How to Get into Voice Acting

Voice acting is everywhere! We hear it on cartoons, animation films, video games, radio/TV/internet commercials, corporative marketing, audiobooks, and podcasts. 

That means that we are surrounded by really cool performances in format and genre, and that’s a lot of material to learn from.

Voice acting in general, benefits a lot from a convincing theatrical performance. Performing as many formats as possible benefits a beginner or experienced voice actor,  when doing an audition or producing a reel demo in voice acting.

To get into voice acting you need to learn: what stage you are in, apply critical listening, get acting training, learn to use recording equipment, perform basic audio editing, produce efficient recording sessions, create a good quality portfolio for several formats, and set a persistent strategy to get auditions and get hired.

In this article, you will find a concise guide to getting voice acting training, producing and marketing your portfolio:

  • How to Identify your Current Stage to Get into Voice Acting
  • How to Identify If You Have a Natural Talent for Voice Acting
    • Signals that Show If You Have a Natural Talent for Voice Acting
    • Strategy to Set your Plan to Become a Voice Actor
  • How to Identify If You Enjoy Voice Acting but Don’t Enjoy Most Formats
    • Signals that Show You Enjoy Voice Acting but Not All Formats
    • Strategy to Set your Plan to Produce Many Formats and Become a Voice Actor
  • Apply Audio Critical Listening to Learn Voice Acting
    • Strategy to Apply Critical Listening
  • Warming Up and Taking Care of Your Voice
  • Recording Equipment and Software for Voice Acting
  • Recording and Editing Your Work with ACX Standards
  • How to Create a Voice Over Demo Reel
  • Best Voice Over and Voice Acting Courses
    • How to Get Auditions in Voice Acting

How to Identify your Current Stage to Get into Voice Acting

Before starting any training to become a voice actor, first, you need to know what stage you are in the process. 

Once you are aware of that, you will be able to set your plan on how much training you will need for acting, using recording equipment, applying the basic necessary audio editing, adopting an efficient recording session style, creating your portfolio, and keeping an effective marketing strategy to get auditions.

Below you will find the signals of each stage and my proposal to set a plan to become a voice actor.

How to Identify If You Have a Natural Talent for Voice Acting

Having a natural talent for voice acting and creating audio products is when you can do something really good in a short amount of time. 

The challenge is to be able to accept when you like doing something but it takes you an eternity to do it, in addition to having a very little or non-existent audience that enjoys what you do.  

Signals that show if you have a natural talent for voice acting:

  • If you already enjoy video games, cartoons, animation films, audiobooks, or podcasts
  • You find it easy to imitate characters voices from cartoons, films, audiobooks, and games
  • Other people (friends, relatives, colleagues) tell you that you sound really good and convincing, and encourage you to pursue a career as a voice actor

Strategy to Set your Plan to Become a Voice Actor

  • Write some lines for each kind of format (cartoons, animation films, video games, radio/TV/internet commercials, corporative marketing, audiobooks, and podcasts).
    • Have half of your work just with your voice acting.
    • Have the other half with some basic effects or music, to help the casting team get a preview of how you would sound in the project.
    • Be careful that those audio contents (sound effects, background music) do not distract the listener from your performance.
  • Record them keeping the ACX Audio Requirements. That’s the way to start your portfolio.
  • Using muted video fragments from cartoons, games, films, and radio or TV commercials can also help the casting team to preview how you would sound in the project. 
  • Make sure you do not upload those video fragments to any video platforms like YouTube, to avoid your videos being suspended for copyright infringement. Use can an AWS account instead to upload your audio and video files and insert them into your webpage.

How to Identify If You Enjoy Voice Acting but Don’t Enjoy Most Formats

What happens when you’re the kind of person who enjoys voice-over narration and acting, you’re talented at it but you enjoy just a few formats. 

When this happens, you will need a good amount of time to get to know other formats and feel comfortable imitating their voice acting. The risk you face if you are in this stage is that your own portfolio will narrow your options to get auditions.

Being able to create samples in most of the audio product formats shows versatility and adaptability skills, which are necessary skills for any voice actor.

Apply Audio Critical Listening to Learn Voice Acting

The first strategy to follow is to listen carefully to cartoons, animation films, video games, radio/TV/internet commercials, corporative marketing, audiobooks, and podcasts. 

Pay attention to all the details in intonation, timbre changes, emotions, as well as how fast or slow a character speaks

When you focus on identifying all of those elements, you’re applying a very common technique called Audio Critical Analysis which is widely used by audio engineers and producers of all kinds of audiovisual products, from music to TV, films, and video games.

But In this case, the strategy is to apply audio critical analysis to the elements of voice acting

The following table shows the most important elements plus a brief description:

ElementDescription
PaceIt’s how fast or slow a character speaks
TimingIt’s that amount of silence between phrases, that are used intentionally to express emotion and intention
ArticulationIt’s the clarity and fluency with which words are pronounced
Dynamic RangeIt’s related to what we know as volume: how loud or soft your voice needs to sound according to the character, the intention, or the emotions
PitchIt’s related to how the vocal timbre of the character increases or decreases in frequency.

