VAM 114 | The Computer Skills and Audio Knowledge You Need to Be a Voice Actor, Part 1

VAM 114 | The Computer Skills and Audio Knowledge You Need to Be a Voice Actor, Part 1

Welcome to episode 114 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/podcast

In the next few episodes I want to discuss the technical skills you need in order to succeed as a voice actor. It wasn’t so long ago that voice actors did not need to concern themselves with the technical aspects of recording and manipulating audio. Up until the late 20th Century, most professional recording equipment was far too expensive for individuals to own. The majority of voice actors didn’t have their own home studios, nor were they expected to have the expertise to run sophisticated recording equipment, so most of that was handled by studio engineers. In the 21st Century, that’s all changed. With the advent of the internet, digital audio, and more inexpensive home recording equipment, every voice actor is now expected to be able to record themselves at home on a professional level and to be able to manipulate and distribute audio files online to casting directors and clients.

This means that if you want to be professionally competitive as a voice actor, you need to master some technical skills in two important areas: Computers and Audio Recording. I’m going to spend this episode outlining what you must know about Computers in order to thrive in the world of voice over. In the next episode, I’m going to discuss the ins and outs of Audio Recording and what mistakes to avoid when trying to record professional level audio.

I realize that some of you may be nervous about learning technical skills. You may find computers and professional recording equipment confusing or intimidating. Fortunately, it has never been easier to learn how to use this technology to help advance your career. In addition to this podcast, there are classes online, instructional videos on YouTube and entire online communities of people working to learn the same skills you are striving to master. So don’t despair! Instead, I encourage you to imagine the satisfaction you will get from mastering these technical skills and the confidence you’ll gain from knowing you can handle all the technical aspects necessary to further your voice acting career. Such knowledge is cumulative: once you learn the basics, it’ll get easier for you to understand any new developments in the worlds of computers and audio recording. So I hope you’re as excited to learn these skills as I am to share them with you!

As always, you can check out the Toolbox section of this website for my recording software and hardware recommendations.

I also reference some Macintosh utility software in the episode.
For bootable backups, I recommend SuperDuper.
For maintaining a health disk directory, I recommend Disk Warrior.

 

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #114 Here (MP3)

 

VAMFR 009 | Marketing and Self-Promotion for Voice Actors, Part 1

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VAMFR 009 | Marketing and Self-Promotion for Voice Actors, Part 1

Welcome to episode 9 of the Voice Acting Mastery: Field Report podcast!

In this episode our correspondent, DanWill McCann, shares with us the first part of his special report on how to market and promote yourself as a voice actor!

Chances are that if you’re listening to this podcast, voice acting is as much a passion for you as it is for DanWill. His goal, as I’m sure yours is too, is to turn that passion into a satisfying and lucrative career. So far, DanWill has learned that it’s important to approach voice acting like one would approach building any business. If you want your business to grow, you need to learn how to market and promote your product. In voice acting, the product you have to offer is you! Once DanWill understood that, he quickly realized how important marketing was going to be. It became one of his top subjects to focus on, behind improving his acting abilities and mastering microphone technique.

To research this topic more thoroughly, DanWill decided to head out to WonderCon, a convention presented by the same company that produces the famous San Diego Comic-Con. WonderCon takes place every year in March, so armed with his trusty recorder, he ventured forth to learn how professional voice actors approach marketing and self-promotion.

Every major pop culture convention has an area where you can get autographs from guests of the event. The Autograph area is usually populated with talented visual artists, on-camera celebrities, and some amazing voice actors. These performers are there to autograph items, sell merchandise, and interact with fans. If they have time and are approached politely, they’re often willing to talk shop about the industry. This year, WonderCon had several famous voice actors attending the event, and many of them were kind enough to take a moment to talk with DanWill about how they approach Marketing and Self-Promotion. These performers were well established in the industry and each of them had recognizable and beloved characters on their resume. They were grateful that their work was appreciated and were happy to share their experience and insight to help aspiring voice actors just like you and DanWill learn to market themselves better.

