How To Become A Freelance Voice Over Artist
You must have heard them in cartoons, advertisements, movies, radio, and many other places – people behind the scene, lending their voices to objects, instructions or people on the screen. These behind the curtain figures also enjoy what they do – they are called voice-over artists, and because they have fun and get paid, they couldn’t be much happier. This article is going to look into the potential that lies in becoming a freelancing voice-over artist, and how you can build a lucrative career out of it.
The freelance community is vast and has a place for almost everybody. It initially started out small, but it has expanded into a platform with a limitless number of jobs to offer and buy. To become a freelancer, one has to assess their skill and pick something you are really good at, and you are good to go! Also, the same applies to becoming a freelance voice-over artist; you would need to ponder over the points listed in this article before deciding if this freelance path is for you. Below are a few things to consider and know before you attempt to venture into the world of freelancing as a voice-over artist:
1. About Voice-Over
Almost everybody has at least a vague idea of what voice over is, but not many are correct and know what voice-over usually entails. Most people are often misinformed. If you are serious about plying your trade as a voice-over artist, then you must come to grasp with its true meaning.
Voice over is basically a production technique where a voice is used (usually in the background) in film making, theater, television production, etc. A Voice-over is often pre-recorded and read out from a script. Presently, voice-overs are commonly used in movies, gaming, award presentations, documentaries, gaming and so on. All of these programs and shows are potential career opportunities for voice-over artists. Although, other prerequisites may be necessary before you can become a professional voice-over artist.
2. Job Requirements
In truth, you do not really need any professional qualification to venture into the world of a freelance voice-over artist. Many renowned voice artists started as amateurs and have made a name for themselves in the industry largely through experience and hard work. Conversely, our world today has become more competitive than ever, and this also applies to the world of freelancing.
Presently, both large and small companies are on the hunt for talented and committed voice artist, without having to compromise on quality. Regardless of the fact that voice over isn’t a common professional choice, some few certifications may also help your cause as a voice-over artist. These certifications will help you set yourself aside from the pack. There are several institutes in India and across the globe that offer various voice-over programs – some of them are quite prestigious institutions. For instance, India has only a few to choose from. However, they all offer great education. Endeavor to enroll in a few voice-over programs and earn certificates that can set you aside from the crowd. If you do not want to go through the certification route, hard work and experience can also push you through. All you need to do is to create numerous demos of your voice-overs and put them on the internet. Even if you don’t get mega voice-over gigs, see them as a stepping stone and seize the chance to gain some experience. The route to follow – professional or experience – is totally your choice. However, it is expected that you are well versed in various voice-over techniques through the wonders of your voice. After all, your voice is the selling point here. If your voice is below standard, you risk failing as a freelance voice-over artist.
3. Equipment Needed
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get into doing voice-over work but at the same time you don’t want some poor-quality junk holding you back. With a modest budget you can really pick up some great equipment these days that will last you for years if taken care of properly.
· A Good Microphone: This one seems pretty obvious right? For most people doing this sort of thing you’re going to want a microphone that can capture your voice at its best. The most common route to take is to record directly through your computer – we recommend checking out this list of popular USB microphones as a starting point: http://allmicrophone.com/guides/best-usb-microphones
· Pop Filter/Shield: Absolutely essential for voice-over work to get rid of those annoying “splosive” sounds you get from hard-hitting consonants like the “Ps” and “Ts” that will ruin your recording. There are a few different types you can buy so it depends on what you feel is best for you.
· A Good Recording Environment: Often an easily overlooked requirement for recording audio is the environment in which it is recorded. You will want to make sure that you’re not recording in a room that echoes your voice and compromises your final product. Some rooms can be naturally good to begin with if they’re fairly compact with soft furnishings in them to absorb and diffuse the sound. Sometimes you will need to invest in stuff like foam panels to acoustically treat your room but they can be picked up pretty cheaply especially if you can find them second-hand.
· A Microphone Stand: You may prefer to speak whilst sitting down and it’s definitely personal preference but most people believe that you get the best out of your voice when you are standing up. This is because your body and lungs are more open and stretched out which gives you more control over your voice and usually gets you a better result in the end.
