20 May

Voice Over Work and How to do it well

How to do good voice over work is a common question in a world that demands new content! Voice over work is very common because it is a powerful way to communicate a message. There are some fundamental things that need to be in place in order to capture it well. In this article we will guide you through how to do good voice over work. We will look at this unique work in a step-by-step way that will make it clear to a new comer. The elements within include creating a good script, knowing the basics of speaking with clarity, using good recording equipment, and having access to voice software. Read on to learn how to best capture your next voice over!

Voice Over

Have the Voice Over Script Finalised

The foundation to all good voice over work is a good script. This is most often called ‘the copy’. Writing the copy is a profession in of itself but there’s no reason why you can’t write a captivating copy for your project. Often writing concisely is a good starting point. Too many words can put your audience to sleep so try keeping it things to the point and well structured.

Only use long and complicated words if they are unavoidable. Many reads are educational or commercial in nature. Long and complex words that few people know will isolate the listener and diminish the impact of the message. Make sure the script is easy to read, is grammatically correct, and has a good solid structure.

When the script is complete make sure you read it from an iPad or another kind of tablet. This will eliminate any page turning that might get recorded by accident. Page turning is a nuisance because it needs to edited out later in post.

Speak Clearly

Delivering effective voice over is a career but there’s no reason why you can do it on your own project. The first error many new comers make is that they read the script too fast. This is most common when people are self-conscious and nervous about recording their voices. Some reads require pace but in most cases speaking slowly and clearly is the best option.

The clarity of speech comes with pronouncing words properly. Make sure you complete the ‘s’ sounds and don’t mumble through sentences. Speaking with a smile is good way to increase clarity.

Good Recording Equipment

Good recording equipment isn’t cheap but there’s no way around it. In order to capture a voice well you will need a good microphone and preamp. Most studios will use condenser microphones because they pick up all the details of the human voice with the most transparency. Unfortunately many natural sounds will be recorded, too. Mouth clicks, clothes rustling, pops, and sibilance are all unwanted side-effects of using great microphones. The gains outweigh the losses so make sure you have access to a great condenser microphone.

The Recording Space

A good recording space, or isolation booth, will improve the quality of a voice recording tenfold. This space would ideally be isolated from the outside and acoustically deadened in the interior. When a space is isolated no unwanted noise like cars and bird can diminish the recording. A space that is acoustically inactive will heighten the apparent focus of the recorded voice.

Powerful Post-Production Software

Once the voice is recorded you will need to enhance it so it is ready for presentation. There are many options for voice over post-production plugins. These include programs to control harsh sibilant frequencies, reduce plosives, equalise, and compress the voice. Even noise gates will help to remove noise between spoken lines.

Most Digital Audio Workstations will include many useful pieces of software to help you enhance the recording.

Conclusion

You can see that there are some clear factors that, if employed correctly, will greatly enhance the quality of your voice over recording. A clear message is delivered when a good script is read with conviction and eloquence.

To Learn more about our Sydney Recording Studio and how we record contact us here or call 0408 300 402. Crash Symphony Productions has years of experience in voice over recording. We have the best recording equipment available in order to capture your message effectively.

Happy communicating!

 

16 May

Big Band Music

What is a Big Band?

Big Band Music is a essentially a jazz derived large ensemble form that has 10 or more members and is divided into four sections: Trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a rhythm section. Rhythm sections are comprised of Bass (usually upright), piano, drums and sometimes guitar.

Early Big Band music appeared soon after 1910 and rose to prominence in the 30’s and 40’s when dance swing bands were akin to popular music. For this reason, the name “Big Band” is often associated with this era. A problem that arises from this definition of course is that Big Bands since that time right up until today play a huge variety of music. Some of it is Avant-Gard and experimental. Other forms are very be-bop and hard bop based with complex harmonies and melody lines.

