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Voiceover Artists in the Spotlight

I’ve been working as a voiceover artist for many years now. I’ve seen a lot of the changes over the years with new technology, P2P sites, the rise in training, coaches etc. Voiceovers used to be an unknown job. It was the job that resting actors did and they didn’t talk about it. There was only a handful of voiceover artists who were booking all the work. Back then all work came via your voiceover agent. Fast forward a few years and there are more voiceover artists now than there have ever been. The internet has had a big role to play in this and home studio equipment being more accessible now that it’s ever been. But being a voiceover artist is not an easy career choice and it takes a lot of hard work, talent, persistence and dedication.

What does it take to be an Audiobook Narrator

I’m running late, grabbing the last of my things phone, headphones, wallet, bag …..check. KEYS! Out the door. It’s a beautiful sunny day in London as I make my way to the bus stop. I get out my phone, plug my headphones in and go to my Audible app. I’m midway through a brilliant Audiobook and I can’t wait to get back into it. The narrator’s voice comes into my ears and starts telling me the story. I’m on my way into town for an audition and I am loving every minute of the journey as I am engrossed in a wonderful audiobook.

We live in an amazing time. Technology is moving so fast and we are very lucky to be in the age of the Audiobook BOOM. The Audiobook industry is growing at an incredibly fast rate and is currently worth $3.5 billion Dollars (according to goodreader.com). There are more audiobooks being recorded now than ever before and more and more audiobook narrators are needed to record them. 

Our LA story
by Lorraine Ansell
Thursday, 24 November 2016

One morning in October, as the leaves were falling off the trees, I checked my phone. Messages were pouring in. What on earth was going on? “Well done” and “Amazing news” were just some of the comments. What had happened? I had been nominated for a Society of Voice Arts and Science award. I sat there stunned. What an honour to be recognised by the great and the good in the voice world. When I read the nominees list, I saw some fellow Brit VOs nominated, others said they were coming along. We fast became a force to contend with: we talked about what to do, who to meet, where to stay and - of course - what to wear. LA was calling….

A high tide raises all boats

DAVE FENNOY WEEKEND 2017- by Isi ‘The Scribe’ Adeola

 

Nowhere was this truer during the two days I spent with fellow VO friends and colleagues and the absolute mensch that is Dave Fennoy. 

Dave is someone I affectionately call the ‘Morgan Freeman of video games’. He has one of those distinctive, baritone voices that drips with charisma and gravitas, as well a laundry list of voice acting credits too long to list.

Narrating for the BBC by Gabriel Porras

I had the privilege of narrating BBC 2’s documentary series “Mexico: Earth’s Festival of Life” (screened May and then December 2017). “Mexico: Earth’s Festival of Life” is described as “a landmark series revealing Mexico’s astonishing wildlife, landscape and culture in three distinct worlds – great mountain ranges, tropical forests and scorching deserts”. 

Needless to say, booking a series of such quality and large exposure doesn’t happen every day (to me at least).

Women and Games by Adele Cutting

Twenty years have passed since my first job in the games industry. Back then, development roles were dominated by men. I was the only woman in the audio department and I think there was also a female artist. Nowadays, there is a greater swell of women working in the games (albeit far from a 50/50 split). As such, women now have a greater influence on games development than ever before.

Be In Your Talent Without Arrogance

How did you first get into voice acting?

My parents both majored in theatre with a radio minor. Mom went off to do repertory theatre and voice overs, Dad went from acting and directing, to opening up an advertising agency.

Growing up around theatre folks, it was natural I would follow into the arts and the footsteps of my voice over folks.

I think if I had said, “I’d like to be a lawyer or a doctor”, my parents would’ve thought I was crazy. In my family it was always best to major in the arts with a backup of mime and juggling.

I went to Emerson College for two years and finished my theatre degree at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. When thinking about jobs, I thought “I wonder if I should have my Dad make me a demo reel and I could do voice overs as a side hustle before breaking into Broadway”. He did!

Back to NYC and I was dating a lovely young man whose mom was NYC’s biggest voice over coach and demo producer, Alice Whitfield. I had the HUGE blessing of having a one on one coach/mentor for months. We’d coach in the a.m. and then I’d run to Macys in midtown Manhattan to the Chanel counter to spritz people with perfume.

I remember the days in NYC when I ran all over town, to casting agencies, big advertising agencies and occasionally you’d read at your agent’s office. It was exhausting and exhilarating, especially as I added Improv in the mix at Gotham City aka The Groundlings East.

I was absolutely obsessed with crazy characters (imitating everyone!) and moved out to LA to do animation voice over and sitcom television. I took whatever animation classes and “meet the casting directors’ nights” LA had to offer. My voiceover world quickly expanded into animation as well.

