Becoming a voice actor is a great career opportunity. It is an exciting job where you can express your creativity and work on various projects from advertising to animation.
The gratification from performing is immense; who doesn’t love to hear their voice in hit video games? Although, competition is fierce, and you need to hone your skills to be able to compete in this industry. Until hitting the big leagues, voice actors also have to juggle other full-time responsibilities while their voice acting career takes off.
Flexibility is a great soft skill for a voice actor to harness. Whether that means crafting a DIY home studio from a closet space or getting an assignment written for college straight after a VO session. Students who are moonlight voice actors can always look to the best paper writer services to help alleviate some of the writing, proofreading, and editing of college essays.
There are 9 professional skills a voice actor must have to truly shine, which we will check out now.
Essential Skills of a Voice-over Professional
Voice-over is a unique type of performing when compared to traditional acting, and there are certain skills that can be improved upon to contribute to a successful career.
Not all forms of voice-over are equal; voice acting has the added requirement for acting skills. The ability to express feelings and sit in the place of a character is essential for telling a story for the audience. While the need for movement and facial expressions are minimal in the booth, that means that you need to convey the audible elements of your performance twice as well.
Practising your range, vocal traits, and performing abilities can make all the difference in getting cast in a voice acting role. Trying out various character types in existing media can assist in capturing the essence of different archetypal story figures. Lessons can always be a powerful ally in this arena, so don’t be afraid to take some voice acting classes or online programmes.
Another crucial skill is to clearly articulate all the words. This might seem easy, but it takes some time to train when you consider the speed and various styles. Do not mumble or swallow words. Each of them needs to be crystal clear and understood, particularly because a recipient won’t be able to analyze the mouth movements.
Understand the line between enunciation and over-articulation. The speech needs to sound natural and appropriate to the project you are working on. This is tricky but completely possible to learn with training.
A lot of times, people do not realize that they have various mouth noises when they speak. It can be anything from swallowing saliva to lip-smacking.
If you are not sure you are doing it, try this:
- Record yourself speaking;
- Try to record your natural conversation with friends;
- Listen to it and analyze if there is anything you need to improve;
- Repeat this step while working on imperfections to make clean and clear articulation a habit.
Some professionals also use specific tricks while recording to deal with swallowing or excessive saliva. These can be proper hydration, throat sprays, chewing gum, or munching a couple of pieces of a green apple.
Of course, proper microphone placement and equipment can be important factors driving out recorded audio imperfections.
This one is important for acting in general. It refers to being consistent in your performance, from pace to articulation. Work on your volume and the energy you use during line delivery. Make sure you stay in it during the recording.
The more consistent you are, the fewer shots you’ll need to take. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be. Big productions are usually the busiest behemoths – holding up production with constantly needing to re-record can push clients to other voice talents.
No one can record the best take every time, but even so; Practice makes perfect!
Voice actors do not have to be tech experts, but knowing what you are working with never hurts and can help you get ahead in this industry. Knowing the ins and outs of your recording equipment and audio editing software is vital to any voice talent looking to work from a home studio. Setting up a home studio can produce results as good as any traditional location too. After all, egg cartons on the wall and a USB mic won’t cut it…
Working from a starting budget can be difficult, so fortunately we put together a list with all the best options for home recording at any budget.
Learning how to use a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a necessity too. Software like Adobe Audition and Audacity are excellent paid and free DAWs, respectively, and well worth using to better grasp how audio edits work. Being able to cut out imperfections in the audio prior to delivery can be a fantastic boon for any budding voice actor.
Pace and Timing
It can be tempting to speak faster or slower during a read, especially when there is a time limit on dialogue. However, this isn’t always the best path. Poor pacing and timings can be ultimately detrimental to the quality of the voice-over, becoming hard for the listener to understand or seeming false.
To be authentic, pay attention to the pace of your speech and how you make pauses. Whether you are performing a character-based VO or something more aligned with a commercial read, proper pacing will significantly add to the engagement and natural sound.
Pay attention to how others do it. For instance, listen to a radio play, a nature documentary, and a news report. Notice the difference in line delivery. Conversational speech is significantly different from the slower pace of the documentary narration.
Another good exercise is to read a text or dialogue out loud at various paces, better yet record the audio and listen to it back. Look at how the emphasis changes when you pause at different places.
Connection and Characterization
When you work on something, you need to be invested in it. This includes work on characterization, general understanding of the text, main subjects, purposes, and motivations.
Imagine that you are working on an animation where you are providing the voice for a character. To make it authentic and believable, the character should be in mind throughout the entirety of the read, you are embodying the character:
- Who is it?
- What are their personality traits?
- What do they want?
- What is the conflict?
- What is the motivation in this scene?
- How would they feel in this situation?
It helps to better understand who you are presenting and how to do it. Think about the feelings and motivations that a character has at any given time and allow that to feed into your performance.
Pay attention to the message if you are working on a project with no characters involved (advertising or general narration). When you are interested in what you deliver, listeners will be more engaged. You may not realise it, but all these elements are crucial to immersing the listener in your acting.
You’ll need to be ready to switch between various roles fast. Confidence and a positive attitude is the key to being successful here. The more you train your skills, the more inner confidence you can build. This also directly impacts the way you deliver the lines. Lack of confidence might result in mumbling and a desire to be done as soon as possible.
Confidence comes from preparation as well. When you’ve done your homework before recording, you’ll feel more assured in how you act. It means understanding the subject and assignment and building connections with the director or engineer. If you have such an opportunity, practice the lines several times at home.
If not, learn to cold read so you can quickly access any text and comprehend the main points on the spot. Voice acting can be incredibly enjoyable and rewarding – so relax and have fun!
Whether you choose to work as a freelancer or find an agent fast, you need to be ready to adapt to situations and circumstances. This comes in many forms, from jumping into new roles to being prepared to catch a new job opportunity. As with traditional acting, voice-over professionals need to learn how to shape-shift.
While the most fun side for many voices is the part where you perform as interesting characters, that isn’t really where the money is. Character work is few and far between; most voice-over jobs come from commercial work. So, it won’t hurt to become a bit more business savvy and flexible regarding various gigs and jobs.
Voice acting is a great career for creative and entrepreneurial people. It does require constant self-development and working on minimising mistakes. At the same time, it offers many exciting opportunities. It is important to train your skills, stay motivated, keep focused, and always be ready to try something new.