It’s Booth Gear, Baby!

When you stand or sit in your recording area (whatever your booth may be), are the tools you need at arm’s-length away? I’m almost positive your copy or music stand has at least one item you use every time you record. Maybe a pencil? A stopwatch? A good luck Beanie Baby? Almost everybody has something. At the very least a script.

The accumulation of booth gear doesn’t necessarily reveal the type of person you’ve become. It’s not a reflection of what makes you, you. Instead, it’s what makes you comfortable so you can do an excellent job recording and impress the heck out of your clients who will shower you with repeat work. It’s all important stuff.

This picture is a snapshot I took of what’s on the music stand in my booth. (click to enlarge)


Big Office Clip
– It’s a simple and efficient headphone hanger. However, since it’s two wires doing the job, the clip has destroyed the padded head cushion covering. There are better choices, like this from Sweetwater- K&M 16080 Headphone and Cable Hook.. (Also check out the K&M 16020 Drink Holder.)

Headphones – I’m using my Sennheiser HD 280 Pros less for self-directed projects but find them necessary for remote booth direction. They spend most of the time on my editing desk.

iPad – Going green is a good choice to reduce printer/paper usage. Printed scripts in the booth are becoming more rare with each passing year. Apple’s iPad (or similar tablet) is the way to go. Mine is an iPad 2, which I bought new in 2011, and with its 9.7-inch display, it’s a good size for reading scripts.

However, while visiting the Apple Store recently, I saw the bigger display of the iPad Pro (12.9-inches), and I think it’d be a sweet upgrade. I would see more of the script on a brighter, crisper display. That’s a win for my eyeballs.

Mighty Bright Light – On those few occasions where I print a script or need to read from an actual book, this light is fantastic for its brightness and adjustability. Since I purchased mine, Mighty Bright has created new, brighter versions that appear to take up less space.

In Your Face iPhone Holder – Phone-patched sessions have become more common and the In Your Face iPhone Holder is a handy place to mount my phone.

Carpet Sample – A music stand is nothing but a flat piece of sheet metal on a pipe. The flat surface can produce unwanted sound artifacts, which are muted with a carpet sample.

Make a trip to your local carpet retailer and ask if they have any samples they’d let you take off their hands. Just make sure it’s clean and a color you can live with. And while you’re there, introduce yourself as the person to call for everything VO.

Pencil – This is a carry over from when I was working with paper scripts. I got in the habit of having it in my hand and feel naked when I don’t. It’s handy for gesticulation. Not so good for marking up copy on an iPad.

Dog Clicker – Marking the waveform with a clearly defined click is indispensable during audio editing. I use it to mark mistakes (1 click), takes (2 clicks), and self-guided booth tantrums (countless).

Cork – For the times when I can’t convince my mouth to cooperate, and articulation seems more like fantasy than reality, I rely on my cork. Pop it in. Read the script. Pop it out. Magically, my mouth takes notice and articulation improves.

Bath Towel – When I slapped my carpet sample on my music stand, I quickly saw it was on the small side. Sooo…  a bath towel covers the entire stand. It’ provides a bit of contrast and color plus keeps the carpet in place. I know it’s a stretch, but it sounds good, doesn’t’ it?

Do I use all the items every time I’m in session? Nope. One or two items come in handy. The rest are on standby waiting for their chance to be helpful.

Do you have things on your stand (or in your booth) that help you get through a session? What’s the one or two items that make what you do easier? I’d like to hear about them, so leave your comments below.

© 2017 J. Christopher Dunn

12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss (Pt 2)

Previously in part one of 12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss, I introduced you to six podcasts to educate and inspire you about voiceover. I’m amazed at the amount of FREE information available through podcasts and I always feel listening to them is time well spent. I can’t think of another way to get educated passively.

This post continues with the second half of my recommended list.

 

Voice Coaches

mza_6385187628270560378.170x170-75Sometimes this podcast is too short. Warren Garling and Chris Scharling find topics that could use more time. They’re that interesting. They entertain well together and discuss methods to improve your VO business. From insightful interviews with industry professionals to marketing tips, and professional suggestions, each episode is delivered with humor and openness. Make sure to listen to the entire podcast for hilarious outtakes.

