Tag Archives: voiceover

Script Analysis in Voice Acting – Own the Script

You MUST OWN your voice-over script. Here’s how to do it:
Here’s how it commonly plays out when beginner voice actors approach the idea of script analysis:They read the script in their head. Once, maybe twice if they really wanna read between the lines. I then ask them to tell me what it’s about. Here’s where things go wrong. Their choice of pronouns. Let’s use an actual script to illustrate how it goes wrong and how it can go right…


Subaru-I love faster. As in I’m faster than you and there’s nothing you can do about it. I love that around every hard corner is another adrenaline rush. That’s why I love the new 2014 Subaru WRX. So, if you want to feel what it’s like to cross the finish line first…step inside the cage. The 2014 Subaru WRX. It’s a whole new animal. 


Ok, so here’s an example of what they say to me when i ask them to tell me about the script.“They’re saying that the Subaru is fast and it’s a rush and you should get one.”Let’s start with the main point here. Pronoun usage. The opportunity any actor has, actually MUST engage in, is ownership of the script.  The main way to do that?  Remember that YOU are saying these words. Period. So let’s correct the response now. “I love speed, and that’s why i love the Subaru. And if you love speed too it’s the car for you.” Which perspective has PRIMED you better for the performance?  

So, never detach from the script by even acknowledging that it was written by someone else. Understand it as if it’s your own idea, and utilize the proper pronoun to further indoctrinate yourself. Acting is brainwashing!  So, wash your brains well before every performance. 

Voice Acting Inflection tips

Tips for using inflection in voiceover

Inflection in voiceover, and therefore in everyday speech, happens all day long. Our speech patterns sound like a rollercoaster, and if you’re a sound engineer staring at that screen filled with wavy lines all day, it looks like one too. We almost can’t speak in monotone as it’s not our inclination. The vocal chords want a natural rising and falling to rest and recover from their opposite. We also subconsciously hit these high and low notes as a way to lead in to or emphasize important points in a conversation. It’s high time we made this a conscious act, in order to communicate exactly what that decision-maker in the audition call is looking for in the performance. And that would be CONNECTION. If you don’t emphasize the right words in the right way, you aren’t sounding connected to the script, and therefore it is sounding “read.” Onwards to the solutions!

Voice acting requires the same level of connection that any other type of acting does…understanding the text and how you will convey it emotionally. Let’s start with the text and the specific words that need to have inflection consideration. Best done by a few examples.
“I’m thinking of starting a business.” In this sentence your keyword is business. This is the word you end with a falling inflection. A deep or lower inflection. Because it’s a two-syllable word you should think of it as the “Biz” sound going up, and the “ness” sound landing down. Why? The final moment of any word is the final impression we leave. If it’s an important word, we end it on a downward note. It sound important. Final. The final say in the matter. The words thinking and also starting are both what i would call Leading words. They lead into the important stuff, they are not the final say. So you would never end them with a falling inflection because it will sound like you’re “done.” If you go up on them right away it sounds like you’re highlighting the important of it, so you don’t want to do that. Think about every leading word and keyword combination like this – the way we say “THE END.” We go up on The, because it isn’t important, it’s just leading us INTO what IS important. We go down on End because that word speaks to the point we are making – that something is completed. Is your head hurting yet? Mine is. So, think of the ING in Thinking and Starting as and extended version of “The” and the BIZ as “End.”

Oh for crying out loud this is nuts. Stay tuned and I’ll get a video demonstration up!

The end.

Bust your limiting beliefs about VO

Forget voiceover, bust your limiting beliefs period, right? Ok, but one thing at a time. Our thoughts become the results in our lives, so it’s important to look at what your thoughts are. Almost as important, if not more so, than your skill. Let’s look at some of the limiting beliefs i have heard from voiceover students, whose very goal is to succeed in voice acting:

There are celebrities booking all the good jobs.
The voiceover market is over saturated.
I don’t have the time or money to learn VO.
I’m not an actor, so I’ll never be good at voice acting.
My voice isn’t interesting enough.
I’m not sure i can do that, eh, I’ll try.

