Mastering Home-Based Voice Over: Lesson 2

The Commerce Of Voice Over

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Leave a comment or question you have below the video thumbnails.


Complete list of lessons in the course

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If you’ve got any VO questions, ask them below, and David will answer them after the next lesson:

Responses

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  1. I thank you so much! And how is it that you do learn? Visually? Aurally? With text? I ask because I purposely designed the courses to use all three (and a few more) formats, to make sure there was variety in how the information is delivered.

    1. I am best doing assignments visually because that way I can see how the subject is done.

  2. The good stuff is still coming, for sure – when I started this, I thought it might top out at an hour and a half – but it’s looking more like 5 hours or more. And you’re welcome!

  3. I appreciate the kind words, and will look into the video/audio thing – it doesn’t happen for me (or it hasn’t happened yet) – how are you watching the videos? On what device? And what browser? Is it over WiFi, or some other connectivity? I’d love to get to the bottom of this.

    1. Video 1 locked up for me near the end and now Video 2 locked up at 26:41. I’m on a Win 10 laptop hard wired to a cable modem using Chrome browser which usually gives me no trouble with videos. Rather disappointing.

      1. Sorry to hear that, Tom. I’m not sure what is going on with your playback. And I’m sorry to disappoint – when you say “locked up” – do you mean it froze? Did you try reloading the page, starting the video again and then moving the progress marker to where you previously locked up to resume playback?

  4. SO glad these are giving you food for thought. We tend to go with what we know, and anything outside that ruleset tends to be dismissed. I’m glad you’re looking at other options!

  5. After youโ€™ve watched the video, please ask questions!

    How does it make you feel to “toot your own horn?” Are you able to network in real life? Any questions about invoicing or billing?

    How have you tackled lowering your noise floor? Where in your home do you record?

    What else makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?

    Iโ€™ll read them all, and respond to as many as I can.

  6. 1. “Gimme a little ‘Hollywood’ on that product” – will you please explain that, in case we’re EVER back in a situation of receiving this kind of direction, David?
    2. Podcasting – I have a nonunion friend who has an idea for a podcast, where she’d be the “expert” and I would be the layman, asking the explanation questions. Our “problem” with getting this off the ground is my union status. They want her to complete a signatory for the production, which isn’t a big deal, but for the wc insurance. How do we get around that, especially if she’s recording in her home, and I’m in mine, connected via sourceConnect (or some other means)?
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Emelle, “Gimme a little Hollywood” on the product means, that you voice the product name in a way that makes it pop out from the rest of the copy. Techniques to do this are little VO tricks you learn along the way. A few examples are, a slight pause before or after the brand name, leaning into the mic a little to make the brand name a bit more intimate, actually smiling as you say the brand name to change your tone. One might also change pitch a little, slow down a little, add a bit of excitement to how those words are spoken, all so the brand is the thing that the listener remembers.

    1. Examples are:
      Always follow the casting director’s exactly, when the are given, such as:
      1. how many takes to include
      2. whether to slate or not
      3. deadline for submission
      4. very important and too often missed: label the mp3 file you submit, exactly, precisely as instructed. e.g. M_Braccia_Abrams_Mom.mp3 or Mom MarlonBraccia.mp3

  7. I took a similar class of yours roughly a year ago and tried my hand at creating audiobooks. I did 4 separate projects, didn’t make any money and then seemed to hit a wall. I auditioned for over 100 titles and got no interest. So, I decided to change my interest over the last 9 months to being an audiobook editor. (since this worked better with my day job) Now I am back in school for my graduate degree and am wanting to get back into recording. I want to share my voice and love for story-telling but I’m not sure how to get started. I never had any success outside of audiobooks other than a few projects on Bunny Studio. Would love some suggestions from someone who is so willing to share such great information.

    Thank you for all you do!
    -Gordon

  8. For the various demos, where do you find source material? How long should each one be? How many different clips within each demo? I am a complete newb to VO and am hoping to get started on the right foot. Thanks!