 

The Producers Podcast – Voiceover and Radio / Audio Production

mza_8350867020232262915.170x170-75While Ryan Drean’s professional focus is Country Imaging services at TM Studios, 360 Country, he is one guy that has many audio interests. His podcast is a blast to listen to and his easy going approach with the professionals he interviews gets answers and stories seldom heard elsewhere. Ryan talks with producers, voice talent and other audio industry professionals.

 

VO Minute

ps.jqrxbgqm.170x170-75New to the voiceover biz? Been in it for a while? This podcast is just right for you. Host and Voice Actress Allison Moffett provides useful VO tips; suggestions for improving your studio business; tech info and personal experiences in bite sized episodes. Allison’s bubbly, upbeat delivery is fun to listen to and sure to be one of the most positive parts of your day.

 

Voice Acting Mastery: Become a Master Voice Actor in the World of Voice Over

Known for numerous video game credits, Voice Actor, Crispin Freeman is the go to guy when your interest is voice acting in animation and video games. He’s been in the business for close to three decades and has the expertise to answer your most pressing voice acting questions. Interviews with agents, voice actors, and producers are typical of what you’ll find in his biweekly podcast.

 

Voice Over Experts

One of the first podcasts I subscribed to is provided by the folks at Voices.com. I was looking for a repository of stories from industry professionals, people who were successful in what they do. I wasn’t disappointed and found each episode enlightening and educational. What happens when you have too much radio in your sound? Check out this podcast for the answer.

 

Voice Over Marketing Podcast

When your VO business could stand an injection of marketing know-how, John Melley delivers what you’ll be looking for. You love what you do otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it, right? Learn to make more money and REALLY love what you do. John has useful information specific to your business that’s easy to access and a pleasure to hear.

 

I’ve received a number of suggestions since I published part 1 of this two part post and will share them with you next time. If you have a favorite podcast that helps you with your voiceover business respond in the comments section with your suggestion.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Five Ways to be Remembered by Your Clients

 

 

Can You Get There from Here?

I recently attended an amazing voiceover workshop in Seattle taught by Pat Fraley. During a conversation with the other voice talents, I was asked, “What would be your ultimate gig?” It took me a slice of a second to reply, “Narrate a documentary on one of ‘The’ TV channels.” What do I mean by a ‘The’ channel? Well, that’s any one of the cable channels that starts with ‘The.’ The Discovery Channel. The Science Channel. The History Channel. The Food Channel. There are several more but these are the ones that come to mind for most folks. I’ve set this goal as one that I’m working toward and it drives me to improve my skills, business and creativity, as a voice talent.

I Think it’s important in any line of work that professionals continue to learn and keep perspectives fresh. While maintaining your clients satisfaction by fulfilling their expectations is probably on the top of your list, the same clients may be amazed by your services or deliverables if you exceeded their expectations. Do the unexpected to add value, either directly or indirectly. Because you are learning or coming up with new ideas about your business, those bits of extra value will be easy to apply.

10 Ideas to get you started (but there are many more!)

  1. Complete the project early
  2. Followup to find out if there is anything else they need
  3. Invoice Promptly
  4. Make Social Networking Connections
  5. Don’t be afraid to use the phone to communicate with your clients
  6. Go beyond your borders
  7. Read a book or take a class about freelance or small business marketing
  8. Write a monthly client newsletter and highlight (with permission) a few of your clients
  9. Take acting classes or get involved with community theater
  10. Take time for yourself. You’ll be surprised what a little away time can do for you.

Much of the work we do does not happen behind the microphone. As independent voice talent, we market our skills; make connections with prospective clients; negotiate terms, conditions and rates with new clients and maintain professional relationships with existing partners. And, we give life to words; engineer our own sessions; edit files so what we record can be used immediately; and stay on top of all that technology, which lets us work from the comfort of our home studio. There is so much to our business.

