If you’ve ever wanted to lend your voice to an advert, one of those telephony menus that are used when you call your utilities provider or perhaps appear in a video game, the best way of doing this is to become a voice-over artist.
This isn’t a job that just anyone can do, but if you feel that you have the required qualities – a good voice, the ability to intone and pronounce words correctly – then you will be in with a good chance.
Thanks to the Internet, voice artistry is one of those roles that have taken on a whole new shape, with many thousands of voices now available for use in games, on websites, as voice-overs in corporate videos and much more.
You can start your voice-over career on a very low budget, too!
Tools You Will Need
Getting started as a voice actor isn’t difficult. In fact, it is fiendishly easy. If you have a script or a passage of text for you to record as your showreel or demo ready, (of course reading ability and a modicum of talent is a pre-requisite) all you need to begin is a microphone and a recording application.
If you have a quiet computer, a cheap $5 microphone is enough to get started (although a superior device in the $50 and upwards range will be needed for real polish and professional gigs). In addition to this you should have some audio recording and editing software installed on your computer.
Windows users can take advantage of the excellent Audacity, a free, feature-packed tool that no user should be without.
Practice and Exercise
There are various ways in which you can prepare for becoming a voiceover artist. Before you start to get worried about the intricacies of compiling a showreel you should spend some time researching material for inclusion as well as exercising your voice.
One idea is to read books aloud, perhaps children’s books with bold characters that you can easily get a handle on, creating voices that match their personalities. Another is to find an instruction manual or blog post and read this out, working on your ability to sound natural and convincing about your knowledge of the subject matter.
If you’re interested in providing voices and dialogue in other accents you should record people using these dialects, working hard to perfect these colloquial speech patterns.
The secret to practice and exercise is to basically keep at it, finding material that you enjoy performing that can be used to highlight your talents.
Compiling Your Showreel
When it comes to compiling your showreel, it’s time to get techy. You should have collected the equipment as described above, and set up your studio with the microphone in front of you and the recording software running.
Elsewhere on MakeUseOf you will find a guide to using Audacity. This is ideal for teaching you how to record your dialogue and for compiling the showreel. Make sure you have plenty of material recorded.
A good approach is to spend some time away from the finished recordings so that you can review your voice artistry and decide which lines would be most suitable in your showreel. This will be uploaded to a website later on, so it is important that you make the right choices.
You can enhance your showreel with some additional audio, perhaps topping and tailing with some free and royalty-free music. If you plan on including entire scenes in your showreel, topping and tailing with some free and royalty-free sound effects is useful. However, don’t continue the music or sound effects throughout the clip – your potential client wants to hear your voice!
You can find royalty free music and sound effects from the following links:
www.freesound.org – registration is required to download sound FX, but you can preview the audio first.
www.soungle.com – a search engine of sound effects.
www.soundjay.com – a nice collection of audio effects and music that can be previewed within the site.
Once your showreel is produced, it is time to find some websites to showcase your abilities!
Some Websites Will Promote Your Talents…
While you might already have an agent, there is no harm to getting your demo showreel online to attract attention. The worst that can happen is that you have to pass interested parties to an agent for negotiation.
If you don’t have an agent – don’t worry! These websites do all of the hard work.
www.voice123.com – offering a comprehensive profile and a choice of free and premium ($295 per year) subscriptions, Voice123 will host your audio showreel (limited to 10 demos in the free membership), display a headshot and assign an easy to remember URL (using a subdomain such as christiancawley.voice123.com.)
www.voices.com has a similar set of features to Voice123, but while you can submit demos for free with the former, Voices charges $40 per month. However it remains a useful resource where you can view current opportunities and get an idea of how busy the market is.
www.onlinevoices.com is another online directory of voice talent that you can sign up to for free. Specialising in voices from different languages around the world, signing up is also easy and straightforward with no unnecessary information requested – simply give your details, upload your showreel and you’re done!
Excite, Intrigue and Work Hard!
Let’s get one thing clear – you’ll need to work hard to get your voice noticed and used. But don’t think that the talent listed on sites like Voice123 is there to get in your way.
New voices are like new faces – they excite and intrigue. As long as your vocals provide the missing element to a producer’s advertising campaign, computer application or corporate presentation, then with the steps shown to create a demo showreel you could find yourself entering an exciting new career!
Image Credit: Vintage Microphone Image Via Shutterstock