Dee Bradley Baker's "Basics of Going Pro in V.O."

“HOW DO I GET INTO VOICE OVERS?”

 

I wanted to create a site to help anyone seriously interested in a professional voice over career, as well as beginners who might want to explore voice acting in an amateur capacity. 

To that end, I’ve distilled everything I’ve learned in over four decades of performing and over two decades of earning a living as a voice actor in television animation, commercials, video games and movies in Los Angeles. Since voice acting is fundamentally a form of “acting,” much of what I have to say applies to those interested in stage or on-camera acting as well. 

If you are new to voice acting with little or no experience: Read my pages “Starting from Zero,” “Classes,” “VO Myths,”  “FAQs,” “Workout” and “Homework.” Most everything should be relevant to you, whether you live in Nowheresville or a Big City, whether you are clueless or confident, young or old.

If you already have some experience as a voice actor: Read the rest of my site as well. I show you what I’ve learned about things like making a demo, auditioning, getting an agent and how to handle the ups and downs of an acting career.

If you have a question about the art or business of voice acting: Read my site first, then post your question. If your question is not already addressed and is relevant to others, I’ll try to answer it.

For most who are bold enough to try it, acting will never be a money-making proposition. It’ll just be something fun to do– a hobby. And there is nothing wrong with that! But for the few that have the talent, focus, business sense and patience that it takes to “go pro,” I hope this site provides you a bit of a short cut to the hard (and fun) work ahead as you advance towards earning a living as an artist.

Best of luck and maybe someday I’ll see you in the studio!

 

Dee Bradley Baker

159 Responses »

  1. I just relocated from the east coast (Orlando) and am now stuck acquiring a new voice agent on the west coast. The catch is even after doing voiceover union jobs, acquiring an agent in California is nearly impossible. None of them seem to take unsocilicited materials, in other words they won’t take demos or resumes? What advice do you have for a new vocal nomad for finding agents?

    • My main advice is patience. It took me over a year to get a decent V.O. agent after I moved from Orlando- and that was with a successful television series and lots of other voice over work already under my belt! And I felt lucky! After getting an agent it took a few more years for the working animation companies and casting directors to become aware of me. Maybe ten years before I felt “known.”

      Agents get a ton of unsolicited submissions every day, just like you get ad mail everyday that you mostly ignore. It’s not that agents don’t want fresh quality talent, the do! but it takes too much time to sift through all the silt to get to the gold. I’ve never been a fan of “cold send outs” since you pretty much get the attention of agents who are either desperate or bored. Not the kind of representation you’d probably want.

      A better way- if you have a great demo and/or are indeed ready to impress- is to take a v.o. class that rotates through a number of working casting directors and/or agents from agencies you’d be interested in. You can connect with other voice actors who may be of help, you can perhaps impress an agent and maybe get an interview or even catch the eye of a casting director who likes what you do and will make a call on your behalf to an agency that might be interested. A well-respected recommendation is gold! The class is not a guarantee of any of this, but it’s a much better aimed shot than a cold send out.

      Good luck!

  2. I’ve been in talks with the guys at [Company] and it’s like $4500 for demo producing and training and other stuff. I’m not new to performing arts but the stuff they say they offer sounds pretty sweet. Just seeing if you have any thoughts before I drop serious dough.

    • Man, that is a lot of money is my first thought. I don’t know the company, but that’s irrelevant. I’d want to speak to all kinds of graduates and do a good amount of auditing before plunking down that amount of cash. Wow. It had BETTER be “sweet.” I’d also need to know how respected it is and how competitive their demos are to other objective ears. In LA, I’d expect to pay maybe one to two thousand to produce a decent demo– assuming I was ready. Classes, might cost seven or eight hundred for five “weeks” of a learning. My view, as I state, is that voice acting isn’t a vocation that anyone can learn. Many who want to make a demo and get rolling in VO aren’t ready, but it’s always easy to find someone to take your money. Not sure of how this company selects their students, but I’d sure be very cautious of a company that will take anyone and everyone’s $4500, promising a “sweet experience” and a great demo. Perhaps they are fantastic, and maybe you are ready to make a demo, but yowzah, that is a lot of money.