Working toward your big goal or ultimate client and keeping your business fresh can be done simultaneously. Each supports the other as you travel your voice talent path. The new business skills you learn and develop today will help you engage with your clients at a higher, more valuable level. Your desire to attain your goal, will feed your passion to be better than you were yesterday. Larger opportunities will make themselves available and build your confidence upon successful completion. By the time you connect with the thing for which you’re striving, you’ll be ready to take it on with ease.

I encourage you to identify ways to make your business more than what it is today. Move forward so that tomorrow you’ll be prepared to fulfill your expectations.


Other posts you might find interesting:

Get it to Your iPad with Instashare

InstashareIf you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I use my iPad to read scripts. The printer sits quietly while I type. I’m sure it wonders (yes, I gave my printer human qualities, thank you very much!) if I’ll ever touch it again. I’m sure it’s jealous of my iPad.

To get scripts to my iPad, I was using one of the popular cloud-based file share services. A few weeks ago, my computer would not connect to the service and I had a stack of scripts I needed to get to my iPad NOW! My printer saw this as the perfect opportunity to remind me that printing was a push of the print button away. Not to be persuaded, I switched to another file share service and finally got the scripts to my iPad. Work proceeded.

This little scenario got me wondering if there was something I could use that wasn’t Internet dependent. A piece of software that I could install on my Mac and iPad, to quickly copy files using my WiFi connection. I thought about it a lot and within a few days, BLAM!, the piece of software I was thinking about became available. If I didn’t know it takes months for applications to be developed, I would have thought the programers wrote the software after a Vulcan Mind Meld with me. And, they’re probably not Vulcan anyway.

The software is Instashare, developed by Lukas Foldyna and Martin Karasek, the team of developers who make up TwoManShow.

Instashare from TwoManShow on Vimeo.

Lukas and Martin have made installation and configuration amazingly easy and quick. First take a trip to the App Store and download the Instashare App to your iPad. Next, point your browser to InstashareApp.com and download the Mac version to you computer. While the Mac version is BETA, I’ve found it to be trouble free and plays well with the other applications on my Mac.

After installation, launch Instashare on your iPad then the app on your Mac. Using your WiFi network, both machines will look for each other. On your Mac, you’ll see in the drop window that your iPad is displayed as a destination for any files you want to copy. Your iPad shows your Mac as a destination. Copying files goes both ways. On your Mac, drag and drop a file to the drop window. Your iPad displays an alert requesting that you approve the transfer. Tap approve and the file is copied. Simple, right?

You can open copied files directly in Instashare or tap the ‘Open in’ button and you’re presented with installed apps that can open the file. When you’re done with the file, delete by tapping “Edit”, tap the red circle with a line in its center, then tap delete. Since you were working with a copy on your iPad, the original is safe on you Mac.

If you’re not a user of Apple hardware, the Instashare website indicates that Windows and Android versions are coming soon.

I’m sure I’ll still have some use for the file share service. But since I started using Instashare, I haven’t had the need. The icon for the service sits in my menubar waiting to be clicked, promising me that it’ll behave. It’s in good company though, my printer anticipates my return as well.

Other posts that you might find interesting:

VoiceWorld Toronto, It’s a Voice Conference

You may or may not be a professional voice person but you are somebody who enjoys learning about the biz, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog about voiceovers. Now that I have that out of the way, I would like to direct your attention the information below. You’ll find details about VoiceWorld Toronto Conference.

This will be a key opportunity for you to meet like minded people, hear from experts that have been doing the voiceover craft for decades and enjoy the beautiful city of Toronto.

VoiceWorld Toronto Conference

Date: Saturday May 4th, 2013
Time: 8:00 am – 5:30pm
Location: Toronto Hilton Hotel

Prepare to be educated, equipped and empowered

  • Audition like a pro — understand the do’s and don’ts of auditioning in person and online.
  • Learn the ins and outs of the voice acting business, and what it takes to be a successful voice-over talent.
  • Get into business — explore ways to turn your voice acting talent into a business.

