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Before I made the jump to voice over after studying audio engineering for three years of my life, I did have the following preconceptions that I believed in when it came to voice over:
- Voice Over requires you to have a “funny voice” or a “golden voice”
- You don’t need to be an actor to get into voice over, you just need a good voice
I know this seems a bit ignorant at first but this is honestly the first impression most people will have about the voice over industry. True, there are voice actors in the commercial world (in Australia anyway) who are not necessarily trained actors but this blog is going to highlight why it is crucial, hell, even important to be a trained performer before going into the world of voice over. Since I have been doing some research into this industry after watching interviews, listening to podcasts, watching Adventures in Voice Acting, talking to other voice actors via email and taking voice over workshops and currently acting classes, I have gained the understanding that I have heard from every single voice actor say as part of their advice about gaining a foothold in the industry: take acting classes. The majority of voice actors all have a performance background: acting, music, comedy, theater etc. For example, my performance background comes from music after playing in several bands and taking improv classes at Mooregrace Acting Studios.
About two years ago, I made an amateur mistake of throwing a small example of voices for one of my idols: Wally Wingert. I copied a variety of voices from a voice over agency website’s profile of voice actors and sent them off to them to see if I had any potential. It was not a proper voice over demo, just throwing examples of voices. He wrote back to me telling me how what I had shown him needed something more and how my reads sounding exactly the same. After I responded back to his honest, constructive criticism, he wrote a tiny message which read (paraphrased) “All in all, a good first try”. This lesson however made me make sure I would never ever make this mistake in the real world. I had an email conversation with Wally Wingert whilst working on a thesis based on voice over as part of one of my audio assignments. He told me about how becoming actor was a very important step. I was hesitant to ever become an actor because I had studied at JMC Academy and did not wish to study at a University (which a friend of mine suggested I should do). It wasn’t until after my first year of being fresh out of JMC Academy that I spent most of my time volunteering at community radio stations working on voice over. I have built my own self business from the ground up very slowly by taking lessons, compiling different material for my voice over demo, building an official website, making business cards and much much more. The final decision to take acting classes came at the beginning of the last two weeks of the term for Mooregrace last year and I just fell in love with the craft.
Back to the point of why becoming an actor is crucial. I have several reasons of coming to this decision and why I would highly recommend this to you if you are looking to get into voice over. This is based from all of my previous experiences in workshops and even to recent voice over auditions that I have been attending lately:
- As I watched actors in Abbe Holmes’ workshop, my jaw dropped about how flawless and convincing their voice sounds in each of those commercial examples
- Your goal is to create a believable performance, people can hear a fake coming a mile away
- Your competition whether in Australia or anywhere is against the top in the industry who are regularly hired. Strive to be as good as them or even better
- Voice over requires you to think on the spot. This is why I study improvisational acting within Mooregrace Acting Studios. I also study on-camera work and am looking at doing a few TV commercials or score a role in a TV series or film
- The current voice over market is natural voices. This is my specialty until I develop my craft to become more versatile. Work with your strengths. I was told that people who watch commercials turn off when they hear an announcer voice in a commercial. The market still exists, but not as much
- Every voice actor I have listened to in interviews and even those I talked to personally at Armageddon Expo 2011 (idols such as Kevin Conroy and Steven Blum) all talk about the importance of acting. If this is where they are because of acting, why wouldn’t you want to become one?
- Acting is a risky business. It is highly competitive. Not being a trained actor is going to be against your favour. I work another job as a personal assistant which gives me the flexibility to become a voice actor
I hope what I have written helps you on your journey on becoming a voice actor. It certainly is a big part of my life currently at the moment and I am just as inspired to help you as others have helped me before. You cannot treat this industry as a hobby, it is a full time career. At first, it might not be a very profitable career but this is why you need something to fall back on or as I said before, a second job. I wish you the best of luck because despite all the ups and downs I am currently feeling at the moment, I just cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing.
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I apologise when I take forever to write these blogs when it comes to voice over. I know I started this blog to just connect with any voice actor/actor/fan using Tumblr but I really struggle to have anything to talk about when things are quiet. At this point in time, I want to know what YOU, yes you the reader, would like to talk about. Don’t be afraid to ask me anything, my comment box is open but keep them voice over centric or even anything based on my thoughts on acting in general. Though you may be wondering to yourself what I am currently doing in the world of voice over right now. Well there is something that I will brief over which I was very excited to do.
I recently went to audition for about 4-5 different commercials at a major radio station. I am currently in the position of waiting to hear back from them. A lot of time is spent waiting whether it be sending out demos or attending auditions or trying to book gigs. All you can really do in this situation is be patient, be persistent but not annoying and hope to find work to get this career to a great start. What I will say about this experience is that it is an incredible feeling to just use your skills that you have obtained through your training and see how it applies to real world applications.
