Voice Over Education Blog

Welcome to the Voice Over Blog

Welcome to the blog designed for anyone investigating, starting, and building their voice over career.

Here you'll find practical articles written to help you skip the "trial and error" often associated with pursuing and building a career, and instead gain a candid look into the voice over industry, where the work is, why some people get it, why some don't, and tips and techniques to help you reach your goals.

Remember that your voice, interests, and potential are unique. For this reason, our articles provide multiple ideas and scenarios so that you can make the right decision for your career.

Feel welcome to share any experiences and comments by posting them below each post. We're always glad to listen to you. After all, listening is what we do best!

For vocal health, don't let your humidifier turn against you! Part 2 of 2.

NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

In Part One, we talked about the benefits a voice actor receives from proper indoor humidity, and discussed various types of humidifiers. Aahhhh! Instead of the raw feeling you get from air that's been overheated or air-conditioned, moist air is so soothing, right?

Right. Except for this unsettling thought:

It can also make you sick.

Although proper humidity promotes health, improper use of a humidifier can be harmful. The device itself can breed and spread microbes and allergens. Some types of humidifiers can also break water-borne minerals into fine particles (possibly appearing as white dust) that can be irritants or transportation for germs. (This has been a concern especially with ultrasonic types.) They might even distribute toxic metals.

You MUST keep a humidifier clean.

To avoid such complications, follow manufacturer instructions, but in general:

Vocal health calls for "Goldilocks" humidity this winter. Part 1 of 2.

NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 2!

EdgeStudio.com has a lot of information about vocal health. You'll find links to much of it at the end of this article. One subject we've barely touched on, however, is the matter of indoor humidity. Moisture in the air is important to maintaining good vocal health, but you can also have too much humidity. There are various ways of maintaining humidity, each with certain advantages and dangers.

Important: We are not medical experts and cannot give medical advice. This is not exhaustive information. If you have any question or concern about your health or any symptom, consult your doctor without delay. If anyone has a respiratory difficulty (e.g., asthma, allergy to mites or mold), consult a physician before using a humidifier. Exercise suitable caution when dealing with steam or boiling water. Clean any device as instructed. If infants or young children are present, consult their physician before use, as microbes and particalized mineral deposits can be harmful to their lungs, and additives can also be problematic.

Cold air is dry, and heating dries it further, but humidity's not just a winter issue. Air conditioning dries the air, too. You feel cooler, but your sinuses may become raw. At some point, you may need to turn off the A/C, or open a window, or add humidity, or step outdoors.

So, at any time of year, what amount of humidity is "just right" and how should you maintain it?

Humidity has benefits

You read VO scripts clearly. Why don't people hear you? Part 2 of 2.

NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. Click here to read Part 1!

In personal conversation, have you ever known someone who doesn't listen to you because they think they already know what you're going to say? Sometimes they've assumed correctly. But not always. And when they're wrong, it's kind of maddening, isn't it? Why don't they listen to what you're saying?

In that conversation, you might be able to bring your friend around to listening more politely. But in a spoken-voice recording, you can't do that with your unseen listener.

Or can you?

In some ways, you can encourage listeners to pay closer attention, to improve how they hear what you're saying.

The first step is to understand why they don't. There are various reasons:

A. They're distracted. This is virtually a given when the script is a commercial. In all but a handful of situations, people aren't listening for commercials, and in fact might be planning to do something else as soon as you start talking. (An exception would be a Super Bowl broadcast, where some people actually watch for the funny or edgy commercials. But how often is that?)

You'll encounter distracted listeners in plenty of other genres, too. For example, telephony ... scripts often say, "Please listen carefully, as our menu has recently changed." Everyone knows darn well that it probably hasn't, but a system has to do something to get the caller's attention. After all, they didn't phone for a menu – they called to tell a live representative that the flange on their widget broke, or to check the balance on their checking account, or to find out how to size new tennis shoes.

In voice acting, what does "enunciate" really mean? Part 1 of 2.

NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Click here to read Part 2!

You can't be a voice talent without having encountered the word "enunciate." Even if you've spoken very clearly all your life, and no coach or director has ever complained that you need to enunciate more, surely you've thought about it. Or read about it. Understanding how to enunciate is key to a voice-over career. After all, no matter if you master all other voice-over skills and do everything else right with your read, it's for nothing if your listener can't tell what you said.

But one of those other skills is "sound natural," and in most genres sounding natural is equally important. Can the two skills work together? What does "enunciate" really mean?

Maybe it will help if, instead of "enunciate," we say "speak clearly." Because that's what we mean. When a coach says "enunciate," they usually mean "enunciate more." The practice of enunciation is not absolute. There are differing degrees. Exactly how clear do you need to be? The art is in finding a happy medium – the range of intelligibility that is easily understood, yet fits the script's tone or character.

Too much enunciation can make you sound "stand-offish." You know the stereotype: it sounds like a character in a goofy 1930s comedy where some professor or upper-crusty type pro-noun-ces e-ver-y letttter and syl-ab-buhl separately. And maybe even rolls their R's.

Unless you're playing such a character, that's way too much.

But at the other extreme, you're not speaking clearly enough if people think you said "What's the Biggie's turtle you met?" when the script said "What's the biggest hurdle you've met?"

Improv offers voice-actors more than comedy. It offers reality.

Improvisation training is not essential in developing your voice-acting skills, but can be highly valuable. Just about everyone is familiar with comedy improv, and maybe you've even taken a workshop in it. But do you realize that comedy improv is just part of the improv universe? In fact, various types of improv experience are helpful in many other professions besides acting or comedy. The training and exercises can improve your ability to connect with listeners in any presentation, whether it be a voice script, a business proposal, or university lecture.

Here's a "wavetop level" view of what you can experience in the refreshing, fun, and sometimes scary ocean of improv ...

So far, we've called it a "universe" and an "ocean." Rather than continue with those mixed metaphors, what is "improv" anyway? It's simply two or more people acting without a script, making up the characters, story and dialog as they go. The "acting" can be for an audience, or it can be for each other (as in training or a professional development class). Some improv is done entirely free-form, with maybe just a random seed of an idea (e.g., "at a picnic" or "credit card"). But, especially in training, it can be highly structured, with specific objectives. When there's an audience, the objective is entertainment, but other times the objective is the improv experience itself.

That experience is what's so valuable in voice-over. It actually rewires the brain. The process of working with others, learning to read and anticipate their thoughts and responding with yours, is very much like what we do every day in the real world. And in most VO genres, sounding (and being) real is essential in developing your voice-acting skills.

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