DanWill collected tips and advice from 5 actors. He spoke with Lex Lang, known for voices on Lego Star Wars, Skylanders, and Rurouni Kenshin, which happens to be one of DanWill’s personal favorites. DanWill also spoke with Lex’s wife, Sandy Fox, who has voiced characters for Disney and Universal, including the iconic Betty Boop whom she has been performing since 1991. DanWill sat down with Dino Andrade, who voiced the Gnome Death Knight in World of Warcraft and the Scarecrow in Batman: Arkham Asylum. He also chatted with Rikki Simons, who gave voice to the ever popular Gir from Invader Zim. DanWill even had a great talk with David Sobolov, whose voice you may recognize as Drax from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy animated series and as Grodd from the popular TV Series, The Flash. It was very kind of these 5 accomplished voice actors to take the time to share their experience and knowledge with us, and we at Voice Acting Mastery can’t thank them enough. DanWill personally found some gems of advice from each of them and he thinks you will too. With their help, DanWill hopes to shed some light on some of the different methods of approaching marketing and self promotion as well as explore the various tools at our disposal. There’s so much to cover, so let’s dive in!

The VAM Field Report will be released on the 1st Wednesday of every month so stay on the look out for it!

 

Download VAM Field Report Episode #9 Here (MP3)

 

VAM 113 | Do You Need to Be a Vocal Chameleon to Succeed as a Voice Actor?

VAM 113 | Do You Need to Be a Vocal Chameleon to Succeed as a Voice Actor?

Welcome to episode 113 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/podcast

In this episode, I want to address a common misconception about voice acting, one that often causes a lot of anxiety and self-doubt in new and aspiring voice actors. There’s a widespread belief that in order to truly be successful as a voice actor, you need to be able to perform dozens if not hundreds of different voices. A common question I hear from first-timers is, “How do I learn to change my voice more?” or “How do I expand my range of characters?” Everyone seems to want to play a large number of radically different-sounding characters, and it’s seen as a particular badge of honor if “no one can recognize that it’s you” playing those characters. On one hand it’s easy to understand why it might seem really important to be this kind of vocal chameleon. After all, you hear about it a lot. Often the voice actors that get the most media acclaim are those who have the ability to change the sound of their voice so radically that it is hard to tell it’s the same person playing different characters. Mel Blanc is the most obvious example of this. Mel was the voice of almost every male character in the classic Looney Toons, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam and many others. In more recent years, actors like Frank Welker, Billy West and Jim Cummings are often heralded for their ability to be vocal chameleons and to differentiate the sound of their characters drastically.

When faced with such impressive examples of vocal transformation, many beginning voice actors believe that the most important skill they must develop is the ability to modify the sound of their voice. They feel that they must be the voice actor of a hundred or a thousand voices and they worry that if they can’t achieve that vocal flexibility, that they’ll never be professionally competitive in the industry. This can lead to them spending the majority of their time trying to find techniques to change the sound of their voice, rather than focusing on the highest priority in voice acting: the acting.

While being able to change the sound of your voice is certainly a useful and marketable skill, being a vocal chameleon is not nearly as important as being a capable actor. It is far more important to have the emotional flexibility to identify with a wide range of character psychologies than it is to be able to disguise your natural speaking voice. Ideally, a consummate voice actor strives for both and can not only portray the nuances of a character’s psychology, but can also adjust their vocal instrument to sound appropriate as the character. But too often I see aspiring voice actors put all their focus on trying to change the sound of their voice, and not nearly enough attention on their ability to act well.

Another damaging aspect of believing that one needs to be a vocal chameleon is it can lead you to discount the greatest asset you have in your voice acting arsenal: your own natural voice. I’m going to spend this episode debunking the myth that you need to be a vocal chameleon, if only to free you from the creeping fear that your own voice is not enough. I’m also going to give you a way to approach vocal flexibility that is based on the emotional believability of your acting, rather then trying to use technical tricks to change what you sound like. The fact is, any vocal transformation that is not rooted in the psychology of a character will not sound believable anyway, so the more you focus on the acting, the more believable your vocal transformations will be. Let’s get started.

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #113 Here (MP3)

 

VAMFR 008 | Interview with Erika Harlacher, Part 2

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VAMFR 008 | Interview with Erika Harlacher, Part 2

Welcome to episode 8 of the Voice Acting Mastery: Field Report podcast!

In this episode our correspondent, Tom Bauer, concludes his interview with the prolific and mult-talented Erika Harlacher.

Erika has been featured in a number of Anime titles, including roles such as Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia in Aldnoah.Zero and  Sadira in Killer Instinct.

