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Read. Practice. Perform. In Easy Steps.

For 21 types of Voice Over, including: Animation, Audiobook, Biography, Cartoon, Commercial, Corporate, Documentary, eLearning, Medical, Promos, PSAs, Retail, Self-Guided Tours, Telephony, Trailers, and More! Edge Studio New York 212-868-edge Connecticut 203-334-edge Los Angeles 310-312-edge Washington, DC 202-398-edge Remote Training 888-321-edge first copyright David Goldberg 1991 - All Rights Reserved last copyrighted update June, 2010

Table of Contents
Foreword ...........................................................................................................3 Chapter 1: Misconceptions ......................................................................................4 Chapter 2: Industry Overview ..................................................................................7 definition ........................................................................................................... 7 styles, types, growth .............................................................................................. 7 major changes .................................................................................................... 10 Chapter 3: Pre-Training ..................................................................................... 133 whats in ....................................................................................................... 133 advancement: obstacles, obtaining skills, time involved ................................................ 144 producers expectations ....................................................................................... 177 Chapter 4: Training ............................................................................................. 18 foundation ........................................................................................................ 18 be natural................................................................................................. 18 the two delivery components .......................................................................... 19 composure ................................................................................................ 19 tension free .............................................................................................. 19 basic training ..................................................................................................... 20 the four vocal components ............................................................................. 20 inflection and pitch ..................................................................................... 23 flowing naturally ........................................................................................ 29 variety ..................................................................................................... 32 diction ..................................................................................................... 35 numbers, web addresses, and more .................................................................. 40 emotion, character, tone .............................................................................. 42 advanced training................................................................................................ 44 mental and physical preparation ...................................................................... 44 copy analysison your own............................................................................. 46 copy analysiswith the creative team ............................................................... 47 delivery / character development .................................................................... 48 valuing words............................................................................................. 50 microphone essentials .................................................................................. 50 mouth noises and breathing techniqes ............................................................... 52 diction ..................................................................................................... 54 flow / smoothness ....................................................................................... 55 timing ..................................................................................................... 58 hitting ..................................................................................................... 60 smile ....................................................................................................... 62 variety ..................................................................................................... 62 consistency / valuing words ............................................................................ 62 punctuation ............................................................................................... 64 keywords .................................................................................................. 65 multi-person scripts ..................................................................................... 66 auditions .................................................................................................. 68

practice tips and scripts ........................................................................................ 68 practice tips .............................................................................................. 69 practice scripts........................................................................................... 70 Chapter 5: Post-Training ...................................................................................... 79 evaluate your potential......................................................................................... 79 determine your next step ...................................................................................... 80 Chapter 6: Demo ................................................................................................ 82 demo overview ................................................................................................... 86 when to produce a demo ....................................................................................... 87 how to produce a demo ......................................................................................... 89 Chapter 7: The Business ....................................................................................... 94 getting hired, and by whom.................................................................................... 94 billing, invoicing, taxes ......................................................................................... 96 union / non-union ............................................................................................... 98 odds and ends: volunteer work, auditions ................................................................... 99 Chapter 8: Home Studio ..................................................................................... 101 should you? ...................................................................................................... 101 how big is your head? .......................................................................................... 103 choose a microphone ........................................................................................... 104 design and build your space ................................................................................... 107 ISDN ............................................................................................................... 111 Chapter 9: Marketing ......................................................................................... 112 marketing overview ............................................................................................ 112 appearing professional ......................................................................................... 114 getting out there ............................................................................................... 115 contacts .......................................................................................................... 117 Chapter 10: Working ......................................................................................... 120 producers expectations, unprofessional traits ............................................................ 120 recording sessions .............................................................................................. 122 recording studios ............................................................................................... 128 industry dictionary ............................................................................................. 130

You have a face for radio. While the author is unknown, this adage points out that voice over work is open to anyone even those who are performers at heart but have stage fright, those who want fame without paparazzi, and those who enjoy making strange sounds. Voice over is for everyone. If not to narrate, then to listen to.

A voice over career is a spectacular career. Vocally it requires a combination of control and creativity. Monetarily, it can be quite lucrative. A voice over career offers a lifestyle with some flexibility. It can be enjoyed part time or full time and today it is possible to work from home and design your own time. A voice over career is exciting and varied. Every script is unique. Every producer is unique. Every day is different. You can specialize in what is right for you and your voice. And its thrilling to unexpectedly hear your voice on the radio or in other mediums. Enjoy this industry, and this guidebook.

Objectives of this Guidebook

By learning how to modulate and control your voice, and by gaining a solid understanding of the business and marketing aspects of the industry, this guidebook will help beginners and professionals Investigate, Evaluate, Break Into,and Advance their voice over careers.

Chapter 1: Misconceptions
One person tells you, Hey great voice! You could make a fortune in voice over! The next says, Dont even botherthey hire the same 3 people over and over! Since voice over is a relatively new industry, and since its gone through major transitions in its short life, there are many schools of thought. It seems every expert has an opinion and they dont all agree which can be confusing. Understandably most people teach from their own perspectives. So if someone tells you This is the way it always is. It has probably been that way in their personal experience. The following examples may help to clarify some common industry misconceptions. One voice over book says, When reading childrens stories, use high energy. Yet another book says, When reading childrens stories, use low energy. Our suggestion is to read by using the appropriate amount of energy for the given intent of the read. For example, if the childrens story is intended to help children fall asleep, low energy is appropriate. If the story is to keep children entertained, high energy is appropriate. If the story is intended to help children learn to read (as in a picture-book), a slower tempo is appropriate. If the story is designed to teach English to children who do not speak English as their first language, an articulate delivery may be appropriate. Many voice over schools suggest to Make a commercial demo. Great! We also suggest considering a narration demo because documentaries, training videos, website narrations, educational films, telephone systems, and corporate presentations make up 92% of the jobs available in the industry. CDs or MP3s? Headshot or no headshot? One casting director claims that everyone wants demos on CD with full color headshots. The next claims that everyone prefers MP3 files emailed to them without headshots. The truth is that every casting director prefers something different. Therefore, to get the most work, never assume what a casting director wants and instead ask. Use the strong, announcer, broadcast style voice says one expert. Promos and local/broadcast style commercials still use that read but most of the time, a natural style is preferred. . It is estimated that 95% of scripts are recorded using a conversational style vocal delivery. In fact, the announcer style voice is being used less and less every year.

You may have heard a struggling voice over artist say, Dont botherIve been trying this for a year and havent gotten any work yet! If you treat this like a business and train and market correctly, you greatly increase your chance of obtaining work. Unsuccessful, aspiring voice over artists are often inadvertently making mistakes that are keeping them from working, including marketing only a commercial demo, using an announcer style delivery, marketing to the wrong people or submitting poor cover letters or low quality demos. Also, many aspiring voice-talent are anxious to hit the street. If you rush through the training process there is a strong likelihood that youll receive less work. We suggest using a training facility that will candidly evaluate your talent, help you determine your marketable voice over genres, offer time to study those genres, and help you establish a marketing plan specifically for those genres. Boy, there is a lot of money in this business! $2,000 to record one radio commercial is fantastic. And many voice over schools tempt you into training with them by reminding you of such numbers. However few newcomers receive enough high-paying jobs to equal their annual income. Therefore we suggest to be realistic begin parttime and quit your day-job when you have sufficient clientele. Or choose to keep voice over as a supplement to your day-jobs income.

Heres a confusing one. One voice over school charges $100 to produce a demo when another charges $800. Digital recording studios are inexpensive these days, anyone can do it even those who do not know the voice over industry and/or do not have trained ears. When shopping for a demoproducer, ask to review demos they have produced, learn if they take time with you, and ask if they will train you. If they are only going to make the demo, look for complete training elsewhere or otherwise, instead of saving money, youll waste it.

Some people believe that acting lessons are invaluable when training for voice over. It really depends upon the style of voice over you are training for and the type of acting lessons you consider. Most voice over delivery requires a natural style, and therefore film acting lessons may be helpful as they generally teach a natural style. If you desire character and animation work, consider improv and comedic classes as they generally teach you how to open up, be creative, and be loose. If you are considering acting lessons, ask the instructor if they are familiar with the type of voice over you are interested in, and if they believe their class would be beneficial. Be sure that they understand todays voice over style.

Contrary to popular belief, commercial and narration scripts are read the same way. The assumption that commercials are fast and narrations are slow is incorrect. Some commercials

are fast (car dealerships) and some are slow (financial industries, jewelry ads). Some narrations need more acting ability and some less. some commercials need range and some dont. Some narrations are fast (travelogues, children stories) and some are slow (training films, telephone automation systems). Also, some commercials sell (retail sales) while others inform (public service announcements, etc). Some narrations sell (infomercial, trade-show exhibits, etc) while others inform (how-to-videos, self-help, and etc). It is necessary, however, for a voice over artist to have stamina to be able to narrate a narration, as the recordings are typically longer.

What microphone should I get? Experts often recommend microphones. Grrrrrrr that one frustrates us.

THERE ARE DIFFERENT MODELS, TYPES, SIZES, and PRICES FOR A REASON so the answer is the mic that is right for you, your home studio and for the kind of voice over you want to do. Some things to consider before choosing a mic a) What kind of voice over do you record? Telephony jobs require a mic that produces a clean, clear, bright output. Promos need a big, full, sometimes fat sound. Do it all? Get a mic that works across the board. b) How are the acoustics of your recording booth? A reverberant room needs a directional mic. -A dry room may sound better with an "open" mic. c) How sound-proofed is your recording booth? Its not? Consider a directional mic maybe even a super or hyper cardiod.y sound best. d) What about you? Have a big, full voice? Get a mic that captures that low-end. Maybe a tube. Have a thin voice? Dont get a tube. e) Lastly, the question you can NOT answer until you experiment: How does the mic react to your voice? Every mic reacts differently to different voices so try a few. And listen carefully. Not sure what to listen for? Ask someone who engineers the kind of voice over that you narrate. IN CONCLUSION: Do NOT choose a microphone because its a good price, because someone suggests it, or because it looks cool. Want to make more money at voice over? Then get a mic that makes you sound the best! Were glad to help you determine which mic it is. It is? An open mic may sound best.

Chapter 2: Industry Overview

In this chapter:
definition styles, types, growth major changes

Originally from the phrase voice-over-picture, a voice over is a spoken-word recording, also known as a narration. The voice over artist is the person whose voice is heard. A voice over artist is also known as a voice artist, voice over actor, voice actor, voice over performer, voice performer, voice over talent, voice talent, voice over narrator, voice narrator, narrator, announcer, and simply a V.O.


unaffected (natural): The natural delivery is todays most popular style. It is generally used for most sectors of voice over, except for promos & trailers, broadcast & announcer reads, and character & animation scripts. * IMPORTANT * Many people mistakenly interpret natural to mean nonchalant. That is incorrect. Natural simply means unaffected, which means ANY voice used in real life, such as nonchalant, energetic, funny, sad, compassionate, happy, sarcastic, and so on. affected (unnatural): An affected delivery is generally used only for promos & trailers, broadcast & announcer reads, and character & animation scripts. This was not the case prior to the 1990s, when many sectors of voice over used affected style delivery.

voice over commercial market: 8% of voice over work is estimated to be commercial work. While the smaller portion of voice over, few jobs pay as well as a national television commercial. However most professional talent earn the majority of their income from narration work, as there is simply much more of it.

o o o o o

radio: commercial television: commercial PSA: public service announcement promo: promotional advertisement for television show trailer: promotional advertisement for movie

voice over narration market: 92% of voice over work is estimated to be narration work. Many voice over artists (as well as voice over recording studios) specialize in one or more types of narration voice over. For marketing purposes, their demos demonstrate their specialty, e.g.: an audiobook demo. And likewise, they market themselves to audiobook recording studios, audiobook casting professionals, and audiobook producers. As you read through the technique portions of this guidebook, begin thinking about the sectors of voice over that are the most marketable for you.

announcement: airports, stadiums, train stations, etc. audiobook: adult, children, self-help, best seller, classic, etc. Audiobooks are approximately a $1 billion per year industry, which is approximately 13% of the publishing industry. Amazingly, audiobooks reported a 5% growth in the industry last year, with similar growth projected for this year. Most bookstores now sell audiobooks, and most libraries rent them. Today there are even narrated weekly magazines and narrated daily newspapers. Self-help, teen, and non-fiction are some of the faster growing styles. Other popular styles include fiction, science fiction, romance, contemporary classic, children, and mystery. biography: celebrity, politician, etc. When most people think of biographies, they think only of the biography channel on cable television. However biograpahy voice over narrations are also popular for non-fiction audiobooks, educational films, and self guided museum tours. character & animation: talking toys, cartoons, childrens books, multimedia educational videos, video games, etc. * IMPORTANT * Many people mistakenly confuse the terms Character and Animation. A Character voice is representative of someone elses voice in other words, the voice talent mimics another voice, such as an accent, dialect, impersonation, and clich voice (such as a

New York cab driver). An Animation voice is one that is created to represent a being that does not naturally speak, such as a cartoon character, an animated movie, a talking toy, and so on. corporate (industrial): sales video, trade show exhibit, promotional material, new hire video, training tutorial, compliance video, etc. documentary: wildlife, country and people, natural disaster, childrens, etc. education & training: learning program, training film, CD-ROMs, childrens films, etc. In a society that promotes learning, self-help programs, on-line tutorials, Internet college classes, narrated textbooks, childrens education films, and adult continuing education, training programs are increasingly popular. film dubbing, ADR, looping: television, movie, international corporate training material, etc. Internet: website presentation, museum self-guided tour, banner ad, interactive tour, on-line tutorial, etc. Internet voice over appears to be the largest and fastest growing sector of voice over. In fact, many voice over artists and production companies estimate that Internet audio totals onequarter to one-half of their business. Types range from narrated banner ads, on-line tutorials, flash presentations, Welcome To Our Company presentations, interactive self-guided tours of college campuses, museums, and parks, etc. inspiration & exercise: self help, exercise video, meditation, etc. medical: training, procedural film, pharmaceutical, trade-show, display, etc. telephony: menu prompt, IVR, information on hold, auto attendant, etc. Telephony is any type of recorded voice over used for telephones. It is great because companies often re-hire the same voice over artist to update their system on a regular basis. The most popular styles or telephony are: Menu Prompt systems prompt the user through a menu of choices, such as, Please press 1 for sales, 2 for repair, 3 to IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems allow the user to speak with the pre-recorded voice. For example, an IVR recording may say, Please say operator, sales associate, or customer service. or, Please speak the last four digits of your social security number. or, Hmmmm Im sorry, I didnt understand. Please say IVR systems are replacing many menu-prompt

systems, and is quickly gaining widespread popularity. Voice Mail systems (also known as Auto Attendant systems) are used in most businesses to act as an assistant for the employee when they do not take the call, want a message recorded, or want a call transferred. Information On Hold is the ubiquitous type of telephony where the user hears information while they wait for the party to answer their call. For example, Thanks for your patience. While youre on hold, wed like to tell you about exciting offers. Be sure to ask your representative for more details. Thanks again for holding, well be right with you.

The voice over industry is growing quickly. Very quickly. Commercial voice over work grows as quickly as new television and radio stations are developed. Narration work continues to grow as businesses continue finding new ways for voice over to strengthen their brand, enhance their image, promote their products, and increase revenue, such as automated services, self-guided tours, recorded manuals, talking toys, self-help educational guides, audiobooks, online training films, narrated banner ads, talking birthday cards, and many, many more. In fact, just about every sector of the industry is growing rapidly. Following are four of the fastest growing sectors of voice over: audiobook Internet audio IVR (Interactive Voice Response) educational

While its roots go back to the early days of radio (early 1900s), voice over has only been a mainstream profession since the 1980s, and its only been a common household name since approximately the year 2000.


During its short life, there have been many transitions. And not everyone who speaks about voice over is up-to-date. Therefore many people speak about the voice over industry the way it was as opposed to the way it really is. Which makes it important to verify that any coach/voice over school that helps you is up-to-date. If they are not, any coaching, advice, and resources they offer, such as marketing questions and voice delivery technique, may not be beneficial. If trained by them, you may obtain less work and eventually require seeking additional guidance and training from someone who is up-to-date. As with anything, feel comfortable with whom you look to for advice. Confirm they are immersed in the industry; understand current trends, styles, and resources; and can offer useful guidance. During its short life, there have been many transitions. Here are some major changes: vocal style: has gone from dominantly announcer style to natural style details: In the early days of voice over, microphones were not as sophisticated as they are today, and did not pick up high frequencies, such as low volumes and female voices. Therefore male voices especially deep, strong ones were preferred. This strong announcer style delivery was also appropriate because groups of people would gather around a single radio to listen to a radio program together. Therefore, from the voice over artists perspective, a stronger tone was appropriate since he was projecting to a large group of people. Then between the 1960s and 1980s, three things changed that caused the voice over producer to typically request a conversational vocal delivery. First, as technology advanced, microphones were developed that could pick up natural voices. Second, more people listened to radio and television programs by themselves, making a natural, more intimate delivery preferred. In other words, the public generally prefers to be spoken to, as opposed to announced at. Third, narration work became more and more popular, and since this was not selling, a natural style vocal delivery was used. type of work: has gone from dominantly commercial work to narration work details: Originally, radio commercials were the brunt of the work. Then came along television commercials. Then came along a new type of voice over: narration. This style included educational and informational narrations. While the number of voice over commercials continue to increase every year, narrations now total approximately 92% of the industry. recording medium: has gone from analog recording to digital recording details: Practically every engineering function has changed with the advent of digital technology. Productions are now completed significantly faster while simultaneously


significantly more precise. With digital editing, voice talent can simply re-record a sentence, phrase, or even single word when they make a mistake, and the engineer can digitally edit it into the recording in place of the mistake. (This eliminates the necessity to re-record an entire passage.) Clients can request that engineers give them options, as engineers can easily offer multiple versions of a production, each with different music, sound effects, and/or mix. Recording studios are now inexpensive, portable, and higher in quality. Yet by far, most engineers will confirm that the greatest benefit of digital technology is the undo button. gender: has gone from dominantly male work to half female/half male work. details: As mentioned above, since early microphones did not pick up high frequencies, female voices were not used much. Plus since the feminist movement had not yet occurred in the early days of voice over, female voices were not used much. As microphone technology advanced, and as women began doing more professions that were considered male work, women began narrating more voice over work. Today, women narrate about half of the voice over jobs. Female voices are considered to be more believable than male voices. Male voices are considered more authoritative than female voices.


Chapter 3: Pre-Training
In this chapter:
whats in advancement: obstacles, obtaining producers expectations skills, time involved

1. natural is in As stated earlier, todays voice over producers generally prefer voice talent to use a natural and conversational vocal delivery. Therefore when a producer directs you to be natural and conversational, they want you to be you. Keep in mind, however, that we each have many natural deliveries. We can be sad, happy, funny, sarcastic, and so on, in natural conversation. Usually, it is one of your natural voices that the producer desires. * IMPORTANT * If the producer does not tell you which tone of voice to use, ask them. They will not be surprised that you ask, and may likely say, Oh sorry, I forgot to tell you what tone of voice we want. 2. what if you can create unnatural sounds? Can you do accents? Dialects? Sound like the other guy? In most cases, these will not get you work. This is because producers generally prefer to hire voice-talent who naturally has the voice type they require, as artificial dialects and accents rarely sound real. For example, if a producer needs to hire an elderly, British, female voice, they will hire an elderly, British, female woman. If the elderly, British, female voice over artist is not available, sometimes the script will be emailed to England where she is available, and the recording will be completed via phone-patch/ISDN. * IMPORTANT * Unless you are extraordinary at dialects, accents, and non-natural voices, we suggest to showcase only your natural voice(s) on your demo. 3. why is natural in? Producers desire natural deliveries because they are credible, and therefore the public responds better to them than they do affected ones.


This is why we estimate that 95% of voice overs use a natural delivery. Just 20 years ago, this was not the case. This is because the ubiquitous announcer style, which saw its demise in the late 1980s, was an affected, pushed, and projected style delivery. 4. if natural is 95% of the industry, why dont people notice it? Since natural voice overs are natural, they blend in and go by unnoticed. For example, most people never notice the voice over on a documentary (even though they hear the words). Nor do most people notice the voice over on national television commercials, training films at work, educational videos at school, and so forth. 5. why do people think of voice over as hard-sell style? Most people only notice the 5% of voice overs which are affected, as these stand out. Therefore when people think of voice over, they only recall hearing the affected hard-sell style and they assume that is what voice over is. 6. why do people think of voice over as commercial even though an estimated 92% is narration? Most affected voice overs occur in the commercial sector. And since people generally only notice the affected style deliveries, commercial is what they think of when they think of voice over. Conversely, people rarely notice the naturally delivered voice overs which occur in commercial AND narration sectors of voice over. To confirm this, ask someone to mimic a voice over. Chances are that theyll do a hard-sell style radio commercial even though this style is one of the least popular styles. 7. why is affected still heard? The affected, unnatural style delivery is still heard, albeit not too often, for a number of reasons. This style works well for promos, hard-sell commercials, and character/animation work. Sometimes affected voices are also heard because untrained voice-talent are used, such as the owner of a company narrating a commercial, a secretary narrating a companys telephone system, a local actor narrating a friends documentary, and so on.


1. can anyone do voice over?


No. As previously mentioned, voice over is about speaking naturally. And even though we use our natural voices all day, there is much more to voice over work than just talking. Some obstacles follow. 2. obstacles, remedies When one reads, several factors can make it difficult to sound natural. For example: Since we grew up noticing affected deliveries (and not noticing natural deliveries), we gravitate towards using it. To prevent this from happening, begin by listening carefully to natural voice overs, such as most national commercials, documentaries, telephone systems, training videos, and so on. Take note of how natural the voice is. In natural conversation, we produce complete thoughts before speaking them, and therefore our words flow together naturally. However when reading scripts, we tend to read words one at a time, and that lends itself to sounding stilted, choppy, and unnatural. To fix this, look ahead when reading in other words, always know whats coming up next. This way you are prepared for it. When were in the spotlight (in front of the microphone), it is instinctive to be over dramatic and theatrical. This is simple to remedy: pretend you are talking to one person. Since the voice over artist knows that millions of people may hear the recording, there is a tendency to project. To sound natural, remember that you are talking to one person as if they are right near you. (Remember that listening to voice over is generally a solitary activity - i.e.: you listen to radio commercials, documentaries, audiobooks, etc. by yourself.) The fear of the microphone not picking up our voice makes us speak louder. Yet like when you make a telephone call across the world, there is no reason to yell. Let the electronics do their job. The unnatural environment of wearing headphones in a soundproof room promotes the use of a projected voice. This simply takes time to get used to. Scripts are typically written differently than we speak. They are written in someone elses words and in the third person. Yet in natural conversation, we speak in our own words in the first person. Becoming a better reader compensates for this. A recording session can create nervousness, which creates an unnatural sound. Practice and confidence will correct this. 3. required skills Being a capable reader and having the good voice is just the beginning. To succeed, the following


skills are necessary: One needs a marketable voice. A marketable voice is one that is suitable for voice over work it does not necessarily mean that the voice is beautiful, sexy, or powerful. Today, most voices are marketable. Interestingly, the more mainstream the voice is, the more work there is available. Being adaptable and directable allows you to follow the producers directions accurately. Having good hearing allows efficient and effective communication with the producer, allows the voice talent to have input, and allows the talent to work from home studios (where they may need to be the producer as well as the voice talent). Being creative helps the production come to life, and impresses producers and casting agents. Non-inhibition is necessary it allows for vocal freedom which creates a credible character. An ability to remain calm during recording sessions, even when numerous confused producers give contradictory commands, is essential for getting the job done. Appearing professional signals experience and confidence. Appearing experienced (knowing microphone technique, etc.) puts confidence in the ears of the production team. Patience and dedication is a must, as your voice is not right for every part and it takes a while to build a large clientele. Success does not usually happen overnight. A non-attitude performance: to realize that it is not all about you, but rather you are just part of the bigger picture. A production will only be successful if every voice talent, the musicians, the sound-effect crew, the writers, the animators, the producers, the director, etc., work together as a team. And finally, being diligent and professional is key from marketing to work. 4. obtaining the skills Professional skills are generally best acquired with professional tools, including: professional guidebooks and workshops: its practically impossible to train yourself private coaching sessions: the best way to harness your personal strengths listening to and learning from professionals: both good or bad


experience * TIP * Every recording studio has a microphone and therefore has the potential to teach voice over and produce voice over demos. But unless they have a producer who truly understands the voice over industry, its unlikely that they can train you to sound like your professional competitors. 5. time required to reach your goals Face it: A voice over career doesnt happen overnight. (If it were that easy, everyone would do it.) Instead, one must practice, market, and be patient. Remember that the professionals, who make it sound simple, do exactly this. Learn from them. Numerous variables will dictate the time involved in reaching your goals: experience: Unnatural voice experience, such as radio broadcasting, stage acting, and some public speaking, etc., may require one to need additional time training. This is because skills will need to be unlearned before learning voice over. Conversely, some experience may make it easier to break in, such as reading for the blind, reading for children, counseling, singing, and on-camera acting. inhibition: One needs to be loose and carefree in front of the microphone. Inhibitions can be detrimental, as they can produce a stiff and unnatural sound. natural aptitude: Some people are naturals, some are not. diligence: Practicing is a key to breaking in. Therefore, the more you practice, the sooner you can enter the field. goals: Choosing to specialize in one genre of the voice over industry usually will require less schooling, as there are fewer styles to learn.

