50 Good Tips On How To Be A Good Voice Artist by gieterror


									Dear VPI VOICE ARTIST(E)S, please read & study the following:
1. Read. Read a lot. Read to yourself. Read aloud. Read anything. Books,plays,
newspapers, catalogues, comics. Read in bed. On the bus. In the toilet. Above
all, learn to read ahead so that you can work out where a sentence is going to -
before you get there, as for many sessions you will have to read a script "cold"
/ “a prima vista”. (We had a session not too long ago where two versions were
required of the same corporate video script - a male version & a female version.
The scripts were to be recorded "wild" / “in bianco”, i.e.: not to picture, and
the video edited to match the narration. The male actor required two or three
takes of each paragraph & lots of drop-ins - he just couldn't work out where a
paragraph was going. He took 2 hours. She took forty minutes - and was
brilliant. Guess who will get the most work?)

2. Practice adjusting the overall speed of the whole read - or just a sentence -
by nanoseconds.

3. Inside each microphone there's a tiny sexual organ - which can only be
stimulated with YOUR voice. You have to make love with it. You have to perform
as you've never performed before. You have to show it ALL positions from the
Vocal Kama Sutra...

4. Don't breath straight into words. Don't gasp straight out of words.

5. Practice with Plosives. Don't POP. Watch / listen to the old-timers superb &
intuitive microphone technique.

6. You must be able to match breaths, timbre, volume & speed at drop-in points.
As the drop-in point approaches, read-along with the run-up(in mind,generally).
(Although)Some engineers like you to match the performance during the run-up so
that the drop-in point is less critical. Some engineers hate it.

7. Learn to play with the words and the timings to complement background music
or Sound FX - or to work against them. Elongating a certain syllable can some-
times make all the difference. Often everything will be added & mixed once
you've gone. But don't be afraid to ask to hear a snatch of the music so that
you can get the right feel. Sometimes the engineer will happily play the music
just down your headphones (the “cans”) if it helps your performance. If you are
supposed to be shouting above the wind or a hubbub - ask the engineer to play
the relevant sound effect down your cans during the recording.

8. (A-D) Be able to (A)take cues from a TV monitor,(B) register what the cue-
lights mean, (C)read a time-code display, (D) read a script brilliantly - all at
the same time...

9. Lovingly caress syllables - sometimes.

10. Indulge in verbal foreplay with the director/producer and studio staff.
Don't just sit there being the great A C T O R. We're all in this together, you
know. A team.

50 GOOD TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GOOD VOICE ARTIST                               1/5
11. Don't keep telling everyone that you'd rather be doing a season at Stratford
(for the Americans - Stratford is where The Royal Shakespeare Company is based.
It is not a golf course)

12. Learn to carry on with a read even if the producer is whispering
instructions down the talkback, and the engineer is telling you to ignore the

13. Carry on with a read even if there is a delayed echo (buzz, wizz, fuzz, hum)
in the headphones.

14. Don't make a big deal of it if the engineer whispers that he/she forgot to
record the last take - especially when everyone agrees it was the best out of
72... Anyway, why can't you do a good read more than once?

15. Do brush up your Latin. People who do medical/technical commentaries &
narration should earn 3 times the normal hourly rate! But don't tell them we
said so...

16. (A-C) A)Get something to eat before the session - but nothing full of garlic
- another actor will be in the voice-booth after you. B)Take your litter with
you. How about a nice gesture like bringing out your empty drinks cup? C) Don't
expect the studio staff to rush out and buy you a snack.

17. Resist the temptation of that lovely studio coffee - it encourages phlegm.
Have a glass of warm water. Although smoking can help give a good "cutting" edge
to your voice, it also dries-out your mouth - giving rise to more mouth noises
which the engineer then has to edit out. Try not to smoke in the booth /studio.
If you must smoke & there isn't an ashtray - ask for one.(or, better still, just
refrain; its prohibited in most studios anyway.)

18. Resist sparkling mineral water, drink the flat variety. There's nothing
worse than opening the microphone fader & hearing the bubbles burst in the

19. Don't wear chunky, noisy jewelry. (ladies AND gents)

20. Don't wear a loud ticking (s)watch. (idem)

21. Do have a set of dental plates that don't clack. (smile)

22. Do have a silent heart pacemaker.

23. Have insurance, so that when the whole studio "howls round" and your ear-
drums burst, you can at least get a job as a producer. Seriously, if you feel
that conditions at a certain studio are affecting your performance adversely, or
that a particular engineer is consistently not getting the best out of your
voice, DO let the studio manager/owner now.

24. Don't wear nylon shirts.

25. Don't wear leather trousers, jackets (or undergarments)

50 GOOD TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GOOD VOICE ARTIST                                  2/5
26. Don't expect studio staff to answer and take messages on your mobile.

27. Do understand that a VPI booking is for a whole turn. (3hrs.)

28. Do be brave enough to have informed VPI talent manager(s) of any
inadequacies or moral objections so that you aren't booked for unsuitable jobs.

