Voice acting. One of the ultimate careers that encourage social distancing in this era of global mayhem! So you’ve been told you have the voice of an angel. But starting out on your own is never easy no matter your entrepreneurial resolve. Whether you’re a company looking to produce media internally, or looking into a freelance career, we bring you essential tips on voice acting for beginners!
David Ciccarelli rightfully said, “Voice is a core piece of educating, informing and entertaining audiences.” The voice over industry is vibrantly thriving with a $4.4 billion dollar value in jobs. A myriad of opportunities for anyone with a creative spirit to tap into. Voice acting is one of the most fun and rewarding careers today. Although, just like any job, it comes with its set of challenges and setbacks. Similarly, it also requires some level of investment to scale that learning curve.
Are you a novice? If so, you must have a million questions such as how to start voice acting and where to find voice acting jobs for beginners. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to expect and do to become a successful voice actor. We’ll bring you the good, the bad and insider tips of voice actors for beginners through the eyes of accomplished voice actor veterans.
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What is Voice Acting?
Voice acting is essentially off-screen audio acting. Performers known as voice talents or voice actors provide voices for the entertainment, communications, advertising, gaming, and educational industry. The voice actor is not visible to the audience and can be done in the form of narration, voice over translation, dialogue, and even singing. Voice acting sometimes requires doing impressions and mimicry in order to play a character in a storyline. Therefore, some projects demand certain voice qualities, accents, and languages that can be highly specific and niche.
The History of Voice Acting
The very first invention of voice acting was done by Canadian, Reginald Fessenden, in 1900. It was in the form of a weather voice over report for the radio in the U.S. Voice acting continued to evolve for the applications of cartoons and radio programs. Walt Disney produced the first-ever cartoon with sound in 1928. It featured its signature character Mickey Mouse in the production of “Steamboat Willy”.
We now look back to the stars who have dazzled the frequencies of so many recordings. Famous behind-the-scenes celebrities include Mel Blanc, a voice actor with over 60 years in his career. He was a comedian and radio personality who brought to life many Warner Brothers’ Loony Tunes cartoon characters. Another famous voice actor is Donald Leroy LaFontaine. Though you might not recognize his name, you’re sure to recognize his voice. Labeled “Thunder Throat”, he started doing voice overs in 1964 and has more than 5,000 film trailers since. Don has also recorded his voice for countless advertisements, promotions, and video game trailers.
Rob Paulsen was right to say that “The best voice actors all have a live performance background. And are fearless, competent, fearless, incredibly creative actors.” Today, many on-screen celebrities star in voice overs for animated productions. Such include Hugh Jackman in Happy Feet and Cameron Diaz in Shrek. They are also often hired to do voice commercials as a familiar voice is psychologically favored for trustworthiness and credibility. Trending popular choices include Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman.
Is Voice Acting for Me?
So you’ve googled variations of “voice acting where to start”, “how to start voice acting reddit” or “how to start voice acting career” You’ve probably already scrolled through a couple of voice acting website for beginners. Just like any other career, voice acting requires dedication and even some financial investment. So before you begin your journey on voice acting for beginners, it’s good to have an understanding of what to expect in the trade. Weigh out the good versus the bad and decide for yourself if this is the right career for you!
Say goodbye to screaming bosses, micromanagement and endless stacks of paperwork. You are now the boss of yourself. This is by far the most appealing aspect of the industry. You now plan how much you want to earn as well as when and where you work. You design your own work schedule and personal life. Plus, no need for fancy hair or clothes. You can even work in your PJs thanks to the glorious invention of the internet!
Expression of Creativity
Jason Marsden said, “Voice acting, on the fun meter, is off the scale. You show up, you don’t have to be all primped up, or dressed up. And you get to work with some amazing people and goof off for four hours.” Some voice acting roles require more than just flat narration. When you cast in voice over roles for films, audiobooks, and even some video games, you play the role of different characters. Ones who speak in different accents, emotions and even voices. This adds a dimension of fun and creativity into your work as no two roles are alike.
