Jaem January Newsletter from Tara & Yuri

January 14th, 2014

Check out our latest newsletter, below. There’s a sign up button over on your right if you’d like to receive it!

 

Click here to read as a pdf: Jaem January with Tara and Yuri, January, 2014

 

Thank goodness for the holidays and the winding down of the year to remind us to check in with ourselves on our life’s journey, and perhaps journey a bit as well. We took the time to travel to Southeast Asia, and do we have fun pix to share! The title of this newsletter is a nod to the Thai word “jaem” which roughly means clear, bright, distinct, or cheerful plus let’s all “jam” in our respective areas as we move forward. What a great way to start a new year! We just finished shooting our steampunk adventure Topsy McGee and Yuri is recording his novella Tough City as an audiobook. Welcome 2014, we are raring and ready for a wonderful new year! May this year be your best year yet!

Tara :) (&Yuri)

Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt: Raise Your Voice (Acting)!

 

Click to read more: Jaem January Newsletter from Tara and Yuri, January, 2014

 

jan 2014-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jaem January Newsletter from Tara and Yuri,” January, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Voice Over Essential Tip: Know Your Voice!

April 30th, 2013

concerts,entertainers,entertainment,females,microphones,music,people,performances,performers,persons,singers,vocalists,womenThis is something that can’t be said enough: you must know your own voice. No matter how long you’ve been living with your voice and how well you think you know it, you’re about to start doing things with it that you’ve probably never done before. So take the time to get friendly with your beautiful and unique pipes. You’ll learn to recognize your limits and your strengths.

Believe it or not, if you don’t know your voice, sometimes booking the job is the worst thing you could do! For example, let’s say you really push your voice way out of your comfort zone in the audition, and you book the job. Well, that’s great, you got the job! But now you have to do that voice (maybe for 52 episodes!), and if you’ve made a choice that your vocal apparatus can’t keep up with (say, a deep gravelly voice that you can only maintain for a few minutes before you get hoarse or keel over in pain), then you’ll end up embarrassed because you’ll have to back out of the project, and the producers will have to find someone else.

In that case, everyone loses, and no matter how many times you apologize, everyone will remember what a snafu you caused. We’re gonna bet most voice actors have a story like this; and you only need one such experience – where you risk losing your voice (and your pride) – to drive home the importance of knowing your own limits.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t push yourself or that it isn’t possible to expand your range. That’s the fun part! But the key here is staying healthy. Start by becoming conscious of when you are speaking on your voice or off your voice. Just as our fingerprints are unique to each of us, our vocal folds vibrate to create specific vocal patterns which make up our personal and unique vocal signature. Practice creating interesting and specific characters with the voice you have, and not the voice you wish you had.

Sure, it’s possible to imitate someone who has a similar sound or register, but ultimately we are each built differently, and our vocal quality is one more example of this. (You really are unique, just like your mom told you.)

You can expand your healthy voice range just as you would build muscles at the gym – by working out. Taking a singing class or voice class can often provide you with the exercises you need to broaden your range.

  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Check out our VoiceOverVoiceActor website for more tips and exercises. We post daily VO tips on Facebook and Twitter, and our book, Voice Over Voice Actor: What it’s like behind the mic  includes a wealth of exercises to build your voice and keep it ready for a successful voice over career!

 entertainment,performances,people,singers,soloists,web animations,women,web elements,microphones

How can Alexander Technique Help You as a Voice Over Actor?

April 15th, 2013

We Voice Over actors use all kinds of techniques to strengthen our skills and keep ourselves in great health and shape: healthy eating, rest, voice coaching, acting lessons, improv practice, tongue twisters, breathing exercises, warm up exercises, face and mouth exercises – anything we can do to make us the best we can be!

Consider trying The Alexander Technique. Research via clinical studies has shown that it can substantially improve posture, stress, breathing, and reduce chronic pain. Since the voice is an inseparable function of the body, all methods of moving and breathing correctly can help you in the art and skill of voice over.

As a student for many years of various voice-over and movement techniques, Tara can’t recommend enough getting in touch with your voice, breath, and body thru a class and a teacher that you are passionate about. If you are interested in Alexander Technique there is a fabulous database to help you find a certified teacher near you:

www.alexandertechnique.com/teacher/northamerica/

 

 You can check out The Alexander Technique and read further here as well:

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique

What is the Alexander Technique?
What are the Benefits of Lessons or Classes?

