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  1. the-british-library

    Have you ever wondered what happens to old audio formats? As technology moves forward and changes how we experience our lives spare a thought to technology of yesteryear. I have been lucky to visit the Sound Archives at the British Library and had the pleasure of listening to old radio broadcasts. It was as if I were there living in the memories of another time and place. There are old radio catalogues and equipment dotted around the place as well as the odd royal speech. Set up in 1955 the archive today boasts about 60 thousand hours of audio.

    Delving into the audio past is such a privilege especially as the sound archives are working hard to keep all audio alive for future generations. In a labyrinthine palace, racks filled with white jackets, inside them the hidden treasures from Radio 1. Over there, turning to another shelf, every news script from the BBC. We pulled out an archive and were read an extract of the news a month before the declaration of World War 2. Chilling yet compelling reading of the transcripts of seemingly innocuous everyday news bulletins.

    As we wondered around the shelves, racks and racks of tapes, we were overwhelmed by the size of the collection. Most are on ¼ inch tape as well as BETA Max. The BBC transcripts were originally on hard copy and then began to be put onto microfilm. We padded through the bright white corridors mostly in silence until we couldn’t contain our excitement and effervescently babbled away. Where, what, who, when and how – we wanted to know, everything. We trailed underneath an automated book system that looked like it had come from Heathrow’s terminal 5. Instead of suitcases, books and journals, clattered around our heads rising from the depths to the reading rooms. We delved further into the archives beneath. What would we find and how have they ended up here?

    The early BBC Radio content is contained on acetates and also pressed shellac discs. Down in the sound strong rooms are a lot of audio down there is stored on VHS. By a lot I mean corridors, rooms, floor to ceiling shelves, crates, boxes and enough box sets to keep you busy until….well a rather long time! The VHS tapes all standing to attention patiently waiting to be taken out and played. Anyone else have to scramble to change over the tape while recording?! Thought so! A whole project is underway to get this all digitised, a daunting task but one much needed. Especially since old technology is rapidly giving way to the new. However we walked past many an old technology tape deck. The corridors are littered with machines, patiently awaiting their turn, like a long lost friend, to be turned on again, to hum away happily.

    As we walked down on aisle we found all the entries and audio as well as the entry forms for the Sony Awards from season 2 onwards. And close by The famed AWE Perkins collection. A Vicar whose hobby was to record on a fenograph any and all random audio that he took a fancy to from about 1950/51.

    While tape seemed to have weathered many a storm, many rather well, the acetates are crumbling and cracking steadily. The lacquer is shrinking, pulling the tape away from itself, a confetti of brown in tins. What broadcast beauties would be lost? We may never know!

    What has survived rather well and also stored away neatly are the original metal discs. Heavy plates of solid stuff surviving through decades. A couple of those would need a trolley to wheel them out with! One is held up, almost like an Olympian with a winning discus. It is, the first every original broadcast copy. An amazing sight, the Kings Speech, solid and sturdy. A blast from the past.

    The team that work on maintaining this audio history are working on Save Our Sounds. The aim is to catalogue and digitise culturally interesting audio material. A gargantuan task and if you have any old audio please get in touch with the Sound Archive team at the British Library. They would welcome your audio.

  2. British-accent

    Many people from all corners of the world love the British accent. Some of our favourite actors, singers and sporting heroes have iconic British voices—such as Steven Fry, Sir Sean Connery, Cheryl Cole, or Sir Tom Jones (you can’t deny you didn’t imagine them speaking as you read each of their names!). With so many talented Brits out in the media it’s no wonder the accent is such a hit. But why are they all considered to have a typical ‘British accent’ if they all sound so different?

    With plenty of tongues, twangs and brogues on offer around the isles, here I look at what makes a British accent and why it works so well for voiceovers.

    Just what is a British accent?

    An accent is a certain adaptation or flavouring to your speech that has an effect on the sounds and shapes of your words. These adjustments can either attach to certain vowels or consonants to change how they’re pronounced, or can even include a change in word stress where a relative emphasis is placed on a certain syllable.

