Monday, August 31, 2009

Talent of the Month - September: Nicole Borocci

“Networking is really the biggest key to success in the voice-over industry. Once you get a job, keep in touch with your clients – they’ll keep giving you work in return.” --Nicole Borocci

Perhaps one of Nicole Borocci’s greatest secrets to success is actually advice you’ve heard over and over again: network, network, network! As a part-time voice-over artist, Nicole dedicates much of her free time to checking emails, corresponding with clients, and auditioning for new jobs. She wakes up two hours earlier every day, and does the same thing after returning from an eight-hour day of work. “Voice-over is not just a way to make extra cash,” Nicole explains, “It’s definitely a passion.”

Nicole decided to get into voice-overs because she had always been interested in commercials and promotions. She often found herself mimicking voice-over actors and thought it would be a fun and challenging job to pursue. Before her love for storytelling took her to commercial voice-overs, she went to TV news, where she works fulltime today. Although she loves her job, she says, “I wanted a more creative outlet where I could tap into my natural enthusiasm and optimism. Commercial voice-over seemed to be a perfect fit.”

After doing some internet research, she decided to take the Master Class with Such A Voice because she realized the company was “honest, friendly and truly wanted to help inspire people to follow their voice-over dreams – not just take their money!” Once she completed the course and got her demo CD, she didn't waste any time and immediately dove into the job search.

Using the one-month subscription to voice123.com that Such A Voice gave her after completing the MasterClass, she landed enough jobs to pay for an additional 1-year subscription. How does she seem to know which jobs to audition for? She quickly noticed that she is most often hired for jobs that target teens, young adults and young mothers, so she saves time by narrowing down her search to those types of copy. Every morning she selects one script from each voice.com and voices123.com and gives them her best shot.

Her dedication and disciplined approach has already paid off. It's clear that the world of commercial voice-over seems to think she is a perfect fit as well – in less than one year, Nicole has landed jobs time and time again for TV and radio commercials, animation voice-overs, voicemail messages, not to mention her long-standing relationship with Southwest Career College in El Paso. Her coolest job so far? Recording a promo for the Jonas Brothers’ CD in Canada.

Her advice to newcomers on the scene: "Talk to veterans!" Nicole does that by attending voice-over related events in her area, learning about networking websites, getting her name out there and sharing her demo.

Having already set up her business and tax accounts, her next step is to keep growing! By this time next year, Nicole would like to expand her market, and she's already thinking about getting an agent. This goes to show that hard work and initiative certainly pays off in the voice-over industry! Good job, Nicole!

Insights into the Mentor Program

"Dream big and keep having fun! That's what I am planning on doing"
--Jeanine Blatter, Client of Such A Voice's Mentor Program

When Jeanine finished the MasterClass Program, she was full of energy to begin working in voice-overs. In order to make the most of each audition, she decided to check out the Mentor Program with one of our voice-over teachers, Heather Costa.

Jeanine realized that although she got a lot out of the group setting -- how to breathe, reading ahead, practice, practice, practice, and hearing others describe how they work on their technique, what she really needed was some continued one-on-one guidance. Jeanine couldn't imagine a better setting to learn the ins and outs of the business than to have her own personal coach who could enlighten and support her in all dimensions. She signed up for the Mentor Program with Heather not quite knowing what to expect.

In order to best help Jeanine, Heather worked with her on a separate topic in each session. "All of the sessions have been good," Jeanine says, adding, "--each in a different way." By her third one-on-one mentor session, she felt so comfortable that she could ask her anything related to voice-overs; such as, setting up her studio, choosing a business name, learning the technical jargon, and even how to use the recording and editing technology. Heather brought insight, encouragement and positive feedback that Jeanine says gave her an adrenaline rush.

"It felt like the feeling you get after a great roller coaster ride. I got that "wow" feeling!" Jeanine says that Heather has been the catalyst that has awakened her passion to do something new and exciting in her life. Heather radiates enthusiasm for her craft as well as providing critical feedback in a highly motivating way.

