Voice Over Education Blog

December 2014

How to come up with audition ideas on the “spur of the moment”


There’s a major difference between auditioning for most theater roles and auditioning for a voice over job. In the theater, you may deliver a monolog you’ve researched and chosen for its ability to show the best of your abilities. Or you’ve read the play, or studied the sides you were given. You’ve rehearsed and rehearsed, worked with a coach, and you have it down cold. In voice over, it’s typically exactly opposite – although sometimes you’re emailed the script beforehand, often you’re given a script just minutes before you have to deliver. Even if you’re auditioning from you home studio – where you have more time flexibility – your chances of winning the role often depend on how quickly you can turn the audition around.

In so little time, how do you come up with something fresh, something that shows the best of your abilities?

As we’ve noted several times over the past year (particularly in in 18 Steps To Improve your Audition Batting Average last May) a key factor in winning more auditions is in not doing it the way everyone else is likely to. That means coming up with an idea – fast. And fresh ideas being sometimes reclusive critters, an audition session is not the time to start that process.

How do you come up with ideas? That is, the sort of ideas that will help you succeed and progress as a voice actor?

The first step is to recognize that, as a voice artist, you are as much a part of the creative process as the team that wrote the script. Copywriters hear their words in their heads, but many are not trained to voice them as effectively as you. As much as you rely on a good copywriter to give you meaty thoughts and words, that copywriter is expecting you to give those words energy, to bring those thoughts to life.

To join or not to join? A case for SAG-AFTRA membership


As the business of voice over has evolved and grown in the past 20 years, the role of SAG-AFTRA in a voice actor’s career has also evolved. It is now not only possible, but even common for a voice actor to make a good living without ever booking a union job. Many newer genres of voice over -- including e-learning, web narrations, and many videogames, to name a few -- are not generally produced under SAG-AFTRA jurisdiction, and are therefore open to non-union actors.

However, as a working voice actor and as a member of the Edge Studio leadership team, I feel that union membership is something to which many of us should aspire. This position might be controversial to some, but I’d like to present the case for SAG-AFTRA membership.

Let me state that SAG-AFTRA membership will not be right for some voice actors. Perhaps voice acting is a part-time pursuit, without the intention of making it a full-time career. You may well live in a small market, where the number of voice over jobs produced under union jurisdiction is minimal, or non-existent. Or you are specifically interested in pursuing a voice over genre that is not, and probably will never be, under union contract. Telephony, maybe. Or museum tours.

But for voice actors who are mainly interested in commercial work, broadcast narration, promo/trailers, or audiobooks; the decision on whether or not to join SAG-AFTRA will be a one you’ll face during your career.

Advanced Mythbusting 201. So you don’t bust your butt in the wrong direction.


When myths in our industry are discussed, the misunderstandings are usually those held by VO wannabe’s. In other words, Mythbusting 101. For example, “you need a deep voice” or “you’ll make a lot of money really easy.” Edge Studio students (and readers/users of our website) are quickly set straight about such things, right from our Introduction to Voice Over classes. (We don’t accept everyone, and among those we do accept, we want our students to be realistic in their aims and expectations.)

But some major myths still lurk among experienced VO pros. Here are some of them, of interest to voice over professionals and students alike. Think of it as Mythbusting 201.

“It’s all about acting.” Yes and no. What makes this interesting is that the statement is a valid response to “you need a deep voice.” What most clients and agents seek is real voices, from people who can relax and express genuine (and relevant) emotion while talking into a metal tube. That’s acting. But success in a voice over job – and especially in winning auditions – is not ALL about acting. There are also various practical technical techniques that help make a performance effective and distinguish itself from the friendly competition. Our Chief Edge Officer David Goldberg often surprises even established voice actors with observations about things such as pausing, sibilance, timing, etc. -- small changes in technique that, once you’re aware of them, can make your acting a whole lot more impressive to voice over casting people.

Advanced Mythbusting 201. So you don’t bust your butt in the wrong direction.


When myths in our industry are discussed, the misunderstandings are usually those held by VO wannabe’s. In other words, Mythbusting 101. For example, “you need a deep voice” or “you’ll make a lot of money really easy.” Edge Studio students (and readers/users of our website) are quickly set straight about such things, right from our Introduction to Voice Over classes. (We don’t accept everyone, and among those we do accept, we want our students to be realistic in their aims and expectations.)

But some major myths still lurk among experienced VO pros. Here are some of them, of interest to voice over professionals and students alike. Think of it as Mythbusting 201.

“It’s all about acting.” Yes and no. What makes this interesting is that the statement is a valid response to “you need a deep voice.” What most clients and agents seek is real voices, from people who can relax and express genuine (and relevant) emotion while talking into a metal tube. That’s acting. But success in a voice over job – and especially in winning auditions – is not ALL about acting. There are also various practical technical techniques that help make a performance effective and distinguish itself from the friendly competition. Our Chief Edge Officer David Goldberg often surprises even established voice actors with observations about things such as pausing, sibilance, timing, etc. -- small changes in technique that, once you’re aware of them, can make your acting a whole lot more impressive to voice over casting people.

Don’t let bad copy eat you alive: What to do if the copy is less than perfect


You know the old joke about the lion who’s not a man-eater: “You know that, I know that ... but does the lion know that?” Among the many archived articles at EdgeStudio.com, from time to time we’ve talked about how to interpret copy, right down to the seemingly most inconsequential punctuation mark. Copy has gobs of clues as to how the copywriter “heard” it while writing, if you know what to look for.

But what if the copywriter doesn’t know it?

Not every copywriter formats or even words copy in the most intelligible way. There are many possible reasons. Maybe the commercial was written by an agency that does most of its work in online or print media. They probably realize that you need to take a breath now and then, but may not realize how easy it is to give you a nasty tongue twister.

But you can handle that; the real problem is when tangled words or homonyms confuse the listener. For example, “Win money and/or prizes!” Part of your job is to spot traps like that. Your phrasing and enunciation will determine whether the listener hears the words as written, or rather, “Win money and door prizes!”

Or, maybe the commercial wasn’t written by an experienced copywriter at all. Scripts are often written by someone wearing two hats – a producer, business owner or account executive, for example. The reasons for not using an experienced voice-script writer range from budgetary, deadline pressures, other priorities, naiveté, and -- sometimes -- ego.

Clients often come up with great scripts – nobody knows their business and their customers better than they do. But not every businessperson is creative, a fluid wordsmith, a whiz at grammar and spelling, and hip to voice acting, all rolled into one. Sometimes they may not know that they need to be. Or that they aren’t.

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