Overall, producers expect three main qualities in a voice over artist: professional business practices (promptness, courtesy, organized, etc.) proficient (vocal technique, aural awareness, creativity, etc.) an ability to sound as good as their demo (if you can not duplicate the quality of your demo, you are misrepresenting yourself when marketing your demo) Various sections of this guidebook will focus on these items.


Chapter 4: Training
In this chapter:
foundation: These short guidelines are the foundation to voice over delivery. basic training: This establishes proficient vocal technique and aural awareness, allowing for basic work in the industry.You will 1) gain technique to ensure control of your voice, allowing producers direction to be followed precisely, 2) learn how to employ technique reflexively, allowing your delivery to sound natural and confident, and simultaneously be executed quickly, and 3) be able to incorporate emotion, variety, creativity, and character into the otherwise technically perfect delivery. advanced training: This elevates and enhances vocal dynamics, and possibilities, expanding your range and marketability. practice tips and scripts: A must for practice to be beneficial. * IMPORTANT * All techniques presented are guidelines, not rules set in stone. As with any language, there are always exceptions. * IMPORTANT * Technique is taught in an important sequential order. We suggest only moving onto new sections once you have learned previous sections.

FOUNDATION In this section:

be natural the two delivery components composure tension free

Be natural Delivering voice over is generally about sounding natural. (There are exceptions.) It is therefore essential to understand what natural is. Natural is the appropriate voice for the given circumstance. Specifically, in every natural conversation, we reflexively adjust our speaking style to match our listener, our environment, and our intent. In a voice over recording session, the producers job is to determine what the natural voice is. It is then your job to use it.


The two delivery components There are two components used in voice over delivery: emotion and technique. These components must work in unison, helping each other, and forming one fantastic vocal-delivery. Emotion is the character you instill in your words, the feel, the acting portion of your delivery. * IMPORTANT * If you have wonderful emotion but no technique, producers will not hire you. This is because you may sound great doing it your way, but in this industry, you need to sound great doing it their way. Technique is the control you have of your delivery, your ability to follow producers direction. * IMPORTANT * If you have wonderful technique but no emotion, producers will not hire you. This is because you will sound robotic, unnatural, and stiff. Composure We estimate that having the right composure is 50% of sounding, and appearing, professional. Composure is made up of many traits, and they work for anyone looking to advance their voice over career. They include being: confident: Go for it. Do not be hesitant or reserved with your delivery. competent: Know your stuff. Be professional. Remember your training. comfortable: Be comfortable in front of the microphone, with producers, and with your own vocal delivery. Like youve done this a million times. The right composure makes all the difference. As you continue through this technique chapter, relax and have fun. Youll sound much better. Tension free Performing without tension is the other 50% of sounding professional (having the right composure (above) is the first 50%). In fact, reading without tension is, perhaps, the greatest technique voice-talent use. Tension, in the voice over industry, refers to vocal tension. Reading without tension means letting your mouth, throat, and voice box be loose. Let them work freely. Do not constrict them. This works well even when performing high-energy scripts. loose: Let your voice flow, use body language. Do not be stiff.


effortless: Let words come out without affectation. Without strain. have fun: Relaxthis is easy if you let it be easy. Do not try too hard. uninhibited: Have fun, let go, enjoy it. Do not be stilted.

BASIC TRAINING In this section:

the four vocal components inflection and pitch flowing naturally variety diction numbers, web addresses, and more emotion, character, tone

The four vocal components There are four components of the speaking voice: tone, volume, pitch, and tempo. In real life (natural conversation), we subconsciously use the appropriate amount of each one, given the circumstance and intent of our conversation. This changes for each conversation. When reading a voice over script, it is necessary to do the same. At recording sessions, members of the production team (the engineer, producer, scriptwriter, client, etc.) will generally tell you how they prefer the script read. They may suggest the appropriate tone of speech, the appropriate volume, the appropriate pitch range, and the appropriate tempo. They will work with you to help you find, and use, the correct combination of the four vocal components. Occasionally the production team will not tell you what vocal style they prefer, because they believe it is self-explanatory even though sometimes it is not. In this case, think about the purpose of the script: who the listener is, what the intent is, and so forth, and determine possible ways that the script could be narrated. Then ask the production team if they have any direction for you. Remember, no matter how talented you are, it is impossible to guess what the producer has in mindso always ask. For example, you may hire the best painter to paint your house, yet they cannot guess the color you prefer. * VERY IMPORTANT * Be sure to treat the four components independently from one another. In other words, when told to change one component, do not let the others change.


The four vocal components: 1. tone: Tone is the emotion of your voice. It is also known as the character, feeling, and the acting portion of your delivery. For example, everyone has a sad tone, a happy tone, a sarcastic tone, an angry tone, an enthusiastic tone, and so on. In fact, we have a different tone for every adjective in the dictionary. Unless your script requires tonal changes, your tone should remain consistent throughout the recording. In other words, if reading a happy script, remain happy throughout the entire script. This is like natural conversation, where we usually remain in the same tone until a new circumstance occurs. strong (ESPN promo): Its Major League Baseball like youve never seen before! nonchalant (commercial): Im here to tell you about an HMO program from HealthNet. soft (relaxation guide): Breathe in. Breathe out. And again. Now relax your body friendly (college interactive tour): Welcome to UCONN. In the next 15 minutes, you will * IMPORTANT * Be sure to not let tonal changes affect your pitch, tempo, and volume. For example, when told to increase enthusiasm, aspiring voice talent often get louder and faster. This is not good. In this situation, the producer may say, Well thanks for increasing your enthusiasm, but now your volume and speed are increased as welltry the read again, this time with the additional enthusiasm, but use the volume and speed that you had for the first read. 2. tempo: Tempo is the speed of your vocal delivery. Sometimes a faster tempo is necessary, sometimes a slower. However, in most conversations, our tempo changes. Therefore, scripts sometimes require tempo change. fast (promotional video): Stains and discoloration just disappear! As you see, this product mid (documentary): Here you see the speckled white owl. Notice how the wing span slow (television commercial): Luxurious. Inviting. Exhilarating. The all new M6 from BMW. * IMPORTANT * Be sure to not let tempo changes affect your pitch, tone, and volume. For example, when told to slow down, aspiring voice talent often, unconsciously, decrease their energy level. This is not good. In this situation, the producer may say, Well thanks for slowing down, but now your energy is gonetry the read again, this time just as slow but with the energy back in your voice. 3. volume: Volume is the loudness of your voice. Since most people listen to voice over by themselves (for example, you probably listen to radio commercials, audiobooks, documentaries, telephone systems, etc., by yourself), producers generally want you to use the same volume you would as if you were speaking to someone in real life. However there are times when louder and


softer volumes are appropriate. It is important that your volume remains consistent throughout the recording; that is unless volume changes are required. If your volume changes, it may be difficult for the recording engineer to record you, as your levels will be inconsistent. This is like a photographer trying to take a picture of you while you move closer and farther from the camera. loud (car dealer commercial): But hurry, these prices are in effect for a limited time only. mid (computer training tutorial): Next, hit the forward button to return to the main menu. low (commercial): Sensual colors for sensual lips. Revlon introduces * IMPORTANT * Be sure to not let volume changes affect your pitch, tone, and tempo. For example, when told to lower volume, aspiring voice talent tend to let their energy level decrease and their tempo slow down. This is not good. In this situation, the producer may say, Great. Your volume is now perfect, but you need to bring your energy and tempo back to where they were before you lowered your volume. 4. pitch: Pitch is the musical note of your speaking voice. It is also referred to as the tune, and octave of your voice. The music scale, Do, re, mi, fa, so, le, ti, do covers a full range (octave) of pitch, beginning in a low pitch and ending in a high pitch. The bottom pitch (the first Do in the musical scale) is known as your base pitch. Unless you are emphasizing a word, you will generally hover around this note. Find your base pitch by going to sing the musical scalebut stopping before the second note, by sticking out your tongue and saying, Ahhh (like you are at the doctors), or by holding out your hands in a classic meditational pose and saying, Ummmm. The range between your lowest pitch and highest pitch is called your pitch range and also known as your dynamic range. For example, if you speak in a monotone, you are using a limited dynamic range. If your voice is bouncy, or sing-songy, or up-and-down, or like a roller-coaster, then you are using a large dynamic range. Determining the appropriate pitch range is essential, and is up to you and the production team. large dynamic range (childrens story): This is the amazing tale of Hubert and Frog! mid (telephone system): Press 9 to hear these options again. small (commercial): We care about you and your loved ones. Were Aetna. * IMPORTANT * Be sure to not let pitch changes affect your tempo, tone, and volume. For example, when told to increase highs and lows, aspiring voice talent most often become louder, stronger, and faster as well. This is not good. In this situation, the producer may say, Great. Your range is great, but everything needs to be brought down. Note: A higher pitch range also suggests distance. This is because loud voices are naturally high in


pitch. Therefore the higher the pitch used while reading, the farther away you will appear. This is an important technique, as if a producer needs you to sound loud, you can simply raise your pitch (instead of raising your volume, which will hurt your throat and could be difficult to record from the engineers perspective). To demonstrate, read the following example in a normal low pitch, and then again in a high pitch. Notice that in the higher pitch, it appears farther away. Attention shoppers. Im on top of this building with an important message! IN SUMMARY: Your job is to (generally) sound natural and that means duplicating a natural way of speaking. Therefore once the producer helps you establish the appropriate voice (the appropriate amount of each component), your volume and tone should stay consistent only your pitch and tempo should change. This duplicates how we speak in real life.

Inflection and pitch Inflection is the upward and downward pitch movement throughout a word. In natural conversation, we continually, and unconsciously, change pitch to modify emphasis. If we didnt, we would sound monotone. Like every natural conversation, each voice over script requires a specific amount of pitch range. If the vocal delivery should be enthusiastic, engaging, excited, and so forth, a wide dynamic range (pitch range) is appropriate (from low notes to high notes). If the vocal delivery should be soothing, sensual, compassionate, and so forth, a small dynamic range (pitch range) is appropriate (from low notes to slightly higher notes). Following are two inflection patterns, called emphasis and de-emphasis. Both are used in everyday, natural speech and therefore should also be used in voice over. It is essential that voicetalent understand them and learn when and how to use them on command for two reasons. First, using an appropriate inflection pattern is critical for allowing scripts to sound natural. Second, it is typical for a producer to point out words in a script that need certain types of inflection. * VERY IMPORTANT * Remember that voice over delivery should generally sound like natural conversation. Therefore, like natural conversation, when changing your pitch during your vocal delivery, your volume (loudness) and tone (emotion) should not change. In other words, stay in character. emphasis: Emphasizing a word (raising pitch on a word) does three things: o makes the word stand out o makes the word declarative o signals the end of a thought


Most commonly, producers ask you to emphasize a word to make it stand out. In fact, this is one of the most common directions producers give. Producers rarely use the word emphasis, and instead use synonyms. They may ask you to hit the word, or punch the word, or stress, color, goose, milk, accent the word, etc. They all mean the same thing. Producers may even say things like, This is the money wordbe sure to nail it. This guidebook will use hitting and hit to designate emphasis. To properly hit a word, simply raise your pitch on the accent syllable of the word. Sound confusing? If you do not think about it, you will most likely hit the word correctly, since you hit words correctly in natural conversation all the time without thinking about it. And note that like natural conversation, your volume and tone should not increase when hitting words. Newcomers to voice over often: o o forget to hit words that should be hit incorrectly hit words (they raise volume and/or strengthen tone instead of raising pitch)

Practice hitting the following words. Remember that the pitch should be raised on the accented syllable, not on the entire word. Also remember that the volume and tone should remain consistent. elephant (the first syllable should be raised in pitch) rhinoceros (the second syllable should be raised in pitch) Note that when hitting a word with one syllable, the beginning of it is generally hit. car (the c should be raised in pitch) Following is list of instances where hitting is appropriate. These rules generally follow a natural vocal pattern: a. Hit words that the scriptwriter highlights, italicizes, or underlines.
(radio commercial) At Hampton Toyota, we always (education video) In this tutorial, you will learn five ways to

have the lowest prices. increase your real-estate assets.

If the scriptwriter does not highlight words, the voice over artist has liberty to decide which words to hit. * TIP * Do not argue with the producer about the words they request that you hiteven if you are


sure that a different word should be hit instead. b. One of the first words of every phrase and sentence should be hit - this grabs the attention of the listener. Try reading this Welcome to our company video, first without any emphasis youll find that your delivery is monotone and boring. Then re-read the sentence many times, each time hitting a different word now youll find that your delivery is interesting. If the script is: Benefit from our experience...the James Company. try: Benefit from our experience...the James Company. or: Benefit from our experience...the James Company. or: Benefit from our experience...the James Company. etc. c. Descriptive words should be hit. These include adjectives, modifiers, and any word that clarifies the point.
(television commercial) The Subaru Outback, the fastest 4-wheel drive car available. (telephony system) Thanks for holding. While on hold, wed like to tell you about exciting offers...

d. Action verbs should be hit. These are words that direct the listener, define the subject, and help the listener know what to do.
(radio commercial)

Now you can prevent your clogs from clogging with new Liquid Plumber Drain Cleaner. Next, choose a topic, wait for the picture, and then press the go button.

(training tutorial)

Notes: In the first example, many aspiring voice talent would emphasize clogs, as that is what the commercial is about. However the commercial is about preventing clogs. In fact, emphasizing clogs showcases the negativethe thing the listener wants to get rid of. Hitting prevent suggests a positive solution. Also if youre like most people, you paused between clogging and with in the first example. This pause in not necessary and creates a choppy sound. Try again without the hesitation your read will likely sound smoother. e. Hit key words, such as client names, products, subjects. Key words must be hit so that the listener knows which words are important. This is akin to product names (Pepsi, Microsoft, Lexus, etc.) being in bigger letters on packaging, billboards, and magazine advertisements. * IMPORTANT * Newcomers often forget that keywords, even when articulated clearly, most likely will not stand out unless they are hit. This is because those words will not be unique. Plus they may be covered by background music and sound effects.


(radio commercial) The NRX from Acura, now with a leather interior standard. (instructional video) Thanks for purchasing the Soft-Strider treadmill from Icon Health.

In this

video It is not necessary to hit a keyword every time it appears in a script, as that would be redundant. After hitting the key word once, different words may be hit.
(radio commercial) Its Macys 50% storewide sale! So at Macys, save half on every purchase. (documentary) The Mayan were a civilized culture. In fact, all Mayan children remained in school

until 14 years of age, when they Some keywords are made up of two words combined. In this case, treat the key phrase as one word, and hit the word you would in natural conversation. In this example, hit the first word in each key phrase without hitting the second word in each key phrase.
(instructional manual)

This audio-manual discusses the sound system and air conditioning of your new car.

f. Hit the ends of phrases. Hitting the end of a phrase signals the end of a thought. And since we do this in natural conversation, it is necessary to do when reading voice over scripts, as the goal is to sound natural. Unfortunately, new-comers often drop the pitch at the ends of phrases. Dropping the ends, as it is known, sounds unnatural and is the surest indicator that you are reading. (Just listen to a telemarketer.) Practice hitting the ends of these phrases.
(radio commercial)

Its the sale of a were open Monday through Friday. You have now entered the gallery. First notice the statue on your left. It is of

(museum self-guided tour)

When the word at the end of a phrase has previously been emphasized, it does not need to be hit again. In the following example, since money is hit at the end of the first phrase, it doesnt need to be hit at the end of the second phrase.
(television commercial)

Filenes has always saved you money, and now they can save you more money.

g. Multiple keywords in a row. When multiple keywords are in a row, each should be hit. Pivoting is a technique that makes hitting multiple words in a row easier.


A pivot connects two words via a low pitch. For example, recall Ed McMahon announcing Heres Johnny! on the Tonight Show. Notice that while the h in here and the jo in Johnny are high in pitch, the letters between them blend together in a low pitch. Generally when two words in a row need to be hit, use a pivot. Practice with these examples. Make sure that both key words are hit and make sure to use a low pitch between the hit words.
(telephony system) Thank you for choosing AT&T. (television commercial) The Honda Accord, now driving in a town near you. (corporate video) Welcome to Advantage Technologies, and to the beginning of a wonderful,



de-emphasis: De-emphasizing a word does two things: o makes a word a question o signals that there is more to follow Industry terms for de-emphasizing are inverting, swooping upwards, up-talk, and questioning. This guidebook will use inverting to designate de-emphasis. We de-emphasize words in natural conversation to signal a question or that there is more to follow. We do this by raising the pitch at the end of the word (said otherwise, the words accented syllable is lower in pitch). Note that hitting and inverting are opposites. Practice inverting the following word. united Not sure if you did it correctly? By adding a question mark to the end, you will probably invert it correctly. united? Following is list of instances where words are naturally inverted: a. When making a question, the last word of the phrase should generally be inverted. In the following examples, notice how the last word is inverted.
(television commercial) Did (childrens education game) Youre

you hear about the One-Day Super Sale? right do you know what button to press next?

b. Series of items are generally inverted in natural conversation, as they signal that there are more items to follow. Note, however, that unless the phrase ends with a question mark, the last


item is generally hit this is because it signals the end of the list. Read the following sentence out loud. Notice that each item is inverted (signaling more to follow), except for the last item, which is hit (signaling the end).
(radio commercial)

Hurry in, because were giving away free sunroofs, satellite radios, and tire

upgrades to the first 100 people! (EMT training film) Your training kit includes bandages, gauze, and braces. c. Exceptions. There are instances when a word should be hit, even though it would be natural to invert it. When speaking a key phrase in natural conversation, we naturally tend to invert (uptalk) the first word and hit the second word. However in voice over delivery, the first word of a key phrase should often be hit (not inverted). For example, read the following example naturally. Youll probably invert united (as it signals that the word bank is to follow) and hit bank (as it signals the end). The problem with this is that now, only the word bank is emphasized. However since both words are keywords, both should be hit. In other words, make sure united AND bank are hit. The easiest way to hit both words is to use a pivot (which was discussed previously). United Bank To better illustrate the last example, think about this. If United Bank was advertising in a magazine, both words would be emphasized in big letters. However, if United Banks advertisement was written the way we naturally speak, only the word bank would be emphasized and the magazine reader would only see bank. Therefore, it is necessary to hit both words even though it feels unnatural. When reading a list of items in a formal or educational script, each item should generally be hit, even though it is natural to invert it. For example, in the following example, three amenities are listed. If spoken naturally, airconditioning and leather would be inverted (signaling that there is more to follow). However air conditioning would be hit (signaling the end). If the producer desires a sophisticated delivery, each word should be hit.
(television commercial) The Lexus comes with air-conditioning, leather, and a sunroof. (welcome package) As a new Citibank member, you will enjoy 24-hour customer service, grace

period payoffs, and bonus points. * TIP * When attempting to hit numerous words in a row, it may be difficult to hit each one (as we are used to inverting each word). A simple technique is to pretend that there is a period


after each item. For example,

(television commercial) The Lexus comes with air-conditioning. Leather. And a sunroof. (welcome package) As a new Citibank member, you will enjoy 24-hour customer service. Grace

period payoffs. And bonus points. Remember that that when reading a script that requires an informal delivery, each item should generally be inverted. This is because the sentence is supposed to sound 100% natural. In the following example, invert each item (uptalk):
(television commercial)

My wife nearly killed me for buying a Lexus, but after I told her it had airconditioning, leather, and a sunroof, she nearly fainted.

Flowing naturally In natural conversation, we speak spontaneously. We continuously adjust our pitch, timing, volume, and tone to reveal our thoughts. We umm. We use contractions. We use colloquialisms. All of these unconscious spoken characteristics allow our words to flow together, which in turn makes us sound natural. Sounding natural will allow you to appear credible to the listener. If a voice over artist sounds unnatural, as if she is reading, she will not appear credible. Subsequently, the listener may not listen. Unfortunately, untrained voice over artists tend to use an unnatural flow when reading scripts, basically for two reasons. First, most scripts (like most written English) are different from spoken English in that they do not contain voice characteristics. Second, untrained voice over artists intuitively read in a choppy and disconnected way. Following are techniques that help the script flow together more naturally. Remember, since these techniques are generally followed in natural conversation, speaking to the microphone as if it were a friend is a great trick for ensuring a natural flow. Connect sounds together. Though we connect words in natural conversation that end and begin with the same sound, we often hesitate between these words when reading voice over. This causes a choppy and disconnected sound. In the following example, pronounce the st once between the words best and stuff: If the script is: Snapple...made from the best stuff on earth. it should be read as: Snapple...made from the bestuff on earth.


Connect words beginning with vowels, instead of pausing before them. In natural conversation, we generally connect our words together, even when they begin with a vowel. However, when reading, we are inclined to pause before words that begin with vowels. This is known as a glottal stop. A glottal stop is caused by having too much vocal tension when reading a word beginning with a vowel (as untrained voice over artists tend to do). Therefore, try to use as little tension as possible when reading (unless the script requires tension). Glottal stops are more prevalent with words that begin with a and e, and they make a delivery sound choppy and unnatural. Note: an exception to the glottal stop is a dramatic pause, which will be discussed later. Practice reading the following sentence without pausing before words that begin with vowels. In other words, blend all the words together as if they were one long word. For practice, try emphasizing words that begin with vowels without pausing before them, and instead, raising the pitch on them.
(radio commercial) JC Penney always has every item on sale. (business documentary) Since 1992, the American Airlines name has been in nearly

every airport

around the world. Use contractions when the script is informal, as they will make your delivery sound more natural. For example, turn do not into dont. One difficult thing about making a script flow together naturally is that many scriptwriters are English majors and therefore do not use contractions. But since producers often prefer a natural delivery, they sometimes expect the voice over artist to turn contractible words into contractions. If you are unsure what the producer may want, ask. Following is an informal script, where contractions would be desired: If the script is: At Toyota, you will love what we are all about. it probably should be read as: At Toyota, youll love what were all about. * TIP * When reading a formal script, keeping words un-contracted may be desired. Mercedes Benz...we are the best. Mercedes Benz...were the best. Use body language (body and facial gestures). You may think the listener wont hear the difference, but they will. In real life, we rely on body language and facial gestures to help us communicate our thoughts more concretely. If we spoke without body language and facial


gestures, we would sound stiff and contrived. Therefore, these should be used during recording. Ironically, inexperienced voice over artists often do not use body language and facial gestures when recording, as they feel that they will look unprofessional moving all about in front of the microphone. The irony is that act of not using these movements is what makes them appear inexperienced. * TIP * When you are conscious of using body language, it will feel odd. Practice will remedy this. Read laterally. This is a reading technique that allows unrehearsed scripts (called cold copy) to be read stumble-free, and more naturally sounding. And since it is common for a voice over artist to receive the script just moments before recording it (having no time to rehearse), reading laterally is an essential reading tool. To read laterally, your eyes remain 2 or 3 words ahead of the word that you are reading out loud. Thus you always see what is coming up next and can be prepared for it. For example, If the script is: That is a car? And you were not reading laterally, you may have read it like this: That is a car. Then after reading the word car would you have realized it should have been read with the inflection of a question. By then, it is too late. It takes a while to learn this technique. But once its mastered, even the most difficult cold copy can be read smoothly, continuously, and flawlessly. Remember that 92% of voice over work is narration (e.g., a 12 hour audiobook, a one-hour documentary). It is therefore virtually impossible to review and memorize this amount of text prior to recordingtherefore learning how to read cold copy is essential. Only when a script is short (e.g., a tag) will you likely be able to review and memorize the text prior to recording. By the way, like reading laterally, we (unconsciously) do many other things laterally in life. We: speak laterally: We map out complete sentences and ideas in our heads before saying them out loud. For example, imagine you are about to say something, and then someone abruptly tells you to be quiet. Even though you have not spoken a single word yet, you know every word that you were about to say. This is because you thought laterally. By thinking laterally, we speak smoothly, not choppily.


walk laterally: If we looked straight down at our feet while walking, we would bump into things. But because we look ahead, we walk smoothly because we are prepared for the next thing. If we didnt look ahead, we would walk choppily. drive cars laterally: Our eyes are generally a few seconds ahead of where our car is. This way, we are prepared for the next obstacle, such as a stop sign or pothole. If we didnt look ahead when driving, we would see the obstacle at the last moment and therefore would not have time to prepare for it. Thus, we would drive choppily, not smoothly. The reason that reading laterally does not come naturally to us is because many children are taught to read out loud, sequentially that is, focusing on one word at a time. While this eliminates most mistakes, it also makes us sound unnatural. To be a good reader, you must be able to read even the most wordy scripts smoothly, naturally, and with few stumbles. Practice with this example: Practice reading laterally with these sentences (if you read ahead, youll read them correctly the first time): To demonstrate the power of Tide, well challenge the other leading brand. To demonstrate, the power of Tide will challenge the other leading brand. To demonstrate the power, Tide will challenge the other leading brand. To demonstrate, the powder of Tide will challenge the other leading brand.

Variety If you can bore someone in a 30-second commercial, think what would happen if they fell asleep listening to an audiobook while driving their car... Crash! In spontaneous conversation, we do not simply say words. To keep our conversation interesting and entertaining, we add variety to our words. Learning how to add vocal variety to scripts even boring ones is an art that must be mastered by voice talent. Another reason it is necessary to learn how to add variety to your delivery, is because producers often ask for multiple takes of the script meaning they want you to narrate multiple versions of the same script. Assuming each of your deliveries is different, the producer has different options to choose from, and can then choose their favorite version. Often, after listening to all your takes, the producer may ask for a combination of some. For example, Please read again I like the speed of take two but the energy level of take four.