Heather worked with Jeanine and gave her some key tips to determine what the client was looking for with each voice-over copy. Not only did Jeanine work on being more conversational and natural, but she put together a fool-proof check list of questions that would help her personalize and finesse each audition. Heather also shared some insider tricks that would serve as reminders as she was actually recording her audition. Jeanine says, "This has most definitely helped me improve, get a clearer picture and given me more confidence in my reads."

In between sessions, Jeanine worked on her "homework" and saw vast improvements after every session -- progress in the quality of her auditions, as well as cutting down on the amount of time that she had to spend on each copy. Of her whole experience, Jeanine claims, "There is NO WAY I could feel as confident and prepared to go out into the world of voice-overs without it... It's worth every penny I spent."

The Mentor Program continues to give Jeanine the encouragement and support she needs to feel like a professional in the voice-over industry. Thanks to Heather's honest and straight-forward answers, she motivates and instills confidence. Jeanine says, "This is the firs time that I really felt like 'I can do this!'" The Mentor Program could be the perfect opportunity for you to boost your career by helping you realize your potential.

To find out more about this program and how it can help you advance your voice-over career, please go HERE.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happily Ever After

One Actor’s Success Story in the Voice-Over Industry and How She Got There
Guest blog post by Erica Retrosi

Ever listen to a children’s audiobook with your kids and the narrator’s voice suddenly whisks you back in time to your own childhood, when you listened to your favorite bedtime story being read to you? Do you ever get carried away doing voices while reading to your children and wonder if you could become a “professional story reader”? Meet Diane Havens: award-winning, children’s audiobook voice-over talent.

Havens, a New York City-based voice actor, reads children’s audiobooks for a living. She’s also the most recent recipient of the Voicey Award for Best Voice Team. She and her voice partner, Robert Jadah, were honored at the third annual Voicey Awards ceremony in March.

“The Voiceys wanted actual work to judge from this year,” Havens says, noting that this hasn’t always been the case. Unlike in years past, when people could submit demos of read copy for consideration, Havens and Jadah received their Voicey Award for a gig they had recorded for a previous client. That was the most gratifying part, according to Havens, who felt the award was a tangible prize for a job well done. “I’m happy to be recognized in that,” she says.

The Voicey Awards are the only honor of their kind, distinguishing the most accomplished in voice acting talent. Held annually, this prestigious Award includes categories such as Best Male Voice, Best Female Voice, Best Voice Team and Best New Voice, among others. Revered by voice-over professionals, the Voicey Award truly sets voice actors apart from their peers as stars of the industry.

“It does give you a little boost,” Havens says of the win. “There is very little recognition in voice-overs because we’re always behind the scenes. It’s a nice, warm feeling to get that recognition from colleagues.”

Havens, a former teacher, and Jadah, an actor and children’s book author, met in a forum back in 2006. The voice-over dream team was born.

“Robert is very accomplished,” Havens says of her partner. “He’s been instrumental in giving guidance, and he’s great at production.” The versatile pair recently lent their voices to a motion-activated security camera, but do everything from Shakespeare to pieces penned by Jadah himself.

How does a teacher with an acting background start recording her voice for a living? With retirement just around the corner, Havens started exploring other career options. In 2006, she came across Dan Levine’s voice-over beginner training course, “You’re On the Air: How to Really Make It in Voice-Overs.” Levine’s company, Such A Voice, has a battery of voice-over professionals traveling around the country teaching voice-over novices and the curious alike. Based in Burlington, Vermont, the company also offers high-level training for the serious aspirant. Havens furthered her research by visiting their website www.suchavoice.com and found that Dan Levine and his company had a top rating with the Better Business Bureau. Havens decided to take the leap and jump into voice-overs.

