Need Advice, looking to get into Voice Acting

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by BumbleVeeNH, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. BumbleVeeNH

    BumbleVeeNH SER-Bot

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    Hey Guys,

    Recently i've had to deal with a major spat of bad luck ( find my for sale thread to get up to date) and i'm just about out of it now. I've been for a long time wanting to break into voice acting work. I did alot of vocal training in highschool and in college, but it never became anything. Now that i'm faced at my expenses doubling, i think i may look to this venue. Voice acting. Ideally I'd love to do just cartoons, but I know i have to take my industry knocks before I get what i want and i'm prepared for it.

    My Question to you my fellow TF brethren, is how does one really go about becoming a VA? ( I'm currently recording my own sample tapes for Demo purposes) So far I've found www.voices123.com and Voices.com | The #1 Voice Over Marketplace for Voice Overs, Voice Over Talent and Voice Actors. I'm just well honestly afraid of failure...kinda my niche problem.

    Oh and to give you guys an idea of the characters i have and still do cover i'll give you this list to put it in perspective. Keep in mind that at worst i'm 85% on key with these voices if not better. I don't keep trying to do a voice if it's out of my vocal range.

    Cartoons: ( just a sample of my work that' i'm recording, the venture brothers stuff is the newest)
    Dr. Claw ( yes i know welker, but i can't pull off g1 megs at all)
    Kermit the frog
    Dr. Girlfriend ( Venture bros)
    Pete white (Venture brothers)
    Master Billy Quizboy ( Venture brothers) getting my lishping down!
    The Monarch (Venture brothers)
    Philip J. Fry ( Futurama)
    Dr. Zoidberg ( Futurama)
    Joey Mousepad ( Futurama)
    Hermes Conrad ( Futurama)
    Ironhide ( gen 1)
    Blaster ( gen 2)
    Soundwave ( if i had a vox this wouldn't be a problem...it's essentially Dr. Claw via vox)
    Spongebob Starscream ( still getting the hang of it...i sound more like spongebob squarepants than SS right now)
    Ultra Magnus
    Rattrap
    More...need to remember which one's i've trained myself to do.

    Movies:
    Randall ( Clerks...i've had multiple people ask me to do the randal voice for answering machines) worst part is my voice is close to his. not my mannerisms though...

    Promo stuff i'm working on:
    Car commercials
    Radio spots


    So if you guys can give me any insight on what to do please do. Also if anyone has any stop motion animation work they need VA's for, let me know. I'd love to become a part of it.
     
  2. atlianz

    atlianz TFW2005 Supporter

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    look for a talent agency in your area? They can help you find gigs and such.
     
  3. Jarodimus

    Jarodimus the guy with that scan Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    I recommend asking about breaking into voice acting at every convention voice actor panel you attend. Ever.
     
  4. Optimus-JD

    Optimus-JD Team Laser Explosion!

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    ^ This.

    *Stomps out of thread cursing something about Botcon*
     
  5. Vangelus

    Vangelus Long Live the New Flesh Moderator Content Contributor

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    STOLE MY LINE YOU MOTHER--

    Er uh

    Yes, check out talent agencies, and find out what studios or the like operate nearby if they do.

    Also to echo stuff said by some voicers at panels in the past (and assume I'm in any place to give this kind of advice XD), don't worry too much about nailing impersonations. It's better to be able to act while doing a semi-impersonation (or even a voice that's not trying to replicate another one), rather than be able to perfectly replicate lines said by a particular voice in that voice, but not be able to actually act or deliver original lines in that voice.

    I dunno, go look up Michael Bell's Botcon panel. :lol  I liked his response to That Question.
     
  6. Bryan

    Bryan ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    I really, really, really thought this was more forum meta humor. But it's not.

    Good luck. PM Voiceroy for some specifics, I think he's probably the most accomplished VA on the boards. Mouth04 from the Allspark posts here on occasion also, but not regularly. He's actually done TF-related stuff.

