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So You Wanna Be a Voice Actor

image via The Gaming Liberty

Many fans of video games and anime enjoy and appreciate the emotional investment and immersion that good voice acting can lend to a project. In fact, many fans enamoured with the industry want to be the ones voicing their favorite characters! If this sounds like you, then you’ve probably considered becoming a voice actor at one time or another.

If you’ve put a lot of thought into it and think voice acting might really be the right career for you–or if you’re still thinking about it and are looking for more info–you’ve come to the right place! Here are 3 tips to help you consider, and perhaps  pursue, a career in voice acting!

1) Background

Obviously voice acting involves acting, so it’s important to consider your acting abilities and training when thinking about pursuing this profession. That said, there are many famous voice actors–and theater actors, and movie actors–who get by on natural talent without professional training, so don’t let a lack of schooling turn you off to the prospect completely if it’s truly your passion and others believe in your abilities.

travis-willingham

Travis Willingham at Anime Central 2014 – via technology tell

Another important consideration is the way in which voice acting for video games and anime is done. Back at Anime Central, Travis Willingham talked about how different doing voice over for video games and anime is from ‘regular’ acting–and even from doing voice overs for local animation. In both anime dubbing and video game voice overs, actors are not given the full script and usually don’t have their fellow actors (or at least recordings of their lines) to react to. They must deliver each line individually, without knowing the context of it in the scene besides what they are told by the director. Lines are also usually read cold, meaning the actors haven’t laid eyes on them until the day of the recording. Additionally, in the case of doing voice overs for anime, actors must syncronize how they deliver a line with the existing animation–voice overs for local animation are usually recorded before the actual animating has even begun, to help give the animators some inspiration and characterization.

Laura Bailey at Anime Central 2014 - image via technology tell

Laura Bailey at Anime Central 2014 – image via technology tell

Of course there are also advantages to these differences. For instance, at the Full Metal Alchemist panel, Laura Bailey said that what she likes about voice acting for video games and anime is that “you can play anything that you sound like, which is very freeing.” This means that even if you don’t meet Hollywood’s insanely high bar for attractiveness, it’s not a barrier in voice acting. Whether or not you’ll be comfortable voice acting mostly boils down to personal preference: for instance, Travis Willingham finds anime dubbing to be a little easier than voicing original animation because since the show is already complete you can see the character and match up with them. However, his wife Laura Bailey finds anime dubbing more difficult than voicing local animation because of how much coordination is involved with the speed of line delivery, expression, and lip-syncing.

2) Location

Just as with acting for the stage or screen, while you may be able to find some work where you’re already located, you’re probably going to have to move to have a successful voice acting career. While there are a few more ‘major cities’ for the industry than for, say, stage or screen acting, the opportunities outside these cities are much leaner. According to Crispin Freeman–voice actor of Kyon in Haruhi Suzumiya, (among many, many other roles) and host of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast–the top cities for voice acting are:

Crispin Freeman at Anime Central 2014 - image via VoiceOf.com

Crispin Freeman at Anime Central 2014 – image via VoiceOf.com

  1. Los Angeles
  2. New York
  3. Dallas
  4. San Francisco
  5. Vancouver

3) Getting Work

While you probably already figured out you won’t have to worry about head shots for this type of acting, another surprising tidbit is that resumes aren’t as important in this field as they are in most others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a professional resume prepared and on hand, but know that it’s not the real determiner of whether you get auditions or not. That’s usually decided based on  your demo reel, a 1-3 minute recording demonstrating your talent and range. For more advice on demos, like whether you should pay to record yours in a studio or do it yourself, check out this great ANIMATIONWorld article.

 

Have you ever considered going in to voice acting, or even auditioned and/or gotten a role? Let us know in the comments!

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A former anime club president married to another former anime club president that she met at an anime convention, Jesselyn obviously loves anime, manga and cosplay, as well as comic books and film, particularly of the horror variety. She also curates a Tumblr on women in anime, comics & film at hugeek.tumblr.com.

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