“The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body.” Although certainly not a full definition of the Alexander Technique, this is a good start.*

“The Alexander Technique is a way of learning to move mindfully through life.

“The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities.

“The Alexander Technique is an intelligent way to solve body problems.”
– So begins an excellent article-length introduction to the Technique.
Read this article.
 

 

Voice Over in the Studio: The Proper Distance from the Mic

April 8th, 2013

 

Microphone technique

VO actors: The Proper Distance from the Mic

 


distnce mic
The microphone is very sensitive, so where should you stand in relation to it? The engineer might ask you to get a little closer or stand a little farther back, but here’s a good place to start: open up your hand, palm up. Now, close just your three middle fingers (the index, middle finger, and ring finger). You’re left with only your pinky finger and thumb extended, much like the popular surfing Hang ten sign or, if you hold your hand up to your ear, the international Call me! sign. The distance from the tip of your pinky to the tip of your thumb is about the distance your mouth should be from the mic. You can also put two fists on top of each other to measure roughly the same distance.

An exception to this mic distance rule is when you’re working with a loop group doing ADR and walla. In that case, you’ll be working in a larger room, moving around a lot with a group of people, and your distance from the mic will be much farther.

Now, obviously, these rules may change depending on the type of sound you’re trying to create. For example, if you’re going for a whispered, or soft, sultry quality, you may wish to get a little closer in on the mic. For yelling and screaming you will probably want to back off so as not to blow out the engineer and whoever else may be in the studio.

When you speak, the sound comes out in a cone shape; so while a mic will generally pick you up no matter where you are in the booth, you’ll always get your best sound if you’re standing directly in front of it. And once you’re in position, pay attention to where you are and how that feels. It’ll be important for you to maintain a pretty consistent position throughout your session so that the recording quality matches from line to line and session to session.

How much freedom do you have to move around? The answer is … some. You shouldn’t be worried about keeping your head stock-still. You have some play: about 15-20° to the right and to the left. The same goes for up and down. There’s a stand in the booth to hold your script, so feel free to tilt your face down to read from it. The mic can take it, and so can the engineer.

You definitely don’t have to memorize each line and then look up to deliver it, although some people might do this, particularly if they’re looking up to sync with mouth movements on a screen. The trick is to do the looking with just your eyes, and not change the relationship of your mouth to the mic in the middle of a take. Moving your head will make a difference to how the recording sounds. So, before you say the line, decide how you want to place your face in relation to the mic.

Movement only begins to cause problems in two cases:

1. when the movement itself gets noisy, either due to your clothing/shoes or your flailing about and knocking into things

2. when your movement carries you too far from the mic or too close to the mic

Either of these cases can cause you to have to do another take of the line because there are limits to what even the engineer can compensate for.

 

 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Check out our VoiceOverVoiceActor website for more tips and exercises. We post daily VO tips on Facebook and Twitter, and our book, Voice Over Voice Actor: What it’s like behind the mic  includes a wealth of exercises to build your voice and keep it ready for a successful voice over career!

 

Recommendation for voice over actors: the work of Kirsten Linklater

March 22nd, 2013

Voice coaching and training: Kirsten Linklater

For those of you unfamiliar with renowned voice training coach, teacher, and writer Kirstin Linklater, we suggest you read her work and implement her methods.

Ms. Linklater speaks of voice training as a method of freeing the natural voice. Many voice over artists and film and theater actors use her techniques.

This talented women is also a dialect coach and theater director. She is currently at Columbia University as the Head of Acting in the Theater Department.

Also, Linklater’s book, Freeing the Natural Voice, is a wonderful tool for the actor. Learning to command your natural voice is a crucial step toward success. We highly recommend reading her work and implementing her techniques.

Check out her website!

 

“The best actors, and perhaps this can be said for the best performing artists in general (musicians, dancers, singers), are relaxed in performance. That is, they have no extraneous tension. Their muscles are ready to receive the impulses necessary to fulfill action and will ripple with energies in the service of particular stimuli…
In order to develop a voice that will create maximum effect with minimum effort and therefore be truthful, actors must exercise the vocal musculature in a way that conditions the voice to respond to imaginative and emotional stimulus.”
Pg. 39, Freeing the Natural Voice, 2006, Kristin Linklater

 

Relax. It’s Not Just about You

 

The best way to learn to audition is not by auditioning. That’s the second-best way. The best way is by spending some time in casting. Through the process of casting, I learned how stressful and difficult casting can be, and I can relate to and identify with the casting directors and their needs in a much deeper way. As a talent, that awareness gets me out of my own head and my own need, and need is casting director repellent. In addition, I learned how many, and sometimes most, of the determining factors in casting a role have nothing to do with the quality of my audition. I can let go and have fun doing what I do best; and when I let go, I can book.

