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Category: Voiceover Skills

  1. What clothes to wear for a Voiceover job?

    Posted on

    Like most things in life, each voiceover booth or  recording studio is very different. Some are big and plush with several fans, tables, lights and room to manoeuvre in. Others are squashed dark, cramped and hard to even place the script in a good eye line of the microphone and you. Like scripts, booths come in all shapes and sizes but there is always one constant. They all share one need. The avoidance of all extraneous noise. I will write about a more studio specification aspect from a visiting voice point of view but for now this post is covering how you can avoid being the cause of that noise.

    Reducing any other noise other than your own voice can be hard. The technicians and mass reduce a lot of noise though I have been in some super plush fancy studios with walls thicker than most game back story bibles and we still have to stop and wait for the tube to shuffle past under our feet. Many many meters under our feet. But what else can cause noise? Clothes! 

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    What you wear is highly important in the booth. The recording studio is a workplace and like all workplace cultures there are unwritten rules. So I have written them so you can see what you need to consider when in the booth. 

    1. Clothes - yes please wear some unless you are either in a naturist booth (never encountered that) or it is your own time and studio and you are happy to enjoy recording au natural. In extreme hot weather many voice over artists are apt to employ this clothing custom. 
    2. What type of clothes - please avoid any clothes that cause squeaks or general noise. That leather jacket you imagine yourself as Tom Cruise in…leave it off or outside. That amazing jumper that ripples with static electricity whenever you reach out for your glass of water? Take that off. That off the shoulder top that has its own grating fabric sound whenever you air your armpits? Take it off. Wait but it might get cold. See point number 4. 
    3. Shoes - Well the more the merrier. Or rather, think about your shoes and if they squeak when you walk or move in them. Are you more comfortable in trainers/boots/flip flops etc? Maybe going barefoot is easier for you. Maybe having warm feet helps you to be grounded. Whatever your shoe choice, ensure that you feel good wearing them. 
    4. Scarves - I am a big fan of a wrap, shawl or scarf. Many studios can be quite cool to start with and keeping warm especially during long form narration. Then as with layers, scaves can be added or subtracted as and when you need them. I love a silk scarf as it keeps me warm and clever tight wrapping ensures it doesn’t brush agains the cans or come loose and drape over me or the micripphone. 
    5. Jewllery - Who doesn’t love a bit of Pat Butcher bling? But in the booth any dangling accessories are a no no. Even rings can jangle together as you waft your hand conducting your own voice so take note and keep jewellery to a minium. You can always take it off and pop it back on after the session and head into Soho for a well deserved drink. 
    6. Hair - hair up or down? I really depends on how you feel and like to work but there is also an important consideration. Where will you put your cans? A high top knot bun is all very well but it could mean you moving your cans head band to work around it. Same with a high or low ponytail. I personally favour a mid pony tail held in place with a scrunch (yes yes the 80s part of me will never die away). 

    Whatever your look, ensure that you are able to loosen your body and feel the words. As your physicality informs your voice and vice versa then wear what you prefer but take note of how that will work in the recording studio. Wear, work, witter on. 

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  2. What else does a Voiceover need?

    Posted on

    I love this question. Lots of people ask me this question and I ask them “What do you mean?” Other than answering a question with a question (which amuses me), I do so to ensure I have got the right end of the stick. In the majority of cases what the question setter is actually asking is what more skills or techniques should they learn, develop, try their hand at. And as a rather chatty voice actor (well you know that already about me) I usually launch into a long and varied often tangential discussion about how as an actor it is your life, duty and responsibility to in fact do everything. However this is hardly what the person expects to hear but rather I have realised that I can simply break this right down to the nuts and bolts of what turns a voice into a VOICE. I stand by the whole “everything” concept though but perhaps it is too vague so a longer answer follows. Keep up!

     Recording in studio

    The simpler answer is that an actor is a watcher and a channeller. This is one of my favourite games to play. I watch people and I always have done. I love watching how they dress, walk and talk and then playing a mini mastermind challenge with myself about who they are. What do they like to watch? Do they drink tea or coffee? Black/white/lemon/sugar or a smoothie in the morning? Do they have a pet? Are they a dog/cat/nothing person? Where do they buy their groceries from? And from those simple questions I enjoy delving into harder questions such as do they enjoy their job? If they could be anything what would that be? How has their heart been broken? What has been their greatest joy? I imagine how their voice would sound like from all of my deductions. Call me Shirley Holmes as it really is observation at the highest order. Then I file this person away into my mental character palace (I have palaces in various locations much like the filing system in Jurassic Park only mentally and with much fluffier dinosaurs). There they sit, awaiting their turn like much loved and cared for old toys. They come out as and when I decide and then I channel. I put them on as you would a coat and I become them right down to the way they breathe, blink and bark (metaphorically obviously). They they come alive and take flight, lifting the copy off the sheet or screen when they/me speak and talk for them, with them. The guiding question for this is how - how would this character read this and for whom? 

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    Another simplest answer is to experience life. “Do what makes you happy” is a great phrase for this. I feel that to deliver the best lines that are authentic to the role and character and the content experiencing many things will develop you as a person. What do you enjoy most? Apart from working on audio projects and speaking on panels as well as voicing, I love dance, music, photography, art, food, travel and pets. Sound a tad like a dating profile list but in essence this is more a life profile list. I adore all forms of dance and have tried my hand at many of them. I get to them watch and explore other characters in areas I would never have considered. I love slinking off to a museum or two such as the Tate Modern and losing myself in colour and finding myself in different worlds. Taking such flights of fancy enable me to reach new places that always help my roles when I record in the booth. Food is such a gift as well and having lived in several countries I always wonder how food can be such a cultural thing and can be such a character influencer. I ask all of these questions as I wonder around this world simply to become better, to learn and grow and be. Being a voice is a wonderful thing and whether its a character in an audio drama or video game or talking to patients for medical videos, each and every experience enriches my performance. What does a voiceover artist become? They become everything!