    1. each demo will be very specific to the genre of VO… so for audiobooks, you’d record a sample of a specific genre of audiobook (3rd person rom-com; 1st person nonfiction self-help; 1st person memoir; 3rd person historical drama {etc.})… for a commercial demo, you’ll have SHORT clips of ads (which you can create your own copy from print ads) pieced together… for animation, you’ll transcribe a few characters from shows you love. Basically, when you’re ready to build demos, you’ve figured out who your audience is for those demos and then research what the industry standards are at that time (I’ve seen audiobook demos as long as 6 minutes! but I think the current norm is still under 1 minute per book)…

      So to make my answer less daunting, I’ll refer back to your statement that you’re a “complete newb to VO”… which means you’re nowhere near ready to record demos, so you needn’t concern yourself. Creating a demo is NOT the right foot, if you don’t have experience or practice with at-home recording/editing/submitting in any particular genre. David listed a dozen or so “fruit” in the VO world, and where that fruit “hangs” on the VO tree (first lesson). If you decide on which fruit you’ll aim to pick, and then work in that world exclusively until you’re ready for another branch, your demos will be part of that “picking of the fruit” process. Don’t worry! You’re right where you need to be! ๐Ÿ˜€

    2. The industry standard for commercial, animation, game, promo, ADR and IVR demos is 60 -90 seconds. Yup. It’s that short and agent’s simply won’t listen to more or consider you a pro, if you submit a 5 min demo. For audiobooks you might be able to get away with a bit longer TRT (total running time), but not much more.
      How many clips you can fit into that, depends on the read. If it’s a slow sensual read, the clip would be longer. If it’s just a line or even just word plucked out of a commerical, that can work, too. The transitions being interesting is more important than how many clips you cram into each demo.
      Remember to put your best work first, so they keep listening.
      There are lots of sources of content: auditions you’ve already done, web search for commercial scripts or if you are like me, you just write some that will show off the way you want to present your brand.

  9. I did an ACX audiobook (and it’s re-release after the author got published) as a royalty share both times and haven’t gotten any money as there are less than 10 downloads each. Should I have gone with a per finished hour deal? Can you explain how to determine which option is best per project? Also, isn’t a publisher’s job to push for sales and get the book out there better? Thanks for your time!

  10. Hi David, I am SO excited and grateful for this class!!! I am an actor and writer. In my first year and a half of VO work, I booked a Nickelodeon commercial, a Rockstar video game (even got to do mocap!), and a toy commercial campaign. A year later, after moving from NYC to LA (keeping my NY agents) I haven’t been getting many auditions and haven’t booked anything. Are VO agents currently seeking any talent? I’m wondering if I should look for other agents. Also, I would love to record demos for audiobook submissions. Do you have suggestions for length of samples or any other tips on getting started in audiobooks? I love the suggestion to record original work and can’t wait to do more of this! Thank you so much!

  11. How do you come up with original content when you’re just starting out, and you need to build your portfolio from scratch. What kind of small projects can you do from a blank slate? I’m not someone who knows what to do with a blank slate, and I would love some suggestions.

    1. oooh, Deborah, that’s a BIGGIE. I’ve participated in so many “branding” exercises, I know exactly what mine is (“Authority Figure with a Nurturing Edge”), but it really has to do with how others, particularly casting see you. How are you most often cast? What are characteristics that your friends would say are YOU? And do those characteristics of the ESSENCE you exude match your physical/vocal characteristics? My brand works for me both on camera and behind a mic, but that’s not necessarily true for everyone. Ask people you know to honestly “critique” your voice. The more people you ask, the more you’ll get commonalities. Your brand evolves from there. Good luck!

    2. One suggestion is to jot down the words of an existing commerical, make a up a fictitious brand name and change the other words a little, and record that. Do several. Edit together = your first demo.
      You can also record several auditions on ACX.com for your audiobook auditions, edit them down and there ya go. You have your first demo

  12. David, these are great. You are so generous. I’m already a union member from my on-camera work. In terms of my fees, isn’t that already set by the union? I also heard that you can take a non-union job and make it a union job by going through a paymaster. Can you speak to that? I’ve only had a few VO auditions so far, haven’t booked anything, no agent. No surprise there are way more non-union jobs out there than union.

