Voice-over opportunities are everywhere these days. Many years ago, typical voice-over work included kid’s cartoons and Kung-Fu movie dubbing. Modern technology, however, has opened up multiple voice-over opportunities such as:
- · GPS navigation systems
- · Corporate training videos
- · E-learning software
- · Video games
- · Telephone message services
- · Television and radio advertisements
- The list is endless, especially when localization services are included.
There are still voice-over opportunities for cartoons and Kung-Fu movies, but with so much more voice-over work available, people with a creative interest in the arts should consider becoming voice-over artists. Here are four tips for those who are looking to use their talents off-screen.
1) Study acting. L.A.-based talent director Tom Keegan gives this advice to aspiring voice-over artists because, “All good voice acting has, at its base, a character, an action, and circumstances.” Acting classes can be found everywhere, so join up and increase your abilities to make it sound believable.
2) Work on your characters. Develop different voices that will make you stand out from the crowd. You might have a distinct southern drawl, or be able to play an aging WWII vet. Work on those. Practice different accents, delve into baby-talk, and cultivate a few characters that can take you from the old west to the final frontier.
3) Market your bilingual skills. New American Economy reports that since 2010, the “demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled,” so being bilingual can give you an edge. Develop your accents, timing, and cultural understanding to gain work on key projects.
4) Watch commercials—and listen.
20 Tips to Record Professional Voice Overs
Voice overs require more than just getting a microphone and talking. They are about transmitting a message and making the listener feel something.
Whether you’re voicing a character or announcing the latest smartphone, the main goal of professional voice overs is to always get information across effectively, while bringing the listener in and making them feel comfortable with your voice.
In this blog, I will give you 20 tips to record professional voice overs, even from the comfort of your home. Let’s begin:
1. Warm Up Your Voice
Before grabbing your microphone and hitting the record button, there are certain things you can do to ensure your recordings will sound professional. I’d recommend you start with some vocal warm-up exercises.
Start with some breathing exercises, then sing musical scales. You can watch the tutorials that Eric Arceneaux has on YouTube. He’s a vocal coach and has a very effective and simple way of explaining these warm-up exercises. Go check him out!
Related Post: Voice-over or Subtitling – Which is Best for Your Video?
2. The Script
It’s a great piece of advice to familiarize yourself from the beginning with what you are about to record. Chances are, the producers will have a well-crafted script for you, but if you are working solo, you might have to be the one writing the script.
Talk to the client. What do they want to say? Do they have a script for you, or do you have to write it yourself? If you write it, make sure you send the script to the client for approval before hitting “record.” This will save you a lot of time rerecording your voice overs later on.
3. Get a Pop Filter
A pop filter, or pop shield, is used when tracking voices and it helps prevent the ‘popping’ sounds from getting into the recording.
Place your hand right in front of your mouth and say the word ‘Pop.’ Do you feel that air impact? When a microphone picks that up, it doesn’t sound pretty, so make sure you avoid this in your voice overs.
4. Watch the Video Several Times
As I mentioned before, the earlier you can start to get familiar with what you are about to record the better. Ask your client if you can see the video before getting to the studio. If you can’t, ask them for a few minutes to watch the video before you start recording.
10 Ways To Build Your Voice-Over Skills
At some point in your video creation career, you’ll have to perform a voice over. Whether your regular narrator is sick or you have a very tight budget, recording your own voice over is a feasible but humbling task. To lighten your load, we’ve assembled our 10 favorite voice over tips. Some are very simple, some are somewhat technical, but all will save you time and frustration.
#1-Find Your Voice
If you consume much mass media, you may have noticed the decline of “Mr. Announcer Voice.” You know the sound. They have a big, deep voice, enunciate everything perfectly and always talk down to you. By contrast, today’s average voice over is much more conversational and casual. Gender doesn’t seem to matter either.
