What to Expect
by TalkShop | @talkshopla
For some actors, their first upcoming VO session is fraught with terror. For others, it’s an adventure savor. Here’s how to stack the odds towards the latter.
What to Bring
- A sliced green apple in a plastic sandwich bag. Not a red one. Why? Green apples have a natural chemical called pectin, which can magically cause either wet- or dry-mouth noise (those little pops, clicks and bubbles a mic can pick up) to disappear. Rendering you fresh, alive and sparkling – a good thing to be!
- A bottle of your preferred kind of water to bring into the booth.
- A pencil and a highlighter, to mark and emphasize the copy you’ll be reading to direction and taste.
- Photocopies of your driver’s license, passport and W9. You’ll need the first two if you’re required to fill out an I9 citizenship form. And the W9 if you’ll be paid as an independent contractor.
- A good attitude. You’re the star in the booth. Let ‘em know you’re there to please.
You warmed up, right? Makes all the difference. Just like singers, your voice needs to be warm and your head needs to be ready. Here’s a super-fast routine.
The director will discuss the copy with you, imparting the mood and attitude in mind. This is your chance to ask questions about your role, pronunciations of words or names in the copy and anything that’s come up for you in reviewing the script beforehand.
When ushered into the booth, don’t touch the mic or the stand. Wait for the studio pro to take care of setting you up. You’ll be asked if everything feels right – your opportunity to request more volume in the headphones or an adjustment of the lighting to help you read the copy more easily.
The time you’re booked is the time your job starts, not the time to arrive. Think of it like a flight- if the gig is at 9, and you show up at 9, guess what- you missed the plane. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. You’ll want to acclimate, discuss and be on mic at the stroke of your call time. Arriving late can destroy good intentions and attitudes, not to mention cost the producers waiting time they may be charged for. Bad way to begin. So start travelling earlier than you ought to and catch up on personal biz in your car if you arrive with time to kill. You’ll be pleased at how good it feels to ease into the booth when you can relax into the role at hand.
OK, You’re on!
Think of your first take as the jumping off point- very, very rarely is Take 1 the hero (as in favorite). Uh oh, is the director asking you to change your read? RUN OUT EVERYONE HATES YOU!!!! Just kiddin, chill, feedback is all part of the journey you’re on with the client. Think back to all the VO classes you’ve taken! Remember some of the tricks you learned. Are you being asked to make it brighter? Put a big smile on your face, act like you’re talking about your favorite thing. Do they want a ‘less sell-y’ read? Try to relax your pace and talk to the mic like it’s a close friend. Just don’t panic, this is normal. Good, even. Take a deep breath, drink some water, and enjoy the process.
When the session is over, make sure to thank whoever directed you- as well as your engineer. Great Job!