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Acting School Monthly -- All About Voice Overs
December 16, 2009

Acting School Monthly Newsletter - Issue #011 - December 15, 2009

All About Voice Overs


Here's the news from Acting School Stop, your one stop on the road to an acting career!

In this issue... It's all about voice overs! Learn secrets of voice acting in an exclusive interview and read about voice over training, how to get voice over work and how to nail voice acting auditions on our newly published pages on voice overs.

1) Acting Tip of the Month - A Q&A on Voice Overs

If you've always wondered about voice overs, read this interview with voice actors Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal. Yuri and Tara have years of experience in the business of voice overs. They've worked in video games, animation, commercial, looping, dubbing, narration, industrials and more. Their voices can be heard in the popular anime Naruto as well as in Prince of Persia, Resident Evil, Ben 10: Alien Force, Legion of Superheroes and MK vs DC, to name a few. Their new book, "Voice Over Voice Actor, What It's Like Behind the Mic" is a fun and informative how to for actors interested in getting into voice acting and discovering the world of voice overs.

Acting School Stop: How did you get started in the voice-over business?

Tara: We are both actors. We had moved to Los Angeles and after 6 months, we just decided to take a class on voice overs. We didn't know anything about it. We didn't know how to audition or how to get a voice over job in the city. So we took a class and from that class, not only did we realize that we liked voice overs, but Yuri got a job and an agent immediately.

Yuri: I've always been a fan of animation and video games but I didn't realize there was voice over work available in these fields, so it was very exciting. I like voice acting because you're still acting but you're not limited by what you look like. For example, I played a 70 year old Japanese character on a voice over job. It's an interesting prospect for an actor to be able to tap into that freedom.

Acting School Stop: Is there such a thing as a great voice?

Tara: I wouldn't say that there is a voice for voice overs. The exciting thing about voice over is that there's room for all types of voices. Having a great imagination and a sense of play in your work really helps. We talk about that a lot in the book – the importance of using your imagination and your creativity to make choices.

Acting School Stop: What is the most important thing an actor needs to book voice over work?

Yuri: It always goes back to the acting. A lot of people when they talk about voice overs say, "I do funny voices, I can do voice overs". Those voices can help you at some point. But we found that people who are in the business and stay in the business are people who are at heart good actors. That's the most important thing, as well as understanding that your imagination is a powerful tool. We find that because so oftentimes video games and animation plots are so far fetched, imagination helps a lot.

Acting School Stop: Do you think a great way to get animation and video game voice over work is to immerse yourself in it?

Tara: Absolutely. Yuri grew up watching every cartoon and every video game he could get his hands on. I completely wholeheartedly endorse the idea that in order to get work in which you're interested in, whether it's video games or animation, that you watch that work and see what other people are doing.

Yuri: And it gives you an excuse to play a lot of video games… For example, if you know the original game when you're auditioning for a sequel to a popular game, you have a wealth of information that somebody who doesn't know the game just doesn't have. It can only help you.

Acting School Stop: Talking about auditions… Any tips on how to nail voice over auditions?

Tara: Just go in comfortable and confident. In order to feel good reading the material aloud, practice reading. Ian McKellen's big advice for knowing how to act is to read aloud. Practice reading anything you can get your hands on...Books, pamphlets, even bus stop schedules… Read aloud so that you can pick up any material and bring it to life.

Yuri: You won't get the script in advance and won't have much time to go over the copy. One way to get connected to the material is an old reporter's thing – Who What When Where Why. For example, "Who's in the scene with you? Who are you talking about? What's going on? Where Are You?" etc. Ask yourself these questions even if you don't know the answers. It will get you thinking about the script with a depth many people don't achieve.

Acting School Stop: What's the secret to a great voice over demo?

Tara: First of all, you want it to be very professional. You don't want to go into your bathroom with a microphone and try to record your demo. If you do, when your demo goes across the desk of casting directors and producers, chances are they're not going to take it seriously.

Acting School Stop: What if you have a home studio? Should you still record your demo professionally.

Tara: Yes, and this is why... If you record a series of spots in the same place with the same microphone, they will have a similar sound even if you're changing your voice. If someone listens to that, it's going to feel like the spots are not real. When you're starting out and get your demo to go across the desk of somebody you want to work with, you want them to pick it up and go, "Oh, I heard that". You want them to be in a place where they believe that you are already working.

Yuri: It's like having good headshots. You want your demo to make the best impression possible.

Acting School Stop: What's the price tag on a good demo?

