Updated: 5 days ago
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure here.
So you want to voice act but you're probably in one of these situations:
You don't know where to start
You either want or need the resources in order for you to get started
Try out just for the heck of it
Well regardless of your situation, there are at least 5 things you would need in order for you to prep up before getting into voice acting.
So if you want to increase your chances of landing your first gig, then you'll like this guide.
Let's get started on your journey.
The 5 Things You Need to Get Started in Voice Acting
Believe or not, I'm going to tell you what these things are right off the bat.
But it is important for you to understand the why rather than the what because the process and your efforts will be meaningless if if you can't use the things you're provided to your advantage.
So here are the things you need which I will separate each requirement into different sections:
A good microphone, a laptop & the space for solitude
Getting comfortable hearing your own voice & other methods
Less is More
Your reason that drives your motivation for going into voice acting
I had to emphasize that very last point since it can either last you for a few or several years at most or it can last you much longer than that.
1. Your Equipment and Space
Yes, you're going to need a microphone that can capture high quality sound.
Unfortunately, the extremely high quality microphones like the Blue Yeti are at least $100+.
Luckily, you can still get very similar results for 1/5 of the cost.
I recommend getting these two things together which I personally use:
or if you'd rather prefer to get something that's all-in-one:
since these do provide good results for capturing your voice.
For headphones used for hearing your own voice, you don't need anything expensive like Beats by Dre or Bose since you're going to be recording in a quiet area.
I personally recommend getting these Sony headphones since they're budget-friendly and was recommended to me when I was doing a non-profit public radio at my school, both for playing music and for hearing yourself while you speak:
As for the appropriate space for recording, find a closet, bathroom if it doesn't echo, or just about any space that doesn't echo when you speak.
You may or may not need to buy curtains to dampen the echo even further depending on the space you're given but it's too early in the process for your future career to worry about that or soundproofing a room (unless necessary).
2. Getting Comfortable Hearing Your Own Voice & Other Methods
"Oh god! Is that really what I sound like when I speak?? Why do I sound so weird [and terrible]?!"
This is probably the most common reaction you will get when you first start doing this and that is perfectly fine.
Even if you feel like quitting after hearing your own voice, why stop there if you've already bought the equipment I mentioned in the previous section, especially if you have a bigger budget and bought more expensive equipment and other accessories not mentioned instead.
What I recommend doing is playing around with it.
Try changing the pitch and tone of it to some extent.
Download an app or software that changes your voice in some way. Get an autotune app on your phone. Record yourself doing some voice impressions of fictional characters, animated form or not, and give yourself a laugh afterwards.
Once you've finished playing around with your voice, you'll most likely be comfortable with how you normally sound when you speak.
Just don't force yourself to have your voice reach a certain pitch and tone because it's definitely not worth it if you damage your voice box in the process.
3. Using Empathy
Empathy is one of those things that is a crucial part of a stage or movie actor since it is the very thing that separates them from normal actors to great actors.
Although it doesn't seem to be a requirement for voice overs since you're not in front of a camera, it is very highly recommended which will separate you from people that do generic voice overs to someone that can do an excellent voice over which range from different factors such as pitch and pacing.
I'll be providing two examples on this
Example 1 - The Joker
Let's take Mark Hamill and Alan Tudyk who both voiced The Joker as an example.
Although they both voiced him, they both expressed his personality in unique ways.
Mark Hamill as The Joker
Alan Tudyk as The Joker
For full context of this scene, click here. You'll be in for a laugh.
So if you've watched both of the videos, you can see that Joker says some pretty funny things. Mark Hamill's Joker attitude sounds fearful when it comes the IRS coming after him whereas Alan Tudyk's Joker is more insane and comical when he discovers Batman's identity.
How would you react if the IRS comes after you when you didn't pay enough of your taxes or discovering the identity of your so-called BFF when you didn't even want to in the first place (which is something that's canon in the comics)?
That is the challenge faced when applying empathy onto different kinds of roles.
Example 2 - Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul (Japanese dubbed)
In this example, I'll be comparing a scene that is partially cut in weird places (due to copyright issues) which is from the official anime vs a fan-made one where I voiced the main character before the official scene was released months ago.
(Even I have a hard time watching something I voiced at first so you're not alone in this once you've gotten roles)
Scene From the Official Anime
Since YouTube has a strict policy with copyright issues with anime clips, I highly recommend just watching the scene on Crunchyroll by clicking here and skip to 20:24.
Scene From a Fan Animation Months Before the Official Scene From Studio Pierrot was Released
So if you've watched the two videos, the seiyuu (meaning voice actor/actress in Japanese) who voiced Kaneki, Natsuki Hanae, has a more softer tone to his voice whereas my voicework had a more serious tone to it (at least that's what the animator of this video, SheepNinja, told me).
So what's the difference?
Natsuki Hanae is voicing characters left and right in his career so I highly doubt he has read the entire source material for every anime he has done whereas I read the entire manga of the role I was doing so I understood the mindset and trauma of the character I was voicing and applied it using empathy based on my tone and pacing of the dialogue plus adding in my own personal experiences in my life as a twist.
Fun Fact That Could Be Relatable to You:
Natsuki Hanae went straight into the workforce for a bit after graduating and never went to voice acting school.
I was still in school getting my degree in Biological Sciences when I did this voice over.
My point is that you don't need to have a fancy background to start voice acting since all you need is your mindset, your motivation (discussed in section 5), and any life experiences you can use for any roles you will audition for.
4. Less is More
This is a topic that is often discussed in acting.
To simply put it for those not familiar with the meaning, you don't want to put too much energy and effort into the role you are doing unless the script demands it.
Putting in too much emotion into a character simply does more harm than good since it's a method of overacting that doesn't look good to the audience and feels unrealistic.
One of the only exceptions to this is in comedy. An example for that is the Joker video I've used earlier: Mark Hamill vs Alan Tudyk.
Can you guess which one is overacting?
Hint: It's the second choice.
5. What is Your Reason That Will Drive Your Motivation for Going into Voice Acting?
Money and fame is nice but that kind of reasoning isn't going to get you very far into this type of career.
Your motivation should come from something that is sufficient enough to described as long-term such as passion and goals.
Here are a few examples why people go into voice acting:
The ability to be someone else instead of themselves
A goal of being able to voice a certain character
More representation that is neglected by Hollywood
For me, I wanted to act in general because one of the reasons is that I needed an outlet that would allow me to express my negative thoughts and feelings from years of parental abuse.
It was the reason why I voiced over Kaneki in the first place since he was also a victim of parental abuse which shaped his personality through adulthood, similar to mine.
If you're recording from home, just be mindful of your neighbors if you get certain lines on your script since you don't want them to think that you're a crazy person and possibly call the police on you. Please do warn them ahead of time to save yourself the hassle.