This is good for the first-time narrator since you don’t have to supercharge your voice to get a recording that sounds current. However, you do need to speak clearly and decide where your voice character fits in the narration spectrum. There’s a large gap between your typical public announcer and the guy who reads for monster truck rallies.
#2-Slightly Larger Than Life
While your normal speaking voice may be fine in person, it loses a little something in a voice over. To compensate, you’ll have to crank things up just a bit. Finding the balance between natural speech and enunciation is a great place to start.
Using a test recording or two, listen to your voice and make notes for any slurred phrases or indistinct words. They’re usually easy to correct with some practice. In addition, push your vocal inflection and emotion some too. It feels funny at first, but listen to the playback as you practice and you’ll hear the change.
In general, if it seems a little over the top, it’s probably just right, in the context of your video. [vm_ads:segment_break:3]
#3-Know the Material
It may seem obvious, but be sure to pre-read the material several times before you start recording. Reading through a script for a 30-second commercial is easy, but what if your project is a 20-minute training video filled with technical terms and chemical names? The time spent in preparation makes the final performance that much easier.
This applies to both the script and the finished video. Knowing how things fit together in the final product will help with pacing. Don’t be afraid to add some emotion and excitement to the reading when necessary, stopping just short of your typical local used car commercial. And rehearse out loud. The script sounds different in your head.
This will also identify any trouble words or phrases. [vm_ads:segment_break:4]
[image:magazine_article:34644] #4-Good Gear
Obviously, you want to use the best possible equipment to record your voice over, but the definition of “best” is subjective. In reality, it’s easy to get a great recording with nothing more than a pocket recorder, windscreen and a pair of headphones. A more traditional approach includes a separate microphone, audio interface, computer and software.
Alternatively, there are several USB microphones on the market at very competitive prices. Whichever path you choose, consider how you will use this equipment in the future and make sure it plays nicely with you and your production style. For those doing one-off narration, any mic and recording method you would use in the field works here too.
Consider recording your voice over standing up. Why? There are two very good reasons. First, standing opens your breathing and makes it easier to speak clearly and consistently. By removing the compression on your breathing muscles, you make it easier to take deeper breaths.
In addition, a standing position allows you to be more animated. This is a good thing. In fact, get your whole body into the performance. Imagine you’re speaking to one specific person and let go. Point, nod, wave your arms, whatever it takes.
Believe it or not, these motions impact your delivery and can be heard (in a good way) on the finished recording. [vm_ads:segment_break:6]
#6-Take Care of Yourself
The Complete Guide to Doing Voice Overs Like a Pro
Chances are, if you make videos — especially how-to and explainer videos – you will need to record voice overs. In fact, depending on how many videos you create, you may have to do a lot of voice over work.
Some might think that the audio portion of a video takes a backseat to the visual portions, but that’s not true. Most video watchers note that they are more likely to stop watching a video with bad audio vs. lower-quality video.
In fact, a recent TechSmith study of video viewing habits showed that more than 25% of video viewers watched a video all the way through because the audio was good — more than those who said professional video style was most important.
So great audio isn’t just important. It’s necessary to keep an audience interested and engaged.
But how can you ensure your voice over is good enough to keep your audience’s attention? Relax! It’s easier than you think!
Essentials of good voice over
9 tips to improve your speaking abilities
Voice training is far more than just getting on a mic and talking — to enable yourself to have a successful career in the business, you need to get down and dirty and make sure the most important element is in tip-top shape: your voice.
Remember that cliche: “it’s now what you say, it’s how you say it?” That truism extends to the voice acting world, too. Take the time to improve your voice, your ability to convince people, and your commitment to the script.
But instead of spending thousands of dollars on voice over training or voice over courses, take your speaking abilities to a higher level with nine of the best tips we’ve learned from our experts.
Over time, that means more business, more testimonials, and more happy customers.
Voice over training tip 1: Speak clearly
This is one of the no duh’s of voice acting. With any voiceover — no matter how fast — clarity is key. Every word needs to be heard by the listener; thus, any muddled phrase could destroy that.
