YOU KNOW YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL VOICE OVER ARTIST WHEN.. Your day begins and you are reading emails and downloading copy, ripping faxes off your fax machine, recording, editing, and turning around sessions quickly, not to mention, getting dialed up via the ISDN all day long.
Thank the Universe that you get to do what you love. But never take it for granted. Not even for a minute. Remember that every time you get an audition. Let’s face it, in voice over you love having contract work but your future depends on new work and in order to get new clients we audition for a living.
Every day the Pro’s deliver top quality audio to their clients, in addition to last minute auditions, that must be returned to agents within the hour.
How do we do it? The ability to be at the top of your game while continuing to win auditions is a process that includes learning how to shift vocal gears, to ensure the read is right-on every time.
The challenge is to be able to shut down what we do daily (a particular style of read) and really breathe in the new text in, and find that special place from within that allows one to embrace and interpret each new script, which many times are for products you have never seen or heard of. The other challenge is to jolt yourself out of a particular style of read when you do that read all day long for the same clients. Once in a while you may even get busted for not hitting reset and shifting gears between clients.
Last spring, I was being directed on a land-line phone with the producer of True Crime with Aphrodite Jones, (A ten-part series on ID Investigation Discovery Channel). As we worked on getting each narration to time and with the right inflection, the process, (for me), can take up to two and half hours for each sixty minute show. When suddenly ET would override the session by jumping in on the ISDN line and appear in my headphones ready for me to read for them one of the many promos they send me throughout the day.
I would be jolted out of the narration voice, as Milena, (my booth director at ET), would say “we are rolling Randy” I grab the latest promo update off my fax machine. Then, on ET’s, cue, I read the promo. When ET was done I turned back to the narration about horrendous crimes, psychopathic killers and their victims. I’m thinking that I segued back in seamlessly until the producer had to say “Randy we are not going for the ET promo read” and I would laugh and quickly downshift out of that read into the proper projection and inflection for the remainder of that narration session.
Gliding from one job to the next may sometimes feel like learning to drive a stick shift. A little herky-jerky at first, until that one day when you find yourself seamlessly shifting from one gear to the next. Taking the right approach just might help you book your next big gig. So what do YOU do to shift in and out of a particular style of read and always remain on point with your voice over clients?

Randy Thomas

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Comment by Philip Banks on August 14, 2010 at 7:24am
Thoroughly enjoyed reading Randy's original thoughts and the responses. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful distraction.
Comment by Randye Kaye on August 11, 2010 at 9:04pm
Randy - great topic! I remember my years of doing radio when I'd be yelling (oops - I mean, discussing isues) with my kids, and then had to shift gears when the song ended and I was on-air. Yeah, baby. Multiple personalities help. All parents have them. Also helps to (yes, I agree), take a breath, pre-sentence with a new phrase, or simply change the body stance and facial expression.
Love the one about singing an oldie, though. gonna try it!
Comment by Randy Thomas on August 10, 2010 at 12:43pm
this gives a whole new meaning to the term "clutch player". I think we all want to be our clients number one clutch player!
Comment by Paul J. Warwick on August 10, 2010 at 12:40pm
that should it's thing..
Comment by Paul J. Warwick on August 10, 2010 at 12:39pm
Great post! i like the "stick shift" metaphor, too. Once you learn how, if you actually think about it, and NOT let the muscle memory due its thing, you're going to need a new clutch..or is it a new vocal fold??
Comment by Dustin Ebaugh on August 6, 2010 at 8:25pm
Thanks for sharing Randy. Great stuff, really. :)
Comment by Walt Marsicano on July 29, 2010 at 4:25pm
Shifting in and out of styles is not my only challenge. I also must deal with my dyslexia which sometimes results in doing several picks ups along the way. So I have to stay within my same energy level and inflection whenever those situations arise in order to insure seamless edits. I find that creating a mental image of the final product, (picturing the underscore, sfx, and any video accompaniment) helps me stay within the style for a particular type of read. It helps me set the mood.
Comment by Randy Thomas on July 29, 2010 at 11:29am
Great responses to this blog. I was remiss in saying what I do. I like to take a moment to let the new copy resonate in my brain and then when I read-I give myself a line or two to get into the copy. What my good friend the Late Great Connie Zimet used to call "revving in". Sometime we up-cut at the beginning of a read coming in stronger than we need to. We can segue into the piece much smoother if we give ourselves a good line or two that takes us into the piece smooth as silk.
And Bob-Please don't hurt yourself..or did you just want to say ball peen hammer?
Comment by Lynne Darlington on July 29, 2010 at 11:02am
What a great post Randy! It can also be extremely challenging when you have a heavy read whereby it renders you emotionally drained - only to move onto a perky uplifting read. I like to take the time to reconnect and neutralize with an old musical favorite...cleanse the palate - like a sorbet.
Comment by Bill Pryce on July 29, 2010 at 9:16am
I like to "cleanse my palate" between genres by either teasing a stock character voice or singing some dumb oldie for 30 seconds or so then listening and reading along with playback if I'm in the middle of something to get back to that "place."---Yummy yummy yummy I've got love in my tummy---ackk

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