 

 

You’ve had lots of amazing roles in some very well-known animated series/movies. Do you have a favourite?

Every role has held such a special place in my heart and career. From my first series as tough and feisty Lieutenant Felina Feral in Hanna Barbera’s Swat Kats, being cast to voice opposite Seth MacFarlane’s Larry and Steve (the pre Family Guy short), The Boss in the popular Metal Gear Solid video game series, to Marvel’s 1994 Fantastic Four, playing Sue Richards The Invisible Woman.

Family Guy and SpongeBob Squarepants happened in the same year, 1999. Who knew that would change my life forever - Diane Simmons The Anchor Woman, is homage to my mom, while Pearl Krabs is the most fun, spazziest girl who’s still 16!!

Working on Wall-E, Monster’s University, CarsToons, Inside Out, Bonnie’s Mom in Toy Story 3 & 4 and hundreds of other crazy ladies, teenagers and critters, have all challenged and enhanced my acting and improv skills and has also been some of the most rewarding, fun and beautiful chapters in my life. No favorites, all so wonderful. I feel so GRATEFUL – and old - as I write this! LOL

 

How did you get the role of ‘Pearl’ in SpongeBob Squarepants and what is it like to play her?

In the audition description, she was larger than everyone else under the sea. I knew she had to have this low voice but still be a teenager, where she was kind of lovably spoiled. I just tried to make her like a girl that goes to the mall and then give her a big sound. I always try to give somebody a little something like a laugh. She ended up with a laugh and a cry that are now built into the character 20 years and going strong.

I loved playing Pearl because she's a flirt and she's a daddy's girl and she's just excited about life. If any of my characters were the most like me, it's her. Just goofy and happy and pom poms, you know, trying to cheer everybody else up. I'm not as spoiled as Pearl, but I adore playing her.

We get to all go in together as a group unless you're just doing pickup lines, so every time I have the most ridiculous time, I'm so grateful and it's so fun. They're writing more and more for the women on the show so that's exciting as we go into our 20th year.

 

What was is like to work as the voice of the mother in Toy Story 4?

Very emotional and very fun because it's very natural. It's hard not to get a little awestruck when I've gone up to Pixar, or when I go onto the Disney stage, but it's really neat. You're improvising eight hours a day, then sometimes you will get these roles that come up out of the big group of sessions. It's really exciting to know that as the character of Andy went off to college, everyone was like, "What's going to happen at the end of Toy Story 3. The journey continues in Toy Story 4 so it's been an absolute honour.

 

How has the industry changed since you first started?

There's such an influx of people, they want things now. And faster.

The reads, at least over here in the U.S. - the real read, the non-announced read - is to be more relatable, to give hope, to get hope, to inspire, to be inspired, more storytelling in nature. Even the promos and animation are a little bit pulled back.

Just like the trends and the sounds change, so does what the clients want and how they want it.

Take private coachings, get into an improv class, take classes.

There's a huge influx of non-union. As a union girl, I grew up with my mom, the SAG-AFTRA president in the Washington, D.C. Local, and I did my homework in the back while she would chair a meeting. So when people go non-union and work off the card, they're undercutting their fellows.

 

What advice would you give those wanting to work in animation?

Classes, improv, explore and remember all the characters in your own life. Anyone that's deeply ingrained. Accents you do really well, you should really showcase those on your demo and then when you're auditioning, if you don't do them well, make them a hybrid, fun, weird thing. I really encourage people to draw on and keep a note, like an actual note card, of all of the accents you do well or poorly, so that you can draw on those when you get a script.

 

How do you look after your voice?

I vocalise every single day. I warm up, and I warm down. I take voice lessons. I no longer have anything minty or eucalyptus. All the things that have menthol eucalyptus completely dry your throat out. You want your mouth and throat to be lubed up, so nothing that dries it out, not even tea. Entertainer's Secret (a glycerin spray), Grether's Pastilles are great, I like the actual throat tea because it has slippery elm and licorice root in it. It's a good reason to have like hard candies, anything that just the thought of it makes you salivate. I steam and I will even bring hot water to a session and just put my nose over it like if you have a cold. It will just open up those sinus passages. You want them moist and the hot water keeps the swelling down. You especially want to warm down your voice after a session. In the morning hydrate with almost a litre of water and hydrate throughout the day, because the minute you become thirsty, you're already dehydrated. I have one cup of coffee in the morning and that is it.

 

How important would you say training is for voiceover artists?

It's everything. You have to be a good actor. You're not just like, "Oh I have a cool voice, I should get into voiceovers." I hear that every day, and it makes me crazy. You have to know how to relate to somebody in the scene. Get back into a good acting class because for your demo or for a scene on audition, we need to hear the relationship. How do you feel about them? You can add on emotions and triggers.

 

What do you enjoy in your free time?

I love rescuing animals. I love not eating them. I do anything for animals that I can. I advocate for women's rights, animal rights. I just try to go volunteer because this business is very narcissistic and it just is. Take care of you first so you have reserves to call upon to be there for other people.

 

Do you have any inspirational quotes or mantras that motivate you?

Be in your talent without arrogance. It's humble things, go find something creative, find a hobby, find recreations. Find a way to flesh out your full, rich life.

 

Lori Alan

Actress, Producer, Coach

www.lorialan.com

What advice would you give those wanting to work in animation?

Classes, improv, explore and remember all the characters in your own life. Anyone that's deeply ingrained. Accents you do really well, you should really showcase those on your demo and then when you're auditioning, if you don't do them well, make them a hybrid, fun, weird thing. I really encourage people to draw on and keep a note, like an actual note card, of all of the accents you do well or poorly, so that you can draw on those when you get a script.

The Psychology of Narration

The Psychology of Narration

Setting the Dials for Intuitive Reads

You’re walking down the street and thinking ‘Bend knee, move leg forward, straighten leg, set foot down heel first, lean forward, lift the other leg…’ Of course not. You would fall over (and possibly be stopped by a beat cop and given a sobriety test). Walking, for the most part, is automatic. All you have to do is decide a few things before you set off (such as direction, speed and terrain) and the rest pretty much happens by itself. If you constantly thought about the mechanisms that allow you to stroll down the road while you’re strolling down the road, then you could be in serious trouble.

It’s the same with narration. There are preparatory choices and decisions to be made, of course, but the purest communication, the most connected communication comes from the heart. When we get stuck in our heads during a read, for example ‘How am I sounding?’, ‘Should the pitch go up or down here?’ or ‘Where the hell should I breathe in this mile-long paragraph?’ we end up pulling together a performance that seems inexplicably shallow. The listener probably won’t know why, but the message just doesn’t feel right. We’ve all been at a cocktail party, talking to someone who’s wearing the ‘I’m listening’ face and nodding politely, but we can sense that they’re scanning the room with their peripheral vision, looking for someone more interesting to talk to. How can we tell? Their face, body and voice seem to be doing all the right things, but somehow we just know they’re not really there with us. We can feel it. We’re a clever species (ok, that’s sometimes debatable) but we do have ways of sensing when the energy isn’t quite right.

Like everything in the perceivable Universe, vocal communication is vibration. If we don’t generate the right frequency within the body, it won’t transmit through the voice and, subsequently, won’t be there to reach the listener.

Okay, so how do we take this grand notion of Universal vibration and apply it to our little ole’ narration reads? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with decisions made in the head and add some funky dials:

Intention Graphic  Pace Graphic  Formality Graphic

 

Intention

Think of intention as the verb. What are you trying to achieve with this communication? How do you want the message to be received? Are you informing, convincing, guiding, explaining, seducing? Intention is the leading head decision (the head head decision?) as it forms the foundation of the message. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re communicating, your read probably won’t hit the mark.

Pace

Pace is important, and must be considered, but you needn’t think too hard about it as it usually takes its cue from the intention and the visuals. If the intention is seducing, for example, it’s unlikely that you’ll be speed reading. If the visuals are of racing jet skis, then a slow-as-molasses delivery probably won’t be the best choice.

Formality

Is the narration aimed at toddlers learning their first words or is it for a film presentation to Oncologists about a new cancer treatment? Setting your Formality dial informs your reads in ways you won’t even have to think about. Just know who you’re talking to.


Ok, so now that you’ve done all your ‘thinky-think’ and dialed it in with Intention, Pace and Formality, it’s time to lose your mind. Literally. Visualize all your heady choices dropping down into your heart area and generate the feeling of the intention. If your spine tingles during the read, chances are the listeners’ spines will tingle too. Everything. Is. Vibration.

Set your narration dials, feel your way into the message and get ready to create more intuitive and connected narration reads.

 

Dian Perry is a US voice artist, teacher and coach based in the UK.

Visit DianPerry.com for more info.

 

QUOTES:

“the most connected communication comes from the heart.”

“we do have ways of sensing when the energy isn’t quite right.”

“If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re communicating, your read probably won’t hit the mark”

"know who you’re talking to.”

“Everything. Is. Vibration.”

Like everything in the perceivable Universe, vocal communication is vibration. If we don’t generate the right frequency within the body, it won’t transmit through the voice and, subsequently, won’t be there to reach the listener.

Okay, so how do we take this grand notion of Universal vibration and apply it to our little ole’ narration reads? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with decisions made in the head and add some funky dials.

Inner Demons by Andrea Toyias

Character Creation for Video Games: Making the Most of Your Inner Demons

 

"I know all the orcs in Los Angeles,” I casually said to a friend over a recent weekend brunch. She stopped, looked at me and we both erupted in laughter over the fact that not only was my sentence accurate….but in my line of work, it was entirely and fantastically true. I do, indeed, know all the orcs in Los Angeles. And most of the demons. Some of the goblins. And certainly, a large smattering of super heroes and mouthless space aliens, all across the California southland. For I make video games. And I spend more time with ghosts, ghouls and grizzly soldiers than I do my own family. And I know and love each of these characters as if they ARE my own family….for they are real, grounded, and birthed from the life experiences of the actors who voiced them.

I am often asked if it is hard bringing non-human creatures to life. My answer is always the same. A resounding NO. For underneath demon goats, haggered orcs and corrupted elves…..we are still chasing base human emotions.

 

AndreaToyiasGarrosh Thrall

 

We are still chasing the human heartbeat behind it all. No matter the reason, the backstory or explanation…..creatures of all kinds can and do still experience joy, heartbreak, love and loss. And the only way we can bring these deep, profound emotions to life is by tapping into an actor’s most treasured and sacred asset……themselves. Their joy. Their heartbreaks. Their loves and losses. Their own personal life experiences.

Therefore, the actor brings with them the richest and most creative aspect of all…their life story.

A misnomer exists for some who want to be successful in video game voice acting. A misnomer whereby aspiring voice actors mistakenly believe that in order to be successful in the world of make believe and fantasy, all that’s required is a good voice, good texture, good resonance and the world shall be yours. Often, people overlook the soul that is underneath the sound, and the person behind the performance. Thus, I tell all my voice acting students…. I don’t cast characters or voices. I cast People. I look for actors who can tap into their stories, open up their hearts and give me their pains so that a scene with two orcs battling can, in session, transform into something much more profound.

 

When the actors and I dive deeper into the script and look deeper into our hearts and own life stories, the scene then becomes so much more. When opening our darkest corners to each other in the sanctity of session, the scene evolves into a moment of raw pain, whereby the younger orc accuses the older father figure orc of abandoning him as a child.

This was not said in actual words. Rather, this was said in the raw powerful emotion underneath the words the actors delivered into the lines, based upon their life struggles. One four-hour session of orcs shouting across a battlefield led to countless hours of tears from our fans as they watch the heartbreaking scene; sharing with the internet that they never thought they could feel such deep sorrow from a scene that, on the surface, seemed simply based upon retribution. By baring their souls, our actors made the scene about so much more. They moved the needle. Changed the narrative. And broke our hearts. The actors didn’t hide from their own pain. They celebrated it and gave it openly and willingly.

Thus, when approaching work of all kinds in the video game realm, your success will not be based upon creating the perfect growly voice, or the deepest timbre. Rather, it will come from your ability, as an Actor, to use the clay of your life as the rich soil from which to birth epic performances that will last in the gaming community for generations. Voice acting is simply acting. And you, as an actor, are the very best asset I could ever ask for.

 

By Andrea Toyias, Senior Casting & Voice Director, Blizzard Entertainment

 

Andrea is going to be a speaker at GET YOUR GAME ON LA 2020 on Friday 28th February in Los Angeles. 

This is the ULTIMATE Video game event that is focused on promoting great VOICE ACTING in VIDEO GAMES

It's a full day event/conference all about video games featuring award-winning industry leaders from around the world. For more details see the GET YOUR GAME ON web page HERE

 

This article was originally written and published in The Buzz magazine, the ONLY magazine in the world dedicated to the voiceover industry. For details on how to subscribe to The Buzz Magazine go here - BUZZ

"I know all the orcs in Los Angeles,” I casually said to a friend over a recent weekend brunch. She stopped, looked at me and we both erupted in laughter over the fact that not only was my sentence accurate….but in my line of work, it was entirely and fantastically true. I do, indeed, know all the orcs in Los Angeles. And most of the demons. Some of the goblins. And certainly, a large smattering of super heroes and mouthless space aliens, all across the California southland. For I make video games. And I spend more time with ghosts, ghouls and grizzly soldiers than I do my own family. And I know and love each of these characters as if they ARE my own family….for they are real, grounded, and birthed from the life experiences of the actors who voiced them.

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