What is voice acting and voice over work?

They are essentially the same thing. Voice acting requires commitment and training to achieve believable performances whether for animation, documentaries or radio commercials. A voice actor provides voices for animated feature films, television series, and animated shorts, as well as radio and television commercials, audio dramas, dubbed foreign language films, and video games.

Everyone tells me I have a great voice. Can I make money doing voice over work?

Voice acting is a growing field with endless opportunities. The first thing you must keep in mind is that it's a very competitive business. If you think that you can devote just one hour a week and land lead roles, you're way off-base. The trick is to maintain a base source of income as you segue into this new field.

How can I get into the business of voice acting?

This takes time and perseverance; no one will come and find you on your couch! Take specialized voice acting workshops, such as those offered through Chinook, and dedicate your time to studying the craft of acting. Take improv classes along with voice-related acting classes that focus on vocal workouts, diction, singing, and movement. Once you build your confidence through training in high school, community theatre, local radio or college, you should start to audition for everything you can to gain experience. The more you do the less nervous you will be. Take any role you get because every character has a purpose and there are no 'small' roles. This combination of training, auditioning and experience will help you get your foot in the door.

Where can I find information on general auditions?

Check the "Workshops" section of the Chinook Animation web site for information on upcoming general auditions and voice acting workshops.

Why is training important?

In a competitive field such as voice acting, it is almost impossible to expect to work without some training. Like most endeavors, whether they are athletic, artistic or creative, you must know the rules of the game before you can play to win. Training gives you the opportunity to find your voice, fall on your face without the pressure of clients staring at you, and develop your acting and character range. Plus, you'll learn how to audition like a pro and make your unique characteristics stand out. The more you train, the stronger your confidence will be each and every time you audition.

How do I prepare my voice demo?

A top voice agent recently said, "If I don't hear something fabulous in the first 20 seconds I turn it off and throw it in the reject pile." This is probably not uncommon, given how many thousands of tapes that get submitted. A voice demo should be 2-2.5 minutes at most. You need to be absolutely ruthless in omitting all but your best work. Your demo should fully demonstrate your voicing abilities and vocal range. Lead with those one or two unique voices you have. Agents and casting directors are tired of hearing imitations of Bugs Bunny, Bart Simpson, or Porky Pig. Replicating voices does not prove you're as good as those performers. Originality is the key!

What else do I need to know to be successful in voice acting?

Read books on acting. Network with other actors and voice talent in your area to find out how they got started in the voice acting field. If you are interested in doing voice work for animation, you'll need to become very good at creating not only character voices but expanding your natural range as well. There are a lot of lead characters that have 'normal' voices - like the teenager, mom, grandpa, mailman, etc. All aspects of voice acting are about sounding real and 'believable'.

Not only do you need to have a great voice, but you must also be easy to work with. Remember to always be professional and open to new ideas and suggestions. You need to have thick skin and be able to take all the feedback given to you, apply it, and let it help you become a better performer.

Stay in contact with talent agents and send updates on the recent work you've done and upcoming shows you are in. If you have a part in a theatrical performance, why not offer complimentary tickets? Finally, remember that apart from your natural talent, success comes from perseverance, passion and dedication. So get creative, get out there, and start tooning!


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