Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they’re first starting out. While making at least one beginner voice over mistake is a rite of passage in this industry, what sets successful voice actors apart is their ability to dust themselves off and address the issue head-on.
If you’re an up-and-coming talent and even if you’re not – I think (and hope) you’ll find at least one or two points here that will help you gain perspective on the kind of professional conduct that may help elevate your career.
1. Going over your work
It’s often tough to spend the extra time to go over your work because we often work with very tight deadlines. However that is precisely why going over VO work is so important. In most cases, VO recordings and audio post-production in general happens at the very end of the production workflow. And they should use the voice over recording software to edit their audio. This means that when clients request a VO recording – they are usually out of time and need the audio two days ago. When you don’t check your work for errors, it forces the client to either work with what they have (making them not so very happy), or ask for pickups which just doesn’t reflect well on you nor me.
2. Changing copy without permission
The flip side of #2 – talents who insist on changing the copy because it “doesn’t sound right to them”. Their alt may be better, but the client has signed off on the text (often with their own client – after several iterations in many cases), so changing the script because you do not like the phrasing will not make a client happy and they will ultimately ask for pickups. Not to mention the risk of altering the content or the message while doing so.
3. Alt reads
This is more of a recommendation, especially for talents working with the foreign market. There are countless instances where we get copies that are poorly phrased. In some cases there are even typos or basic grammar errors. When the errors are super obvious and just don’t work in a sentence, I would expect you to fix it on the fly when recording. There are cases where the phrasing is just bad, but the client has already signed off on the copy. In these cases, to save the back and forth of asking the client (who may be in a different time zone) – I would usually ask to provide alt reads. When you do this independently it shows initiative and to me it means you care about your work.
This is related to item 1 and is super important. Voice actors who are available for quick turnaround work are always higher on my list for gigs than those who get back to me several days after I initiate contact. This might sound cold but the industry is such that clients are gained and lost depending on reaction speed, so it’s important to me that talents I work with understand this.
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5. Technical issues
Unless I’m sending auditions to clients (in mp3 format), I typically work with uncompressed audio formats like WAV and AIF. These files tend to be BIG and if there’s one thing I find annoying – it’s getting an emails with 30 MB audio file attachments. Use Wetransfer / Dropbox / Hightail. There are so many services for this kind of thing. Emails are for corresponding and sending small attachments.
6. Following direction
Most talents do follow direction but many newer talents don’t realize or forget how important the style, pace and tone is to a client. I would recommend talents to ask for references before recording (if I don’t do it for them ahead of time). It could be a part of their own demo that the client liked, or some other reference like a movie character or a certain trailer that the client is trying to emulate.
7. Constantly working and improving your craft
I think highly of even the most accomplished talents who ask for client feedback and finding out if there’s anything they could do to improve. Besides that – going to seminars / conventions or learning from online resources all the time – I feel is important because there’s always room to grow – in every field.
A tip for new voice actors. Getting started in voice acting and improve your voice acting skill. Pricing is competitive as the industry grows and more voice actors get into the field. I think flexibility in pricing is important TO A DEGREE. I respect everyone’s fee schedule and I believe anyone doing VO work should be compensated accordingly. I will also not ask talents to do work when the fee I’m offered is unreasonable. There’s a fine line and knowing where to draw that line as a new talent is important I think. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing work for any fee (or on the flip side – not being flexible enough to lower your fee at all) so understand your boundaries well. Did you find this useful? Thank you for your reading. Good Luck!