Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How to Find Voice Actors For Your Indie Project, Part 3 - Once You Have Your Actors

Today we review the final part of this three-part series on how to cast voice actors for indie projects like video games and web animations. You can read the first part detailing how to prepare for casting here, and the second part on holding auditions and finding voice talent here.

Part 3 is about how to manage your voice actors once you've got your cast, maximizing efficiency and minimizing miscommunications and stepped-on toes. Your auditions are done, you've spoken to the people you believe are the right fit for your characters, and you're ready to move onward. ...How?

Friday, December 1, 2017

How to Find Voice Actors For Your Indie Project, Part 2 - Holding Auditions

Last time, I waxed briefly on some expectations and guidelines of the voice over casting process, at least as it pertains to indie projects like video games and web series. If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend you do, as it focuses on a different aspect of casting, that aspect being how you should prepare before opening auditions.

Today, however, we're talking about actually holding auditions. It is entirely possible to contact voice actors directly and therefore skip the open audition process altogether, which is sometimes preferable if you're trying to keep certain parts of your project under wraps. (For instance, there were no open auditions for Quantum Suicide, a video game wherein I play charismatic medical officer Nikolas Vogel, as the game developer wanted to keep the English voice acting a secret until a specified date.) You'll still probably want to ask them to audition, though, rather than outright hiring them unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt they're the vocal embodiment of your character. Regardless of which method you use, consider the following pointers to make the casting process far smoother.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

How to Find Voice Actors For Your Indie Project, Part 1 - Before You Begin

So you've got yourself a video game. No, not from the store – this game you're developing. You've got coding, animation, music, writing, everything you need to make your vision come to life. But you're going to take it a step further – you're going to incorporate voice acting. Words will spew from your characters' mouths, players will hear them, and they will love them. (Hopefully.)

Ah, yes. Hmm. Voice acting. A new beast to be tamed. You conquered coding, you recruited animators, you have a regular A-team going, but mayhap the whole VO thing is uncharted territory for you. Where do you even begin?

Now I know if any agencies or experienced game developers are reading this, they might scoff, throw back their manes of hair (because they're sassy, you see, possibly also from an 80s hair band), and say, “You think we don't know any of this?! You sad, silly little man!” However, a lot of indie game developers just don't quite know where to begin, and even if they do, they often accidentally step on a lot of toes. A friend of mine once lamented that there was no template for indie game developers to hire voice actors, leading to a lot of confusion, misinformation and wasted time. This article is my attempt to correct that.

You may also consider reading Tamara Ryan's own article on hiring voice actors for indie projects, as it offers some new perspectives and insight this article might not spend as much time on. (You remember Tamara - we just interviewed her a month or two ago.)

This whole series will be split into three parts focusing on three different areas - Before You Begin (what to expect and how to prepare), Holding Auditions (rules and guidelines for finding voice acting talent), and Once You Have Your Actors (advice for efficiently getting the reads you need from your hired actors). Today we're focusing on what you should bear in mind before throwing wide the doors to your auditions.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Voice acting demos and how to market them - interview with Tamara Ryan

Voice actors have a tendency to spend so much time and stress working on their demos that they don't always consider what in the blazes they're going to do with them once they're created. To help demystify this effective marketing tool, I had an interview with LA-based voice actress Tamara Ryan (Android 18 from the Bang Zoom dub of Dragon Ball Super, Falan from Magi: Adventures of Sinbad, plus many more roles). I told her the interview would probably be between 10-20 minutes. The following video is almost 50 minutes long. My sense of timing sucks.

However, that's 50 minutes of useful information to voice actors wondering how to start using their new demos, including what attitude to use when emailing clients, what information to give up front, techniques and websites to use, whether or not to create physical demo CDs, and much more. Since it is a truckload of information and I don't blame you for being hesitant, I've created timestamps allowing you to jump around to the topics you find most interesting for the video below. I've also summarized the points made during the interview so you can read them at your leisure. There are many things I must learn about conducting interviews, such as not saying "a little bit" so much, so bear with me as I grow in this.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Don't let the thing you love become painful

Imagine being locked in a box with a ceiling so low you can't stand, so narrow you can't lay down, stifling with heat, the only available light coming through a tiny slot to reveal the outer world - nay, freedom itself - from your lonely coffin.

I could be talking about either an old French prison or any number of my previous voice over booths.

My booths have gone an evolution from the "Death Cubicle" - marginally effective, short-lived and possibly lethal, composed of three mattresses, some unstable wooden planks and a blanket or two - to the Coffin, which was basically an old French prison - to four sound curtains suspended from a ceiling in someone else's garage while I hid under a blanket - to my current booth, which is an entire room with ample lighting and plenty of leg space. Right now, I've got it pretty good. My booth is literally just my bedroom, so all I need to do to record is hook my laptop up to my interface and boot up Audacity.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

AVA is back, and here's what you can expect

I never get tired of that one.

As you probably never once thought about until just now when you realized this is the first AVA article you've read in months, AVA was on a long hiatus when life decided it would first point and laugh at me while I struggled under a heavy load, then kicked my legs out from underneath me and laughed some more while I lay there with a dresser pinning me to the floor and slowly siphoning the air from my lungs. Rest assured such difficulties have since been dealt with.

