Voice-acting tips from
"The Art of Voice Acting Workshop"

ON PRODUCING YOUR FIRST VOICE-OVER DEMO

I often get e-mail inquiring about what it takes to succeed in voiceover and how to produce a first demo. Here is my response to a recent e-mail (name withheld):

> I just took a voiceover class. It was ok. We did commercials & cold readings.

> What I really need to do is get a demo done.

If this is the only voiceover training you've had, you may not be ready to do your demo. Your demo MUST be extremely good if you expect to get representation and be considered professional. Find as many voice artist websites that you can find and listen to as many demos on-line as you can. Most are pretty good, but you will find some demos that sound like the performer is reading. Listen critically to other demos and learn what is good and not-so-good about them. Apply what you learn as you prepare for your demo. You'll notice that the best demos have a wide range of attitudes, emotions and variations of the voice. Any character voice absolutely must be real and believable - not forced or artificial. If your class only covered "cold readings" and did not cover any acting techniques or training in how to create characters or find the emotional hooks in a script, you may need to find a different class.

> I have too many goofy voices that I do to put on a resume. .

Voiceover is unlike other areas of acting. You will never get any voiceover work from a resume - that's the job of your demo. Actors need headshots and resumes because the people who hire actors need to know the "look" and performing history. For voice actors, your demo is the demonstration of your talent and abilities. You must be able to duplicate anything you put on your demo. The only time a printed performing history is of any value is as a supplement to a cover letter you would send with a demo. And even then, your credits should not be presented as a resume - more as a list of what you've done designed to give you credibility.

> Some just sort of happen. You know, I make them up as I go.

I don't want to discourage you here, but just making up voices as you go doesn't work in voice acting. It's great for expanding your range and experimenting with new voices, but virtually every script you might work with as a voice actor will have a character that's already been defined - and the producer usually has an idea of what the voice should sound like. Of course, bringing your ideas to the session is important, but you need to know how to create an appropriate voice for a script - and you MUST be able to sustain that voice for an extended period of time. Having a repertoire of voices that you can recall on demand is a must for the professional voice actor.

Voice acting is NOT about creating lots and lots of voices. It IS about creating believable characters with believable attitudes in believable situations telling believable stories. This is what audiences relate to - not "funny" voices or "announcer" voices. Study acting to learn how to create "real" characters and learn how to place your voice in your body to create a unique sound. For your first demo, focus on providing variety and range using your most comfortable voice. As your skills develop, you can update your demo with new tracks that feature a variety of vocal styles.

(ed. note:) For those who are interested, my commercial demo can be heard by clicking here. (you'll need to have RealPlayer installed): www.voiceacting.com/audioclips/alburgercml.ram.

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