How to be a voice actor: Do you have to have a ‘radio voice’, the ‘voice of God’ to be successful with voiceovers? What kind of training is required? How do you go about recording a demo? What is a niche market and how do you get work there? Can you do VO work part time or is this a full time or nothing gig? Must you live in a major market to make money in voiceovers?
If these are some of the questions you have about working in Voiceovers then please join me with my guest for this episode, Ms. Bettye Zoller.
“You know…modeling, film acting, Broadway stardom, getting a TV sitcom lead role, all of that is a build…it’s a career build. It takes time and first and foremost it takes training. WHY…WHY…answer the question somebody, why do all these people think that voiceovers are instant success? It drives me nuts. Why? Voiceovers aren’t a get rich quick scheme, it’s a build, you know? ”
From Bettye Zoller’s site VoicesVoices.com
Casting Directors, Agents,Clients,and Producers, say she is “unique ” because she offers so many types of voice deliveries, characters, dialects, attitudes, yes, she is a virtual compendium of voice over types and genres.
From major network promos (BBC, LIFETIME, BRAVO, THE WEATHER CHANNEL, FOOD NETWORK, WABC NYC) to a smooth romantic trailer for DISNEY BOOKS, to upbeat, comedic, inspirational and touching radio and TV commercials (CHIFFON MARGARINE “It’s Not Nice to FOOL Mother Nature,” PACE PICANTE SAUCE “It’s Made In NEW YORK CITY!!.” AMERICAN AIRLINES, BANQUET FOODS, AMERICAN RED CROSS, U.S. NAVY, and many hundreds more.
She narrates audios at the Smithsonian American History Museum, the Holocaust Museum, the Ellis Island Museum, the Kimbell Museum, and many others. She voices apps, building tours, city walking tours, GPS systems in Germany, toys, games, video games, websites, greeting cards, Lionel trains, kiosks, computer software, and audio books. She is a Simon and Schuster author, narrator, producer with over twenty audio titles that she’s written and published in the voice speech communications and voice over education field.
She is a professional audio engineer skilled in post production and demo creation and owner of the full service VoicesVoices Recording Studio is in Dallas, Texas. She is the recipient of ADDYS, CLIOS, 1st PLACE NATIONAL GOLDEN RADIO AWARDS. And she’s the dedicated educator who has started so many in broadcasting and voice overs.
She is degreed through doctoral study from four universities.
Bettye suggests cutting individual demos for specific niche markets such as medical, real estate, art galleries, buildings, museums or monument tours, etc . These demos should have a few examples of from the specific niche you are targeting.
Medical work, for instance, can require the ability to pronounce complicated and sometimes odd sounding terms. The VO actor has to be able to make such terms sound as natural and ‘real’ as possible without stumbling over the terminology. So, if you have a background in medical work or if you have a facility for handling that kind of material, it would be wise, says Bettye Zoller, to prepare a demo just for that market segment.
Bettye suggests producing this type demo in a ‘bare bones’ production style with little to no post-production, no background music, etc. Let the caster hear your voice and how you communicate this particular type of material.
The same ideas hold true for other niche demos whether they are for an art gallery or a real estate company or some other specific market segment.
Another area Bettye suggestS not overlooking is promo work for local radio and televsion outlets. This can be an especially effective marketing effort in regional or smaller markets where the producers might welcome someone different who can add a new voice to their ‘cast’.
WHAT’S A GOOD TIME LIMIT FOR A DEMO?
Bettye says stick to 1.5 to 2 minutes. She personally doesn’t care for the ‘super short’ demos as they tend to soud rushed. She wants to hear ‘more’ of the voice…but not too much. Three minutes is too much, typically but a minute and a half to two minutes is a good time length to shoot for.
Look at what they’ve done. If you want to be a voice actor study with someone who has been where you want to go. Study with someone with voice over experience. If you want to sing jingles, study with someone who has experience in that part of the business.
Bettye says to be careful of the companies that hit town, set up shop in a large hotel or meeting hall and offer ‘free’ workshops for the weekend. Be careful if they’re taking out large newspaper ads or using full color brochures. These things cost thousands of dollars and they aren’t spending that kind of money to give free workshops.
