How to Become A Voice Actor Part Three- PREPARING TO WORK

How to Become A Voice Actor Part Three

PREPARING TO WORK
PERFECTING YOUR TECHNIQUE
Working The Mic and Beyond

You are ready to start. Find something to read. Place the mic to the side with the front facing your mouth but not directly in front, but to the side. Here’s our first trick. We’re going to experiment to see how low we can keep our Audacity mic gain while having a recording that will be great with some work.
Why?
Because if we keep the gain low, and speak a little louder and closer, we will get a rich, expensive microphone tone without picking up a lot of background noise. High gain picks up everything, even twiddling your fingers. This close work will tend to increase mouth noise, which is that breathing, clicking, clattering and other ruckus you will hear when you first start.
Everyone flubs, by the way, when you do just start the entire sentence over and cut out the bad one later. Some people clap or click to leave a tall narrow spike that you can see to locate errors. Probably at first you’ll be listening to and editing the entire recording so finding flubs shouldn’t be too hard. That bears repeating: Everyone Flubs. You will clap to make a spike on Audacity’s waveform, take a breath and start again at the beginning of the sentence. These are just short practice recordings anyway.

Done recording for now? Keep the first one short, it’s just for practice. Remember that we want all your sound enhancements turned off on your computer. It’s hard to accurately edit for everyone one when you are listening to a souped up version. Hit play in Audacity –you should be listening now on headphones or really good earbuds and remember to have all audio enhancements turned off for speakers.

Notice what a loud breath or a click looks like. Highlight them and click on “Noise Reduction”, sample it then hit OK to reduce the level of the breath, click, clatter, or ruckus. If you see a steady small wave across all non-speaking parts you should look and listen for an offending PC fan, air conditioner blower, refrigerator. Something like that.

Next, equalize adding 3 to 6db at 315HZ, 2000K, and 4000K. Then compress using default settings and peaks to 0db clicked. Now normalize if you want and almost home. If it sounds a little dull and lifeless, add a few db on the high end. Now go to Tracks, click add new mono, then down to the little dropdown menu at the left of the top track. Click “Make Stereo”. That will join the two mono tracks as stereo, although one track will remain empty for now. Click on Pseudo-Stereo and back off on the settings some. I use 10 and 50 to keep it sounding real.
Keep listening to preview and making adjustments, until it sounds reasonably like true stereo. This gives it some serious punch! NOTE: Pseudo stereo may not be acceptable to some end users such as Librivox, discussed below. If the requirement is for mono then that is what you will deliver.
Exporting- Click on File then “export audio”. I prefer selecting 128 bps and constant rate. Name your audio using underscores between words.
When you click save a meta data form will open, you can leave it blank if you want. Possibly when you do a commercial voice over they are not going to want your personal meta data embedded in their audio file. There you have it. Keep practicing, email me if you have questions and keep practicing. Ask for someone’s opinion then ignore it.

I see a lot of discussion about mouth noise. Sometimes it’s thought of as too much/too wet mouth, other times too dry. I’ll give you some suggestions and you will have to experiment if you are having a problem with clicking.

First, a pop-shield doesn’t stop that kind of noise. Period.
My suggestion is to drink plenty of water, brush your teeth and palate before recording, and speak in an upright position with face slightly up. It’s said that moving the mic away from the mouth reduced those internal sounds from deep in the mouth, relative to the voice, which can be directed and increased. This unfortunately requires a step up in recording gain which will cause an increase in ambient noise picked up.
The best way is to work close to the mic, gain down, and practice minimizing the sounds as you record. Try positioning the mic above your head facing down toward your chest. It’s also possible to turn your head away from the mic in between sentences when clicking and smacking become prominent. This cuts those loud breath sounds as well.
When you have clicks on a recording- find a click, highlight it, and open noise reduction plugin. Use the click as the noise sample, then reduce noise on the click area. If your highlighted area is a little longer than the click, no worries, normally it will blend in. I keep my noise reduction at aroud 6, 6 and 6. If you want noise reduced to absolute minimum, for example on a silent section between sentences, use the residue setting. Otherwise use reduce.
You don’t need a mic to practice. Everything you read, read out loud, being your harshest critic. Go get something to read, and select from each genre and read. You’ve heard all these types of voice over, as you practice, you will hear similar voice overs on the radio, internet and TV and you will be able to compare. Also, major projects that could take hours and hours — like performing the voice over for an audiobook or educational video — it could become needlessly time-consuming to read, reread, and reread the script again before starting your voiceover. Instead, practice speaking well during the first read through: it might take a while before your mouth and eyes start working in sync

PREPARING FOR WORK IN VO
The first thing to do is to make sure you know how to prepare, save and send your audio to your client. Start at Librivox for hands on experience and feedback. Librivox is a site where volunteers collaborate to make audio books of public domain texts. The have a tremendous amount of information in their Wiki and website. You can submit a short sample for review, and there is an audio validation tool that lets you know if your bitrate, decibel level and other factors are right. and descriptions are formatted properly.

There is also a one minute test that you can upload to their site for feedback from one or more of their moderators. You can also listen to a number of people read various books and chapters and get a feel for audiobook work and what the different genres sound like. Some of the readers are brand new, and some are fairly advanced, but all are volunteers and each listen should teach you something, whether what a good read sounds like what a bad one sounds like.
Pay attention to where acting is used, and where straight narration sounds best. You can also get experience recording for http://gatewave.org/, which records and streams books and newspapers for the blind.
Potential feedback issues include:
• Are the settings correct?
• Is the input volume OK? (too soft? Too loud?)
• Do you have "plosives"? (is your breath hitting the mic and making nasty noises?)
• Do you have a hum? A buzz? Dc offset? Hiss? (there could be many reasons for these things, but don't worry, there is lots of help available to help you fix it!)
• Too much noise? (there are many types of noise, and we can help in a variety of ways to reduce the noise in your recording)

Now that they have helped you out, pick a chapter and read it.

Edgestudio has practice scripts by the thousands and a forum where you can submit practice VO’s for feedback. Bear in mind that they are in the business of converting the VO curious into paying students of some very expensive training. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Locally there may be free or low cost introductory courses. I would take them if you can just for the studio experience. The caveat about edge studio is applicable here. Take everything you are told with a grain of salt. You’re just getting your feet wet by immersing yourself in the industry as best as you can, but you don’t need to take out student loans.
 

How to Become A Voice Actor Part Three
 

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