Examples: The voice of a kid has a high pitchThe voice of a baritone has a low pitch
Emotion It’s when you notice a sad, happy, euphoric, aggressive, deceitful, fearful, etc. tone of voice
All of them can express the intention and emotions a character communicates in the performance 

Strategy to Apply Critical Listening

First, choose a different format every day and practice it for at least one hour

Remember that the more samples of each format you have in your portfolio, no matter that you’re personally interested in just a few of them, the more chances you get to audition and get hired for a project.

  • Listen to it by fragments: play each selection, stop it, and repeat it immediately, imitating the same way the voice actor or narrator performed each element of voice acting
  • Now, listen even more carefully and fill out the table of elements I show below, to make notes on how to perform the selection
  • Practice it as many times as you need it until you feel that your performance sound as convincing as the original one
  • Finally, record the fragments and play them for people who enjoy those formats. Pick some friends, work colleagues, relatives, and people you know that can give an honest opinion
  • When you hear an honest comment that you sound just like the original fragment and should consider getting into voice acting professionally, you will know that you are able to identify and perform the most important elements of voice acting
  • Now, you can consider getting online training to learn and have a voice coach guide you to keep refining your skills

The table below shows an example of how you can track the details of each element, to take notes and apply them when you record them:

SourcePaceTimingArticulationDynamic RangePitchEmotion
Cartoon Character

Name of Character:________
Medium
Sometimes slow
No pauses in the fragmentClear
Expresses arrogance
Loud
Female
Medium, low
Sarcasm, impatience, intolerance
This table shows an example for tracking the details of voice acting elements

The following video is an excellent source to identify the elements of voice acting, plus great tips from experienced voice actors in the cartoon industry. You’re going to love it!

Voice Warm-Up

Warming up your voice before practicing or recording a voice acting session is a must. The same as professional athletes follow up a meticulous warm-up routine, voice acting requires exercising face muscles, tongue, vocal cords, and enhancing your breathing capacity.

Keep in mind:

  • Avoid cold drinks. Choose room temperature water.
  • Avoid coffee, tea, dairy foods, and drinks before warming up or performing. They dehydrate and cause burping
  • Have a big bottle of water by your side, drink a couple of ounces three times per hour, to remove excess saliva y keep your throat moistured
ObjectiveInstructionsTimeRepetitions
Neck stretchesLook down at the floor, then up at the ceiling

Look to the right, then to the left

Lean your head to the right, push gently to the right with your right hand

Repeat now to the left
2 mins4
Breathing capacityInhale at almost your maximum capacity

Retain 

Exhale through your mouth slowly
2 secs

8 secs

4 secs
10
Breathing capacityInhale at almost your maximum capacity

Retain

Exhale pronouncing an “s” sound
2 secs

1 sec

20 secs
6
Facial warm-upPoint your lips as in a kiss position

Smile wide
0.5 secsAs many times as possible in one minute
Facial warm-upPoint your lips as in a U position, then O position, and then A position

Now repeat the same exercise singing with a medium-low, medium-high, and high pitch
1 minute


3-5 minutes



Resonance and vocal cords warm-upClose your mouth in an M position

Pronounce a long M in a medium-low pitch

With the same lip M position, sing A, B, C, D, E, and return: E, D, C, B, A. 
2 mins
Lips and  vocal cords warm-upDo lip thrills from a low pitch and slide slowly to a high pitch. Do the inverse.2 mins
EnunciationPronounce ABT – EBT – IBT – OBT – UBT
Pronounce ART – ERT – IRT – ORT – URT

See more combinations in this video
1 min

1 min
2 repetitions each
Articulation and FluencyReading tongue twisters

Tongue relaxation

Tongue stretches

Voiced and unvoiced patterned sounds

See more details in this video
2 repetitions each

What Equipment Do You Need for Voice Acting

To record a voice acting project you need a recording device, an audio interface, a condenser microphone, a pop shield filter, a microphone stand, a music stand, a portable sound booth, and a noise-free area. To edit a voice acting project you need a computer and a DAW like Reaper.

Although many people prefer hiring an audio engineer in a studio, which is something that requires a significant budget, some other people are willing to learn how to properly use recording equipment, to edit and master it, all in their own home studio.

Having a home studio is perfectly feasible and affordable when you have the right information. Check what you need to know about soundproofing to build a portable booth, a soft wall booth, or a hard wall booth.

  • As a beginner, you may be on a budget but still, get a great quality result. In this post, I explain in detail How to Record an Audiobook on a Low Budget. The equipment you’ll see works perfectly well for all kinds of voice-over projects and audio products.
  • If you already have some extra cash to invest in your voice acting equipment, then check How to Record an Audiobook on a Medium Budget. This gear is suitable for working for longer hours, in contrast with the low-budget equipment, which is more common for short projects.
  • Once you have entered the voice acting world, and your portfolio includes samples of the best projects you have been hired for, check How to Record and Audiobook on a High Budget. This gear is suitable to work full time in voice acting. 