In the downtime, I have been working my main job as a personal assistant for a home business which is my funding for my current freelancing voice over career. I also listen to voice over podcasts, read blogs, practice my craft and study acting at Mooregrace Acting Studios to make myself more believable. Actually, while I type this, I am listening to Rob Paulsen on Talkin’ Toons talking to Nolan North. And now, the main part of this blog that I wish to talk about.
I have been thinking about Australian animated series. According to Wikipedia, we have about 34 of them. Some of them are just based in Australia while others are combinations of Australian-French or Australian Canadian productions. These series include Plasmo (my voice coach voiced Plasmo!), Yakkity Yak, Blinky Bill, Lil’ Elvis and the Truckstoppers and many more. Out of all these animated series, there was something that I noticed in all of these shows, not a single one was an adult orientated Australian animated series. There may be others out there but they are not currently listed on Wikipedia. I have had several discussions in which every time I talk about Australian voice over in animation, people tend to cringe. There is something about the Australian accent which seems to be overdone or we have just become accustomed to American or Canadian voice actors voicing shows from the states which seem to have a broader appeal. Remember that Simpsons’ episode in which they go to Australia? Remember how we were portrayed? It feels insulting at times. I’ll admit, when I have watched Australian cartoons in the past, I can never get my head around our accents and how they sound in Australian cartoons. With a few exceptions, they just don’t seem to remain in our memories unlike our American counterparts producing more animations and as I had said before having a broader appeal, not to mention a greater audience. So here is the thought:
Make an Australian animated series which gains a broad appeal. When I say broad, I mean, the stuff FOX, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Hanna Barbera, Warner, Disney even Hub comes out with. It is sad that we don’t make that much stuff in Australia but I am sure there are some people out there looking to make some quality work and get it out into not only the Australian market but even the global market. Animation does get done in Australia but it is VERY limited. I would like to see a change in this because I believe voice actors, despite all the commercial VO work that is out there, why can’t we be the next voices in quality animation, video games, movies etc? Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing my country for not making enough animation, I just have not noticed in the industry the drive to make something appealing to a global audience. When was the last time you heard of a popular cartoon that was made in Australia in which our Australian VO talent was touring every Comic Con related event promoting it and having the chance to meet their overseas fans? This is merely an observation but also a dream of mine if I don’t manage to move to the States which I will probably have to do to achieve my goal of providing voices for animation/video games etc.
Next idea, vlogging. What does this have to do with voice over? Just an idea other than voice over. To sustain a business, things require money. Vlogging through Youtube being paid through Youtube sponsership has been an intriguing career choice and has been utilised by voice actors such as Kyle Hebert for KYLE TV (which is also his Stickam webcam show). Your full time career can be in front of a camera writing sketches, talking about things and if you manage to get millions of views, you are doing very well. It also opens opportunities for travel to events such as VidCon which is a convention for Youtube stars. It would be experimental but it is just an idea I had thought about. Not sure what it would be about but it sounds cool.
Last one, podcasts. This one could be for voice over but it could be also for other things. After listening to podcasts, I am a bit inspired to try my hand at this. Not much else to say about this, I have the equipment to do this so… why not?
Well, mainly this blog was to have a bit of a rant about the Australian animation industry and to just let you know what has been going on. I could post pictures just like a regular Tumblr user but I probably should have a personal page for that sort of stuff. I just enjoy writing which is how I view blogging. Let me know what you think on the subject if you would like, I am here a fair bit, checking out what is happening.
Until then, take care and hope to see you in the booth!
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I know it has been a while since I have written a blog of some sorts but I find it difficult to update when things have been going slow. So before I start talking about what has been going on in my voice over adventures lately I have something for you, the readers, to have a chance to participate in…
If you are an aspiring voice actor, actor or just interested in the business itself, please feel free to throw me some questions. I am in the early stages of establishing myself as a voice actor which requires a lot of determination, focus and a hell of a lot of patience. If this is your first time reading my blogs, feel free to follow and join in the discussion. Tell your friends if they are in the same position. I’d be happy to hear from you and see who else is out there trying to make a name for themselves in this competitive industry.
Ok back to what the blog is really about, as you may of read in the previous short blog, I posted a link to my current voice over demo which is out there on Youtube. I have also been doing the rounds of contacting various studios/radio stations to see how it all goes. So far, I have found my demo to have a mixed reception. Some good, some not so good but for those who are at this stage of their career, I hope you are having better luck but if things seem a bit hopeless or slow at this stage, all I want to say to you is to never give up and use all the patience you can muster. If your demo is put together with lots of time and effort put into it, it will recieve a good response which will lift your spirits up through a time where you may hear something or nothing at all. Studios/Radio Stations are generally pretty busy but keep at it. As I was once advised, be persistent but not annoying. Don’t call them constantly, give it time and try again later.
