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The Hardware

Return to Top ^This section originally adapted from the Voice Acting Tutorial thread by FatKidWitAJetPak and enhanced with the help of the Audio Forum. Unfunny but slightly informative commentary throughout this page provided courtesy of TomaMoto.

USB Microphones

You can hook these directly to your computer and get to work! C01U - USB Studio Condenser Microphone - $79
Used by ForNoReason. Blue Snowball USB Microphone - $70 Blue Yeti USB Microphone - $100
Apparently the worlds' first THX-certified mic. I imagine this means that George Lucas himself stealthily sidled up to one once, looked around awkwardly, violently sneezed all over it and left the room. But what do I know of the delicate intricacies of THX certification? Seriously though, it is a good microphone. Samson C03U Podcasting Pack - $169
Comes with mic, stand, and software.

Dynamic Microphones

These microphones may require an adapter cable to connect to your computer. A potentially more flexible (though pricier) option is to try one of the audio interfaces featured below. Nady SP-1 - $6.99 NADY SP-4C Dynamic Microphone - $15.50 Shure C606-WD - $29.99, includes adapter
Used by sorohanro. Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone - $99

Condenser Microphones

These microphones require an audio interface with power supply (below). AT2020 Microphone - $77
Used by FatKidWitAJetPak. MXL V67G Studio Condenser Microphone - $93.53
Used by The-Swain. Studio Projects B1 - $119
Used by TomaMoto through January 2011. AKG C214 - $499
Used by TomaMoto. Audio Technica AT3035 Condenser Microphone - $139.95 Perception 200 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone - $399
Used by the NG office soundbooth because we're out of our minds.

Audio Interface with Power Supply

You need one of these to connect a non-USB condensor mic to your computer. Blue Icicle - $37 M-Audio MobilePre USB Mobile Preamp - $100 Emu 0404 USB 2 Audio/MIDI Interface - $184.48 Focusrite Saffire 6 USB - $199 PreSonus FireBox 6X8 Firewire Recording Interface - $199

Microphone Stands

It is highly recommended that you buy a stand for your microphone. If you get a desk stand, make sure it has a heavy base (cast iron is a good bet). One of those wimpy tripod desk stands is liable to fall over under the wait of your average studio condenser microphone. A shock mount is also recommended if your microphone doesn't already come with one. This helps to suspend the microphone so that it is less susceptible to noise from vibrations through the stand or anything touching the stand (such as the floor or your desk). Musicians Gear Die-Cast Mic Stand - $12.99 On Stage DS7200B Adjustable Desk Mic Stand - $12.99

Pop Filters

It is highly recommended that you buy a pop filter, which reduces or eliminates the sound of air popping against your microphone. Nady MPF 6 - $16.83

You can further enhance your audio quality with a de-sser, software that dynamically filters out harsh, annoying s-like sounds. Download Fish Fillet Software with SpitFish de-sser - FREE

However, standalone software may not be necessary for this as many recording programs (such as Audacity and Audition) already feature built-in noise reduction/removal tools.

NOTE: Regardless of the software, this sort of noise reduction has to be done manually and will not automagically happen as you record, so don't expect a raw recording to have any less noise just because you recorded it with Audacity.

Recording Environment

  • VO Home Studio : Space
    VO Home Studio : Space by RicePirate

    How to Make a Home Recording Studio like you Robbed an Airport Baggage Claim

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Recording

Return to Top ^Download Audacity - FREE

or Try Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit Pro) - $349

Audition is a bit pricey, but I do think it's better than audacity if you do any multi-track mixing or editing. For the beginning voice actor (especially those who don't know what non-linear audio editing means) who just wants to get some recording done, Audacity will suffice, so we'll continue with that since it's free and open-source.

Getting Started in Audacity

This section contributed by Mauwzaa

Setup

After you install Audacity, you will also want to install the LAME encoder as well. This will enable you to export your audio as .mp3 files. The latest LAME encoder can be found at http://www.free-codecs.com/Lame_Encoder_download.htm I am currently using the "LAME MP3 Encoder 3.96 Final" version that has worked flawlessly for me so far. You'll want to download this file, and unzip the lame_enc.dll file into your Audacity program folder. (probably C:\Program Files\Audacity x.x if you used the default install settings.)

