Cindy C. A. Pereira

Solutions

Professional Multilingual Voice Overs

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Is a Social Media Presence Relevant in this Industry?

Yes! Particularly as it relates to branding yourself. However don't spam people, repeat yourself incessantly and pat your own back.

In my opinion some delivery channels are more forgiving than others. If you tweet several times a day it's not as disruptive as --for example-- posting to LinkedIn more than once a day. It makes sense to consider the channels you want to use as free advertising and do so with the mindset of what you as a consumer or audience would appreciate hearing from a service provider.

No matter where you are sharing, it's most important what you are sharing - is it relevant? For example - are you tweeting about your cat? If so, unless his voice is on a Fancy Feast commercial maybe save that for your personal Facebook page. Do you give and take? For instance if your colleague in Lisbon just landed a McDonald's commercial over there -- it's nice if you share the joy - let others know, congratulate him... All these are ways of giving back, just as you would in any community.

If you are savvy enough to know when you are mentioned (there's an app for that), respond to those mentioning you. Offer free advice when you can.

In terms of who you follow-- it's nice to be in a community of voice overs but you also need to think of who gets you jobs -- try following those who hire, voice studios, agencies, production companies and the like...

I am not great at practicing what I preach but you might be better at practicing what I preach -- post consistently, themed, with a presence that is recognizable, be targeted and deliberate in what you choose to share and how often you do.

 

What Adds Value?

Several things to be kept in mind when adding value to your work: Zillions of people are voice over artists, many are multilingual, offer competitive pricing, are professional, proofread/listen to everything, offer a free pickup now and then, are not afraid of collaborating with other talent, refer talents they know whose skill is better than their own in one area, re-tweet or re-share colleagues’ good work, but not everyone does that all the time.

You should.

How Much Do I Charge?

Heck if I know! Nah… just pulling your leg though admittedly this is not a straightforward answer.

Like with any professional service, be it an electrician, plumber or hair stylist, prices vary by the quality of the professional, the equipment used, the service requested, etc.

In the case of narration, a few things need to be kept in mind:

If anyone could do it, your profession would not exist. Voice acting is very much like acting (except Hollywood is less strict about our diet) in that you need a certain personality, the ability to deal with a variety of clients, handle criticism, be directed and often rejected. You need some charisma and pizazz, but also business acumen, all of which, and certainly together, have value.

You should also remind yourself that if recording on the iPhone sounded as good as your booth, you wouldn't get jobs. If everyone knew how to remove clicks and breaths, knew software and hardware – they might be able to go it alone, but they are busy running their business and don’t necessarily have these skills or the time.  Finally, if you've invested in a booth, equipment, training etc. like any other professional, you need to pay and maintain your skills and equipment, which all have value.

Yeah Cindy, get to the point, you say?

More variables to consider:

  •  The medium - which means it could be a TV ad, Internet, radio spot, phone system, etc.
  •  The market - in other words a local TV ad is worth less than a national and far less than an international one for example.
  •  How long the script is (which you may measure in words or time).
  • The type of narration – audio books, movie trailer, video game, documentary, training manuals, whiteboard presentations- oy – you get the point right?
  • How long will it take you to do the work? Will there be edits in the future? Will you offer free pickups?

Okay, now you’ve given all that some thought but you still aren’t sure what to charge. I understand. I had the same problem. My tips are based on my experience so take them with a grain of salt, but when I began, if I wasn’t getting a job with a prestipulated rate (from a P2P for example) , but one on my own (word of mouth, my website), I charged fairly low rates. I needed to get in the game, see what my perceived value was, and attract repeat business. I generally also asked what the budget was, tried to get a sense of what the client had in mind, and if possible stay within their budget.

As time went by, however, and I further invested in acting classes, provided multilingual services, added translation and built a proper studio, my rates went up. I was also able to turn down business without as much guilt because I knew that as my value increased often times the caliber of clients and jobs also increased. That is not to say that I am not flexible – I’ve actually done free work for causes I believe in or charged nominal rates for someone who needed it then and would certainly come back when they had more work.


