Voice Over Education Blog

April 2016

How to laugh on cue. The secret? Don’t wait for a cue.


How do you laugh? There are all kinds of laughs, and each of them varies, because there are all kinds of people. Some people laugh loudly. Some stifle every laugh with a glottal stop, barely letting it get out fully. What’s more, there are super-subtleties. Did you know that people the world over can discern whether laughter they hear is among friends or strangers? One thing, though, is for sure. All cultures laugh. When a script calls for one, how should you? Laugh, that is.

The best way to sound real when you laugh is – to laugh for real. But, although people in all cultures laugh, that doesn’t mean all people do. Nor that everyone laughs the same. So the first thing is to note how you laugh (or don’t), and when, and remember those moments.

Caveat: However you laugh, don’t lose it! Don’t be embarrassed. It’s uniquely yours, so not only is it professionally valuable, it’s part of your personality. Embrace happiness in yourself and others. Our point here is just to expand your natural range, at least when you’re at the mic.

Not only do people laugh different ways, but we also laugh at different things. In fact, we laugh different ways at different things! So when a script calls for laughter, in rehearsal think about what your character is laughing at. Is it outright surprise? It is embarrassment? Is it frustration? Is it in sympathy with someone else? What?

As you watch funny videos or TV cartoons, record yourself laughing. Really laughing, we mean ... not just laughing because you’ve been told to. To quote that wry master of slapstick, Bugs Bunny, “unlax.”

As you wend your way through life, notice what things make you laugh.

Newton’s Third Law of Physics as applied to Voice Acting


Newton said that for every action, there is a reaction. That’s also true of every statement in a conversation. A statement elicits a reaction, even if the reaction is unstated.

So acting is at least as much about listening and observing as it is about speaking. This isn’t news to even budding stage and film actors, let alone veterans. But it’s sometimes news to voice actors, often working alone in a booth, that listening should be part of their performance, too. We’ve mentioned this many times before, but ... just how do you go about listening when the only voice in the room is yours?

For perspective, let’s review. Voice acting is about emotions -- your emotions, and the emotions you seek to instill in your listener. The first tends to induce the second. (Or if you prefer chemical metaphors to physics, consider it a rapid form of osmosis.)

Where do your emotions come from? Simple. Listen to yourself. We don’t mean listen to your voice as you’re speaking – that’s a common pitfall that voice artists-in-training need to get past. Listening to your own voice (maybe marveling at how expertly you’ve used it in the sentence just past), is merely a distraction, likely to trip you up or get you out of character in the next sentence. Listening to yourself in that way interferes with performance.

On the other hand, listening to your inner self enhances performance.

That’s important even when you’re NOT speaking. In a wonderful introductory lesson about film acting, Michael Caine tells of his experience, as a young actor in repertory, when a producer asked him ...

How do you spell voice-over? Does it matter?


In the voice-over world, what does it matter how you spell stuff? We’re audio, right? So who cares how anyone spells the word “voice-over”? Should it be “voiceover,” instead? Or two separate words, as we’ve spelled it at EdgeStudio.com for many years?

Well, we care. So, as you may have noticed over the past couple months, we've revised our spelling of “voice-over” in new content. (Existing content will take a while to convert.) It’s a decision born of long, painstaking research, involving, ... uh ... involving a phone call to our web developer and a quick check of a few dictionaries. Sorry we didn’t check with you, but let’s do that now ...

First, it may help to review the typical evolution of a “combination” word in the English language. Usually, it begins as one word modifies another, and the combination becomes popular for whatever reason. For example, the term “solid state.” When semiconductors were invented, this combination was coined to describe them, and the term was spelled as two separate words. But when used as an adjective, that can get confusing. Suppose you’re talking (to quickly grab a tortured example) about a really well-planned, publicly-owned transportation system within, oh, Nebraska. You might say the region has a “solid state railroad system.” In other words, it’s a robust system, within that state. It has nothing to do with semiconductors, but the phrase could be mistakenly read that way. So, to avoid confusion, two-word phrases often gain a hyphen over time. That way, if you refer to a “solid-state railroad system,” it’s clear that the trains are somehow run electronically.

Perform like a pro, in more than your VO performance.


What goes into being a voice-over professional? An obvious answer is, “training in voice-over performance and lots of purposeful practice.” But that’s far from a complete answer. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Being a true pro means performing professionally in every respect, from the way you get work, to the way you bill your services and the way you help your clients all in-between. Professional voice performance is just part of all that.

If you’ve taken even just Edge Studio’s introductory course, you understand that voice-over performance isn’t only a matter of reading well or even good acting. Being a professional actor doesn’t automatically make you a voice-over pro.

VO professionals have specialized knowledge and capabilities. Professionalism entails everything from knowing the specialized jargon of our trade (“give me a pickup at ‘really,’ a wild trio on the call-to-action, and watch the sibilance”) to understanding the importance of enunciation and emotion, and how to achieve them without sounding artificial.

And as we said, that’s just the core.

Professionals are methodical and businesslike in prospecting for jobs. It’s all too easy to take the first jobs you encounter and then coast in that vein. When you’re starting out, it’s great to be working, even if it’s not using your full capabilities. And those relationships might grow. But some peter out, some never having reached a truly professional level, and as a result you find your business in a downward spiral.

Perform like a pro, in more than your VO performance.


What goes into being a voice-over professional? An obvious answer is, “training in voice-over performance and lots of purposeful practice.” But that’s far from a complete answer. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Being a true pro means performing professionally in every respect, from the way you get work, to the way you bill your services and the way you help your clients all in-between. Professional voice performance is just part of all that.

If you’ve taken even just Edge Studio’s introductory course, you understand that voice-over performance isn’t only a matter of reading well or even good acting. Being a professional actor doesn’t automatically make you a voice-over pro.

VO professionals have specialized knowledge and capabilities. Professionalism entails everything from knowing the specialized jargon of our trade (“give me a pickup at ‘really,’ a wild trio on the call-to-action, and watch the sibilance”) to understanding the importance of enunciation and emotion, and how to achieve them without sounding artificial.

And as we said, that’s just the core.

Professionals are methodical and businesslike in prospecting for jobs. It’s all too easy to take the first jobs you encounter and then coast in that vein. When you’re starting out, it’s great to be working, even if it’s not using your full capabilities. And those relationships might grow. But some peter out, some never having reached a truly professional level, and as a result you find your business in a downward spiral.

How to Reach Us

Call us 888-321-3343
Email us training@edgestudio.com

Click for Edge location information...

Meet Your Coaches

Edge Alumni Work Everyday

Get free educational
voice over newsletters!

Get free, educational voice over newsletters

Where should we send them?