    But in reality, there is no such thing as a ‘British accent’ because each part of the UK and Ireland has its own regional accent, which can also vary from person to person. For example, a Birmingham accent is different to say a Yorkshire accent, but then the three historic ridings of Yorkshire all have variations, too. The same goes for London where there is such accents as Cockney, Estuary English and Multicultural London English among many more.

    The evolution of “The Queen’s English”

    Interestingly, when you picture your American friends mimicking the Brits they’ll more often than not turn to the traditional English accent. This is referred to as ‘Received Pronunciation (RP)’ (think The Queen or John Cleese) and was adopted by the BBC to sound professional and authoritative during their first broadcasts from the 1930s.

    This cut-glass accent—the soundtrack to period dramas like Downton Abbey— is also associated with the elites of the late 19th century.  But over the years, as the class system has become more fluid, so too has the linguistic divide. Now, RP is mistakenly labelled as the ‘posh’ accent, when in reality there are various forms. RP associated with the aristocracy is referred to as conservative RP, whereas mainstream RP describes an accent that is more neutral in terms of signals regarding age, occupation or lifestyle.

    Some of the characteristics of more regional southern accents have merged with the sharp tones of the conservative RP to make a more modern form that verges on ‘estuary English’—a mix of Cockney and RP—and what is seen globally as the contemporary RP.

    But what all these forms of RP have in common is that they do not use any pronunciation patterns that allow us to make assumptions about where they are from in the UK. This is one of the main reasons why mainstream RP is particularly adopted for voiceover work, because it can appeal to all demographics.  

    Why it makes for a great voiceover

    To a global audience, the “British accent”— or most often a mainstream, neutral RP— can sound sophisticated and intellectual and may help to instil an authoritative tone to a corporate or training video. According to numerous studies, the British accent conjures stereotypes of high IQs and competence, and can even enhance the sense of drama or transform seemingly mundane concepts.

    Right or wrong, we use the information that accents provide to make judgements, whether that’s assumptions on socioeconomic status, intelligence, or perhaps even personality. Much to this affect, accents can also influence our decision-making, which is why with all its many charming characteristics and qualities, a British accent is often used as a persuasive tool for branding and marketing communications.

    Whenever I start a new project I make sure I work closely with my clients to fully understand the brand, script, tone of the message and, most importantly, the audience. Because although a British accent is wonderfully versatile, it’s important to choose a voiceover whose accent suits the brand or video, so that it strikes a chord and resonates with your target market.   

  3. get-the-perfect-on-hold-message-v1

    According to a survey of more than 2,000 UK consumers, 68% of customers are on hold for longer than one minute and 73% would rather hear something other than beeps or a catchy jingle. So that leaves us with every business’s often forgotten secret tool— the on-hold message!

    We can all appreciate that customers would rather not be on-hold, but by making your message helpful you can improve your on-hold customer experiences and even inform and promote your business at the same time. All it takes is a simple script and the right voice to connect and resonate with your audience. Here’s how to get started.

    Identify your main message

    Firstly you might want to think about why your customers are calling. Are there any regular questions your customers ask that you could provide the answer to in an on-hold message? Are you running a special promotion that might create interest and sales?

    By starting with your overall goal you can create good quality on-hold messaging that will help keep your customers happy whilst promoting business.

    Prepare a script

    You don’t want your on-hold message to lack information or sound rushed—so winging the recording probably isn’t the best idea. Instead, once you have a list of the main points you want to address in your message, start to formulate a cohesive and concise script.

    Here are some examples of points you may want to address in your on-hold messaging

    Greet—Think of the full customer calling experience. Introduce your company when callers reach your on-hold message so that they know they have reached the right line.

                Example: “Thank you for calling AB Construction Ltd., our representatives will be with      you shortly”

    Assist—Often customers are calling because they can’t find the information they require elsewhere.  If you are aware of any frequently asked questions then you can address them in your on-hold message or direct them towards the answer. This will help to improve customer satisfaction.

                Example: “Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm”

                “For service rates or to receive a quote, please visit our website ABConstruction.com”

    Promote—Once you have introduced your company, you can deliver promotional content that may be of interest to your customers. You can increase revenue through your on-hold messages by sharing information on current sales or promotions.