    But ATLianz probably gave you the best advice. Find an agency who thinks you're worth their time. If you can't...that might tell you something else.
     
  7. llamatron

    llamatron Shut up, Nigel. TFW2005 Supporter

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    My advice? Don't. You (and everyone else that aspires to be a voice actor) are almost 100% likely to fail. Invest your time into something that will actually bring in the money (especially if you're having financial problems) and keep voice acting as a hobby.
     
  8. MegaPrime33

    MegaPrime33 Follow me @NerdActivist TFW2005 Supporter

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    As cruel as this is, it's true. I have always wanted to get into voice acting, but I have talked to people now who are professionals and it took them YEARS to get actual work. Work on it, do it on the side, and if you get lucky and get steady jobs that match or beat your income, then still do it on the side. I def wouldn't quit my day job to do it because it's really not a steady business.
     
  9. Jux

    Jux Please, call me Steve. Veteran

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    This is what I also came to post.

    You are facing your expenses doubling - do not hedge your bets on an industry where almost everyone trying to break into it fails. Establish yourself in a career where you have a guaranteed cash flow and you are meeting your financial requirements, and then try to work it in on the side.
     
  10. TJOmega

    TJOmega The Plastic Addict Content Contributor

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    Looks like I wont be bursting the bubble by saying this but it really isn't a good business to be in. It does not pay well, most actors have something they do as their primary job and voice acting is a work of love thing, you do it if you enjoy it and that's about it. There's only a small, SMALL handful of voice actors that can make a living at just that, and the one of those few I met just last month, Grey Ayres, who is a very prolific voice actor, works like a dog, 10 hours in the booth at a time, long commute (If you dont live close to the studio, you're not going to make it), and even he admits by this time next year he'll probably go into sound engineering or DJing at a club to pay the bills.

    If you're serious, step one is to have something else in mind for a career, as I said it's not a profession you can pay the bills on alone. After that, if there are any radio or vocal classes in your area or at a local college, ask the professor there if anyone in the area, radio stations, local TV people, are after voice work, those are the first connections you make. After that you can learn where to find the bigger jobs and get more connections, that's the key to finding work. You'd also have to relocate, the majority of the high-end cartoon and anime work is in Los Angeles, Toronto, and Huston where the major studios are located and they will not fly you in to do a series no matter how much they like you.

    There's also a hard truth to this, a lot of studios, especially for anime dubbing, are working with a limited amount of product to voice over, mostly since the anime bubble started to burst, companies that were huge like Geneon don't exist anymore. Companies already have a pool of voice talent that they prefer and they try to get them as much work as they can, one reason you have 10 hour sessions some places where you hammer out lines over and over, a lot of that might not even be for the same series. To get in, you have to seriously impress someone, or get to know someone already working there who can refer you when they need bit parts, which again, are connections you form to keep going up in the industry.

    It's harsh, but it's already been said, most likely it's not a good career move because it's so hard to get into and even then the pay is lousy. If you have a passion for it, great, but have a real career ready before you attempt this.

    PS: At conventions lately there's been a trend of people there who know a lot of the people attending are interested in becoming voice actors, they'll offer kits, sessions, classes, guarantees of becoming a voice actor overnight, and all of them are expensive. 100% of them, regardless of price, are lying. You want advice, it's been said in this thread, talk to the actual actors at the convention, they give away the best info you could ever get for free. How do you think I found out all of this?
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  11. Vladakris

    Vladakris Predacon

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    Its actually easier to become an actor than it is a voice actor. Make sure you get a bood job, then do voice acting on the side.
     
  12. Bryan

    Bryan ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    I like the whole "do it as a hobby" bit. Get a real job, work with the VA stuff on the side.

    Feeds the body as well as the soul.
     
  13. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    Just going by what I've been told by VAs, a lot of people have already told you what they say.

