An Open Letter To Voice Actors

by Callie Ray, Audio Engineer (and VO artist) | @calliexray

 

*please note: you may find this post unpleasant if you lack a sense of humor. 

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  1. Being Late. 10 minutes before session start is standard. 5 mins before, you’re cutting it close. At time of, you’re late. Anything after that?  You SUCK.  We were here early. Get it together.
  2. Moving the mic and/or stand.  We know where it should go.  You probably don’t. HANDS OFF.
  3. Burping/farting/smacking/coughing directly into the mic.  Seriously, you are on a Sennheisser.  This isn’t a snowball. We can hear every little weird noise your body is making.  So please, burp off mic. And drink water off mic as well. And maybe save the Indigestion Meal for another time. And why you want to hotbox your fart in that booth is another thing entirely but whatever…
  4. Moving around like you’re delivering a dramatic monologue from Hamlet. HELLOOOO. Have you done this before?  No better way to out yourself as a total noob than MOVING YOUR FREAKIN FACE AROUND. Stay. On. Mic.
  5. Your stupid phone. First of all, are you SURE it’s on silent? If you ruin the hero take ‘cause Mom wants to facetime, I doubt our client will be charmed. If you want to keep it in the booth, fine. But for the love of all things holy, you are making too much money to be texting your lover between every take, and you’re missing valuable direction, and mostly, you just aren’t focused, and now I’m annoyed and I hate you. Put it away.
  6. Starting whenever you feel like it, instead of waiting for the take to be called- unless another system has been agreed to.  It’s quite a skill to anticipate when someone is going to start (or stop) talking.  Please don’t make us miss your best stuff because you can’t wait for us to say ‘Rolling’ or ‘Take 12’.
  7. Having a ton of mouth noise. For some people (mostly inexperienced talent), and predominantly women, this is just inevitable.  But let me tell you, it is BRUTAL to listen to.  Same if you are extremely sibilant.  Yes, we can fix it in post, but man we wish the client had just picked someone else.  It sounds like you have a handful of skittles in your mouth.  What can you do?  Try working on your diction.  You can even put a cork or pencil in your mouth while speaking (at home, not during the session!) to help get rid of any smacky-habits you’ve developed. As for during the session? Drink a bunch of water.  It takes time for that water to actually hydrate you, so drink up the day before your session as well.  And a  green apple is never a bad idea.
  8. Wearing a bunch of clanging jewelry or a textured jacket.  See point 5. If it makes noise, it doesn’t go into the booth. K?
  9. Leaving your tea/water bottle/trash in the booth.  We get to clean it up.  Guess how much we love you when you do that?
  10. Being asked to do an ABC and doing all three exactly the same way. Really?
  11. Cussing like an MC when you make a mistake. Uh, awkward. And making a mistake at the end of the paragraph and starting all over again, instead of something logical, like the beginning of that sentence.
  12. Wearing heavy perfume or cologne. We don’t appreciate smelling your chem-trail for the next four days (or the associated migraine), and neither does every other VO talent that enters the booth and immediately has an allergy attack. Save it for date night- and maybe consider that your date might also prefer that you don’t douse yourself.
  13. On the flip side of this- showing up disheveled and in desperate need of a shower.  You got into VO because you wanted to wear PJs and never wash your hair, we totally get it.  But WHOA.  It looks like you just crawled out of a three-week bender, and it smells about the same. Hygiene and comfort are not mutually exclusive.
  14. Lastly, how would you feel if you showed up and we didn’t know how to work the equipment?  Wouldn’t you be a little bothered that someone who had no idea what they were doing was supposed to run the ship? After five minutes of feedback and a flustered, sweaty engineer you’d be like, okay, what the hell.  Well, ditto. We also prefer to work with a pro. If you find yourself in the booth with no (or very little) prior experience, and are serious about a career in VO-  as soon as you get out of that booth, get into some classes.