  3. …a few mentors I’ve had work from home more regionally through P2P sites, is this a good/bad/indifferent way to cut one’s teeth before uprooting your life to move out to a place like L.A.?

  4. Hi there, Dee.

    First off, thanks for the site. I have done some minor work in VOs. I’ve made a demo (intended for animation)… But I’m kind of at a loss for what to do next. I have the demo but not sure what to do with it! I live in northern New Jersey where there isn’t much voice over work to speak of. I know a lot of work for animation (and classes regarding animation/anime voice overs) are out West, particularly in California but I can’t just up and move to California.

    The sensible thing for me to do would probably just be give up on voice overs and go to school for a nice “safe” career but I don’t feel like I can do that.

    Thanks for your time!

    • If you don’t feel you can give up on voice overs then DON’T.

      If you want a “sensible” and “safe” career, then forget acting. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what you want. There’s nothing wrong with a job, even part time, that puts food on the table. That may not be your final destination, though.

      Come to think of it, I have no idea what can be characterized as a “safe career.” Does that actually exist? Do you mean a “boring” career? One that leaves you feeling dead inside? Maybe one that is meaningless and tedious to the bottom of your soul? If that’s what “safe” means, then I don’t recommend you pursue “safe.”

      I NEVER recommend anyone “just up and move to L.A.” That’s usually a huge mistake. I make the case instead for extensive prep– artistic and financial– before you get to that. The only time to move to L.A. is if it appears a gamble worth taking. It should not feel like some pie-in-the-sky hail mary kind of move. If it does, that probably means you should not be making that wager.

      So, let’s back up: There are animation workshops out of L.A. that pop up in the NY area (e.g. Bob Bergan and I think Voices Voice Casting, that I list on my classes page) if you need more encouragement or development or perspective from the animation world (yes, that would be L.A.).

      As I show, it’s not a process of 1. make a demo then 2. you get voice work. You need to build connections and earn experience in the market you want to work in, while getting better at what you do. This process can take years and may require you to work jobs other than acting to support your “habit” until it begins to hit (if it begins to hit, that is). Taking a day job while continuing work on your passion project isn’t giving up, that’s acting.

      Why so skittish after going through all the work of making an animation demo? Do you not like your demo? Do you feel it’s not strong or competitive enough? If the demo is weak or you feel your skills aren’t up to snuff, then do the work to get better and make a better one next time. Keep at it. Learn from this.

      If it’s a strong demo then why consider pulling the plug now? I don’t understand the option of throwing in the towel here. Just because you can’t move to L.A this month? A demo is only a piece of the puzzle. You must be willing to do all the other work as well– to build that bridge to L.A. or wherever you want to work. This takes any actor much time and patience. You must want it enough to make that happen.

      And one way or the other- if you love doing it, don’t stop. Never stop doing what you love.

  5. Mr Baker, I’m trying to audition for a zombie-like monster. I have the sounds (moans, gasps, etc.) down, but I need to find a way to make him talk while maintaining the rotting corpse feel. Do you have any advice for making the voices of talking creatures or even talking zombies?

    • When going inhuman I try to find a way that allows full range of expression but doesn’t damage the voice. That is key above all. Many vocal modifications you may try either hurt you quickly or limit your range of acting, which is not the way to go. You must find your own ways of getting the best of both when going inhuman. Remember you are not just making a sound– this is acting. All intent must be clear and intact with whatever modification you make.

      This I found with years of stage experience and a good singing teacher. Not sure I can explain it better than saying, try finding ways to not use your vocal chords but to use things like you sinuses or parts of your soft palette or throat to modify or mangle your zombie sounds. Even pinch your nose shut and see what that does to your sounds. Try anything like this. Sometimes you can add voicings with an inhale for very creepy effect.

      You can spend a lot of time experimenting with inhaling from way high pig-type sounds to lower in the throat. Growls can be accomplished with inhales or exhales with the throat, instead of the voice. This spares the voice muscles and can sound wonderfully awful. Those are some ideas. Have fun and good luck!

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© Dee Bradley Baker 2015
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