A main difference between Big Band music and a small jazz ensemble is that they are more focussed and unified around the arrangement. In other words, the individual soloist takes less priority. The leader is usually a conductor and in this way it is similar to classical music. Unification of the band makes it like a large football team and they must all work together to get the job done.

The instrumentation:

Trumpets – 1st lead  – specialises in brilliant high notes and is the most audible voice of the entire band).  2nd Trumpet – usually the primary soloist, 3rd trumpet – plays harmonies. 4th trumpet – often doubles lead trombone or trumpet one octave lower.

Some super bands have been known to have 5 or even 6 trumpets like the Duke Ellington band of various eras.

Saxophones: lead tenor, 2nd tenor, lead alto, 2nd alto and a baritone saxophone. Most of the saxophonists double on clarinet. Earlier Big Band Styles used clarinet quite often.

Trombones: 1st, 2nd, 3rd trombone and bass trombone.

Seating

Seating is usually arranged with 4 trumpets at the back, the trombones in the 2nd row and the saxophones in the front row. Often this will be on a tiered stage with the trumpets highest. The Rhythm section usually sits to the left of the band (stage right). With the conductor of course at the front often moving to the side when a soloist is featured.

Big Band music rhythm sections actually evolved into its current most common line up. In the 20’s and before, it was more common to have a banjo player than a guitarist. It was also more common to have a tuba player instead of a double bass player. The electrification of bass and guitar allowed for the more even balance. In fact, earlier big bands often had less wind instruments just because of the balance issues. Obviously in a Sydney Recording studio the format may vary to accomodate space issues and microphone technique.

An unusual lineup

The Fletcher Henderson orchestra of the 1920’s is an example of the variety of line ups that were in circulation prior to the popular standard line up. 

  • Alto Saxophone 
  • 2nd Alto Saxophone, Clarinet 
  • 3rd Alto Saxophone, Violin 
  • Bass 
  • Clarinet 
  • Drums 
  • Guitar 
  • Piano
  • 1st Tenor Saxophone 
  • 2nd Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet
  • Trombone 
  • Trumpet 
  • Tuba

History[edit]

Dance music

Until 1914, recreational dance in the USA was usually exemplified by European forms like, waltz, polka and square dancing. As jazz moved from the south up to Chicago and eventually New York City, different styles of dance moved with it. The evolution of dance can be followed in tandem with the evolution of the big band styles. Paul Whitman was a typical example of a band leader from a classical background that combined European elements of music an dance with evolving American styles.

Great soloists of jazz often found a home in a Big Band. This was a welcome relief from the lonely hours of practice and touring with small bands. Players like Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong were epically famous as soloists and yet played in 14 piece orchestras quite often. The Count Basie band produced and nurtured such soloists as: Buck Clayton and Lester Young. Fletcher Henderson used Coleman Hawkins. Later on in the 50’s and 60’s, Stan Kenton had an orchestra with much more modern arrangements and soloists. Some of the great names that were associated with Kentons band were: Carl Fontanna, Frank Rosilino and Bill Watrous, Stan Getz, Maynard Fergeson. 

Competition and contraversey

The major bands considered mostly black of the 1930s included,Ellington’, Hines and Calloway, Chick Webb and Count Basie. “White” bands were Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey. Due to obvious racial and population bias, the latter became more famous for a long period of time and were very lucrative financially. “Black” bands however stood the test of time and to this day are known as the innovators and trail blazers of new styles. Benny Goodman’s early band was mixed and created quite a stir. He made a strong stance agains racial segregation and was a unifying force in big band music

Privileged white teenagers and young adults were the main listeners of the Big Bands in the 30s and 40s. They grooved to recordings on the radio and patronised live concert tours in the many “dance halls” that littered the countryside in almost every town. Often these bands would pause on tour and enter a Recording Studio. Many Big Band in Australia find themselves in a Sydney Recording Studio laying down the magic.