After this, run Audacity, and select "Edit->Preferences", click on the "File Formats" tab, and Press the "Find Library" button in the MP3 Export Setup box. Now select the directory where you unzipped the lame_enc.dll file into, and select the lame_enc.dll file. Now you are ready to start recording!

Start Recording

Make sure your microphone is plugged in, and press the red circle (record button) and record something. (Most voice actors recommend that you record with your mouth about two "fist-lengths" away from your microphone --TomaMoto) Press the yellow square to stop recording. Press the green triangle button to play back the audio.

If you want to play back only a portion of the audio, select the portion of the audio in the "Audio Track" window you want to play by clicking and dragging using the left mouse button. Editing the audio in audacity is just like editing text. You can Cut, Copy, Paste and Delete the selected audio using Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and Delete respectively. Subsequent recordings generate new audio track windows. Note you can cut and paste audio from one window to the next. Also, Undo and Redo are available as well by using Ctrl-Z and Ctrl-Y respectively.

You can close the "Audio Track" subwindows not currently in use by clicking the [X] in the upper left corner of the subwindow.

The magnifying glass can be used to zoom into, and out of sections of the audio in case you want to manually remove any small pops or other nuances in your audio.

Noise Removal

Chances are, your recording will be a bit staticky and will require a little cleaning up. Audacity provides a feature to do this as well called Noise Removal. Noise Removal is a two-step process.

First make a roughly three second recording of silence using your microphone (e.g. record and don't say anything). This will be used as an example for Audacity to learn the noise characteristics of your microphone as well as the ambient sounds of your surroundings. Next select the entire audio track, then choose "Effect->Noise Removal.." and press the "Get Noise Profile" Button. Now you can delete your recording of silence, since Audacity is finished recording it, and it won't be needed anymore.

Note that this process needs to be repeated every time you re-start Audacity.

Now you are ready to remove noise from actual audio clips. When you record you audio clips, it's a good idea to wait half a second before speaking and after speaking in order to provide some buffer space when working with the audio. Now record yourself speaking.

After this, highlight the entire audio clip, and select Effect->Noise Removal. Usually the noise removal amount slider is set to a good value, but you can test how different values sound by playing with the slider and using the "Preview" button. After you have found the best value, you can press the "OK" button to commit the results.

Usually this works well, but in some cases there may be a small pop near the end of your sample. Look (or listen for) for a small spike in the near the end of the audio track. Highlight it and delete it. This is one of the reasons to record a little silence at the start and end of your samples.

Normalization/ Amplification

The next step you will want to do is to run volume normalization on your audio. This will help to make your audio more consistent in volume with other people's audio clips, and will also help to remove any initial and final pops in your audio.

Highlight the audio track, and select "Effect->Normalization". Select both the "Remove DC Offset" and "Normalize Maximum Amplitude to -3dB"

If any portions of you audio are too soft or too loud after this, you can always highlight those portions, and adjust their volume using the "Effect->Amplify" option.

Other Effects

You will probably want to add echoes or other special effects to your audio at some point in the future. Here are some features of Audacity that I'm sure you will find very useful.

"Effect->Change Pitch": Some people have a really incredible vocal range, but for those of us who don't, or those of us who feel like working outside our range, there's the change pitch feature. The wonderful thing about Audacity's implementation of the feature is that it changes the pitch without changing the speed of the audio. Again, this feature only alters the selected portion of the audio.

"Effect->Echo": Adds echos to your samples. Set the delay to a low value (0.05) if you feel like talking like a transformer. Set the delay to a higher value if you want to announce a Monster Truck Rally. Decay determines how slowly the echoes fade out. Sometimes this feature can be very slow to compute. Another alternative is to use the "Effect->Delay" feature, which also produces echoes, but allows you to specify a maximum number of echoes to speed up the processing. Myself, I always use "Effect->Delay" feature for echoes.

"Effect->FFT Filter": Fast Fourier Transform filter, this is effectively a graphic equalizer for your sample that allows you to attenuate and amplify different sound frequencies in your audio. Think of it as fine tuned bass and treble adjustments. Click on the blue line to add control points. Then drag the control points up and down to specify the amplitude adjustments for those portions of the spectrum. This feature can be useful for making a voice sound more distant or close, and can also be used to make it sound like the voice is over being spoken over the radio.