The reality is, though my circumstances are now under my control, I still find myself, how you say, rather strapped for time. Some days I wake up at 6 AM and don't stop working until 11 PM, whether it's my day job, voice acting, writing, marketing, or perhaps contributing to this blog. Some days I also break down and binge half a season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because life is pain and I need to know if Daisy is actually an android, but I at least have the conscience to feel bad afterwards. For awhile I put AVA on the back burner to play dodge ball with life. Now that game is over, but I realize I'm standing in a sea of these bouncy red balls and every step threatens to slip me up.

I initially designed AVA to adhere to a very strict set of deadlines - one interview a month, one accent learned a month, two articles of varying nature a month. Working on publishing my first novel and growing my voice over business while also working close to full-time at a day job, I no longer have the time to stick by those deadlines. This is why AVA is now continuing - yay! - but under different, looser laws.

My main goal now is to update AVA at least once a month. It will largely be updated on the pretense of "whenever the blazes I feel like it." Super-savvy blog aficionados would probably jump in here to tell me how important it is to update regularly and pull in more readers, but that's not necessarily the intent of AVA. The point isn't to become a full-time blogger and start raking in the big bucks through ad revenue, it's to put useful tips and insight into the minds of the people who need it, and growing my blog is important, but not so crucial that I need to tack an extra hour of work onto my 17-hour work days.

I do have several interviews and collaborations planned for educational purposes, and Let's Learn Accents will continue as I will it. I also have a lot more articles planned, and a lot of these will come mostly from the heart rather than a place of guidance and counseling. You'll see what I mean when we get there.

I feel very compelled to continue with AVA because it can not only help others who want to get ahead in their voice over careers, but it gives me a reason to grow, to become more than I am, and if I don't have that, I'm nothing more than a statue. (If you can tell me what video game I'm referencing, I will bake a plate of cookies in your honor and then eat them because I have no self-control.) I have an article planned for how continuing to learn and grow is absolutely essential to staying ahead in this career, and AVA will help kick my butt into gear to do that.

I won't get into it here, but I spent about a year doing virtually nothing to bolster my voice acting or writing because life was busy playing Tetris with me, and because I suck at Tetris, I was constantly getting burdened with more and more T and L blocks while life just laughed and chucked 'em at me like the world's most abhorrent candy. Caramel hard candy, maybe, or candy corn. This is to say, I am chafing at the bit to breathe new life into my arts, and AVA's going to be a big part of that.

This is a really long-winded way of saying that AVA is back, just under looser rules but probably with better content, and also a vague, cryptic explanation for why I was gone. Look forward to the future because it will be bright, even if the future's articles don't arrive as quickly as they used to.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Dub Wars: Why people think English voice acting is inferior

If you've spent longer than four seconds in a comment section regarding anime, you're already familiar with the fabled Dub Wars, the lives they have claimed, and the fires of rage they have ignited. You know the usual arguments: "English voice acting is always bad!" "Nuh-uh, you're just a sad little weabboo living in his parents' basement!" "Nuh-uh, it's objective truth that Japanese voice actors are superior to all living things!"

Anyone else feel like beating their own head in with a cinder block?

I've long pondered the mystery of the Dub Wars, and I've come to some realizations about what started them and how it all works. Why do people think English voice acting is so often inferior? Really, this goes for all English voice acting, not just dubs, but dubs are what I'll focus on.

First, some disclaimers. As of yet, I have not provided voice work for an anime. I would love to add such to my resume, but all I have to go on now are my experiences in other forms of voice acting and my knowledge and hearsay of how the dubbing process works. Maybe years down the road when I have dubbing under my belt, I will write a follow-up piece. Additionally, I am no certified philosopher or historian; much of this is my own observation. For now, take this as my personal perspective, some food for thought if you will, and use it to further your own understanding of the Dub Wars.

So. Why do people think English voice acting is automatically inferior to Japanese voice acting?

Friday, January 13, 2017

A little update on things are about to be run around these parts

It is theoretically possible you have noticed the general lack of activity on this blog.

I haven't given up on it; the reality is, I'm involved in a great many things right now, including trying to move, working a day-job four days a week, finishing a novel, finishing a project with as much writing as a novel, and just trying to keep my own voice acting career humming along. It's hard to devote the time to this blog that it needs to stay up to speed, especially given the direction I wanted to take it, with interviews and accent videos and the like on a monthly/weekly basis. If I won the lottery tomorrow and all aspects of my career took off like a firework, perhaps I would leave my day-job and devote that much-needed time to my writing and voice acting, but as it stands, I have neither the time nor the sanity.

That said, I love writing and sharing my opinions with the world, and I don't want to totally stop. Blog gurus always say to update regularly, but at the moment, that really isn't possible, so here's how it's going to play out for now: please stay subscribed, and I will update with an article when I get it into my head to do so. That means I could update weekly, I could update monthly, or maybe I will disappear into the desert sands like a wraith and vanish for months. Regardless, at some point, I will be back when I feel like talking. When I do, please listen, tell me what you think, and ask others what they think so we can get all kinds of input.

Also, the tone of my posts will probably change a tad. Where it used to rely on tips and observations I've made, it may now cover more down-to-earth material as the mood strikes me, like perspectives on certain character performances or anecdotes on my career. I'm not going to totally forget about things like Audacity 101 or Let's Learn Accents, but right now I could do without the pressure of feeling like I need to upload in an orderly fashion once a week.

Thanks in advance for your understanding if you happen to read this. Now that I've made the conscious decision to start blogging again - however irregularly - you should hear a lot more from me. Stay tuned.