Practice speaking with correct pronunciation and enunciation. It might feel a little over the top at first, but on the recording, it’ll sound just right.
Here’s how it sounds when the speaker is clear, despite the background music:
Voice over training tip 2: Speak with confidence
Um… hi there… my name is, uh, Bob…
Sorry, Bob. No one will hear the rest of your speech.
Is this is a corny example? Perhaps. But it solidifies the point that a lack of confidence hurts everything, especially your voice over.
Own what you say. Speak it with all the confidence in the world. Imagine that you’re trying to karate chop through a cinderblock — any bit of doubt will lead to a broken hand, not a broken block. The same goes for odd voiceovers where you have to make a weird sound or voice.
Here’s an example of an artist who speaks with confidence:
Voice over training tip 3: Mean what you say
The last tip was about speaking with confidence; this tip is about speaking with connection to your material: you have to believe what you’re talking about.
When you speak with enthusiasm, people can hear the difference. It’s subtle, but truly resonating with your script makes your voice more believable and convincing.
Here’s an example of a voice over that connects with their message:
Voice over training tip 4: Kill your ego
You have to be humble in life, and if you are not humble, life will make you humble.
— Mike Tyson
To improve, surround yourself with people better than you. You’ll learn dozens of lessons you couldn’t have learned otherwise and take your craft to the next level.
Go to classes and workshops where everyone is more advanced in their career than you are. Listen to their feedback; it could be brutal, but it WILL make you better.
Voice over training tip 5: Treat your voice with kindness
7 Tips for Working with Voice-Over in Corporate Video Projects
Corporate video is all about messaging.
Take a hypothetical situation that many corporate video producers face from time to time: you have a client, you have a concept, but you need a way to tie everything together to keep the messaging on point. You can use on-screen text, but that can get boring. You can also use talking-head interviews with corporate spokespeople, but those can be unreliable.
A common solution to just about all corporate video messaging problems is adding voice-over narration.
While you should never over-use it or rely on it as a crutch to present information, it can be quite practical, and it can give your video a clear voice and direction.
Let’s look at these seven tips for finding voice-over talent, getting quality audio recording, and creating dynamic corporate videos that your clients will love.
1. Script and Approve
When working in corporate video, the client reigns supreme. Yes you could probably make a killer corporate video on your own with no input, but the industry seldom works that way. You need to maintain consistent and clear communication with your clients throughout the process — and nowhere is that more important than in pre-production and scripting.
Before you can record your voice-over, you’ll need a script that is planned-out, drafted, revised, reviewed, and signed-off on by your client. If other agencies are involved, make sure they’ve seen the script and have given their approval before you proceed. Even if you can pass the bill along, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to have to re-shoot or re-record down the line.
2. Start with In-House Talent
Image via Tsian.
One trick I learned working on my fair share of corporate voice-over videos is to start with your in-house resources. If you’re confident in your own voice, it can help if you simply record your voice-over track yourself.
This will not, and should not, be the final tracking, but it will help you as you begin to lay out your storyboard and shooting schedule. You can check for any awkward phrases, as well as a get a good idea of timing and pacing.
3. Consider Professionals
Tips — Raise Your Voice — Voice-Over Voice Actor
From Dave’s upcoming book, “You Need More Than a Good Voice to Do Voice Overs,” available soon!
Just as important as knowing WHAT to do in the VO business, is knowing what NOT to do! Being aware of the biggest classic mistakes ahead of time can really help you avoid them.
- Some of these admonitions may seem obvious and common-sensical, others are basic concepts you can adapt to your style and business plan.
- Do yourself a favor, print this out and post it in a place where you’ll see it often.
- By-no-means-complete, but essential list of VO mistakes:
1) Being undecided about your rate. Do your research; many of us charge too little for our services.
Or we are apologetic, defensive, blustering… Read the chapters on rates, a little further on in this book.
