Jean Ann Wright and M.J. Lallo. Voice-Over for Animation. Burlington, Ma.: Focal Press, 2009.
Voice-over is non-visual speaking used in several media, from movies, TV, radio, games, etc.
Voice-over in animation often starts with a script, then records the voice-over, and then creates the animation to fit the vocals. There is no set industry standard method on using storyboards, backgrounds, changing colors, etc.
Professional animators advise people entering the field to be passionate about their work and to keep at it even though it is a tough field. Men get 70% to 75% of the voice-over employment. Things that will destroy a career are having a bad or negative attitude, poor acting ability, not following directions, not being versatile, having the wrong type of voice (except an accent will limit hirings for that accent), being late for work, not being flexible, and not professional.
Most voice over employment requires membership in SAG or AFTRA. There is a one production exception and a financial exception that is difficult to obtain. The financial core exception status allows non-union work yet the union, realizing this reducing its strength when granted, seldom grants this exception.
Some cartoons are recorded in Canada. This is sometimes done to avoid paying foreign broadcast residuals that are required to be paid for American recorded cartoons.
Voice professionals recommend exercising before doing voice over work. This relaxes the body and reduces stress on the vocal cords. It is recommended to exercise one’s voice. Practice speaking with a relaxed and open throat and using visualization to help guide vocal changes. Relax to avoid feeling nervous. Use god posture to assist your voice. Breathe by inflating your diaphragm to 80% to 85%. Breathe enough to have enough air without running out while speaking. Avoid using a nasal voice when pronouncing vowels before m, n, or ng. Avoid emitting too much air that causes plosives for letters b, c (k sound), d, g, k, p, and t. Plosives can create a popping noise in microphones. Avoid sibilance with s words by putting the sides of the tongue along the inner molars and keeping the tongue tip around a quarter inch from the upper teeth, and perhaps standing a little further away from the microphone.
Staying healthy with proper eating and rest, being relaxed, drinking water to keep vocal cords moist, noting that menthol and eucalyptus can freeze and shrink the vocal cords, caffeine can constrict the throats and/or sinuses, some juices can cause mucus for some, smoke and smoking can hamper vocal cords, taking breaks when speaking, noting that aspirin things the blood and can cause vocal cord hemorrhaging if yelling is required, stop speaking when hoarseness occurs, and avoid touching the face and wearing ear muffs during cold to ward off ear and throat infections.
If a voice is strained, biting a green apple lubricates the mouth. Lemon herbal tea with no sugar helps some minor problems. Raspberry zinc lozenges can help sore throats. Other remedies for vocal problems include a handful of salted potato chips with water as well as warm ginger root with lemon rind.
Drinking two glasses of water a day before eating or drinking helps, as does singing in the shower and humming to oneself.
There are different kinds of microphones. Omni-directional or non-directional microphones receive sound the same from any direction. Bidirectional microphones receive sound from its front and back. Supercardioid, hypercardioid, or shotgun microphones receive sound from a narrow corridor but do so far a long distance. Cardioid microphones receive sounds from a 120 degree radium in front and are the ones more frequently used in voice over work.
There are several kinds of hand or stand microphones. Dynamic or moving coil microphones, used often in voice-overs, are mostly non-directional but can be directional when higher frequencies are omitted. Condenser, electrostatic, or fixed plate microphones also are often used in voice-over work, are most costly but receive a crisp sound. Electric condenser microphones tend to pick up more background noise. Ribbon microphones receive sound from two directions yet can fail with a nearby loud sound.
Boom microphones can reduce popping sounds. D-Esser booms can muffle sound and are usually positioned in front or to the side of what is being recorded.
Microphones are usually placed 3 to 14 inches from the mouth, with louder voices requiring more distance.
A held microphone should be vertical or slightly angled to the mouth about one inch below the lips and not touching the face. Do not breathe into the microphone. Avoid the cord as cord noises can affect the sound.
Avoid making noises with the script. A script can be marked with vocal instructions, such as notes on changing pitch.
Improvisation helps learning about developing characters. It is advised to say the first thought, always agree with your improvisation partner, and remember to make your improvisation partner look good. Some cartoon companies allow voice-over actors to improvise.
It is advised to study comedy to learn the rhythm of humor and how it can result from exaggeration, discomfort, tension, parody, whimsy, etc.
Voice-over can sometimes be improved by risking a new voice or adding a wrinkle to an old voice.
Getting into a bent knee process can lower a voice.
Vibrating the uvula can help make some animal sounds.
Using emotion and energy helps voice over work.
When reading copy, keep your eyes on the copy, don’t self-evaluate during a reading, aim for being heard clearly, tend for exaggeration, maintain a high energy level, if you require more energy place your arms over your head for additional energy, avoid decreasing energy and pitch at the end of sentences (even though sentences often will decrease in pitch), aim for intensity over volume, establish a rhythm, be consistent but variable in range and pace. Visualize the dialogue, emphasize adjectives, smile for vocal warmth, speak naturally, and don’t overlap another’s voice. To speak like a person who has been running, breathe three times before speaking.
To appear professional, always be friendly, don’t focus on mistakes but keep moving forward, have a set cell phone number to be quickly reached, have a fax to receive copy keep paper business records, write thank you notes, develop specific vocal skills, take classes, and be willing to work for scale when there is no other work. Learning dialects broadens one’s appeal for more work. Learn specific characteristics of a dialect.
Comedic voice-over often exaggerates their voices.
Most demos for animators last about 90 seconds. Some are for 60 seconds. Laser printer packaging is recommended. Paper sleeves are often preferred. Make certain your demo plays, as some don’t. Have a short but personalized cover letter informing how you can be of use to them.
Do not hire agents who ask for marketing cost payments or who are connected to acting schools. When you have an agent, check with the agent weekly. Be friendly. Let the agent handle negotiations.
Some voice over actors obtain notice through volunteering in vocalizing Reading for the Blind or on You Tube.
A home studio for attempting Internet castings should include a USB microphone that fits the computer you’re using, such as the AKG 400 series or Samsung USB, recording and editing software such as Sound Forge, headphones or computer monitor speakers, a mic stand, preferably with a boom, and an adjustable stand. A professional studio can be created for under $2,000 to include microphone cable, USB interact, analog studio mixer, timing stopwatch, soundproofing, and a patch phone.
During taping, remember only a director can stop a tape. If you make a mistake, don’t stop unless the director says to stop. If you don’t understand what a director seeks, request a line read from the director.
When finished, ask the engineer for a CD copy, but don’t be offended if the request is denied. It is easier for the engineer to make a copy at that time. Offer to pay for it, although you’ll likely get it as an emailed MP3 file for free. Tape it when it airs. Give you agent a copy.
Automated dialogue replacement replaces original dialogue.
Dubbing involved recording a foreign film into another language.