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VOICE ACTING
What Voice Actors Are Doing Wrong:
Creative Teams Report 'Pet Peeves'


Note: On Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, Edge Studio and VoiceOverXtra present an intensive full-day workshop in New York City for new voice actors: For details, please click here.

By Edge Studio Staff
Voice Over Training and Production

Knowing what NOT to do - and not doing it - can increase your chance of being the star.

We recently polled many of the top creative teams, and asked what pet peeves they had with voice over artists. Their answers fall into seven categories of what to avoid.

1. BEING BOSSY


The most common pet peeve was about voice over artists who try to do jobs other than their own. For example,
  • they tell the producer how the script should be read,
  • they tell the scriptwriter that the script has grammatical errors, etc.
2. INVOICING INCORRECTLY

Many creative teams were bothered by voice over artists who did not invoice their services correctly. For example,
  • they took too long to send an invoice,
  • social security or business IDs were not on the invoice,
  • invoices were handwritten, etc.
3. IGNORING 'BIG PICTURE'

Another common pet peeve is with voice over artists who do not see the project's big picture, and therefore do not read accordingly. For example,
  • if the script is for a documentary, the voice over artist may read too quickly, forgetting that the final product will be accompanied by a visual. The proper read would be slower, so that the viewer can assimilate the video and the audio.
4. LOSING ENERGY

Often, producers complained about voice over artists not giving their all - losing energy and concentration throughout the recording process.

5. BUMBLING DIRECTIONS

Many creative teams noted problems with voice over artists not following direction, or just taking too long to "get it."

6. LACKING SKILLS

Producers often noted disliking when they need to tell the voice over artist how to do their job. For instance,
  • the voice over artist would not know what to do if they had dry mouth, or
  • they would not know how to emphasize a word correctly, etc.
7. BEING A 'KNOW-IT-ALL'

Finally, a large complaint was about voice over artists who think they know everything.

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Comments (7)
Sarah
11/19/2012 at 5:50 PM
As a voice actor, I have a problem with being called "bossy" just for pointing out grammar errors in a script. It's one thing to use poor grammar as a way to create character or emphasize dialect and quite another thing to have grammar errors in a script that calls for more refined wording. I'm also a writer and editor who teaches writing workshops, and there's nothing more annoying than having to read poorly written scripts. If a script has a grammar error, I'm going to point it out because I don't want to come across as dumb. Also, wouldn't you want your company to use proper English? If you're a scriptwriter who can't handle having an error pointed out, then I say YOU can't take direction. I've seen too many people call themselves writers yet they don't know their grammar, can't use proper punctuation, and frequently misuse words (further vs. farther, anyone?). No matter your role in a production, you shouldn't be doing sloppy work.
Dave Menashe
11/9/2012 at 2:01 PM
This may be controversial and I'm not looking to stir up a hornets nest... BUT... in every case, except for complaint #2, the fault lies with the production/creative team! They simply chose the wrong actor! A pro would probably not commit any of these faults. Chances are they wanted to save money so hired a cheap talent. Or worse, they hired their nephew!

Blaming the actor is always easy. But creatives often cast the wrong person and want to shift the blame from themselves! As a rookie, I was sometimes hired when I shouldn't have been. And I made the mistakes above. But it wasn't my fault I'd been hired!
Lance Blair
11/9/2012 at 10:36 AM
This is solid advice for good conduct in a session - avoiding these mistakes makes everything easier for everyone, including the talent. I might use the terms 'voice over artist' or 'voice actor' but I tend to think that I'm better served with the mindset of being a 'voice model 'in a session. Voice over is all about personality, but that personality needs to not be a distraction or annoyance. We must know how to take direction and not get in the way of the process.
Jay Winstel
11/7/2012 at 6:23 PM
1. Ultimately, the consumer is the boss (i.e. the person that is listening to the V.O.)
2. Correctly invoicing your client is just basic blocking and tackling. C'mon, man!
3. As for the "big picture", simply know your audience.
4. I know V.O. is physically taxing, but we're getting paid (well) for doing what we love to do!
5. We need to listen before we speak.
6. There is no excuse for lacking skills. Developing skills comes before producing a demo.
7. I tend to learn something every time I'm in the booth because I realize I don't know it all.
JAY LLOYD
11/7/2012 at 4:13 PM
All good information for newbies to pay attention to. Remember, there are a lot of "artists" involved...sensitive script writers diligently dealing with creative producers and audio engineers who know their equipment inside and out. "Being Bossy" never cuts it anywhere; "Invoicing Incorrectly", not seeing the "big picture", "losing energy" and "bumbling directions" I think all fall under "Lacking Skills"...but it's good to have them identified. And, of course, those who "know it all" are particularly distressing to those of us who actually do know it all! =)
Joyce Davis
11/7/2012 at 7:57 AM
Good advice. The things mentioned in the article were some of the first things I learned not to do when starting out. I have always read the script as written unless I can see it is a typo or obvious mistake. The rest is good to know and absorb.
Kim Ikonen
11/7/2012 at 1:24 AM
Overall as VO artists "hired for a job," we should always be attentive, cordial and do our very best.

I'm surprised that pointing out grammar/mistakes in script is a pet peeve. But perhaps people are pointing out obvious typos and such? As a foreign VO, I often have to point out incorrect translations and grammar, and try to do it nicely - no one benefits from me reading an incorrect script.

Sure if it's done in an obnoxious way, but otherwise? The client using translators who aren't up to the job, and then expecting me to spend time rewriting and correcting free of charge is one of MY pet peeves LOL
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