In the previous episode, Erika and Tom talked about how she got her start in voice acting and some of the struggles she had coping with her self-doubt. Erika has found that being patient with herself and developing a strong, emotional support system of friends and colleagues has helped give her the confidence she needs when performing in the booth.

In this episode, Tom and Erika discuss the importance of taking classes as well as practicing on your own in order to develop and expand your skill set as an actor. If you are pursuing a professional voice acting career, it is vitally important for you to have faith in your acting abilities, especially when you are called on to perform in the different realms of Voice Over such as Anime and Video games. Erika also talks about her plans for the future as well as giving some practical advice for those wanting to get into Voice Over. Let’s hear what she has to share!

The VAM Field Report will be released on the 1st Wednesday of every month so stay on the look out for it!

 

Download VAM Field Report Episode #8 Here (MP3)

 

VAM 112 | Being a Professional Voice Actor is Not a Skill, It’s a Lifestyle

VAM 112 | Being a Professional Voice Actor is Not a Skill, It’s a Lifestyle

Welcome to episode 112 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/podcast

In this episode, I want to talk about what it takes to become a wildly successful voice actor. And when I say “wildly successful”, I mean working on the most well-known and prestigious projects out there. These are the shows you or your kids watch every day, or the video games you spend hours playing. These are the movies that move you, or the characters who inspire you. Many are household names and billion-dollar franchises. Some are not as well-known, but still very respected in their own niches. Aspiring voice actors often tell me how passionate they are about getting to work on the things they love the most, so chances are that if you’re listening to this podcast, you want to become a good enough actor to work on some of the most admired and beloved shows and games in the world.

This is certainly the case with most of my students. When they come to me to learn, they want to know what it takes to work in the most celebrated areas of character voice acting. As I show them how to analyze scenes and portray characters, they can sometimes become frustrated that they are not as facile as I am at interpreting a script or understanding a character’s motivation. They are always grateful when I can help them break down their acting scenes in clear and useful ways, but they want to know how to do it on their own more effectively, and they often ask me how it is that I can figure out a scene so quickly. I usually explain to them that one huge advantage I have over them is experience. I’ve been doing this a lot longer than they have and so I’ve had more opportunities to take risks and learn from my mistakes. I try to reassure them that if they consistently apply my acting techniques and spend more time practicing and gaining experience, they too will start to be able to understand characters and scenes with more depth and facility.

As you can imagine, this slow-and-steady approach doesn’t always satisfy some of my students. Every so often I’ll get one who’s convinced that there is some sort of magical secret I’m not telling them. They usually ask, “So what’s the trick?” as if there’s some simple, catch-all technique to acting well on a moment’s notice, and that if I’d just stop holding out on them, they could learn that technique and get on with being wildly successful.

While I’d love to come out and say that I’ve distilled how to achieve success in voice acting down to one crucial, sure-fire technique, I’m going to be 100% honest and say that if there is a such a “trick”, I’ve never heard of it. In all my years as a working voice actor, I’ve never encountered just one sure-fire way to nail a performance, or any technique that’s guaranteed to work for everyone, every time. Acting just isn’t that formulaic. While there are certain approaches and techniques that can help get you in the vicinity of a believable performance, in the end, it’s your own fascination and dedication that is going to help you consistently bring characters to life. The most successful actors I know don’t think in terms of looking for “tricks”. They are so immersed in their fascination for the craft of acting that they eat, breathe and sleep it. Acting is not a skill for them. It’s a lifestyle. So in order for you to get on that level and play with the big names in the industry, I’ve got to impress upon you once and for all that techniques are only a small part of the larger acting picture. Furthermore, no acting “trick” will ever be powerful enough to compete against these “lifestyle” voice actors. They will beat you, every time. So, it’s time to up your game and embrace acting as a lifestyle rather than just a set of skills you need to get a job. What does it mean to make acting your lifestyle rather than just your skill? Let’s find out.

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #112 Here (MP3)

 

VAMFR 007 | Interview with Erika Harlacher, Part 1

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VAMFR 007 | Interview with Erika Harlacher, Part 1

Welcome to episode 7 of the Voice Acting Mastery: Field Report podcast!

In this episode our correspondent, Tom Bauer, begins his interview with the prolific and mult-talented Erika Harlacher.

