Mastering Home-Based Voice Over: Lesson 1
Introduction | The Art 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
Introduction | The Art Of Voice Over (available 8/25)
The Commerce Of Voice Over (available 8/27)
The Science Of Voice Over (Part I) (available 8/29)
The Science Of Voice Over (Part II) (available 8/31)
The Mindset Of Voice Over (available 9/2)
Next Steps (available 9/4)
After you’ve watched the video, please ask questions!
What has always been a problem for you when it comes to VO?
What confuses you about it? What worries you about it?
What makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?
I’ll read them all, and respond to as many as I can – and I’ll try to answer the best questions in the next video.
Hi David! Always grateful to get more training from you. Thank you for this! Still slowly working through Home Study ACX Masterclass we just finished with you and Dan and Audiobooks is a place I’m very excited about. I have a great VO agent and get many excellent commercial and animation/gaming auditions but have only booked a couple. I love it and work very hard at it but I realize these areas are in the “higher fruit” to attain. I try to stay positive and trust my work. I get good feedback from my agents. I just want to get better and book more! I look forward to all your advice. I’m sure you’re about to tell us how to try for Training and Educational stuff, etc, which I would so appreciate. I just want to work in VO as much as possible and pursue every opportunity I can. Thank you, dear Mentor David! 🙂
So glad you’re here, and I love how tenacious you are!
Can you breakdown a commercial script and how you would voice it? Thank you!
I do this in one of the answers to the same question asked previously about my process. Happy to help!
my voice is not smooth and crystal clear. Its more textured and average. Are there opportunities for my type of voice?
That’s actually an advantage! What a great question! And that is something a lot of performers assume is a problem, when it’s often an advantage to have a “different” voice.
My question is regarding home studio setup. Currently I’m learning to do audiobooks. I have a solid sound chain set up… I am using a lap top which has a fan to deal with. Can the engineer/sound mixer remove that ‘ambient noise’ in post engineering if I leave a long enough lead time before I start reading each chapter?
If you’re doing the project as a straight record (as opposed to a punch and roll), yes. Any other format where you are essentially the producer/editor, it’s YOUR responsibility to be aware of and to remove that noise.
Thank you so much for doing this David. Your video is outstanding! I originally learned about you through our mutual friend Michael Kostroff. My Question: even though I’ve been a professional stage and TV Actress for 40 years, I’ve never been drawn to voiceover, simply because I never had the confidence that I had a speaking voice that was “marketable” , i.e. I didn’t have the voice people would say, ooh you should do voiceovers. However, I’m very good at reading aloud and pronouncing difficult words so I know I have the aptitude. I guess I’m just wondering, are all voice types welcome these days or is there still a standard quality? Thank you so much for your generous gift of your videos!
As noted in other answers, we often are our own worst judges when it comes to the quality of our voices or what kind of demand there’d be – and you already answered that in telling me about your years of experience. Unless you have a debilitating speech impediment, you have absolutely nothing to worry about – and I hope you believe me.
Great first lesson, David — thank you! My biggest question right now is: regarding low-hanging fruit opportunities, where and how does one seek out IVR work without the benefit representation (agent, Manager, etc)?
IVR work is usually gained via casting sites, not agents or managers.
Really great lesson and I’m excited for the rest of the course! I’ve been flirting with VO for a few years and have had a few false starts with both UpWork and ACX. The main problem I’ve run into on ACX is that, while there are a ton of books in the queue, it seems like so many of them are…bad. There have been a few times I’ve downloaded an audition script and started reading through it only to realize it’s riddled with poorly written, awkward sentences. I guess my question is…am I being too picky? Do you recommend powering through projects like that just to build a reputation and a resume on the platform?
You are correct, and there’s a reason we spend so much time in the VOHeroes Pro curriculum on the business of audiobooks, including the judgement you’ll need to accept or reject particular projects. This is a matter of the democratization of access – there’s no requirement that projects be good to be listed, and we help you understand how to determine whether or not to take a project. There are still a LOT of great projects on ACX. I pursue them every day.
That was great!
Thank you, Joey! I hope to work with you someday!
Just a thanks for this series of lessons.
You’re so welcome! Glad you’re here!
I did voice over for 3 months, but didn’t stick with it. I never got hired. I thought it was okay to do cartoon character voices. BTW voices.com is so expensive.
