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Category: Acting

  1. How best to look after your voice?

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    I talk. A lot. Honestly. I speak and chat and use my voice all the time. Which is a good thing as I totally love chatting away. However chatting and using vocal muscles is tiring. There are days when I have several sessions in one day and say the same words or phrases over and over again. That means it can be over 5 hours of non stop talking. Wow! That is a lot, like when I do videogame characters, a lot of vocal exertion for those emotes mean at the end I am needing a pick me up. 

    Time well spent in the VoiceOver booth

    How to stay talking fit? 

    Your mouth and vocal folds as well as neck and back tire from verbalising all day long. When you spend your days in a warm booth it means the air is dryer as well so you can get more tired. To keep myself in tip top shape for a week of talking, I work through a warm up routine, lip trills, straw singing and working through mouth shapes and sounds on a regular basis. But what else can be done? Here you have a few other ideas.

     My top voice tips 

    1. Steaming - grab that steamer and think hot sauna time. The steam is so good for your vocal folds. They help relax, open them and lubricate them. Essentially the steam is like a warm hug. Gentle and comforting. I like using a steamer but watch you don’t inhale hot air, that can damage important membranes and hairs. Much like bath water, always check the steam temperature. 
    2. Healthy eating - yes, this one is quite important. A varied diet with plenty of fruit and veggies is essential. Of course treats are important (not giving up dark chocolate for anything) but what I am talking about is a good diet with plenty of the green stuff. I have a weak spot for lemons so happily eat these a lot.
    3. Aromatherapy Oils - This is a new one to my list and it has made a huge difference to my life. I had a fabulous consultation with Aira Therapy and Emily who is a IFTD certified practitioner asked me lots of questions. I wanted oils that would be effective for my vocal cords as for my skin and general holistic overall health. She blended up some delicious smelling oils and now I cannot live without it. Such a great find, the oils brings a soothing quality to the air so I can breathe more easily. 
    4. Take a break! - build in time for a tea break. Or a stretch or comfort break. Anything so you can re focus and ground yourself before another job. Voicing long e-learning scripts mean that a singular energy is needed so breaks are the best way to keep that energy up. 
    5. Keep fit - by this I don’t mean train for the next marathon - well if that is your thing then go for it. No, I mean, keep fit by moving all day long. Standing or sitting in the booth all day means muscles lock in position and a locked body means the voice gets locked as well. Keep moving, keep fit, keep being amazing. 
    6. Massage - ohhhh who doesn’t love a massage? Every muscle will benefit from some attention. We can hold onto tension and this can cause us to become less supple all over. This again will have an impact on your voice and vocal cords. There are also massage exercises for the jaw, mouth and tongue which are essential as a voiceover artist.  

    And finally never forget to drink plenty of tepid water. At least two litres in a day but more if you are chatting away endlessly like me. Always have a glass of the H20 stuff on hand as the liquid will soothe and ensure you are replenishing the moisutre that you expel as you speak. If you would like to know more then please do get in touch with me

    Stay voicing, stay well.

    xx

  2. How to perform as a voiceover artist?

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    Importance of performance : Performance is crucial to many an audio production. It can bring copy to life than simply reading it in your head. And performances in videogames are amongst some of the most nuanced. Copy is more than a collection of words scattered on a page or excel sheet. As a performer the aim is to take the copy and elevate it to deliver the lines that evoke a reaction of some sort. Questions I ask myself about copy include:

    1. What is the aim? 
    2. What is the emotional intention?
    3. What is the call to action?
    4. What is the truth?
    5. What is believable?

    Lorraine Ansell BAFTA Juror Games 2020

    These questions form a start of an interrogation of the copy that is essential to deliver a connected performance. What is connected? I see this as the voice actor connecting with the copy and then being able to communicate the intentions to the audience so that they connect with the character or the copy and the underlying messages that underpin it.  

    I was lucky enough to see this played out at the BAFTA Games awards in 2020. I was asked to be  a juror on the new category of Performer in a Supporting Role. This was a great opportunity to research each performance of the submitted video games and understand the nuance behind each piece. The nominated performances were a very good example of the voiceover work over this year and I thoroughly enjoyed playing all of the games. The games were great in themselves but the artists were able to convey much with their voice. And there lies the talent, performances that were rich in undercurrents, layered and full of quirks and thoughts. 

