Learning from Bad Voice Over

Share

Learning from Bad Voice Over

There’s a lot of bad voice over on TV.

But rather than just cursing at the screen, I decided to turn my pet peeves into a learning experience.

Below are a variety of terrible voice over performances, and the lesson that each can provide:

1) The EmPHAsis on the Wrong SylLAble (or Word)
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but a lot of this problem seems to happen in medical commercials. I’ve even seen some commercials that were re-cut because the problem was so glaring… only to have some other problem in the new version.
Here’s a few examples and why they’re wrong:

  • INcreased risk (this should have an even emphasis over the entire phrase: “increased risk”)
  • Routine lab MONITORING (“Lab Monitoring” is routine. The lab is not.)
  • Upper respiratory TRACT infection (similar to the prior. You have an “Upper-Respiratory-Tract”, and it has an infection.)
  • I have ASSmah (Not sure why you’d pronounce asthma this way. Just wrong.)
  • Gr-EASY (Greasy rhymes with “Fleecy”. It’s not pronounced like “easy”.)

Lesson: Be certain of your word pronunciation and phrase emphasis.

2) Amateur Hour
For many local businesses, politicians and public service spots, “real people” record the spots themselves. I get it. Money’s tight, and professionals are expensive. But they might be “Penny Wise, and Pound Foolish” in the long run.

When “real people” (ie. Amateurs) speak on camera, they’re often not the same as in real life. The microphone and camera can be intimidating if you’re not used to them. This tends to bring out odd qualities in folks. Primarily, it’s a flatter tone, lower energy (or worse: pushed excitement).

Here’s a couple examples:

  • ENtroducing (the word is “INtroducing”)
  • I could lift mah son… high over my head… again (no need for all those odd pauses)
  • I COULD LEAVE AGAIN!!! (too much excitement. And it’s “Live” not “Leave”. Watch that accent)
  • The best smahl in mah lahhff. (Accent. Again. It’s “The best smile in my life”)
  • Even fahr guys dat don like ta cahk! (fake excitement. Should be “for guys that don’t like to cook”)

Lesson: You can actually pick up some excellent accents and regionalisms from watching “real people”… just be sure you don’t pick up their low energy or fake excitement.

3) Product Misplacement
The most important thing in most commercials is the company or product name. Yet in some, they are mispronounced. Odd how that can make it past so many approval layers, and yet… There it is.

In some cases, it may be due to having different pronunciations in different countries. Car brands Hyundai and Jaguar are prime example.

Other brands may have names that are unfamiliar or spelled in odd ways such as Xfinity or Ghirardelli.

Lesson: Take the time to research the correct pronunciations when you audition. If there are still doubts, ask your agent. And in sessions, listen carefully and defer to the client’s pronunciation.

4) Vile Vocals
It’s like fingernails on a chalk board… Vocal Fry. Bad Singing. Missing letters (“buh-uh” instead of “button”). Slurred speech. Mumbling. Over-Articulation.

Few of us get coaching when we first learn to speak. Just learning a language can be a monumental task for a child. However, when you choose to speak as a part of your career, it needs to be one of your priorities.

Lesson: Proper diction is essential to good voice over work. Consult with a speech coach and address any issues that may hamper your future success.

5) Wanna Be Voices
Cartoons were a big part of my childhood. Anime characters also have a very loyal fan base. I’d watch, laugh, memorize and imitate the voices. Lots of kids do that. It’s fun, and sometimes you can get a laugh from your friends, or when you’re older, the people at a party.

However, it’s a gigantic step from having fun imitating voices to a career in voice over.

With cheap microphones and easy access to editing software, it’s become very common for people to make their own videos for YouTube (read: YouActor), and think that that’s the way to break into Cartoons and Anime.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m definitely not talking about audio drama. I’m with several stellar groups, and there are many fine actors who contribute their time and talents to create compelling stories. But they have put in the effort to be trained on stage, or have taken classes or been coached.

Lesson: We all start somewhere. For many people, that may be imitating voices they admire. But a voice over career takes a lot more than just mimicry. Do yourselves a favor and get training in acting, improv and singing. Perform for live audiences. Get direction and coaching. If you wanna get the jobs, you gotta put in the work.

 
So, the next time you hear some really bad VO, step back and take the time to see why it bothers you. It may alter the way you approach your own auditions and performances.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Voice 2012: Joe’s Full Presentation

Share

Voice 2012: Joe’s Full Presentation

Agents, Demos, Marketing, Networking, VO Work, P2P, Unions…

Hear how I got into voice over, my philosophy on business, acting, much, much more!

The full 86 minute presentation is yours FREE!

(and stay for the questions at the end… very informative 😉 )

Thanks to everyone who attended, and those who asked questions at the end.