    1) Become an actor first. That's what being a VA is, and in some ways, its harder, since you're limited to your voice. Acting classes, stage productions, anything that can help you grow as an actor is a good idea.
    2) Get an agent. If they're good, they'll know the industry better than you, and probably have better connections than you.
    3) Vocal range is not measured in how many characters you can mimic. Noone is going to want to hire you because you can do another character's voice. There's already another person who can do that voice, and has more experience doing that voice. Its more important to be able to make completely new voices for characters.
    4) Persistence. You're going to have audition after audition, and you're not going to get many of the roles you audition for. And even then, you're not going to be raking in megabucks, so it might be a better idea to find another line of work, especially if you need money NOW.
     
  14. TJOmega

    TJOmega The Plastic Addict Content Contributor

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    One part I left out, I'll mention it now. As a voice actor, it's not about range but what you can do with your voice and there is a difference.

    If a director asks you to read a line and you do a voice you think fits the character, and the director says something like "Okay, try that again but this time add some blue" your job is to not go "Wha?". Directors, especially for cartoons, like to play with voices and see what kind of direction an actor can take, if you try that line again and the director doesn't hear a difference, you're not getting the role. Adaptation is a key, and a lot of that is finding other voices, which you've got a list of now, and taking elements from that, just what you think is a cool voice and work it into your own.
     
  15. Chaos Muffin

    Chaos Muffin Misadventure Veteran

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    Dont know too much about it, but good luck with it
     
  16. RabidYak

    RabidYak Go Ninja Go Ninja Go

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    I miss the days when metathreads were a common occurance, they all went to Fuzzy when it became a standard forum and never came back to GD after it went.
     
  17. BumbleVeeNH

    BumbleVeeNH SER-Bot

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    Wow,

    Guys i never thought that i'd get this much feedback. Well here's my stance after reading all these replies. I spent most of last night researching classes to get myself back up to speed, and called my friend in the next town over that owns a sound booth.

    Few Comments:

    1. Yeah this isn't going to be a fulltime gig for me. I'm looking to possibly supplement income, not consider it the end all of my financial woes. Also it's something I enjoy doing.
    2. well i covered it before, but I have a professional soundbooth that my friends father runs the next town over. Well he also has a recording studio, I'll be doing a pro demo there.
    3. Impersonations, this is more of proof to me that i can do the vocal range, as well as "making it blue" ( i had acting classes in college so the term is not foreign to me. Like many VA's i understand that you have to nail things before hand. That is why i'm finding it important to be working my vocal ranges in every waking hour (some people might call me nuts)
    4. Whoring myself out. Yeah once i get my demo's setup, i'm pretty much going to totally whore myself out. eh money's money.

    So thanks for all the advice, as well as the caution. ( no sacrifice, no victory! lol) I'm going to take all this advice to heart moving forward. All of it the good and bad. I find that many have wanted to go this route and failed....that won't be me. I'm going to do anything i can to hone the craft, even if it takes years to make a name for myself.

    Thanks again guys!
     
  18. Voiceroy

    Voiceroy Trans-fo-mahs!

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    I wish I could remember how many times I've typed out the same answers to this oft-repeated question. I should be able to copy/paste by now and I keep forgetting where I've already posted it.

    At any rate, BumbleVee--it's time for some "tough love", as they say.

    If you wanna be a voice actor, then be prepared for yet more expenses:

    1) Setting up a home recording studio

    You can set up a home recording studio fairly inexpensively, but you're still going to be spending around $200-500 (and that's even a low estimate). I spent $60 on a quality (floor model) mic and around $100 for a basic mixer. I already had some of the other equipment needed. And for recording software I use a free and easy-to-operate program called "Audacity." There are much better quality programs, but that one meets my needs for recording auditions.

    2) Commercial demo costs

    Overall cost to get a quality commercial VO demo produced is between $500 and $3000. A lot of pros recommend hiring a voice coach in advance too. And you also have to consider costs for duplicating CDs, packaging/printing costs, and potential marketing costs too (like stamps/envelopes for mailing your demo out).

