Voice Over Actors: How Much Does Luck Play in to Success?

January 28th, 2014

 

diceThey say that luck plays a huge part in getting anywhere in this business. Ya just gotta be at the right place at the right time! We agree, but we also have a slightly different definition of luck. Our friend Merriam – you may know her: Merriam-Webster – defines luck as:

1 a: a force that brings good fortune or adversity b: the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual

To take this a step further, instead of luck, we prefer to substitute the word success in Seneca’s definition. We end up with the equation: success = preparation + opportunity. This is much better than relying on luck because you can take action to prepare yourself, and you can take action to create opportunities.

We do our best to be prepared and to create our own opportunities, and that’s when we’ve found success happens most often for us. So what they say is true: luck plays a bit part. But you can get yourself to the right place, and if it’s the right time and you’re prepared, then boom!

But imagine what happens if you manage to get to the right place at the right time and you’re not ready for it: the, uh… opposite of boom.

So remember:

Luck Success = Preparation + Opportunity!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Voice Actors: Do You Need a Web Site?

December 21st, 2013

Nowadays a Web presence is practically essential for anyone trying to market themselves in this business. It serves as your calling card and news feed, letting people know what you’re up to. As we’ve mentioned, the Web provides a way for new people to find you, and it’s a fantastic place to post your demo reel for quick and easy access by potential employers.

Once you have a Web site set up, you can make a business card that includes your Web address (preferably an address that’s your name, like ArchibaldTuttle.com or TaraPlatt.com, although sometimes, if that’s not an option, you’ll have to get creative: ArchibaldTuttleVO.com or YuriLowenthalIsAVoiceActor.com). Then, whenever you meet people in the VO business, you can give them your card: suddenly all your info is at their fingertips.

Even the most basic Web site should include your name, general contact info (phone number, e-mail, etc.) and/or your representation contact info. In addition it might also include a list of credits and/or upcoming work, and maybe a clip or a demo reel of your voice.

Many actors choose not to have images of themselves on their Web sites if the site is for voice-over only, as one of the great things about voice-over is that it isn’t looks-based (remember our note about packaging). Instead of displaying your photo, you can put up images that showcase either the work you’ve done or the qualities or essence your voice evokes.

Your Web site may feature several different things ranging from your professional acting experience to your personal life. If so, make sure that it’s as easy to navigate to your VO info as possible, so that potential employers don’t get caught up in photos of your latest class reunion when all they’re trying to do is listen to your VO demo. If possible, you might want to have a separate site for your personal stuff so that professionals visiting your VO site don’t see anything that might adversely affect their judgment of you: those photos may be funny to you and your friends, but a casting director might not get the joke.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, nor do you need to know html programming to set up a decent, effective Web site that you’ll be able to update yourself. Shop around, ask around, and find a Web hosting company that works for you. Check out other actors’ sites, and if you like what you see, shoot some of them an e-mail and ask who’s hosting their Web sites and who did the design (sometimes you’ll find that information at the bottom of the Web page). There are even companies that let you design your own free Web page, and that can help when you’re trying to get started on the cheap. In any case, creating a page is something you can do on your own. And a Web site is a resource that could prove very important. So full steam ahead!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

10 Common Voice Actor Mistakes

November 12th, 2013

Many thanks to Dave “Courvo” Courvoisier for this guest blog!

From Dave’s upcoming book, “You Need More Than a Good Voice to Do Voice Overs,” available soon!

 

Just as important as knowing WHAT to do in the VO business, is knowing what NOT to do! Being aware of the biggest classic mistakes ahead of time can really help you avoid them.

Some of these admonitions may seem obvious and common-sensical, others are basic concepts you can adapt to your style and business plan.

Do yourself a favor, print this out and post it in a place where you’ll see it often.

By-no-means-complete, but essential list of VO mistakes:

1) Being undecided about your rate. Do your research; many of us charge too little for our services. Or we are apologetic, defensive, blustering… Read the chapters on rates, a little further on in this book. There I lay out my opinions and experience in this area, and give lots of links to other experts’ suggestions as well! Come prepared to a conversation about rates with the client!