Bettye tells of routinely remaking 20 or more terrible demos a year that were produced as part of some of these big productions and they usually cost thousands of dollars of wasted money.
Look where you are first. Don’t get sucked into traveling to L.A. or NY and having to incur the travel and housing expenses in additon to the class expense when there just might be a better alternative right where you’re located.
Remove the stars from your eyes and think like a businessperson.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT VOICE WORK
Like all other areas of the acting business, it’s what Bettye calls a ‘build.’ “You know modeling, film acting, broadway stardom, getting a TV sitcom lead role, all of that is build…it’s a career build. It takes time and first and foremost it takes training. Why…why…answer the question somebody, why do all these people think that voice overfs are instant success? It drives me nuts. Why? Voice overs aren’t a get rich quick scheme, it’s a build, you know? ”
WHAT ABOUT RECORDING EQUIPMENT – HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND
First of all, when just starting out, don’t put too much money into recording equipment or a studio. Don’t buy an “$1100 microphone. You don’t need that. Buy a mic you sound good on that’s maybe $200 – $300. Get a closet and go to Goodwill and get some comforters or piano blankets and make a little homemade ‘studio’.
Condenser vs Dynamic Mics
We briefly discussed condenser vs dynamic microphones.
I mentioned that in fact I’m recording my podcast with a Heil PR40 which is a dynamic mic and which has allowed be to achieve a pretty good sound in a less than ideal recording environment.
As Bettye says, you keep trying new things, buying different mics as you go along. She discussed her recent purchase of the MOTU 828 which she says she likes very much.
WHAT ABOUT DAWs – COMPUTERS
We covered some basics with regard to computers including how computers made for everyday tasks like word processing and other typical computer uses are often too loud. Even some laptops have fans and hard drives that make too much noise to use easily as recording stations.
Bettye also spoke of some computer systems she uses and recommends.
She spoke of ProArts in Hollywood that makes very expenside audio production computers which are out of the range of most actors, especially those just beginning.
Bettye did recommend the CREATION STATION computers that are sold by SWEETWATER, a very reputable online retailer of music and pro audio gear.
CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY – WHICH INTERNET SITES SHOULD VO ACTORS TARGET
As Bettye says, ‘You can voice for the world…You can announce for the entire globe.”
Sites to target and Get Known On
She suggests Google searches for terms such as ‘Voice overs in Germany’ or ‘Voice Overs in Sweeden’ for instance to look for agents and production companies in those various locations around the world.
WHO ARE YOU
Just like in the film business there are leading women and leading men and character actors, the same is true in VO. Who are YOU? What can you play?
“Just because you like to play video games doesn’t mean you’ll be good announcing them.”
Your Demo Producer needs to know who you are as an actor. Don’t do a cookie cutter demo that sounds like everybody elses. Do a demo that is uniquely YOU.
Bettye makes it clear that she doesn’t take every person who comes to her for a demo. She will read you and listen to you and determine if she believes you are ready to spend the money on a VO demo. If not she will suggest further study and practice before recording the demo.
CONTACT BETTYE HERE
If you are interested in contacting Bettye Zoller for a consultation about a VO demo she can be reached in the following ways:
Studio Line: 214-638-TALK (8255) . If it rings, she is in session. Let it ring and leave a message and she will call you back.
WEBINAR ABOUT AUDIO BOOK CREATION EXCHANGE – ACX
Bettye mentions this webinar in our conversation but the link is not yet posted. Please SUBSCRIBE to Actors Talk Podcast mailing list and I’ll update you as soon as the information becomes available.
Audiobook Creation Exchange does provide opportunities for NARRATORS to audition for authors signed up for their service.
This looks very good, folks. I’ll be planning to take advantage of this myself!
BEGINNERS WORKSHOP IN DALLAS,TX
Bettye announced her BEGINNER WORKSHOP in Dallas for $299 for two days – Jan 19-20, 2013
Limited to 20 students maximum. The link is not yet active on her site. Check there
or SUBSCRIBE to the ATP email updates and I’ll send the information as soon as it’s available.