Modern big bands

Although big bands are associated with the 1930s and 40s swing era, they existed long after that period of time. Woody Herman in the 1940’s was already pushing the style envelope and moving the music away from dance to art. In the 50s, Kenton referred to his band as “progressive jazz”. He used his band as a mode for his modern compositions. He moved the boundaries of big bands by implying arrangers whose ideas about music clashed. Modern bands in Sydney include: The Sonic Mayhem Orchestra, the ABC swing era big band and the John Morrison band. All of these from time to time enter a Sydney Recording studio. The most popular forms of Big Band Still have a great voice artist to accompany them. Frank Sinatra is the father of this style. For a classic 1930’s Sydney Voice over studio experience contact Crash Symphony Productions. 

Other leaders utilised  Latin, Afro Cuban music with big band instrumentation, varying to include a lot of percussion. Gil Evans was famous for his use of Big Bands in movie music and used experimental line ups.  Europe adopted the big band line up and created many new sounds in later decades. Examples like the Vienna Art Orchestra started in 1977, and the Italian Instabile which operated in the 90s.

07 May

Country Music

Origins

Country and western is the traditional way to refer to country music. It is a style that began in the south of the United States in the 1900’s . Borrowing from genres such as blues, western, bluegrass, Appalachian folk music, hillbilly music and more recently rock and roll and pop. It is helpful for to understand the roots of country for any country artists hoping to enter a Sydney Recording Studio.

Country music usually consists of a fairly simple form with a focus on lyrical content and story telling. From ballads to up tempo hoe-down style dance music, it uses a range of topics. Some of the most famous Australian Country songs were written about the harsh landscape and life as a farmer. This was the same in Texas and many other southern states. Life as a rancher or as a cowboy was often sung about and dramatised over several verses. Like all other forms of pop music there are always love ballads and romantic songs. Stringed instruments are the most popular instruments in country. This includes electric guitars, banjos, acoustic guitars, pedal steels and lap steels and also fiddles.

The term country came to notoriety in the 1940’s and replaced the terms hillbilly or Western. It has become phenomenally popular in the United States. Country music stations are the most listened to nation wide during the evening commute in rush hour. It’s about sentimentality and the stories and ideas that give people hope and something to dream about even when stuck in a big city.

The Australian Scene

The Australian country music continues to dazzle with very strong song writers and bands. It is Australias most successful original music scene and has its own charts. Adam Brand and people like him have put Australia on the map by performing in the USA and excelling at the very music that came from there. Modern Australian artists such as Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kerhaghan, Troy Kemp,  Keith Urban (who is actually from NZ but spent much of his career in Aus),  and Casey Chambers have done extraordinarily well in Australia and have huge followings both in the cities and in regional areas. Adam Brand encapsulates classic Australian sounds and mix them with powerful hard hitting American rock genres. 

Country artists are particularly active and encouraging during times of severe hard-ship such as drought, bushfire or flood. Often they fly out to remote locations and perform to people who otherwise may not have access to music or arts.

Icons of Australian Music

Slim Dusty is one of the best know country artists in the world. Slim rocketed to success after releasing his famous song “A Pub with No Beer”.  The song is a hit internationally and he was the first Australian to have an international hit record. It was considered typical “Occar” Australian and recounts the different characters of the outback and their desperate need for a beer in the lonely Australian desert

It’s lonesome away, from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night, where the wild dingoes call
But there’s nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar, of a pub with no beer Now the publicans anxious, for the quota to come.
There’s a faraway look, on the face of the bum.
The maids gone all cranky , and the cooks acting queer.
What a terrible place, is a pub with no beer.

The Stockman rides up with his dusty dry throat.
He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat.
But the smile on has face, quickly turns to a sneer.
When the barman said sadly, the pubs got no beer.

Bush poetry

Slim is famous for encapsulating country Australia and has been compared to the great bush poets such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. Some of his works are actually poems and have been recounted in many a Sydney Voice Over studio. Bush poetry requires skilled voice over artists who can enter a voice over studio with a knowledge of the genre. Slim himself also has written many songs about the Trucking industry and life on the road. