YOU Should be a Voice Over Actor!
So, someone has told you that you have a great voice, and ought to be an audiobook narrator. Well, isn’t that nice! Seriously, you should be happy, that’s a compliment!
This happened to me, and coupled with a love for listening to audio books I thought; Yeah, I can do that! So…I did.
If you have listened to any of my four early productions, you’ll notice that: I needed a lot of help. Listen folks, this is NOT like reading a bedtime story to your kids, or soothing your wife to sleep by reading aloud to her. Check out this YouTube video by VO artist, narrator and coach Sean Allen Pratt:
Go ahead, try it…I’ll wait.
Still here? GREAT!
(Cue Billy Mays) BUT WAIT! THERE”S MORE!
Get a COACH!
OK, so reading aloud, by yourself for several hours a day…in a closet…seems to be the right fit for you. But there is SO much more to becoming a Voice Over Actor than an ability to self-isolate and read out loud all day.
The world of Voice Over Artists is much wider than JUST audiobooks. From eLearning, to documentary to telephony and commercial. Remember: Any time you can hear someone speaking without seeing them, that is a voice over artist. As you watch television, listen to the radio, complete online training or even try to wend your way through voice prompts to (maybe) actually speak to a human being at your insurance company, make note of the voice you hear, and realize that was a real live human recording those prompts.
You’ll need to be able to bring the text to life, which means you are going to need some acting experience, or coaching. This is a step many overlook when first getting started. Nobody wants to listen a monotone reading of a dramatic book, or even a non-fiction self-help book; can you imagine is Siri was monotone? (Yeah, Siri’s voice is a real person). A narrator needs to be able to bring the story to life. So get yourself a coach. A good coach can help you focus on genre, and give you ways to improve your performance.
You’ll need MORE than your voice!
Next, you’ll need an appropriately treated space to record in that minimizes outside noise and reduces reflected sounds. A microphone is not your ear. Your ear has an ability to filter out low amplitude background noise, but the microphone has no such ability. The microphone, if it is high enough quality for professional voice over work, picks up everything from the sound of your tongue and lips smacking together to form words, to your stomach rumbling because it’s almost lunch (or you just had lunch). Not to mention the sound of your AC kicking on, the low frequency hum of your refrigerator being transmitted through the floor of your house or your VERY inconsiderate neighbor who seems to be aware of when you enter the booth and decides it’s time to pressure wash his house.
Speaking of microphones, you’ll also need high quality recording equipment, and an understanding of how it works and how to use it. No, it is not possible to record professional voice over using the built-in microphone on your laptop, so just stop thinking about that now. In addition to a mic, you’ll need an audio interface, to get the mic signal into something to record it with, which means you’ll also need a computer powerful enough to run a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) smoothly…oh, and you’ll need that DAW as well…which means you’ll have to figure out how to use THAT too!
Are you scared or discouraged about Voice Over yet?
If you are still reading, congratulations; I haven’t scared you off yet. To recap where we are at this point, we understand that as a narrator you are going to need certain things:
1.) The ability to sit or stand, alone, in an enclosed space, for several hours a day reading out loud.
2.) A decent coach who can train and guide you in your focus and your performance
3.) An appropriately treated recording space that minimizes outside noise and reflections.
4.) Quality equipment (mic, interface, computer, DAW) to capture your performance
(Cue Billy) BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
That’s right, we are not done yet…head over to “ Getting Started in Voice Over Part II” for more discouraging truths about becoming a Voice Over Actor!