There I lay out my opinions and experience in this area, and give lots of links to other experts’ suggestions as well! Come prepared to a conversation about rates with the client!
2) Believing all you need is an agent and you are in the black! Of course, a good agent is invaluable in obtaining auditions for you that you’d not get yourself, but they will never be your only source of sessions. Look for contacts, keep networking, marketing online and in person, and DO that cold-calling you’ve been putting off. Don’t rely solely on your agent.
3) Making your voice over demo when you are not yet ready. You need practice, you need coaching, you need to know your voice and what it can do. In short, you need to be really prepared. If you pay for that demo too soon, it can be wasted money. And no demo is forever. Be ready to go through the process as often as the market demands.
4) Not getting help with that first demo when you ARE ready! This is really a place for leaving it to the pros. You may think “How hard can it be?” to plop down your voice with your own new equipment.
This is a common mistake, but believe me, studios bring experience, skill, and know-how to the process. You can’t be objective enough about your own demo, and you only get one shot at a first listen.
Make it the best it can be!
5) Failing to get that agreement in writing. It is always vital to get something in writing. Memories of discussions and “agreements” can so easily change over time, with the potential to lead to uncomfortable and unnecessary conflicts. Plenty of voice actors don’t do this, but most clients don’t blink when you request it.
6) Forgetting to practice – ALOUD – every day! It is absolutely vital to read aloud every day; you can get rusty in a just a few days without this exercise. Do your voice exercises, repeat your tongue twisters, exercise your face, and oh, yes, READ ALOUD EVERY DAY!!
7) Not using TV and radio as an instant, powerful mechanism for practice, and for knowing what is current and popular, and in demand. You must know what is playing on the air at any given time! So listen and learn from today’s commercials, listen to narration on documentaries and reality shows. Stay current.
8) Forgetting the customer’s directives! Within the expertise that you bring to any project, the client’s wishes still need to remain at the top of the to-do list. This is a service industry. Do it their way, and if you think you can do better… make that your 2nd or 3rd take.
9) Being difficult to work with. This is an extension of number 8, above. Be considerate and easy to work with. Listen to the requests of the customer and the engineer, don’t be pushy.
Follow up in a timely manner. Be in time, and on time. Never be arrogant. Don’t share info about the job with anyone else unless the client says it’s OK.
They may welcome the extra PR, but they may not want anyone to know.
10) Expecting instant success. Don’t lose patience with this process. Be persistent, and be prepared to reach out time and again. Stay on the radar of prospects. Take more classes, buy more coaching, network endlessly… This is a business for tortoises, not hares.
THIS GUEST BLOG IS BY: Dave “Courvo” Courvoisier
Dave is a multiple Emmy-Award-winning TV News Anchor with more than 30 years experience in the biz. He currently anchors 3 newscasts daily at the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, NV, KLAS-TV (http://www.8newsnow.com)
But Dave always thought he had at least one more good thing in him, and that thing is Voice Acting.
Now with eight years of voicing experience under his belt, Dave has clients that range from Audiobook publishers to E-Learning to Documentaries and Commercial spots. He’s studied with some of the best coaches in the business, and enjoys promoting the community of Voice Actors as a member of the executive board of World-Voices Organization.
Along the way, Dave embraced Social Media as his marketing plan, and THAT lead to even more demand for his services to explain how to use social networks in raising one’s profile on the internet. He has spoken at many business conferences and conducted a number of webinars on the subject of social media marketing.
Dave’s Website: http://courvo.com/Dave’s Blog: http://www.courvo.biz/Dave’s Website focusing on one of his strong niches: Audio Book Narrator: http://www.courvo.net/
Thanks again, Dave!
How To Do Voice Overs – Essential Tips For Beginners
How to do voice overs? Well that is a massive subject and so we are just going to cover some the essentials here. To learn more I suggest you take the voice over for beginners course where we cover a lot of how to do voice overs in a lot more detail.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
START WITH THE SCRIPT.BREATH LIFE INTO WORDS.ADD IN THE INTENTION.WARM UP THE VOICE.RECORD YOURSELF.SUMMARY.
