Voice Over Education Blog

Edge Studio Education

How To Think Like a Success by Tom Dheere

I teach Business and Money 201 for Edge Studio. It's a one-hour webinar where I cover topics like invoicing, goal-setting, negotiating rates, etc. At the beginning of each class, I always try to "prime" the students, so they're in the right frame of mind to receive and process what I'm about to teach. I talk about Systems of Thought (why you do what you do) and Systems of Execution (how you should do it). I share what I like to call “The Newbie Paradigm,” giving specific examples of how their Systems of Thought usually lead to failure. The most important piece of advice I give is to learn how to think like a successful voice talent.

It’s very simple: you’re an artist inside the booth, and a business outside the booth.

What does that mean? The first part is simple enough. When you’re in a recording session, you’re an artist, a performer. You’re vocally, mentally, and physically free. You’re open-minded and taking direction happily. You’re emoting and fully immersed in your technique. It’s all rainbows and unicorns in there, and everyone is happy.

The second part is where most people go off the rails. Many people are attracted to the voice over industry because they think it’s easy. “You just talk, right?” (Sigh.) They think you get coached up, get a demo, get an agent, and the money rolls in. Oh, and they get famous, too, because they get hired to do Family Guy, just like that. (Double sigh.) I hate to burst their bubble, but that’s just not how it works.

Things you may not know about Edge Studio

Some people are so enthused with training at Edge Studio that they see no need to learn more about us ... or they’re too busy. And some prospective students may be so jaded by some other schools or the world in general that they assume we’re not quite what we claim to be. So here are some interesting things -- and some important things -- we’d like you to know....

Our Founder David Goldberg is himself a voice-over coach. In fact, he was our first. Did you know Edge Studio has been around for a quarter century? David founded Edge Studio for music recording, and over the years Edge Studio helped capture and shape the sound of many well-known groups and singers. But David also recorded spoken voice, soon being asked by clients to coach them in voice over performance. In 1991, he wrote the first edition of our Voice Over Guidebook, and David still coaches and directs voice-over performers today -- in our studio locations, over the phone, and via the Internet (using Skype, etc.). In addition, David is industry-recognized for providing practical guidance on special auditions and demos. To schedule a session with David call 888-321-3343 or email training@edgestudio.com. He works equally enthusiastically with beginners and established voice over pros.

Incidentally, although Edge Studio hasn’t produced a music album since the year 2000, we still produce music for all sorts of clients, including Disney/Pixar, Marvel Comics’ X-Men, and other films, videos, telephony systems, eLearning, and more.

Following Instructions=MORE VO WORK

Here at Edge Studio, we cast, record, and audition a LOT of voice actors.

Surprisingly, we are shocked at the number of voice actors who don’t follow instructions. As a result, these voice actors lose work from us and our clients.

In this series, we’ll highlight the most common poor practices and give you friendly reminders to increase your voice over work.


--Be Punctual--

About 60% of Voice Actors Are Late!

(Worse, only a third apologize - yet usually with a lame excuse. Look, everyone is late sometimes... but be honest about it. Say, "Hey, I'm so sorry for being late and for any disruption it may have caused. This is not normal for me." In your own words, of course.)

Things move quickly these days: clients have last-minute voice over jobs, recording studios have tight time schedules, casting calls are booked in 5-minute increments... Being late can be very disruptive. Worse, for you, you lose future work.

Do what you can to be on-time. If your client needs your recording by 10am, then get it to them by then. If your call-in time is 5:15pm, then call in at 5:10pm. If you need to arrive at a studio, then get there 15-minutes early. Being early is a chance to establish good rapport with your clients and maintain a good relationship.


Are you at risk? Read and find out!

Vocal Fry is a speaking style that damages your vocal chords.

It occurs when you speak in your lowest register and create a low, glottal, grumbling sound. When this sound is created, the vocal folds compress tightly and become limp and compact. This sound is stereotypical of young girls and reality television stars.