While it is a personal decision what you charge, think about the fact that low-balling on a website for example, in the end hurts the whole industry because the value of voice over comes down. Bad enough non-union already makes less; bad enough there is stiff competition. If you head into something like Voices.com and begin bidding far less than others on the jobs, the next time the client comes to that website they will assume that what they paid last time is the norm, they will locate the lowest cost talent and guess what? Chances are they will get what they paid for (like your narration when you first began – less than what it is today for sure), and now that client may not even want to come back to the website because the talents he clicked on were not that savvy, professional, clean sounding and so forth… you see the potential spiral here right? You’re killing the whole industry by trying to snatch all the attention for yourself and in the end you lose too.

Okay so I am done. Off you go without a straight answer -- you set your prices as you see fit but take these guidelines if you are inclined, which have been worked out by folks who are well entrenched in the industry.

Edge Studio Rates

Voices.com Rates

Voice123.com Rates

P.S. Lest I forget these important details:

The price you quote by and large includes your studio fee, a level of quality control which means you provide a noise free, professional, edited, proofread, well pronounced (researching pronunciations when needed) and proof-listened to (if that term doesn’t exist it should) your script.

You may want to gently remind your client what they are paying for.

What to Record on a Demo

Now that you have your microphone, computer, audio interface, software and quiet room, you are ready for your demo. You may ask yourself what on earth to say on said demo, how long it should be, should you make it at home, etc. Well that is today's topic.

In answering these questions myself, I had my differences with EdgeStudio. They advised I make a demo for commercial, another for business, one for IVR etc. They advised I separate the demos into each language I speak. Well, while they are most likely right on all counts, I simply didn't have the money to professionally produce that many demos. 

Here is what I did. I speak three languages, most of the narration jobs I come across are corporate narration, so I opted for showcasing the languages I speak on one 90 second demo. This demo mixed alternate voice mail prompts, airport announcements, pharma, e-learning, that were all voiced in my three spoken languages. Edge Studio did a fabulous job of engineering the audio and adding royalty free music to the tracks and that was money well spent. I now had a professional demo to put on my website or a=on any of the previously mentioned P2P sites.

However, in watching Edge produce my demo, I figured out how to do this at home. I eventually made other demos that catered to the specific niche I was aiming to audition for. After practice, you will be able to produce your own demo fairly competently.

Now, about the script itself... I chose to write it. For one, I am a writer, but secondly I know where my talent is, I can translate my copy, and those were also skills I wanted to showcase. However, if this is not your thing, there is no reason why you cannot borrow copy. Whether you google scripts, mimic commercials, or read from something, those 10-15 seconds for each bit on your demo are fairly easy to come by. What you must keep in mind is selecting script that best shows your talent, your skill, your abilities, what you sound most natural and efficient reading.

Later on as you book jobs you can also select potions of your narration to compile a reel. That is to say, not only are you showing what you can do, but what you did do. Clients like to know you have been hired before, so when you can get your hands on your finished narration jobs, do, and piece together your best work.

Until next time... when we speak of pricing... have a wonderful week.

 

Should you Record Your own Demo?

So let me get this straight... You thought about becoming a voice actor, you got some coaching, practiced, bought yourself a nice mic and pre-amp, figured out how to connect it via an A/D device to your computer, even learned Audacity or another software to record on. Not only that but you can clean up your recorded files and remove breaths and pops so it sounds nice and professional. Oh man Johnny, you've been a busy boy, and you know what - YOU ROCK!

Get ready because you have 3 seconds to succeed. One. Two. Three. Go! And by that I mean, research suggests voice seekers listen to a voice actor for three seconds before deciding whether to even listen to the sample much less hire you. Yup. Sad. True.

So when you ask me, "Cindy can I go ahead and record my own demo because I rock so bad?" I'm going to say, "No, Sally, you may not."

Now, I know it is going to look like Edge Studio is paying me to promote them. The unfortunate truth is they are not in any way affiliated with me other than having trained me. From that experience however I can speak. They effectively coach you, help you with your script, have an audio engineer master your finished piece and create an mp3 that represents the best of your voice. So yes, whether Edge https://www.edgestudio.com/about-voice-over-demo-services or someone else, you should invest in this.