29. Arrive on time, preferably 10 minutes early. It's not our fault that you've
been booked back-to-back & have to travel halfway across town.

30. Enjoy the session. Don't be aggressive - you don't need the ulcers.

31. As a VPI voice artist, you're probably getting paid more for an hours work
than the runner earns in a fortnight. You may well be worth it, but on the other
hand... And who's to say you're worth more - or have a higher social standing -
than the writer, the producer, the director...

32. Have some good stories and one-liners - but judge the timing of the telling
of them very carefully. Give the client a good story about a celebrity that can
be re-told by the client at a dinner party - thus enhancing his/her social
standing - and you'll be re-booked again & again. Till your stories run out...

33. Remember that we love you all (well, some of you) really. Half the fun of
the job is taking the mickey out of our esteemed voice artists. The range and
breadth of discussions & chats brighten up the day. And when you do something
brilliantly, we all feel that inner self-satisfied grin - realizing yet again
what a wonderful, self-indulgent industry we all work in!

34. Most studios record to digital formats. This means that bodily noises are no
longer masked by good old 1/4" tape hiss.

35. Dress accordingly. For the reasons above, many studios have had to reduce
the air-conditioning flows to the voice booth/studio - so it may be quite warm.
(Again, there's no tape hiss to mask air-flow noise.) Actually it's just a ruse
to get voice artistes to expose more of their bodies... hmmm, nice.

36. If you are sent a script beforehand, at least try to read it BEFORE the
session. If you really haven't had the time, find a paragraph where the words
could be changed to make it read a little easier. Suggest this minor change
before the recording stops - it will impress. Oftentimes the script will have
been written by a press/brochure copywriter. It will be difficult to read - and
sound uncomfortable to the listener viewer. However, the script may have been
approved by several committees and the MD's au-pair girl. The producer/director
may not dare change a word. Be sympathetic to his/her problems.

37. Don't ask the studio to feed your parking meter. Put enough money in to last
for any unplanned over-runs. Why should we suffer 'cos you're too stingy to plan
ahead? Why don't you use the underground, the bus or bike like the rest of us?

50 GOOD TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GOOD VOICE ARTIST                               3/5
38. Don't blow your nose straight in the direction of the microphone. A good mic
can cost over 2.000 Euros. A well-aimed nose-blow can destroy it (especially if
your tissue bursts). Tell the engineer first.

39. Don't get up & wander round the booth between takes - unless you have the
experience to get back to EXACTLY the same mic position. If you have to leave
the booth, make sure you close all the doors firmly when you come back. Ask the
engineer if he/she needs to take levels again.

40. Learn to turn pages silently. You should be able to read the New York Times
from cover to cover without a single paper rustle. Develop and practice this
technique at home - it's important.

41. Cultivate the studio receptionist. Clients often ask if we can recommend any
other good VPI voice artist. They may not know how good a voice is in the studio
- but they know who they like!

42. We don't want to cram your VPI demo-showreel with too many impressions. The
bulk of voiceover work is for normal reads. We'll make sure producers/clients
hear some "straight" voice work in twenty second takes. With many showreels now
on agency CD compilations or available (like ours) as downloadable samples from
web-servers, it's very easy to press the "skip" button to the next voice. If you
can't demonstrate your variety of vocal abilities within 2 minutes - don't
bother. This doesn't apply if the bulk of your work is TV doc narration - then
we just need MORE time to judge.

43. Don't outstay your welcome after the session. Tell a gag & then say your
goodbyes - unless you're invited to stay.

44. Some producers/directors are full of bullshit - and devoid of talent & tact.
They simply haven't got the intelligence quotient to realize that it's their
rubbish direction that causes the problems in the first place! On the other
hand, some actors are just not capable of taking direction, no matter how good
the studio director.

45. The quality and level of your headphone feed can affect your performance.
You may subconsciously alter your delivery in an attempt to compensate. Studio
engineers will often use this effect to compensate for your inability to take
direction, or the directors inability to give proper direction. Or the studio
engineer may be so insensitive that he/she has no idea that it does make a

46. Booths and/or recording studios are sometimes strewn with cables - the
previous session may have had six actors individually mic'd. If the cables are
in your way - ask the engineer to move them.

47. Apart from mains voltages in the booth, even quite innocent-looking pieces
of equipment may have relatively high voltages inside. Be careful with any
drinks. A careless spill could cost thousands.

50 GOOD TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GOOD VOICE ARTIST                                  4/5
48. If you have a drink problem, confide in your VPI talent manager(s). Tell
them not to accept any bookings after lunch. Better to be known as someone who
will, from choice, only work in the mornings rather than someone who is
incapable of working properly in the afternoons.

49. Be ready to learn new techniques. You're never too old to learn.

50. ...and, hey, the money is OK too!

© courtesy original copy by Uwe Engel @ mixworld, Berlin
adapted for VPI Voice Professionals Italy
by Edwin Alexander Francis
13th September 2010

50 GOOD TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GOOD VOICE ARTIST                               5/5

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