Friday, March 16, 2012

how to get into the voiceover world

i keep getting asked time and time again "how do i get into voice overs". it's about time i did a blog entry on the topic. so i'll share what i did...tis a very lengthy post. there are a myriad of way to get into this fun world. i have actor friends that do on-camera work and their agents simply referred them to the voice department, some hopefuls take voice classes and go from here or better yet, i met a voice over actor who had an intriguing voice and "randomly " met someone, who knew someone, then auditioned, booked the part and hasn't stopped working since and he still doesn't have a voice demo.  how convenient.
well rest assured, this isn't how i got my foot in the door. i did the work and will now share it with ya'll.

#1 what kind of voice work do you want to do?
depending on the kind of voice work you wanna do will dictate what you should study. i'm a highly animated individual so i knew i wanted to do children shows not to mention i still watch cartoons :) i'm interested in high energy, funny, over-the-top voices and story lines and as such studied those voices.

#2 listen to cartoon shows, commercials, and radio
now to study your craft, which includes listening to projects you eventually want to end up doing. make sure you're actually listening to the show instead of getting carried away with your eyes. the best thing to do is listen with your eyes closed. if you're into cartoons i found sponge bob square pants, the fairly odd parents, the mighty b, and the boondocks to list a few as good references. also, i found commercials for "back-to-school" ideal for my voice type so i went on youtube and listened to lots of staples, lady speedstick, breath freshener, and other stuff of that nature. but say your a dude with a lower, sultry voice i'd watch movie trailers with the epic announcer movie voice, adult cartoons, axe spray, old spice type, razor get where i'm going with this, study your type.

#3 practice recording and listening to your voice
so now the real fun begins. studio time! in today's digital age there really is no excuse for why you can't hone your skills as a voice actor at home. iphones have a really good voice recorder (actually i use my iphone to record auditions that i email to my agent) and if you have a computer you can hook a mic up and record. there are a ton of mics out there, so for that you'll have to research. at this point you simply need to record your voice so you can hear what you sound like. hearing my voice recorded for the first time, with a now critical ear, was so odd to me. recording and constant self critique will hopefully get you over this. if you're not a good self director i suggest you take voice recording classes. did i? kinda. i hired a one-on-one voice coach that offered a really great deal $50/session. for my sessions, i brought my own written scripts as well as scripts i straight copied from shows with a short and intense story arc. but yeah i wanted to take full advantage of her pro gear and i knew i wanted to have my practice recordings end up on my demo so i wouldn't have to pay extra for that.  i hope i haven't grazed. there's a lot involved in terms of practice/study.

#4 record a voice demo
once you think you have a good handle on what your range is and you're now actually good, record a voice demo. my voice demo was about 2mins in length. as mentioned above, i straight copied a show with a great scene as well as wrote my own scripts. i started out with about 8-10 different scenes that i recorded with my coach but i narrowed that down to 4 short scenes for my demo. its always good to have more to choose from. it helps if you know someone who has the setup and gear to record your voice but if you don't, at this point i'd advise that you pay someone reputable for recording time. since i was working with a voice coach i not only paid $50/session for some direction here and there but that also covered my recordings which i got to keep. i'd look for a sound recording student if you don't know anyone off the top of your head or a school/studio that offers classes with take home recordings at non-rip-off prices. whomever you go with will more than likely only give you your vocals and not add any music or sound. that was my case, but because i'm a stickler for perfection i forced myself to learn garage band from nada. i added sound effects, music, all that fun stuff that would captivate my listeners, but again YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS, this is just what i did. i happen to have an illustrator cousin that transformed me into a cartoon character. i then added color, graphics, and printed them to make me look pro-fesh :) TOTALLY NOT NECESSARY and next to veteran voice-over actors, i don't know anyone else that has a voice demo like mine, but then again, i'm all about visuals and captivating peeps with ADD :) please do not overwhelm yourself with packaging. what is most important is your actual voice.

#5 mail your voice demo to agents
since i already had an on-camera agent i gave them my newly pressed voice demo and they set me up with the voice department. from there i started going out on auditions. this was 4 year ago back when i was living in Vancouver. when i moved to NYC i had no hook up and no agent, so i went on and started researching agencies that specialize in voice work. the great thing with is you can see which actors are represented by which agency and what work they've booked. i created a list of agencies that had working actors and mailed my hopeful demo to 12 different agencies. of those 12 packages i mailed, i got 1 response and that response was from my current agent :)

- check out you need to register but it's free. here you can listen to a bunch of voice demos done by other actors. it's good to hear demos that are floating around out there
- use what your mama gave you...your own voice, instead of jumping into a new character/voice. if you aren't a natural pro in using various voices i strongly suggest using what you have and going from there.
- being represented by a reputable agent, in my opinion, is always the way to go. i'm not familiar with being self-represented (no agent). a lot of people do but not i.
- if you've never acted a day in your life and think you have a great voice and want to do something with it you MUST invest in your craft and take acting classes. you can everything i just said, record a demo and go out for auditions, but if you have no clue what you're doing as an artist/actor you will effectively burn through your opportunities and end up discouraged and quit. commit to the work and craft and you will find a way. this is what i did and i hope it helps :)

below is my demo from 4 years ago. i'm pretty busy these days but once the dust settles i'll need to update it with all the new and fun work i've been doing here in NYC.  but here's the tool that booked me work with a major publishing house, recording children's audio books, no audition, based solely off my demo :)

if you don't have flash player you won't be able to listen...sorry iphone, ipad users

wrapping up my last days on nickelodeon show dino dan. a sad day but season 3 is just around the corner :)
i recorded a bunch of children audio books over the christmas holidays and this one is by far my new favorite


*Tasha said...

Cool voice demo! Oh the many talents (and voices) of Maya!! :)

Niki McNeill said...

Great tips!! and I LOOOOVE the cover art for Jazz Age Josephine, so cute! ;)