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VOICE ACTING
15 Bonehead Mistakes: 'You Did What?'
Confess That You're Human - I'll Start ...
February 4, 2014

By J. Christopher Dunn

Voice Actor

There are a number of voice over successes I’m very proud about this past year. I don’t want to gush about anything specific, lest I trigger your sensitivity to bragging. No, instead, I’m going to share a handful of things that made me smack my head in disbelief.

These are my "Oh, yeah ... I probably shouldn’t do that” moments, those little slices of time that remind me that I’m human, and not above making bonehead mistakes that make my peers say, "You did what!?”

1. Using an iPad for script reading in place of paper is a smart, efficient move. Attempting to markup text with a pencil on an iPad is neither smart nor efficient.

2. Listening to the always entertaining "NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour” while reviewing scripts will distract me from catching even the most obvious mistakes.

3. Rehearsing an audition script while participating in a webinar is a fabulous way to multitask. Note to self: Make sure to mute the microphone when not interacting with the host or other participants. Nobody is interested to hear my practice runs broadcast across the web over the top of a live webinar.

4. Listening to classical music empowers me to have uber-focus and smooths occasional pre-session jitters. Rocking out to AC/DC or Nazareth before a recording session is great for getting my pulse pounding; nerves rattling; and ends up being the opening act for multiple takes.

5. 'Tis a bummer to record an award-worthy session only to find out no sound was captured. Headphones are useful to verify that my audio gear is in record mode and not playback.

6. High winds on Whidbey Island, where I live, create a bellows effect in my house while recording and treats the diaphragm of my trusty Bluebird like a brown paper bag used for hyperventilation.

7. Deep cleaning the house gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Vacuuming, de-cluttering and dusting. I like a clean house. The dusting part is great for setting histamines in motion, giving my voice a nasally, plugged up tone, suitable only for decongestant commercials.

8. A thick, all-cotton sweatshirt is not only necessary to keep me warm, but also acts as an extra sound absorber in my booth, a former wine cellar. The same cannot be said for shirts made of corduroy.

9. Contrary to the wishes of one overseas client, no matter how hard I try, I cannot sound "un-American.” My auditions sound like me, and I sound like my auditions.

10. Comfortable shoes are important for long periods of standing behind the mic. Wearing shoes of various sole or heel heights from one day to the next causes my voice to take on inconsistent characteristics because mic proximity and sweet spot target became victims of my shoe fetish.

11. Corks from wine bottles are useful in improving articulation for a lazy mouth. Wine that is aged in the bottle can be delicious. Wine aged on the cork is disgusting. A washed cork is a more agreeable experience.

12. Staying hydrated
is super important for me. It ensures that dry mouth is significantly reduced and all the parts inside my mouth are well lubed. My keyboard and mouse are not in need of the same attention. A water bottle left in their proximity is a setup for desktop disaster.

13. Eating a yummy ham sandwich an hour before a patched session will make me drink 48 ounces of water during the session and cause SEVERE mouth noises.

14. Chewing gum assists in getting rid of cotton mouth. However, while building well defined jaw muscles, it has an adverse affect on fluid mouth movement, making most speaking less articulate.

15. Altoids are a great substitute for gum chewing. Chewing one before entering the booth creates minty fresh breath. It also provides my tongue an opportunity for calisthenics as I attempt to remove the crushed Altoid bits from my teeth. Suck, don’t chew! You know you have them. Don’t be afraid to share them.

So now ... what were YOUR "Oh, yeah... I probably shouldn’t do that” moments in 2013?
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ABOUT J. CHRISTOPER
J. Christopher Dunn is a professional voice actor who lives in the Pacific Northwest close to Seattle. He voices commercials, web demos, podcasts, product demonstrations, telephony projects and documentaries. His voice is described as friendly, warm and trustworthy - the guy next door or the voice of high profile corporate presentations. He also spends time with the Penn Cove Players, a Whidbey Island, WA troupe that performs original audio dramas, as we all as recreates old time radio shows in front of a live studio audience.


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Comments (3)
Melissa Reizian Frank
2/4/2014 at 2:42 PM
Don't adjust your music stand location without first making sure that it doesn't end up ever so slightly bumping against your mic stand. I had three chapters of a book with metallic thuds every minute or so!
J. Christopher Dunn
2/4/2014 at 1:48 PM
YES! Reader beware. I refuse to be responsible for any bodily harm whilst reading this post.

Enjoy!
JCD
Darla Middlebrook
2/4/2014 at 11:38 AM
Don't drink coffee while reading #1 on this list!
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