Didn’t get what you wanted in 3 months, and you decided that was it? I’m hoping that you adjust your expectations to years instead of weeks or months. In that short a period of time, I can’t imagine you actually got enough experience to react to auditions in a competitive manner. I hope you give yourself a break, and a much longer horizon!
I really enjoyed the introduction video! I recently just got signed to an agency based out of Austin, TX. I am super thrilled about it! I’ve been having voice over sessions with Elise Baughman for the past 3 months now and she has been a wonderful help. Very positive and keeps me motivated. My question is that for the ACX.com website, would I have more of a chance to book gigs? I created an account not too long ago. I only did one audition so far.
From my perspective, absolutely – and you have more control over what you go after (and pass on) with auditions. So, yes!
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
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?
That unfortunately is not a booth. It’s a mostly ineffective reflection shield that won’t protect you from most of the noise you’re likely to experience. The RODE mic is great! And it already rejects sound behind the mic. These shields are usually a waste of money. But…good for you for searching for solutions!
First, DH XVII, Thanks for helping me escape the scam.Sescondly, with the next class, will you suggest any kind of starting directory for section B: markets all over the country, the world; local markets, etc. there must be some starting point. (As an on-camera commercial principal, i started out with a directory i got from Actors connection).Thanks for any leads.
I’m not quite sure what you mean by a “starting directory” – if you mean “direction,” I’d start in your market, whatever that market is (even if it’s small). Making connections with local advertisers, ad agencies, radio stations, TV stations, newspaper websites that offer audio/video internet commercials, etc. Then build from there.
I own the Kaotica eyeball… Thought it was great when I first started using it; doesn’t seem to have *any* effect at all on my noise floor, so find a better use for your hundred bux!
The Intro is the only lesson we have access to as of now… if you watched the whole half-hour, you’re right where you’re supposed to be! 🙂
Why can’t I move on to Lesson 2? I’ve clicked on every thing but no response. I would like to continue.
It’s not out yet. It will be released in a couple of days at 10am. Stand by!
The first lesson is both the Introduction and The First Discipline of VO. I’m thinking I didn’t need to even mention Introduction in the title.
The second lesson hasn’t been released yet. It debuts Saturday morning, 8/28 – that’s why it won’t run. The other lessons will be released on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week (8/30, 9/1 and 9/3). Hope you’ll join us then!.
Very good info. Well presented.
Thanks for the kind words, Lance!
Pretty much everything I teach is applicable worldwide. If there are any concepts that are specific to a region like the UK, I do try to point those out wherever possible.
I think we have that link thing fixed – we had a mistyped URL in our registration process.
As for audiobooks, I find them to be remarkably calm and soothing, and remunerative beyond what some people will tell you. There are people who have never narrated an audiobook before, but have all kinds of opinions (or “what they’ve heard”) about how audiobooks pay. As I mentioned, the Stairstep Method that I teach cuts way down on the “lots of time in recording and editing”. Is it as quick and easy as IVR? No. But the opportunities are there on a much more plentiful basis, and you learn to be a better story teller in all other areas of VO. My audiobook work (royalty share and RS+) pays my mortgage every month. So, it can be done. More later.
And that was a low ball offer of $600, which we’d advise you to do just what you did…pass on it.
Just want to say thanks for being out there and giving me a road map to follow.
And I’m glad you’re here to get the road map – hope that helps!
Um…you’re actually leaving me this comment on the page that shows you the first lesson – it’s the big huge video at the top of the page! And in that video is the link for the Mike Sock: https://www.voheroes.com/get-mikesock
I’m an actor so I am fairly competent in analyzing the script and doing homework for the character and what not… but I am not booking gigs. I am not sure bout the quality of my audio, but I am not busting it out of the park with gigs. I need some help with my audio quality.
It’s actually pretty easy to make your audio sound better, once you understand two things: the many ways you interact with your microphone, and the ways you need to look at your space and make it quiet. We’ll be talking about both in lessons 3 and 4. Stand by!
Thanks for your help.
You’re so welcome!
This is fabulous. So chalked full of knowledge. I so appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise with us! I have LONG LONG LONG had this goal.
I live about 3 hours from LA and also have a 6 year old… so anything where I can act from HOME is ideal! VO is dream life!
So glad you’re finding them helpful, Dawnnie!