                Example: “For a limited time, we are offering a 15% discount to all customers who            schedule building or renovation work throughout June”

    Educate—While you have your customer’s attention, it is a great time to make them aware of other services you offer. Keep it light but helpful to show that you are a company that cares.

                Example: “Did you know we offer more than renovation and extension work? At AB          Construction we offer everything from new build construction to minor alterations, loft     conversions and even paving and servicing of patios and driveways. We’re always on hand to help you achieve the home you’ve always dreamed of.”

    Find the voice

    Lastly, you should think about giving your on-hold message the right voice. Many of your customers will be engaged with your on-hold message so the voice on the other end needs to represent your brand.

    In the UK, there has been an increasing trend for businesses to use regional accents and dialect in their on-hold marketing to best reflect their perceived values. Rather than selecting a neutral voice, companies may instead choose to deploy the regional accent which best resonates with their predominant audience. 

    Whichever style of voice you choose, your message should sound natural.  Remember it is spoken script, so try to write out the script the way you would talk.  Don’t overthink it. Be conversational and upbeat, and read it out loud to peers and colleagues to ensure it reads clearly and conveys the right message.

  4. british voice

    As an experienced female voice over talent, I have spent many wonderful years working alongside many creative and magical clients, colleagues and peers in the voice over community, so I know that when it comes to finding a voiceover, there’s quite a pool of fellow creatives out there to choose from. But, being a sound engineer and an audio director—as well as being a voiceover—I know how very important it is to choose the right talent for the job.

    Voice talents give your company it’s sound. The right voice engages your audience and creates a long-lasting, positive link between your customers and your brand. That’s why it’s essential you use the most appropriate voice over talent right from the off.

    Here are a few tips on how to find the right British female voice over talent for your projects

    1. Match your voice over with your brand
    Think about the company’s brand and the social impact your products/services have on the audience. For example, if you are creating a training video for medical equipment or software then you’ll want to project an image of confidence, efficiency and compassion. However, if you are creating an advertisement for a household cleaning product then you’ll probably want to portray energy, positivity and friendliness. Before your search begins, think about how you want the voice of your company to come across.

    2. Listen to voice reels or examples of previous work
    An experienced VO should be able to send you example reels. It can be good to see if their previous work matches with your target demographic- that way you know you’re on the right lines and the voice could work well with your brand.

    voice-reels

    3. Ask for a demo and test with your target audience
    Once you have made a pre-selection and have the demo reels, it can be a good idea to see how the voice resonates with your audience. If your target market is females aged 25-50 then a voice that fits this description is likely to have the most credibility.

    4. Think about longevity

    When you’re making your selection think about choosing a voice over who can represent your brand in the long run. Chopping and changing the voice over for each new video makes your brand incoherent, so perhaps choose a VO talent that is versatile to suit your future projects.

    My process of helping clients find and create fantastic audio

    As a British female voice over talent, sound engineer and audio director, I have worked with many local, regional, national and international clients, producing great audio content for a range of productions covering corporate videos, adverts, IVR messages and just about everything in-between.

    Check out my latest Corporate video voice-over created for SEEQA and their travel app:

    seeqa

    Here’s how I work with clients to understand their needs and produce magical audio content.

    1. To begin with, I offer a free consultation to understand the clients’ needs, which includes;
                i) ensuring my voice is an appropriate match to the client’s brand or service.
                ii) reviewing content and providing basic pointers—After spending my formative    years writing copy for L’Oreal, and now working as an audio director, I have many      year’s experience creating and editing interesting, engaging content.
                iii) I will provide basic demos to help the client with their selection process
                iv) and give advice and direction where needed

    2. Once my clients are happy with their final decision, 2-3 draft versions will be recorded and sent to the client for review.

    3. After the drafts are confirmed, a final version is recorded, edited and sent over in a preferred format.

  5. At a time when gender balance is a topic thoroughly in the spotlight throughout the media, I felt I would delve into the history of women in advertising and showcase the true power of the female voice.

