensure you nail any performance. Eat foods that are high in water content such as salads, fresh fruits, and veggies. You need to ‘eat your water’ in order to obtain that perfect voice, hence switch to cucumbers, strawberries and grapes for rescue. Avoid alcohol as it dries your vocal chords and maintain a distance from cigarettes, processed sugar, caffeine and dairy. Chocolates and milk are an acid reflux trigger and spicy foods can give you a heart burn. Also, it is equally important to have a good meal before any performance to carry enough energy to perform and deliver well.
- Vocal Care Is Important : Voice recording utilizes movements/ contractions in your diaphragm, voice box and muscles of your mouth. To give your best performance it is essential to take proper care of your vocal chords. You must avoid straining your voice by not yelling and taking several "vocal naps". Whispering can also cause irritation to your vocal chords. Try to keep your throat and neck muscles relaxed while recording and spare those recording sessions when you are sick. Humidify your studio and home to condition your voice and maintain good oral hygiene.
- A good sleep is essential: Remember that your body is your instrument and requires proper rest before doing any sort of job. Ensure that you get plenty of good night sleep so that your body can recharge. Keeping your room dark enough can help you get better sleep which in turn will help you deliver better performances. It is true that many voice artists prefer caffeine to work late nights but caffeine dehydrates and disturbs the sleep cycle and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Warm up before your session : This is a no-brainer as warmups are absolutely necessary for a great performance. Few vocal warm up exercises that you must entail in your daily schedule are:a. Doing lip or tongue trills in the morning. Try humming with your jaw loose and teeth separated to warm up your voice. Perform breathing exercises and release physical tension. You can also inculcate tongue twisters and facial exercises to your vocal workout regime.
Market And Develop Your Voice Over Business
The most important part of any business is getting customers. That’s it. Without customers you just have a hobby. As a voice artist, you are your own boss and you need to embrace the benefits and the challenges this presents. You need to recognise that you need to market yourself - this involves ensuring you get your brand, your business, in front of the right people. With the growing demand and popularity of voice over industry, promoting your services far and wide has become vital, especially when you’re starting out. If nobody knows who you are or how to find you, then they’re not going to hire you. Here are some handy tips to effectively showcase yourself as a professional voice actor and find voice over jobs easily:
- Build Your Network: While coaching and training are a great place to start, don’t let your networking activities end there! Look for local Meetups, conferences, and online communities to become part of a powerful referral network. When a fellow voice actor is presented with a job opportunity that they aren’t well-suited for, you can count on these peers to recommend other vocal talent in their network, including you, for said opportunities.
- Work On Your Website: A website is a must and a blog is highly recommended. It’s a great way for people to get to know you better as a voice talent and it will help immensely with your search engine results. The objective of your voiceover web page is to make your name known and define you as a professional voice actor with progressive, appealing graphics. It should legitimize your professional identity through effective advertising by featuring your name in the form of a distinct logo that should look as good as you sound.
- Create a Voyzapp Artist Profile: When you’re ready to pursue voice over work, you’ll need to have a web presence and a steady source of auditions. Voyzapp is the largest online voice over agency where you can register for free as a voice artist, upload your previous voice over demos and get better opportunities. Registering for a Voyzapp Artist account is an optimal way to get hired by top clients, market your talent on a global scale, and most importantly, gain access to our vast job board full of amazing voice acting opportunities.
- Diversify Your Skills : While most voice actors are trained in general acting first, others are voice over talents who have branched out. Some background knowledge in sound engineering is also important for freelance voice work. Offering extended services like
post-production editing, professional and multi-lingual captioning services can help you earn more money. Plus, your client will also be delighted to save money by not having to pay another third party for those additional services.
- Be Determined: Perseverance is a virtue! To a very large extent, as far as the online voiceover industry is concerned. When you are pounding the pavement on your own, you may not receive a response from every person, but that shouldn’t deter you from properly marketing your services and updating your profile. Don’t forget: it’s always much easier to fail than it is to succeed. Keep working on your profile and the clients will surely get in touch!
Whatever marketing strategies you employ to use, planning is the key. Outline and quantify your goals and set aside time to actively and consistently work on these strategies in order to get the value you wish to achieve.
Career as a voice-over-artist is surely a very challenging one but at the same time, it can be a joy ride once you have established yourself in the industry. If you have a passion for the spoken voice, a good ear for accents and emotions, an ability to emulate speech patterns as well as the determination to succeed, you should not be afraid to look into this amazing profession – you never know, your dream voice over gig might be waiting for you!