About VoiceWorld Toronto

VoiceWorld, the industry’s premier conference, being held in Toronto in 2013, is an immersive experience focused on engaging voice actors from across Canada and the United States. Connect with amazing, influential people who can change your life through courses in artistic development, business and technology preparing you for success in the exciting world of voice acting. A breath of fresh air, VoiceWorld sets out to invigorate and intensify your love for the art of voice acting as never before with an action plan for you to take your business to the next level.

VoiceWorld Toronto Speakers

  • Pat Fraley – Man of Four Thousand Voices, CESD Talent Los Angeles
  • Elley-Ray Hennessy – Award-winning actress, Director and Producer
  • Deb Munro – International Voice-over Talent and Coach
  • David Ciccarelli – Co-Founder and CEO of Voices.com
  • David Goldberg – Owner of Edge Studio
  • Dan Lenard – The Home Studio Master
  • Sunday Muse – Voice-over Artist, Author and Coach
  • Dave McRae – The Voice Mann
  • Stephanie Ciccarelli – Author of Voice Acting for Dummies
  • Wayne Young – Audio Producer and Mixing Engineer

10 Reasons To Attend VoiceWorld Toronto

Early Bird Special ends February 28th!

*Tickets are limited. Purchase your full conference pass by visiting, http://voiceworldtoronto2013.eventbrite.com/

Voice World Toronto
Join us in Toronto for the voice acting conference of the year on Saturday May 4th, 2013.
VoiceWorld

Go Paperless with Foxit PDF

When I was preparing to open the door of my voice-over business, I made a list of all the office goodies I needed. One of the items was a printer, and I had my mind set on a multifunction unit. I thought having print/fax/scan capabilities in one easy to use box would be the most efficient way to go. I made the purchase and printed off into the sunset.

Well, not really. You see, I bought an inkjet version and quickly found that I was going through cartridges faster than a Hummer guzzles a tank of gas. I found myself making my way though reams of paper as well. I had a huge box of printed scripts to recycle every month. It took little time for me to figure out that I needed something more efficient, more green.

I’d read that a number of my voice-over peers had made the migration to iPad for scripts. This appealed to me on several levels. With an iPad, my paper and ink cartridge consumption would be significantly reduced. My office would be more green. Plus, the iPad would be a super-cool buy, satisfying my inner gadget geekness.

I made the purchase, an iPad II/16-Gig. Next, was to load it with software that would make the purchase pay for itself. I needed something to read scripts. I used iOS Pages at first but found that it was missing the ability to handle PDF formatted files.

Foxit-Mobile-PDF_Main_web_shadow
Fig. 1 – The primary view and main work area of Foxit Mobile PDF.

I tried several PDF readers (too many to list!) before finally arriving on what I believe to be the ultimate PDF tool, Foxit Mobile PDF by Foxit Corporation. It allows me to view and easily navigate PDFs, plus it has a number of ways to annotate or markup the text. I can bookmark, highlight text in multiple colors, type notes for phonetics, write direction notes, strike text and more.

Foxit Mobile PDF is perfect for the audiobooks I produce. Figure 1 shows my markups for a recently produced audiobook. I wrote in chapter numbers, typed in audiobook specific replacement text, and highlighted sections for pickups. The screenshot also shows the app’s toolbar, document navigation slider on the right, and page view and page number in the lower right.

Foxit-Mobile-PDF_Slide_web_shadow
Fig. 2 – Slide panel access.

The slide panel in figure 2 reveals 4 useful tools that allow me to navigate to a specific bookmark, review the chapters or outline of a document, see my annotations and search for text.

The one drawback to using an iPad for scripts is that markups during a directed session are a bit cumbersome, but it’s still doable. It’s not as easy for me to write in a quick note or strike words on the tablet’s surface as it is to do it with pencil and paper. I’ve caught myself a few times going for my pencil. Perhaps the natural thing to do would be to migrate to a stylus.

Foxit Mobile PDF is available for a limited time at no charge from the App Store.

I’m sure there are other PDF readers/annotators that you have used and I’d like to hear about them. Since I’m interested in trying out a stylus, I’m open to suggestions. Also, what are the things you’ve done to make your studio more green?