How To Do Voice Overs – Start With The Script
Working with scripts is the critical first place to start of how to voice overs.
You need to practice reading, not in your head but out loud. You have to read out loud every day in the beginning to learn how to master punctuation, intonation…Now here is the thing, you can read anything to start with that will help you get into the habit of practicing; from newspapers to books to repeating TV commercials.
Remember that every piece of voiceover work involves a script. One of the things that you quickly realise is that whilst it may be written well, it can sound a bit odd when spoken out loud. This is often because it is written to emphasise certain points or in the case of a story depict a character.
So you need to enjoy reading and of course learning how to interpret writing so that you can can bring it to life. This is the art of voice acting. It is the acting skills, as well as the reading skills, you will need to master when you read voiceover scripts. It is often that spark of creativity as a voice over actor that a lot of voiceovers enjoy the most about their work.
So a way to practice how to do voice overs is by simply reading out loud. But there is more to it than that, you need to be critical and improve your skills. So you will need to go back mistakes and read the pages or scripts again. Each time reviewing the sentence where you made a mistake and correcting it.
If you use scripts that you have downloaded of the internet, make sure you have checked them grammatically, it is often silly little things that can disrupt your practice time. Also make sure you have them printed out in an easily legible font.
The next step in how to do voice overs is learning to breath life into scripts.
Breath Life Into Words
You can split how you how to do voice overs into two parts to start with:
- Technical practice – reading, doing drill with tongue twisters, diction and pronunciation exercises, and breathing exercises.
- Interpreting copy and scripts with focus on adding expression and life.
There are so many ways to express different meaning into words through your voice. To get an idea of how powerful the voice is as an instrument I have added a great Ted Talk by Julian Treasure below. In his talk he brilliantly expresses the amazing variety of ways to use your voice to communicate different meanings.
As a beginner to voice over acting, you can improve how you interpret a script by imagining that you are talking to someone else: a friend, a neighbour or someone that you personally know. This is a simple way to take your first steps in how to add the acting part into your voiceover practice.
Voice acting is the creativity you use to to bring life to the written word. It enables you to make a character from a book come to life, to make a documentary interesting or an advertisement compelling.
You need to be convincing and believable in all these examples. This why understanding emotions and learning how to express them in your voice is so important.
How can you do this? Practice, practice, and of practice! (There is no magic pill for getting all those skills).
So one of the things you can do is to start with a handful (5-6) emotions and practice them. Here is a list of emotions:
Often it is good fun to simply pick one at random and perform a read. For more variety, prepare a second set of practice sentences. Choose one sentence and one emotion at random and act them out.
Add In the Intention
Normally a script will have an underlying intention. An intention is the reason and motive why someone might use emotions. Intention guides you how to interpret a script.
In learning how to do voiceovers you need to understand the different types of intention. A few obvious ones are the need could be for attention, acknowledgment, acceptance, and love. These intentions determine the way you speak.
This is a simple list of the common intentions that used when you speak. For practice, try to think about one intention before you read and practice a script.
How To Do Voice Overs – Warm Up The Voice
Before you attempt to voice anything you need to warm up. You can’t expect your voice to be at its best without a warmup. There are two parts to a good warm up: your body and your voice. If you are tense you won’t be able to get into the right frame of mind and it will also affect your voice.
To start with you need to simply relax so that you can focus on the job ahead – even if it is just a practice session.
Initially move your body from side to side and do some stretching exercises, whilst keeping your breathing regular and even.
Then as you start to loosen up, gently roll your head slowly clockwise and anti-clockwise, never going too far or exerting any muscles. You can do some shoulder rolls, by rotating them forward and backward, to get rid of any tensions. This simple movements and exercises are just an example of the sort of body and voice exercises you can use to warm up: