A special Guest Post by Master Teacher, Patrick Fraley
Pat Fraley is one of the best teachers of voice acting I know. He is an accomplished performer himself and has garnered a coveted Vanguard award for more than 35 years of excellence in teaching the craft of VO. His website, www.patfraley.com is a treasure trove of information, resources and education for those interested in performing voice over for fun and profit. He teaches a variety of curricula in special one day events as well as at-home courses and private sessions. If you would like to learn more about what he shares in this post, consider joining him at his upcoming event in Seattle, WA. [A transcipt of this audio file is below, should you prefer to read than listen. - MW]
Hey, Mick, what do you think of the VO pay-to-play sites? You know, the ones where you can pay a membership fee and have real auditions for paying jobs sent to your inbox?
I’m glad you asked.
For those who don’t know, there are sites on them thar interwebs that can connect professional and armature VO talents to gigs from all over the world. Sites like Voice123, Voices.com, Bodalgo, voicebunny and others serve as person-to-person job boards connecting voice actors across the world with potential jobs in markets near and far from home.
Subscribers pay a monthly fee and then have access to auditions for real, paying jobs through these sites. Rates will differ with each project, but significant chunks of change lie out there like the proverbial low-hanging fruit, tempting the voice actor wanting more work to reach out and grab for them.
Sounds great! But is there a catch?
I’m glad you asked.
I could write an entire book on the Pay-to-Play sites, as there are significant pros and cons to consider before joining. But, the long and the short boils down to this:
It never hurts to try your hand (or voice) in the free market, but be aware of the factors at play before you put any money on the table.
Part 2 - Software and Hardware
Continuing my thoughts on the VO at-home starter kit: once you have your Microphone nailed down you need a way to record and a way to make the audio sound clean like it came from a studio. Not to worry, there are a few cost-effective ways to get these things until your budget allows for you to purchase or create a proper vocal booth.
[I’ll repeat my note from last time: I am NOT an expert. Engineers and sound designers like George Whittham and his like can tell you all about sound and sound absorption. They can design just the right space for you, long term. This article is meant only to help the novice get started with reasonable recording success while on a budget. Please don’t email me with your corrections and suggestions on how to better engineer a booth or set up. You’d loose me on paragraph one.]
There are lots of options for capturing your amazing performance in digital form in our current age. From the audio industry standard ProTools, Sony Sound Forge, Apple Garage Band (free with your purchase of an apple product) to any number of free and cheap audio software products, there is an ocean of options to choose from. But as a voice actor, you only need a program that can let you record audio well, make simple edits and output your file as an mp3. Programs like Pro Tools, Reason and Adobe Audition are tools for engineers and producers and are capable of high-end audio manipulation and editing. These programs are far more than you need and have price tags that match their capacities.
For the VO Starter kit, consider one of the following, cost-effective options for your first foray into the world of audio:
I’ll get right into this one. Lots of students ask me about recording from home and while it helps to have a real sound-booth with top-of-the-line microphones and equipment, there are LOTS of cost effective ways to take an average room and get a almost-studio sound without breaking the bank. Here are my recommendations for the basic equipment you need to get recording from home:
[NOTE: I am NOT an expert. Engineers and sound designers like George Whittham and his like can tell you all about sound and sound absorption. They can design just the right space for you, long term. This article is meant only to help the novice get started with reasonable recording success while on a budget. Please don’t email me with your corrections and suggestions on how to better engineer a booth or set up. You’d loose me on paragraph one.]
Mics today come in several varieties. For the home voice actor there are lots of options out there. Let’s break down your choices and help you to refine your search for the right one:
In order to build a career as a voice actor, one must have the right tools. In the digital age, if you are not savvy about certain websites and services, then you are at a disadvantage. When I first began in this business about 10 years ago, the internet had just come into it's own in the VO world. Now, in 2014, the majority of this business is done on the internet - from submitting demos to auditioning to recording in session with producers in remote locations.
Here is a brief list of some of the important websites and resources you must have if you are serious about making it in this industry today.
[NOTE: this list is by no means exhaustive. It's just a starting place. Additionally, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am not affiliated with, nor do I benefit in any way from any of the businesses listed below for mentioning them in this blog.]
Like a phone book for VO, the VORG is an online directory of agents, casting directors, demo producers, training and more. From the main page you can choose L.A. or New York for the most up-to-date listings of VO resources in these major markets. This is a must have site for demo submission, current union rates, available classes and more. And best of all, it's free.
Dave & Dave inc. publishers of the VORG. Their business site with listings of their services including demo recording, audition submission, ISDN studios and more.
THE resource for online demos and agency house reels. This site is an industry standard for agencies and casting in VO. It is an open site to view, but only Talent Agencies can pull copy and submit auditions for talent.
Edge Studio on the east coast is a casting and production house that evolved into a major player in VO education on both coasts and throughout the country. In addition to classes and production services, Edge puts out a free weekly newsletter full of tips, insight and expertise from trainers and VO performers. But by far, my favorite service of Edge Studio is the free copy library. If you create a free online profile you can get access to this online practice script library featuring VO of all kinds. When I'm coaching a student in private session, I will often refer them to Edge so they can do their homework on real scripts for broadcast.
I get asked this all the time. A lot of people, from all over the world want to know how to do voice over. For some, it's the love of the craft, or of cartoons, or video games or radio or even commercials. For others, it is the lure of fistfuls of cash for showing up to a relatively comfortable studio and talking into a microphone. Still others have been told by innumerable family, friends, coworkers, associates and random people on the street that they have a "great voice" and should look into doing voice over.
I started my career locally sending demos to and booking commercials for local ad agencies and other local clients; and it helped A LOT. I only came to the L.A. area when I knew that I wanted to work in Animation VO and there is no other place in the US to really build a career in that field.
Sure, doing voices is a gas for everyone, but many of us can do voices for our friends or imitate our favorite cartoon characters at parties, but can we create real, original, compelling characters that live and breathe and have emotions like real people? Is your heart to try to get rich for goofing off? Or is is to to do what you’ve been created to do and can’t help but doing? I guarantee you that all the people who are making money as voice actors are driven to do it because somewhere inside their design says they MUST.
Now, to clarify, what I mean by shame is what many would call negative-self-talk, feeling bad about oneself, being self-critical, or having low self-esteem. If we let ourselves step away from pop-psyche for a moment, all of those things amount to shame - meaning the feeling of worthlessness that comes when we have not met up to a standard. [It is different from guilt: guilt is a legal term that indicates the appropriate feeling of responsibility for known wrong-doing. Shame is guilt applied to someone just for being who they are, regardless of whether they have committed a wrong or not.]
Not only is shame the WORST motivator on the planet, but it also forces us to watch our own performance while trying to perform and critique as we go. This is the antithesis of acting! You can’t act and direct at the same time. The moment you start directing yourself out of shame, you stop acting. Then the whole thing falls apart.
So you wanna do voice over? Come to grips with the fact that there is no formula and that people, and their hobbies and their professions are all different.
This is the Mick Wingert Website. The blog is by Mick unless otherwise specified. Mick's Bio can be found here.