This speaking style is a rising epidemic in today’s society, but many don’t know they are doing it.

If you are a singer in addition to a voice actor, you are even more at risk. Vocal fry is that stereotypical "croaking" sound made in country music, and is also used by bass singers in gospel choirs. These practices can permanently damage the vocal chords and may cause you to lose some upper notes in your register.

Other common names for vocal fry are pulse register, pulse phonation, glottal rattle, glottal fry, glottal scrape, creak, laryngealisation, and strohbass.

So I’m "Frying" my Vocal Chords…How Do I Stop?

Vocal Fry has snuck its way into our society and is affecting the way we speak.

The best way to stop this bad habit is to become aware that you are doing it. Once conscious, stop yourself each time you hear vocal fry creeping in.

To correct further, record yourself speaking and listen back. Post recordings on the
FEEDBACK FORUM and get vocal fry feedback from your peers as well.

You will hear your vocal fry when your voice is pitched lower than usual, or part of elongated vowels in the middle of a word, at the end of word, or in voiced consonants.

Become aware of your speaking. Keep your voice healthy.

What Do You Do To Stay Healthy For Voice Over?

We asked some of our friends, and here is their advice:

PAMELA JACKSON says, "plenty of water, eat healthy, exercise vocal as well as physical, and I listen to my body. Take care of your voice and your voice will take care of you."

KENDRA WEBB says, "A unique, powerful immune supplement in the form of a molecule extracted from bovine colostrum and chicken egg yolk."

A'LISA WILHELMSEN ANDRADE says, "Vitamin D 6,000 IU/daily as well as a Neti Pot regimen for immune system support. To prepare for a long day of recording, take Mucinex 1200 mg extended release tablets. It does 2 things: lubricates the vocal folds to ensure the smooth luscious sounds stay clear AND thins mucosal secretions so all that yucky winter phlegm doesn't clog those tones. If you find yourself with a scratchy dry throat, try Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea or Thayers Lozenges. Both use slippery elm which is mucilaginous."

NIKI KERNOW says, "I drink at least 2 litres of water everyday and I drink hot water with lemon, honey and ginger!"

SUSAN D'ANGELO says, "Lot's of foods high in anti-oxidants. I drink a lot of green tea, and I swear by Emergen-C every day. Also, I keep my chest and neck covered up when out in the cold. It's all about staying virus-free."

And…My advice:

Why Are You Still Waiting To Explore Voice Over?

People who fail to investigate a career opportunity often lose out on a lot of self-satisfaction. That can be even more costly than not making the money the opportunity might offer.

If you’re still waiting to investigate voice over, why? You’ll never know the opportunities if you don’t look into it. And if you carry that burden too long, you’ll kick yourself when you finally do determine – maybe years from now? – that a voice over career has been (or not been) in the cards for you all along.

So, here are some reasons why people procrastinate, and ways to get beyond these excuses. Rather than having you kick yourself later, hopefully our little kick-in-the-butt will propel you into a wonderful new career!

I’m not sure I’m right for it.

  • Most people, even trained actors, aren’t great voice over artists right out of the box. (Or rather, right into the booth.) The profession requires a marketable voice, training, knowledge of the industry, and more. But let’s start with the question of your voice. Do you have it? Find out. Save yourself the anguish of wondering. Learn more.

I’m shy, nervous about performing.

  • Surprise! Even among actors, nerves are not unusual. Working with a good coach can help you get past it. And surprise again: In voice over, most work is done solo – just you and the mic! Learn more.

I can’t pursue a program because I’m always away.

8 Voice Over Diction Guidelines For Voice Actors

Diction is always important, whether the script calls for a formal delivery, informal, or something in-between. Here are some general "diction guidelines" that almost always apply.

1. "The" and "a".