Figure 1 shows the markups made during the production of  Marc Allen’s  Amazon.com best seller, “How to Quiet Your Mind: Relax and Silence The Voice of Your Mind, Today!“, published by Empowerment Nation. Audiobook availability pending Audible.com review and approval. 

Five DIY Home Studio Voice-over Tips

As work from home voice-artists, we are a segregated lot. Our time recording is spent in the lonely convenience of closets, spare bedrooms, under moving blanket tents and for the truly fortunate, a sound booth. Regardless of where we record, we are usually solo, self-directing to the point of our best performance. Sure, there are patched or ISDN sessions with directors talking to us from some remote location. Still, we are standing by ourselves, behind a mic and putting our best VO effort forward. We are alone.

Since there is usually nobody but me, myself, and JC controlling how my sessions go in my home studio, there are a few things that I do for each session to make sure when I’m done recording my time editing is used efficiently.

The following might seem obvious for some and super simple to others. For me, these tips give me an extended level of comfort and confidence when I’m by myself. These are things I’ve learned over time. Most often, corrections of bad habits.

  1. Pre-read the script before you get behind the microphone. Read the words to yourself first. Read them out loud then read them out loud again. This gives your eyes, brain, and mouth an opportunity to get acquainted with the script. If you stumble on a word or a line trips you up, this is a great opportunity for you to find it before you get behind your mic.

  2. Markup or woodshed your script with reminders. You’ve pre-read the script and have found the land mines and areas that need more or less emphasis. Don’t try to remember how to deal with the problem bits. Instead, grab a pencil and mark the script in a way that will be most helpful. Place underlines under words that you need to hit. Place dashes for breaks in the phrasing to remind you to take a breath. Highlight a line that needs more “Hollywood” and write in phonetic helpers.

  3. Remember to read for time. If the script is for a :30 commercial, your read should not be longer than :30. It’s better to read for time instead of trying to edit for time. Grab a stopwatch and time your read before you enter your booth.

  4. Develop a method to mark your takes. The best way to find a take out of multiple attempts is to look at the waveform of the audio file in your recording software. Using a clap between each take and a triple clap for a take that you think was “THE one” will help you quickly identify just what you’re looking for. Audiobook narrator Jeffrey Kafer uses a dog clicker instead of clapping.

  5. Keep everything you record. When I first started doing voice-overs, I would record a few takes then stop to give them a listen. If I didn’t like what I heard, I ditched the entire track and started over. This was a huge waste of time and removed any option of picking up a word or line that might be useful in the final audio.

What have you found to be your most useful tip as a solo voice-over talent?

Who Wants to Be a Voice Talent?

Recently, I’ve received e-mail from a number of folks who are checking out the prospect of becoming a voice-over talent. They ask me questions about how I got started; what I did to become successful; and what a typical day looks like for me. I openly let them know that it’s hard work and encourage them to give the idea some careful consideration before taking the plunge. My 1000-foot level response looks something like this:

Self Examination

There are a number of “things” to consider before diving into a voice-over business and it will be important for you to think about each one.

  • Are you willing to make very little money the first two or three years in the business?
  • Are you open to working a “day job” while you’re developing your ability and establishing your client list?
  • Do you have the skills to set up and maintain accounting, taxes, insurance and marketing that a small business requires?
  • Do you like your voice and all the uniqueness it possess?
  • Can you read clearly and are you willing to take direction?
  • Do you have a thick skin and can you keep from obsessing about every audition you send out?

What’s Next?

After doing some honest reflection and answering the above questions truthfully, you may still be interested in the business of voice-over. The next step it to get started with training from a reputable coach. A good coach will tell you during your first session whether you’ve got the chops for VO or not. Next they’ll help you identify your signature voice and find genres that fit your voice and delivery. When you’re ready, many will also direct and produce your demo.

Take some acting classes, improv is best. Practice cold reading anything you can get your hands on. While voice-over talent get to rely on scripts, you have to act the part. You need to deliver the lines in a convincing way so that they don’t sound read. You need to sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you don’t.

