Further pursuits of happiness

have a lot of bumps and holes in them. I graduated from Radio Broadcasting this past April and was very proud and happy with myself. I finally had a college diploma. Though I didn’t see myself working at a radio station…I wasn’t a fan talking to people I didn’t know or researching stuff that didn’t interest me…yeah kinda self absorbed and silly, and something I’m regretting right now as I listen to my former classmates have fun on the air at local stations.
Wondering where I ended up after graduation? I ended up working full time hours with a part time status at Wal-mart…which I have worked at for 10 years now as a part-timer.
My first time in college I went into animation and failed after the first semester. So when I graduated from Radio all of my Animation friends were graduating from Animation. I felt that I needed to go back and finish…to prove to myself that I could graduate from animation.
So I’m in first year animation again and struggling with it…again. You may think it’s an easy course because all we do is draw all day, but it’s much more than that. The good part is that I’m not failing and I’ve learned a lot more this time around…but I find myself struggling with the final for first semester…again. I just can’t get that flour sack right. So we will see if I pass this time.

Introduction to Tooned In!

Making an at home Studio

I thought I would share with everyone what can be used to create an at home studio for voice acting and some of the supplies that I use.
I hope this helps out some of you and if you would like tutorials on any of the programs I’ve mentioned please feel free to let me know. Also if there is anything I have missed or any other tips anyone has please add them.

~~Microphones~~

First of all if you have a really cheap mic you won’t get the quality of audio out of it as a higher quality mic. Though with a few tricks you can make it sound better than if you were just talking into a mic in your room. For years I used a Playstation 2 headset as my computer mic and it worked well for me. At the time it was about $50 for one of those mics but I’m sure they are way cheaper now. It was one of the best headset mics I have used for the price. I currently have a logitech mic that I picked up from Walmart for about $30 and it doesn’t give me the clarity of the PS2 headset. So I now use a Beherenger brand microphone for my voice acting and I use it for my on location work for radio broadcasting. It is a professional mic so it costs a pretty penny but it is worth it. The Mic kits cost around $200 on ebay.
Some things that will help a recording. Use a pop screen…it is a little round black filter that is place in front of the mic…alternativly you can get some old panyhose and wire to make your own pop screen. When you speak into the mic place it above your mouth…closer to nose level and a little bit away from the pop screen…unless of course you have a soft voice then you need to eat the mic because if you have to turn the volume up to hear the lines you get the background noises and hums as well.
Background noise can be a pain to get rid of because some of it is stuff you can;t really control. If you can turn off the ringer on your phone…turn off the TV, fans and any other non esential electronic devices because I mic can pic them up. The smaller the room the better…I mean a soundproof room is preferable but not many of us have the ability to make or use a soundproof room. I do get access to the studios at school which is awesome but not at home. If you live in your own house you can get egg carton shaped foam to put on the walls to help diffuse the sound. If not…this may sound funny but if you can record your lines in a closet or under a blanket…it’s amazing how much sound a blanket can block out.

 

~~Sound Boards~~

I’m not gonna touch too much on sound boards because unless you are doing some hard core editing of broadcasting a radio station I don’t see the need of having a soundboard. I use a few different kinds of soundboards at school including ones from AudioArts, and Beherenger. They are also hugely expensive. We currently replaced the huge Beherenger boards in all of the studios at the school with the smaller and simpler AudioArts board. (shown below) There are small boards out there for home use but if you are just doing voice acting and not audio editing with multi-tracks then a sound board is not needed.

~~Editing programs~~

No matter what kind of computer you have there are many different audio editing programs out there and some are free! A few I have worked with are Cool Edit, Audacity, GoldWave, and my new personal favorite Adobe Audition. Each of them has basic editing functions with some cool filters to play around with. But as far as I can tell the only one that has multi-track editing is Adobe Audition so it would be very good foe putting together a demo that would have different voice tracks, and possibly a music bed and sound effects thrown in. Out of the free or shareware programs I’ve used GoldWave is my favorite. This however is all personal preference.
If you would like to try out Adobe Audition they do have a 30 day trial you can download from the adobe website.
Just as a side note…Cool Edit Pro became Adobe Audition though I’m sure there was a free version of Cool Edit but I haven’t used it in quite a few years.

Ottawa International Animation Festival

If you were lucky enough to get to the Animation festival than you got to see all the great animation being screen there. If you are interested in voice acting you also might have bee lucky enough to attend Stevie Vallance’s voice over workshop. She shared a few different ways she coaches people in voice acting for animation. She got a few volunteers to get behind the mic and try their voice acting skills by not thinking too much, leaving their inner adult at the door, and lots and lots of laughter. I got a chance to interview her for my current affairs class and The Algonquin Show which airs on CKDJ 107.9 every morning at 9. She is a very energetic person with a lot of great information that she shares with voice acting fans, people in the industry, and those trying to break into the industry.