    And if your friend's father has no experience recording commercial VO demos, you're probably wasting your time. You need to find an experienced producer who has samples of previous demos they've done that you can listen to in advance.

    And for god's sake, please don't put goofy voices or impressions on a commercial VO demo (unless it's like a 2-3 second bit to provide transition). That just shows your inexperience and won't get you hired.

    A commercial VO demo should be your genuine voice. The days of the announcery-style voice for commercials are long gone, and now only used rarely for comedic effect. And commercials are where the money is. You don't just get lucky and make the leap right into cartoons, and if you believe that you will it's a pipe dream.

    And when you do get around to recording a character voice demo, please make sure they're character voices you came up with on your own. No agency or client wants to hear stuff that's already been done, and the goal is get WORK not laughs. If you have clever, witty dialog that gets laughs, that's different. But the purpose of a character voice demo is to show your range and ability, not to get laughs.

    3) Acting and voice acting classes and workshops

    These will cost you between $75 and $500 each. High profile instructors/coaches charge even more than that.

    And please don't ever think you don't need training. I was self-taught as an actor and impressionist, but I had no knowledge of the industry or actual working experience as a voiceover actor. I've taken two voiceover workshops and several acting classes which have currently cost me over $2000 all total. I'm taking another VO workshop in October that's going to cost me yet another $500.

    If you did happen to get a VO gig without any prior training, you could totally screw yourself by going in and making an ass of yourself and make the client regret hiring you. And word gets around too.

    You never stop learning. And that's a lesson for life too.

    4) Travel expenses.

    Now the great thing about the way the VO industry has changed is you can now be a working voiceover actor from home and from anywhere in the country. However, if you do book a gig through a site like voices.com or voice123.com and you can't record the final professional product through your own means, you're going to have to travel to a studio that does or to where the client prefers you to record. And sometimes there's cost involved in the studio too that the client may or may not cover.

    5) Registering with VO sites.

    Premium membership with voice123.com costs $300 annually. Free membership with that site only allows you to set up a profile, upload a demo, and read the forums. But you can't even post on the forums or audition for any projects unless you're a premium subscriber.

    Sites offering services similar to voice123.com will also involve an annual cost. And to get your demo listed on an agency site or VO listing service will cost you anywhere from $20 to $250 annually.

    If you're afraid of failure, don't bother even trying with this. The competition is HUGE just in the commercial market, and it's even moreso for cartoons. There are THOUSANDS of members signed up just on voice123.com and due to that site's own stipulations only a limited number of auditions are accepted for many projects.

    I took a workshop with Bob Bergen (current voice of Porky Pig) earlier this year and he said he only books 10% of the things he auditions for. TEN PERCENT!!! And this is from a guy who's been a full-time voiceover artist since he was in his 20's.

    And don't even get Bob started on doing anime dubs. It's THE most difficult voice acting to do and the pay scale is very poor compared with other union VO work.

    Another VO friend of mine who did some anime dub work in the past said it took her TEN YEARS before she was able to go full-time as a voice actor (and she's stopped doing anime dubs altogether since then for the same reasons Bob cited).

    It took me several years to get a voiceover agent. Now, granted, I didn't have a demo, but I did a lot of agent interviews. And they all kept telling me to get a demo, and I didn't have the money.

    But even after I did get an agent, over the course of three years and many dozen auditions for such clients as Disney, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, LucasArts, Nickelodeon, and EA Games, I didn't book one single thing. And that's not because I sucked--I got some great feedback from clients, but I simply wasn't what they were looking for for the part.

    One of my first cartoon auditions was a interstitial character for a CN programming block for preschoolers. I did what the specs asked for and got good feedback from my agent. Fast forward four months later when CN started airing those bumps, and guess who ended up getting the gig?

    Tom "SpongeBob @#$%ing SquarePants" Kenny, that's who.

    THAT'S the level of talent you're up against in cartoons.

    And this is the harsh reality of trying to break into the industry.