    Advertising is a key part of our popular culture and having spent years writing and narrating copy for the likes of L'Oreal and YSL it make me reflect on just how far has the female voice come in this industry. Here I take a brief look back at the evolution of the female voice in advertising and note some of the reasons why a female Voice Over (VO) may be more suitable for your media campaigns.

    A history of women’s voice in advertising 

    female-ads

    Gender roles in our society have changed dramatically since the 1950s, and so too have our adverts. The progress that has been made in media concerning the portrayal of women and gender equality, mirrors how society has developed over the past 60 years. 

    In 1972, English author John Berger famously summed up the roles of men and women in media by stating, “Men act and women appear.”  It was often the case that women were simply in the frame to sell a product, but not to speak. This was supported by Jean Kilbourne’s 1979 documentary film series “Killing Us Softly” which shed further light on to gender bias in advertising.  Having produced periodic, in-depth research Killbourne noted that in most cases female actors were just used for their appearance to showcase the product and they were never given a voice, or at best only played a supporting role to the male lead. And when they did have a speaking part, either as a voice over actor (VOA) or even a leading on-screen role, it was only to sell products that were specifically targeted to women, such as skin-care and beauty products, or cleaning supplies.

    Where once men dominated 91% of voiceovers in the mid 70s, by 1998 that number had dropped to 80%, illustrating a growing, albeit steady, step toward gender parity. This was at a time when as women’s voices became louder off-screen, so too were their voices louder on-screen. Big name companies such as Apple and Nike were making big strides to closing the gender gap, and their attempts showed in their campaigns. Gender roles had changed from what they were in the 50’s and this was beginning to be reflected in the advertisements of this time.

    In the adverts of today, when you consider the voice over industry, gender awareness is now coming to the forefront. The way audiences consume media, and the audiences themselves, has changed significantly, and this has placed more scrutiny on the images and voices that represent, or fail to represent, them. Now female voice over artists are specifically hired to cover a wide range of gender-neutral products and services that were once exclusively covered by men, including the likes of cars, banks, airlines and technology.

    Since the time that TV and radio advertisements began, it’s long been held that a man’s voice somehow “cuts through” to the audience better than a woman’s, but now more than ever before, big industries are turning to the power of the female voice over to sell their products, and it’s proof that many of the adages no longer apply.

    Benefits of using a Female Voice Over?

    A Female Voice can Target a Wider Audience

    A study in the Journal of Advertising looking at the effects of male and female voices in ads, found that although the voice over gender didn’t matter for male-oriented or neutral products, the gender did matter for female oriented products. That means, that a female voice can be effective for male-associated products, but a male voice is rarely suitable for those targeting a female audience.

    The Trust Factor

    A feeling of trust can happen within an instant, even after just a single word is spoken in fact. Psychologist Phil McAleer produced a study with the University of Glasgow and found that female voices were considered the most trustworthy.  Because females tend to be the more nurturing gender by nature, their voices are generally softer, sound more compassionate, understanding, and overall less aggressive.  This is often why there’s now a very current trend for female voice overs to produce content for the likes of life or car insurance, banking and even car advertisements.

    The Unexpected can Generate a Response

    Historically, male voices have been chosen for male-dominated audiences and female voices for those containing more women. But, as I noted above, the trend for gender norms is changing for today’s society. By using a female voice in a typically male-dominated setting (and vice versa), this can give the audience an unexpected surprise and generate a greater response to the advertisement. 

    lorraine

    Having spent over 15 years working as a marketing, comms and PR writer as well as professional female voice over artist for various large companies and organisations, I have witnessed first-hand the rise of the female voice in TV and radio ads. I have written copy for adverts and press releases over the years and although there are great benefits for choosing a female voice for your campaigns, the bottom line is not always down to the gender of your VOA, but rather that you have a professional, experienced actor who reaches your target audience—this lends the ad more credibility, and therefore more persuasion. 

    Be persuasive with every element you have, visual and aural. 