  13. Hi David, I actually put this question after seeing lesson 1 but lesson 2 was already done so I’ll ask again here just in case. I was wondering what the current landscape was for union actors not willing to go Fi-Core. The few actors I know who manage to make a living with VO (and even commercials now) are all Fi-Core and it’s not something I want to do. I was wondering what your take was on this. Thanks!

  14. Thanks for doing this David.It came along at the perfect time, just when I was about to try to do the exact opposite of what you said and try to figure it out myself. Closing all those open tabs now! lol

    Re-posting this question just in case, for the next lesson on equipment!

    Question: If I already have some equipment from acting projects. e.g. I have a Rode Video Mic and the portable home V/O booths like this (https://www.amazon.com/aislamiento-profesional-absorbente-micr%C3%B3fonos-condensadores/dp/B07Q2FYXT4/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=voice+over+booth+home&qid=1598747614&sr=8-6), would I be able to proceed effectively using those without having to buy all new stuff?

  15. Another great class, David — thank you! My question is: once you feel that you’re ready to contact publishers, what’s the best way to send them your demo? An mp3 attached in an email (if the file size is not too large)? Google Drive? DropBox? A link to your website, your ACX / Findaway profile, what?

    Best,
    Greg

    1. Each agent has a preference, it seems. Some don’t want large attachments in their inbox. Some actually prefer they are emailed. As you first mode of contact, ask in what way they prefer to accept demos.
      If you have a website, put your demos there and email a link
      If you do not have a website yet, post them on SoundCloud.com for free and send that link.
      Did you know you can also post audio on YouTube. Yup! Add as a visual placeholder your headshot, a graphic or perhaps a slide show.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic content! I heard about your course through Michael Kostroff, and I’m learning a lot. I’m very much a novice in this field. Did a couple of audiobooks years ago, and most recently voiced a character in a new narrative video game that was released recently. That job was done in-studio, and I do not have a recording set-up at home. I know you will be getting to the Science of Voice Over in the next two lessons, so I would love it if you could address setting up a small “studio” with very limited space. I don’t have a walk-in closet or an office space, and have seen some collapsable/portable booths online. Would love to hear your suggestions on this. Thanks again!

  17. Umm…did you say if you join your pro program, you PROVIDE equipment? Like a mic and headphones? Please say more! Also, I was sent here by Michael Kostrov ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thatโ€™s exactly what I said! So glad we have Mr. Kostroff in common!

  18. Hello David, Quick question about starting your own podcast. After a podcast is produced what vehicle (s) do you use to get it out there? Thanks

  19. David, you are a REAL hero for helping so many in this way. Your insight is invaluable and you are a very effective and memorable teacher! Thank you for the gift of these videos!! I am a musical theatre performer just starting my VO journey and am devouring your insights. I’ve got my equipment, downloaded Audacity, and am plunging into ACX profile-making. VERY excited but finding a hard time selecting a focus… work on samples to upload? Start a podcast? Make mock commercials?

  20. I love to speak and can explain myself clearly especially in subjects that I am quite versed in. I know that when I am recording stories or speeches I hear myself weaving in and out of clear enunciation. I also notice that there is the smacking of my lips while recording. Suggestions?

    1. All that is great, Wayne – and you need to make a concerted effort not to smack your lips (if indeed that’s what it is – not to be confused with other types of mouth noise), as it’s a behavior that is a very specific habit. We do it to make a mental note of our success in getting a sentence out and moving on to the next. Other types of mouth noise are involuntary for the most part, but lip smacks are not.

  21. Thanks for these – I watched every one of these! I appreciate your wealth of knowledge – wish I could sing up for the full course?! I Just can’t -not at this time)

  22. Wow! Thank you! I have been doing voice over for over 5 years now and I did not know about ACX. Also very much liked the idea about giving yourself voice over jobs and the podcast. I recently started a podcast with a few other people and I didn’t consider how that can boost my voice over chops and create value. I also appreciated your thoughts about the last question. I know how hard it is not to get caught up in questioning my work. I think your suggestions on auditioning would be a great support to what I already have going.