What I have said here should be taken with a pinch of salt. What works for one person may not work for another but I thought I would talk about my current experience in the industry to give you an idea on what it is like to throw yourself into the deep end of the commercial voice over industry. Having previously volunteered my time at community radio stations last year, I really got a taste for being in the booth and cementing the idea that this is what I would like to do for the rest of my life as an ongoing career. I cannot think of anything else I would like to be in my life. And one day, I hope to share these stories/experiences at Armageddon Expo or any other kind of Comic-Con related Exhibition once I achieve the plan of moving to the US to find animation work.
Until then, I hope to see you in the booth so keep at it!
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Feel free to ask me some questions if you would like. I’m not doing much at this current time and I am interested to hear your questions/thoughts/comments on the topic of voice over and everything related to it. I’m happy to answer whatever questions you may have on those things.
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Hey everyone, today’s blog post is a subject which I wish to share with all my fellow voice actors/actors/voice over or acting enthusiasts. The subject I wish to share with you today is voice over coaching. Before I do so, I want to share a bit of my background with you as to give you an idea on why I pursued coaching. Personally, I come from a three year Audio Engineering background back in my days when I used to study at JMC Academy South Melbourne. My first two voice over projects were for two student animations from two different students entitled “Dragon Troubles” (which can be seen in a previous blog post) and “Seeker Of Freedom”. I completed my course in 2010 and received my Bachelor Degree in 2011 this year at my graduation. I decided to become a voice actor around halfway through my second year at JMC as I was sort of at a crossroads in my upcoming career wondering if the music industry was the right path for me. My first intention was to become a studio engineer who would break out into other areas such as live music, corporate etc. After searching through some videos one night on Youtube relieving some nostalgic memories of all the animation I used to watch in my youth as well as some of the more mature stuff I was currently watching at the time, I started thinking about the people who were the voices behind the animated characters. It sounded like an awesome job to have but what do I know about voice over? Well not a great deal to be honest. I probably watched some specials from time to time when I would watch the voice over in the studio doing there thing but all of a sudden I had a lightbulb moment. I begun to delve deeper by looking up the people behind the voices. The deeper I went into my research, the more I began to uncover about what I loved. Not to mention all of the paths you can take beyond animation including commercial work in radio, TV, corporate and so much more. I devoted a lot of time into undergoing the research and thinking of a way I could combine my current audio training with my new found career path in mind. I began looking into workshops or lessons I could take. I looked at a few different websites but they just seemed plain/boring as if they could potentially be looking to take my money rather then take the time to craft my career. Then I had finally found what I was looking for, a true voice over coach.
Abbe Holmes is a voice over artist who has been in the industry for at least 30 years or so. I read into her voice over workshops or “One Day Intensives” in which a group of actors/voice overs come from all sorts of different backgrounds to go through different scripts which are catered to your voice/ability and recorded in a live studio at PlusAudio in South Melbourne. I decided to purchase her voice over packages for download on her website and listen to them through and through. My eyes and ears opened up to the sort of level I needed to be at when it came to voice over. I decided to take a lesson around February this year and I have to say I was highly impressed. I sat down to look through the scripts I was given and perform them in front of other people, including some dual log work to create the chemistry in the performance. Right there and then, I decided that this was the career path I wanted to build. I attended two more in May and June of this year and have found that each time I go there, I learn something new and develop my craft to a greater extent. I am attending a private lesson tomorrow followed by another one day intensive in February next year. The reason for these workshops is that you are also able to keep your work and at a later time become ready to build your first voice over demo. A voice over demo is essential, crucial even, to getting your foot in the door. The website for those interested in attending a voice over workshop or to learn more can be found at this address:
This year has been an eye-opener with all the talent I have seen/worked with in these workshops. Some people just by hearing them are going to go far. On top of all these voice over workshops, I am also in the process of booking some acting lessons on top of all that. I found a place which includes improv acting which I think will be greatly beneficial to my voice over work. Some people have excellent voices, others have great acting ability and some have a little bit of everything. The reason for taking these classes is because after watching the DVD “Adventures in Voice Acting” from Bang Zoom! Entertainment, the number one thing that just about every voice actor says in their interview is the phrase “Take classes”. The reason for this is because you need some training under your belt before you go out into the real world otherwise you have a very small chance.
Do not take this as a sure-fire guarantee that you will succeed after taking these lessons but I think it will push you in the right direction for you to create your own success. A lot of different factors come into play when trying to book work but persistence always prevails if you set your mind to it. I would not want to get anyone’s hopes up and be blamed for it later on.
I hope this information may prove useful to you as I highly recommend Abbe Holmes, without a doubt.
Until then, I hope to see you some day in the booth and wish you the best of luck in your voice over career.