  6. UK audio dramas 2018

    In recent years I’ve found myself becoming increasingly more excited by the resurgence of audio dramaI am a voice over artist after all!  Far from old-time radio dramas or those tired story tapes we had as children, this modern, on-the-go entertainment offers well produced, expertly acted, and downright addictive stories from the classic to the contemporary.

    Last year I played the part of Maria Thorpe in Audible Original Drama Northanger Abbey alongside the brilliantly talented Emma Thompson, Lily Cole and Eleanor Tomlinson. It was a wonderfully creative experience putting a new spin on an old classic, and only heightened my excitement for the future of audio dramas.

    Northanger-abbey-image

    Available to download and listen to almost instantly, audio dramas represent all flavours of fiction. What’s great is the infinite possibilities of the forms stories can take in this medium, particularly as the audio drama movement is only just beginning.

    If you are yet to get stuck into these fiction podcasts, here are a few of the top UK audio dramas I recommend you check out this year.

    1.    Black Eyed Girls—Katie Hims

    Winning BBC’s Best Audio Drama Series 2018, Katie Hims’ audio drama Black Eyed Girls is a beautifully touching, emotional story. This poignant drama follows the lives of separated twins who spend over 60 years searching for each other.  One of radios most cherished writers, Katie Hims has created yet another breath-taking script which has been accompanied with wonderful acting.

     2.    The Sky is Wider—Linda Marshall Griffiths

    Winner of the prestigious Best Single Drama award at the 2017 BBC Audio Drama Awards, The Sky is Wider explores the neurology and ethics surrounding the treatment of a patient with minimal consciousness.  Written by Linda Marshall Griffiths, it was developed in consultation with Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, Anil Seth, to create a very current, stimulating and deeply moving radio play.

    dan-dare-the-audio-adventures-image

     3.    Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures— Andrew Sewell, B7 Media

    If you’re looking for a truly exciting series of sci-fi adventure then you just have to check out the adventures of Dan Dare. Under the expert direction of Andrew Sewell, this audio drama series shapes and transforms the original stories of this heroic action figure by bringing together a sensational script, an all-round electric cast (most notably Ed Stoppard as Dare, Heida Reed as Peabody and Geoff McGivern as Digby) and fabulous music (by Imram Ahmad) to deliver pure audio greatness.

     4.    Neverwhere—Neil Gaiman, adapted by Dirk Maggs

    Ok, so this adaptation may be a few years old now, but if you’re new to audio dramas it is a great story to start you off.  Neverwhere is a six-part dramatisation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, which follows the story of protagonist Richard Mayhew on a journey through ‘London Below’, a bizarre, and much more dangerous version of the real London we all know on the surface. Featuring an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and Benedict Cumberbatch, this is not to be missed.

     5.    Midnight’s Children—Salman Rushdie, adapted by Ayeesha Menon

    Heralded as ‘radio drama of the year’, this is a fantastic serialisation of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 best-selling novel Midnight’s Children. The story follows the life of Saleem Sinai who was born on the stroke of midnight the day his subcontinent was partitioned by religion into India and Pakistan. Ayeesha Menon has created a dazzling dramatization of this realist masterpiece with a superb cast.

     6.    Life Lines—Al Smith

    This tense drama goes behind the scenes of an ambulance control centre where we’re introduced to ambulance call handler Carrie. Each time the phone rings it’s a matter of life or death. A truly gripping series, Life Lines conveys the story through a magnificent script and a cast that really captures the enormity of each phone call.

  7. Much like TV and film, video games offer their audience an effective means to get close to challenging and current issues or subject matter, usually through the leading characters.  It is for this reason that BAFTA has long recognised the profound social impact of video games and championed the power this creative industry holds.

    Video games use storytelling to transport the audience to new realms, new feelings, and new adventures within a digital medium.  The stories themselves come to life through characters that are portrayed by carefully selected Voiceover Artists who add authenticity and depth to the experience.

    As I prepare to attend the BAFTA 2018 awards as part of the BAFTA Crew Games programme, I wanted to look at some of my favourite female voice actors in videos games to see how they’ve used their skills to bring new characters to life.