2) Believing all you need is an agent and you are in the black! Of course, a good agent is invaluable in obtaining auditions for you that you’d not get yourself, but they will never be your only source of sessions. Look for contacts, keep networking, marketing online and in person, and DO that cold-calling you’ve been putting off. Don’t rely solely on your agent.

3) Making your voice over demo when you are not yet ready. You need practice, you need coaching, you need to know your voice and what it can do. In short, you need to be really prepared. If you pay for that demo too soon, it can be wasted money. And no demo is forever. Be ready to go through the process as often as the market demands.

4) Not getting help with that first demo when you ARE ready! This is really a place for leaving it to the pros. You may think “How hard can it be?” to plop down your voice with your own new equipment. This is a common mistake, but believe me, studios bring experience, skill, and know-how to the process. You can’t be objective enough about your own demo, and you only get one shot at a first listen. Make it the best it can be!

5) Failing to get that agreement in writing. It is always vital to get something in writing. Memories of discussions and “agreements” can so easily change over time, with the potential to lead to uncomfortable and unnecessary conflicts. Plenty of voice actors don’t do this, but most clients don’t blink when you request it.

6) Forgetting to practice – ALOUD – every day! It is absolutely vital to read aloud every day; you can get rusty in a just a few days without this exercise. Do your voice exercises, repeat your tongue twisters, exercise your face, and oh, yes, READ ALOUD EVERY DAY!!

7) Not using TV and radio as an instant, powerful mechanism for practice, and for knowing what is current and popular, and in demand. You must know what is playing on the air at any given time! So listen and learn from today’s commercials, listen to narration on documentaries and reality shows. Stay current.

8) Forgetting the customer’s directives! Within the expertise that you bring to any project, the client’s wishes still need to remain at the top of the to-do list. This is a service industry. Do it their way, and if you think you can do better… make that your 2nd or 3rd take.

9) Being difficult to work with. This is an extension of number 8, above. Be considerate and easy to work with. Listen to the requests of the customer and the engineer, don’t be pushy. Follow up in a timely manner. Be in time, and on time. Never be arrogant. Don’t share info about the job with anyone else unless the client says it’s OK. They may welcome the extra PR, but they may not want anyone to know.

10) Expecting instant success. Don’t lose patience with this process. Be persistent, and be prepared to reach out time and again. Stay on the radar of prospects. Take more classes, buy more coaching, network endlessly… This is a business for tortoises, not hares.

 

 

THIS GUEST BLOG IS BY: Dave “Courvo” Courvoisier

Dave is a multiple Emmy-Award-winning TV News Anchor with more than 30 years experience in the biz. He currently anchors 3 newscasts daily at the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, NV, KLAS-TV (http://www.8newsnow.com)

But Dave always thought he had at least one more good thing in him, and that thing is Voice Acting.

Now with eight years of voicing experience under his belt, Dave has clients that range from Audiobook publishers to E-Learning to Documentaries and Commercial spots. He’s studied with some of the best coaches in the business, and enjoys promoting the community of Voice Actors as a member of the executive board of World-Voices Organization.

Along the way, Dave embraced Social Media as his marketing plan, and THAT lead to even more demand for his services to explain how to use social networks in raising one’s profile on the internet. He has spoken at many business conferences and conducted a number of webinars on the subject of social media marketing.

Dave’s Website: http://courvo.com/
Dave’s Blog: http://www.courvo.biz/
Dave’s Website focusing on one of his strong niches: Audio Book Narrator: http://www.courvo.net/

 

Thanks again, Dave!



Voice Over Artists: Self-Promotion 101

October 2nd, 2013

tooting hornSelf-promotion can be hard for some people. It takes work. And how many times did your grandma say, “People don’t want to hear you talk about yourself!” We’re taught that tooting our own horn is prideful and unattractive. But in this business, you have to find as many ways as possible to let people know how great you are and why they should be hiring you. And as we said before, promoting you is not part of your agent’s job. What if you don’t even have an agent? What can you do on your own? Well, a lot, actually.

We’ll talk about some of the things you can do to promote yourself, but there are plenty more ideas beyond what we’ll go into. The more creative you get, the more effective your promotion will be. So put your fun-hat on and get cranking on some ideas.