More on the script, size, content, of your spiffy demo next time. Au revoir Fabienne. Until we meet again.

 

 

You Have to Start Somewhere

Depending on where you live, there are several places you can go for an overview course. In New York City for example, I went to Edge Studio in midtown. The name of the course was Investigate Voice Over - how apropos!  For $99 I got a great overview of what to expect and whether it was right for me. Students were also given a chance to read some script in a booth to have a sense of how it feels. They also have a free career center online so you can look up all sorts of things from pronunciation guides to microphone selection.

http://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over-class

Now once you decide that this voice thing is worth a shot, and you have a look at the websites I posted on my last entry (voices.com, voice123.com etc), you may want to consider testing the waters. If you aren't ready to invest in becoming a paying member on those sites yet, there are others which do not require signup fees. Some include Elance.com, VoiceRealm.com, VoiceBunny and more. However, I still wouldn't recommend going all in without training, but you sure can use them to see the scripts, see what the jobs pay, and to practice at home.

You had a class, you read, you practiced, you looked at websites... now what? Even if you aren't ready for full steam ahead I think it's time to move to the next step. Let's set up a space in your home where you can do some trial runs, shall we?

OK great -- look around... You need a space that you can use which is at least big enough for you to sit and stand comfortably in, preferably with a music stand to hold your script. You may want your computer in there with you, but if you have the computer outside that room with just your mic in there - that's fine too.

Have a look at some home made booths (click right) home made booths. The variety is endless! You can use a small closet, the more padding the better. You can drywall a section of a room and cover the walls with acoustic foam (click right)acoustic foam, which is what I did. It doesn't soundproof your space, but it absorbs sound/echos. If you really want to invest you can full out purchase a whisper room. But honestly, to start out, you can even grab a rubber maid box (the kind from home depot 10-15 bucks), glue some of that acoustic foam on the inside of it and cut out an area to string your mic in from. What you are trying to achieve is less reverberation, studio like sound. It would look something like this.

Now that you're sound won't be bouncing around you need a microphone. That is a topic in itself and we will elaborate on that next time. Additionally you need some kind of software to record into. Garage Band, ProTools, Reaper... are some options. Me personally, I use FREE Audacity (click right) Audacity. It absolutely does the job. Go ahead, have a look, it exists for Mac and PC. Install it! Mess with it! Watch YouTubes on how it works.

Now you're cooking!

Stay tune for more step by step ways to go about pursuing voice acting.

 

Voice Over 101

So your friends have told you that you'd be a great at voice overs, because you have such a (insert adjective here) voice. Now you want to explore whether voice over work is right for you.

So where to start?

Maybe Dr. Google told you to sign up on one of the P2P sites like Voices and Voice123.

Well I say Hold on!

You may have a fantastic voice, and a burning desire to use it, but like any other business, you need to prepare before launching yourself into it. Why? Because your voice is only a part of what matters most.

You will need at least some basic equipment,  hardware and software, a whole lot of practice, a professional demo.... not to mention it costs upward of 300 dollars a year to enroll in those particular sites... so why invest prematurely.

But most of all -- you don't want to go into the voice over world too early. If you are not ready,  you may burn some bridges right out of the gate.

Nowadays you do not need to spend a fortune on the technology but you do need some level of investment. You will need a pre-amp, a mic, a computer (you probably already have one), some software (there's free stuff!), and an acoustically treated environment (don't be scared, that environment may be your closet to start).

I will post step by step tips on all that is required but let me leave you with my first piece of advice. You must get some training.

So stick around for some tips on my next post, where I will provide you information on where to get coaching, how to make a demo, and much more.

To start with: You need coaching, and the understanding that you will need persistence.

My acting coach is the beautiful Michele Morgan Truvilion. You can reach her at puffyou@aol.com -- tell her you read it on Cindy's Voice Over Solutions blog! Have a look at some of her work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwkXH44OK8o

Now as far as persistence: That's a mindset. So start practicing ;-)