4. Skills Needed
Let’s get to the most important part: the skills. As a voice-over artist, you are expected to possess certain qualities – which should all perform a basic function in voice-overs. Therefore, you should always seek to develop them as much as you can.
Below are some of the qualities required:
· Clarity: Clarity is essential – this means that the voice artist must be able to clearly pronounce each letter clearly, without swallowing, mumbling or hesitating. If you lack clarity, then this career isn’t for you.
· Cleanliness: Cleanliness and clarity differ. Cleanliness refers to the ability of the voice artist to speak with minimal mouth sounds such as glottal stops, clicks, etc. frequent mouth noise can distort clarity – which is a fundamental skill needed to excel as a voice artist. Hydration, munching, chewing gums and throat sprays are examples of ways that can help you clean your voice.
· Consistency: This is a deal breaker. If you lack consistency, then you won’t cut it as a voice artist. Consistency means speaking with the same articulation, energy, tone and volume.
· Connection: Voice overs transcend beyond just speaking behind the scene, it also entails making an instant connection with the object behind the voice over. For instance, if you’re playing a movie character that is a bully, you need to quickly make a connection with the character, and your voice should convey the image of a bully. You must make a connection with the character and speak through it.
· Conversational: Here, the voice artist should be able to read and speak at a conversational pace. The voice must flow and sound natural. To achieve this, voice artists often adopt facial expressions to relay emotions.
· Control: Control is key. The voice artist must maintain a uniform control for the entire dub; the voice artist must not become nervous or hesitate, as this can affect the dub quality.
· Cold reading: Cold reading is a very important quality If you are engaged in a lengthy narration. Cold reading is the ability to read briefly through the next lines and avoid any grammatical mistakes. This skill will require a lot of reading to perfect. Therefore, as a voice artist, you should regularly so some self-conversational reading.
5. Where To Work?
As a voice artist, you can work in several places including the gaming industry, music and film industry, advertising companies, documentaries and even for podcasts and YouTube channels.
Just do a little research about various industries. For example, in India, it is common to have one movie dubbed in various languages to suit different audiences and companies pay voice artists enormous fees to have this done. Things can get easier if you choose to work online. There are several freelance websites such as guru.com, freelancer.com etc. These websites act as a platform to connect you with several other potential employers who require voice-over services.
However, keep in mind that competition is rife online and you will need to set yourself apart from the others to stand a chance. One way to stand out from the crowd is to build a strong portfolio and amazing voice demos.
6. A Voice Sample
We have touched skill, career opportunities but we have omitted samples. Regardless of whether you are a professional voice artist of not, you are meant to have good voice samples. Even if you have a great portfolio, employers will always want a real sample of your voice before they can commit any project to you.
So, how do you make samples?
· Aim: Do not make random samples of your voice. Rather, choose a setting like an advert for a watchmaker and then create your sample around the concept.
· Dubbing Software: You are better off downloading professional voice recording software to record your voice if you desire better results. Do not rely on your mobile phone recorder. Some of these software are free to download and use online. Also, they will help to bring the best out of your voice – which is ultimately what your potential employer wants.
· Length: Do not make very lengthy voice samples. Aim to record your best voice in the shortest possible time. Typically, aim for around a couple of minutes. Employers do not have all day, keep it brief but sharp.
· Background of the potential employer: Ensure that you send relevant voice over samples to your employer. For example, if you are applying for a movie role, it is no good sending a voice over sample built around the concept of an advertisement. Aim to create several voice-over samples so you can always send the relevant ones to employers.
7. Pay Rate
The price you command will vary with your experience and reputation on the job. If you are a seasoned freelance voice artist, you should peg your price at or slightly above the market level since you have built a name for yourself. On the other hand, if you are still a novice, it is advisable to start with a very modest price charge and increase the rate as you slowly grow. If you’re confused as to how much to charge, consider engaging with other voice artists to get a fair idea.
You can join forums where various voice artists meet and discuss. However, you are the ultimate judge of your talent, and only you know how much you’re really worth.