Once you’ve determined what your sound is and decided where you think you might fit best in the VO market, you’re done with the hard part. Use this info to promote yourself and move in the direction you want.

Tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have an agent yet: you’ll always be your own best promoter. So start selling yourself now.

What to Do with Your Voice Over Demo

So what do you do with your masterpiece? The demo you spent all that love, time, energy, and dough on? You get it out there and get it working for you. It’s time to try to get a return on your investment.

Do a mailing to your target agents or managers, and don’t stop there. Do a little research, and target production studios, ad agencies, producers, casting agents, and directors who work on the kind of projects that you’d like to be working on. Once again, feel free to check out the Resources section of this book to get more direction about where you can start your search.

Post your reel on line; it’s easy these days. Make it accessible on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other online social networking site, so that if someone wants to hear it, they can find it easily. Build your own Web site and host your demo there. The more online places your demo is featured and associated with your name, the easier it is for somebody to find it by using a search engine like Google.

Use whatever method you can think of to get your demo into the hands of the people who could hire you (or at least into the hands of someone who can introduce you to some of those people). There is no right or wrong way to do this, but there is a fine line between catchy and gimmicky – much like the line between aggressively pursuing and stalking. So do be respectful about putting yourself in people’s faces.

We’ve found that the difference between catchy and gimmicky can be crystallized in this comparison: a personalized card with a funny note included with your demo is fine; a glitter-filled envelope that explodes all over an agent’s desk when he or she opens it will get you remembered, but for all the wrong reasons …

A short note on packaging: except for those times when you simply e-mail your demo as an MP3, you’ll need some sort of packaging for it. You’ll want it to look nice and professional. Feel free to use your creativity in putting your package together, but one word of warning: while it may seem to be a good idea to put a picture of you somewhere on that CD case, listen when we say that there are better options. Putting your face on your demo automatically typecasts you in the eyes of the person looking at it. As a voice actor you want a potential employer to think that you can be anything and anyone.

If agents have a specific image of you in their heads, it’ll be harder for them to consider you as anything other than what you look like. We’ve been telling you how important it is to use your imagination, right? Well, let the agents use their imaginations this time.

 

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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!

 

 

 

Saucy September with Tara and Yuri!

September 10th, 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: Saucy September Newsletter, 2013

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler (I hope, since we are in the middle of a heat wave), summer gives way to fall and this fall I hope you get some much needed time outdoors, walking, breathing and enjoying the bounty of mother nature. Shelf Life Season 4 is finally wrapped up (pre-order those DVD’s now – you won’t want to miss the bonus eps!) and we are prepping for our next plan; all the while Con Artists is having its cast/crew screening in LA! Not to mention Yuri’s noirvella Tough City which is now available for purchase or download. Enjoy being saucy and spicing things up this fall.

Tara :) (&Yuri)

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

 

Click to read more: Saucy September with Tara and Yuri, Sept. 2013

 

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Voice Over Actors: Be Willing to Play!

July 29th, 2013

When it comes right down to it, we do this – voice acting – because it’s fun, because we get to play. But sometimes we can forget that. Remember to have fun, be personable, and enjoy what you do.

Fact #1: people like working with people who are having a good time doing what they do. We mentioned being flexible when we talked about being prepared. Showing that you are willing to play and experiment lets everybody know that you will be a positive force on the creative team. And that you play well with others.

Fact #2: people like working with those who don’t take themselves too seriously (see earlier note about not being a jerk). There is, of course, a line which should not be crossed; nobody likes working with someone who is always goofing off or being a little too creative with the script. But you’ll get the feel for it; don’t worry.

The focus of this book is the actor. However, don’t let this mislead you. The actor is only one piece of the puzzle. Acting is a profession in which teamwork or group effort is definitely key. In order for an actor to perform even the most basic of jobs, a number of different people must be involved as well: writers, producers, directors, engineers, editors, technicians, designers, and developers, to name just a few (and that’s not even counting the audience). So, always remember that you are a part of a fantastic and exciting team.

At the end of the day, when people have to make casting choices, there are a lot of things that come into play. Partly it is a matter of them thinking, Can this person get the job done, partly, How much time/cost will we incur by having this person do the job, and maybe most importantly, What will it be like having to spend a lot of time working with this person? Be a person everyone will want to spend their time with.