 

- Zach Hanks, Actor, Director

A Mahalo March from Tara & Yuri

March 5th, 2013

Check out our latest newsletter, below. There’s a sign up button over on your right if you’d like to receive it!

Click Here To Read: A Mahalo March from Tara and Yuri: March 2013

Hello friends,  

Mahalo (the Hawaiian word for thanks) seems appropriate this March already. Spring is starting to bloom and Shelf Life Season 4 is in full swing as of today, March 5th! (we hope you are enjoying it), Tara is appearing in her first big screen flick The Call and we just returned from Hawaii where we shot an episode of Hawaii Five-0 together and also got some playtime for hikes and get-togethers with friends on the island. We are filled with gratitude and love; may we all have a bit more Mahalos in our March.

Tara :) (&Yuri)

P.S. – Today is Yuri’s Birthday, so if you see him (or just “see” him online) wish him a happy happy!

Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt: Raise Your Voice (Acting)!

 

Click to read newsletter: A Mahalo March from Tara and Yuri: March 2013

 

March 2013-page-001

 

 CONTINUED:

  Click to read the newsletter: A Mahalo March from Tara and Yuri: March 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expand Your Breath! Some good exercises….

September 10th, 2012

Learn about your breathing, then expand or lengthen it, to really increase your skills in VO!

     1. Begin by lying flat on the ground and placing your hand on your abdomen just below your ribs.
     2. Feel the natural rise and fall as you breathe.
     3. Notice the natural ‘pause’ between inhale and exhale.

This is how your body breathes without you trying to do anything to control it. As you breathe, there should be four sections to each breath: 1. an inhale, 2. a pause, 3. an exhale, 4. a pause. We usually don’t feel the pauses because they’re short and they happen naturally, but they’re there, all right.

This next exercise focuses on lengthening, or expanding, your breath:
      Begin by inhaling for a three-count, holding for a three-count, exhaling for a three-count and holding for a three-count.
      Do this until it’s comfortable and then start to increase your count, four-count, five-count, etc. If you start to feel lig ht-headed or dizzy, stop immediately and take a break.
     See if you can comfortably work up to 5, 6, 7 or even 8, 9, 10.

(Tara once had a voice teacher who could breathe in and out on a thirty-count, which comes with a lot of practice. Being able to hold your breath and control your breathing allows you to play with your voice more, giving you more range and stamina, which could come in handy for things such as recording long passages for audiobooks or characters who really ramble on.)

 

 

 

Vocal Warm Ups: The 1-2-3-4 of warming up!

August 20th, 2012

How do you start your warm up? And is there a correct order for warm up exercises? Here are our recommendations:

 1)      WARM UP YOUR VOCAL CORDS:  Begin by gentle warm ups – you may notice when you first wake up that your voice sounds sleepy. Humming and feeling the resonance in your chest is great for getting the voice gently moving.

  • Hmmm
  • Mmmm

2)      ENUNCIATION:  After your voice starts to feel a little less groggy, begin to focus on enunciation, or the art of speaking clearly. Pay attention to the different ways the mouth must move in order to create the following sounds:

  • PTKT pronounced puh-tuh-kuh-tuh
  • BDGD pronounced buh-duh-guh-duh
  • Wewa pronounced wee-wah
  • Trills created by rolling your tongue on the roof of your mouth while saying TR: trrrrr or R: rrrrrr
  • Rapid fire succession ptkt-bdgd-ptkt-bdgd

3)      ARTICULATION:  Similar to enunciating, articulation relates to speaking distinctly. Let’s call the moving and non-moving parts of your face and mouth that help you articulate words (lips, teeth, tongue, roof of the mouth) the vocal creators. Articulation is a function of how these vocal creators work together to make sounds. After practicing the enunciation exercises ptkt, bdgd, wewa, try to pull everything together for articulation by saying these rhymes and tongue twisters:

  • What a todo to die today, at a minute or two ‘til two, a thing distinctly hard to say, but harder still to do; for they’ll beat a tattoo at a twenty ‘til two, a rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-too, and the dragon will come when he hears the drum, at a minute or two ‘til two today, at a minute or two ‘til two”
  • Unique New York, Unique New York”
  • Red leather, yellow leather, blue blood, black blood’
  • “Brrrrr” made by blowing out with your lips closed to create a motorboat sound, sort of like a raspberry without sticking your tongue out (this can get a little spitty, so watch out)

4)      WORK YOUR RANGE:  And finally, you’ll want to work on your range (the high–to-low pitches that you can take your voice to). Here’s an exercise for expanding your range:

  • Sirens (sort of like the sound of a fire truck): eeeeeeeee up and down in range, starting from low to high, and then high to low

 

 

Can you Step Out of Your Natural Voice? Stretch Yourself!

July 6th, 2012

REMINDER:

Stepping outside of your natural voice can be a lot of fun! Once you understand what your natural vocal qualities and “sound” are, you can begin to play outside the box and expand the range of characters and qualities you can offer.

This exercise helps you play with a range of emotions. As you read the following phrases, you’ll notice that we have removed all punctuation, which can often be a clue to a phrase’s tone. But in order to expand your range, let’s play around with the many different ways the same phrase can be said. First, see what your natural inclination is when you read the phrase. Copy and paste this blog to a Word Doc, and after each one, write down the adjective that you feel most fits the phrase/sentence. For example, a sentence such as “stop,” might be angry. As you read the phrases, see how you naturally interpret the emotion associated with saying the words.

Exercise: Phrases

  • Over here                                          
  • I need that                                         
  • Let go                                                   
  • What are you talking about       
  • Don’t do that                                    
  • I don’t think that’s a good idea 
  • Give me the new one                   
  • No                                                         
  • Try it again                                         
  • Listen to me                                      
  • Alright                                                 
  • Stop right there                               
  • Wow that’s huge                            

 

Now, review your phrase list and see how you naturally ‘heard’ the specific words. Perhaps your “no,” was “frustrated,” because you assumed that if you are telling someone “no,” it’s because you’re frustrated about something.

Becoming familiar with your instincts can be very helpful because it’ll allow you to make a choice outside of your natural inclination, which can yield very interesting results.

Come say hello on Facebook: Voice Over Voice Actor

“Breathing with your diaphragm” What does that mean?

June 22nd, 2012

From Wiki: Thoracic diaphragm: “In the anatomy of mammals, the thoracic diaphragm, or simply the diaphragm, (Ancient Greek: διάφραγμα  diáphragma ”partition”), is a sheet of internal skeletal muscle that extends across the bottom of the rib cage. The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity (heart, lungs & ribs) from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration.”

As a VO artist you need to know about and use your diaphragm!  It is our big breathing muscle, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of your lungs. This shelf of muscle is controlled by the nervous system; it contracts when we inhale, so that a vacuum is created in our  lungs and air rushes in to fill it. The opposite happens when we exhale; the diaphragm relaxes  and the air in the lungs rushes out.

Breath is the fuel of the voice, whether it is for singing or for voice over work. The stronger the diaphragmatic muscles, the better you can regulate the amount of breath that is pushed over your vocal cords, so improving the control you have over your voice in your sessions.  When the diaphragm is strong you can ensure a steady stream of air for your needs, you can speak longer without needing a breath, and you have more power for volume or attack in your speaking. And the stronger the diaphragm, the less effort all of this is for you!

Here is an exercise to help build the strength of your diaphragm, from our book, Voice Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mic!

1. Place your hand on your diaphragm.
2. Open your mouth and allow the tongue to relax and hang out of your mouth.
3. As quickly as possible, inhale and exhale, like you’re a dog panting.
(of course, if you feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop immediately)

We’ve been focusing on strengthening your diaphragm, but that won’t be the only thing you’ll be using. Your diaphragm will be working in conjunction with your mouth, tongue and mind so they must be ready to go as well. Articulation, or the ability to speak clearly, is a crucial element to a voice actor’s repertoire. Not every character you play will need good articulation (and sometimes you may even be told to articulate less), but it is always better to have it up your sleeve, so that if you’re slurring your speech, it’s a choice rather than an issue.