I will re-post my segment from the Algonquin Show for anyone that wants to take a listen. It is about 5min long and includes part of an interview I got with Dave Cooper.

In my experience attending Stevie’s short workshops at the animation festival have been well worth it. They share a lot if information on voice acting for animation but it makes you wanting more. If you are truly serious about becoming a voice actor you should take a full voice over workshop, some improv or dramatic arts classes, or a even better a full course in acting for television. Radio Broadcasting has helped me with some of my behind the mic preformance, including breathing, speaking clearly, and telling a story. This is good for getting into commercial voice overs but for animation voice overs you really need to learn how to act because as Stevie says only 10% is voice the other 90% is getting into the character.

 

If you live in Canada and are interested in taking Stevie’s workshop you can check it out on her site http://toonedin.ca She does workshops in different cities including Vancouver, Toronto, New York, and Ottawa though be quick because space is limited and she may not be doing workshops for much longer. I am planning on attending one of her workshops in the future though be warned the fees aren’t cheap at around $300 for a basic one day workshop and the price goes up from there…but before you complain about the price remember Stevie has to account for travel costs, hotel costs, and the cost of booking a studio for the day and her fee helps out with all of this. Once I attend one of her workshops I will let everyone know how good it is and weather it is worth taking or not. Though considering she is one of the only people in Canada that does voice coaching it is more convienient than catching a flight to the United States.

Becoming a Voice Actor

Can be really hard. In my travels around the internet and at various conventions I have found a multitude of people who want to become animation voice over actors, specifically for anime (Japanese Animation). There is a huge fan base behind the anime world and so many of them want to follow in their favorite voice actors footsteps and have a chance at becoming a character they love. I am no acception to this. Though how many people actually work hard enough to make this dream a reality? I’m guessing not very many. So many voice over studios or even industry professionals have been milking the teaching market in voice acting because it has become more popular and like a sheep I find myself following the crowed yet again. My love of voice acting stems from a love of creativity and the arts. It is another way for me to express myself. Two things seem to be baring my path to voice acting though, a lack of training and a lack of experience. Both of them currently very hard to get because training to be a voice actor takes a lot of cash and time. Most training sessions are around $300 and up for a five or so hour session…yes ONE session. This is normally done in small groups of about 12 people so the teacher is getting about $3K a day that is like making $700 an hour! Sounds nice doesn’t it? Though the shelling out of the money can be very painful, and it is a risk to take for a business that is so over-populated and competitive. Or well I could go back to school for another three year in the dramatic arts program and toss down about the same amount of cash.

So if I had the money to drop on lessons I would take them. In the mean time I am scouring the internet and the local chapters for anything that I can find that is student priced to help me on my journey. There isn’t really all that much out there that hasn’t been shared before and books aren’t readily available at the book store to look through and decide if you want to buy them, they need to be special ordered. Which means they need to be paid for in advance. Not helpful when working with such a small budget, so the internet and some of its free information will have to do for now.

Moving on to dilemma number two, lack of experience. This one can be even harder to overcome because people are less inclined to take someone with little to no experience…which means I may have to plead, beg, and do some free work to get that experience that I need to move up a step on the ever-increasing ladder of voice acting. Something else that always helps is having contacts in the industry. People that can give you pointers and introduce you to other people in the industry. My problem so far? Other than the lack of good people skills I am seen as merely a fan when I meet people in the voice acting industry. Why? Because I meet them at conventions and the first times are always in autograph lines. I feel that even though I may not act like a raving fan girl they assume that I am one because I waited for three hours in a line waiting to meet them while wearing some possibly ridiculous costume of a character from an animated series. True story. So because first impressions are so important I have been branded fan girl to most if not all the voice actors I have met.

On top of that I find the industry to be very hush hush and tight knit like radio. I also figured out that even though some voice actors started in radio most of them find DJ’s irritating…though it might just be the club and wedding variety not the radio ones. I will have to ask someone when I get a chance.

I will continue my search on voice acting information, the industry, and how to become a part of it…and because I am such a generous person I will share all of my findings and insights with you.

Voice Acting

You may or may not recognize the people in the photo on the left. They are voice actors for some of the most popular anime and cartoon on television today. They are some of my role models and I have had the chance to meet them and to sit on in multiple Q&A sessions.

For the most part voice actors are very nice people and are willing to answer any questions on their professions that you may have.

One thing I have seen in my travels to conventions, voice acting panels, Q&A’s, and autograph lines are the raving fans that gather at these events. Even though I am not an anime voice actor yet there are some things that bother me about some over obsessed fans.

The Art of Voice Acting – James Alburger

chapters.indigo.ca: The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing Voiceover: James Alburger: Books.

This book has been on my wish list for a long time but I never got around to ordering it either online or from one of the chapters stores in the area. I’ve hear this is a very good book for people wanting to know more about the voice acting industry.