The kind of success that a Voicey Award recognizes inspires newcomers to the voice-over field. When one of their graduates, like Havens, achieves it, it is cause for celebration at Such A Voice. When the staff sees their methods working so successfully, it seems to only motivate them to become better still. In addition to the MasterClass, the advanced, all-encompassing preparatory course, Such A Voice provides support to students even after they’ve graduated. The staff provides bi-weekly teleconferences, which are on-on-one coaching sessions designed to hold students accountable for their own success. One of Havens’ favorite perks was a quick-and-dirty ProTools course. “It gave me the confidence to use ProTools,” she says. After studying the instruction booklet specifically designed for graduate Such A Voice students, she says, “Now, it’s a breeze. I keep the packet as a reference.”

The best part about voice-overs is that anyone can do it. And now they can do it without ever leaving their homes, making their own schedules and using the Internet to market their voices. “That aspect attracts a lot of people,” Havens says. Havens does much of her recording from the comfort of her finished basement, which houses the home studio her husband custom-built for her.

The real reason a voice-over career enthralls Havens isn’t the flexible scheduling, she says. What’s exciting for her is the constant state of flux of the market itself. “It gives you the ability to do so much digitally. It’s always growing and changing.” Such a market houses Havens’ background and interests perfectly. “I like the creative end of it,” she says. “I come at it all from an actor’s perspective.”

Voice-overs, especially narration work, allows her to do what she loves every day. She is currently working to get a solid hold in the audiobook genre of the market, especially in classic children’s literature. “That’s where I see myself going,” she says. “I’d love to do a book by an author I admire,” she adds, naming Lowry or L’Engle as her two top picks.

“It’s hard work,” she says of the audiobook world. “It’s not the most highly paid work, but if you love it, it’s a reward that you can’t put a price tag on.”

Havens is no stranger to hard work. In this industry, a huge part of success can be attributed to how actively you market yourself. Having already learned this lesson from her acting career, Havens was ready for it. Novices, however, are often unprepared for the challenge of constant follow-up, contact and never letting up. “You have to be realistic about it,” Havens advises. “It’s learning that no matter how talented you are, you have to work at it. People think they’ll get their first gig and coast from there, but in reality, every day you have to work, take another step, market yourself.”

Such A Voice takes this line with their students as well. They present a marketing plan as part of their advanced class, preparing students to know what’s coming so that they aren’t surprised at the amount of effort necessary to get the work.

Havens found this marketing plan useful as a jumping-off point to get her career rolling. “I used it at the beginning,” she says. She then shaped the plan to fit her individual career goals, making it her own. “I think it’s different for everybody. It just depends on which direction you want to go with your career.”

According to Havens, one of the great things about the voice-over field is “how many niches and how many different areas” you can work your way into. But once you get out there, you may be surprised by where you land. “The market will really define you; you don’t define yourself,” she says. “That feedback will help you figure out for yourself where your niche is. It will give you a strong basis, a clue.” Such A Voice’s mantra seconds this. They say, relax into it! Be yourself and the rest will come to you.

“If you love it, and have the talent for it, invest the time and the effort to get where to you want to be,” Havens says. She certainly did.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Newcomer: Tips for Getting Your First Voice-Over Job & Beyond

By Heather Costa
Voice Talent & Coach

[Copied from Voice Over Xtra. Original article found here.]

When you’re a new talent starting out in the voice-over industry, it’s important to have a realistic plan for your career.
Yes, voice-overs can be incredibly lucrative. However, if money is the sole or main thing driving you, I personally don’t think that you’ll become as successful as you would like to be, or that you'll get as much long-term satisfaction out of it, either.
You want to:
  • figure out a way to appear professional from Day 1 - as if you’ve been working in the industry for years!
  • appear to be confident - even if you’re absolutely nervous
  • ultimately build up your experience and your resume.
If you happen to earn a nice chunk of change in the process, that’s even better.

YOUR FIRST JOB
Let's assume you've received training and have completed your first demo - which is a professionally-produced recording that displays your voice-over skills to potential clients. Now what?

One of the questions I am asked most often, is “How do I build my resume when I’m just starting out?”

My answer is to start with people you know.

If your uncle, your current employer, your hairstylist, or even the local movie store that you visit every Friday night knows that you’re just starting out in this industry, it wouldn’t hurt your reputation to offer them voice-over services for free. You could either present it as barter, or as a mutual favor.