Your Voice Travels
Believe it or not, sound is the only thing that can travel faster than the speed of light. Making it to the big screen as a Hollywood actor can be an impossible dream. But your voice can definitely travel light-years. It seems like there are so many more opportunities in the audio industry. Such include dubbing, translations, and commercials. Lending a voice to a meaningful cause can also be highly fulfilling. No matter which it is, it gives you a sense of happiness seeing a project come to fruition with the help of your voice.
Earn More Bucks
You can work as much as you want. Need more money? Take on more projects. That is not to say, however, that it does not take hard work and dedication. Seasoned voice actors know that it takes more than just a voice to succeed. But you’ll get there eventually.
Unfortunately, there are two sides to a knife. The dubious privilege of a freelancer is also that he is given the freedom to starve anywhere. You earn as much as you work and don’t get to slack off. Beginnings at a voice acting career are also rocky and are often make-it-till-you-break-it. Starting out requires some building of credibility and as well as a base of good clients. This means constant marketing of your skills as well as time investment in auditioning for parts. In the world of voice acting for beginners, you might sometimes be obliged to take on low paying projects because of the lack of opportunities. Furthermore, you might even meet some hit-and-run clients. But like everything in life, it takes time and a learning curve to succeed.
Because pristine clarity is the prerequisite for any voice recording, you might consider setting up your own studio. This means professional equipment such as a good microphone, headphones, an audio interface, a pop filter, and even a recording software. How much you spend depends on how serious you are about making a career in the long haul. A good way to start is to simply have a microphone and a quiet room ready. You can certainly upgrade and invest more as you go along the way.
Starting out a new career can be daunting. Especially one that requires you resigning from a stable paying job. The beginning phases call for a will of steel. It often takes some time for you to find your first gig. Consequently, it can often seem like a void of rejection, self-doubt, and low esteem. A work-from-home job also calls for more social isolation as you no longer have colleagues on a daily basis. It takes a healthy balance of both discipline and social breaks to keep you going in the long run.
Types of Voice Acting Projects
Want to get into the action scene? Voice acting is all action without the risk of back-breaking stuntman injuries. It’s always more than just reading off a script. First and foremost, it begins with understanding the type of voice actor you want to be. By understanding the types of projects available out there, then can you match your vocal skills set to their specific requirements. Here are some of the typical categories you might come across while looking for voice acting jobs.
58% of the industry’s dollar goes into the entertainment sector. Movies and television series are about telling stories. Sometimes, voice over artists are hired to narrate a backstory, character perspective or inner thoughts. Voice over or dubbing can also be used in films as a means of translation in view of localization. Such can also be included in the production of animated films. The role sometimes calls for a wide range of creative input in portraying characters with an emotionally expressive voice.
There are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. Such include the making of videos and ads with voice over on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. More and more businesses are using such channels as a means to promote their brand or product. The role usually calls for one who has an approachable, enthusiastic and clearly intelligible voice.
Voice overs are used in educational videos such as corporate training, instructional guides and even e-learning channels. These can be used in schools and also workplaces. The role calls for a professional sounding, authoritative and approachable voice.
In North America, the highest share of 24% is contributed by voice overs for corporate promotion. In some cases, voice over can be pre-recorded as a voice over Powerpoint for business presentations. Read this article to find out more about voice over Powerpoint. This role usually calls for a powerfully intelligible and professional sounding voice. One that understands the application of emphasis in speech.
Narration can be applied to documentaries, biographies, and audiobooks. It can be done from different perspectives. It adds depth to the backstory and each character’s personality. To learn everything there is to know about the category, read this how-to article on narration. This role usually calls for a compelling, non-monotonous voice. Where dialogues are involved, a voice actor with a wide vocal range is favored. Narration for audiobooks can be a large and time-consuming project. For that reason, it’s important to make sure you understand what you are committing to before accepting the project.
19% of the global dollar on voice overs goes to advertising. This can be in the form of a television ad, a jingle, an audio ad or a radio ad. The type of voice required for the role is dependent on the target audience of the brand or product. For example, a study showed that men prefer women with higher-pitched voices. Hence it is important to understand the age, gender and qualities the project calls for before bidding for an advertising gig.