Joe J Thomas: Banana Baby

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Persistence

Share

Persistence by Joe's Dump

Persistence:
We Aspire to it in Ourselves,
Admire it in Our Friends,
and Abhor it in Our Foes.

But when is it appropriate?

As the saying goes, nothing feels better than when you stop banging your head against the wall.

Sometimes, knowing when to quit can be just as important as knowing when to push on in spite of the odds.

Only you can make the decision on if you should persevere or throw in the towel. Take the advice of trusted loved ones, friends and mentors into account. If they’re all saying the same thing, maybe it’s time to listen.

If you’re stubborn like me, that can be the hardest part.

Besides, that wall will always be there. Maybe just a bit of a break to clear your head…

Adapt, Adopt and Improve,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Do Your F-ing Job!

Share

Do Your F-ing Job!

*** Warning: This is an official rant. If you were looking for something non-ranty, please click elsewhere… You have been warned! ***

Maybe it’s too much time on hold with customer service.

Maybe it’s too much time in traffic with incompetent drivers.

Maybe it’s unqualified people in public office.

Whatever it is, I really just want people to Do Your F-ing Job!

Seriously, how hard is it?

If you’re sitting in the front of a line of cars at a red light, your job is to go when the light turns green. If you’re anywhere else in the line, your job is to go when the car in front of you moves. Do Your F-ing Job!

If you’re working in government, your job is to represent the needs and wants of your constituents, and to keep the country as your top priority. Do Your F-ing Job!

If you’re a customer service person, your job is have a deep understanding of the subject your’re supposed to be helping with, and to answer promptly and courteously. Do Your F-ing Job!

If you’re an actor, your job is to know your character, script and to show up on time and be professional. Do Your F-ing Job!

Writers… Write! Plumbers… Plumb! Painters… Paint! Creatives… Create!

I’m convinced the world would be a much better place and we’d all be happier if only You and I would…

Do Your F-ing Job!

(steps off soapbox. decompresses from rant.)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Talent and Training vs Tools

Share

Talent and Training vs Tools

I’ve seen way too many newbies to the world of Voice Acting ask the following questions:

  • “Which microphone should I buy?”
  • “Do I need ISDN?”
  • “What’s the best porta-booth?”
  • “How can I make my first VO demo?”
  • “Who knows a good agency looking for new talent?”

Arrrrggghhh!!!

First things first: Know the capabilities and limits of your own talents.

Second things second: Get the training need to fully utilize all your skills.

Before you spend a dime on tools, booths, mics, mixers, demos, etc… Put in the work needed to be an excellent Voice Actor. Theatre. Improv. Singing. Coaches, classes and even conferences.

Many people find that the answers to many questions will reveal themselves if you’re​ on the right path.

Shortcuts are extremely rare. Take the time to build a solid foundation and you’ll greatly increase your odds of success.

Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Joe

PS: here are all the answers…

  • The one that works best for your voice and space.
  • No.
  • Pillow fort, or rental car.
  • Hire a pro… Only when you’re ready.
  • All agencies want new talent, if you have something they need.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

George Washington Carver: 8 Rules To Live By

Share

George Washington Carver


8 Rules To Live By

I’ll be honest: before doing a bit of research, the only thing I knew about George Washington Carver was that he found lots of uses for peanuts.
George Washington Carver
Turns out he was an amazing man. Not only a brilliant, inquisitive, scientific mind, but a strong will and sense of purpose to match.

One of the unexpected treasures I discovered were from a thank you letter he’d written to his students. Usually presented as an excerpt of “8 Cardinal Virtues” as follows:

  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.

Good rules to live by, and it will serve me well to remember them.

If you’d like to discover more, the National Parks Service has an excellent PDF about George Washington Carver, including the full original text of the letter (on page 24) – available here:
Discovering George Washington Carver — A Man of Character

… and of course there’s a pretty good Wikipedia entry here:
Wikipedia: George Washington Carver

One more parting quote that speaks to me as an artist:

When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
— George Washington Carver

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

Creativity Farm

Share

Creativity Farm

Animation, music, business, poetry and utter nonsense…

How do I come up with a new Joe’s Dump post most every Monday?

I use a Creativity Farm!
Joe's Dump Creativity Farm!

Whenever I have an idea for Joe’s Dump, I jot down a short title and a few notes in a Google doc. These are the “Seeds” on my farm.

I use a Google doc because it lets me edit my ideas on my phone, tablet or computer. When the muse inspires, I’m ready.

Next, I cultivate the Seeds by choosing a promising one and giving it my time and focus. This is like sunlight and water. The promising Seeds then grow into mature Plants, ready for posting to the blog!