I don’t do that. I count on potential Pro members to weight what they want, with what I have to offer. I have many students who operate in another country, and in another language. But what I teach is universal – as you’ve seen in the last week. You’ll need to decide for yourself if that’s what you want, or if you’d prefer a more local approach with someone specific to the German marketplace. I want you to be successful, and whatever path you take, I’m really happy that you’ve decided to take action. I’d love to have you as one of my Pros, and if you go local, I’d love that as well. Hope that helps!
We talked exactly about this subject, demos and how to build your portfolio, in the next lesson, lesson 2, the Commerce of voiceover. I hope it’s helpful!
Do I need an agent for voiceover work? If so, who are some agencies I should look into? When I complete these courses what are the chances of me getting an audition? Is the field of voiceover saturated?
You don’t need one, but having one (or more) is very helpful. Lesson 2 talks about this, so stand by!
You mention not worrying about breathes; when you clean up your recording and then compress and equalize, the breathes are exaggerated. Breaths have always bothered me. How do you handle this? Do you send in raw recordings for auditions?
I truly enjoyed your passion and sharing your skill and knowledge. Thank you. I’ve been doing this for several years but the last couple of years have not been landing jobs which is my frustration. Where is the best place to find jobs.
I’m going to answer this question in more depth on the video lessons – so thank you for this prompt. If your breaths are that noticeable, you’re over processing your audio. Back off on the compression a bit, Nancy!
This series came right on time. Having problems going forward. Have finished a great mentorship with Karen-Eileen Gordon and have what I need to do it. I have learned so much and finally understand the VO world which was completely foreign to me in every way. I am a retired RN and am interested in medical narration, commercials etc. IVR too. ACX is a little intimidating but I will look at it again.
We love Coach Karen-Eileen!!!
I have had the PD/talk and the GM to PD talk. I am now an educator with an eye on retiring. I have 40+ years of radio and records and I LOVE what I’m hearing. Thanks for being YOU! Your’e stuck with me now and I look forward to the next lesson.
Glad you’re here, Horatio!
Hi David .. I’m still 2 days older than dirt and am even more excited this time around. Looking forward to meeting your request that we DO something with these lessons and not just KNOW! Thank yoU so much for your generosity with this endeavor.
All the Best
This is so good to hear. Never too late, right?
I was very impressed and inspired by this first video and will definitely be viewing the rest of the series!
Technically, I am a voice professional–I make my living at a contract technical worker and have produced e-learning modules for my client for the past 6 years. But I’ve continued to be frustrated at the opportunities I have NOT availed myself to. In the late 90’s, after moving to the SF Bay Area, I started taking V/O classes and spent thousands of dollars learning and honing–but it was all about the art and nothing about the commerce. So, after several years I achieved the brass ring–a top SF agent! And after a modest number of auditions and only a few bookings, it all went nowhere. Since then, I’ve moved into stage and on-camera acting, but always thought about “what coulda’ been.”
I’ve still got the skills, have myself a nice little recording/editing setup in my apartment…I just need a CLEAR, ACHIEVABLE path forward…and the cojones to give it a real go.
Thanks for producing and sharing this, David!
And I welcome you, as I just noticed you had the cojones to sign up for VOHeroes Pro – welcome, and I can’t wait to work with you!
Hi David… Your opening to this first video struck such a chord with me. I was actually let go from my radio job of 26 years last Friday. They too gave me a severance, but not until after I signed my life away promising that I wouldn’t make any claims against them. Ugh. So, I walked out of there with my head held high and said to myself “Never again.” I decided I would never work for anyone ever again. I’ve been doing voiceover for many years part time and don’t yet have the client list to go full time, but I m 55 years old and I just got the push I needed. I’m either going to succeed and thrive at this, or I’m going to be standing on traffic median holding a sign… and I DON’T plan on standing on a traffic median holding a sign. Anyway, I just wanted to share that little story with you. Thank you for putting this series of videos together. If I can learn even one new thing from each lesson, my time has been well spent!
You’re so welcome!!! I’m going to speak to this in the next Q&A after the next lesson.
I’m a 50 year VO pro. I’ve had major clients. My biggest problem now is getting responses to auditions. (Through Voice123 where I gave up being a premium subscriber.) I get the feeling that they are just using the audition rather than paying to hire me. I’ve tried various tactics like watermarks and incomplete reads but those seem to just interfere or make me look incompetent. I’m literally just auditioning lately with very few actual gigs. (A ratio of 1 to 70 auditions!)