Now, imagine if an Olympic athlete talked this way before a race:

The person next to me has the fastest record in the world, I’ll never beat him/her.

Not helpful right? If you’re making the decision to enter the race, you might as well decide to win it. Otherwise what is the point?

So let’s see how we can simply change the narrative to set us on the right path:

There is so much voice work out there now, especially with the internet creating more and more opportunities every day.
Celebrities only account for 5% of the work out there. It’s the workhorses like me that are needed for so much of the talking!
I can Learn to act. I can learn anything.


Ok, that’s it! It’s not a miracle. It’s not magic. It’s just a choice you make to think in a way that gets you the results you want in your career. Is it possible you are thinking in the negative in case it goes wrong and you are preparing yourself for the disappointment? Perhaps though, by already thinking this way, you are manifesting your own failure. Yes you might fail, but UNTIL THEN, believe that you will succeed. And use the language that supports that.
Thoughts become beliefs, which become feelings, which result in actions, and then Results.

You will be a successful voice actor. You WILL.

Newest creative voiceover tips

It’s been a long time since I’ve written on the subject of voiceover technique.  If you feel like skipping this moment while I muse on how I came to write this particular set of voiceover tips, you can go to the next paragraph and you’re forgiven.  What has happened to me over the years of voiceover coaching is that I have learned so much more about coaching, about how to TEACH.  In the beginning of my career it was all about sharing how much knowledge I had about the various ways to book voiceover jobs, about how to use your inflection, your keywords, your volume, your pacing, etc.  What I have added to my resume since then is the even more important ability to teach.  This concept comes through a bit less powerfully in a blog article to a general audience, but when coaching an individual voice actor it is magic.  We all learn differently because we all think differently.  Some of us need a push to let the emotions out, some of us need our right brain to be taught to because our left has gone on vacation…and now I see that this is truly what teaching is about.  It is as much about teaching to the INDIVIDUAL PERSON as it is about teaching the material.  So here are the interesting teaching moments I have experienced through many individuals who have given me the opportunity to teach them and learn from them in less traditional ways.

I have a student, let’s call him Joe, who struggled with his pacing/pausing.  This is one of the many ways we can communicate  (or fail to) authenticity in a performance.  When we’re excited we talk a little faster, when we are being serious or sincere we go a little slower, etc.  This is what we do in real life and therefore it becomes critical that we use the appropriate pace required of the emotional subtext of the writing.  Pausing is a part of this as well.  We really only pause in real life if it is grammatically necessary (to separate points in communication).  We also pause for dramatic effect, but not that often in everyday conversation.  But oh do you voice actors loooove to pause! It’s fun, indulgent, and dramatic!  It helps you breathe through longer sentences!  But it’s not what you do in real life, so it is going to sound theatrical.  Joe was reading a sentence – “Sometimes you just want a great latte.”  We decided that the main keyword was latte, but great was an important leading word too.  Joe read the sentence and paused after the word Sometimes.  Another time he paused after the word Want.  It was unnecessary, unnatural, and too dramatic for the subject.  I told Joe to think about his keyword “latte” as a restaurant that he was meeting a friend at.  I asked him if he would normally make any stops along the way when driving to the restaurant.  He said “probably not.”  Then guess what Joe?  Don’t make any unnecessary stops on the way to “latte!”  Pausing:  do less of it 🙂

I had another student, Mary, who taught me a great way to think about the process of experimenting and seeing what you can do with a voiceover script and how you can express yourself properly but also creatively through it.  Mary likened it to a child playing in the sandbox.  There’s no way to experience that type of play and discovery without making a mess.  And that’s to be expected.  Recognize that when you are training to be a voice actor, and even if you are already auditioning, that self-censorship destroys the magic.  So many people try to read “perfectly.”  All this does is create tight boundaries around the delivery that leave it flat, colorless, and often without a smile.  Let go, have fun, make a mess, and see how much brighter you sound!  I add to Mary’s analogy that it is like a woman trying to find one tiny thing in her huge purse.  She can’t find it because it’s lost in the cavernous folds of the fabric, shuffling around with a myriad of other objects.  Sometimes you have to turn the purse upside down and dump EVERYTHING out on the table to find what you were looking for.  Back to making a mess.  Shake out your shoulders, smile a bit more, take a risk.  Let it ALL out.  (You can always put back a few things that you didn’t need on take 2.)