Voice Acting How to Get Started – Setting Up Base
Have you ever watched Aladdin as a child and hope to become a Genie someday? Well, now you can! Will Smith did the voice over for the latest Aladdin movie? You too can play a part in bringing your favorite fairy tale to life. Voice acting is not so much about having a good voice. Rather, it’s about being a great actor. Beginnings are tough, but this list will prepare you for everything you will need before you officially start recording.
Step 1: Set Up Your Studio
Where to start voice acting? In a homemade or professional studio of course. You might not want to invest in a whole bunch of costly professional equipment at the start. There’s always an option of investing in second-hand equipment as well as you move along.
The bare minimal equipment you will need to start with is listed below.
- A good microphone
- Recording software (consider Audacity, Sound Forge, GarageBand for Mac and Adobe Audition)
If you are not sure which brands to buy, this quick guide that can give you some good recommendations.
Sound quality is everything. Most people prefer to work from the comfort of home. So the next thing you will need to do is so to set up a sound-proof room. Bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be costly. All you need is some effort and some DIY creativity. Here are a few suggestions on how you can do it.
- Find a quiet room in the house.
- Tack soft materials on the walls and ceiling.
- You can use makeshift heavy blankets to dampen external noises and eliminate echoes.
- Starting off with a small space such as a closet or a garage is perfectly fine.
- Make sure fans, ventilators, heaters and air conditioners are not audible.
Setting Up the Mic
Next, it’s time to set up your microphone. Here are a few tips to get you going:
- Set your mic 6 to 12 inches away from your mouth.
- Direct your voice into the mic.
- Do a test recording to make sure that there are no white noises in the background.
- The test recording should be clear and audible.
- Adjust the volume levels on your computer if the recording is too soft.
Step 2: Build Your Profile & Pitch Jobs
Unlike buying a product off the shelf, it is sometimes difficult for producers to find the right voice actor. In many cases, they never know what they are buying into until the final submission. Hence, before you begin pitching for jobs, you will need to build a profile to sell yourself.
Think of it as your voice acting resume. One that can showcase the limits of your voice acting abilities. Include demo sound clips that almost act as your audition for the industry saying “Hi there! Consider me!”. Rest assured that it’s normal to be unsure of yourself so start off by presenting some of your basic skills. More importantly, add an accurate description to your voice so that producers can easily find you.
- Upload MP3 demos that can showcase your voice over talent.
- Make sure they exhibit your range in short snippets. (Example, do a narration, an announcer’s voice, and a character’s voice)
- Describe your voice’s language, pitch, qualities, age, and accent. Refer to this article if you need some inspiration on how to describe your voice.
- Post content regularly and optimize your website for search engines.
- Link your website to your social media accounts.
- Always be promptly responsive and follow up with any contact.
- Ask your clients if you can present a copy of your work on your website.
- Present as many recommendations and testimonials as possible.
Social Media Accounts
- Be consistent with your information across all platforms.
- Post every day and produce content that is relevant to current affairs and trends.
- Humanize your content. Be exciting, interesting, funny and engaging.
- Be responsive and follow up with all new connections promptly.
- Feature 3 niche descriptions of your voice.
- Connect with potential clients and be confident to reach out.
Voice Over Platforms
- Register your voice on reliable platforms such as this one.
- Make sure you upload good sample clips of your voice.
- Try to gather as many positive feedback as possible.
- Accurately choose the age, gender, and language of your voice.
- Write a compelling profile description that can best describe your voice qualities and experience in words.
Forms & Communities
- Take part in forum discussions and learn tips from the pros.
- Actively network and stay in touch to get potential projects.
Voice Acting Tips for Beginners
Congratulations! So you’ve completed the laundry list of “voice acting getting started”. You’ve made it thus far and finally got your first gig! Voice acting for beginners isn’t easy so you’ve got to be nervous about fumbling up. Fun fact. Did you know the voice actors of Disney’s Mickey and Minnie were actually married in real life? The top trick is to not just read in a voice but actually do real acting. Here are some tips on voice acting for beginners so you can ace that first project.
