Monday, August 24, 2015

- Why I Still Practice Every Day

The older I get the more I'm aware that there is a lot more to learn. I know some people who are very talented that rely on their skill and built up talent to do the voiceover jobs they get who do great work and don't "practice" much.
 I just have this endless curiosity about how it all works, how it might be better, how I might be better. For me it's not just about the gigs I have, its and endless kind of compulsion to figure out how my own speech and mind works. It certainly isn't the only approach, but it is how I try and improve my speaking and my reading skills...I practice a lot. Whatever approach you use make sure it's a deliberate choice and not just something you haven't thought about. It's very competitive in the voiceover world and it pays well to be at your best:)

Friday, August 14, 2015

- Voice Acting is Just Like Golf...

They both require endless repetition and are equally difficult. I get many many questions about the secret to success, the keys to success. The thing I have found in my own experience is that the secret and the key to success is patience and a desire to constantly develop  better and better skills. One has to have an insatiable curiosity about creating nuance, variations in cadence, melody and enthusiasm without ever sounding insincere. Authenticity must be the rule.
Sometimes people stay at a certain skill level approaching things the same way and wonder why they can't make more money.
It is totally possible to have a voiceover career, don't let anyone say you can't. However it is incredibly important to understand that you absolutely must keep training and keep improving all the time. Having a pretty good skill level often results in simply pretty good money, not great money.
Great success and satisfaction requires the dedication of an A list athlete not casual dabbling while wondering if things will work out. We often determine the level of success we achieve by the level of commitment we make to anything we love.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

- Why Are Voiceover Classes Necessary ?

Many people who are actors ask me “Why does an actor need to take voice over classes to work in VO”? Acting skills certainly give a person an ability to deliver lines, so what’s the difference? There really are many differences and demands. Lets say there is a need for additional skills. The art of Voiceover or voice acting requires: a knowledge of voiceover styles, the ability to change cadence, tone of voice, range, and the rise and fall of your voice on demand in order to deliver what the client wants. To make a long story short you have to have control over your voice so you don’t get fired because you can’t take direction. For example, the direction in a voiceover session usually consists of requests to slightly change the tone of voice here, go faster there, take the pitch down on the end of that sentence, speak in a lighter tone on that next phrase, highlight this word a bit more... etc etc. In acting they are rarely scrubbing every line read for you. It can be a bit of a shock at first.
Another difference is there is no scenery, no lighting, no costumes/makeup, and no other actors to play off of for inspiration. Voiceover classes teach the art of creating an imaginary world in your minds eye where you see all the things the voiceover is talking about . 
We are always trying to comply with the request to avoid any hard sell, to make it more conversational. Yet as people back off, the energy drops and the read sounds un-convincing. Very real is often simply very dull. The reads must be completely natural and yet maintain enthusiasm. This requires vocal skill. Those skills are taught in voiceover classes. Voiceover classes provide the workshop where a person becomes aware of the harmonic geography of their own voice, their “Day Voice” and how to best use the voice to sell different kinds of products. There is a whole world of style to learn and learning it can make you a fortune. 
Certain narrations are always done in an intimate voice; other narrations are quick and lively. The booth director or the client expects a voiceover artist to know these things. No one in a voiceover session wants to run a training school. They are too busy trying to meet deadlines.
Another reason to take voiceover classes is that it will greatly improve an actor’s cold reading skills for auditions. When we are speaking, whether we are in an acting scene or on a voiceover job, everything must sound “idea driven”. It must never sound like you’re reading just the words. Voiceover is another great way to practice the art of sounding like you’re present, sounding like you mean what you’re saying.
There are many good schools and different approaches to teaching the art of voiceover and voice acting. It’s a great idea to explore as many of them as possible. Each approach has something to offer so it’s a matter of finding what works for you. 
Whether we are actors, voiceover artists or in any other profession, the human voice is a wonderful musical instrument. We rely on it to transmit the symphony of our ideas and feelings. Our voices provide the point of first contact with people. The more we train our voices the more we can clearly express our ideas both on the job and off.
We all want to be able to communicate effectively as voiceover artists, and actors, with people in our professional and personal lives. We all want to do it better and more successfully. Becoming aware of the techniques of speaking, and mastering them, hands us the keys to effective and successful communication which can take our careers to a whole new level of success.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

- Learning How to be Yourself

Well, here’s the task for all mankind let alone a voiceover artist. Whether in a person’s business life or personal life, we spend a lifetime asking our selves who we are. Learning how to be yourself requires that we know who that person is, to some degree at least. The advice I give people all the time is to simply say: “Your best chance of getting work is to be yourself.” It does'n’t matter whether it’s a voiceover job you’re trying to get, or going to the next job interview, be yourself”.

It’s a useful “bumper sticker” slogan, but I’d like to talk a bit about the process of the discovery and how to relax into that, and how to trust it... and what it means and what it doesn’t mean. 
When we get to a place in our heads where we can “be ourselves” the advantages are huge. Life isn’t nearly as stressful. We stop being angry. We stop taking things personally and start viewing things as feedback that allows us to make corrections and move on. When we learn how to be ourselves and accept ourselves, we stop criticizing everyone else. The stress of NOT being ourselves or knowing ourselves is exhausting and frustrating. It can create a lot of stress and we can find ourselves acting out on people because of it. So in learning to be ourselves we are UN-cluttering our minds and freeing the hard drive space between our ears to engage in the process of success.
When we are comfortable in our own skins people will enjoy being around us. And of course that is very helpful in getting jobs, voiceover jobs, or any job. In these times that is becoming more and more important. This is important to remember. It is not merely about being the most talented voiceover artist, plumber, teacher, sales person, lawyer or dentist. A lot of people could do the actual work, but people hire people that they like the best. The best plan in the world is to like yourself and be yourself.