    If you don't have the confidence, patience, resilience, ability, training, and industry savvy to pull it off, don't even bother trying.

    My advice: keep it simple and do it for fun, not to make money and definitely not just to "make a name for yourself". If you do happen to make money doing it, that's fantastic. But don't count on it for income or you're just setting yourself up for disappointment and financial ruin.

    Here are some ways you can do it for fun and get some practical experience and training at the same time, and sometimes it might pay too:

    + You can go after local radio/TV commercial work if you're in a smaller market. The few VO gigs I have gotten were those types. But even this market is drying up for "outsiders" because all the local radio/TV stations are owned by massive conglomerates and they mostly only use in-house talent for VO.

    + If you do impressions and you have good material and you're funny, put together a demo of sample impressions or do a youtube video like I did, and share it with the hosts of local radio shows. Larry The Cable Guy got his start that way--doing that character for a local radio show. And that also happens to be how Billy West (Futurama) started: doing characters and impressions on Howard Stern.

    + Do storytelling/story reading for kids at local schools and libraries. I've gotten a great deal of paying work (not much money, but money nevertheless) doing story reading for kids, and I met my wife that way too at one of my book-reading gigs.

    + Check into the volunteer program for reading for the blind on your local public radio station. See if there's a local chapter of the RFB&D anywhere near you: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D): Educational audiobooks for students with visual impairment, dyslexia or learning disabilities

    + Do local theater. Most of the time the small theaters don't pay but it's fun and has its own rewards. And it's solid acting experience.

    + Volunteer for fan projects. My own brother and fellow TFW member jon3pnt0 does this and really enjoys it. Furthermore, it inspired him to start making his own projects, like his outstanding "Unsolved Mysteries" TFTM spoof. I believe Jon even got a paying gig from vids of him doing TF character voices on YouTube.

    I said this in an another thread recently, but it's worth repeating here.

    There are literally volumes of FAQs online regarding the business of voice acting from dozens and dozens of professionals.

    I spent a few years collecting links on the subject for a directory:
    Open Directory - Arts: Animation: Voice Actors

    And here's one of the most informative FAQs on the subject, from an industry acquaintance of mine:

    Cartoon Voices

    Scroll down for the articles on "How Do Break Into Cartoon Voice Work" and "Voice Work FAQs".

    I don't know wtf "making it blue" has got to do with anything. The stuff I record and perform is for all-audiences, although I admit I can be a little "blue" sometimes with close friends.

    But you don't have to go "blue" to be a quality impressionist.

    I'll share some advice regarding doing impressions I got from a chat with Billy West.

    You can do spot-on perfect impressions and still not be funny. Rich Little is a classic example. He's one of the finest impressionists ever, and yet he pretty much sucks on his own if he's not performing someone else's material.

    Billy says just doing an impression doesn't automatically equal comedy. It's making the celebrity say something totally incongruous with their personality or character they've done. A lot of stand-up impressionists have built whole routines around this concept and it works.

    And you also don't have to swear to be funny. Just because you say "f*ck" a lot when doing an impression doesn't mean it's funny, and frankly it gets old real quick.

    QFT. All of it. Great advice, Aernaroth.

    :lolol 
     
  19. Vangelus

    Vangelus Long Live the New Flesh Moderator Content Contributor

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    From Voiceroy's reply, on anime dubs:

    I have yet to encounter a single Botcon where the actors have anything good to say about dub work. It's been almost universally described by the guests as extremely technical, not very fun, and the sort of thing that made them fondly reminisce on a show where they got to do a more improv-friendly roundtable recording.

    And yeah, all great stuff above! I wish I had a recording of Michael Bell's response to share, it was heavyhanded in all the right ways.



    Thread might be worth saving a link to for future reference if the question comes up again. XD
     
  20. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch TFW2005 Supporter

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    Though I'm no voice actor, I can definately attest to only getting maybe 10% of the roles you audition for, and I only work on the fan dub projects.
     

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