Another approach is to offer to work on spec for that first job with a client. The more risk-free you appear, the more marketable you are.

WHAT TO CHARGE?
One of the hardest things as a new talent is figuring out what to charge a client.
When you’re approached for a voice-over job, one of two things will happen in regards to rates:
  • The client will say, "This is what I’m paying," and they'll ask if you’ll do it at that price, or
  • The client will tell you what the job is, and ask what your rate would be.
Many factors come into play when figuring your rate. For instance, ask:
  • Will the recording be broadcast on TV or radio?
  • How long do you plan on using it?
  • What markets will it be used in?

Yet most importanly, ask: "What's the budget for your project?"

OFFER REDUCED RATE?
Even if you have the best voice for the job, if they can’t afford you, you’re probably not going to get it. So if you can appear accommodating and put it back on them to offer a rate - mentioning that you’d be happy to work with them to fit within their price range - you’re better off.
But if you accept work at a lower price, don’t necessarily offer that same lower price to your next potential client, just because that tactic worked the first time.
Yes, accepting work at a low rate could be a great step in building your resume! But over time, marketing yourself by offering low rates probably won't help you.

KEEP RATE OPTIONS OPEN
However you decide to structure your rate card, keep that information to yourself as much as possible. Once a client sees what you’re willing to work for, you lose the opportunity to raise or lower your rates as needed. And always remember to present yourself as a voice-over professional, even when you’re just starting out. I’m not suggesting lying, of course. But let your voice-over demo speak for you (which is why it’s very important to have a professional demo), and let the client decide from that.

AUDITION & PRACTICE
What’s a better way to practice than to audition?
Every once in a while a client might actually PAY you to audition for a job. But this is a rarity.
Offering to do an audition - a short sample of their script - at no cost is a great way to start building a rapport with a potential client.

“Playing the sites” is another great way to audition! Two of the most popular are Voices.com and Voice123.

When you become a member of those sites you have the opportunity to audition for numerous jobs every day! My recommendation is to focus mainly on the jobs that really fit your voice and your niche.

Even if you don’t land all of the auditions that you submit - which even the veteran voice talent rarely do - it’s additional practice and helps to build your confidence and experience in recording, editing and submitting auditions.

HOW MANY TAKES?
There is no magic number of how many times a talent records something until it’s perfect.
When I started out I probably recorded a 30-second commercial 20 times before I submitted it to the client. Today, with a lot more confidence, I might nail it on the first take or record a few takes and pick the best one.

The advantage of digital recording is that you can cut and paste as needed. Say, for example, you recorded three versions of a 30-second spot. Perhaps you love your second take, except for the last sentence.

Not a problem! You can re-record the last sentence or cut and paste it from a previous take.

BUT TIME-CONSUMING
In the beginning, I had a habit of recording anything, long or short, a couple of times and then in the editing process, I would listen back to ALL of it, and select the best sections from each take.
But that turned out to be incredibly time-consuming. And it started to sound like a cut and paste job!

If you are cutting and pasting, you should be the only one who knows that’s what you did. The completed job should never sound like it's been altered.

FASTER METHOD
I quickly realized that the best method is to re-read the sentence or section that I messed up WHILE I am recording.

So for example, I go back to the beginning of the SENTENCE that I stumbled on, read it again, and then continue on from there.

Afterward, I just edit out the stumble.

WHEN YOU'VE 'MADE IT'
I still remember the day I was sitting in a doctor’s office, filling out one of those new-patient questionnaires, and got to the section about my career. I paused. A huge smile grew on my face and I proudly wrote down “voice-over talent.”

There is no magic number regarding clients or years of working in the industry before being able to call yourself a professional.

Perhaps that day will arrive when clients begin coming to you - versus always chasing after them. Maybe it'll be when you finally have regular, re-occurring clients.