My new favorite is from Matthew.  He asked me if it was “ok” to listen to music while recording his voiceover auditions.  OK?  It’s a fantastic idea Matthew, and I’m telling everyone!  So thank you!  The word “ok” also reminded me that there are no HARD rules in this creative world, only “ish” concepts.  Basically, whatever works for you is not only OK, it’s fantastic!  As long as the outcome is authentic.  That’s really the crux of it – there’s nothing natural about saying someone ELSE’s words, so pull whatever tricks you want.  My student Wayne says he grew up in a household full of Scandinavian intellectuals and there was absolutely no emoting.  Wayne could certainly benefit from some music.  Don’t the tears come hardest in the sad scene in the movie when the sad song starts in?

Lastly I want to cover a session I had where my student Liv was just holing back emotionally as well…more so out of inhibitions.  Society tells us to be one thing and then the best voice acting technique asks us to defy that and be everything sometimes.  First I just told Liv it was okay to be expressive, that this was not about sounding perfect in any way, in fact that is what will fail in a performance.  Real life is not perfect so neither is communication.  Get wild, have fun, color outside the lines, stop taking it so seriously – because then you sound SERIOUS!  UPTIGHT!  Nooo!  So Liv, you have permission to do this on your terms.  That was the key for her, just knowing she had permission.  Hmm.  Connected to that idea would be censorship.  She stopped and started a lot during a script.  I reminded her that was her censor-self getting in the way and judging everything and that is a big no for any artistic expression.  BE first, censor later….but I bet you won’t have to at that point – because you gave yourself permission to shine.

Perseverance in Voiceover

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

 I’d like to take a break this week from what has become our usual format of discussing equipment and construction to talk about perseverance.
It’s easy to get discouraged when undertaking a new project. This can apply to something as simple as hobby, or as complex as starting a career in Voice work.
The key is to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But if we take the running metaphor one step further (pun intended) we can also say that daily practice will increase your ability, until you are able to make it to the finish line.
Take time each and every day to work on your craft. Maybe an hour, or maybe just thirty minutes. Whatever you can spare. Daily practice will increase your range and the quality of your voice. 
Start with warm up exercises, then go on to read and record samples of the kind of voice work you’d like to do. If you want to do commercials, find and record a commercial script. If you want to do audio books, try to record one chapter a day from your favorite book. 
Continue reading and recording that same commercial, or that same chapter each day until you feel that you have mastered it. Then, move on to the next one.
For most of my life I worked for other people. Then several years ago, I had the opportunity to start my own business. Having never been self-employed before I was nervous. So I went to a friend of mine who has work for many years as an independent general contractor. I asked him “what is the secret to running your own business?” 
He said, “first of all, you need to figure out how much money you need to make each day in order to stay in business. If you could make $100 a day as a supermarket cashier, but only make $80 a day as a plumber then it makes no sense to be a plumber. Figure out what your daily minimum is. Then each day make three lists: must do, should do, and can do. ‘Must do’ are the things you have to get done that day. It might take one hour, or 10 hours, but you don’t get to quit until that list has been completed. ‘should do’ are the things that it would be nice if you could accomplish, if you had the time. Typically today’s ‘should do’ items become tomorrow’s ‘must do’ list. Finally ‘can do’ are the things that could be beneficial but are not mission-critical.”
I encourage each and everyone of you to view your potential career in Voice work through the lens of these two rules. First, don’t quit your job as a waiter or waitress until you are making more doing voice work than you are as an hourly employee. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pursue a career in Voice work. Just don’t consider it your primary occupation until you have establish yourself.
Then, when you are working for yourself as a professional voice actor make those three lists each day. It will keep you on track and insure your productivity.
I know it can be frustrating. I know it might feel like the pieces are never going to come together. But they will. Believe in yourself. Stay committed. Given enough time and effort, you will achieve your goal.