Wow…it’s interesting how we tell ourselves what’s good and bad. I’m sure there are performers here who would kill for 1 in 70 – but as I’ll share in the Q&A, I don’t think that a “booking ratio” is a valid measurement. Stand by!
Hey David, thanks for sharing these lessons out of the goodness of your heart. Very gracious. I guess I had a few random questions here. You mentioned making enough from audiobooks to pay your mortgage from residuals on those works but from what I see on ACX the deals proposed are for full rights buy outs. Maybe you get different Audiobooks through an agent? Also for your science of VO could you address the viability Logic Pro X, the DAW no one talks about for some reason. lol And last random query, you mentioned making “millions and millions” off VO? I’m sure I’m not alone in asking you to (in my best villain voice) “please elaborate”.
Another great question that I’ll deal with in detail on the Q&A – there are several ways to get paid besides pay-for-performance (what you’re calling full rights buy out). And some of those ways can easily outpace that tradition payment method. But…it’s not your choice – it’s the rights holders’. And it’s likely just a search setting on ACX to see those other projects. Hope that helps!
Thank you for all the practical realistic advice wrapped up in your kindness! I have a question that is VO related but I understand if it might be off-topic for this course…It’s just what’s on my mind and I respect your advice!
I’m grateful to have had an opportunity last year to audition for a mocap video game role. I wasn’t cast, but I’d love to work towards more opportunities like this. I’ve heard from some folks that I should take mocap classes, but others working in this field have told me it’s unnecessary – that my theater and acting movement training is enough. Do you or any friends who may a lot of this type of work have any opinion on this?
Follow-up related to self-tape auditions at home for mocap work : any advice/lessons learned you may have to share?
I’m sure training won’t hurt but I’m always trying to prioritize finances.
I really appreciate your time. Thanks!
I have a few friends in SAG-AFTRA that do mo-cap all the time, and you’ve prompted me to talk about this in one of the next lessons. This is great and one of those areas that overlaps VO greatly, especially in video games.
Wonderful first lesson! I love that you’re covering the commerce and science of VO – the exact areas I need more knowledge in. Where does Audio Description for the Blind come in the hierarchy of work categories? I’ve been training in and doing audio description for live theatre and am interested in learning more about AD for film and any other arena it’s used in. Thanks for your generosity of spirit in offering these classes for free.
Ooooooh…I’m going to address this in one of the next lessons! AD work is great, and your question is perfect. Stand by!
Hello, David! That was a jam-packed first session. Loved it! Now to my question. I have a VO Agent and have been auditioning for years for commercials and animation. The closest I have ever come to any kind of success has been a call back. You have mentioned a lot of categories of VO. Since I have an agent, would that preclude me from pursuing those categories? I am also a SAG/AFTRA member. Rule 1 is no non-union work. I have heard that a lot of Union VO actors have a work around for that but I don’t feel comfortable with that. What would be the best thing to do?
It wouldn’t preclude you at all. You’ll see in Lesson 2, if you haven’t seen already, that you can use the work you DON’T get through your agent as a way to build your relationship with your agent. Rule 1 isn’t really a universal – it depends upon the category of work.
Thank you David! I guess I would ask, since I have a particular speciality like “Dr. Laura” you mentioned, what would be a, um, shortcut? suggestion if there were opportunities for medical training/narration. Believe it or not, narrating articles would seem a reasonable start since the material is already there and the “acting” would tend to be underdone rather than overly expressive?
It’s all about serving the audience. So your level of emotion is all dependent upon the material you’re narrating, and certainly medical narration is not filled with deep emotion – it’s filled with storytelling that informs and educates. What we do as actors varies all over the place depending on who is the intended listener (or viewer).
Thank you for making these sessions available, I’m a working actor/voice artist, wouldn’t call myself a beginner, however I’m always learning, and I’m finding them very useful!
One challenge I have with working as a voice artist from home is the directing/decision making! How do you decide between takes? Is it a good idea to submit multiple takes for an audition or does it just muddy the waters? Is it acceptable to edit between takes? I’m mainly talking auditions here, when I’m submitting work for a client I generally know what they are looking for, or I’ll offer them a couple of versions.
What do you think?
With amity and appreciation,
The best piece of advice I can give you is not to overthink it – make bold decisive decisions earlier in the process, and do one or two takes – and have confidence in your choices!