Of course, along the way, some weeding must also be done. Not all ideas will bear fruit.

Once I’ve posted the finished crop, it’s moved to another Google doc for archive.

Here are just a few samples from my current batch of Seeds (who knows which will grow?):

  • A rap song about Jimmy Durante
  • Fake movie trailers
  • A noir novella set in Cleveland
  • Poetry for pets
  • Designs for a personal hovercraft
  • Learning Tuvan throat-singing

If you’ve got the time and inclination, maybe you can start your own Creativity Farm!

What do you do to keep your creativity flowing?

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share

VO Workout

Share

VO Workout

VO Workout Banner

How staying fit can help you in your voiceover career.

When most of us hear the term “VO Workout”, we imagine a group of fellow voice actors gathering to read copy and get feedback. But there’s another kind of workout you should be adding to boost your VO career.

Keeping physically fit, mentally healthy, and getting proper nutrition all contribute to our bodies, minds and spirits working at peak levels. All of these factors can affect the sound of your voice, mood of your delivery, and how you interact with other people in the biz. Breathing, core strength, mobility, relaxation – all can come from maintaining good health. Below are some of the key factors I consider every day…
Continue reading

Share

The Nothing

Share

The Nothing

The Nothing” is an unusual villain from the German fantasy book “The NeverEnding Story” (a film version was made in 1984)

(*** spoilers below ***)

I use the word “villain” in a loose way, as it’s more of a force of nature. In the story, it is slowly destroying Fantasia, a land of wonder, imagination, and endless variety. In the movie version, “The Nothing” is represented by an ominous storm, and by a large black wolf:
The Nothing from The NeverEnding Story

The book is not as concrete, but much more frightening in it’s portrayal. “The Nothing” represents all of the worst of humankind. Apathy, cynicism, despair, and all the darkest aspects of our nature.

In the end, it’s a boy’s imagination and willingness to believe that saves Fantasia from “The Nothing”.

The Nothing: It’s At Work On Our World

Beyond the simple story lies a chilling truth: “The Nothing” is quite real. And it’s been growing. We feed it by giving into our greed, anger, and small-mindedness. Where is it? How can we identify it? And what can be done to stop it? I’ve provided some examples below, and I’m sure once you see it too, you’ll be able to find many more…

Continue reading

Share

Singing For VO

Share

Singing for Voice Over

Singing offers a lot of tangible advantages to anyone in Voice Acting.
For those of you who sing, I know I’m preaching to the choir! (rim shot)

But how long has it been since you’ve had a refresher?
And if you’re in VO and don’t sing, why not?

Although I’ve been in many musicals, sung with choral groups, and even performed musical improv, it had been a few years since I really sang.

Time for a tune-up!
I recently started taking lessons with a new teacher, and it’s given me a renewed sense of confidence in my vocal abilities.

Here are just a few of the areas singing can help with:

  • Tone:
    The pitch of your voice… high, medium, low (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone Bass)
  • Breathing:
    Proper breathing allows you to better control your sound.
  • Timing:
    Learning musical rhythm can help in setting your pace for both segments of the copy and for the overall read.
  • Vocal Placement:
    Chest voice, Head voice, Throat, etc. Placement is especially useful in creating characters and accents.
  • Core Support and Strengthening:
    A strong core is related to your breathing, and can give you more power and energy in your voice.
  • Volume Control:
    Knowing when to sing soft is just as important as being able to belt out a tune. Having a solid control of your volume takes practice.
  • Conveying Emotion:
    Even in a language you may not understand, songs can elicit a great deal of emotion. Learning how to deliver that to your audience is directly applicable to VO work.
  • Communication of Ideas:
    Clear communication is another win for any voice work. Knowing how to form your words and phrases so that they convey ideas is the core of it all.

My friend Marc Cashman even has a chapter in his book “V-Oh! Tips, Tricks, Tools and Techniques to Start and Sustain Your Voiceover Career” dedicated to the concept of “Finding the Music in Copy”. Here’s a short excerpt:

“Copy or text is musical. It has ebb and flow and different keys. It has sharps, flats, rests, words that are held, chopped off, high or low, soft or loud, all the same emphasis or wild ups and downs, with dynamics and crescendos. Copy reads (or plays) like a story/song, with a beginning, middle and end.”

(Marc’s book is available on Amazon, or click here to order an autographed copy)

Sometimes, I’ll even sing the copy just to get a different feel for the way it flows.

Do you sing? If so, how long has it been since you performed or had lessons? It might be time for a refresher to tune-up your instrument!

To close, here’s a number that I’ve been working on.
It’s called “I Won’t Send Roses” from the musical “Mack and Mabel” – Enjoy!

      I Won't Send Roses (Joe J Thomas)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

Share