Since this is Tom’s first episode for the Voice Acting Mastery: Field Report, he wanted to interview a very gifted voice actor who is just starting her voice acting journey and making leaps and bounds in her career. Erika has been featured in a number of Anime titles, including roles such as Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia in Aldnoah.Zero and Ami Kawashima in Toradora! She’s also performed in video games, playing characters like Kyoko Kirigiri in Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Sadira in Killer Instinct.

In this episode, Erika talks about how she embraced the creative side of her personality and the steps she took to break into voice acting. Tom and Erika discuss at length the struggles she continues to face as an artist as well the importance she places on finding a support system to help her stay true to herself and pursue her dreams. We’re very grateful to Erika for sitting down with Tom and sharing her experience as an up and coming voice actor. As you listen to their interview, I think you’ll agree that her positivity and energy are infectious!

The VAM Field Report will be released on the 1st Wednesday of every month so stay on the look out for it!

 

Download VAM Field Report Episode #7 Here (MP3)

 

VAM 111 | Interview with Stephanie Sheh, Part 3

VAM 111 | Interview with Stephanie Sheh, Part 3

Welcome to episode 111 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/podcast

Welcome to the third and final part of my interview with the talented and amazingly driven voice actress, Stephanie Sheh! You may be familiar with her work from shows like the Legend of Korra, Naruto and Sailor Moon. Stephanie is not only a talented voice actress, but she also has experience as a producer, director and even as a recording engineer! I’m so grateful to have someone with her experience on the podcast to talk with us about what it takes to be successful in the industry!

In our last episode, Stephanie talked about how inspired she was by movies as a child. They made her feel giddy and excited and she wanted to grow up to make stories that would inspire others as well! Her passion for performing drove her to pursue any avenue she could in order to develop and hone her acting craft. She persevered even when her parents initially doubted her ability to succeed as an actress. Her “just do it” attitude was instrumental in giving her the motivation to become a professional performer, especially in the face of uncertainty and hardship.

In our final interview segment together, Stephanie shares with us in detail what she’s learned from being a producer and voice director for animation and video game projects. Because she has worked both in front of and behind the microphone, Stephanie has a unique perspective on what actors can do to make themselves appealing to producers and directors. She also talks about some pitfalls to avoid when trying to market yourself as an actor. Listen carefully! Stephanie possesses a wealth of important information!

If you’re enjoying the podcast, I would really appreciate it if you could give me a positive review in the iTunes Music Store! Here’s how:

  1. Follow this link to the Voice Acting Mastery Podcast in iTunes. Your browser should open up to a page listing the podcast.
  2. Click on the View in iTunes button which looks like this:  in order to view the podcast in iTunes. (NOTE: You must have iTunes installed on your computer for this to work)
  3. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  4. Now click on the stars to rate. They look like this:  and click on “Write a Review” to leave your thoughts! It looks like this: Write a Review Button
That’s it! Thanks for giving me a positive review on iTunes! It helps other voice actors who are looking for this information find me quickly. I’m really excited about being on iTunes and I’m looking forward to reaching even more people this way!

Thanks for listening!

 

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #111 Here (MP3)

 

VAMFR 006 | Interview with Matthew Mercer, Part 2

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VAMFR 006 | Interview with Matthew Mercer, Part 2

Welcome to episode 6 of the Voice Acting Mastery: Field Report podcast!

In this episode our correspondent, DanWill McCann, finishes his interview with the prolific and mult-talented Matthew Mercer.

Matthew has given life to characters in shows like Attack on Titan and Kill La Kill as well as video games like Fallout 4.  He has also made some amazing web content, like the Geek & Sundry show Critical Role. The show consists of a live broadcast of an actual Dungeons & Dragons role playing game, played by famous Voice Actors who bring their characters to life with deep commitment and believability.

He has also produced several web based projects through online crowd funding, including such shows as School of Thrones and Muzzle: the Musical, the latter of which Matthew wrote himself.  Matthew was gracious enough to share with us his experience and advice for any of you who might have your own pet projects that you hope to fund and create.  DanWill was inspired by his accomplishments and has learned several good tips from Matthew. Chances are you will as well. But enough setup, here’s Matthew Mercer to tell you himself!

DanWill mentions two of Matthew’s web shows in the podcast. Here are direct links to them:

Critical Role can be found at:
http://geekandsundry.com/shows/critical-role/

Muzzled: the Musical is at:

The VAM Field Report will be released on the 1st Wednesday of every month so stay on the look out for it!

 

Download VAM Field Report Episode #6 Here (MP3)

 

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