By memorizing the following types of variety, youll be able to impress your clients. 4 ways to add variety:

1. Use pitch variation to expand your dynamic range and hit different words. By hitting different words, a great amount of variety can be introduced into your delivery. In the first example, hit the words shopping and could. Then re-read the example, this time hitting the words direct and more. Try every combination. Then do the same for the second example. Remember: Unless the scriptwriter highlights words for you, you have liberty to choose which words to hit. And often, the producer may want to hear different permutations, in order to decide which they prefer.
(television commercial) By (information-on-hold) Did you know you

shopping direct, you could save more money! can request certificate rewards? Just ask when we return.

2. Use dramatic pauses to add variety to your read. Dramatic pauses are also called a beat or frame. For example, a producer will say, Give me a beat before that word. Dramatic pauses also help emphasize the following word. In other words, instead of hitting a word to emphasize it, insert a pause (space) before it. Whether you use a dramatic pause to add variety or to emphasize the following word, be sure that the pause is not too long, or it will sound too dramatic. In the following example, add a dramatic pause after not. Then try a dramatic pause after unless. Try a dramatic pause everywhere. To be very creative, imagine that there are four burger restaurants in town (Burger Palace, Burger Works, Burger Central, and Burger King), and therefore to distinguish which restaurant you are speaking about, insert a dramatic pause before King. Experiment with the second example as well.
(television commercial) A burger is not a burger, unless its from Burger King. (self-help audiobook) Great- now that youve mastered chords, your next guitar lesson is


3. Elongate words to add variety to your delivery. Elongating words also adds emphasis, and therefore this technique is especially useful on keywords and descriptive words. Sometimes, elongating a word is called opening up the word and lengthening and stretching the word. Elongating a word is simple. Simply stretch the vowel on the accented syllable of the word. Make


sure the word is not overly elongated, or it will sound theatrical. In both of the following examples, just about every word can be elongated experiment stretching each one. Just be sure not to elongate more than one or two words within the same sentence, as that generally sounds theatrical and redundant. The 200 horsepower, very stylish, 2007 Camry, with an interior like youve never seen before. Only from Toyota. (yoga breathing course) Breathe in. Breathe out. Now relax your shoulders, letting go of all tension from within your body.
(television commercial)

Elongation is extra useful on short key words. By slightly elongating the word, this technique gives the listener more time to hear it. For example, read the following sentence twice. Do not elongate the oo in Coors the first time, and slightly elongate it the second time youll hear how much more clear the word is the second time.
(television commercial)

Up here in the mountains...we love Coors Beer.

4. Vary the tempo of your words, as this adds variety. In natural conversation, we continually vary our tempo even within a single sentence. Doing the same for script reading will make your delivery sound more natural while adding variety. In these examples, read the first half of the sentence slowly and the second half quickly. Then reverse it. (public service announcement) For just dollars a day, youll help feed hungry children.
(tutorial) Be

aware of pitch-dynamics, and keep the copy interesting.

Avoid repetitiveness. A repetitive vocal pattern is a word or group of words that follow the same intonation (pitch). If used, your delivery will sound boring. Here are two situations where patterns should be avoided.

1. Avoid phrase patterns. Notice that the end of this sentence consists of two similar phrases: know their stuff and buy their stuff. Instead of having both their stuffs read with the same intonation, add variety so that they sound different from each other. Do the same for the second example.
(commercial) (corporate training)

The Home Depot...where people who know their stuff, buy their stuff.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to answer customers questions, save your answers, and log them into the database.

2. Avoid repetitive hitting. When a key word appears more than once, it may not be necessary to hit each time. In the first example, Macys appears numerous times in the script. If it is read the same way every time, it will be redundant - therefore, read it differently each time. For example, hit it the first time, invert it the second time, etc. Do the same for the second example.



At Macys, we strive to save you money. So now at Macys, get up to 50% off. Plus receive a free Macys scratch-off card for more savings! (dentist video) And that is why flossing is so important. So remember, floss first thing every morning, floss after each meal, and floss before going to bed.

Lists. As noted earlier, a list is a group of words or items in series with each other. Each item on a list should generally be read differently, otherwise the list will sound repetitive. One way to add variety to a list is called the ladder technique this is where each item goes one step higher in pitch. Another way to add variety is to vary inflection by alternating hitting and inverting words. A third way is to completely vary your pitch, in other words, hit each item at a different pitch.

At the J.C.Penny one-day, super-day-sale, save 30% on mens clothing, 40% on womens clothing, and up to an amazing 50% on kids clothing! (parenting video) So remember these five steps to good communication: listen, understand, believe, console, and suggest.

* IMPORTANT * When reading a list that is accompanied by a visual (like the examples below), a dramatic pause (beat) is often necessary between each item. This allows time for the visual to change for each item, and therefore gives the viewer time to see each item before the next item appears.
(television commercial)

This Lexus comes with air-conditioning, power windows, anti-lock brakes, and a CD player. (documentary) In this region, several animals live freely, including the White Spotted Tiger, the Rheingold Kangaroo, the Gray Falcon, and the Desert Toad.

Diction Every natural conversation requires a different level of articulation. It depends upon our listener, our environment, and our intent. Sometimes we speak formally (enunciate words clearly) other times we speak informally (colloquially). The voice-talents job is to determine how formally or informally the script should be, and then deliver the script accordingly. In other words, pronounce words as they are spoken in genuine conversation, and then tailor them to match the formality of the script. For example, scripts that will be heard by an international population should generally be more clear, as many of these listeners may not speak your langauge as their mother tongue. For


example, language tutorials, museum guided tours, international ailrine videos, and so forth. Yet a local bank commercial in a small suburban location, that is advertising to the local population, should generally be more colloquial. This is more difficult than it appears. Following are some reasons why: Most voice-talent tend to over-enunciate, with the intent of sounding extra clear. This often sounds unnatural and, in many situations, is not preferred by producers. Scriptwriters often write scripts formally without using contractions, colloquialisms, etc and yet expect the voice-talent to read the script with contractions and colloquialisms. A producer may ask the voice-talent to get rid of all colloquialisms...yet sound natural. Scripts are often written in the third person, yet we naturally speak in the first person.

Exercises: The following scripts should be read formally, as they need to be clear and/or may be heard by foreigners.
(television commercial)

Compassion and trust qualities you can expect from Aetna Insurance. Your seat may be used as a flotation device in the unlikely even of an inflight emergency.

(American Airlines video)

These following scripts should be read informally, as the need to be natural and conversational.
(radio commercial) At B.K.s, were all about great taste! (information-on-hold) Thanks for calling Milford Bank, your hometown bank. Were

glad youre calling

and will pick up shortly. Regardless of the amount of formality required in your delivery, there are a few general diction guidelines that apply for most every script. a. Pronounce the with a soft e, and pronounce the word a with a soft a. This is how we generally say these words in natural conversation. Unfortunately, when reading scripts, we often use hard vowels as we feel over-enunciating is a good thing. Ironically, this is the one of the biggest indicators that we are reading. Practice reading the following examples incorrectly (with hard vowels), and then correctly (with soft vowels). Notice how much more natural they sound with soft vowels.

The deal of a lifetime!



The gorilla is a mammal that lives in the forest.

Exception: when the word following the begins with a vowel, the should be pronounced with a strong e.

The experts at Miller Ford offer the experience you need!


The iguana is found over a large geographic area, from Mexico to southern Brazil, to the islands of the Caribbean.

b. Articulate wordy words clearly enough for the listener to understand them. Remember that it is often difficult to notice a slurred word, as the script in front of you and therefore you know what to expect. Also remember that the listener often hears background music behind your voice over, making it more difficult to distinguish slurred words. So think about the listener. Ensure that your delivery is clear enough for them. To pronounce a challenging word, break the word up into separate syllables and pronounce (and concentrate on) each one individually. For example, if particularly is difficult to pronounce, pronounce it with a space between each syllable, like this: particularly Then, connect the syllables, while still concentrating on each one individually: particularly Here are some common words that are difficult to pronounce: probably, regularly, particularly, digital, citizen, costs, desktop, general, temperature, government, environment, perspective, hospital, nuclear, Internet, espresso c. Articulate wordy phrases (tongue twisters) clearly, as this allows the listener to understand the phrase. Wordy phrases are those in which similar words and sounds are connected. Wordy phrases often occur because the scriptwriter focuses more on the content than on the voicetalents delivery. Ironically, each word of a wordy phrase can be articulated clearly and easily on its own. The challenge is connecting the words clearly. To read a wordy phrase clearly, first break the phrase up into separate words and pronounce (and concentrate on) each one individually. For example, if the following sentence is difficult to read, pronounce each word with a space between it, like this:


ItstheOneDaySuperSaleatSears,startingthisSaturdayat7am! Then, connect the words while still concentrating on each word individually: Its the One-Day Super Sale at Sears, starting this Saturday at 7am! Tongue twisters are great to use for practice. Here are some useful ones: Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches? Sally sells seashells by the seashore. d. Do not over-articulate, or your delivery will sound contrived and unnatural. While it may seem obvious to pronounce every sound very clearly, it is more important that the delivery sounds natural. Following are words that are often over-articulated: effective (The first e should be soft, not hard.) often (The t should not be pronounced.) vegetable (The et should not be pronounced.) e. Determine how formal / informal the pronunciation should be, and adjust accordingly. Use your discretion. For example, sometimes the letter t should be pronounced, and sometimes it should not. INFORMAL: In the commercial below: do not pronounce the t in mountain. In the promotional video below, do not pronounce the t in out and the second t in Internet.
(commercial) Up here in the mountains, we love Coors Beer. (promotional video) So check us out we offer the fastest way to the Internet!

FORMAL: In the commercial below, pronounce the t in commitment and Vincent. In the documentary below, pronounce the t in mountain.
(commercial) Service and commitmentwhat you expect from St. Vincent (documentary) The Atlas Mountains stand over 13,000 feet high.


f. Words with multiple pronunciations often occur in scripts. When deciding which pronunciation to use, the rule of thumb is to use the dictionarys first phonetic pronunciation, as that is the way the majority of people pronounce it. Here are examples:


interesting: pronounce in-trest-ing, not in-ter-est-ing comfortable: pronounce comfter-ble, not com-fort-able February: pronounce feb-u-ary, not feb-ru-ary * TIP * Sometimes different pronunciations of a word are equally acceptable. In these cases, the producer has final say of which version will be used. Sometimes, the producer may ask to hear both versions to help them choose. Once decided, it is necessary to remain consistent throughout the entire script (in other words, pronounce the word the same way each time). Following are examples. finances: fuh-naan'-sehs, phi-naan'-sehs, or phi'-naan-sehs details: dih-tayls', or dee'-tayls data: day'-teh, or dah'-teh envelope: ehn'-veh-lohp, or ahn'-veh-lohp g. The use of contractions is generally preferred in informal scripts. For example: You know when it is hotI grab a cold 7UP. should be read like this: Ya know when its hot, I grab a cold 7UP. h. Lazy mouth is a vocal occurrence where undesired sounds are enunciated before hard consonants. For example, the mmm sound is often vocalized before the word bye. (If you havent noticed people saying mmm-bye, pay attention for ityoull be sure to hear it.) Unfortunately, while lazy mouth is a very common, it is usually not preferred by producers. Therefore learning how to rid yourself of it is smart. There are 3 common occurrences of lazy mouth, they are: o m sounds before words beginning with b: say: Brought to you by Aetna. instead of: mmm-Brought to you by Aetna. o n sounds before words beginning with j say: JC Penney introduces their one-day sale. instead of: nnn-JC Penny introduces their one-day sale. o n sounds before words beginning with d say: Duracell batteries are the most trusted battery. instead of: nnn-Duracell batteries are the most trusted battery. To rid lazy mouth from your vocal delivery, read one of the above exercises while exaggerating lazy mouth (in other words, read the example very incorrectly). While articulating the lazy mouth


sound, notice the position of your tongue and mouth. Then read the same example again with a smaller occurrence of lazy mouth. Then read again with no lazy mouth. Now you should have the ability to notice when lazy mouth appears in your narration, as well as the talent to correct it.

numbers, web addresses, and more Numbers are a big part of voice over delivery, as many scripts contain them. Thus knowing what to do with them is crucial. The following examples will prepare you for most scripts. Many numbers can be read in different ways. When numbers are present in your script, do not stop and ask the producer how they prefer them delivered. Instead go with your gut instinct. This way, you have a good chance of reading them the way the producer prefers it (thus eliminating an edit for the engineer!). This is because the producer typically desires voicetalent to read numbers the way you would speak them naturally. (Why else would they hire you?) Remember, the rule of thumb is to go with your gut instinct instead of stopping the recording and asking the producer how they prefer it. The following numbers can be read in multiple ways: o o o Call us at 203-334-3343 Call 2 zero 3 or Call 2 oh 3. You can win $100! win a hundred bucks! or win one hundred dollars! This Ford pick-up comes with a 350 horsepower engine. a 300 and 50 hp engine or a 3-50 hp engine or a 300-50 hp engine

Telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, website addresses, etc., should be delivered clearly. However since voice-talent often memorize this information during the recording session, they tend to read it too fast for the listener to retain. (Think of how annoying it is when someone leaves their telephone number too quickly on your voice-mail.) Read clearly remembering that the listener does not know the information. For a phone number, the proper technique is to pause after the area code and prefix. These pauses are usually very short. For example: Read: Call us at 1-800-123-4567. Like this: Call us at 18001234567.


Notice that it is not necessary to pause after the first digit, 1. However telephone numbers often need to be read quickly (due to timing). In this case, instead of pausing between the three sections, begin each section of the telephone number at a different pitch, as this helps differentiate the various sections. When telephone numbers spell words, the voice-talent should generally say the word, as opposed to spelling it out. This is because a word is normally easier to remember than the individual letters. In the rare instance the producer wants the word spelled out, she will generally use dashes between each letter. In the following example, say the word shoe-town the first time, and spell it out the second time: Call us 1-800-shoe-town. Thats 1-800-s-h-o-e-t-o-w-n. Most menu-prompt (voice-menu) systems require that numbers be read very clearly. This means your delivery should be highly articulate. Also since menu-prompt systems deliver sequential numbers, producers typically ask you to record each number with three different inflections. Then by alternating the inflections upon playback, the sound is less repetitive and is instead more natural (human-like). For example, if the computer needs to announce: The number is 123-456-7890. The 1 will have upwards inflection, the 2 straight inflection, the 3 downwards inflection, etc. A typical menu-prompt script looks like this: Read the following, each with upwards, straight, and downwards inflections: digits 0 though 9 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 hundred thousand Read the following with downwards inflection only: and the number is Im sorry, I did not understand. Please enter the number again. You pressed Press 1 if correct


Press 2 if incorrect Emotion, Character, Tone In real life, we consciously, and subconsciously, display different vocal emotions by changing the way we deliver our words. In fact, it is not atypical to exhibit hundreds of different emotions each day. Emotions range from happy to sad, strong to timid, energetic to tired, melodramatic to nonchalant, sarcastic to humble, etc. In the voice over industry, an emotion is often referred to as a tone of voice. Sometimes, it is called the delivery, or character. A producer may request a happy tone, a sincere tone, and so forth. In voice over recording sessions, producers request a tone (intended emotion) for your delivery. Since every script requires a different tone, the more versatile your delivery is, the more voice over work you can obtain. Ostensibly, this should be easy, seeing that most characters are used in daily life. However getting into character is a challenge for some. * IMPORTANT * Common errors voice-talent make are: not thinking before reading. In other words, they do not use the appropriate character, or they take too long to find it, or they lose the character while reading. The best way to establish the character is to lose all inhibitions. In other words, let yourself go, and enjoy reading the script. If there remains any tension, nervousness, hesitance, or stiffness in the body while reading, the character will not sound real and convincing. Have fun with this this is the most fun part of voice over! o The technique to help get into character is to imagine the scripts situation in your head...and then mimic it. For example, read the following examples, and think about how each would sound in real life...then do the same aloud. Three IMPORTANT points should be made clear. First, in natural conversation, we use the appropriate (correct) delivery immediately in other words, we do not need time to warm up in real life instead we use the appropriate tone immediately. Second, in real life we switch from one appropriate delivery to another immediately. Therefore is a producer gives you two scripts that each require a different tone, you should be able to go from one delivery to another without needing warm up time. And third, anyone who listens to you can determine which tone you are usingtherefore you need to use the appropriate tone, or your delivery will not sound natural. Producers, therefore, will expect you to use the appropriate delivery immediately...just like you do in real life. Try reading these scripts be sure to use the appropriate tone.


(funeral home commercial) (lottery commercial)

At Beyond-Life, we care about you, and your family.

I won! Wow! The Tri-State Lottery...someones gotta win! Drive em wild, with Seduction, from Revlon!

(perfume commercial) (cartoon promo)

Hey kids, its Mopey, your favorite donkey, Sunday at 9 am!

o Unfortunately, many voice over artists do not get into character quickly enough and instead slowly fade into character. This will not please the producer. Therefore, BEFORE READING A SINGLE WORD OUT LOUD, use the 4 Voice Fundamentals (below) to establish the character. These voice attributes are the major ingredients of every character. Different permutations will generate different characters. As discussed earlier: 1. pitch range (also known as dynamic range): Pitch range helps dictate the amount of energy and excitement in a character. Typically, an emphatic, excited, or upbeat character will require a large dynamic range, while a soft, serious, compassionate, or sad character will require a smaller dynamic range (monotone). large dynamic range: Welcome to the most amazing show in history! small dynamic range: As I watched her die, I too felt like dying. 2. tempo: This also dictates the amount of enthusiasm in a script. Tempo should match the feel of the copy. If the copy is upbeat, excited, or vigorous, use a faster tempo. If the copy is sad, emphatic, serious, or sentimental, use a slower tempo. fast tempo: But hurry, these prices are in effect for a limited time only. slow tempo: It took years, but finally, I found a broker willing to listen to me. 3. tone: Tone portrays the emotion. A strong tone is jarring, powerful, announcing, and robust. A soft tone portrays an intimate, sad, warm, and seductive character. strong tone: As we head into the next millennium, we will remain #1! soft tone: What my family needs is an insurance agent we can count on. 4. volume: This attribute shows emotion. A loud volume suggests anger, excitement, and irritation. Soft volume suggests intimacy, warmth, and affection.


loud volume: Hey thats my kid who just scored...that Power-Bar really paid off! quiet volume: Show your love with a bouquet from FTD.

ADVANCED TRAINING In this section:

mental and physical preparation copy analysis...on your own copy analysis...with the creative team delivery / character development valuing words microphone essentials mouth noises and breathing techniques diction flow / smoothness timing hitting smile variety consistency / valuing words punctuation keywords multi-person scripts audition

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL PREPARATION Talking on egg shells. Being calm and relaxed during a recording session can greatly aid voice-talent in sounding natural. o Nervousness is an obstacle that affects newcomers as well as professionals. Its symptoms are severe, and can cause any or all of the following: o breathing problems: Unless breathing is even and relaxed, the outflow of air will not be consistent. This causes the voice-talent to run out of air in the middle of sentences, introducing gasps of air into the recording which are annoying for engineers to remove. an unstable vocal quality: Nervousness will cause the throat to tighten, resulting in a higher


pitched voice, which is unnatural, and leading to a choppy and stumble-prone delivery.

hesitance in the delivery: A lack of confidence is audible to anyone, whether consciously or unconsciously. Hesitance causes stutters, stumbles, and an unnatural flow. a tendency to lose concentration: Once concentration is lost, it is very difficult to regain it. Without concentrating, there is a strong chance of not following the producers directions.

These symptoms are exacerbated the more nervous the voice-talent is. And in fact, the worse the symptoms, the more difficult it is to overcome them. Hence, the best solution is not to become nervous in the first place. o By employing the following series of breathing and relaxation exercises, voice-talent can control butterflies from the start and remain composed throughout the recording. o En route to the recording session, take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Sense the bodys reaction. o At the recording studio, but prior to recording, breathe lightly in through the nose and out through the mouth. If possible, leave the studio and take some deeper breaths, again in through the nose and out through the mouth, this time vocalizing exhalations (mixing air and sound as in aahhhh). Sense the bodys reaction. o In front of the microphone (both before the red recording light goes on and in between takes), breathe lightly in and out through the mouth. Close the eyes, sip a drink, and sense the relaxation of the voice. It is essential to be relaxed when reading in front of a group of people especially when all focus and eyes are on you. In fact, part of a professional athletes training includes learning how to disregard cheering (or booing) fans. The way to remain calm is to incorporate the previous relaxation techniques with the following exercises: o At home, with your eyes closed, envision yourself reading in front of a large group of people, and notice how easy it is to remain calm. Practice this exercise every day, but each time in a different setting. For example, imagine standing in front of the microphone and reading a national television commercial, with five people watching you and the producer saying, You must get it right this time! Then, the next time you practice, imagine sitting down, reading a documentary for 10 people, in a low-pressure recording session.


Next time you practice, imagine having 5 different producers all shouting contradictory comments at you. If you practice with enough different scenarios, you should have experience for each job that you obtain. In other words, whatever situation you find yourself in, you will have already been there, done that. o Watch public speakers presenting speeches (for example, the President delivering the Address To The Nation), and notice how relaxed and in control they are. Tell yourself that you will be that calm. Continue to remind yourself, if necessary. o Practice reading in front of large groups of people. For example: a. read for children at school. b. read for children or senior citizens at libraries. c. read for the blind at libraries or at the headquarters of organizations for the blind. (This is a good way to learn how to deal with reading in front of people, since the blind are not staring at you, as producers will.)

COPY ANALYSISON YOUR OWN Generally, the voice-talent receives the script and is given a few minutes to review it. Take advantage of that time by analyzing the copy. By following the copy analysis steps below, voice-talent can be better prepared for the actual recording. To begin, read the script to yourself as if you were reading for pleasure. In other words, try not to think about the delivery the producer will request. Note: If the copy is long, glance at the beginning, middle, and end of it to get a sense of the entire piece. Read the script a second time. This time, think about the following 4 concepts:

1. creative analysis: Determine what the overall creative concept is. o o What is the overall feel of the copy? (e.g., formal, informal, etc.) Which words are keywords?


o o

Will there be accompanying audio? If so, what will it sound like? Will there be accompanying visual? If so, what will it look like?

2. marketing analysis: Determine what the overall marketing concept is. o o o What is the intent of the copy? (e.g., To sell a product? Give information?) Who will the audience be? (e.g., children, adults, etc.) Where will it be heard? (e.g., radio, TV, video, telephone, etc.)

3. tone/character analysis: Determine what tone delivery will be required. o o Is the copy in the first person or third person? What emotion type is necessary? (e.g., funny, sad, caring, etc.)

4. alternative analysis: Be prepared to deliver different styles. o o Your analysis may be very different from that of the creative team, and therefore being prepared with an alternative version may be beneficial. Even if the creative team liked your analysis, they may request an alternative take so that they have more to choose from.

COPY ANALYSISWITH THE CREATIVE TEAM After reviewing the script, the creative team will describe the style of delivery required. It is their job to ensure that you sound great. It is your job is to follow their directions precisely. The creative team will review the creative, marketing, and character concepts with you. Listen carefully. You may find that your interpretation was right on the money, or maybe it was far off. If you were off, be adaptable. Sometimes, it may be difficult to grasp the concepts the creative team furnishes. In fact, you may feel confident that the way youre being instructed will sound absurd. However, keep in mind that once your voice recording is mixed with other voice over artists, music, sound effects, visuals, etc., the read should work. Regardless, it is not your place to


comment unless you are prompted for input. Then it is time to interrogate the production team. This is the time to ask any questions in reference to the script and its delivery. Asking now is better than asking in midst of the actual recording.

Here are typical questions that may be asked: o o o o o How is this word pronounced? Should I read this part? So you want me to sound sincere, yet still use a strong tone of voice? How long should this be? Can you tell me what kind of music will be playing in the background?

DELIVERY / CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT After the copy has been analyzed, it is time to establish the delivery / character. Part of a voice-talents job is to establish an appropriate delivery. Once mastered, you appear professional, experienced, and polished. This article will discuss how to develop and maintain an appropriate delivery. To begin, here are errors voice-talent often make during their recording sessions: taking too long to develop the appropriate delivery not using the appropriate delivery from the beginning of the script not maintaining the delivery After showing up at the recording studio, members of the creative team (producer, copywriter, engineer, and client) work with you to develop the intended delivery. This is based upon factors, such as who will listen to the completed product, what its purpose is, where it will be played. While youll have as much time as necessary to develop the correct delivery, it is always best to do it as quickly as possible. The production team will give you directions like You need to be softer and more emotional, or Give us a bit more smile, or Try lowering your pitch. The production team may even attempt to demonstrate the required delivery to you. Listen


carefully to their voices, try to pick up the subtle nuances they demonstrate. Remember that their voices may not be trained, so use their example only as the framework for your character. Dont simply mimic them. Sometimes, youll be requested to use a certain delivery sound that you had included on your demo. By taking the following steps, an experienced voice over artist can just about nail the delivery on the first take. a. Conjure up a mental image of the finished recording as if a professional had recorded it. Then mimic it. By creating and mimicking this mental image, development of the delivery should be easier. To conjure up the mental image, concentrate on two items: o audio: Imagine you were the audience, and were listening to a voice over artist reading the script. What would the voice over artist sound like? What type of delivery would be used? Would there be music playing in the background? If so, what kind? o visual: Compose a visual scene that helps you establish the mood of the copy. What type of characters would you see? What would the visuals look like?

b. Think about the application of the voice over. For example: o If the voice over is for a visual (such as a documentary, childrens picturebook, etc.), then the delivery should be on the slower side. This is so the viewer has time to take in the visual as well as the audio. But if there is no visual (as with a radio commercial, voice-mail, etc.), the delivery should be faster. This way it will not drag for the listener. To notice this, watch a television documentary with your eyes closed. The voice over will appear too slow. However, with your eyes opened, the speed will seem appropriate. o A radio commercial will generally require more variety and energy than a television commercial. This is because the only thing on the radio commercial is the voice, as opposed to a television commercial, which has a visual to help hold the attention of the audience. c. Recall a situation in which you naturally used the required delivery. For example, if you need to record a funny commercial, think of a funny joke. This mind-set makes it significantly easier to develop a fine-tuned character sound.


d. Create the delivery by using the 4 components of our voice: pitch, tempo, tone, and volume. e. Manipulate the delivery so that it is neither overdone nor underdone. But beware: there is a very fine line between the two. Generally, voice over artists feel that they are employing more character than they actually are. In fact, the producer typically needs to direct the voice over artist to give more character, so that the desired character level is achieved. However, then the common tendency of the voice over artist is to over-compensate and give too much. If youre unsure of how much character to give, begin with too much, as that will most likely be appropriate. And on the rare occasion when it is too much, you will impress the producer by demonstrating an ability to cover a large range and that could lead to additional work. f. Develop a lead-in (also known as a silent warm-up). A lead-in is a word or phrase that you think prior to reading the script. This acts as a warm-up, and makes it easier to establish the character on the first word. This is a common technique in the industry, because establishing the appropriate delivery on the first word is difficult. Without employing a lead-in, it is common for the first word to be in the wrong delivery. Producers will not accept this. Very often, a lead-in may be as short as, Ya know, or Listen, or Okay. Practice reading the following sentences. Notice that in the first example, the first word will not be as full of character as it will be on the second example. script: I was walking into my bank, and the teller said something about free... now add a lead-in: It was amazing, I was walking into my bank, and the teller...

VALUING WORDS Giving every word its due, is known as valuing words. In other words, not a single word of the script should be thrown away or swallowed. Read the following examples, and make sure that every word is valued. Throughout the world, our company has thrived.

MICROPHONE ESSENTIALS It is the microphone that captures your voice. Therefore understanding it and knowing how to use


it to your advantage can greatly enhance your voice over delivery. Professional voice talent refer to microphone technique as working the mic. Following are techniques that should be employed during every recording session. placement: The placement of the microphone is directly related to sound quality. Engineers therefore precisely place the microphone in a location, relative to your mouth, based upon your voice and the desired sound for the narration. The microphone generally faces your nose, neck, mouth, or cheeks. Occasionally it is above you, sometimes to the side, and sometimes even placed below your mouth. Do not assume that the engineer is incompetent if the microphone is not where you expect it should be. Nor should you try to move to where the microphone is. Instead, remain centered with the music stand, and leave the rest up to the engineer. lateral movements: It is crucial that you remain on-axis (in front of the microphone) to ensure a consistent tone. Moving to either side of the microphone will create drastic tonal changes making your voice sound muffled, as without treble (clarity). This is known as being off-axis from the microphone. One exception is if a producer desires a muffled sound, as if youre speaking through a door. Then speaking off-axis is perfect. proximate movements: Moving closer to and farther away from the microphone will create drastic volume (amplitude) changes. It is essential that you remain the same distance from the microphone to ensure a consistent volume. proximity effect: As you move closer to a directional microphone, the type most engineers use, the fuller, richer, and more bassey (less treble) your voice will be. This is known as proximity effect. When a full-bodied, sexy, or deep tone is required, use proximity effect to your advantage stand about 3 to 4 inches from the mic to achieve this full sound. When a thinner sound is desired, try standing 6 to 8 inches away. NOTE: When standing close to the microphone, you are more prone to pop. Popping is when a powerful burst of air from your mouth overloads and distorts the microphone. This mostly occurs on plosives (words that begin with p, b, and t.) For these words, either move a few inches further away from the microphone, or lessen the volume of air leaving your mouth. Microphone etiquette is an attribute engineers welcome. Therefore voice talents who are considerate and respectful of engineers microphones have a greater chance of being hired again. Always remember the following:


Never touch the microphone or the microphone stand. The positioning of the microphone is critical slight movements can drastically affect the sound quality. So after the engineer places the microphone, do not change it. If the position of the microphone causes a shadow on your script, or is too high or low for your comfort, simply ask the engineer to adjust it. Also, touching the microphone can create a very loud sound in the control room (the engineers room) if the speakers are turned up. This can damage the speakers and the engineers ears.

Never blow into or tap on the microphone (as characters in movies do during sound-checks). First of all, microphones are very fragile a slight touch may damage them. Secondly, microphones are very sensitive. Theyre intended to pick up and amplify sounds coming from a few inches away and they do this very well. So when the sound is created at the microphone, it will be overly amplified possibly causing damage to the recording rooms speakers and in your headphones (damaging your ears). It is, again, best to not touch the microphone.

Never hang the headphones on the microphone stand. First, this can cause Feedback.

Feedback is an audio loop that produces a high-pitched squealing sound. It occurs when a headphone is too close to a microphone. It is caused by sound leaving the headphones and being picked up by the microphone, amplified by the amplifier, and sent back into the headphones (louder this time due to the amplification), then resonating back into the microphone thus creating a loop. This loop will eventually destroy the speakers and your hearing. Additionally, hanging headphones on a microphone stand creates the possibility of the headphones falling off and breaking.

MOUTH NOISES AND BREATHING TECHNIQUES In actual conversation, mouths produce extraneous noises. While these noises go unnoticed in real life, recording equipment often amplifies them to a volume that can be detrimental to a recording. (See compressor in the section Recording Studios for an explanation of this.) By avoiding these extraneous noises, you will give the engineer less to edit out of the recording, therefore creating a greater chance of repeat business. The following section will illustrate how to keep extraneous noises under control.


Lip smacks occur every time we open and close our mouths. This is a (generally) faint smack noise. This sound is only noticeable when it occurs in unnatural places. And there are three instances when we unnaturally close and open our mouths: 1. Prior to recording, there will be a tendency to quickly close and open your mouth before beginning. To prevent this smack noise at the beginning of the recording, keep your mouth open for at least 2 seconds before recording. 2. Some people have a habit of closing their mouths between sentences. This causes a smack noise between every sentence. Keep your mouth open between sentences, as you do in natural conversation. 3. It is intuitive to close the mouth at the completion of a very important phrase or sentence. The intent of closing of the mouth is to create a more dramatic effect, which will signify how important the sentence was. Do not do this. Instead of creating a dramatic effect, the smack comes across sounding odd to the listener, and adds noise that the engineer has to edit out.

Many people have wet mouth, a recording problem in which wet, clammy mouths produce click noises. (See wet mouth under Recording Sessions for remedies.) Dry mouth is another recording obstacle many people have. Dry mouth also produces click noises. (See dry mouth under Recording Sessions for remedies).

During normal conversation, we take breathing for granted. Since breathing is necessary, making it work to your advantage is key. Most importantly, try not to think about it, as this will most likely allow you to read without a breathing problem. Once you are conscious of breathing, breathing problems become more pronounced. In the field of voice over, there are three times when breathing can be detrimental to a recording: 1. Right before recording, there is an inclination to take a deep breath, in order to have enough air for the entire sentence. However, this is not necessary in natural conversation, nor should it be necessary in voice over. To prevent this unnatural breath noise, take a natural-sized breath, but take it 2 seconds before recording. This ensures that there will not be a breath noise so close to the first word of the script that the engineer cannot edit it out. 2. When reading, we often lose sense of the best places to breathe, and we wind up with breaths in unnatural places. These breaths sound unnatural and make the recording sound choppy and stilted. Reading laterally (see natural flow under Foundation Technique in this guidebook) will help tremendously. Unnatural breaths do not occur in natural conversation, because we speak


extemporaneously that is, we assemble complete sentences in our heads, including the appropriate pauses for breathing, before saying them out loud. This allows us to take breaths in natural places. If you run out of air when recording, there is not much to do. Even if you try to make it to the last word, the words will not sound natural. Plus, the longer you hold in your breath, the quicker you will run out of air again in the next sentence. 3. When reading scripts written without enough punctuation marks, youll notice a tendency to run out of air. Therefore, adding punctuation marks is often necessary (see punctuation below). There are two exercises that can teach the body to have greater control of the intake and release of air, allowing longer periods of reading without running out of air. By employing them, recording sessions will go smoother, and the engineer will have fewer edits. o any cardiovascular exercise o air-controlling exercise: Inhale deeply, hold the air in for five seconds, and then let it out slowly while saying the alphabet. By doing this regularly, you will increase how many letters of the alphabet you can say on a single breath. Note: Please consult a physician before employing these breathing exercises.

DICTION Certain sounds are challenging to articulate clearly. But since one of the voice over artists jobs is to articulate clearly, it is essential to learn how to pronounce these tricky words. To gain the skill of clear enunciation: 1. Be aware of the challenging sound - physically listen to it as it leaves your mouth. 2. Next, feel your mouth form the sound. Make sure that you do not over-articulate. 3. Finally, repeat the word at a regular tempo, and simultaneously concentrate on hearing it and feeling it. Now you should be able to say the word easily and flawlessly. Following are challenging sounds: Final consonants (the underlined letters in the examples) are often difficult:


L: Youll love the deal at Shell. R: The dinosaur was a spectacular creature. T: With Fidelity Investments, your account will grow. The th sound is generally slurred, pronounced as a d, or not pronounced at all. Throughout the world, our company has thrived. Regionalisms, such as the following, are typically hindrances for recording voice over work, especially national and international work. However, a regionalism may be great if the recording is going to be listened to in the geographical region in which it originates: o The r sound for natives of New York and Boston. o The drawl from down south. FLOW / SMOOTHNESS Smooth jazz. Smooth skin. Smooth vodka. Everyone likes smooth. This goes for voice over as well both producers and listeners prefer smooth deliveries over choppy ones. However many talent read choppilyespecially less experienced talent. Following are the most common types and causes of choppiness: dramatic pauses: Due to being dramatic and theatrical. These pauses occur much more often among less experienced talent. Talents feel that dramatic pauses make their delivery sound better, more interesting, and more intriguing. However no matter how good these pauses sound, the read will generally sound significantly better (smoother) without them. For example, many talents will pause after the word Security in the following sentence, believing that this will add drama. In actuality, most producers do not want drama, and instead prefer a smoother, more natural delivery without the pause. Try reading it both ways. Aetna Insurance. Security for a lifetime. clarifying (and often subconscious) pauses: Due to trying too hard to make the delivery ultraclear for the listener. Also due to lack of confidence. Less experienced talent try real hard to make their delivery clear for the listener. In doing so, they separate phrases of the script into little choppy bits. This often occurs unknowingly. Once


pointed out, they often recognize how choppy they were and how much better their reads sound when reading smoothly. For example, most talent will pause in the following sentences (where the slash is). However these sentences will usually sound significantly better (smoother) if read without the pause. Try reading these examples with the pauses. Then try reading the sentence without the pauses. Notice how much better (smoother) they sound the second time. Most producers will prefer it without the pauses: Save on mens, womens, and childrens fashions / at the one-day super sale! Call 1-800-123-4567 / for more information. Please contact customer service / on the number on the card. Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 / in Hardin County, Kentucky. What we at Travelers Insurance / have been dedicated to providing for 130 years. The easy-to-follow lessons / and innovative accompanying CD included in your packet unintentional pauses before words that begin with vowels: Due to working the words too hard (forcing words). This epitome of choppiness happens with aspiring talent, professional talent, and singers. The technical term for this occurrence is a Glottal Stop. Getting rid of these nasty little pauses makes a voice over delivery go from unprofessional sounding to professional. For example, read the following sentence. There is a good chance that you will unintentionally pause before the words always and every. Now try reading it again, this time without the pauses. Notice how much better (smoother) it sounds: J.C.Penny always has every item on sale! robotic delivery: Due to articulating too carefully, being hesitant, and/or over-thinking when reading. If youre like most aspiring voice talent, the more you try, the choppier your delivery will be. To repair this, just relax. One of best techniques you can employ to sound smooth is to be relaxed, comfortable, and experienced. grammatical pauses: Due to less experience. Some punctuation marks are necessary for print but should NOT be used for voice over. Dates,


locations, and lists are examples. For example, read the following sentence twice the first time following all punctuation marks (which are necessary for print) and the second time without pausing. Notice how the second version sounds better (smoother) without the pauses: Dr. Gerard created the first blue, dynamic pithi-scope on September 14th, 1953, in Dallas, Texas. PS: You likely paused after pithi-scope when reading the sentence the first time. That pause is unnecessary, and your delivery will sound better (smoother) without it. its someone elses fault that I paused: Due to copy-writers and/or clients inexperience. Inexperienced copy-writers and clients often do not read the script out loud before giving it to the voice talent, and therefore often give the voice talent a script full of too many punctuation marks. Also, clients sometimes take copy directly from print sources and assume it will work well for voice over, when in actuality it will not. In either case, voice talents are often presented with scripts that contain unnecessary punctuation marks. In these instances, ask the producer if they will prefer alternate reads where punctuation marks are disregarded. For example, read the following script the way it is written notice how choppy it is. Now read it again, this time eliminating the majority of pauses. You will hear how much better (smoother) it sounds: When reading scripts, written by inexperienced scriptwriters, who sometimes use too many punctuation marks, like this sentence the voice talent will sound very, VERY choppy, if they read every single punctuation mark. Here are some final thoughts. A good rule of thumb is: pause between phrases, not within them. This will create a delivery that sounds natural, as most words in genuine conversation connect to each other. There is a time and place for everything. For example, certain scripts may sound terrific with many pauses. Sometimes a client may request a delivery style that appears choppy, yet when mixed with the visual seems appropriate. The majority of unnecessary and excessive pauses sound better when eliminated, and instead a smooth delivery is used.


No matter how good dramatic pauses sound, quite often the delivery will sound better without them.

TIMING When handing you the script, the producer will tell you how long the finished recording should be. It is your job to turn on your internal tempo-clock and ensure that the finished recording is the specified length (or at least close). The producer will time your reads and let you know if you need to speed up or slow down, and by how much. Learning how to control your speed, therefore, is essential. Note: Todays digital recorders give the engineer the ability to adjust the timing by as much as 10%. To lengthen a spot, small spaces are inserted wherever there is already a natural break in the recording. To shorten a spot, small spaces are deleted wherever there is already a natural break in the recording. However, the engineer would prefer to not rely on digitally adjusting the timing. Following are ways to alter your timing: Speed up or slow down the speed of the words, by elongating or shortening them. Practice reading the following example at different speeds. Your reading can range between 1.25 seconds long and twice that fast, or 2.5 seconds long. Its the largest selection anywhere. Lengthen or shorten the pauses between sentences and paragraphs. Note that when youre forced to read copy so quickly that it sounds rushed, a tiny pause between phrases will help make the read appear significantly less rushed. Practice reading the following example with different spacing between the listed items. It can range between 3.5 seconds and almost double that, 5.5 seconds long. Johnson Lighting Company has bulbs, fixtures, lamps, shades, candles, and chandeliers. Add or delete dramatic pauses. Practice reading the following example with different degrees of dramatic pause. Your reading can range between 2.5 and 5 seconds long. The Johnson Lighting Company, were light-years beyond our competition. Here are examples to prepare you for real recording sessions: Split-second timing in commercial recording is a must. Advertisers purchase specific length


blocks of air-time from television and radio stations, so voice over producers need to ensure that the spot is exactly the right length of time. Note that :15, :30, and :60-second commercials are actually 13.6, 28.6, and 58.6 seconds long, respectively. Most radio commercials require the voice over artist to read for the entire spot. Conversely, most TV commercials contain only a few lines of copy the rest of the spot is filled with background music, sound effects, other voice over artists, etc. The producer will tell you how long the script should be sometimes down to the tenth of a second. Try reading this commercial in 12 seconds, 14 seconds, and 16 seconds. Got a problem with a home appliance? One phone call to Sears Home Central fixes your Kenmore, GE, Whirlpool any major appliance brand. Call Sears Home Central at 1-800-4REPAIR. Sears Home Central. The service side of Sears. A tag is the closing line of a commercial. Tags are usually just a few seconds in length. The producer will tell you exactly how long the tag needs to be. Try reading this tag in 3 seconds, 3.5 seconds, and 4 seconds. Stove-Top Stuffing. Anything less is just stuff. A donut is a section of a commercial that is sandwiched between two other sections. For example, if a 30-second-long commercial has 10 seconds of music at the beginning and 10 seconds of music at the end, the producer will say, Your script is a 10-second donut meaning that your voice will be in the middle 10-second portion of the commercial. Your job is to read the copy at just the right tempo, so that you completely fill the space but dont cover up anything else. Try this 2.5-second donut inside a 30-second television car commercial. (During the donut, the on-camera actor points to a sunroof and leather interior, and then to the car.) 0.00 - 14.5 = jingle 14.5 - 17.0 = VO: Its things like this, that make you want one of these. 18.0 - 28.6 = jingle Timing is not generally as much of a concern in narration recording, because many do not have a predetermined length. For those that do, such as an hour-long documentary, there is still not much to be concerned about. This is because there is normally more video footage than there is audio recording, so


the engineer can space out the script recording throughout the video footage. HITTING If you cant hit the word, youll be asked to hit the road. In the earlier Foundation Technique section, basic words that should be hit were taught. In this Advanced Technique section, youll learn to hit words that can turn an otherwise plain read into an exciting and/or more appropriate one. Hitting pronouns often clarifies the meaning of the sentence: Fortune Magazine is the source individuals turn to, for information that is critical to their success. Were sorry, that is an invalid entry. Hoffman Furniture is throwing its doors wide open, for the wildest bargain frenzy youve ever seen. Hitting reference words can help enforce a point. Reference words are words that may appear insignificant, yet refer to something that is very significant. By identifying and valuing these words, your reads will sound better resulting in happier clients. For example: In the following commercial text, the word this refers to the car, and therefore requires emphasis. Plus if this is a television commercial, it is likely that the car is shown while that word is said, in which case, valuing this will help your read match the visual. Pontiac Grand Am. Its performance, excitement, and commitment to quality make this the Sport Sedan of a lifetime. Pontiac. We build excitement! Value the word they in this commercial, because they refers to the subject of the sentence: Take a Sentimental Journey with the Band of Renown as they play the Music of your life. Value your in this promotional video, because this word represents the person who will benefit from the product: Join the thousands of men who have boosted their sexual performance with Potennix. Put the fire back into your lovemaking with Potennix.


Value the word it and our in this corporate industrial, because it refers to the cinema and our refers to the company: The cinema has no boundary; it is a ribbon of dream, Orson Welles said. This motto has kept our company the number one mortgage holder in America for seven years.

Value the word weve and Its in this commercial, because weve refers to Amtrak and Its refers to the country: So much beauty in one place! America is a great country, and weve got the best way to see it. Amtrak Explore America Fares. Round trips from one hundred and seventy nine dollars all across America. Its a great country at a great price. Call 1-800-USA-RAIL now about Amtrak Explore America fares.

Value the word this in this commercial, because it refers to what the company does for the customer: From onsite rental cars, to guaranteed repairs. All with every car policy at Progressive. Because this is how we keep you moving. Checkout for details beauty in one place!

Hitting adverbs and adjectives can also strengthen a point. With new Suave shampoo, youll add shine and bounce the healthy way. Step 1 - carefully insert piece A into slot B. Step2 - ... Breyers delicious premium ice cream has an irresistible taste.

Hitting conjunctions can bring extra enthusiasm to the copy. With air-conditioning and power windowsyou cant go wrong. The company is best known for creating tools that utilize step-and-scan technology. Get a 10% cash rebate or $500 cash back!

Hitting the first word of phrases can open up the delivery. Note, a common error that voice over artists make is rushing the first word of a phrase, instead of valuing it. Just waiting to engage your driving passion for performance.


In this video presentation, youll learn how clear plastic is recycled.

SMILE Almost half of voice over work requires smile. Therefore being able to add smile to your delivery can double the amount of work you obtain however the smile must be convincing, because a contrived smile sounds fake and is a huge turn-off to producers and listeners. Fact: Many telemarketers use the mirror trick when selling. That is, they hold a mirror up to their faces, and see themselves smile when speaking to potential customers. This strange behavior is so silly, it tends to produce more, natural smile and this helps them close sales as they sound friendlier, more personable, and more convincing. VARIETY While producers dictate the style of delivery, they leave it up to the voice over artist to make it interesting. Often, the producer will ask for multiple takes, so that they can hear different versions (all of which are interesting) of the same script. When you give multiple takes, it is necessary that each version be quite different from another, and that each version is delivered without time spent thinking about what to do next. In other words, the producer wants drastically different-sounding takes quickly. Note: Due to the length of most narrations, the producer will generally not require multiple takes. Give 5 takes of the following scripts: Audio Associatestheres no mistaking our sound. Egypt has always been a land of mystery and magic. Call 1-800-4-travel for details on this exciting offer! With no money down, this deal cannot be beat. Samsung recently announced plans to sell off its international division.



One of the key skills a professional voice over artist has is an ability to maintain a consistent vocal delivery. This is more difficult than it sounds, and can take years to master. There are several situations where consistency is crucial: When recording, it is common for the producer to request that you re-record a sentence with a modification. It is imperative that when you re-record, ONLY the one modification is changedand everything else is not. The producers will not be content if other modifications are changed. For example, if the producer says, Please re-record that last sentence and add more smile, make sure the smile is added but that the speed is not faster or the volume louder. Many voice over artists tend to increase their volume when asked for more smile. Similarly, they tend to slow down their tempo when requested to decrease their projection. Watch out for these and other mishaps. Read this sentence multiple times, each time only changing one thing: Born with absolute pitch, infallible rhythm, and natural comprehension of harmony, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had come into this world with a complete gift. Often, the voice over artist is requested to read the script multiple times so that the producer has the ability to edit together sections from each recording to create the ultimate version. However, many voice over artists tend to lose their spontaneity and enthusiasm when reading the same script repeatedly. If your sound has varied between takes, the recordings will not edit together smoothly. With ample practice and good concentration, most voice over artists learn to be cognizant of this obstacle and combat it to keep the spontaneity and enthusiasm consistent. To practice, you will need two audio-recorders. Record yourself on audio-recorder #1 reading the following script 10 times. Then, while listening back to your recording on audio-recorder #1, record each sentence of the script from a various recording onto audio-recorder #2. When completed, listen back to audio-recorder #2 -- all of the sentences should blend smoothly into each other. The Zambezi river is 1,700 miles long from its source to its mouth on the shores of the Indian Ocean. It was formed during the volcanic upheavals of the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago, when an old river was split into two. The Zambezi is the fourth-largest river in Africa. It rises in northern Zambia, and flows southwest into Angola before turning back into Zambia and heading south. If asked to re-record a part of the script over, it is essential that your vocal delivery remains


consistent with the previously recorded recording. This is because when the engineer edits the new and old recordings together, they need to flow smoothly into one another. This exercise can be practiced only with an audio-recorder. Record the following commercial once all the way through. Then record yourself re-recording a small section of it. Finally, play back both recordings. They should contain exactly the same speed, volume, tone, and pitch. If not, keep practicing. In Premiere Magazine, youll read about the making of movies, shot by shot. Catch the rising stars. See what hot new movies are in the works. Plus much more. Some recordings are long enough that they are recorded on multiple days, such as audio-books. In these instances, it is essential that your vocal delivery remains consistent from day to day, so that when the recording is edited together, it flows smoothly. If your vocal delivery has changed the recordings will not edit together smoothly. To practice, read one sentence (of the following example) each day, until the entire paragraph is completed. Then play back the entire recording. It should flow smoothly. If it does not, you are not consistent enough. Note: It is common for professionals to ask the engineer to play back the last 15 seconds of the previous days recording prior to recording, so that they can match the delivery style. In our next segment we visit individual stadiums, explore tales of the classic teams, legendary stars, and the devotion of the American baseball fan. First stop: Yankee Stadium, home of the team America loves to hate and breeding ground for a host of superstars and legends. Back at the Hall of Fame in the World Series room, we explore the lives of ordinary men with extraordinary skills. And look at how and why Americans have elevated such men to mythic places in our folklore. Chicago, Illinois -- in Americas foremost sports city, our first location is Comiskey Park, the oldest standing major league ballpark in America.

PUNCTUATION Punctuation marks are very important in scripts. First, punctuation marks help the voice over artist read the script with the timing that scriptwriter intended. Second, punctuation marks break up long passages into small phrases, as opposed to long run-on sentences. This allows the voice over artist to stumble less often, while also making the script easier for the listener to understand.


A good scriptwriter will use many punctuation marks in the scripts. However, sometimes you will come across a script without sufficient punctuation marks. This is because many scriptwriters write the script originally for printed text (such as a brochure or magazine advertisement), and therefore it is not as essential for them to use as many punctuation marks. As a rule of thumb, add punctuation marks between phrases when reading voice over scripts. However, make sure your pauses are not unnaturally long instead they should sound natural. Read the following examples WITHOUT punctuation marks. Breakthroughs in technology have made it possible for automotive designers to create for the driver one of the safest environments ever. The Talon from EAGLE. Since the beginning of time man has been compelled by the wonders of the universe to comprehend the existence of God. Now insert punctuation marks and read them again. Notice how much better they sound this time. Breakthroughs in technology have made it possible, for automotive designers, to create for the driver, one of the safest environments ever. The Talon...from EAGLE. Since the beginning of time, man has been compelled - by the wonders of the universe - to comprehend the existence...of God. Make sure to use a very small pause (called a beat) before and after a quoted phrase without the beat, the quoted phrase will not be separated for the listener. Car and Driver Magazine called the all new Lexus the best sedan in its class.

KEYWORDS The advanced technique for allowing keywords to be heard clearly is to elongate the accented syllable of the word. Remember: One of the goals of the voice over artist is to read the keywords in such a way that everyone notices them whether they are paying close attention or not. And most people do not pay close attention to commercials. That is because they are busy driving a car during a radio commercial, or grabbing a bite to eat during a television commercial.


In fact, you are reading to the masses. And therefore you must make sure that the lowest common denominator among the listeners can understand the content. If the following company name were read at normal tempo, it would be difficult for the listener to discern it. If the ea in Bear is elongated (just a little), the word is very discernable. Be careful not to over-elongate the ea, as that will sound unnatural. The Bear Furniture Company

MULTI-PERSON SCRIPTS A multi-person script (also known as 2-person and dialogue) is one that has dialogue between two or more voice over artists. Many commercials and audiobooks are multi-person. Usually, all the characters will be recorded live (meaning simultaneously). Recording live gives the voice over artists the ability to feed off of each others lines, and energy, and therefore results in a more energetic and natural delivery. Here are steps necessary to read multi-person scripts: 1. Read laterally (see natural flow under Foundation Technique above). This is absolutely essential here. Seeing what is coming up allows for a natural delivery. 2. Begin reading your line right before the previous readers line is completed. In other words, cut off their last word. This is because this is the way we converse in real life. 3. Do not look at the other voice over artist, as you will lose your place in the script if you do. While this seems simple, it is not. Use a partner, and practice with these multi-person scripts. AMOCO CERTICARE SERVICE WHILE YOU SLEEP (radio commercial) Person #1: So, I understand youre pretty busy. #2: Really busy. Will this take long? #1: No. Its just a thirty-second commercial. #2: Good. Because, Im #1: Busy. I know. Well, is there any time when youre not busy? #2: Well, theres always while I sleep.


#1: Well, Certicare just introduced a program called Service While You Sleep. #2: Why do they call it that? #1: Because they service your car while you sleep. #2: Catchy name. #1: Glad you like it. Just call 4-REPAIR. Certicare does the rest. #2: 4-REPAIR. Got it. Will the call take long? #1: No. Why? #2: Because Im #1: Really busy. #2: Got it. J. GOLD ATTORNEYS (television commercial) Wife: Ill take the microwave. Husband: Ill take the television. Wife: Ill take the kids! Husband: The kids? What do you mean youll take the kids? Wife: And the dog. Husband: Ill take the dog. Wife: And Ill take the house. Husband: The silver. Wife: The gold. Husband: The money. Wife: The money? Anncr: Do yourself a big favorsee a good attorney and eliminate the hassles of major trauma in


your life. J. Gold Attorneys. Call today to set up a free private consultation. J. Gold Attorneys. Let us help you. AUDITIONS At an audition (see also auditions under Odds and Ends in the Business section of this guidebook), the producer typically gives you at least 10 minutes to review the script prior to reading. Then, with varying amounts of direction from the producer, youll be asked to read. Often, the chance of winning an audition relies on the first read, so make sure that it follows the producers directions explicitly. Next, the producer will often ask the voice over artist to re-read the copy in their own style. This is the time to show creativity and variety. Try reading the following scripts using different styles. DOVE PROMISES (television commercial) Introducing Dove Promises ... the temptation of a deep and lingering chocolate, wrapped in an involving message ... a chocolate and a message too rich to be rushed. Some moments are so delicious, why rush them? ... DOVE.

OLDSMOBILE AURORA (television commercial) The sophisticated material used to make the cockpit canopy of the F-16 Fighter shatter-resistant is the same material we use to make the headlamp covers on the Aurora. So, you can imagine how advanced the rest of the car is. AURORA by OLDSMOBILE. Hey, its your money. SIR ISAAC NEWTON (filmstrip for children) English mathematician and scientist Isaac Newton was one of the greatest thinkers of all time. He worked out the laws of gravity, invented calculus, and devised the reflecting, or Newtonian, telescope. He studied the movement of planets, and published the corpuscular theory of light. It occurred to Newton that the force that attracts bodies towards the Earth (gravity) might also be important in the motion of the Moon around the Earth, and the planets around the Sun. PHYSICIAN NETWORK (corporate sales presentation) Physician Network is a leader in developing and marketing highly functional practice-management software products for physician practices. The companys objective is to establish a large installed base of physician-practice customers who use its products. Since 1993, Physician Network has completed seven acquisitions of software information businesses, lifting its share of the office-based physician market to approximately 25% of the market.



practice tips practice scripts

PRACTICE TIPS Like anything, voice over requires practice. However, practicing incorrectly can do more harm than good. First-hand, I've seen voice over artists forget to practice. And worse, become rusty. For example, producing a commercial for Gillette, I needed a mid-aged conversational female voice over artist. I heard a womans demothat had this type of delivery so I hired her. She was incapable of reproducing the delivery demonstrated on her demo. Eventually I hired another voice over artist to complete the job. Oddly, she wonders why I havent hired her again. That's why we suggest incorporating the following practice methods into your routine. Record your practice sessions and later play them back to critique. (Note: do not critique your performance during recording, as it is impossible to concentrate on both simultaneously. Play the part of the voice over artist at first (concentrating on your delivery), and later play the part of the producer (concentrating on your performance). If you do not practice this way, you're liable to miss your mistakes, therefore reinforcing bad habits. Note - when practicing "basic technique", do not record more than 30 seconds worth of copy without listening back. If you are reading incorrectly, and you read for a long duration, the incorrect delivery will become reinforced. However, if you are practicing "duration training" (such as audio books, narrations, biographies, documentaries, etc.), then you must practice reading for long durations. Use the "3 Levels of Training," as described in the Industry guidebook (excerpts and ordering information at They are: 1. Practice each technique one at a time, until it is reflexive. 2. Once this has been mastered, practice techniques simultaneously until your delivery sounds natural. 3. Finally, incorporate character, emotion, variety, and creativity into your delivery. Practice reading scripts to groups of people, as this will prepare you for reading in front of producers, engineers, clients, scriptwriters, etc.. Libraries, schools, radio stations, and some organizations offer reading for the blind and reading for children.

Here are where scripts can be found:


commercials: Magazine advertisements are a great source of practice scripts advertising agencies often use the same scripts for magazine as they do for radio and television advertising. For scripts appropriate for your voice, look in magazines that interest you to find copy for practicing.

narrations: Transcribe a documentary, biography, audio-book, voice-mail, etc. Or use the copy from an encyclopedia or training manual. Even reading a newspaper is helpful. Mimic professionals. This will increase your ability to mimic producers when they vocally suggest how they want you to deliver the copy during a recording session. The best way to do this is to record a professional voice over (using a small recorder), transcribe it, and then mimic it back into your recorder. Then listen back to both recordings to ensure they sound the same. Practice with as many various styles (characters) as possible, as this will increase your ability to take direction, find the appropriate character, and open up the doors to more diverse work. For example, during one practice session, try a childs script, an audio-book, and then a telephone messaging system. Practice the art of reading in your natural voice, as many producers desire unaffected voices (also known as natural and conversational). This technique will teach you a lot about your own voice, and how challenging it can be to use on command. To do this, record your own natural conversation (while speaking to someone). Then transcribe it. And then re-record yourself reading the transcription. Listen back to both recordings - they should sound identical. If they dont, you have more practicing to do.

PRACTICE SCRIPTS Following are numerous styles of practice scripts. Practice each script with numerous different delivery types (using the 4 Voice Fundamentals). This is good practice because every script can be read in numerous ways and the more versatile you become, and the more work you will get. Following are three types of scripts: Standard Adult Character and Animation Children These scripts are for practice only, and should not be used for demos.



1. THE TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY (television commercial) We all share the same goals in business and in life. Security ... protection ... trust. What every man, woman, and child seeks from birth. What we at The Travelers have been dedicated to providing for 130 years. A difference backed by over $100 billion in assets, and the knowledge that every customer under Americas umbrella is our most important one. THE TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY. 2. REVLON COLOR STAY (makeup application video) At Revlon, we believe that looking good means feeling good about yourself. And for most women, looking good begins with clear, smooth, glowing skin. How do you get it? Thats what this ColorStay Makeup Video is all about. This video teaches you about your skin, and how by performing some basic techniques, you can get and maintain a beautiful and younger complexion. Simply follow the basic steps in this video. 3. BOSTON UNIVERSITY (interactive college guided tour) Wondering what it's like to be a student at Boston University? Take one of our virtual tours to learn about the lives of some of our students and their varying backgrounds, interests and majors. Freshmen can learn more about what to expect during their first year at BU including time management, how college differs from high school, and what living in a residence hall is really like. Interested in the person you could become with a degree from Boston University? Check out the Senior Experience tour to learn from students who "know the ropes". Find out about the challenges and rigors of various majors, the benefits of internships, and preparing for the world after graduation. 4. WASHINGTON MUTUAL (radio commercial) Tired of getting played every time you get cash out of an ATM? Then start using a Washington Mutual ATM. Unlike some other banks who force you to pay an arbitrary surcharge when you get your money out of our ATMs, we dont even if youre not a Washington Mutual customer. Surcharge-free ATMs from Washington Mutual, just the way nature intended them to be. 5. THE NEW YORK TIMES (television commercial) The New York Times offers you world-class coverage of events. Overthrown governments. Acts of diplomacy. Plummeting stocks. Rising stocks. Mudslinging. Filibustering and other timely issues. THE NEW YORK TIMES. Pick up a copy at a newsstand today. Or, to inquire about home delivery, call 1-800-NY-TIMES. 6. IRA TUTORIAL (home learning guide)


In the next 15 minutes, you will learn the four steps towards a better retirement. An IRA will be a key player in almost any retirement plan. Here are some steps you can take now to make your IRA work harder for you and help secure a more comfortable retirement. The earlier you start contributing to a tax-deferred IRA Annuity, the larger your nest egg can grow. Over time, the combination of tax-deferral and compound interest can be dramatic. Although you can open an IRA Annuity with as little as $50, making the maximum contribution... 7. AMERICAN EXPRESS (menu-prompt telephony) Welcome to American Express, please have your card available. For balance, recent charges and credits posted to the account, future spending or membership rewards, press 1. To enroll or make a payment by phone, or for other payment information, press 2. If your card has been lost, stolen, is damaged, to check on the status of a renewal card or a replacement card request, or to change your name on the card, press 3. To apply for an American Express card, or to cancel a card, press 4. For questions regarding travel-related charges billed to your account, including airline, cruise line, tour operators, travel agents or hotels, press 5. For all other inquiries, press zero. 8. DODGE NEON (radio commercial) Now its even easier to take off in a Dodge Neon. After $1,500 cash back, Neons just 14 grand for starters, or 16 grand nicely equipped with lots of neat stuff like A/C, automatic, power front windows, power locks and power mirrors. Plus get low 1.9% APR financing for up to 60 months. But you better move quick. Theyre going pretty fast these days. 9. JIF PEANUT BUTTER (television commercial) My kids. All they care about is peanut butter. So I make sure they get the best. Ya know, I wasnt sure there was a best, until I opened the three leading brands, and found Jif smells more like fresh peanuts. Thats how I know JIF is better. As long as my kids care about peanut butter, I want to know theyre getting the best. Jif Peanut Butter...for Moms who care. 10. EARTHQUAKE (nature documentary) Pulled and pushed by forces deep within the planet, the Pacific plate is sliding northwest past North America at an average of about 2 inches a year - roughly the same rate as fingernails grow. But movement along the fault usually occurs in bursts. Along most of the fault, the colder, more rigid rocks near the earths surface resist the plate motions. Eventually, enough strain develops along a segment of the fault to overcome the resistance. Then, in geologic terms, that stretch of the fault "breaks," "fails," or "ruptures" and a segment of the crust riding the Pacific plate surges north, creating an earthquake.

In the magnitude 7.7 San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which killed more than 3000 people, a


270-mile-long segment of the San Andreas from south of 11. RUNNING SHOES (in-store promotional video) There is no perfect running shoe, partly because no two feet are alike, even on the same person. Still, top brands can be comfortable, safe, and effective running mates if you know what to look for. This video gives you practical guidelines to help you find shoes that will serve you well in the long run. First: if in doubt, dont buy. Shoes should feel just right in the store. Dont count on improvements after theyre broken in. Second... 12. AMERICAN AIRLINES (in-flight video) Welcome aboard American Airlines coast-to-coast service. Well be happy to do everything possible to make your flight with us a most pleasurable experience. Well provide you with all the information you need to know about your flight, your destination, and the equipment on which you are currently flying. In addition, we are proud to present our American Airlines feature film presentation, for our transcontinental passengers. Wed like you now to remove the plastic insert found directly in front of you in the seat back pocket. Please review the safety information during the flight for your own protection, in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. 13. FOX 54 (television promo) Buckle your couch belts. This weekend FOX 54 takes you for a ride! Saturday night at 8, get on a Harley or get out of the way when Mel Gibson takes to the open highway in MAD MAX. A biker gang terrorizes innocent pedestrians. MAD MAX is gonna put the pedal to the metal and blow the bikers right off the asphalt! Then at 10, Charles Bronson is back...cracking down on crack in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN. Mr. Vigilante goes after the dopes who deal drugs. The deal is...he does it his way. Bronson takes the war against drugs personally. All right here on FOX 54. 14. MAYBELLINE TRUE ILLUSIONS MAKEUP (television commercial) Introducing new True Illusions Makeup. Its a whole new reason to wear makeup. A look thats flawless yet makeup-free. A Maybelline beauty breakthrough makes it happen. Youll know True Illusions is different as soon as it floats across your face. It releases color weightlessly, evenly, subtly concealing flaws. To create a new kind of natural thats perfectly you. 15. CREST EXTENDER (television commercial tag) Introducing the Crest Extender. Gentle Extender fibers clean deep between teeth. Now you can floss daily...and extend between. Crest Extender. Fits between to get teeth clean. 16. DINERS CLUB (radio commercial) After 30 days, most charge card companies give you a warning. But at Diners Club, we give you another 30 days. We understand that sometimes a three-day business trip turns into three weeks, and by necessity, you could use some extra time to pay your bill. Thats why we always give you the convenience of an extra billing period to pay when you need it, interest-free. Call us at 1800-2-DINERS. Well answer all of your questions, no extra charge. Diners Club. Breaking the plastic mold.


17. THE CONNECTICUT LOTTERY (radio commercial) I couldnt stop laughing. I mean the lottery? I couldnt believe it! I mean, at first, I figured it was just my husband...or even a couple friends playing a joke on me. But when they gave me the money...well then I knew it was for real. Ive been playing those same numbers for about 2 years...and really can pay off. The Connecticut lottery...somebodys gotta win. 18. COMP USA (television commercial) You gotta see it, to believe it. For a limited time, the whole store is on sale. Thats right, every item is reduced significantly up to 75% off in some cases. With over 400 camcorders to choose from, our video-recorder department is stocked and ready to deal. And get this, weve got over a hundred different computer systems ready for immediate blow-out. Its Comp USAs biggest sale ever! Sale ends Sunday June 18th. 19. BLUE ANGELS (sales video) Strap yourself in for a high-altitude, history-making adventure youre about to experience the thrill, precision, and aerial artistry of the Navys Blue Angels. This video opens the cockpit on this legendary squadron as they take off on their first European tour in 20 years. Youll soar above Russia, where MIG fighters intercept and escort the BLUE ANGELS the first U.S. military flight demo team ever to appear in the former enemys skies. Youll discover the teams illustrious story through archival footage and interviews with pilots and crews. Plus... 20. BILL GATES (biography) Born in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955, William Henry Gates III is the only son of the three children of Mary and William Henry Gates, Jr. A bright and active child, Bill began cutting classes to hang out at all hours at his private schools computer center. When he was only 16, he and friend Paul Allen sold their computer-run system to monitor highway traffic and reportedly earned $20,000 -- but business fell off when customers found out that the entrepreneurs were still in highschool. 21. PONTIAC GRAND AM (television commercial) Analog instrumentation...a leather-wrapped steering wheel...contoured sport bucket seats. Its all there in the new Pontiac Grand Am SE...just waiting to engage your driving passion for performance. And theres a lot here to engage. Grand Am SE. Its performance, excitement, and commitment to quality make this the Sport Sedan of a lifetime. Pontiac...we build excitement! 22. WINTERGREEN RESORT (television commercial) If youre in the dark about where to ski, let us shed some light on the subject. High in Virginias Blue Ridge Mountains, discover whats been called the Mid-Atlantics finest overall ski experience. Wintergreen offers 10 slopes, five lifts, and an extensive snow-making system. Not to mention luxurious accommodations, an indoor spa, and a nationally recognized childrens program. For more information, call 1-800-ski-green. Thats 1-800-ski-green. Wintergreen and Virginia...the perfect combination! 23. THE CENTURY OF CHANGE (audiobook) The Century of Change is the story of Americans who combined their native skills with the growing torrent of new knowledge to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children. Like


the sewing machine, countless other inventions and techniques appeared to help this determination become a reality. The story is not a routine report of smooth progress toward the perfection of life. There have been hardships, yes -- even injustice among Americans. The balance between laws and social progress is the critical element in George Washingtons Great Experiment. It is the people -- each new generation of Americans -- who must improve and maintain this balance within their Constitution. 24. THE LAND OF EGYPT (travelogue) Egypt has always been a land of mystery and magic a land different from all others, difficult to understand, apart and alien, yet strangely fascinating. It was the most self-contained of all the countries of the ancient world; it lived its own life, practiced its own religion, and made up its own government with hardly any outside interference either from or upon other civilizations. The Egyptians were... 25. CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR CHILDREN (PSA radio commercial) As a parent, I know what city kids face in the streets today is bad enough. And now, Mayor Guilliani wants to slash school building improvements and after-school youth programs...all of which are essential to keeping youngsters off the streets. Dont let this happen to our childrens futures. Call the Mayor and your council representative. Tell them you want to put kids first, not last, when they plan the city budget. A message from CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR CHILDREN. 26. LOCKHEED SPACE STATION (documentary) For more than three decades, mankind has explored the mysteries of the universe from a vantage point in space. Now were turning space into a practical place to work. By the year 2010, NASAs space station is scheduled to give science a permanent platform in orbit. A place where researchers can examine our world from a unique perspective, and experiment under conditions of extreme temperature and weightlessness. In zero gravity, compounds can react in ways not possible here on Earth. Scientists can create better medicines, more durable plastics, and stronger alloys made of metals that resist mixing under gravitys pull. The Space Station will... 27. DELTA AIRLINES INTERACTIVE (interactive website) It's always the right time to fly Delta. And to assure a perfect trip, Delta has prepared this program to offer you important facts and helpful information, along with tips for travelers. Just click start for practical information. 50 years have passed since Delta established itself as a national carrier, and Delta has come a long way since then. It has matured into an international airline, serving thousands of destinations. Since its inception, Delta has served as a steadfast air bridge between Asia and the world. 28. MACYS (television commercial) Its Macys Thanksgiving sale. Storewide savings for the whole family. All womens coats and jackets...30-50 percent off. All mens outerwear...25-50 percent off. And all kids jackets, hats, and gloves...up to 60 percent off. Macys Thanksgiving Sale. All you need for the holidays. 29. HAMPTON TOYOTA (radio commercial) At HAMPTON TOYOTA, were having a sale thatll blow you away! Its our annual July 4th birthday extravaganza. Hundreds of cars, trucks, and unbelievable rock bottom prices.


Shop around. Then come to HAMPTON because we guarantee the lowest prices. The right car, the right price, the right dealer. HAMPTON TOYOTA....right where it counts. 30. BOSE 3-2-1 GS SYSTEM (tutorial) Congratulations on your discerning purchase of the new Bose 3-2-1 GS System. Weve made this award-winning 3-2-1 DVD home entertainment system even smaller and better, with an enhanced surround sound experience from just two incredibly small speakers. With Bose patented speaker technology and our latest signal processing, your new speakers will deliver the benefits of a surround sound without running wires to the back of your room


Suggestion: lose all inhibitions, have fun, and go for it. Really get into character. It is essential that the character come across very strongly. However, since it is common for voice over artists to believe they are delivering more character than they really are, and since it is too easy to be inhibited (not be free with your delivery), producers are often not pleased with the performance. Remember that the idea of an animation/character is to sound nothing like your natural voice. Therefore, be uninhibited, and change your voice as much as possible. In other words, read in such a way that the producer says, Wow, if I didnt see you reading, I would have never believed it was you! To help develop the character, pretend you are dressed in a full-body costume of the character (so nobody can see who you really are). Or pretend that you are giving a hand-puppet show and you are behind a wall, with puppets facing the other side of the wall, and no one can see you. 1. MOPEY THE DONKEY (childrens interactive game wizard) Hi kids, Im Mopey the donkey, and Im here to help guide you through this program. Any time that you have a question, just place your cursor on the help me button, and click the mouse. If you want me to repeat something, click the go back button. Now, to begin, click start, and me and my pals will show you around! 2. LENDERS BAGELS (radio commercial) As a New Yorker, I know a good bagel when I see one. And let me tell ya, Lenders makes one that cant be beat! Available in all your favorite flavors. Hey, you can trust a New Yorker. Lenders...just like New York! 3. LIQUID PLUMBER (television commercial) Every time you use your kitchen or bathroom sink, gunky stuff like soap, hair and grease can clog your drains. And as a plumber, Ive seen first-hand how gross clogged-up drains can be. Now you


can prevent this clogging with new Liquid Plumber drain cleaner. Let Liquid Plumber Build-up Remover Drain Cleaner clear your drains, so you dont have to be grossed out. 4. CELENTANO FROZEN FOODS (radio commercial) You know, when mama cooked, nobody could beat the fresh aroma that came from her kitchen. Somehow, the sauce was always just right ... the pasta so fresh, the taste so delicious. Now, theres only one name to think of for food like Mamas. Celentanos Italian Frozen Entrees, with the freshness of a home-cooked meal ... Lasagna, ravioli, manicotti, stuffed shells ... just like Mama used to make ... only with fewer calories. CELENTANO ... do it for yourself ... do it for Mama. 5. BRER BEAR AN DE BAG FULL OF TURKEYS (childrens audiobook) One day, Brer Rabbit wuz loungin round under a pomegranate tree, puzzlin what he wuz goin ter do next. He just couldnt make up his mind. On de one hand, he wuz feelin sorter hungry, but on de other hand, he wuz feelin sorter lazy. By n by, he seed Brer Bear comin along wid a big empty bag slung over his shoulder. Howdy, Brer Bear! Wher you goin wid dat bag? Im goin huntin. So long! Wid dat Brer Bear go trudgin off on his way. 6. THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD (childrens cartoon) Chug, chug, chug, puff, puff, puff, ding dong, ding dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks. She was a happy little train, for she had such a jolly load to carry. Her cars were filled full of good little things for boys and girls. There were toy animals giraffes with long necks, teddy bears with almost no necks at all, and even a baby elephant. Then there was the funniest little clown you ever saw.

1. SPACE CAMP SPACE & ROCKET MISSION (museum exhibit) Welcome to Space Camp! Join us on the Blast off to Camp Sweepstakes, where we join the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Well train like real astronauts do, perform scientific experiments and participate in a simulated space mission! 2. DR. SEUSS (childrens picturebook) Dear Whelden will show you great sights as you go: Right now you are riding down Stethoscope Row. And I know that, like all our top patients, youre hoping to get yourself stethed with some fine first-class scoping. So Im sure youll be simply delighted to hear that in the Internal Organs Olympics last year Doctor Schmidt, Smoot, Sinatra, Sylvester, and Fonz won fifteen gold medals, nine silver, six bronze! For the moment, however, well by-pass this bunch. There is plenty of time to see them after lunch.


3. PIXELS (interactive computer game) 1. Which of these things starts with the letter B? A pencil...a car...a ball...or an apple? Touch your answer on the screen, and hit enter. - Hey, you got the picture! You could hear the buh sound in the word ball. - Im sorry, that is not correct. Try again. 2. Hey, somebody ripped up this picture. I cant even tell what it was of can you? Is it a horse...a cat...a pig...or a dog? - Good going! It was a dog. You have sharp eyes. - Oops, that is not right. Try again. 3. All of these things are neat to eat, but three of them arent a treat for your teeth. Which thing is good for you and your teeth? - Thats right! The carrot is very good for you. Those other things are full of sugar, which is very bad for your teeth. - That is not the right answer. Try again. 4. SESAME STREET PLAYHOUSE (television commercial) Its Sesame Street in the backyard. All the fun and imagination of Sesame Street is here. A playhouse with things to slide on, and wriggle through, and pretend to talk on, and play with. The outdoors is even more fun when Sesame Street is part of it. Now, theres a lot of SESAME STREET for everyones backyard. Its fun. Each sold separately...from MATTEL.


Chapter 5: Post-Training
In this chapter:
evaluate your potential determine your next step


1. so how good are you? Do you think you have it? Is voice over a viable source of income for you? Determining your skill level is an essential step in considering whether or not to continue the path towards voice over work. The following exercises will help you determine your skill level. Note: Interestingly, if you determine that voice over is not for you, the skills you have learned thus far are still beneficial. They can be used in many applications, such as recording your voicemail, informing and teaching others, controlling your voice when selling, public speaking, etc. Record yourself and listen back objectively. Do you sound like a professional? One thing to bear in mind is that professionals often have music in the background, and that elevates the sound quality. Therefore, play appropriate music in the background while recording yourself. Record yourself and have others listen back to the recording. Only do this with people who will be honest with you. Do they think you sound professional? Go to a professional studio and read for producers. You can generally assume that youll receive an honest assessment. Make sure you read for producers who work within the voice over industry, not in the music industry, as there are vast differences. Expect a charge though perhaps $50 for a half hour. Perhaps you can request free time. Or even barter. For example, tell them that if you are good, you will record one voice over script for free. 2. notes Make sure that you are using practice scripts that are appropriate for your voice. If not, an


accurate evaluation cannot be made. Are you practicing with the same scripts at home, and therefore reading from memory? Thats much easier than reading cold copy, which is the way its always done at a recording studio. Perhaps you can sound great at home. But does it require countless hours of practice and warm-up? Keep in mind that producers expect a great sound immediately.


1. is voice over worth pursuing? Deciding whether or not to pursue voice over is an important decision one that should be considered carefully. If you believe that: potential exists or no potential exists, yet continued training will benefit other branches of your career and life or there is not enough potential to work professionally, but your goal is to do volunteer work such as reading for the blind or no potential exists, but you feel that continued training will eventually get you there and if you: are open-minded, and will not be devastated if success doesnt happen can afford to lose invested time and money do not give up something more important to focus on voice over then voice over is worth pursuing.

2. whats next? If you plan to pursue voice over, a number of options are available. You can: continue training on your own, using this guidebook. continue training with a professional. Ensure that it is a producer who specializes in voice


over training, and one that you feel comfortable with. discover your strengths and weaknesses, and determine marketable niches. explore your marketing options, as this is directly tied to where you focus your future training (see the marketing overview section of the Marketing chapter). produce a demo (see the demo overview section of the following Demo chapter).


Chapter 6: Demo
In this chapter:
demo overview when to produce a demo producing a demo

1. definition Short for demonstration, a demo is an audio recording that demonstrates vocal capabilities. Demos are also known as demo tapes and demo reels (from the days of cassettes and reel-toreels). 2. purpose The demo represents the voice over artist (much like a rsum) in the attempt to obtain work. For every voice over job or audition, a casting professional must locate a voice over artist with a specified voice. Demos are what casting professionals review to determine which voice over artist is most appropriate. Without a demo, obtaining work is virtually impossible. 3. types Three general types of demos exist. Each type focuses on a different sector of the industry. commercial demo: Due to the glamour of being heard on national television commercials, this is the most popular type of demo, even though only 10% of the work is commercial work. A commercial demo demonstrates a variety of different kinds of commercials. For example, conversational, hard-sell, nonchalant, public service announcement, etc. narration demo: To work full-time in this industry, it is generally necessary to have a narration demo, as narrations are 90% of the work. A narration demo demonstrates a variety of different kinds of narrations. For example,


documentary, voice-mail, website narration, childrens educational film, etc. specialty demo: This is a demo that serves one niche of the industry. This type of demo makes it easier to obtain work in one specific segment of the industry. For example, a nature-film voice over demo increases the chance of being hired by a nature-film producer. However, its difficult to obtain other types of work with this type of demo. Specialty demo types include: character demo, audio-book demo, foreign language demo, nature film demo, childrens work demo, etc. Most voice over artists have at least a commercial and narration demo as with both, they are able to get all types of work. However many professionals often have specialty demos, allowing them to presumably gain additional work in that specific genre. NOTE: The more variety you show on your demo, the more diverse you appear. Sometimes that is good, and sometimes not. It is based upon your competition. If you will market in a competitive area, (such as an urban area), then it is often best to show one vocal style. This is because casting professionals have demos from many other voice over artistsmany who specialize in one certain style. Therefore casting professionals prefer the opportunity to hire a voice over artist who specializes in the vocal style they desireas opposed to hiring a Jack of all trades. If you will market in a non-competitive area, (such as a rural area), then it is often best to demonstrate as much variety as possible, as there is no competition to compete against. 4. contents Demos contain small segments of work called spots. Each spot showcases a different style of delivery. For example, one spot may show an upbeat style, another spot may show a serious style, and so forth. By demonstrating a greater variety of spots on your demo, there is more chance that a producer will hire you. This is because you show the producers that you are capable of varied types of work. A spot is generally 5 to 15 seconds worth of an original recording regardless of whether the original was a 60-second radio commercial or a 3-hour-long documentary. 5. length Demos are typically to 1 minutes long. It may seem short, but it doesnt take more than a moment to determine what someone sounds like. (Think about this: when you listen to someone singing kareoke, it probably doesnt take you more than a few seconds to determine what they sound like.)


6. formats Voice talent market their demos in a few different formats: MP3s: The majority of voice talent today market MP3 files. In fact, we estimate that the majority of casting professionals not only accept, but prefer MP3s. There are many benefits to using MP3s: 1. Emailing an MP3 to casting professionals and potential customers is free, assuming you already have Internet service. 2. Your demo can easily be uploaded to websites (your own or a casting professionals library) for potential customers to review and download. 3. It is simple for casting professionals to receive and save your demo directly onto their computer. 4. It is environmentally friendly, as CDs, envelopes, and CD labeling are unnecessary. compact discs (CDs): CDs are essentially the only tangible demo voice talent use to market themselves. CD copies of your demo can be obtained from most recording studios and duplication houses (that specialize in mass-duplication). Alternatively, it is quite simple to burn CDs on your own computer. There are some benefits to using CDs: 1. Some casting professionals prefer CDs and dislike MP3s. In this case, being prepared with a CD can help secure a new customer. 2. Many talent use CDs in addition to, or in place of business cards. This is a great way to market yourself. 3. It tends to be easier to delete MP3s than it is to throw away a CD, and for that reason, it is possible that some potential customers hold onto CDs more than they do MP3 files.


4. CD labeling can help your CD stand out, by having attractive graphics. This is unlike MP3s, where every file looks the same. 7. labeling a CD demo Following is the typical text labeled onto CD demos. Note that there is no standard. Your demo can be as personalized as you would like. Keep in mind, though, that the more clearly labeled it is, the more marketable it is. a. name: The name generally appears on top, in bold letters. b. contents: The contents must be noted, such as: - voice over demo - jingle demo - audio book demo c. contact information: Information to reach the demo-artist may include telephone number, cellphone, etc. Addresses are generally not included. d. track information: Track information shows what audio is on what track, such as: - track 1 = singing demo - track 2 = character demo - track 3 = foreign language demo On some demos, the track information is more specific, in that each recording is a separate track number, and contains detailed information, such as: - track 1 = audio book excerpt War of the Worlds mysterious, dramatic - track 2 = audio book excerpt Dr. Seuss silly, lighthearted, childish or - track 1 = character voice New Yorker rough, gravely - track 2 = character voice dialect British, dignified or - track 1 = jingle Mobile Gasoline pop style, upbeat


- track 2 = jingle Myers Real Estate slow tempo, caring Running times can also be listed for each track, such as: - track 1 = dialect demo 1:12 - track 2 = medical demo 1:34 - track 3 = news/promo demo 1:02 e. logos and graphics: Logos and graphics are rarely used on duplicates for two reasons. First, they take up too much room. Second, the duplicate is like a resume, and does not need to be aesthetically pleasing. However, if one is preferred, send us a tiff or jpeg file, or give us a hard copy and we will scan it on. There are two optional items that can be inserted into your duplicate CDs. These are: Front Card: A front card is a paper insert that slips into the front of the CD's case, and contains text and/or graphic information. Tray Card (aka Back Cards): A tray card is a paper insert which fits into the back, and the left and right sides spines of the CD case, and contains text and/or graphic information (such as your name, etc). Note that this option allows information on the back of the CD case, AND along the spine of the CD case, which allows information to be visible when the CD is stored vertically (as in a CD storage case). These options allow the demo to appear more professional. And with any word processor or graphic program and printer, they can be created inexpensively, and inserted into your CDs for an extremely high-end and aesthetically pleasing duplicate. Either of these cards would include the same information as the duplicate contains. In addition, a biography, resume, logo, or other information could be included. 8. file naming an MP3 demo MP3 demos should be named with your full name and the type of demo you are marketing. For example: Joan Dickson commercial demo.MP3 This way casting professionals can easily download your demo onto their computer without needing to re-name it. 9. longevity A demo should last one to three years. It is important that the demo does not appear out-of-date, because that will indicate that the voice over artist has not worked for a while.


Many factors can give away the fact that a demo is out-of-date, such as type of delivery, type of scriptwriting, and style of music. Updating a demo generally involves having an audio engineer cut and paste spots from the old demo onto a demo with new spots. New spots are either actual voice over jobs that the artist has professionally recorded, or spots recorded solely for the purpose of updating a demo. When you update a demo, not only is the demo current but it gives you a great excuse to contact old clients again.


1. anyone can sound good Using digital recording techniques, almost anyone can be made to sound good. And therefore it can always be the right time to make a demo. Or can it? Keep in mind that a producer chooses you based upon the quality of your demo. Therefore, when you are hired, its essential that you sound like your demo...WITHOUT relying on the engineer using digital recording techniques. In other words, don't misrepresent yourself. Its a bad way to begin a relationship with a producer and engineer. So, make the demo when you can sound good WITHOUT relying on digital recording techniques. If you are not sure you are ready, ask a producer who specializes in voice over. If you ask a producer who specializes in music, they will not know exactly what to listen for. 2. determine the right time for you Determining when to produce the demo is crucial, as the demo will play a large part in the quest for work. While many factors must be taken into consideration, the two most important ones are to: ensure that the demo demonstrates a certain vocal ability level, which allows you to reach your goals.


ensure that you have the ability to sound like your demo, so that you do not misrepresent yourself. The following two categories make the demo now and make the demo later present considerations that should go into your decision: a. make the demo now You have trained your voice to a level that either sounds professional or is as good as it will become. It is most certainly time to produce your demo. A potential contact has expressed interest in your talent, and will potentially hire you upon hearing your demo. There are two options in this situation. First, if you sound professional, produce your demo as soon as you can. Second, if you do not sound professional, tell them that you are in the process of producing a new demo, and it will be sent to them upon its completion. (Even though they are anxious to hear your demo, unless it is professional-sounding, they will not hire you, and youll set a bad precedent for yourself.) It is slow season (summer and winter), and therefore a great time to market. This is because potential clients have time to review your demo. Other income has dried up, and you are now in need of additional income sources.

b. make the demo later It takes countless hours to produce your demo. Fortunately, the producer you are paying to produce your demo is paid by the hour, and does not mind. But producers at real recording sessions do mind. Unless you can work quickly, do not make your demo.

To produce your demo, you attempt 20 scripts until one works well for you. In real recording sessions, you must be hired to read THE script the producer hands you. Unless you can read any script (in your style, that is), do not make the demo. While recording, you need to hear music in your headphones to establish the character and sound good. However, music is not played in headphones during recording sessions. Make sure you do not need to rely on hearing music. Each time you practice, you become better. So why not keep practicing, so that your first impression with potential clients is a great one.


You do not sound professional yet. Remember that your competition is skilled, and your unprofessional sounding demo will work against you (not only will you not obtain work, but you will set a bad impression for yourself). Instead, keep practicing. Make the demo when you are sure you sound professional. It is the middle of busy season (spring and fall). Marketing now can work against you. This is because potential clients will not have time to hear your demo. You are impatient. You want to begin working as soon as possible. Do not let this determine when you produce your demo. Let your skills determine when you do. Your skills have much room for improvement, but you decide to produce a demo now, believing that once you earn money in voice over, you can re-invest it into producing a better demo. This is not a wise choice, as producers remember the worst and may not listen to your newer and greater demo.


Whether you are creating a brand new demo or updating an existing one, producing it is an important task, because it is the demo that is most responsible for you obtaining work. Therefore, knowing what to record, when, how, and who to get to produce it, and where the demo will be made is crucial. 1. type Determining what type of demo to make is crucial, as this directly determines your chance of obtaining work. For example, if you produce a demo for a segment of the industry for which your voice is not suitable, you probably will not obtain work. Conversely, producing a demo for a segment of the industry for which your voice is suitable can bring much work your way. Determining what type of demo to produce is dependent upon the following variables: strengths: Focus on segments of the industry that require your voice type, as well as your delivery type. For example, if your voice is naturally low-key and warm, producing a public service announcement voice over demo would make sense. weaknesses: Stay away from areas for which your voice type and delivery are not desired. For example, if your voice is naturally vibrant and energetic, do not produce a public service announcement voice over demo.


aspirations: Focusing on a segment of the industry that inspires you can help for many reasons. First, you will have less tendency to put off the marketing process. Second, when youre marketing, it is typically easier to focus on one area, as opposed to all areas of this huge industry. And third, the work you obtain will be more exciting. lingo: If you are trained in a unique lingo, such as medicine or law or chemistry, use your skills to your advantage. For example, put together a medical voice over demo in which you demonstrate medical instructional videos and pharmaceutical commercials. Or a legal voice over demo in which you demonstrate narrated law-review tapes and legal continuing educational videos. Or a science voice over demo in which you demonstrate on-line chemistry programs, childrens educational science films, etc. contacts: If you have contacts in an area of the industry, that may a good starting point when producing a demo and marketing. For example, if you spent 20 years working as a travel agent, then perhaps a travel voice over demo would make sense. That type of demo could consist of travelogues, documentaries, hotel and airline commercials, etc. niche: Finding an area where there is less competition will undoubtedly increase your chance of obtaining work. For example, as of this writing, interactive voice over is just becoming popular. Therefore, perhaps producing a technology voice over demo would grab the attention of potential clients. This type of demo would feature the narration of websites, software narration, voice-prompt systems, etc. 2. how? How do you make a demo? Make the demo at a voice over production studio...not a music studioand nowhere else. Just about every recording studio has a microphone, and can therefore make a demo. However, unless the engineer or producer there specializes in voice over, they will probably not produce you correctly, and you therefore may not sound professional. 3. who? Who should make your demo? Well, you must work with a producer who specializes in voice over. In fact, it goes beyond that there must be a synergistic relationship between you and the producer. If you are not 100% relaxed and confident with the producer, your demo will not reach its fullest potential. Just any producer will not do. You need a producer who specializes in the production of demos. Some producers produce voice over but do not work on demos. Other producers specialize in music production, and they will probably not possess the skills necessary to put together a voice over demo.


Ensure that the producer is easygoing and will not become upset if you make mistakes. Ensure that they are willing to work with you in other words, that they realize your opinions count too. The producer must also have extensive script, music, and sound effect libraries, as well as a digital recording studio. 4. where? Where do you find such a producer? While it is easy to find a producer who claims that they specialize in voice over training and voice over demos, it is difficult to tell how good they are. Ask to hear demos that they have produced. However, they may play demos of 2 or 3 students who were naturals at voice over. If you are not a natural (and most of us are not), then the demo they play is almost meaningless. Instead, audit their workshops, get references from them, ask how long they have been in business producing voice over demos (they may have had a studio for 30 years, but only have been making voice over demos for 6 months). Very importantly, ask if they produce real work, especially national work. If so, ask for a list of their clients. If they produce voice over for national clients, there is a strong chance that they can do a wonderful job on your demo. 5. material Where do you obtain the scripts for the demo? Any producer, who specializes in the production of demos should have a vast supply of scripts. However, make sure they have a large enough supply, so that everyone who uses them does not have the same scripts on their demo. It is essential that the material on your demo show a range, for if it does not, obtaining work can be more challenging. You can also obtain your own material. You can write your own scripts, but ensure that your writing skills sound professional by reading your scripts for many others and asking their opinion. Also, most professionals use material from magazines, commercials, documentaries, etc., without the authors consent. This guidebook cannot recommend this practice as legal. 6. recording The recording process must be relaxing, as any apprehension, nervousness, and hesitance can be detected in the voice. It should take only an hour or so to put together a minute-long demo. However, if it is taking longer, do not rush. If you run out of time, simply schedule another day with the producer.


Make sure you record multiple takes (versions) of each spot, so that afterwards, the best take can be used on your demo. NOTE FOR THOSE MAKING BRAND NEW DEMOS: On the demo, it is wise to show spots that sound like they were recorded in different studios on different days (as opposed to having all the spots sound like they were recorded in the same studio on the same day which is often the way it is when making a brand new demo). This way, you appear to have real-life experience. Real-life experience is an appealing attribute to those who hire you, because it shows that you can (and have) handled yourself in professional recording situations before. This attribute is almost as important as your vocal delivery. Therefore, have the engineer use different microphones with different settings during the recording of each spot. 7. editing After the spots are recorded, the demo must be edited. This process involves a few steps. First, all takes of each spot must be listened to, so that the best ones can be chosen. In fact, it is possible to edit together individual words from various takes to generate the greatest possible spot. Second, music and sound effects must be added. To become more aware of music and sound effects, and therefore be more effective in helping the producer choose them, pay close attention to them in professional voice over work. Third, the spots must be sequenced. Typically, the first spot on the demo should be a combination of the most attention-grabbing and the most marketable. The second spot should be the most drastically different, so that a producer decides to continue listening to hear what else your voice is capable of. From that point on, a nice mix of styles is important. As soon as a style is repeated, the producer will stop listening. 8. master and duplicates The master demo will typically be given to you in the form of a CD or mp3. Even though CD to CD copies are theoretically identical (i.e. there is no loss of quality), it is suggested that you keep your master CD as a master, and only use it to make CD copies from or to download onto your computer. In other words, do not give your master CD to a casting professional. Your next step is to mass-produce the demo for marketing. (See the demo overview section of


this chapter for a complete explanation of demo types.) 9. introduction Introductions at the beginning of demos (for example, You are hearing the voice of Joe Schmoe) were once very common, but are rarely used today. This is because demos used to be 3 and 4 minutes long, and therefore using 4 seconds to say your name was not too time consuming. Plus, it was difficult to label a reel-to-reel tape, so the introduction was necessary for contacts to know who you were. Today, 4 seconds is approximately 7% of the minute-long demo: too much time to waste. Also, labeling a CD is simple, so contacts will know whose demo they are listening to.


Chapter 7: The Business

In this chapter:
getting hired, and by whom billing, invoicing, taxes union / non-union odds and ends: volunteer work, auditions


There are two sides of the industry: voice over artists and creative teams (scriptwriter, casting professional, creative director, producer, engineer, and sometimes client). Knowing how these two groups interact will help you appear more professional, and also will allow your marketing endeavors to be more efficient and effective. 1. who chooses a voice over artist? The creative director and/or creative team does. This could be the producer, the copywriter, the clientanyone who is in charge of the production. The creative team maintains a library of voice over demos. When they need to hire a voice over artist, they search their library to find the appropriate voice. Its advantageous for them to have a large library, as this allows them to be more specific when choosing a voice over artist. Often, the creative team will give a third party the responsibility of choosing the voice over artist. The third party could be a casting director, talent agency, recording studio, or anyone else who maintains a voice over library. In this case, the creative team will furnish the third party a list of required voice characteristics (see variables involved below). The third party will then search through their library of demos, find a few voices that closely fit the description, and give those demos to the creative team to make the final choice. Once a good rapport is established between the creative team and third party, the creative team may allow the third party to choose the final voice. It is estimated that creative teams will play a voice over artists demo 20 times for each time that it is chosen. The voice over artist is unaware when their demo is being played.


Auditions are another way that voice over artists are chosen. 2. variables involved To choose a voice over artist, creative teams consider the following variables: The basic voice characteristics gender, age, region The 4 Voice Fundamentals pitch range, tempo, tone, volume The character type e.g. authoritative, quirky, sad, sensual, first-person The amount of creativity the voice over artist has For example, can she make dry copy sound interesting? Can she easily provide alternate takes? The directability of the voice over artist For example, can she follow direction? Does she get upset when given direction? Can she interpret the production team? The professionalism of the voice over artist For example, is she punctual? Can she handle herself professionally in front of clients? Does she talk too much? The availability of the voice over artist For example, is she available at the last minute? Does she continually turn down jobs due to other commitments? Is the voice over artist union or non-union? What sort of fees does the voice over artist charge? 3. after being chosen When a member of the creative team decides to hire you, they will contact you and say that they are interested in using you for a project. Typically, they will tell you what type of project it is, how much it will pay, and when they need to record it. Often, you will be contacted a day or two before the proposed recording date. For this, continually check your answering device. For if the casting professional leaves a voice-message for you and does not hear back within a few hours, they may have no other choice but to hire another voice over artist. It is not a problem if you are not available at the recording time they suggest. In this case, simply state that you are not available then, and perhaps an alternative time can be scheduled. 4. word of wisdom Wait until after you have hung up the telephone with the creative team to begin jumping around and cheering the fact that you obtained a job.



1. billing For union jobs, there is a base rate that is pre-determined. However, it is common for topnotch professionals to charge more than the base union rate. Union rates are based upon many variables, such as: o market coverage: different rates apply for local, regional, and national coverage o duration: the longer the recording is used, the greater the amount of compensation. For example, once a commercial airs for over 13 weeks, the voice over artist will receive another payment. For non-union jobs, rates are negotiated between the voice over artist and the client. In other words, you are often told what the payment is and you decide to accept it or not. This is known as a buy-out fee. Even if a commercial airs longer than you were told, or if a small video becomes a national documentary, there are no additional payments made to you for a buy-out. You generally sign a talent release form agreeing to the above conditions. Therefore, knowing how to determine the best non-union rate is critical. This is based upon numerous factors: o Commercial payment is based on the size of the advertiser, how long the spot will air, and if it will air in one local market or in many major markets. A local cable TV spot may pay $50, while a national TV spot airing on network TV could pay thousands of dollars. o Narrations often pay by the hour (with the first hour generally being higher). Based upon the company's budget, length of the job, who will hear it (in-house or general public), and purpose (training video or soundtrack for a major documentary), charge between $100 and $250 for the first hour, and $75 and $150 for each additional hour.

Remember that when you are new, charging less may help win that first job. However, demanding too small a fee can set a precedent, so that asking for higher compensation down the road may not sit well with your clients. Requiring little compensation can also mark you as having little experience under your belt. And finally, being inexpensive can be construed as being hard-up for work. Of course, there is the option of giving a new-client discount, or telling a prospective client that you will do the first session for free, so that they can see your ability.


Keep in mind that asking for a great amount of compensation can signal experience, skill, confidence, and can therefore ease the nervousness of your clients. But asking more than the clients budget can lose you the job. Plus, demanding big $$$s means youd BETTER be worth every penny! So, before giving a quote, do one thing: figure out what your client CAN pay. Not how much they WANT to pay, but what they CAN pay. And its simple to find out. Just ask them, "Whats the budget for this job? I'd like to work with you on it." Or "What have you paid voice over artists for similar jobs in past?" Finally, try and find out how many other voice over artists are being considered. If the answer is "none," its time to beef up your fee a bit. Most importantly, remember that any work is work. And while you shouldnt attempt to rip off your client, you should not cheat yourself either. 2. invoicing Invoices are important, and are the direct link between your hard work and your remuneration. Therefore, they should be drafted with care. Most professional voice over artists print their invoices on regular paper, in black ink, from their home printers. Anything fancier is unnecessary. The content is important. Name, contact information (telephone, email, address), social security number, and job description are essential. Also include to whom the check should be made payable. If you sell your services with any 'fine print,' we suggest articulating it on your invoice. For example: payment due within 30 days, or 1.5% interest per month shall be added onto bill. Finally, realize that you will probably never be paid unless you (the voice over artist) take the initiative and send your client an invoice. One important note: do not mention remuneration and/or invoicing during your recording session. This is because your clients may be charging their clients (who may be present at the recording session) more than you are being paid. In other words, if your client (suppose a studio producer) pays you $350 to record a commercial for a restaurant, they may charge their client (the restaurant, or the restaurants advertising agency) $400. Therefore, the restaurant could be upset if they found out that the studio was marking up your service. 3. taxes As with any business, there are taxes involved in voice over. And therefore, maintaining records is essential. The IRS and state unemployment agency could randomly audit you, and without proof of


records, you could be at a disadvantage. Keep records on all expenditures that are directly related to your voice over business, including, but not limited to, travel costs, marketing costs (such as demos and postage), telephone charges, etc. Part of your mortgage or rent can be deducted if your home office is used ONLY for your business. For example, if the home office is 10% of your home's total square footage, you may be able to deduct 10% from your mortgage or rent. Similarly, you can deduct your entire telephone bill if that telephone line is ONLY used for your business. Note that if items such as home office and telephone lines are hybrid (they are used personally and for business), they may not be deducted. Store all records systematically, either sequentially or alphabetically, in a binder (do not use a folder, as items may fall out). Pay business expenses with a check, so a record of the transaction is generated. Finally, it may be wise to become a corporation or a limited liability company. This can protect your personal belongings in the event that your business is sued. Plus you may appear more credible to your clients and vendors because you are not an individual. However, becoming a corporation also adds additional paperwork and cost. If you choose to remain an individual, you may become a DBA (doing business as). This would give you a more professional appearance, without the added time and money. Whether individual or DBA, you can use your social security number for legal transactions. You do not need a business ID. Note that each state's tax laws vary, and tax laws change regularly. The above may not hold true in all circumstances. Contact your local tax office for exact rulings.

Determining if, and when, to join the union is an important decision. This is because the advantages and disadvantages of both can greatly impact your voice over career. First, here is a brief explanation of the union. There are two voice over unions. (For many years, it has been rumored that they will merge.) Most professionals belong to both unions: SAG (Screen Actors Guild): recordings on film (television commercial, documentary, etc.) AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists): recordings in formats other than film (radio commercial, video, broadcasting, news show, audio tape, and music) Their current contact information, including website addresses, are on our website:


While the unions have high initiation fees and dues, there are many perks: guaranteed decent wages, guaranteed payment schedules, health and pension plans, etc. Being a member of a union is also prestigious, as a large percentage of high-budget, national productions are union. The disadvantage of being a union member is that non-union-signatory creative teams cannot use your services. Instead, you can only perform union work. Note that a large percentage of local and regional commercials, as well as numerous narrations, are non-union. When you are new in the industry, it is suggested that you stay away from the union. This is because casting professionals assume union voice over artists to be very experienced, and having little experience in the field would stymie your chance of winning auditions and performing well. Instead, allow your career to take off with non-union work, like local and regional commercials, telephone systems, training videos for small businesses, etc. While these jobs pay less than union, they are great places to improve your skills, boost your confidence, and build your rsum.


1. volunteer work Volunteer work is a great way to gain experience, gain contacts, and get in the door! Libraries, radio stations, schools, etc., seek volunteers to read audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, and other materials for children and for the blind. organizations for the blind: Numerous organizations for the blind exist, and most of them require volunteers to read books, newspapers, magazines, instructional manuals, and more for the blind. libraries: Just about every library offers reading for the blind. A few major libraries pay voice over artists for this reading, but the pay is quite low. radio stations: Most cities have at least one radio station that offers programs for the blind. non-profit organizations: Some organizations, including public access TV stations, foundations, and government-funded programs, are in need of volunteer voice over artists. schools: Many schools accept volunteers to read for children.


2. auditions An audition is the time when creative teams have voice over artists read in person, as opposed to hiring them by reviewing their demo. Auditions are more common on large-budget production jobs and therefore happen more often on union jobs. Even though a voice over artists voice can be heard clearly by reviewing their demo, the creative team cannot tell the following by reviewing a demo: how well will their voice sound with the specific copy whether the voice over artist can take direction how creative the voice over artist is The following describes an audition: a. You are generally given at least 10 minutes to review the copy prior to auditioning. b. The creative team will indicate what style they desire. Sometimes the creative team may refer to a spot on your demo that demonstrates the intended style. c. Then you will be asked to read sometimes in front of a microphone so that you can be recorded, sometimes in front of a large group of people, sometimes very casually in front of one person. Follow the directions exactly. DO NOT voice your own opinions about how the script should be read. d. After the creative team has heard the delivery, they may ask to hear a few alternative takes. Now is the time to show that youre creative and full of variety. e. There may be 20 voice over artists per audition. Statistically, youll get 1 out of 20 jobs. Do not be discouraged if you are not chosen (your voice may be perfect for the next job). Regardless, each audition gains you more experience, more confidence, and more contacts! f. Always bring demos and business cards with you to hand out if the opportunity arises.


Chapter 8: Home Studio

In this chapter:
should you? how big is your head? choose a microphone design and build your space

Home studios have flourished over the past few years, mainly because: the equipment has become very inexpensive home studios allow for more and/or different types of voice over work auditions can be recorded from home, without pressure. More and more voice talent are increasing their incomes using home studios. Should you? Voice over home studios are becoming the norm in our industry. In fact, we estimate that over 50% of voice talent have, at minimum, a modest set-up, capable of recording at least an audition MP3. And while it's certainly not necessary to have a home studio to make a living doing voice overs, having one will increase your chance of obtaining more work. Plus operating a home studio is more feasible then ever. With respect to building a home studio, the barriers of entry have decreased significantly. Prices of studio equipment have dropped by, perhaps, as much as 75%! The space that a home studio takes up has shrunk enough to fit in a small closet! And the learning curve, while still challenging for some, is much less than ever before. With a modest recording set-up (beginning at $1,000), a home studio is very practical. Offer your clients a "one-stop-shop", where they email you their script, you record and produce it, and give them back a completed recording. For new clients, who may want to be present during the recording session, purchase a "telephone patch" (beginning at $150), and let them "listen in" and produce you during your recording session. Since most computers allow CD burning, all youll probably need to purchase is a good microphone (beginning at $250), a good microphone pre-amplifier (beginning at $350), a recording software program (beginning at $250), a good sound card (beginning at $100), and a pair of headphones (beginning at $50). These can be purchased at local music recording stores.


If the recording is shorter than one minute, you can generally send it via email. Longer recordings (over one minute) may take too long to upload and download through email, and therefore a CD will need to be shipped (via regular mail or Fed-Ex). ISDN is another way of sending your completed recording to your client. This is a machine (costing at least $2,000) that sends digital information through a special digital telephone line. Most telephone companies (like AT&T) offer this, and charge a hefty installation fee, plus at least $50 per month, plus a per-minute usage fee. If you use it a lot, it can easily pay off itself. Internet software is also available that simulates an ISDN line. Note that your client must have a compatible ISDN unit for the transfer to occur. Many voice over artists do not own ISDN units, nor have ISDN lines put into their homes, but instead use a local recording studio that offers ISDN service when they need it. Yet like anything, there are pluses and minuses to operating a home studio. Weighing them and determining if a home studio is right for you is necessary. Therefore we offer the following considerations. pluses: o Home studios allow you to record auditions and jobs from home, in your pajamas, on your own time-clock, with as many takes (attempts) as you want, without anyone listening over your back. Sound good? It can be. o Home studios allow you to obtain work that otherwise you would not be able to obtain. o Home studios allow you to earn more money. Its standard to charge clients more (for voice over production). Plus, you can eliminate commuting costs. And, you can keep all the profit (no talent-agent fees, commissions, etc.) o Home studios allow you to increase sales by creating and specializing in one genre. Plus, the world is your market. o Home studios can, with certain equipment, be portable enough to take with you - allowing you to take your studio with you on vacation (why lose a client if you can spend 15-minutes in your hotel room recording a quick job)? o Home studios allow you to move to a new residence and keep your clients, since everything is done via internet (email and FTP). minuses: o If the quality of your studio (equipment and/or vocal delivery) is not up to par with public, professional studios, your clients may stop hiring you.


o Are you technically challenged? If operating a DVD player is difficult, a studio will be overwhelming. To operate a home studio, you need engineering ability. o Are your ears trained like a producer's? To operate a home studio, you need production ability. final considerations: o If you discourage easily, a home studio is probably not for you. Proficient, experienced, technically skilled engineers still get stumped, stare at their computer screen, and scratch their heads on a regular basis, unsure how to get their studio working even when it worked just moments earlier. Therefore do not build a home studio if you are the type of person who easily becomes annoyed, aggravated, upset, and is liable to throw your microphone across the room. (Well, if you have to throw your microphone, hopefully you are at least in your padded sound recording booth.) In this case, you may be better off making a deal with a local studio, where they give you a discounted rate and in return you bring all your work to them. Yes you will need to pay that studio every time you use them, but you'll also save a lot of money and time building and maintaining your own studio, plus you'll save your sanity. o Know your clients. If the type of work you aspire to narrate is generally recorded at public, professional studios, and you will have very little work to record in your own studio, then the time and money needed to build and operate your home studio may not be worthwhile. In this case, make a deal with a local studio.


There is the old joke: the better you are, the bigger your head becomes. Well with voice over home studios, this may be necessary! In most public, professional recording studio sessions, a producer and engineer help the voice talent produce the desired sound. (In simplest terms, the producer's job is to determine what the sound will be. The engineer's job is to determine how to obtain that sound.) With a home studio, it is necessary to wear all three hats. (That is why a larger head is necessary.) Therefore unless you are capable of producing and engineering yourself, while simultaneously narrating the script, a home studio may not be appropriate for you.


Three exceptions: engineering: For the most part, once your studio is "set-up" for your voice (whether you set it up or hire a professional to visit your home studio and set it up for you), you should no longer need to focus on engineering during most recording sessions. In this case, you only need to wear two hats: that of the producer and voice talent. certain auditions: When sending out an audition from your home studio, for a job that, if you win, will be re-recorded at a public, professional studio, the casting professional should listen only to your voice, not your engineering and production skills. This is because you will re-record the script, at their studio, if you win the audition. In this case, you should not need to focus on engineering and production, and instead only wear the hat of voice talent. (Note: It is still necessary to ensure that your recording is clear enough for the casting professional to hear your voice quality.) phone-patch and ISDN: When being produced by phone-patch or ISDN, there will be a producer on the other end of the phone producing you. In this case, you only need to focus on your engineering and voice talent skills, as they will handle the production responsibilities.

Choosing the right microphone is a critical part of recording. There are many, MANY microphone choices today. Unfortunately, most recording books tell you which microphone is the best for you. But they do not take into consideration variables (following). Therefore when choosing a microphone, find one that you are comfortable with, test it at the music store (record and playback and listen to which one captures your voice the best), and most importantly, read the following so that you purchase what is best for you. definition: Microphone (also known as a mic) The microphone is a transducer, which converts sound waves into electrical energy. Sound waves leave the mouth of the voice over artist, are converted into electrical energy by the microphone, and then travel through a microphone cable (called an XLR cable) into the audio-recorder. price: You get what you pay for is generally an accurate assessment of microphone quality. However the best quality microphone is not necessarily the most appropriate microphone for you. Decent microphones can be purchased for between $300 and $3,000. Following are some common voice over recording microphones, as well as specifications: o Neumann U87A: $3,000, condenser, switchable, open shape o Neumann TLM103: $1,000 condenser, switchable, open shape


o o o o o

Neumann KM184: $800 condenser, switchable, pencil shape AKG 414: $1,000 condenser, switchable, open shape AKG 451B: $400 condenser, switchable, pencil shape Shure KSM44SL: $1,000 condenser, switchable, open shape Shure SM81: $400 condenser, switchable, pencil shape

types: Different types of microphones have different characteristics, making each one appropriate for different recording applications. There are three general types: condenser (also known as electret condenser): Condenser microphones are the only microphones that are electrically powered. This allows them to respond quickly to sound transients and subsequently produce a very clear sound. While condenser microphones are more sensitive than other microphone types, they are also more fragile and expensive. Condenser microphones are generally used for vocal recordings, such as voice over and singing. dynamic (also known as moving coil): Dynamic microphones use magnets to generate electrical signals. Yet magnets are cumbersome and hinder the speed of the microphone, thus making this style microphone more appropriate for drums and guitarsnot voice over. However their sturdiness and durability make them great for traveling (a portable home studio) and live recordings (concert recordings, etc.). Dynamic microphones are generally less expensive than condenser microphones. ribbon: Ribbon microphones use ribbons, similar to a rubber band, instead of magnets to convert electrical signals into energy. They are the most fragile type of microphone. Their most common application is recording sharp, smooth, and full sounds, such as horns (trumpet, saxophone, etc.), as well as live sounds in large open spaces, such as symphony orchestras. Ribbon microphones generally are medium priced and are rarely used for voice over recording. pattern: Microphones come with different pick-up patterns. Choosing the right one is most important when purchasing a microphone. Pick-up patterns control what direction the microphone picks up sound waves from. Some microphones have switchable patterns, allowing you to choose which pattern is appropriate for you. Other microphones are built with only one pattern. There are three general patterns: o directional: A directional pick-up pattern means that the microphone only picks-up sound waves from the front of the microphone. This is ideal if only your voice needs to be recorded, and if there are unwanted noises behind and to the sides of the microphone, such as an air-conditioner unit humming, a computer humming, noise outside your window,


and so forth. In the event that there is unwanted noise, face the microphone with its back to the unwanted sound source, so that you face the direction of the unwanted noise. With this set-up, the microphone will record more of you and less of the unwanted sound. There are three kinds of directional patterns: cardioid, super-cardioid, and hyper-cardioid. Each offers a slightly different control of the side and rear rejection. Cardioid is the most popular. o bi-directional (also known as figure-8): A bi-directional pattern microphone picks-up sound from the front and back of the microphone, while rejecting sounds from the side. This pattern is used when two people are recording into one microphone (one person would be in front of the microphone, the other in back). Unless two people are being recorded simultaneously, this pattern is not ideal. o omni-directional: An omni pick-up pattern means the microphone picks-up sound waves emanating from every direction. Since this is how humans naturally hear, this pattern obtains the most realistic, natural sound. However, since the pattern picks-up sound from every direction, any noise in the room will be recorded. Therefore, this pattern should only be used when recording in a totally sound-proofed room. This pattern should also be used when a group of people record around a single microphone. shape: The shape of a microphone is also a determining factor when choosing a microphone. There are two main shapes: o pencil shape: Pencil shaped microphones (similar in shape to a roll of quarters) have the pick-up screen at the very tip (front) of the microphone, allowing sound to enter from only one direction. Therefore facing the tip of the microphone records you while decreasing the pick-up of other unwanted sounds. This is ideal if recording in a room that has any reflections (echo, reverb, etc.) or that is not totally sound-proofed. Due to their shape, these microphones often capture a real clean sound making them ideal for applications where clarity is a must, such as web and telephone audio. o open, round shape: Large, open diaphragm shaped microphones (like you often see singers singing into on MTV) tend to pick-up sound waves from different directions. Even when set to a directional pattern, they pick up sounds from other directions more than most pencil shaped microphones therefore they should be used in totally sound-proofed rooms. Due to their large diaphragms, these microphones have a very natural sound, do not pop easily, and often capture the bottom end (bass) very wellmaking them ideal for rich, resonant, deep voices. your voice and the scripts you record: Your voice and the type of scripts you record have an influence on determining the most appropriate microphone for you. For example: o fat, resonant, deep, smooth voice: If your voice is big, fat, smooth, and or resonant, choose a microphone that enhances these characteristics, such as an open, round shaped


microphone, or a ribbon microphone. o thin, crisp voice: If your voice is thin and crisp, use a microphone that highlights the clarity of your voice, such as a pencil shaped condenser. o telephone: If you record telephony, a thin, clear sound is generally more desirable, such as pencil shaped condenser. o promo: If you record powerful, deep promos and trailers, consider an open, round shaped microphone. final suggestion: When purchasing a microphone, be sure to also purchase a popperstopper. This is a piece of material, similar to a womans nylon, that is rapped around a disc and placed between the microphone and your mouth to prevent large bursts of air (from your mouth) from overloading and distorting the microphone. If not for a popper-stopper, you may hear pop sounds upon playback on words that begin with plosives (Ps and Bs, such as popcorn and balloon).


IN THE BEGINNING, there was dirt. Dirt is great for sound. It doesnt make noise and sound doesnt bounce off of it. THEN MAN CREATED NOISE. That was okay until we created sensitive microphones that pick-up every little noise - even computer fans, distant planes, and shirt ruffling noise. WORSE, WE BUILT HARD SURFACES, such as walls, corners, and music stands that bounce sound aroundespecially into sensitive microphones. THE PROBLEM? Producers and engineers came to expect that voice over recordings were void of noise and bouncing sounds. THE CHALLENGE? Building a home studio out of dirt is not practical. FORTUNATELY: With thought and creativity, a quality, suitable, comfortable, and marketable voice over studio can be built for little to no money, almost anywhere you want. To boot, demand for home voice over studios continues to increase. Below are some considerations that will help you design and build a competitive home studio. name: The room you record voice over in is interchangeably referred to as a booth, sound booth, sound room, isolated room, iso room, and iso booth. purpose: Voice over producers and engineers generally expect a recording that contains only your voice: no additional noise, and no echo (known as reverb, which is short for


everberation). sound waves: are invisible waves that transmit sound. They pass through the air and carry, what our ears and brains convert to sound. They also pass (vibrate) through adjoining surfaces (wall to wall). Understanding 1.) the frequency and volume of sound waves (see sound proofing below) and 2.) how they travel (see sound absorption) is essential for building a studio. sound proofing: Like water, sound waves find their way through just about anything. Imagine your kitchen floor full of water. Now imagine a very small hole in your floor. Eventually all water will pass through. Likewise with sound. A very small opening in your studio will allow too much sound to pass through to the microphone. It is therefore necessary to block all sound from entering your studio. High frequency (high pitch) sound waves, such as those that carry cymbals, flutes, and the clarity portion of human speech, as well as low volume sounds, are very small, and almost any blockage will stop them, such as thin walls, glass windows, and thick blankets. Conversely, low frequency (low pitch) sound waves, such as bass guitar, drums, and the resonance of human speech, as well as loud volume sounds, are very large, and pass through many surfaces. Blocking these from your microphone is challenging. So to block sound, the rule of thumb is the more noise you need to block, the thicker your walls must be. So if your studio is in a home, on a quiet street, without dogs barking and street noise, regular walls may be fine. (Perhaps youll need to cover windows with a pillow, as glass is very thin and will let noise in.) If you have a medium noise entering your studio, try slightly thicker walls, or multiple thin walls (such as a closet (a room within a room)). If a lot of noise enters your studio, construct walls, ceiling, and floor of multiple layers of sheet rock (wall board), preferably that stagger and include air-pockets between each layer. Also incorporate acoustic door seals (to prevent sound from leaking into the booth from the door edges), rubber bushings attached to the ends of each wall joist (to prevent sound transmission from one surface to the next), and use acoustic sealant (as it remains soft (pliable)) and therefore mitigates sound transmission from one surface to the next. sound absorption: Sound waves propagate in all directions and bounce off of surfacesespecially hard surfaces. (Recall the big echo caused by a basketball bouncing in an empty auditorium.) This echo must be totally eliminated for voice over recording. Assuming your studio is sound-proofed, the only sound propagating inside your studio is your voice. The louder your narration, the more echo there will be to stop. Soft materials such as foam (egg-crate foam), thick blankets, carpeting, acoustic ceiling tiles, and plush furniture are commonly used to eliminate echo. Try to cover every square inch if possible. Be sure to cover your music stand too a piece of carpet or soft rubber matting on it generally eliminates your voice from echoing off of it.


If you narrate in low volumes, such as audiobooks, documentaries, some national commercials, meditation programs, etc., one or two inches of soft material on all surfaces should suffice. If you narrate in loud volumes, such as the big booming voice in some commercials, certain promos, certain character voices, etc., you may require three or four inches of soft material on all surfaces. shape: While most rooms are square, sound booths should be anything but. In fact, the more angles, the better, as each angle helps deflect the sound, eliminating the possibility of flutter echo (sound that repeatedly bounces back and forth between two opposing surfaces). If possible, construct your room with at least one angled wall. listen: Unless you have trained ears, you may not hear unwanted noise and/or unwanted echo. It is best, therefore, to record a sample and ask a studio to evaluate it. Do this before selling your home studio services to clients. Ask them to confirm that you recording is absolutely quiet and dry. location: Your studio can go anywhere, as long as you ensure that it is sound proofed and echo free. Below ground level (basement) studios are ideal, as windows rarely exist, and walls are usually underground. Walk-in closets are also good, as they rarely have an outside facing wall (architects tend to design homes so that closets do not take up potential window opportunities). Try recording in your car or mini van, as they are built to be quiet inside, and if parked inside your garage, they offer another layer of sound proofing. If none of these are possible, its time to build. Expect to pay a contractor between $1,000 and $5,000 depending upon your specifications. Another option is to purchase a pre-built (pre-fabricated) studio (see below). size: Determine how large your booth must be, and if possible, make it at least 50% larger. (One day youll thank yourself.) Additionally consider how many people will record simultaneously in the booth (Will you record dialogues? Will you record foley sfx (which takes up a lot of room)? Will you need a video/computer monitor to view while recording? Will you want a table for scripts, water, etc.?). Be sure to account for the microphone and music stands. Will you stand or sit? (Sitting down is common for long recordings, such as audiobook recordings, but takes up more floor space.) Do you have claustrophobia? If so, go with a larger booth. Will you rent out your booth to musicians (who need larger spaces for guitars, keyboards, etc.)? Think about these things before you build.


windows: Windows are nice. They prevent claustrophobia, allow you to see a producer/engineer outside the booth, and allow you to view a video/computer monitor during the recording (in the event that you must match your voice to a visual while recording). However windows are thin, and therefore they let sound pass through. And windows are a hard surface, and therefore cause echo. Ideally, use a windowjust make it small, and have prepared a pillow you can stick over it in the event that you must narrate a loud recording that cause more echo. door: Use a solid wood core door, or a metal door and then cover it with a soft material to prevent echo. Incorporate acoustic door seals (or heavy-duty weather stripping) on all four sides. lighting: Be sure to have a well -lit sound booth, so there is no strain on your eyes. Preferably use a non-glare, non-heat producing light type. Note - most fluorescent lights produce noise, and unless you find one that is supposedly silent, stay away from fluorescent. A/C: Have a number of electric outlets in your booth so you can plug in a monitor, a headphone amp, lights, and anything you need. air: Due to their small size and lack of incoming/outgoing air, sound booths become warm and musty after a while. Therefore, ventilation is a welcomed option when recording a long narration. Be sure, however, that the vents do not create any noise. One solution is to bring your central air conditioning into the booth and run it on fan or A/C. Be sure to coat the inside of the ducts with sound absorptive material, and be sure that the ducts make many 90-degree turns (each 90-degree turn decreases the volume of air movement, from the vent, by half).

wires: Remember that wires (video, data, monitor, XLR, telephone, BNC, cable, etc.) should be run through one of your walls before you complete your studio. Using a door-knob drill to drill a hole through the wall, run all types of wires through it (you never know what you will need), and then seal the hole with acoustic caulking. pre-fabricated: Okay want the easy way out? Purchase a pre-built (pre-fabricated) sound booth. Many companies sell these (look on-line). Try to purchase a modular one so that you can expand it (should you need to) and/or move it easily. Various quality levels, sizes, and options exist including built in lights, windows, wire runs, and more. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $8,000 for a voice over quality one.

CONCLUSION: Building or purchasing a sound booth is a one-time event. Enjoy it. When done working, let your kids use it as a play room (allowing you quiet in the rest of your home).


ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) is a system of digital phone connections, which allow recording studios to 'link up' digitally, and share and transmit audio files simultaneously around the world with digital quality. Specifically, ISDN connects the voice-talent, who is at one studio (their own studio or a local studio) and the client (producer) who is at another studio (generally their own studio). Because they are digitally connected, both parties hear the recording in real-time, with perfect quality, and have the ability to record the audio. This allows the producer to hire voice-talent regardless of their location, produce them as clearly as if they were at the same studio, and have the recording when the session is completed (as opposed to having the voice-talent email or FED-EX the recording when complete). ISDN is very popular in the voice-over industry. In fact, many full-time voice over artists generate the bulk of their voice over income by using ISDN. Therefore it may be advantageous to offer this ISDN to your clients. However since an ISDN set-up is rather expensive (at least $2,000 for the ISDN unit, plus a few hundred dollars to have your local telephone company hook up ISDN phone-lines into your homestudio), it may be more beneficial to make a deal with a local studio to use their ISDN unit. While you'll need to pay "out of pocket" each time you have a client that requires ISDN, you will save all the expense and learning-curve of ISND technology. When you have enough business that requires ISDN, then perhaps it is time to purchase and set-up your own ISDN unit. On a final note - a few companies now offer computer software that simulates ISDN units and works through your Internet connection. While the software tends to cost around $1,000, special hook ups from your telephone company are not necessary, as your Internet connection is all you need.


Chapter 9: Marketing
In this chapter:
marketing overview appearing professional getting out there contacts

Voice over is a business, and as in most businesses, clients must be won. (As the adage says, They wont find have to find them.) This means that you will need to establish a marketing plan and set aside time for marketing. However, for every talented voice over artist, there are a dozen more. So you will need to stay focused and persistent. Do not give up after one rejection. Remember, many professionals spent years getting to the point at which they are now. The following steps will help yield a solid marketing plan. 1. establish your goals Prior to writing a marketing plan, consider the following variables: Do I want to do voice over work full-time or part-time? If your goal is to do voice over fulltime, then your marketing effort will need to be significant. However, if part-time work is your goal, then marketing can be much less time consuming. How flexible is my time? With a flexible schedule, you can be a fill-in voice over artist, and that is an attractive quality to potential clients. Yet if your current job is very time consuming and getting away is next to impossible, obtaining work in the voice over industry will be more challenging. Would I prefer to make voice over my sole source of income or supplemental? If the sole source of income, marketing must be substantial. If not, marketing can be less aggressive. Is local work or national work more enticing? Since local work is easier to obtain,


marketing for it is significantly less challenging. But if national work is your long-term goal, it may be wise to increase your training prior to making the demo. And then spend increased time marketing. How much money can I afford to spend on marketing? If you have an unlimited budget, send out as many demos as you can, and hire other people to help market your voice. However, if resources are limited, you will need to take more care to ensure that only highpotential contacts receive your demo. Also, offering the first job for free or volunteering may be the way to get in the door. Do I desire the glamour of commercial work, or is narration work suitable? Since commercial work is only 10% of the industry, trying to obtain it can be more challenging. Conversely, since narration work is 90% of the industry, it is generally easier to obtain. Can I market in a large city, or only in a rural area? If you are in a large city, there are many avenues for work, whereas a small rural area is limiting. For instance, suppose you speak foreign languages and decide to specialize in film-dubbing. If you live in an urban area, there are probably plenty of corporations and film companies who could employ your services. Yet if you live in a small rural area, finding foreign-language work may be close to impossible. In this case, marketing towards a more general type of work may make sense. Will I be marketing one specific voice type or numerous voice types? One voice type makes it more challenging to obtain work, as there are fewer contacts that can use you. Therefore pursuing numerous voice types can make obtaining work easier. Yet marketing a single voice type can be less overwhelming, since you can be more focused. 2. write your marketing plan Once the above is taken into consideration, consider the three following questions, as they will help write your marketing plan: How much time each day can I spend marketing? How many demos a day can I send out? How many contacts a day can I speak with? There is not a single answer to any of these questions. Basically, the more you put into it, the more you are likely to get out of it.


