Voice Over Education Blog

September 2014

"Host Whisperer" David Candow passes, leaves good ideas for VO talent


Although VO talent should usually not try to sound like disc jockeys, announcers or famous newscasters, there are some things to be learned from on-air talent, especially those who were coached by consultant David Candow.

Candow passed away on Sept 18, at age 74. He was known as “The Host Whisperer.”

In 2008, the Washington Post called Candow (pronounced “Can-doe”), “one of the most sought-after vocal training specialists in the English-speaking world.”

Candow was formerly a CBC producer ranging from drama to current affairs. Then, for the past couple decades, he taught CBC and NPR radio hosts and others how to avoid being stereotypes or clichés – how to communicate more personally, naturally, quickly and clearly. How to be more effective.

And because News involves writing, he also taught how to write more effectively. (We originally wrote, “he espoused principles for effective writing, too.” Candow would probably have preferred the revision.)

Many of Candow’s insights apply also to voice acting. We’ve corralled a few of his thoughts from online, appending our own reflections with regard to voice over. (Apologies if a quotation is not verbatim. Some may have been paraphrased by the source.)

“Just be yourself. You don’t have to sound like everyone else or anyone else.” Especially this. Only you sound like you. Only you have your unique combination of voice, personality and all the other factors you bring to a microphone. That is your key “product difference.”

How many types of Narration can you name?


The average person who knows what “voice over” means (and right off, that’s a small percentage of the population), after learning there are various “genres,” would guess there are maybe half a dozen genres. Actually, depending on how genres are subdivided, we count 26, or if you count some major sub-genres, as many as 30.

To wit:

Animation • Announcements • Audiobook • Biography • Character • Commercials • Corporate • Documentary • eLearning & Education • Exercise • Government • Imaging • Infomercial • Inspiration, Relaxation • Internet Audio • Kids • Medical & Pharmaceutical • Non-Profit • Podcast • Political • Promo & Trailer • Public Service Announcement (PSA) • Telephony • Tours • Travelogue • Video Games

Of these, Animation, Commercials and Audiobooks are very popular. But Animation isn’t always an entry-level field, Audiobooks require a special set of skills and capabilities, and Commercials is only 5% of the VO business.

What’s the largest genre? Narration, by far. In fact, Narration comprises 92% of our industry’s voicing jobs. Not only does it include a wide variety of obvious subgenres, it’s the catch-all for just about any type of voice-over that doesn’t fit elsewhere.

Here are just some of the various types of Narration. You’ll note that many of them cross over into other, more specific genres. However, none of these would be out of place on your Narration demo, if you’re very good at them.

1. TV/Video documentary (history, nature, travelogues, cinema verité, sports films, etc.)

2. Voice-mail and telephone automation systems. Although Telephony is a distinct and growing genre for obvious reason, many people lump it in with narration. Other forms of computerized audio, too. Either of these includes long announcements (e.g., on-hold promotional messages) and short phrases that are concatenated by computer, possibly based on user voice or touchpad input.

How many types of Narration can you name?


The average person who knows what “voice over” means (and right off, that’s a small percentage of the population), after learning there are various “genres,” would guess there are maybe half a dozen genres. Actually, depending on how genres are subdivided, we count 26, or if you count some major sub-genres, as many as 30.

To wit:

Animation • Announcements • Audiobook • Biography • Character • Commercials • Corporate • Documentary • eLearning & Education • Exercise • Government • Imaging • Infomercial • Inspiration, Relaxation • Internet Audio • Kids • Medical & Pharmaceutical • Non-Profit • Podcast • Political • Promo & Trailer • Public Service Announcement (PSA) • Telephony • Tours • Travelogue • Video Games

Of these, Animation, Commercials and Audiobooks are very popular. But Animation isn’t always an entry-level field, Audiobooks require a special set of skills and capabilities, and Commercials is only 5% of the VO business.

What’s the largest genre? Narration, by far. In fact, Narration comprises 92% of our industry’s voicing jobs. Not only does it include a wide variety of obvious subgenres, it’s the catch-all for just about any type of voice-over that doesn’t fit elsewhere.

Here are just some of the various types of Narration. You’ll note that many of them cross over into other, more specific genres. However, none of these would be out of place on your Narration demo, if you’re very good at them.

1. TV/Video documentary (history, nature, travelogues, cinema verité, sports films, etc.)

2. Voice-mail and telephone automation systems. Although Telephony is a distinct and growing genre for obvious reason, many people lump it in with narration. Other forms of computerized audio, too. Either of these includes long announcements (e.g., on-hold promotional messages) and short phrases that are concatenated by computer, possibly based on user voice or touchpad input.

How to Read Poetic Copy Poetically


Poetry-reading is not a major voice over genre. But any number of genres, from audiobooks to commercials, involve poetry, or poetic language. For example, a rather poetic speech about poetry, by Robin Williams’ character in “Dead Poets Society,” was recently used in Apple commercials. And if you are asked to read a passage from Shakespeare, you’ll want to do it justice poetically.

So, how do you read a poem?

Ever heard a poet read his or her own poetry? In most cases (based on our unofficial, unscientific recollection), the author will not change from his or her own voice. The same is true of award-winning reciters of poetry. As in voice over work, a major part of the task is to sound natural, yet articulate and with energy, so that the reading will be easily understood and maintain interest.

Yet, there is no one way to read poetry. Even authorities such as the Poetry Foundation and the Library of Congress seem to disagree a bit on some advice. (The emphasis below is ours.)

The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Out Loud national contest for students advises:

Proceed at a fitting and natural pace. Avoid nervously rushing through the poem. Do not speak so slowly that the language sounds unnatural or awkward or to create a false sense of drama.[http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/tips-on-reciting]

Whereas, the Library of Congress advises students:

 Read the poem slowly. Most adolescents speak rapidly, and a nervous reader will tend to do the same in order to get the reading over with. Reading a poem slowly is the best way to ensure that the poem will be read clearly and understood by its listeners. [http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/p180-howtoread.html]

18 Ways To Pronounce Medical Copy


You’re not a doctor but you’re asked to play one at the microphone? How on earth do you pronounce medical jargon without giving yourself away?

One answer, probably the most universal one, is: Don’t. If you’re not experienced at medical text, consider referring the client to someone who specializes in the genre. Pretending to be something you’re not is likely, sooner or later (in this case, probably sooner) to embarrass not only you, but also your client. An embarrassed, disappointed or misled client is unlikely to hire you again. That’s why you’ll need a Medical demo, and as with any demo, you shouldn’t make it until your truly ready.

But there’s always a first time. Maybe you’re planning to enter the medical narration field when you’re ready, or a regular client needs a medical narrator -- stat -- and, knowing you’re a quick study and that they can help you with the few unusual words, you’re the one they call. If so, lucky you.

You may want these tips in pronouncing medical terminology.

(This article focuses on pronunciation of the terminology. For other guidance on Medical Narration, including tone, skills needed, Medical Narration demos, markets, marketing, and audiences, visit our two archived Talk-With-a-Pro sessions at EdgeStudio.com (http://www.edgestudio.com/talk-with-a-pro) with Randye Kaye and Colleen Brown.)

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