Pronounce "the" with a soft "e." Pronounce "a" with a soft "a". This is how we generally say these words in everyday conversation. Unfortunately, when reading scripts, we tend to over-enunciate and, inappropriately, use hard vowels, for a variety of reasons having to do with psychology or training. Ironically, this over-enunciation is the one of the biggest indicators that we are reading.

2. Complicated words.

When first looking at a script, it is often difficult to anticipate which words you might be likely to slur. Look again, for multi-syllable words and other potential pitfalls. Remember that your voice over is often mixed with music and/or sound effects, making it more difficult to distinguish slurred words. Also remember that listeners are rarely hanging on your every word, and are easily distracted.

So ensure that your delivery is clear enough for the most casual listener to understand.

To pronounce a challenging word, break it into separate syllables and concentrate on each one, pronouncing each of them individually. For example, if "particularly" is particularly difficult to pronounce, pronounce it with a space between each syllable, like this:


Then, connect the syllables, while still concentrating on each one individually:


3. Complicated "tongue twister" phrases.

Tongue twisters are phrases in which similar sounds are connected. They often occur because the scriptwriter focuses more on the content than on the fact that someone will have to read it.

2011 Wrap-up - PART 2

Here’s a controversial move, I’m going to briefly discuss demos. Yes, I prefer to write about the production and studio specific side of the world, but lets take it out of the comfort zone for a minute. I’ve seen a lot of these things. I’ve recorded a bunch of demo sessions, and mixed enough of them to qualify me for a lifetime achievement award at the secret ceremony each year presented by That Dude That Imitates Morgan Freeman™ and the Ghost Of Gilbert Godfried. Its a secret ceremony, don’t try to get an invitation.

Most if not all of the normal studio rules I have written about apply to recording demo’s. All beginning voice talent is going to need one, but that doesn’t mean you should sound like a beginner. Recording a demo is basically an audition for an audition. The person coaching you is a professional voice talent, who makes their living that way. The engineer recording you is a professional engineer, who also works on non demo projects. The studio in which you are recording handles a variety of sessions. How great of an opportunity is that!? How are you not so excited right now!!!!!!??? It also means, be nice to these people. Despite my curmudgeonly demeanor in these posts, I’m very pleasant and encouraging to work with. As are all of my colleagues here at the studio. They can get you work. They can also NOT get you work. That’s not a threat, but just think about it. And if a horse head shows up somewhere, don’t look at me. (I guess it would be half a pop filter or one ear of headphones in this case)

2011 Wrap-up - PART 1

Well kids, its the end of the year and things are quiet. We did our year end roundup, and while I could write out my top 5 pork products I’ve eaten this year, I won’t. And its not because I don’t like you, it’s because I want to keep those spots uncrowded. So here are a few ideas I find to be very important.

Stop using PC’s. They’re not good for you. I’m aware that this is America and you have freedom of choice, but it will leave to a lifetime of heartache. You know how many problems we’ve had with the Mac’s in our studios? Not many. And nearly all were caused by someone spilling apple juice on them. No computer is apple juice proof. Every real studio in the world uses a mac. Do an independent survey, go ahead. There’s a reason.

Yes, I know you’re scared and it’s more expensive. You have to think long term here. PC’s slow down rapidly. They get filled up with spyware. Macs do not. The user experience is just so much better. Its all about drag and drop. So please, when you call me up and tell me you have a problem with Audacity on your PC and your inexpensive mic plug or whatever endorsed by well known VO talent, and I laugh a little bit, don’t be surprised, mmkay? Overall, investing in equipment that is worthwhile will save you money in the long run. This holds true for computers, mics, pre amps, guitars, shoes, drums, unicorns, pretty much anything. A little repair cost is way less than having to replace junk later.

These words hold up, I give you that guarantee. No one returns from the cult of mac. Not one person. There is scientific evidence, it just doesn’t happen. Its all about improving your own workflow, and this is the first step. Today is the first day of the rest of your life....and other well worn sayings. Go for it! I’m still not telling you my top 5 pork dishes.

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