So, you decided to become a voice actor. Congratulations!
You started taking classes. You’re working on a demo. You’re jazzed about getting out there, finding an agent and starting to audition.
But… How do you find out about the business of voice acting? How do you stay on top of what the latest casting trends are, or find new ways to make your home studio really sing? Where do you go when you want to polish your skills?
Sure, Google. Or Reddit. But that’s just a start. (Think about how many times you’ve Googled something and ended up watching cute pet videos for an hour. No? Just me?)
Learning never stops.
Once you’ve decided you’re interested in voice acting, it doesn’t just stop with what you do in the booth. It’s important to stay on top of your game. To explain why this is key, think about your doctor. My favorite doctor is my mom, Dr. Caliston.
Now, my mom trained for a long time. She went to university and med school. She took medical board exams so she could practice medicine in the real world. But she didn’t stop there. She didn’t just graduate and say, “Great, I got it! Let’s go treat people now.”
No, she kept learning, to keep up her board certification and to deliver the best service to her patients. Imagine if you showed up to your doctor because you have a sprained ankle, and he opens the door brandishing a jar of leeches. (That was considered modern medicine in its day but now? Not even close!)
You want your doctor to be up on the latest and greatest medical information, and to apply that to their work with you.
Continuing Voiceover Education
In the medical world, the workshops a doctor attends to keep up their certification is called “Continuing Medical Education” (CME). They also subscribe to periodicals and websites that pertain to their specialty. Several times a year, they attend CME’s to learn the newest treatments and technologies. And then they take that back to you, their patients. (Whew! No more leeches!)
In the same way, we maintain and grow our voice-over careers with continuous learning. Continuing Voice-over Education (CVE) if you will.
Just because the demos are done and the website is live, doesn’t mean you are done. You still need to keep learning. Luckily, many resources are freely available to you online.
Here’s a short list of resources to start your CVE. Some of them might not be relevant to you right now, but may be interesting for you when you’re further along in your VO career.
Who’s Doing Interesting Work in VO?
– VO Buzz Weekly. In this weekly video podcast, Chuck Duran and Stacy Aswad interview working pros, casting directors, agents and more to share their stories from the trenches. Many times those pros share great advice and insight for VO’s who are just getting started.
– Talkin Toons with Rob Paulsen. This one’s for my animation peeps. Rob Paulsen (who you might know as Pinky and Yakko Warner from the Animaniacs, among many other things), interviews his friends, fellow animation voice actors and casting directors. While the podcast ended in 2015, there are 133 episodes for you to catch up on and enjoy.
– Your Radio, Television, Hulu and YouTube. All those commercials you’d prefer to skip through? Stop skipping through them. Listen to them. Analyze what the VO is doing, how the read affects what you might be seeing on the screen or in your imagination. It’s also a great way to hear what kinds of performances are actually getting cast in today’s market.
Where Can I Find Out about the Latest Technology?
– Whittam’s World. George Whittam has become one of the go-to guys for home studio technology. His latest series dissects topics like how to create the best sounding studio for your budget, recording software comparisons, and more.
– YouTube. If you need a tutorial or review on specific tech – a microphone, recording software, studio acoustics – chances are someone has already created it on YouTube. When I researched soundproofing for my own home studio, I had over 20,000 options to learn from.
How Can I Find My VO Community?
– Facebook. There are a number of VO-specific communities available to you. Many are free to join and include thousands of VO actors from all over the world. Voice-Over Pros and Voiceover Central are just a couple to start with. (Search “VO” or “Voice-over” for more.)
– Your classes and VO conferences. Keep in touch with the people you meet in class or at VO conferences. They are fantastic resources, and a great support network as you grow in your career.
How Can I Keep My Skills Fresh?
– Classes. Keep taking VO workshops in your local community or virtually with a private instructor. Expand your skills with classes in improv, acting, singing or storytelling.
– Workout Groups. These are groups of fellow VO actors who meet regularly to practice and give each other feedback. There may be a small fee (to pay for studio time), but it’s a small investment to keep honing your skills. If there’s not a workout group in your area – create one!
– Toastmasters. There are chapters in nearly every city, and all over the world, so if you want to practice speaking, this is the place to go. In addition, many Toastmasters have sub groups for various specialties (like improv or voice-over).
Your CVE Matters!
When you stay up to date in your voice-over work and career, you have the latest and greatest information. You can be competitive because you know what “sound” is booking and keep your skills sharp. And you know what works in your recording booth, because you’ve done the homework.
If you take a little time each week to stay current on what’s happening in the world of voice-over, it will only help you grow your skills and your business acumen.
Did we miss anything? If you’ve got other go-to resources, please sound off in the comments!
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About the Author: As a voice actor, Ratana’s voice can be heard in numerous commercials (Vail Resorts, Fantastic Sam’s and others), video games (Skylanders: Giants), animation (Daddy, I’m a Zombie, Mummy, I’m a Zombie), as well as many industrial narration projects. A self professed “nerd,” she’s also a lifetime learner who constantly seeks new resources to keep her skills sharp. In addition to performing as a voice actor, Ratana coaches VO for Such A Voice. She can be found at ratana.net.