Looking After Your Voice
That golden voice is now the instrument that will keep your income rolling. So in everything you do, make sure you look after it well. A good voice actor always has a routine to keep them going especially with stressful deadlines. Here are some great measures professionals take.
For the reason that all athletes need a good stretching, you will need to design a warm-up routine for yourself too. Vocal warm-ups can increase your vocal range, make pronunciation better and prevents vocal strains. If you haven’t been practicing it, here’s an article on how you can design your own vocal warm-up.
Taking sips of water in between recording breaks can help to prevent mouth noises and voice cracks. Constant hydrating lubricates your throat so that it doesn’t end up feeling strained and sore after long sessions.
Drink Honey with Tea
Opt for chamomile or peppermint tea with honey at the end of the day as they have great anti-inflammatory properties. A vitamin-rich warm lemon with honey daily can build your immunity and prevent you from catching colds. Lost your voice? Here’s a guide on how to quickly regain it.
Avoid Clearing Your Throat
It might feel good but clearing your throat unnecessarily, or whispering, is actually unhealthy for your voice. It causes unnatural vibrations that can strain your throat in the long run.
Take Regular Breaks
Don’t push yourself too much. As much as you want to meet that deadline, listen to your body and give yourself enough rest.
At the peak of voice acting for beginners, you will need to learn about acting out emotions. Josh Keaton said, “Acting is reacting. There is magic when you act with another actor. With voice acting, you’re doing it alone, all in your head. So you have to re-create the essence by yourself. It’s not necessarily more difficult. It’s just a different set of skills.” It is therefore always important to understand the nature of the project you are hired to do.
Ever heard a smirk in a voice? Some roles call for creative expression in the script. Professional voice actors say that the key is to not focus on your voice. Focus on acting out the emotion and the rest will naturally fall in place. Immersing yourself in the plot and putting yourself in the character shoes will help. Although you’re behind the scenes, sometimes actually physically acting out parts can be effective. Such include smiling or running as you speak.
Research is key. Understand the accent, personality, and quirks of your character. Spend some time listening to native speakers. Observe how consonants are pronounced, lengthened or shortened. Finally, note them down in your script so you don’t overlook them. And practice till perfection! Here’s a great article on how to do impressions.
Having A Backup
We can’t predict when we’ll get a cold or cough that will cost us our jobs. Therefore, it is always important to have a good back up plan in your pocket. Getting a little help from reliable and affordable platforms such as this one can ensure that you never have to lose a client. You can even pick from a base of different languages and voice qualities.
Rolling with The Big Leagues
Matt Lanter, the voice of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars said, “Voice acting is very creative, especially “Star Wars” voice acting. Because there’s so much you have to imagine.” As you get more confident along the way, you’ll learn new things like handling clients as well as attempting different voice over formats. Here’s where it’s time to get an upgrade. Take these steps in the road towards building a sustainable voice acting career.
Expand Your Range
In order to get more jobs, expand your range. Research and experiment speaking in different pitches, volume, sounds, accents, and tones. Try your new impressions on people, have a laugh, and learn from their reactions. If you have the time and money to do so, it might be a good idea to take up some acting classes to boost your skillset. Getting qualified can help you to increase your rates as well as give your confidence a lift.
As you build up a regular client base, always remember to ask for feedback and recommendations. Voice talents with an experienced portfolio of notable brands and experience can ask for higher rates. Don’t jump too quickly and suddenly though, as you’ll risk losing your clients. Even more so, always prioritize building a good and trustworthy relationship with your clients.
Let’s Hit “Record”
Now that we’ve covered all the essentials on voice acting for beginners, you’re ready to hit that record button. Like every career, build your skillset on the base of good work ethics. Never overpromise your abilities and always meet deadlines. A great place to start is to ride on platforms like this. One where payments are timely and quality is reputable. You’re all set, so good luck and most importantly go wild and have some fun!