    IMG_7552

    Cortana, Halo (Jen Taylor)

    First seen in Halo: Combat Evolved, Cortana is a smart, female Artificial Intelligence voiced by Jen Taylor. As a predominant theatre actor Jen prepares for her roles by recognising the emotion portrayed by the characters.

    At video game event E3, Jen said “A lot of video games require us to think and act in the moment…it was fun to [get to play Cortana], it felt more like a Greek drama to get to those highs and those lows. I was excited to get to explore the emotional side of this non-human character.”

    As such an iconic video game personality, Cortana became the inspiration behind Microsoft's intelligent personal assistant of the same name, also voiced by Jen.

    Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2013, Camilla Luddington)

    Lara Croft has long been a household name in both the Film and Gaming industries since the early 2000’s but the exploration of the Lara Croft character wasn’t truly captured until 2013 when the video game series was re-booted in style.  A big part of this was down to the mesmerising performance of Camilla Luddington who was motion-captured for the game and gave her voice to this fierce adventurer. A tense script, energetic action sequences and a pitch-perfect voiceover helped flesh Lara into a strong leading lady with real substance.

    Joyce Price, Life is Strange (Cissy Jones)

    The iconic Joyce Price is a strong, independent supporting character in the adventure video game series Life is Strange and is voiced by the memorable BAFTA winner Cissy Jones.

    With a whole range of video game credits under her belt, it’s likely that you would have heard Cissy in a number of other games, too, whether you realised it or not. As well as bringing Joyce Price to life, Cissy is also the lead actress in Firewatch, the voice of Katjaa in Telltale’s Walking Dead: Season 1, and Shel, the Guard, and Howe’s Intercom in Season 2, as well as having voiced many other supporting roles.

    Watching her scoop the BAFTA Games award for Best Performer last year was an incredible moment, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

    IMG_7555

    Elena Fisher, Uncharted (Emily Rose)

    Emily Rose supplies both the voice and motion capture for Elena Fisher in the best-selling video game franchise Uncharted.

    Not only is Emily a fantastic on-screen actor but she is also an accomplished voice-over having performed in all four Uncharted games of the series. Explaining how she works with the producers to make her character sound more realistic Emily said in an interview, “we found there was a lot of value in putting all the actors in the recording booth together, rather than recording our voice-overs individually, so we were able to improvise with each other and collaborate on the dialogue as we went along.” 

    Faith Connors, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst (Faye Kingslee)

    Faith Connors is the daredevil main protagonist of Mirrors Edge: Catalyst, voiced by Faye Kingslee.

    Video games have this great way of engendering empathy by allowing the gamer to experience the life of other people first hand. Developers placed Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst in a first-person perspective in part to connect the player with the character.

    In this video game series, Faye really captures the grit and determination of the powerful Faith Connors, and manages to transport the audience to a whole new world. In an interview Faye said, “Voiceover acting is very artistic. What I love about this industry is that there are so many avenues for creative expression.” In Mirrors Edge: Catalyst you can truly tell how much fun she had voicing this character.

    Ellie, The Last of Us (Ashley Johnson)

    Ashley Johnson claimed a BAFTA win for Best Performance after providing motion capture and voicing Ellie in video game The Last of Us.  She was instantly cast for the role due to her “strong and independent nature”, and was subsequently used in auditions to find actors suitable for the position of Joel, who is a main character alongside Ellie.

    “I've been doing voice overs since I was very young but The Last of Us was my first videogame and the first time I had done motion capture.  I would definitely do it again.” Ashley explained in an interview with The Independent.  Her BAFTA win is credit to her versatility as an actor and artist.

     

    BAFTA Games Awards 2018 Voice over talent

  8. Over the past year I have listened to over 2000 different voices, cast around 300 of them and recorded and edited them for clients in my role as both sound engineer and audio director. Being a voiceover talent is endlessly helpful in these sessions. 

    Voiceover audio engineer

    Being able to wear multiple hats is a great advantage because in this way I can fully appreciate the aims for each element that goes into producing great audio content for an audio production from a corporate video, an advert or an IVR message. 

