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This section contributed by Hathor Liderc
The purpose of this guide is to help newbies, with little to no training, build a somewhat of a foundation, and with time, additional training, and experience, can become better at their craft. This is, by no means, a replacement to actual classes as the exercises and advice here is relatively basic knowledge.
What every VA Workshop (or any stage-acting class for that matter) will tell you, breathing is the main key to acting. Along with this, they will all say the same thing: "Breathe through your diaphragm."
What is a diaphragm? Well in this case we're talking about an organ called the "thoracic diaphragm". I won't get into detail, but I will say it's important organ in your respiratory (breathing) system, located in your abdomen, just below your lungs. How is it important to voice acting? Well breathing through your diaphragm helps you project your voice (or become louder), without putting strain on your vocal chords.
Breathing through your diaphragm
Find a hard, flat surface and lie down on your back. From there, just casually breathe. You're going to feel your abdomen expand and tense up as you breathe in and contract and relax as you breathe out. While this comes natural to some, not everyone is used to this, in which case, practice this until it begins to feel more natural.
As every VA Workshop will tell you, you can exercise your diaphragm by placing weights on top of your abs, in the form of primarily books, as they're easier to access.
Alternative: inhale as much as you can until you're "completely full" and hold your breath for as long as you can, then slowly exhale in a controlled way--"stream/blow it out" through your lips; do several sets/repetitions
Alternative #2: If you're a musician of any kind, this will also help. Breathe in for 4 counts, expanding your abdomen. Then, create a small opening with your lips as you breathe out for another 4 counts. Repeat this at least 5 times. From there, do it again, except breathe in and out for a slow 2-count. Repeat that 10 times and then return to 5 4-count repetitions.
Strengthening Your Voice
Using a technique developed by Catherine Fitzmaurice, you'll be able to not only promote natural breathing (see "Breathing" section) but it will also provide a workout for your vocal chords, thus improving voice quality and strength. For the sake of simplicity, you can use this basic exercise:
Clasp your palms together in front of you and begin to push them against each other, creating a tremor. During this tremor, breathe in and out, vocalizing each breath.
You'll notice a slight difference in your voice after just a few minutes of this exercise.
Improving Your Voice Range
There are several ways of going about this:
1.) Pick out a number of voices you like hearing and try to flex your voice just enough to sound as close to the originals as possible. While its not particularly a good idea to do this for your voice demo, it does provide for a good voice exercise.
2.) Make different faces. As you do this, add a specific voice to each face you make. It sounds a little cheesy, but it can actually be pretty fun.
One of the most important things when voice acting is articulating, or adjusting your speech patterns so that you can speak more clearly. One of the best ways to work on your articulation is, as you may have guessed, tongue-twisters. Most of are relatively easy to find on the internet.
...But for the sake of convenience, here's the famous "Peter Piper" poem to practice. However, as an added kicker, every time you say "Peter Piper" you have to follow up with "The Picked Pepper Picker", so it will sound like this:
Peter Piper, the pickled pepper picker, picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper, the picked pepper picker, picked.
If Peter Piper, the pickled pepper picker, picked a peck of pickled peppers
How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper, the pickled pepper picker, pick?
When you practice this, be sure to start off slow. As you get better at it, progressively speed up little by little. As an added bonus, find and clean yourself a wine-cork. While holding it in-between your teeth, recite the tongue-twister.
Alternative: Read material out loud 5-10+ minutes a day; go back and reread whenever you "mess up"/sound sloppy.
Finally, the most important thing to acting, is obviously ACTING. One of the simplest ways to understand acting is this: Remember when you were a kid and you would play pretend with your friends? Acting is essentially playing pretend. However, to help improve your acting ability, here are a couple tips to keep in mind:
(Works especially well with scripts)
Learn the meaning of what is going on in the scene/script and learn the meaning of what your character is saying. After that the emotion should come natural.
(Works especially well with cold-reading)
Ask yourself 5 simple questions:
- Who? - Who is the character you're portraying and who are they talking to?
- What? - What is going on?
- Where? - Where is your character when he/she says this?
- When? - When is this taking place?
- Why? - Why is your character saying this?
Keep asking yourself questions about your voice/character until you're eventually creating your own character (kinda like D&D/RPing, but without the dice). This especially helps you put your own take on existing characters.
Taken from the original post
by Hathor Liderc