Or it could just be when you feel confident in your work and are able to record and edit in a more reasonable time frame

SET GOALS, HAVE FUN
You need to set realistic goals for yourself to help you determine the answer to that question.
I have always been a big believer in continuous education. Whether you have one client or 300, there is always more to learn.

Even the seasoned voice talent practice, study and continue to improve their craft.
Whatever goals you set for yourself, make sure you continue to enjoy what you’re doing. The voice-over industry is an exciting, creative opportunity for you to perform and have fun

ABOUT HEATHER ...
Heather Costa is a full-time voice-over talent as well as a voice-over coach and producer with the company, Such A Voice. Her fast-growing success and knowledge in this field have earned her respect in the voice-over industry. Her voice-over credits include work for Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Clear Channel, Finish Line, Walmart and the Disney Channel. As a coach, working with students around the U.S., she has helped launch the voice-over careers of many talent.

Monday, August 17, 2009

KIVA: Loans That Change Lives

We wanted to take a moment out of the day to let you know about a great cause that we just found out about. Although we are still in a recession and times are rough, the team here thought it was time to start thinking about how to help each other out... so we went global!

We found a great way to help others help themselves by giving micro-loans to individuals in developing countries who are trying to start their businesses. Obviously this cause appealed to us at Such A Voice, as everyday we try to give you the tools to start your own business and successfully market yourself!

Kiva is an international, person-to-person micro-lending website that empowers individuals to lend small amounts of money to budding entrepreneurs around the world. Kiva partners with existing micro-finance institutions, and you can actually see and track the progress of the individual you decide to give a loan to online. We are excited to tell you that we are in the process of making our first loan with the Voice Artist team!

If you are interested in joining other voice talents to help fellow entrepreneurs around the world get started with their businesses, or if you are just curious to see what we've been up to, check out our Voice Artist team page at: http://www.kiva.org/team/voiceartists

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

General Tips for Script Preparation

By Perry Anne Norton – PanRight Productions

The following is from PanRight Productions' Creating Impact Series, which you might consider as a guide for preparing cost-effective voiceover scripts.

No matter the type of script you’re preparing, you can reduce recording and talent costs by consistently sticking to a few basic rules in preparing your voiceover copy for the engineer and talent (see additional tips in the Creating Impact Series such as “Creating Effective PSAs” and “Voiceover / ESL Script Preparation” at www.panright.com/articles.htm.)

* Type your script, no matter how short, and use “san serif” fonts (Arial, Helvetica and MS San Serif are good examples). Font size should be at least 12 points. Double-space your document with at least 1.25 inches margin on each side of the page. This enables the talent to make notes if needed.
* Number all pages. Send an electronic copy in an editable text format (such as MS Word) as well as a hard copy to the talent in advance of recording for review and discussion when possible.
* Always phonetically type out any words that the reader might not be familiar with or that have a special pronunciation (i.e., an unfamiliar product, company name, city, or personal names). Indicate whether you want French names (for example) pronounced with an American or a French accent.
* Don’t use abbreviations. They can create confusion as to whether you prefer (for example) Apple Corp. to be read exactly as written, or as “Apple Corporation”. It’s easy to make assumptions that the voice actor will understand your intent, but this will cost you money in editing or re-recording later. Ditto with store hours, such as “8:30 a.m. to 5:00 pm”. Do you want to hear “5 pm” or “5 o’clock pm”?
* If there is a time limit for the piece, use a stopwatch to get an accurate sense of copy length before giving it to the voice actor or engineer. If you intend to use music at the open and/or close of your piece you’ll have to subtract that time as well. Read the piece out loud yourself at a leisurely pace. This will give you a better sense of actual length and save you time and money once you’re ready to record. Studio time is expensive and you don’t want to waste money re-writing on the fly.

Above all, make sure the copy you deliver is in fact final and signed off by whoever is in charge of approval for the project.