    The same questions I ask myself I asked of the each performance. To take each moment and connect with what the actor is trying to convey during each scene. Two nominated performances really stood out for me simply because I connected with them and believed them to be truthful in a myriad of ways. Ayisha Issa who played Fliss in Man of Medan, held my attention throughout her time in the game. The nuances of staying in character during decisions choices as well as game play were excellent and I enjoyed her performance. I also enjoyed watching Lea Seydoux in Death Stranding as Fragile. The character warmed up throughout the game and had many layers that I became excited to watch out for. 

     The winning actor was Martii Suosalo who while his character Ahti in Control has a limited amount of game time, gave a thoroughly detailed confident and thought provoking performance. As the caretaker the role and copy could have simply been a few lines read out loud. But Martii elevated this performance to something both sinister and sublime. What I found particularly interesting that all these actors were bilingual and to chomp and change between languages is one of the hardest skills to have. The cadence, word sounds an mouth shapes that have to be achieved are extremely difficult. Martti made it look very easy. A well deserved win. All of the actors I mentioned really gave performances that are worth of study and reflection for any actor. Have a god and play the games, see what I mean. 

     

  3. Why is listening to everything good for Voiceover Artists?

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    Voiceover is about talking to people isn’t it? Yes but also its it so much more than that. Have you wondered about how a voice sounds and I mean more than just the actual sound you hear but the feelings and intentions behind it. To be a great voiceover how do you convey more than the feeling, impart more than a connection, leave the audience with an experience?

     

    Voiceover Microphone Live

    Simply put learn to listen. Listen to conversations and communications because then you will learn the language hidden within the words. It is easy to do as you can do this on the bus listening to people chatting. From the school children having a chat about what games they played the night before to the early morning shoppers having a gossip, the words are a base level but it is the silence, the pauses, the feelings that underlay each word and phrase that can tell you much more. So how do you listen:

     

    1. Be present: thought this was a mindfulness technique? It is but can be applied here. Breathe, open your ears and mind and listen to the words, the audio patterns, the musicality, the emotions behind the conversations.
    2. Relax: By taking a moment and relaxing, you will feel the intentions carried by words. How many times have you seen from afar a chat that looks loving and interesting only to come up close and hear a full scale argument taking place? Well what did you hear both visually and verbally. Relaxing will enable you to hear and see much more. The language behind the language. 
    3. Listen: Without judgement. You are there to listen to the tones, pitches and musicality and not about who didn’t send an email to what boss on time or not. What are they really saying behind the words? As a voiceover listening will enable you to unpick what makes things stick in peoples heads and what intentions they need to feel connected to in your words so that you can actually speak to them, reaching them. 

     

    And what can you listen to? Everything. The news, adverts, chats waiting in line for your Christmas Black Forest Coffee, the quick noisy chats on the tube or train or anywhere. How we as humans talk to each other is the language that voiceovers need to figure out so that when they voice they can appreciate where to do with the feelings and intentions that layer the words in your next copy. From the simplest collection of words to a full book to voice, the words will have been chosen with an action in mind and as the voice, your role is to deliver your interpretation of those ideas and concepts vocally. Keep listening to keep voicing.

  4. Want to work as a Voiceover Talent?

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    A lot of voiceover success is about the audition. This means recording samples or demos for clients. As clients can make a selection from a demo being pitch perfect is important here. For any actor or voice talent the audition and commitment and professionalism towards it is just as important if not more than the actual job. 

    This has been revealed to me more so this past December on two separate occasions. In December 2018 I was chatting with a producer friend and they sent me an audition as a voice had dropped out from the production. As soon as I got the script I read it all the way through, I couldn’t put it down. The story and narrative had gripped me and I saw in my head how the characters had come to life. I loved the character I was asked to play. However it was totally against my acting type. I love a challenge but voicing a character that was very much the opposite of my voice was a stretch. However, within 24 hours I had sent my audition back. I had even ad-libbed a bit and adding some extra shade and light to the character. I told the producer it was against my type but I loved the character but knew that it was their choice. They loved it. So far so good. 