    I am lucky to spend the day talking for a living but a key part of my work is spent listening as well. All the voices I spend the day listening to I also cast them for various projects. Then I often get to record them and direct the sessions. This past year I have gathered all the tips and tricks to ensure you are cast as a voice and deliver a good session;

    1. Reel - Have your voice at the start of the reel as soon as possible. When casting from a long list of voices, the longer the musical intro, the more likely I am to skip that reel and go to the next. I want to here your set of pipes not the composers. If you have real work on your reel, cut down and out any overly long audio that is not you. 
    2. Bespoke demo - When asked for bespoke demo, record and name the file exactly as the demo instructions have stated. A file that doesn’t conform to the naming instructions will often be deleted because if that isn’t saved correctly, will the same go for the session? Send it in quickly! First come first serve in many cases. 

    3. Read the copy - you’ve been cast, the job is booked and now you are in the booth. After spending my formative years, writing copy for L’Oreal I have written and seen my fair share of good and interesting copy. The copy is often being tweaked until the last moment. However once you get the copy read it out loud at least twice just to get your mouth and vocal cords used to the shape of them. In session, I can always tell if the voiceover artist has read it out loud or not or worse still not read the script at all! The clients I work with also can so ensure you arrive to the session with a read through already locked into your chops. If you get the script there and then read it out loud, there and then. Worry not about feeling awkward or embarrassed in front of clients, you need to articulate the copy so you sound great when I hit record.

    4. Breathe - breathe and breathe some more! If you are serious about being a voice, you need to learn about and love your breathing mechanism. Ensure that you develop your breathing, develop a deep understanding of your diaphragm. Take classes, work the exercises as if it is a gym class. When you get long copy, you should be able to either deliver effortlessly or break it down with breathing spots which not only work for the copy but also in places that the audio engineer can easily edit. Sloppy breathing, half breathes mean you will tire easily, the copy will not be read with the correct flow and the session will take longer making it inefficient. A loss of flow means a loss of intention and structure. If you are nervous breathing correctly will ensure cleaner calmer reads. 

    5. Listen - Many inexperienced voices are so eager to read the copy they forget to read the copy vocally and authentically. It is as if it is an inconvenience and if they read it quickly the session will end sooner. Listen to the client, the director and sound engineer. Yes your role as a voiceover is to talk. But a huge part of the job is actually to listen. What did they say about the pace? The tone? The cadence? What words must I hit? What should I not hit? Should it be a tickle or full upward inflection. 

     Be ready, be steady, be vocal.

    Lorraine Ansell FVO at work

  9. Important steps to follow when beginning your career as a voice actor following on from the previous post.

    A talented voice actor or narrator is a tremendous asset to any creative business. In the age of worldwide pushbutton entertainment, the opportunities for good presenters, female voice over, character voices and voice effects in the UK and abroad have never been greater. Numerous amateurs have found careers in the voice acting field, and for some, their big break wasn’t the result of an unlikely encounter with a big corporation or production company.

    There are many aspiring voice actors across the web. Some have online portfolios, whereas others do spoken word content, such as podcasts, character demos or dramatic performances. The audiobook field is also growing substantially, with applications such as Audible easily downloadable onto people’s smartphones. But being ready and willing to put in the hard work is just the first step for someone wondering how to become a voice actor. Then it’s a matter of getting your craft to the level it needs to be and finding reliable opportunities for work.  If you've made the decision to advance your career in this exciting field, here are some things to consider.

    Recording Studio

    Quality Equipment

    Nothing fatigues an audience faster than sub-standard audio quality. When setting up a home studio or seeking out a studio for your voice over, you must ensure the microphone is of the highest quality, and spend time making adjustments to your sound setup to make sure your recordings are undistorted and free of background noise. You need to be certain your audio hardware is capturing your voice at the correct timbre, and that you are producing audio data that provides the best fidelity when played back on the various devices used by consumers in the 21st century, particularly mobile.

    Sufficient quality microphones can be found at a reasonable price online and there are various tutorials you can follow to learn how to correctly install accessories. A suspension boom, also known as a microphone arm stand, must be strong and sturdy for maximum stability during a reading, and a pop filter is essential for reducing mouth noises for a clean read. Take your time with these steps, because every opportunity you have depends entirely on the quality of the product you can deliver that is a result of the  microphone, your audio hardware and how you use them both.