* Numbers should be spelled out (the number “150” can be read as “a hundred fifty”, “a hundred and fifty”, or “one hundred fifty” and so on.)
* Give written and verbal direction as to whether the actor should employ extra-careful enunciation (for ESL texts, for example) or if a more colloquial sound is desired. Indicate in writing any words that need to be verbally spelled out rather than read (“s-t-o-p” vs. “stop” for example.)
* Don’t break sentences or voice prompts between pages. This makes it harder for the actor to read with continuity and helps eliminate page-turning noise.
* Indicate pauses as needed by simply inserting “pause” or “wait 2 beats” directly into the script. Keep these directions SHORT. Don’t muddy up the copy.
* Inflection is very important in conveying your message. The actor can give an upward inflection at the beginning or end of a number or list of items, as well as a neutral inflection or a downward inflection at the end of a list. They may need guidance from you as to your needs (unless you trust your actor’s ear and intuition). If necessary, indicate these instructions in your script. Here’s a good way to indicate inflection for the voice talent:
o Use ellipses to indicate the type of inflection required:

For example, if you want an upward inflection when the number (or item in a list) appears at the beginning of a sentence type it in the script as
+ “One…”
with the ellipsis following the number.

For a neutral inflection when a number appears in mid-sentence, type it in the script as:
+ …one…
with the ellipsis on both sides of the number.

For a downward inflection when the number appears at the end of a sentence, type it in the script as
+ …one.
with the ellipsis in front of the number (most actors will do this intuitively).

Did you find this tip sheet useful? You might also refer to other tip sheets in the
Creating Impact Series at www.panright.com/articles.htm -- especially
“Tips for Creating Effective PSAs” and “Sample Voice Prompt Script Preparation”

For more tips from the Creating Impact Series contact:

PanRight Productions
info@panright.com
805-705-1442
© Copyright 2005, PanRight Productions. | All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Talent of the Month - August 2009: Ann Kirzl

"Believe in yourself, have confidence, and ENJOY the experience" - Ann Kirzl, Voice-Over Talent

Ann Kirzl is the kind of voice talent that everyone employer hopes for. Why? Because she truly enjoys it. For Ann, it's not so much about the money, but more about the pure enjoyment she gets from getting to be in the studio and pursue something she really loves.

Like many voice talents, however, it took some encouragement from Ann's friends and acquaintances for her to finally decide that voice-overs was a field she really wanted to learn more about. It was at this point that Ann decided to take Dan Levine's class, "You're On the Air: How to Really Make it in Voice-Overs". "Receiving positive encouragement from Dan Levine," Ann stated, "made me take the idea more seriously," and Ann decided to sign up for training with Such A Voice. Not only did this training provide Ann with tangible tools, such as her professional demo, to start her career in the voice-over industry, but it also provided her with a stronger belief in her own talent. Ann commented that, "going through the process of coaching and training with John Billingsley helped me to have confidence in my ability."

For Ann, this self-assurance began by simply making the choice to do something for herself and pursue something she found both interesting and exciting. Because Ann had training, she was able to not only have the confidence to get the job but also the confidence when she entered into the studio to record her first professional spot. Once she arrived at the studio, she realized that the entire experience was "EXACTLY" what she had expected, and this was due to the fact that her training had prepared her for that moment. She reflected that, "I knew that I was there to deliver what the client wanted, not what I thought was best" and she, "knew not to take the suggestions or criticism personally." By watching John Billingsley in her own demo session, she knew that repetition was a good thing and not necessarily requested because you are not delivering the line well. To sum it up, one of the essential factors in Ann's success was the way in which she responded to and absorbed the lessons taught in her training. Ann commented that, "everything I learned and experienced through Such A Voice helped me to be flexible, resilient, and confident when hired for a real job."

Since completing her training with Such A Voice a little over a year ago, Ann has really applied her new-found confidence and started to make a name for herself in the Vermont market where she lives, landing jobs with major Vermont companies Allen Kitchen and Bath and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) which is Vermont's largest educational loan provider. Utilizing her voice which Ann describes as "best when conversational, sincere, and believable," Ann has been able to bring a sound to her employers which many voice artists are unable to achieve because they are over-acting. This reality is achievable in Ann's reads because, as she states, "the 'product' makes sense to me." Therefore, she is able to connect with the listener and tell them about something that she understands. This is also the advantage that Ann has with working in her own local market - she has a familiarity with the businesses she is marketing herself to. Even though Ann views her voice-over career right now as more of a secondary job, she does believe that if she really puts the effort into marketing herself, she will have an impressive and strong resume in the next few years.

