Monday, January 4, 2010

Technique Tip of the Month: January

Enunciate with a Carrot!

I once heard that the actress and voiceover artist Kathleen Turner uses two marbles tucked somewhere in her mouth to help her create the sexy, sultry voice that helped make her famous. I'm not sure if that's true, and I'm even less sure of how she would have discovered that to begin with. Urban legend or not, voiceover artists have been known to try techniques that are just as whacky as the marbles to create a certain affect with their voices.

Certain technique tips will work wonders for some, and not produce a hint of difference for others. Hopefully you are recording your voice-over technique practices and playing them back to see what you sound like. (I repeat: Hopefully you are recording and playing back your voiceover practices!) If when you listen to recordings of yourself you find that you are cutting off certain syllables or swallowing others, then a carrot can be your best friend to help you enunciate more clearly. I personally have a subtle Southern accent, and despite my best efforts to neutralize it, I often hear whispers of an accent at the ends of certain words. Of course I don't hear it when I'm speaking, but it screams out to me when I play back my voiceover!

The technique is simple enough: take a carrot and hold the end in between your two front teeth. Practice reading a copy aloud -- keeping the carrot there the whole time! Record one of your voiceover scripts and listen to yourself. At first, you'll get a good laugh listening to playbacks of your voiceover while holding a carrot between your front teeth, and I congratulate you if you are able to discern even half of the words that you read! Repeat reading through the same script while keeping the carrot in place without biting through it or dropping it. Your mouth will learn have to learn to work around the carrot, and you should start to produce the words more clearly.

Finally, remove the carrot and read through the script without slipping back into old habits. You'll notice that you are enunciating words more clearly, and your accent should be considerably watered down. The best part about this technique? It's cheap, it's easy, and you even get a healthy snack out of it!

-By: Catherine Marshall

3 comments:

  1. James Alburger in "The Art of Voice Acting" describes a similar technique using the cork from a wine bottle. I have used the cork technique and found it useful. Perhaps I'll try the carrot as well.

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  2. That sounds a lot sexier than two marbles, I'll be sure to try it next time I do a chocolate cake commercial! Many thanks :)

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  3. Hmm... At least when the carrot crumbles apart in your mouth you'll have a healthy snack (instead of a mouth full of cork)!

    Mmm... if you need any help with that chocolate cake commercial... or even just the chocolate cake part! ;)

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