Yuri: The average price tag to record and produce a commercial demo is about $1,000 in Los Angeles. That's 6 to 10 different spots that the engineer will sweeten and add music to and maybe change the sound of each one to make it sound like a different commercial. Another secret to a good demo is brevity. Keep it short. People don't have long attention spans unfortunately. We recommend keeping your whole demo to a minute, whether it's an animation or a commercial demo. We also recommend leading with your strongest stuff because if they're only going to listen to 10 seconds of it, you want your strongest voice to be at the beginning so they can really get an idea of who you are.

Acting School Stop: How do actors get most voice over jobs nowadays? Do you sometimes audition from your home?

Yuri: There's a mix. We record a lot of our auditions from our home studio and send them to our agent. Our agent then sends the best takes to the casting director or the client. But your chance of booking is always better if you can get in the room because when you go to a casting director's office to audition, they call in much fewer people.

Acting School Stop: What is needed to create a home studio?

Yuri: You don't need a lot of money to get started. We have a home studio that's in a closet. We use it all the time for auditions. You don't need a super expensive studio quality microphone to begin working at home and recording auditions. As a matter of fact, I just started using an App on the iPhone to record and e-mail auditions when I can't get back to the studio in time. For $2.99, I was able to record on my phone and then send that file to my agent or a client. It's getting easier and easier.

Tara: The basic equipment that you need for a home studio is a computer with software to capture the sound, a microphone and some sort of basic dampening. If you're doing it on a really low budget, I recommend using a walk-in closet or a closet that's got clothes in it because the clothes are going to absorb some of the extraneous sound.

Yuri: There's very expensive acoustic foam that you can put in your closet, but clothes are cheaper. You can also use packing blankets or furniture pads.

Tara: Or egg cartons. It helps dampen the sound. There's a nice little section in the book on how to set up your own home studio and what specific brands we recommend depending on your budget – low, medium or high.

Acting School Stop: What is it like to work in a sound booth? Do you have tips for actors who just booked their first voice over job on how to prepare for the recording session?

Yuri: The most important thing when you first get in a booth if you've never done it before is to relax. There's going to be a lot of things you're not used to. The mic, the pop screen, the headphones… If you're using headphones, you may be thrown off by the fact that you can hear every little sound. Because the microphone is a very sensitive instrument, every time you breathe, it will sound really loud, or if your stomach gurgles, it will pick it up. Your clothing might make noise in the booth. We recommend wearing certain kinds of clothing to recordings. Don't wear your jingly jangly earrings and your corduroy pants, for example… The director will be talking to you through a pane of glass but you can only hear him if they press a button, so sometimes you're sitting in the booth watching the director talk to the engineer and wondering, "Are they talking about me?" Relax. They'll take care of you. They'll let you know if something doesn't work.

Tara: Yes. The biggest thing is don't psych yourself out. Just know that you got hired or that you're there at the audition because you deserve to be and you're good. So have fun and just enjoy the experience.

Acting School Stop: After years of working as voice over artists, you decided to share all your secrets in one book, Voice Over Voice Actor. Can you talk a little about it and tell us how it can help those who want to break into the voice over business?

Yuri: We wrote this book because we were getting a lot of questions from friends, other actors and fans about how to become voice over actors. It talks about what we've done, what works for us, exercises to strengthen your voice and to warm up, things you can do to better read copy for auditions and all the different things you're going to encounter in the voice over world. Rather then just having people listen to us talk about that, we included stories from directors, engineers and agents so readers get a broad view of what goes on.

Tara: We wanted the book to be about sharing information but also…

Yuri: We wanted to communicate how fun voice overs are along the way.

2) What's new on

Voice Over Jobs : How to Break into Voice Acting
Looking for voice over jobs? There's plenty of voice over work out there for new voices waiting to be discovered. This tutorial will help you get started in voice acting and voiceovers.

Voice Over Training Guide : How to Prepare for a Voice Over Career
What voice over training do you need to succeed in voiceovers? See what good voice over classes should offer and which voice over acting classes are best for the type of voice over career you want.

Get Voice Over Work
Learn where to find voice over work, how to create a voice over demo and how to get it to voice over agents. Also includes info on a voice over service that provides voice over auditions.

Nail Voice Over Auditions
These five tips for voice over auditions will help you get commercial voice over jobs as well as book voice overs in cartoons, video games and more.

3) A word of inspiration

Two Walt Disney quotes for those who want to do cartoon voice overs…

"I try to build a full personality for each of our cartoon characters - to make them personalities. "

"If you can dream it, you can do it. " – Walt Disney (1901 – 1966)

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Good luck with your acting career!


Acting School

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