"Effect->Fade In/Out": This can be used to remove any initial pops at the beginning and end of your audio. It can also be useful to manually remove any small pops in your audio, but fading out a tiny section of audio up to and into pop, and fading back in after the pop.

In Conclusion

At this point, you will probably learn more by experimenting with the settings than anything else. Good luck, and have fun!

Taken from the original post by Mauwzaa

Voice Acting

Return to Top ^This section contributed by Hathor Liderc

About

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.

Breathing

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.

Articulation

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.

Acting

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:

1.) (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.

2.) (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

How to Get Noticed

Return to Top ^This section contributed by Hnilmik Ever wondered how "popular" Internet voiceovers managed to get so popular? Ever wondered how "untalented" (if not downright horrid) voiceovers end up in big projects? I wondered how too and if there's one thing they both have in common, it's their ability to market themselves. Somehow, some way, those voiceovers made themselves marketable and opportunities just came their way. In a word: Networking. Ask any active professional voiceover how they're still working and I'll guarantee you that networking plays a big role in how they find and book gigs. So, this guide is gonna help those who could use some help figuring out how to market themselves online.

Now, I held off making this guide for the longest while since (1) these are mainly trade secrets "reserved for those who actually figured things out" and (2) people don't always know how to market themselves well and not only fail to get the results they want, but end up becoming a fool no one wants to ever take seriously. In other words, this guide may be a double-edged sword for those who aren't careful. It sounds awful, but the truth is we all are inclined to avoid being associated to those who may embarrass us as much as we can.

That said, let me lay down some ground rules since they can be found in every single one of these tips and not following them would be counterproductive to your efforts anyhow. Your RESULTS will be dictated by the EFFORT you put in This is self-explanatory. Pretend that this is the law of inertia in physics-An object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. That outside force can be anything, from time constraints keeping you putting in the effort you want (slowing you down) to additional resources becoming available to you, like a new contact (speeding things up). If you sit around and just wait for opportunities to come to you, not much will happen. If you get out there and actively (as well as consistently) market yourself, more doors will open and you will soon enough pick up speed...

Be AVAILABLE to the opportunities that may come your way Once you get the momentum going, you'll be swamped with more opportunities than you'll know what to do with them. Marketing yourself can be very time consuming as is, especially if you're very active about it, and once you accept those opportunities, you definitely have to follow through the best you can, otherwise it's very strange to advertise yourself, only to turn down opportunities. Most people who are extremely successful at marketing themselves have time to work on the projects they're given. They may be out of school, don't have a job, or don't have a life even, but the point is they still manage to have time to work on what they work on. Successful performers can also be very busy, either with projects or their own lives, so ultimately, if you don't have enough time, make time through discipline and good time management. Be NICE and POLITE to frikkin everyone I kid you not, I mean everyone. From the reviewers trolling your YouTube videos (who "don't know how to spell"), to peers, producers, and anyone who else who consistently nitpick on what you do, to your supposed worst enemies-Yes, even the people you hate. You never know who you may be working with someday and being nice makes you approachable. You will look like idiot celebrities who end up in the tabloids if you lose your cool over something as small as "lol n00b". Try not to burn bridges. In the long run, you want to avoid doing something you'll regret.

Being nice to everyone isn't lying; It's effective anger management, especially if you have a temper. We're taught at a young age to be as polite as possible, after all. We're all unique individuals and we can't help our differing tolerance levels based on our personalities and upbringing, but the folks who make it are the ones who know that there's a time and place for everything-They are professional in managing their attitudes. You can't be constantly flying off the handle or be incessantly negative about your shortcomings or peers. Especially on the Internet where any post you make can be screenshot and posted on ED. To also further clarify, do NOT let your ego go to your head. We also admire humility for a reason.

Got that? You better. Making yourself marketable and doing it well isn't easy, especially the psychological aspects regarding how your actions affect others, otherwise everyone would be "popular". Every action has consequences, so you best be prepared for whatever is coming to you whenever you do something.

Read more at the original post by Hnilmik