    Recording Studio 

    They promised to let me know a week later. The week went by and then they sent me an email. They couldn’t let me know because mine was the only audition that they received. To say I was shocked was an understatement. Many of my voice talent colleagues ask about jobs and auditions and how to get them etc. However despite passing on a few auditions the result seems to be the same. Hardly anyone submits the auditions. You can’t be part of the game if you don't even step up to play. 

     

    So while my slightly confused producer could give me the role, the fun part of the game is that everyone takes part, an open goal is interesting but hardly a challenge. And also do you not want to take part in this after all those conversations and networking? It seems that no, not everyone does. Voice work takes hard work and yes talent is needed but also professionalism and wanting to do the job. If you don't even submit the audition then you can’t even be considered for a juicy acting role. 

     Another story I heard was that a voice was asked to submit an audition to a long form narration. They submitted poor audio quality and asked to submit again. This time another audio issue came to light. The producers were confused as they wanted to work with this voice and had heard their work so were eager to start a project with them. But the audio was unusable so sadly that voice wasn’t taken on. Lesson here is to really pay attention. Please take time to listen to your audio, play it back and see if that works and follows the audio guidelines for each client. 

    In fact, the whole point is to acknowledge and accept that the audition is the job and the job is the sparkly cherry on an amazing cake that is you!

     

  5. The Power of Voice Narration

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    The Power of Voice Narration

    There are many elements that go into creating outstanding video content: captivating visuals, compelling characters, creative scripts and a strong sense of place, to name just a few. But one essential component that is often overlooked is the narration.

    A voiceover has the power to drastically change and improve any visual content, be that films, commercials, video games or audio books. We as humans have long been enticed by oral storytelling, and not just because its easier to listen, but because the voice brings so much more to the story.  Here’s how voice narration has the ability to enhance your video content.

    Giving your video credibility

    In today’s tech-savvy society we are constantly listening to voice overs, whether that’s on the radio, in films, advertisements, televised sports, or documentary films. As the audience, we have developed a sense of trust when we here narration, and we’ve even come to anticipate it when we’re watching visual content.

    The voice we hear not only creates trust, but it also has the ability to encourage action from the audience.  Think about televised charity appeals for instance. The striking visuals captivate our attention, but it is the voice over, often a famous actor, who humanises what we are witnessing and encourages us to take action. The same can be said for insurance sales campaigns or marketing ads. It is the human voice that sets the message and compels us to sign up or buy a product.  

    Clear, concise and to the point

    Sometimes it can be hard to convey entire details of the subject matter just through the visuals—if filmmakers tried, the video would be too long. But by utilising a voice over, a long message can be portrayed using only a few key visuals.  A narrative voice fills conceptual gaps and allows you to explain details that may be harder to express visually. And when you get the voice over to match the concept perfectly, it can even reinforce an idea you’ve illustrated and give it more power.

    Improving your brand through a voice

    A recognisable voice has the power to catch the audience’s attention.  The tone of voice, its cadences, and that precise timing all lend to give your video a personality. Whether you’re trying to give your brand an upbeat, familiar and friendly element, or a professional and reliable quality, the right voiceover can also make your audience feel spoken to and represented.

    Expanding your audience

    Professional voiceovers can help to localise your content to fit in with your marketing strategies. Whether you use videos for entertaining your audiences or for marketing campaigns, it is a good idea to pass the language barrier and reach larger audiences. This may also apply for audiobooks and podcasts.

    But localising content means going beyond a simple translation of the script.  It must be adapted to keep the correct meaning but so that it also recognises cultural norms.

    The right voiceover who has the correct tone and accent has the ability to conquer audiences. Plus a professional will not only record the content themselves but more often that not they will be able to take care of the editing and translation too. This is where it pays to use professional voice-overs.

    Do’s and Don’ts when hiring a professional voice over

    DON’T forget to listen to voice reels

    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.

    DON’T disregard the female voice

    It is often said that 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.

    DO 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. 

    Do 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.