Voice Over Education Blog

May 2014

18 Steps to Improve your Audition Batting Average

Voice over auditions are like professional baseball. Even the best hitter won’t get a hit every time. And most people, if allowed to play, would never get on base. But a pro knows how to get hits, and some pros get more hits than others.

Whether you’re a working VO pro or an experienced student, here’s how to improve your audition batting average, whether it’s an on-site audition, emailed recording, or tele-session:

1. Remember that nobody bats a thousand. Keeping this in mind will help preserve your morale, motivation, perspective, and sanity.

2. Pick your pitches. No one person is right for every role. By auditioning for only those jobs that are in your wheelhouse, your power zone, you’ll save time and be better able to focus.

3. Eventually, you’ll probably have auditioned for some prospects more than once. By sticking to your specialty, you’ll show professional judgment and self-awareness. Don’t get a reputation for trying too hard to be a jack of all trades, annoying people who see you as master of none.

4. On the other hand, if you can do a really stellar performance, but you suspect it’s way too offbeat for the job, you might decide to submit it anyway. They might agree, it’s wrong for the job. But maybe right for a later one. It depends on what you might know about the client, their future needs and your future access to them.

5. Respond quickly. In baseball, sometimes it pays to swing at the first pitch. In auditions, it suggests to the reviewer that you probably won’t wait till the last minute to deliver the job.

Have You Toured the Audio Tours Genre Lately

The Audio Tours genre is a very interesting subject and a potentially rewarding specialty, especially considering that it’s a bigger field than many people realize.

Many people think of it only in terms of museum tours. That’s obviously a huge segment, but there are many other kinds of audio tours, too. All the following settings, and more, have audio tour potential:

* Museums and other exhibitions -- Might as well start with the obvious. Like Audiobooks, this genre, too, can be tremendously satisfying. If you have special or extensive knowledge in the subject that’s on exhibit, here is a great way to apply what you know, while providing extra value to your client. Or, if like most curious people you’re a “knowledge generalist,” voicing audio tours gives you an opportunity to learn while you earn. In either case, it’s also satisfying to know that you’re providing a meaningful service to people who take the tour. And while the articles you describe will be the star of the show, the overall goal of any audio tour is to be entertaining. You will be an important contributor to that.

* Tourist locations -- Not every museum has walls. Historic sites feature “progressive tours” that the visitor listens to while moving from place to place. The site could be a group of historic structures, a battlefield, an archaeological dig, anything. In these situations, an audio tour is more convenient and more personal than a guidebook. And you will help make it more interesting.

* Campus tours -- How many prospective students and their families visit college campuses every year? There are only so many administrators and/or student guides to show them around. Recorded audio tours fill this major gap. Life decisions may be affected by the quality of your work.

Why is Audiobook Narration So Popular?

In some countries, much more than maybe in the US, it’s considered gauche at a social occasion to ask a stranger, “What do you do?” But at a meet-and-greet of voice over professionals, it’s understandably standard procedure.

Very often among emerging talent these days, the answer is, “Audiobooks.”

Why is Audiobook narration so popular among new voice over talent?

After all, it’s a very unusual genre. Sessions are long, requiring vocal stamina and consistency. Pay is usually by the finished hour, meaning if you don’t work efficiently (or have a poor client), the hourly pay can wind up kind of low. And if you’re working at home, it requires long periods of suitable recording conditions. Depending on your client’s needs, it might also require some special audio editing and even processing skills. That’s all in addition to requiring performance skills specific to the genre.

So why is Audiobook narration popular?

That’s like asking why the New York and Boston marathons are so popular. Some things in life inspire tremendous enthusiasm and dedication in a huge number of people, while other people are happy to spectate.

And to admire.

That is part of the answer. Each of the 30 or so VO genres requires commendable qualities in a voice artist, but imagine how it must feel to do an admirable job as the voice of Ishmael in Moby Dick. As rewarding as it may be to make money by saying, “To continue in English, press 1,” or “Now on sale at BigBox,” there is some extra social reward in performing a book. It has the power to make your voice ... well ... immortal.

10 Ways To Animate Your Animation Pitch or What Animation Voice Over Is Really About

In the recent Edge Studio Weekly Script Reading Contest that ended on Friday, April 18, we were surprised to hear a lot of entrants making sound effects with their mouth. For example, the sound of hitting the ground when falling, or the noise of footsteps. That, of course, is not what voice over work in the Animation genre is about. Unless you’re directed otherwise, sound effects should be left to the engineer.

It is about screaming “Yipes” (or whatever) when you are falling, or the huffing and puffing while making those footsteps. An animation pro (like Edge Studio coaches Jay Snyder and Noelle Romano) can integrate a series of such verbalizations as if they actually were running into a hippopotamus, reversing course, scampering up a tree and falling from its tippy-est branch into the hippo’s mouth. And out again.

But knowing a vocally-produced sound effect from a character’s vocalization is a relatively little thing. Once you’re hip to the difference, you know it for a lifetime. Other animation skills, such as dubbing a foreign-language cartoon (Automated Dialogue Replacement or ADR) are also relatively easy to learn. And while becoming skilled at making those incidental vocalizations (the huffing, puffing, etc., which often are not specifically scripted) takes some practice, with experience, practice and planning you’ll be doing that, too, like an old pro.

But to become that Old Pro, you need to land some animation jobs, right? What’s the key to landing them?

Stand out.

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