Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Acting Notes

I try to keep my site positive and constructive, but I want to discuss here a few varieties of failure in acting that are sometimes found in voice acting.


Failure to switch up

Failure to take direction

Failure to apply your own ideas

Failure to vary your read’s speed and tone (dynamic)

Failure to connect the idea/performance

Running it all together


Reading the words without saying anything.

In voice acting (well, any acting), it’s not just about  “what are you are reading” it’s more about “what are you saying.” There is meaning and subtext beneath a good performance. This may seem an obvious point, but it’s not.

A voice actor’s job isn’t to merely read words on a page accurately. An actor reaches beyond the the words on the page. You are expressing an idea, an emotions, a tone, a transition. You are saying something. 

Acting involves a kind of excavation of a script -mining the intent, context, and all that is “buried” there in the words. To this, you apply your own alchemy– your imagination, your own emotion and ideas. Without the first, your performance lacks guidance. Without the latter, your read is dead.

Failure to fully extend your voice/ performance

Those new to acting behind a mic are sometimes too tentative in their performance. They somehow think that because they are in the relatively confined space of sound studio and not on a set or stage, that their acting performance should also be correspondingly confined. They somehow feel they don’t need to fill the room with their performance. What may superficially appear as not enough “presence” or volume in their read is actually a performance that lacks fullness or extension. The resulting performance is tentative, muted and lacking impact.

This probably stems from a misunderstanding that because they are in a small room, they must make their performance somehow smaller, their acting smaller. This is dead wrong. The presence or size of a performance should be no less in volume, emphasis or emotional fullness than if it were on-camera. In fact, you must often be more emphatic in your acting.

Connecting the idea of the words

Some newer voice actors will leave slight gaps between their sentences of their paragraph, as if each sentence were its own separate idea that required a separate effort and then a momentary recovery or reset before trudging on to the next sentence were needed. Some may leave a space big enough for a truck to drive through.

There is an art to using pauses, hesitation or silence to voice acting. When done right, even with what is technically silence, there is no pause in the meaning of the performance. The tension of the acting is sustained because the idea is still playing out. If you don’t fill any spaces with meaning as an actor, it kills the entire performance.

Going beyond giving a good voice over performance

Many don’t realize that your job as a voice actor goes beyond giving a good read and even beyond finding ways to leave a good and memorable impression about yourself after you’ve left the studio.

The highest level of auditioning/working is to not only create a great performance that solves what the creators need, but also making those that you work with feel better about themselves and about their project. The highest level of performing- and the reason many top performers are brought back again and again- is that they infuse their work with their own confidence as well as their fellow performers, show creators and others involved in the session.

You must also find a way to extending confidence/ feeling good about the project- allaying fear and uncertainty.

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