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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!

 

 

 

Voice Over Actors: How to Stock Your Pantry

May 24th, 2013

All the actors we know have their own tricks and tips for keeping their voices healthy – because if you lose your voice, there’s no real way around it.

Some of our favorite tools for soothing a sore throat or tired voice, or getting your voice prepped for an upcoming session, include all natural black licorice, non-caffeinated hot tea, honey (especially Manuka honey, an anti-bacterial, medicinal honey from New Zealand which you’ll have to go to a health store to find), primrose or fish oil capsules, lots of water, fresh pineapple or pineapple juice.

Also, we eat a lot of ginger and garlic which are said to have natural antibiotic properties; and while that might not directly affect our voices, it seems to keep us healthy. Staying healthy is important because we’ve found that when we get sick, our voices are the first things to go. We’ve also found that zinc helps nip a cold in the bud, or at least loosen its grip on us. You may want to keep these things around so you’ll have them when you need them.

You may find other things that are good for you. Great, add them to the list. Pay attention to what makes your voice feel good and what makes it feel bad.

Many people will tell you that before recording you should avoid milk products at all costs because it makes your voice thick and phlegmy, and in most instances they’re right. But sometimes we actually like to have a little dairy if our voices are particularly scratchy or raw because it tends to coat our vocal cords a bit. Obviously (because we’ve said it so many times), drink as much water as you can without starting to feel sloshy. Not just before a session, but as often as possible. Staying hydrated will help a lot more than just your vocal health.

Black licorice (natural, not candy) is said to have anti-inflammatory properties which can soothe and slightly numb the vocal area, so it can be nice after a grueling session. But many people don’t like the sharp taste. Yuri used to hate it, but after realizing how positively it affects his voice when it’s scratchy, he’s come not only to tolerate it, but maybe even like it. Maybe. Just a little.

Many types of cough drops can also be soothing. And while lemon and menthol (not necessarily together) are appreciated by some as a remedy, see how they affect you because some people actually find that the harsh properties of both lemon and menthol can aggravate a throat irritation.

Hot, non-caffeinated tea is nice for multiple reasons: it is warm, which keeps your voice loose and relaxed; and it keeps your throat moist. Honey, which can be mixed into tea or taken separately by the spoonful, has soothing and anti-bacterial properties.

Primrose or fish oil capsules, when ingested, are said to help strengthen your vocal cords and keep them lubricated. However, be sure to check the dosage: eating too many at a time could have … runny results. As with many types of natural cures, there is no scientific evidence proving that these oils will do something for the voice specifically, but the folks we know who use them seem pretty happy with their results.

Using fresh pineapple and pineapple juice as a natural antitheir -inflammatory is a tip that was given to us by a friend who has starred in many a Broadway musical. Singers often drink it or munch on it before, during, or after a show to keep the swelling in their vocal cords down when voices are tired from overuse. Hey, good enough for Broadway is good enough for us; and besides, pineapple tastes good.

Some folks will tell you that besides green apples for combating smackiness, green apple-flavored hard candies or even a sip of soda will help. We prefer the apple since it’s easier on the teeth and healthier in general. But once again, check with your body before you make your final selection: it usually knows best. Since you really just need the juice of the green apple, it’s too bad they don’t sell green apple juice. We’d buy it.

Things that we’re pretty confident you should avoid to keep your voice as healthy as it can be are smoke and caffeine. Hey, like we said before, we’re not your mom, your teacher, or the boss of you; but smoking and being around smoke seems like an obvious no-no, as smoke dries out your vocal cords and can change your voice, over time. Not to mention the effects of smoking on your lungs, mouth, etc. (we’re sure you know this already). Once again, it is very much a personal choice. We know both highly successful voice actors who are regular smokers and highly successful voice actors who never smoke.

Caffeine has a very similar side-effect to smoke: drying out your voice and often creating more strain on it when you use it. So think twice before swigging that morning cuppa joe on the way to your VO session, tasty though it may be. Or at least consider decaf.

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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!

 

 

 

A fun interview Tara did on VO acting and more!

May 13th, 2013

Animation Fascination

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.

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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!

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