  23. Hi David!
    It’s been several years since I first met you at a casting workshop. (I still have the notes!) I am happy that my career coach Jodie referred me to your 5-part free training about Mastering Voice Over at Home in this senior season of my career. My background includes radio talk show and news commentary, local market commercial voice overs, TV station IDs and PSAs, training manual narration.Your presentation feels like I have never been taught any of this before…in a casual, personable, engaging way that makes the info stick! Thank you for being our flashlight on the
    road ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Hi David, first of all thank you so much for this free course. I live in Germany and am mainly engaged as a freelance theater actor. However, I am also booked as a voice actor for radio features and occasionally for radio plays. For a long time I have been trying to get more involved and established as a voice actor or narrator. But as soon as I start to deal with the topic I feel really overwhelmed. It starts with the right equipment and the fact that I don’t have enough space in my small apartment for a voiceover booth and that my apartment is also very noisy. I hope that your course will help me to approach this process in a more structured way and that I will get ideas on how to create high-quality recordings even in my small, noisy apartment. I’m looking forward to video number three. Thanks again for all this valuable information. I appreciate it very much! Best regards, Uwe

  25. Hey David,
    I really appreciate you doing this course. Clear, concise, thorough and easy to understand. And free to boot!
    BTW I’ve used Rehearsal Pro for years and I love it!
    I’m a principal actor wanting to get into VO and this is a perfect way to learn about and understand the ins and outs of the business.
    Looking forward to session #2.
    My Q: As a SAG-AFTRA member, can we take advantage of non-union VO jobs?
    Also – are there really 16 DH Lawrences that precede you ;)?
    Thanks
    Harry

  26. Wonderful presentation!! It’s just like Listening to a friend who has a vast World of information to share with me. Your confidence and ease of speaking makes learning so much easier. Thank you so much. I look forward to listening to the rest of the lessons and hopefully in future, taking your course.๐Ÿ’œ

  27. 1) I have one Taft-Hartley waiver for SAG via some background acting I have done. I know I need three in order to be able to join, but how do I do that with VO? Usually the way a background actor earns waivers is via not enough SAG actors on set.
    2) I suck at social media (I have some skills, but need to really up my game in this area). Where can I take a “short course” in mastering it?
    3) I have some demos in my portfolio. How many and what types do I need at a minimum to be able to get an agent’s attention?

  28. Thanks so much for the opportunity! This class is an answer to prayer! What is the best way to get started when they ask for a reel, but you dont have any content yet? Can you use old commercials or should you write your own?

  29. Hi David! First, I’d like to add my thanks for these lessons. My questions are about setting up a website for your VO business. When is an appropriate time to do that? Before or near the start of your VO career, to use as a source for potential clients to hear your demos? Later on after you’ve obtained some clients, using targeted demos for those jobs? Some other time?
    As a secondary item, I’m looking forward to the lesson on the technical stuff, especially regarding the reduction of outside noise. As I type, I’m listening to the traffic and aircraft passing the house. I also, as the seasons cycle, have to contend with leaf blowers, lawn mowers/tractors, snow plows, snow throwers, cicadas, blue jays, and so on.

  30. So I’ve googled many websites for voice acting, some people gave me some pointers on what websites to check out. Some of them, however, require an upgrade to a membership or a points system. I wanted to ask about how to go about finding auditions on credible websites and how to “price” myself as an actress. The business side of voice acting still confuses me and I need clarification on that, please ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Hey David I just wanted to say I really didn’t expect it would b you giving lessons I just wanted you to know I’m a huge fan of heroes an the puppeteer…. And I’m very excited to be receiving lessons from you thanks

  32. I have trouble figuring out what content I can use. I am an outdoorsman, and an author, and will be narrating my own books, I have two, and a third fiction, but for a podcast, I would need to go outside… wouldn’t I? 2 books on backpacking… but I love anything outdoors…. to go outside and film and talk, now I have YouTube videos… it’s no longer a PODCAST… is it?