Recording and Editing Your Work with ACX Standards

The ACX Standards state the overall sound and formatting criteria, as well as the requirements of each audio file for audiobooks. 

An audiobook is a very popular voice narration product, therefore, the ACX standards work perfectly well for all of the other formats.

By doing so, you’re going to be able to produce professional-quality projects in terms of the technical aspects involved in the recording, editing, and mastering stages. Read more about the best Digital Audio Workstations (software) to record your voice-over projects.

The rest of the work is the quality of your performance, the theatrical emphasis, and how convincing you make a character sound.           

The most important aspects to keep in mind during the recording stage are

  • Recording in a quiet space
  • Placing the microphone at the right distance
  • Using an adequate pop-filter or wind buster
  • Keeping your voice level between -24 dB to -18 dB. You can see it if you are using a portable recorder (display) or if you are recording directly to your computer through an audio interface, where you can see the level bar in your DAW going up and down as you speak
  • Use the right plugins and settings to remove unwanted mouth clicks and other noises

Check the details about the specific gear and recording process for each budget option:

How to Create a Voice Over Demo Reel

To create a voice-over demo reel record one single 90 seconds long audio track, including a sample of each format (cartoon, video game, audiobook, films, radio and TV commercial, and corporative voiceover, 5-15 seconds long each. Upload your demo reel to your webpage to make it available through search engines.

  • Make sure your demo reel audio file is WAV (44.1 KHz, 16-bit) or MP3 192 Kbps.
  • You can create more than one voice-over demo reel if you are auditioning for a single format (one for cartoon characters, one for video games, one for audiobooks, etc.)
  • Make sure you include the very best material you can perform. The objective is to hook the listener during the first 15 seconds.
  • Add some light background music or sound FX in some of the samples, but be careful when choosing them, so they won’t distract the listener from your performance
  • Make a precise 50-word description of each sample in your webpage

Best Voice Over and Voice Acting Courses

In this section, you will find the best online voice-over and voice acting courses you can get for a very affordable price. Once you have learned from some of them, consider hiring a voice acting coach to help you detect and eliminate any mistakes or become aware of important omissions.

How to Get Auditions in Voice Acting?

  • You need to develop the persistence to keep a marketing plan and search strategy to get your work noticed and get auditions
  • Create an account at www.voices.com to upload your demo reels. Upload your demo reel
  • Create a profile on Linkedin. Reach out to companies directly. Get in Linkedin Groups.
  • Create a Fiverr account and create 7 gigs
  • Post samples (not only from your official demos reels but from many other voice acting projects) on several social media platforms, mainly on Facebook/Instagram, and Twitter, linking to your profiles on Linkedin and Fiverr

The table below shows my recommended Udemy courses to get in-depth in voice acting, marketing your work, and working full-time as an online actor:

CourseDescriptionContentAverage
Price
The Complete Voice Acting & Voice Overs Course*Choosing the right equipment

*Reading scripts

*Recording and editing using free software

*Writing scripts

*Finding your voice main talent

*Finding clients
1-hour on-demand video

1 downloadable resource
$12,95
(sale)

$27
(normal price)
Voice-Over: Create Animation / Video Game Voice-Over reels*Creating an Animation/Video

*Game Voice-Over demo reel
5.5 hours of on-demand video$12,95
(sale)

$75
(normal price)
Voice-Over Training: Advanced Voice-Over Techniques and Tips*Growing your audience

*Finding jobs and clients

*Keep recurrent clients

*Charging fairly

*Organizing your voice files and invoicing
2.5 hours of on-demand video

2 articles

5 downloadable resources
$15
(sale)

$89
(normal price)
Learn How to Book Commercial Voiceovers from an Industry Pro*Recording on GarageBand

*Learning about intention and types of commercials

*Finding an agent / Represent yourself

*Building a home recording booth
2 hours of on-demand video

2 downloadable resources
$12,95
(sale)

$75(normal price)
How to Become a Voice Actor and More!*Reading scripts

*Marketing tips

*Creating podcasts intros and outros

*Recording techniques to sound flawless

*Skills to become a full-time entrepreneur

*Improvisation skills
2.5 hours of on-demand video

1 downloadable resource
$12,95
(sale)

$15

(normal price)
VOICE OVER ACTING -Instruction in Commercials Animation & more*Becoming confident for commercials, animation, and more

*Getting agents and booking voice-over works
4.5 hours of on-demand video

1 article

29 downloadable resources
$12,95
(sale)

$88
(normal price)
Voice-Over Marketing: Get More Voice Over Jobs in Less Time!*Marketing

*Pay to Play

*Cold Marketing
2.5 hours of on-demand video

3 articles

4 downloadable resources
$12,95
(sale)

$88
(normal price)
Fiverr VO: How to become a TOP Selling VoiceOver on Fiverr!*Creating professional-looking gigs

*Setting up recording equipment on a budget

*Going from $5 to $165 gigs
2 hours of on-demand video

2 articles

7 downloadable resources
$12,95
(sale)

$50
(normal price)
Best voice-over and voice-acting courses – Audioproductcreators.com

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