Get you demo(s) produced and website created to feature your abilities. Your first impression to talent seekers is super important. Take your time getting the training you need before your demo is produced. Hopefully you will have found a coach that isn’t part of a production mill and can truthfully tell you when you’re ready. Your website acts as your storefront with demos, details and contact information. Do not start to look for work without either of these.

Where will you record your broadcast quality audio? In your very own home studio of corse. You’ll need a quiet area to call your own, a mic, computer and software. Plus, the know-how to connect all these goodies and record your dulcet tones. Outside noises, distractions from family, pets and friends need to be removed.

You Gotta Work

Go out and look for work. Since you’ll be owning a business, it will be up to you to get clients on your own. Whether that means signing up with Voices.com or Voice123.com; leveraging your existing business contacts, family and friends or cold calling businesses…it’s up to you. You’ll find the most success in using a combination of the above.

Agents will not get you work. Agents will line up auditions for you. That’s it. If you book a gig from an agent arranged audition, you’ll pay her or him 10%. Yes, the agent will have access to the big money gigs but will only be interested in representing you once you’ve proven yourself independently. They’ll look at you and say, “What are you bringing to my talent stable?”

During an industry teleconference with the talented and respected voice actor Randye Kaye, she said that about 10% of full-time professional VO peeps are in the SAG or AFTRA unions. You’ll be more flexible to stay nonunion at the start. You’ll know when it’s time to join a union, a client will want to hire you and only works with union talent. That’s the day you’ll be signing up.

Plan Your Day

My schedule is much the same from day to day. It’s flexible enough for me to schedule sessions. When not “working” my time is spent auditioning and marketing.

  • Check e-mail from overnight and respond
  • Add appointments to my calendar
  • Practice for 90 minutes reading copy, recording my takes and analyzing my delivery. We are, after all, our own worst critic.
  • Audition 4 hours
  • Lunch
  • Marketing 3 hours
  • Virtually socialize with my vo peeps (twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, blog, other…)

I wake at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time and leave my studio to have dinner with my family by 6:00 p.m. If necessary, I work weekends and get up early when the east coast is calling for me to complete an early morning gig.

So, there you go. A little sporadic but it covers a lot of ground. This is what comes to mind every time I answer the question. I’m sure you have your own 1000-foot-level of what it takes in this business. What would you add?

Find Your Voice-Over Answers in These Five Amazing Books

First, let met point out that books are not dead! While mobile devices like the iPad and Kindle have reshaped the publishing landscape, books are still useful. They offer a wealth of information that’s just a page turn away, whether it be digital or physical. While I can dive into the Internet and search for answers, I also like having a book written by a knowledgable expert that’s within easy reach.

The reference library for my voice-over business ranges from setting up a home studio to marketing my services. The books I’m sharing with you are what I think are some of the best available for people investigating, starting up on, or successfully working in the voice acting or voice-over business.

“The Art of Voice Acting” Fourth Edition “The Art of Voice Acting” Fourth Edition

James R. Alburger

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

James Alburger has earned eleven Emmy Awards, Omni Intermedia Awards, and Silver Microphone Awards for his work as a director and audio producer. He has over 35-years of experience as a performer and in the recording studio. James has condensed his success into a book that every person interested in a voice acting career should read. “The Art of Voice Acting” features chapters that include a business overview, working with copy, auditioning and studio stories. The book includes a CD of demos from top voice-over artists along with exercises to help prepare your body, mind and mouth for optimal performance.

“Voice Actor’s Guide to Recording at Home ... and on the Road”“Voice Actor’s Guide to Recording at Home …and on the Road”

Harlan HoganJeffrey P. Fisher

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

This was the first book I bought for my voice-over reference library. The duo of Hogan and Fisher do an amazing job of explaining what’s needed to set up a home studio that’s suitable for recording. They cover hardware, software, production techniques and more. Both authors have had fascinating careers and you get a glimpse of that along with all their helpful information. This book will help get your brain wrapped around the basics of working from a home studio.

“Voice-Over Voice Actor”“Voice-Over Voice Actor”

Yuri LowenthalTara Platt

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

There is something for everyone in this book. Yuri and Tara explain the art of voice-over in a casual but very knowledgeable approach. They draw from a number of years of combined experience with clients that include Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Dell, McDonald’s and Budweiser. The book includes a great chapter on warming up your body and vocal path before you audition or perform. I’ve adopted this into my daily routine.

