Updated: Nov 9, 2022
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So you want to voice act, but you might be in one of these situations:
You don't know where to start
You either want or need the resources for you to get started
Try out for the heck of it
Well regardless of your situation, there are at least 5 things you would need 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 it or not, I'll tell you what these things are right off the bat.
But you need to understand the why rather than the what. The process and your efforts will be meaningless if you can't use the things provided to your advantage.
So here are the things you need. I will separate each requirement into different sections:
A good microphone, a laptop & the space for solitude
Getting comfortable hearing your 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'll need a microphone that can capture high-quality sound.
Unfortunately, exceptionally high-quality microphones like the Blue Yeti are at least $100+.
Luckily, you can still get similar results for 1/5 of the cost.
I recommend getting these two items, a USB microphone and foam ball-type microphone windscreen, together which I use:
I want to get the #1 recommended microphone by Amazon!
I want to reduce as much unnecessary noise as I speak!
or if you'd rather prefer to get something that's all-in-one:
I want to save myself the headache of recording my voice!
since these do provide good results for capturing your voice.
For headphones used for hearing your 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 recommend getting these Sony headphones. They're budget-friendly and recommended to me when I was doing a non-profit public radio at my school, both for playing music and for hearing yourself as you speak:
I want to buy good quality headphones!
As for the appropriate space for recording, find a closet or 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 further, depending on the space 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 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, don't waste your money and put it to good use.
What I recommend doing is playing around with it.
Try changing the pitch and tone of it to some extent.
Have some fun with it. 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 sound when you speak.
Don't force yourself to have your voice reach a certain pitch and tone because it's not worth it if you damage your voice box in the process.
And drink warm fluids to ease your vocal cords instead of clearing your throat, which damages it.
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 voiceovers since you're not in front of a camera, it is highly recommended.
It will separate you from people that do generic voiceovers to someone that can do an excellent voiceover which ranges from different factors such as pitch and pacing.
I'll be providing two examples of 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 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 videos, you can see that Joker says some pretty funny things.
Mark Hamill's Joker attitude sounds fearful with 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 discovered the identity of your so-called BFF when you didn't even want to in the first place (which is canon in the comics)?
That is the challenge faced when applying empathy to different kinds of roles.
Example 2 - Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul (Japanese dubbed)
In this example, I'll be comparing a scene from the official anime versus 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.
When you compare it to my voiceover, it had a more serious tone to it (that's what the animator of this video, SheepNinja, told me which was what I was going for).
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.
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 voiceover.
My point is that you don't need a fancy background to start voice acting. All you need is your mindset, 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 often discussed in acting.
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 too much emotion into a character 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 comedy. An example is the Joker video I 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 are nice, but that kind of reasoning won't get you far into this type of career.
Your motivation should come from something sufficient enough to describe as long-term such as passion and goals.
Here are a few examples of 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
Me, I wanted to act in general. 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 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, be mindful of your neighbors if you get certain lines on your script.
You don’t want them to think that you’re a crazy person and possibly call the police on you.
Please warn them ahead of time to save yourself the hassle.
Overall, there are a ton of opportunities you can find online. Just remember not all of them are equal, so you will have to pick and choose your battles on which opportunity and role are right for you.
You can either do free gigs to build up your voiceover reel or try to get a paid gig that will be harder to get or a combination of both. The choice is yours.
It's worth noting that it can be a very competitive field since you're going against other people for that same role.
The only difference between you and them is the amount of empathy and any personal experiences you've put into a role of a character in terms of the many different factors in their speech.
This comment is in reference to Avatar: The Last Airbender. I do have the same problems as her as well.
You would want to remove all your ego from your system since it heavily affects empathy. You can have one or the other but not both since they're both in competition within the same region of your brain.
Take it from a scientist who has a degree in Biological Sciences and understands neurobiology. 👍
If you need more experience, hire a coach to train you but be careful, not all coaches are equal, and some may make false claims about themselves.
Make sure you do extensive research on the person before hiring one.
For books that affect your psychological mindset in acting, I highly recommend buying these:
I find this book to best used for reference since it's a life-long process in learning, practicing, and using emotional intelligence, especially in empathy.
I want to gain more empathy of the characters I wish to play!
This book serves as an introduction for helping you understand other people's (and fictional characters') mindsets and their motivations for how they act, think, and feel as an introduction.
I want to better understand how my character thinks, acts, and feels!
This book is a helpful follow-up to Dr. Nate Regier's book that gives you more practical usage for communicating with the 6 different personality types in people and understanding their behaviors in communicating with other people (or fictional characters).
I want to understand how my character communicates and how miscommunication stresses them out!
And most importantly, make sure you take care of your mind and body since you don't want your health to be affecting your performances.
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