    Loving the vids. Thnks for these.

  33. Thanks for another great lesson David! All the years I’ve known year and I’ve never heard the pukey DJ voice before – I love it! I’ve had an idea for a podcast for a couple of years – definitely want to learn more about how to create that and make it the best it can be. Looking forward to the next lesson!

  34. Hello! Thank you so much for these videos. They are a gem! My question: I am from LA and want to know, for actors who want to enter into the voice over market, what would you suggest are the few things to invest in order to submit great quality voice over submissions?

  35. David, this is incredible information. Although I’ve been a full-time voice actor since 2005, it helps to listen to it again. Especially when there is such passion, intention and generosity behind the words. Thank you, and let’s stay connected.

  36. Thank you, David for sharing your expertise in such an accessible way. I’ve been a volunteer narrator in Melbourne, Australia with an organisation called Vision Australia since 2007. VA produces audio files for people with a ‘print disability’ (impaired vision). In recent months I’ve been doing this more from home. I want to develop as a VO professional and start getting paid! I really enjoy narrating all manner of factual material. As much as I enjoy my involvement with VA I feel stuck, having done this for so long. So my question is, how can I best make a start to build a demo portfolio quickly?

  37. David

    Great series Mastering Home-Based Voice Over Lessons 1-4. Awaiting 5 & 6.
    A great resource for the voice actor!

    Best,

    Al

  38. Hi David:
    I just finished watching Lesson 2 and I had to write to you to thank you for sharing these videos! They outline a process, which is so important. They are excellent! Well organized and thought out, the quality of the video and audio is wonderful and the content is very detailed. Thank you so much!

    I’m an American actress, voice actor, singer, presenter and English Dialect Coach. I’m from PA, lived in NYC and have been in Germany for almost 32 years. When you outlined the “harder to reach fruit” list, I felt good after reading it, because I’ve done a lot of that work here in Germany and I’m the e-learning queen for very technical markets! I’m in the process right now of figuring out how to tweak my demo clips so that they are more appropriate for the US market. I have voice agents here in Germany, and working on getting into a few in the UK and would love to reach out to the US. I don’t record at home. I have a studio in Koeln that I work with regularly. I concentrate on my speaking work and they do the technical things. That works best for me. It’s strange, but I seldom have to audition for work. Recently I offered to a new client to do a recording of some of their text, and they were so thrilled, I got the job.

    I’m looking forward to working through all six videos, and then taking a look at your other courses. By the way, I love your voice too. It’s really great to listen to and is very warm, friendly, and supportive.

  39. Hi David, thanks for all your wonderful advice. I mainly complete audiobook narration (fiction and non-fiction) projects and would love to hear your thoughts about audio mastering. I tend to outsource this aspect. When time permits I have tried to understand the steps to mastering audio, but there is an astounding amount of conflicting information on how to do this e.g.- one website may show 6 mandatory mastering concepts, and then another website might also insist on 6 mandatory mastering concepts, where there is only a match for say 3 or 4 of those steps. Finding the right training for this, as you have alluded to, seems fraught with many sharks out there. I use Audacity and know how to apply the mastering concepts (plugins & chains, etc), and probably understand 80% of why I might apply a specific plugin. I fear the 20% I don’t understand will be detrimental to mastering my own work. Sorry for the long question, but I’m betting you understand the question. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much. Regards, David

    1. I only use Audacity for recording and editing audiobook content, not mastering it. I created a piece of software that does the mastering for me – it’s called AudioCupcake, and my Pro member students get the Premium version for free. You just drop your raw WAV file onto AudioCupcake, and it automatically creates a 192k mono MP3 file that meets the tech standard set by ACX/Audible. Not a big deal to worry about once you know the “secret”. ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. How long are these sessions (free) available? Am working Polling Station
    Need to finish later this week

  41. I feel very lucky to have had your class link sent to me. I have been told what a unique voice I have and wondered how to get Voice Over actress started. Fantastic collection of information. So helpful. Thank you so much. I’m a standup comedian and thought there might be a great market for my voice and timing.