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  1.  As I slowly melt in the summer sunshine I’ve realised it has now been over five years since I started directing Voice Over artists in sessions. I long ago found that being a Voice Over actor was part acting and part interpreter when the client gives notes to a read. 

    After a while I decided to step in during VoiceOver sessions especially with voices or clients that had yet to have a lot of experience with either the type of read, the copy and context or the end want of the client. I have gone on to direct most type of VoiceOver gigs including audio dramas, corporate videos, e-learning, explainers even phone messages and my favourite video games and narrative dramas. 

    Gave heart to the story

     Each genre has its own language and needs as well as scene setting. However the most important consideration is the actor and how the actor will interpret the character. Even on the most simple of jobs, like the art of simple cake baking, they can also be the trickiest of jobs. I always make the actor my top consideration and ensure that they have been given the script in good time (if this is possible), they have read the script and if they have any questions such as pronunciations, number styles but also what their thoughts are and what they like in terms of direction. Some actors are all about the musicality of the piece and want to understand the emotional flow of the copy almost like sight reading a musical score. Others want to understand the feelings and emotional intentions behind the copy and more importantly the context of the script so they can ground themselves in that character space. Then again there are actors that revel in the more obscure of directions such as “Be more orange,” “more tall but less graceful.” Actors are as varied as scripts and so adapting to them and the copy is a true art as a director. 

     

    For game audio, again the genre is extremely varied from single emotes and one liners or barks to whole narrative set pieces or trailer copy or even fundraising videos. The first question I make sure is asked is where are we, when are we and what are we. This makes a huge difference on the performance and places the actor where they need to be go get the vocal performance both authentic and true. I’ve worked on a number of games helping the actor reach and find the character and bring a different level of quality to the role. 

     Mixing VoiceOver artists

    My top tips for directing are:

     

    1. Ask questions to fully understand the context, location, environment and character.
    2. Ask the actor how they want direction and what works for them; picture making, musicality, physicality,
    3. Listen, listen and listen. Listen to different actors, genres, people, characters and feed this back into your director toolkit so you can richly advise both client and actor on how to give a great performance.

     

    Keep voicing and keep cool - pro tip, wrap up some cool frozen veg in a hand bowl and place on the back of the neck and wrists to keep cool especially on longer sessions. 

  2. This is a little of a trick question. Not much would be the flippant and rather quick answer. However, in truth moving as a voice actor is as important if not more so than an actor specialising in film, TV or theatre. 

     

    Performance art of a sort, voice acting at times can be seen as a solitary still pursuit. In fact some roles may call for an inward and outer stillness. It may be the character you portray and the story you are telling may ask for you to be introspective and make yourself small and quiet. This would be especially true in an audio drama or a video game where in these genres there is time and space for the character to develop and breath like a fine wine. 

     

    And yet, there is movement. The human body is made for movement. We know this simply from sitting or standing too long in one position and how our muscles ache from the exertion of holding that pose. Tension is constantly necessary or we would sag like those string puppet dolls. Holding onto too much tension can cause holds and stops in our body and which in turn can have an impact on our own vocal capacity. Everything in our body is connected so if you have a tight hip flexor it may impede your vocal tract to be as open and loose as it could be. 

    Moving is a voice over art 

    But why is it so important to move? Simply put because we are human and the human condition is to move and this includes when in a vocal booth. Preventing stickiness in our joints and muscles is crucial to ensure good bodily health which includes your vocal and oral health. Not only it is key to keep your mouth exercises going to ensure your muscles are in tip top condition to perform but also your body and especially the upper thoracic region so that your shoulders and back and neck muscles remain loose and free and easy to use. 

     

    In the voiceover booth, I tend to move my head, neck and arms in movements that match the tempo of the copy. At times it may mean I am weighing myself down to ground myself for a voice or character. Then at other times I may flow with the melody of the text to create a naturalness and upbeat intention for the piece. It is important to note that all movement should be maintained silently so as not to be picked up by the mic. Foot tapping can be very tempting especially if you get a music bed to voice along to but exchange the tap with a flap of the hand or a shoulder shrug. 

     

    Some copy even speaks to having that shrug inbuilt into it and it couldn’t possibly be read without including the shrug. When text ends in questions or a throwaway comment often the shrug is implied and if it is then add it in. So yes, it may look like I am flicking at a fly in my booth but in fact I am moving in time with the content.