     

    Create a Demo Reel and Portfolio

    Once you are able to produce the best quality audio possible, you will need to produce a demo reel and portfolio so that prospective clients can sample your work before hiring you. This is often the most difficult step for a new voiceover artist learning how to do voice overs.

    It is here you will likely need to make a decision as to what type of voiceover work you want to pursue. A portfolio with a broad range of work demos will be far less effective than one with ten demos focused in the same category. For example, if you want to record audiobooks, you will be more successful with numerous examples of that type of recording than you would be including cartoon voices and commercial announcer demos.

    Offer your demo work in as many popular formats as you can, across multiple platforms and be  certain to include your general contact information along with your web address in each demo. You never know where those recordings will end up and the last thing you want is for a potential opportunity to be wasted because you are unidentifiable and uncontactable.

     

    Protect Your Rights

    Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, anything you record that is regarded as original, and exhibits a degree of labour, skill or judgement is automatically copyrighted to you. If you work for someone else or sign a contract as a freelancer or contributor be certain you reach an agreement regarding the disposition of that copyright, as your work's commercial value depends on it. For the most part, you should be willing to license your work to your clients in exchange for payment. But, if clients insist on buying all the rights to your works, make sure you are adequately compensated.

     

    Many people want to get into voice acting, so it can be a challenging industry to break in to. By taking professional steps in the appropriate order, you have a much better chance of not only finding lucrative work, but also of establishing a successful career. The key is making certain you produce to the highest quality, choose the most suited niche you can and always protect the value of your works.

    Keep Voicing! 

  10. Welcome 2018! Many people take stock at this point of the year and opt to change their lifestyles and explore their skills and talents they may have. Are you thinking about a change? Is voiceover something you feel drawn to and want to explore further? Fantastic - it is a magical job that I love and brings me great joy and peace as well as letting me play with emotions, characters and voices. One day you could be a hotel receptionist in an audio book or a small boy in an audio drama or simply reading out line after line of phone numbers or directions. If that sounds appealing then you are in for a treat. 

    Many people come and ask me how to become a voice over artist. As the wonderfully talented actor and voice of Yoda, Frank Oz said as the omnipresent character, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Being a successful voice over artist takes time, patience, talent, luck, persistence and resilience with a lot of doing and being.  

    Aim high

    When people ask me how they can be a voice over talent. I feel that the correct question is what do I need to become a voice talent. Needing all of the above words as well as some basic knowledge will serve you very well in your vocal journey. Through out the year I shall cover them in more detail but for a start here are a few items to get you on your way.

    Talent aside being a successful voice over artist requires hardware and software for the artistic, creative side as well as for the business management side. In no particular order, the below five areas highlight basic areas for where you will need to invest in and develop further.  

    1. Recording studio - many voices work from home in their own recording studio. Conduct your own research, learn and appreciate how you will need to use your space you already have to create your own studio. 
    2. Vocal practice - working long hours or on sessions that may wear you and your voice out happens a lot so invest in finding good exercises and how to manage your voice. Understand your voice and what it can do and look after it. Dancers and musicians look after themselves, their bodies and their instruments. As a voice over artist that is what you will need to do especially if you choose some vocally taxing voice over genres. Recognise if you need help and coaching and seek out coaches that suit you and what your goals are as a voice. 
    3. Voice Reels - once you are ready to record then go professional. Invest time and money to work with someone who has a track record in delivering excellent reels that book work and are aurally successful.  
    4. Technological appreciation - even if you are unsure about the technological side of things learn. From microphones to recording software there is a huge amount of information out there for you to choose from.  
    5. Business acumen - being a voice over artist is much more than just sitting and waiting for the agent to send you jobs. A lot of success is made by being proactive, having a full marketing complement to your business goals, being knowledgeable about rates, financial terms and knowing what you need to make it work for you. 

     Have a wonderful 2018 - may it be beautifully bountiful for you

    Happy New Year 2018