Is it okay to leave breaths in for commercial VO too? I have been editing them out.
Yep. Unless you’re suffering from bronchitis. Then, maybe.
Lesson 1 was great! I cannot wait till lesson 2 drops!
I know you said that we should move breathing “from the list of thing to worry about” to “the list of things NOT to worry about”. But, I have been told that I’m a “heavy breather”. Wouldn’t a lesson or two in diaphragmatic breathing be helpful?
I wouldn’t know, but I wouldn’t worry about it. If it’s important to you to do that, great – but learning how to breathe is mostly for singers.
Great content, thank you so much for sharing this.
You’re so welcome!
Do all the classes start at 10a?
They are all released at 10 am – but they are all recorded, so you can watch anytime after they are released.
Yo David, Who we’re u doing radio w in DC? I was in the same mkt at the same time.
I was the morning guy at Q107, which changed format that weekend to Mix107.3 and is now KLOVE.
I promise to put this knowledge to work. I want to work!
Love your approach and thoughtfulness. Experience is built in hours and repetition!
I have tech questions and questions about expectations… I’ll wait to see the next videos before asking these…
I love your dedication – and the amount of attention you actually pay to what you’re watching!
Hiya David, thanks for the information thus far. I’m a complete newbie who has just been cast in a fan made VA project but would love to turn this into a career. Are there any general VO courses you’d recommend for building technique, I live in the country in the UK so online courses would be great to fit around work.
I will, later in the series of videos.
Can we save these tutorials for refreshing.
These will be available for another couple of weeks. Hope that helps!
Just watched the first video in the series. Really great stuff David. I cant wait for the second video/lesson in the series!
Hope you liked all the lessons!!
In order to gain some experience while auditioning for audiobooks, I have been volunteering my VO talents at librivox.org, the organization that is digitizing audio for books that are no longer covered by copyright. I like it because I can pick the genre (dramatic reading vs. children’s books vs. classics, etc.) and the length of time I’m willing to spend on a project (for instance, I can narrate just one chapter or an entire book). I was just wondering if you’ve ever heard of this site, and if you think this is a good strategy for gaining experience in VO while awaiting my first hire.
I sure have, and it’s a great training ground, giving you lots of experience before you move on to getting paid for your work. Awesome!
David, bless your generosity and straightforward information 🙏 I’m just starting with your VO video series. I am also in Agent Goals with Brian Patacca; thank you for your presence there as well. Have a beautiful day! 🦋
And Mary…thank you for choosing to join VOHeroes Pro – we just got notice that you’re now a member! So looking forward to working with someone who’s been through Brian’s training!
HOW DO YOU GET ON ACX AS A VOICE OVER ARTIST?
It’s absolutely free to join ACX – so you just join. But…to be effective, don’t just slap up some profile that isn’t well thought out. There are best practices for setting up your presence on ACX that are really important to consider, and we spend a lot of time in the Pro curriculum teaching those.
Just watched the first lesson and very excited to hear the next ones!! I worked as a broadcast journalist, in pr and advertising in my younger years, then became a “stay at home” mom of 4 kids who worked in the film industry as extras and then principal actors (one of them did quite well) which opened me up to the wonderful and frustrating world of acting! I am now in my retirement years and focusing on what I love…voice over, acting, writing, music. I have an agent who’s sending me to auditions for commercials and small acting roles but hoping to improve my skills to make voice over a viable home business! Already taking voice over classes in person but found your 1st session extremely helpful and knowledgable!! I’m all in!! Many thanks to Amy Jo Berman for continuing to pester me with emails to watch you!!
And look who just joined the VOHeroes Pro membership – one Corinne Dickinson!! Thank you for allowing me to help you with your ongoing journey – can’t wait to work with you!
Thank you for this program, David. Just completed lesson 1. Basic question along the lines of “you have a perfect face for radio.” :-). How do you know you have a certain voice from a starting point that would work in the VO industry? Or is it a matter of training your voice to reflect the market and most any type of voice would work
Please move that from the list of things you need to worry about to the list of things you don’t. See my other answers here about “speech impediments.”
Thank you! Great first lesson. Can’t wait to move on to the next.
Woo hoo! Thank you for that, Bill!
How do you know your voice quality is going to be useful?
Unless you have a debilitating speech impediment, you can safely assume that your voice quality is just fine – it’s your storytelling skills that you’ll be developing!