3. fulfill your goals Only you can make this happen. Set a schedule and stick to it. For example: I will make 2 new contacts each day or I will spend 15 minutes each day marketing. If you cannot stick to your plan, hire a representative who will. (See the who to contact section in this chapter for more on representatives.)

Prior to contacting potential clients, assure yourself that you will appear professional to them. Appearing professional is essential in this industry, as experience plays a major role in obtaining work. Each of the following suggestions will give you a greater professional look. 1. number of demos As for the number of demos necessary, there is not a single right number. The more demos you put in the hands of clients (and prospective clients), the more work you may obtain. It is common for voice over artists to market to hundreds of potential contacts per year. 2. business cards and stationery Enclose matching business cards and stationery with all correspondence. These items are inexpensive and reveal a professional demeanor. It is not necessary to have fancy, multi-color, custom-designed cards and stationery. Designing them on a home computer will suffice. 3. website Have a website that allows a user to hear a demo. 4. telephone and voice-mail Both telephone and voice-mail should be clearly spoken. Make sure that when a client calls, they are greeted professionally (no kids screaming in the background, etc.). Have an answering device with a concise message recorded in your voice. 5. rsums and headshots Rsums and headshots can be favorable, as well as unfavorable. Favorable because they are


informative and show your nice smile. Unfavorable because, since some clients only want to hear your demo, the rsum is unnecessary and only the demo truly indicates what you sound like, while the headshot gives the client an opportunity to pre-judge or typecast - the way you sound based upon the way you look. More on pre-judging from headshots: Everyone has numerous vocal styles; however, one headshot shows one facial expression, which is perceived as one style. Think about a sexy-sounding woman who is not attractive. Based on her headshot, would you review her demo in hopes of finding a voice to record a sexy lipstick commercial? We conducted a survey of creative teams with the objective of determining whether or not they preferred rsums and headshots. The finding was that most did not prefer headshots and rsums, and instead just wanted the demo. 6. be prepared Always be prepared to meet the right person. Have a demo and business card with you at all times. In fact, do not market if these items are not in supply.


Once marketing supplies are in hand and you are confident that you appear professional, it is time to market. Follow these steps for efficient and effective marketing. 1. initial contact The actual marketing process begins by making an initial contact by telephone or mail, as opposed to just showing up at someones door uninvited, or having them receive a demo in their mailbox. Since it is a voice industry, a call is preferred. But if you are not good on the telephone or there is no time to call throughout a busy day, send a letter of introduction. Either way: Be concise. Do not say, Do you have 15 minutes? Id like to tell you about me. You only need to communicate one point: Please review my demo. Be confident. Do not say, Would you mind listening? or Maybe if you had time or If this is a bad time, I understand. Be positive. Do not say, You wouldnt need a demo...or would you? Be natural. Do not speak in an affected voice, like an announcer. Instead, simply say or write, Hi. Im a voice over artist, and Id like to give you my demo.


2. deliver the demo Whether by mail or e-mail, deliver the demo. It is best to hand-drop the demo, so that the contact can meet you. Then you can shake hands, ask them about their accolades (people love speaking about their achievements), etc. However, casting professionals rarely like to meet voice artists in person, and instead prefer demos mailed or emailed to them. To mail a demo, put it in a small padded envelope with sufficient postage. 3. follow-up A brief follow-up two weeks later is advisable. If the demo was hand-dropped, thank the contact for taking the time to have met you. If the demo was mailed, confirm that it was received. Either way, do NOT ask, Did you like the demo? That shows a lack of confidence. Either way, ask, Do you have work coming where my voice would be appropriate? That prompts them to think about your vocal capabilities. If the contact offers criticism, accept it graciously. They are professionals and are unnecessarily taking personal time to help you. Listen to their suggestions. Thank them. If the contacts say that youre no good, or that they simply cannot use you, do not feel discouraged. Keep in mind that certain creative teams produce certain kinds of work, and your demo may reflect a style that is not useful to them. For example, suppose a creative team specializes in public service announcements. If they receive a character demo (filled with cartoon voices, accents, etc.), they will have no use for the voice over artist. 4. on-going follow-up Every 1 or 2 months, it is wise to remind your client, or potential client, that you are still available for work. For example: telephone: Mention that you have a new demo, and would like to send it, or that you will be in the area and would like to say hello. email: Send an email saying hi. Include your demos as MP3 files. send a postcard: List current projects completed (as this signals that you are working), or label the postcard, Havent heard from you...wanted to see if any jobs were coming up where my voice would be appropriate. If you would like another demo, just telephone me at


... 5. note for newcomers If you are new in the industry and a contact asks what you have done, do not lie, as that will get you into trouble. Instead, mention all of your training for example, voice over workshops, classes, private coaching, reading for the blind, volunteer public service announcements, etc. In fact, be confident and say that your demo speaks for itself!

1. who to contact Contact anyone who hires voice over artists. Following is a list of them. Note: After each contact type is a C or N, designating whether that contact hires voice over artists for commercial and/or narration work. talent agencies (C, N): A talent agency is a company that represents talent (actors, musicians, voice over artists, etc). When a creative team cannot find the right voice, they pay a talent agency to find the voice, as opposed to telling their client that they cannot accomplish the job. Being represented by a talent agency is a great way for a voice over artist to obtain work. Most reputable talent agencies will not charge you for representation. Instead, they take a commission (usually 10%) of your billings. Because they are commission-based, they work hard on obtaining high-paying jobs. Only market to talent agencies that deal with voice over artists, as some specialize in modeling or acting and have no arrangements with voice over artists. Its common for voice over artists to be represented by numerous agencies (except in Los Angeles, where, by union rules, voice over artists must sign exclusively with one agent). Some talent agencies will charge a fee to put your demo on their website or on their demo of demos CD (which talent agencies give to their clients in order for the clients to hear a selection of voices whenever they want to). casting directors (C, N): Many creative teams have their own casting department, which is responsible for finding and hiring voice over artists. Contact the head of the casting department. recording studios (C, N): Contact audio-recording studios that record and/or produce voice overs (some studios only offer music-recording services). Ask for the manager.


the Internet (C, N): Contact web-based companies that represent voice over artists or that send audition and casting information to subscribers. advertising agencies (C, N): Contact agencies that offer commercial services (some agencies specialize in print or billboard advertising only). Contact the production director and the casting department. TV and cable stations (C): These stations have their own in-house recording studios and record local advertisements and television promos. Contact anyone in the recording department. film / video production houses (N): Production houses record films, documentaries, training and instructional videos, etc. Ask for the production director. multi-media companies (N): Multi-media companies record audio for website narration, CDROMs, interactive multi-media, software narration, and more. Ask for the casting director or the manager. publishing companies (N): Publishing companies record audiobooks and the like. Ask for the casting director or the manager. educational companies (N): Educational companies record educational films for interactive applications, films, slide shows, talking books, etc. Ask for the casting director. AV (audio-visual) departments (N): Most large companies (e.g., corporations, hospitals, colleges, associations, foundations, etc.) have their own in-house recording studios that record training videos, sales presentations, on-hold messages, trade show exhibits, voicemail, etc. Ask for anyone in the AV department. radio stations (C): While disc jockeys voice most spots at their radio station, stations occasionally need to hire outside talent. This may be because none of the staff disc jockeys have the required type of voice or the station wants to impress a client with a particularly good production (which the disc jockeys are often not able to deliver). representatives (C, N): A representative is a salesperson whom you can hire to create sales. You will need to write a contract with a representative. They can be paid a set wage. Or you can pay them a commission of the work that they are responsible for obtaining. A typical commission fee is between 15% and 33%. The advantage of a commission-based fee is that they may work harder for you, since they only make money if they get you work. industry-related organizations (C, N): There exist numerous organizations that work with and hire voice over artists.


For example, film and video organizations, reading for the blind organizations, acting resource centers, advertising groups, etc. Join them and attend their meetings. This is a great networking opportunity. 2. finding contacts There are numerous places to search for contacts, such as: yellow pages

Internet film and video commissions industry journals advertising publications There is a much more comprehensive list on our website at


Chapter 10: Working

In this chapter:
producers expectations, unprofessional traits recording sessions recording studio industry dictionary


Producers expectations of the voice over artist vary from job to job. And knowing what will be expected of you will allow you to be better prepared, have greater confidence, and act more professionally. 1. expectations include the amount of control you have of your voice how quickly you can follow directions how precisely you can follow directions how creative you are how much input you can add to the production process how well you can hear how well you handle yourself under pressure how professional you appear you sound like you do on your demo 2. gauging producers expectations The following variables will help you determine what will be expected of you: Is the job local or national? Typically, the larger the job, the greater the producers expectations will be. You will generally be given this information when you are hired. If you


are not, it is your right to ask. How experienced is the producer? To figure this out, call the studio where the recording will occur and mention that you have never worked with this producer. Ask if there is anything that may be helpful to know. Is the job for a small- or large-budget production? Determine this is by the size of the remuneration, who the client is, and the reputation of the recording studio where the recording will take place. After being hired, speak with the producer and inquire about the job. Ask what the job entails, what will be required of you, and if there is anything that you can do to be better prepared. Note: Make sure you do not come across appearing unsure, nervous, and a nuisance. 3. unprofessional traits Knowing what NOT to do (and not doing it) can increase your chance of being the star. We polled many of the top creative teams, and asked what pet-peeves they had with voice over artists. The most common pet peeve was about voice over artists who try to do jobs other than their own. For example, they tell the producer how the script should be read, they tell the scriptwriter that the script has grammatical errors, etc. Many creative teams were bothered by voice over artists who did not invoice their services correctly. For example, they took too long to send an invoice, social security or business IDs were not on the invoice, invoices were handwritten, etc. Another common pet peeve was that the voice over artist does not see the big picture and therefore does not read accordingly. For example, if the script is for a documentary, the voice over artist may read too quickly, forgetting that the final product will be accompanied by a visual and therefore should be read slower, so that the viewer can assimilate the video and the audio. Often, producers complained about voice over artists not giving it their all, and losing energy and concentration throughout the recording process. Many creative teams also noted having problems with voice over artists not following direction or just taking too long to get it. Producers often noted disliking when they need to tell the voice over artist how to do their job. For instance, the voice over artist would not know what to do if they had dry mouth, or they would not know how to emphasize a word correctly, etc. Finally, a large complaint was voice over artists who think they know everything.


This section illustrates a typical recording session. It is suggested that you be familiar with what goes on so that sessions go smoothly. 1. studio sensibility Be on matter what it takes! Be cordial, smile, and refer to people by their first names. Dress casually and nicely. Make sure not to wear noisy clothing, such as a heavily starched shirt, as this will make too much scratching noise in front of the microphone. Remove noisy jewelry, coins from pockets, watches that beep, phones, etc. Do not wear perfume, as you may share a small recording booth. Bring mints, in case you share a small recording booth. Bring marketing accessories, such as business cards and demos. Bring copy-marking paraphernalia, such as a pencil (with an eraser) and highlighter. This way, the producers directions can be marked in the script. Bring a beverage. o In terms of temperature, hot liquids are best as they open the throat (cold liquids contract the throat). o Regarding viscosity, thin liquids, such as water and tea, are better than thick liquids, such as milk (thick liquids can produce a clammy sound). o Caffeine is detrimental to the voice; it restricts the throat. o Tannin, which is commonly found in red wine and real (non-herbal) tea, can also restrict the throat. o Citrus is a good ingredient; it will help open the throat.


Bring items to relieve dry mouth, as dry mouth can cause the voice to sound clicky. Dry mouth is a natural condition to some but can be anyones nemesis, due to the dehydrating process of air conditioning and heating. Experiment with these products, so that you will be prepared if this problem occurs. o Drink plenty of water, especially on hot or cold days. o Use spray oral moisturizers, such as Colgates Optimoist. o Various companies make products known as bottled spit. They come in small aerosol containers (similar to Binaca) and coat the throat. o Try dental chewing gums such as Biotene, which help relieve dry mouth. o A sip of warm water with honey in it can also help. (Note: After sipping water, the next few words you say may be extra clicky due to an overly wet mouth. To combat this, say a few words out loud before recording.) o Lemon juice can also help counter dry mouth. o Salt can increase the chance of dry mouth, so stay away from too much of it before recording. Bring items to relieve wet mouth (wet mouth can cause the voice to sound clammy). o Bread can help dry out a wet mouth. o The acidity of a grannysmith apple can also help dry out a wet mouth (red apples tend not to work as well). o A teaspoon of olive oil can also relieve wet mouth. Bring remedies for throats. o Cough drops can help soothe a sore throat, but they can also bring on a slurpy sound. In fact, the weaker the cough drop, the less slurp it will add. So do not always reach for the best cough drop.

o Bring mints, in case you end up sharing a small recording booth. o Vitastic makes a product that relieves sore throats and replenishes essential vitamins to a tired throat. It is distributed by Health By Design.


2. pre-recording You will be given the script minutes before it is time to record. Review the script, but do not get things too set in your mind. The producer (like a director in the movies) will tell you what type of delivery is required. Remember that the producer needs a solid performance from the voice over artist, for three reasons: First, they want to please their client. Second, a good production can win the producer an award. Third, the production represents the producers ability, and a good production can win them additional work from new clients. So remember, the producer is always on your side and will help you as much as possible. When the producer gives you directions, draw marks on your script to act as visual reminders. Only use pencil, so markings can be erased if necessary (see the note below). Use any marking that you will remember. Here are some suggestions: o hit: underline a word to hit it o short pause: put a / between the words o long pause: put a // between the words o extra variety: put (parenthesis) around the words requiring variety Note: When practicing at home, do not copy-mark every rule given in the technique sections of this guidebook. This is because at real recording sessions, there will not be enough time to mark up the entire script. Therefore, being able to correctly read a script cold (without copymarking) is essential. Copy-marking is generally only used for additional direction give by the producer. 3. the engineer takes you to the recording booth Place the headphones over BOTH ears and stand 8 inches in front of the microphone. Note: Years ago, it was common for voice over artists to place the headphones over one ear only. The reason was that the exposed ear could hear the real voice (unprocessed by the recording equipment). Today, it is generally preferred that you wear both sides of the headphone.


Stand still and look at the script while the engineer sets the height of the microphone and script stand (also known as a music stand). If you need to have the position of either changed, let the engineer know. DO NOT change them yourself. Changing them could be detrimental to the sound, it could allow one or both of them to fall, and worst of all, it could damage the speakers in the main recording room. Either way, if you touch the microphone, you will witness one very unhappy engineer.

If the engineer has you seated in the recording booth and you prefer to stand, let the engineer know. The reverse is also true. Most voice over artists sound better while standing. However, when recording lengthy scripts, it is suggested that you sit. DO NOT TOUCH THE MICROPHONE, script stand, or any recording apparatus! 4. the engineer will set recording levels When the recording engineer says, Lets set levels or Give me a read, begin reading the script the same way as you will during the actual recording. It will take the engineer a few minutes to set recording levels. Keep reading until you are told to stop. 5. recording time Make sure your mouth stays in one position during the recording. As it is known in the industry, stay on mic. Be silent before and after recording, and make no extraneous noise, such as paper shuffling and clearing your throat. If you need a break, wait until a logical place to stop, perhaps the end of a paragraph, and then say you need a break. The producers wont expect you to read for more than 10 minutes without needing at least a sip of water. Never criticize or make grimaces about your own performance. If you do, you are taking away the producers job. Only give suggestions if you are asked to participate. Never compliment your own performance.


6. mistakes Every professional makes mistakes. So do not fret over them or apologize profusely when you make one. Instead, listen to the producers directions, and correct it the next time you read. That is the sign of a pro. When you make a mistake, there are two ways it can be fixed. The engineer will tell you which way they prefer. pick-up: To pick-up means to begin re-recording at a certain spot in the script. The word on which you begin recording is known as the spot where you will pick-up. For example, if you stumble on a word in the 5th sentence, the producer will say, You just stumbled on a word in the 5th sentence. Then the engineer will say, Lets pick-up at the beginning of the 5th sentence. In other words, there is no need to record the script from the beginning. After you leave the studio, the engineer will edit-out the mistake (the first take of the 5th sentence), and what is left sounds as if you read it continuously and flawlessly. punch-in: To punch-in means to re-record a particular section of the script again in other words, editing it while recording. The word or phrase that is being re-recorded is known as the section that you will punch-in. For example, if the entire script is completed and then the producer notices a mistake on 12th line, the producer will say, I noticed a mistake back on the 12th line...lets punch it in. The engineer will then rewind the recording 10 seconds before the mistake, and will play the recording so that you hear it in your headphones. Precisely before the mistake, the engineer will hit (punch) the record button, and you re-record the 12th line. The mistake has now been corrected, without needing to re-record the rest of the script. However, the re-recorded section may not blend smoothly with the rest of the script, and may even sound abrupt. Therefore, the engineer will expect you to read along, and out loud, with the 10 seconds worth of script before punching-in. This way, when you punch-in, your voice will blend in smoothly and naturally. Here are two notes about fixing mistakes: If you make an obvious mistake while recording (you stutter, cough, etc.), stop and ask the producer where you should pick-up or punch-in from. If you dont stop, the producer will wonder why you didnt, seeing that such a blatant mistake was made.


However, DO NOT STOP if your recording was correct, but just not as strong as you would have liked it. This is because it is the producers job to decide what is strong...not yours. 7. recording obstacles Certain obstacles may arise while recording, and the engineer will be sure to point them out and expect you to correct them. A pop is when the voice over artist releases too much air into the microphone, overloading the microphone, which momentarily produces an unwanted pop sound in the recording. This is common problem, especially among less trained voice over artists, as they often use too strong of a voice. Popping, as it is called, happens most often on hard consonants such as ps and bs known as plosives. To eliminate popping, control of the release of air from your mouth. Another way to stop popping is to step back from the microphone; however, this creates other problems because your voice is weaker in the microphone due to the distance from the microphone. Engineers generally use a pop-filter or windscreen in front of microphones, to help reduce popping. A great way to practice is to hold your hand in front of your mouth (while reading) and make sure that bursts of air are not felt. Practice controlling popping with this exercise: Its the best popcorn! Sibilance is a vocal aberration in which the s sound is very shrill, sometimes sounding like a whistle. Most people are at least a little sibilant. In fact, recording studios process all voices with a digital machine (called a de-esser) the purpose of which is to eliminate sibilance. However, engineers prefer voice over artists to be aware of their sibilance and control it a bit, so that the de-esser does not have to do it all. 8. post-recording The creative team will listen to the recording, to confirm that the recording is fine (in terms of the voice performance and the recording engineers work). Listen carefully as well, so that if the creative team points out a mistake, you will have heard


it also. Also, the creative team may ask for your comments. Often, you will be given your choice of either staying in the recording booth or coming into the main studio control room to listen. Take advantage of the opportunity to come out. Its a chance to rest your ears from the headphones. It is also easier to communicate with the creative team face to face. Note: When you exit the recording booth, leave the door open. Then, get a copy of the completed job not just because it is gratifying to hear your performance, but because it can be used to review and practice with. And more important, the recording can be added to your demo. Often, however, the engineer will not be able to give you a copy before you leave the studio. This is because the recording is not completed until your voice is edited, music and soundeffects are added, etc. You will need to wait for the engineer to complete the job before receiving a copy. There are two general types of copies you can receive: o Compact disc (CD) is the standard format in which you can get a copy. The advantage of this format is that most everyone has a CD player. o You can always ask the engineer to e-mail you an MP3. This way, the engineer does not need to take the time to mail you a package, and the engineer can save money since a CD is not required. Once at home, it is easy to make CDs of it, forward the e-mail to friends for them to hear, and make backups of it.

If you stand around in a daze, gaping at the equipment, wondering who Mike is and why the engineer keeps mentioning his name, etc., its a sure sign you need to read this section. Having knowledge of the recording studio, its layout, and the equipment will allow you to appear professional while also being able to communicate with the creative team. 1. rooms of the recording studio control room: This is the heart of the recording studio. It contains all of the recording equipment except the microphone. It is also home to the creative team. One wall of the control room contains a soundproof


glass window that looks into the isolated room. isolated room (also known as an iso room, iso booth, sound room, or sound booth): This is the room where the voice over artist reads the script into the microphone. The room is typically a dry or dead room, as it is made of a non-reverberant material that prevents echoes from bouncing around and thus being recorded. 2. production equipment digital audio workstation (also known as daw): This is the machine that records, edits, and mixes the recording. Like a word processor, it stores and edits computer bits, except that these bits get converted to audio waves instead of written words. monitors: These are the speakers in the control room. compressor: A compressor is a machine that controls volume fluctuations coming from the sound source. A compressor is always used with a voice over artist, to ensure that the talents voice remains at a constant volume level. (Volume fluctuations come from natural volume changes, as well as proximate movements.) de-esser: A de-esser is a machine that removes excess sibilance from a voice. (Sibilance is an extra sharp s sound. Most people are at least a little sibilant.) equalizer (also known as an EQ): An equalizer is a device that helps manipulate the frequencies of the voice. It is like the bass/treble tone controls on a stereo, except that the controls are more detailed.

music library: The music library is pre-composed background music available, for a fee, for public use. Except when there is a budget large enough to warrant creating custom music, a music library is used. Companies that sell music libraries continually release new music on compact discs. Each disc generally contains as many as 50 songs in a single musical genre (jazz, rock, cartoon, etc.). Each song usually comes with 15-, 30-, and 60-second versions. Many will also have a longer version (as long as 5 minutes) to be used in narrations. sound effects (also known as SFX): Sound effects are recordings of occurrences (for example, dog barking, door closing, police siren, etc.). Like music library companies, sound effect companies continually release new effects on compact discs. These sound effects are available for public use, also for a fee.


3. recording booth equipment headphones (also known as phones or cans): The voice over artist wears headphones when recording. Through them, the creative team can be heard. music stand (also known as copy stand or script stand): This stand is used to hold the script when recording. popper stopper (also known as filter): A popper-stopper is a piece of material, either wrapped around the microphone, or placed between the microphone and your mouth, which prevents large bursts of air (from your mouth) from overloading and distorting the microphone. An example of this would be at a live concert: Sometimes, you may notice that when people speak loudly into the microphone, a large pop sound will be heard. That is a pop.

cans: (slang) headphones copy: the script copywriter: scriptwriter donut: a section of a commercial that is sandwiched between two other sections. For example, if a 30-second-long commercial has 10 seconds of music at the beginning and 10 seconds of music at the end, the producer will say, Your script is a 10-second donut, meaning that your voice will be in the middle 10-second portion of the commercial. dynamic range: the difference between your highest and lowest pitch. For example, a monotone person has virtually no dynamic range. edit: (noun) the spot in the recording where multiple takes were pieced together. For example, the producer may listen to the engineers work and say, That was a bad edit; the recording sounds like it skips. editing: (verb) the act of splicing (piecing) together different recordings to make one recording as in, While the voice over artist was never able to read the entire commercial without stumbling, the engineer spent an hour editing together the best pieces of each recording to make the commercial sound flawless!


hit: to hit a word means to emphasize it. Hit is also known as punch, stress, accent, color, nail, billboard, goose, milk, Thats the money word make it big. and many others. mic: (shortened form) microphone phones: (slang) headphones pick-up: to begin re-recording at a certain spot in the script. For example, upon noticing a mistake in the 3rd sentence of the script, the producer will say, You made a mistake in the 3 rd sentence. Please pick-up from the end of the second sentence. pop: a powerful burst of air from the mouth that overloads and distorts the microphone. This often occurs on plosives, which are words which begin with p. punch-in: to re-record a particular section of copy over again. For example, if the voice over artist makes a mistake on the 5th word in the 7th sentence, the producer will say, You made a mistake on the 5th word in the 7th sentence. Lets punch it in. rough tracks: placeholder recordings that are often recorded before the musicians, sfx editors, and visual production team completes their work. Once completed, the real voice over is recorded. SFX: (abbreviation) sound effects slate: an audio reference which is recorded prior to the script, to identify what recording it is. For example, the engineer may say, Please slate your name, take #, and script title right before recording. You would then say your name, take #, and script title right before recording. spot: commercial tag: a closing line or extra piece of information at the end of a commercial. Examples are Member FDIC, or Hurry, this deal ends Sunday, or Breyers ice-cream...your mouth will taste the difference. take: a version of a recording. For example, if the producer says, Give us 3 takes, that means you should read the script 3 times. Often, the engineer will say, Please slate the take numbers. In that case, you would say, Take 1, and would then read the script the first time. Then you would say, Take 2, and then read the script the second time, etc.