“Voiceovers: Techniques and Tactics for Success”“Voiceovers: Techniques and Tactics for Success”

Janet Wilcox

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

The approach of this book is to train like an athlete. Long time veteran Janet Wilcox breaks down the process into understanding the rules of the game, training, preparing to compete, and discovering your game or what you’re good at. Janet has done a great job of making what can be ambiguous in the career path of voice actor more understandable. The included CD features exercises and interviews with top voice-over talent.

“Secrets of Voice-over Success”“Secrets of Voice-over Success”

Joan Baker

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

This book is a must read to get insight from the top voice-over pros. Each chapter is written by a professional who candidly shares their life as a voice actor. You’ll discover how Jim Dale, the voice of all the Harry Potter books, was in the right place at the right time. Each chapter ends with an industry secret, based on the experiences of the chapter writer. A CD is included, which features the demos used by the book’s contributors to get voice-over work. The tragedy of Alzheimer’s struck home when Joan’s Father was silenced by the disease. Proceeds from the book go to The Alzheimer’s Association.

These are five from my library and I’m always looking for more. What books have you found useful in your career as a voice actor?

Five Must Have Online Gizmos for Your Voice-over Toolbox

It should never be said that voice-over work lacks variety. Whether it be the type of project, length, emotive delivery or just the file format requested by the customer, most projects are unique.

Along the way on my voice-over trek, I’ve gone searching for tools to help me get a particular job to the finish line. Most are easy to use and intuitive to implement. Except for one, all cost nothing to use. Free is a price most anybody can afford.

1. Word to Time

When I get a request to quote a narration project, I start by getting the word count of the script. Most modern word processors have the ability to display word count. Then I head to Edge Studio’s Word to Time Calculator to get an idea of how long the finished time should be. This easy to use calculator allows me to enter the word count or paste in the actual script, and then adjust the delivery rate.

2. Say What?!

Sooner or later you’re going to run into a word that you won’t have a clue how to pronounce. You could ask the copywriter for a phonetic pronunciation and if that’s not available there are three tools you should definitely check out.

The first is Dictionary.com and it’s just what the name implies. Words that you search are retrieved with their definition and an audio pronunciation of the searched word.

In cases where Dictionary.com doesn’t resolve your phonetic quest, check howjsay.com. This online talking dictionary of English pronunciation has over 14-million entries.

For words that are not part of the English lexicon, take a trip to Forvo.com. Touted as the largest pronunciation guide in the world, this tool goes way beyond spoken English. The top languages covered are English, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Czech and Swedish. And for the occasional Star Trek commercial, Klingon is also supported.

3. Audio Formatting

Most clients need the audio file format of MP3, AIF or WAV. For occasions when you need to provide something other than those or you don’t have the means to convert to different file types, I recommend starting with Media.io. You can convert to OGG, WMA, WAV and MP3, and for a few of the formats you have the choice of multiple quality levels.

File formats are pretty standard for most voice-over projects. However, those in the area of telephony may require something completely different. ConvertMyFilesNow.com is great for converting to a variety of on-hold and phone-tree formats.  While this tool does cost a small amount to use, the price is negligible.

4. Save the Video

I ask for digital copies of the finished production whenever I hand off audio to a video producer. For the times that the request goes unfilled, I take a trip to the video sites to see if the project has been published. If it has, I’m in luck and I can download a copy using Keepvid.com. This tool works on YouTube, Vimeo and others.

5. Say Thank You

When you get done with a session, take a moment to write a thank you card and send it off to your client. Include two business cards in the envelope with the card and let them know that you appreciate their business. If you need inspiration on what or how to write a thank you note, take a look at these three sites.

Thank You Note Examples and Tips.com

Thank You Note Samples.com

Letterbarn.blogspot.com

thank-you-notes.com

I use these tools every day, and I’m continually hunting to find more. What are your “must have” online tools of the trade?