Wednesday, December 28, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 21

I decided to quit early.  I wasn't satisfied with the sound quality, and I'm unwilling to buy a microphone.  I'm also just kind of bored with it, and there's no point in forcing it.  I learned a lot and had some fun.  I call it a win.

Monday, December 19, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 12

This time I went back to trying to copy a good voice that was closer to my own.  I think his still has more bass in it, but its close.  I don't have the words for what I mean actually.  Its not that the pitch is lower, it just has more oomph behind it.  Maybe I'm thinking of timbre.  Anyway, here's his (start at :40):

And here's mine:

I recorded it MANY times trying to match and trying my own.  I eventually settled on this.  I had a lot of things to fine tune.  Because of my lack of professional hardware, I think my mic is always going to be my bottleneck.  It seems to distort quickly at medium-high volume.  I just softened my volume for the final cut.

I grabbed a music loop that seemed to match the tone of the commercial.  It wasn't the same at all as the original, but still seemed to fit.

I transcribed the words this time, but always have the problem of actually seeing them while recording in garage band.  I used the Air Display app on my iPad with the Mac to just show TextEdit on the iPad while I kept garage band open on the Mac.  Perfect.

I still have problems getting the volumes correct between the music and vocal tracks.  It sounds correct in garage band, but when I export the m4a, its way off.

The other thing I did was add a fade out at the end.  Pretty simple.

I learned that my enunciation isn't as good right off the bat.  I need to work on that.  I still need more modulation.  When I go up, it sounds a bit strained too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 10

I wanted to copy one of the movie trailer voice overs; so, I found the Geico commercial with Don LaFontaine.  I thought it would be neat to just record my voice right over his; so, I figured out how to get the youtube audio into garage band (see steps below).

Original from youtube:

My audio dubbed over on soundcloud recorded in garage band:

Steps to get audio from youtube into garage band:

  1. Install Google Chrome extension:
  2. Reload youtube video in a tab
  3. Download as mp3
  4. Drag mp3 into an open garage band project
I tried a lot harder to get this one right.  I re-recorded a ton of times.  I eventually stopped trying to get the nuance of his voice and just focus on inflection and pace.  I learned a lot more about garage band and editing the tracks.  I figured out how to mute tracks, delete chunks of tracks, adjust volumes of individual tracks to make everything match, mess with different voice effects.  I even got to add a neat cinematic sound loop under my vocals to give it more drama like LaFontaine's.  That sound loop dramatically increased the quality.  If you tried to submit a commercial demo without the sound, you'd be stupid.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 8

I haven't found a mentor (I've barely looked), but I decided to just try out my idea of reading the blogs that I like.  I started with a popular blog by Tim Ferriss: The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction).  To get over myself, I decided to just open up garage band and record the thing without any prep work.  That's not really true though, because I went through at least 5 other blog posts before deciding on this one.  Here's what I got:

Towards the end, I had to keep re-recording sections because I would mess something up.  Not sure if my focus dies off that quick, or I just started noticing things.  A few things I noticed/learned:

  1. My tone got more natural very fast.  I was sort of doing "announcer guy" in the beginning, but got a little bit more conversational (which is more appropriate for this blog).  I fluttered back and forth with this.  I usually fell back to more stiff when I was concentrating on something specifically.
  2. I smacked my lips a bunch in the beginning.  After having to re-record a few sections, I heard myself doing it.  You can hear that I did it much less in the last half.
  3. As I get more relaxed, my voice raises pitch a bit, back into my normal speaking range.  It sounds better there too.
  4. I think I have a bit of back-of-the-through, nasal sound in my voice.  I should work on moving the "forward".
  5. There were a few sentences that sounded very bad when read aloud.  I had to to figure out where to put the accent(s).
  6. I learned a few things in garage band:
    1. Record/play/back up shortcuts
    2. You can just start recording over an existing part of a track.  No need to delete anything.
    3. So far the easiest way to get a project into soundcloud is to export to disk.  This creates an .m4a which is accepted by soundcloud.
I'm not even getting my 1hr/day average so far (I spent longer on this blog post than I did recording), but it's nice to get something out there.

Monday, December 12, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 5

I'm pretty much sucking at this.  I'm not event forcing myself to record something stupid or call one of these voice/acting teachers.  Weak.  I didn't do anything yesterday or today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 4

Having a short timeframe might make the coaching/training part of this harder.  Finding/contacting/meeting with a coach could take a lot of time (still haven't been in contact with anyone).  Considering I only 30 days, I might not get the full benefit of a mentor.

It occurred to me after reading that voice over/acting is a subset of acting.  Furthermore, my immediate, obvious shortcoming so far was a lack of dynamics in my voice.  That's the non-actor in me.  Here's a few more places I'm looking to contact with that in mind:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 3

I read some more blog posts and looked up a few books that I could read on voice over (aka voice acting).  I decided to get some audio down.  I transcribed the beginning of a great demo I found on SoundCloud (Anthony Gettig Commercial Voiceover Demo by anthonygettig).  Then I recorded a bit of me doing it in GarageBand.  I uploaded it to SoundCloud.

VO Trial - Day 3 - Commercial Voiceover Demo by Jeremy Barth

The main problem I think I have so far is a lack of pitch variance.  My highs aren't high enough specifically.  It takes the excitement out.

As soon as I had GarageBand ready to record, I realized something that I hadn't considered before.  I was extremely self-conscious about doing the voice.  Its not even a different voice than mine, but I had to wait until Angela left.  I could barely get more than a couple of takes.  I need to get over that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 2

So, I've decided to go through with this trial.  Ever since Steve Pavlina started posting about his 30 Day Music Trial, it got me jealous that I hadn't tried anything brand new for a while.

I've wanted to do voice over stuff since high school, but never had the balls to try anything.  That's what this trial is about: a small commitment to try it out with no obligation to continue past the 30 days.  Hopefully it will work out great, and I'll become the next movie trailer voice, but either way, I finally did something.

Today I read those Steve Pavlina posts about the 30 day trial just to get some tips.  Not much there I needed.  The other main thing I did was decide that I want to contact Dave Courvoisier ( to help guide me a bit.  Dave is a great voice over talent that lives here in Vegas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

30 Day Voice Over Trial - Day 1

I read and and it re-inspired me to try my hand/voice at doing voice over work.  These articles emphasized having an expert mentor.  I think that's what I've skipped in other pursuits.  

So I started by googling 'las vegas voice over'.  I found which made me excited about doing audio books.  They're mostly done from home, but the money doesn't get that good until you're pretty established.  I need to ignore the money for the 30 day trial though.  

His site also directed me to who is a top voice over coach in LA.  He has a ton of free videos and a bunch of training stuff you can buy.  In some of the videos I watched, I learned some good stuff:
  • Skills + Personal Style + Demo + Marketing = $$$
    • Demo is 3 x 1 min excerpts
  • Mimic/Matching might be a good fit, because I already do that and it can pay well.
  • Learn the rules, but use your limitations to make money.  For me, my scientific, slightly monotone voice could work better than a trained actor for non-fiction books (or stuff like that).
  • Its important to train the entire vocal range for injury prevention (like stretching).

I have a few ideas:
  • Start a blog (or just post links to some sound sharing site) of me reading some popular blogs (4hww, seth godin, steve pavlina, etc).  I need to look up the legal on that.
  • Find a local voice over mentor.
  • Definitely post recordings publicly (daily if possible) and get as much feedback as possible.
  • Find out what gear I can borrow.

I created a account and recorded a couple words.  It actually didn't sound that bad, so maybe I can skip the hardware stuff for this trial.