And why shouldn't she? It seems that success comes easily to those who love what they do. One thing that Ann loves most about being a voice-over artist is being called "the talent". There is an inherent confidence that comes from hearing those two words. But more importantly, Ann loves knowing that these two words mean that she is very important to someone else's business. The responsibility this career gives to Ann, knowing that she needs to do an excellent job in order for the client to make a profit, is at the heart of why she enjoys voice-overs.

So how has Ann gained success in her market? Simple, she stays in touch with people so she is not forgotten. Her own personal mantra for success is to put the amount of effort into marketing herself as she hopes to see in the results. She also knows that belief in herself is essential to both getting the work and providing a good product for the client. Ann remarked that it is easy when you are in the studio to let the reaction of the producers dictate your confidence. "When I deliver what they want, it's the greatest feeling...when I can't seem to get a line right, I wonder if I'm cut out for this work." What is comes down to, however, is having the self-assurance to know that is will all come together. It is at that point in the process, when it does all come together, that Ann can assert her talent and brilliance, because, truth be told, "it's tough to sound conversational on the radio."

So what does Ann advise to those looking to start their own voice-over careers? "Believe in yourself, have confidence, and ENJOY the experience." Ann has!

To listen to Ann's demo or learn more about her voice-over career, you can visit her Voice Fact page at http://www.myvodemo.com/such/index.cfm?world=2957

Voice Over Technique Tip of the Month

One great way to work on your voice technique is to have some fun playing with volume. Maybe you have three different volumes. You have medium, you have soft and then you have very loud. When you apply those three volumes to each of your voice pitches and then to each of your emotions, you have immediately tripled the amount of sounds that you can produce. For example, think about how different an emotion like sad can sound at different volumes. If you maintain a sad tone but bring up the volume, you can deliver a sense of desperation, perhaps, to the read. If you read the line at a quieter volume, however, you may find that it sounds more like you have given up. It really is amazing what you can do once you start experimenting with volume on top of the emotion and pitch you have already applied to the script. Experimenting in this way will give you the chance to see what your voice is really capable of and discover all the sounds you never knew you could make.

As you’re reading the paper in the morning, try doing it at different volumes or pitches. Maybe all day you say, I’m only going to speak in my upper register (pitch) today and in a low volume. This is really fun if you’re visiting places where people don’t know you, because they don’t know that you don’t really speak that way. Therefore, you can go around all day talking in a way that is completely different from your regular volume and pitch, and no one will know that this is not really your general way of speaking.

Playing with your voice and figuring out all the different ways it can sound comes in handy not only when you are dealing with different types of scripts but also when you are being directed. Having these different sounds to pull out of your pocket can make all the difference when the director asks you to do something new or fresh with the script. It’s a lot of fun once you start working with the different ways your voice can sound. In working with these techniques, you’ll be amazed at what you can do when you just get out of your own way and have fun with it. Don’t feel intimidated or inhibited.

Another great thing to do is to use a mirror to see what your face is doing. This is one of the techniques Lani Minella uses for her character voice students. She has them do their voices in the mirror so they can make note of what their faces are doing. By using a mirror, they are able to answer questions like: Are my eyebrows crinkling up? Is my nose wrinkling up? Are my teeth sticking out in the bottom or am I pulling my neck back? What are my shoulders doing? Are they slumped when I'm playing an old guy? Are they squared when I'm playing somebody who exudes confidence? Plus, the all important question, how is my physical appearance affecting my voice and visa versa? Figuring out how your body language interacts with your voice is an incredibly helpful tool in dictating how your voice will sound.

-Lisa Foster, Voice-Over Talent, Coach, and Producer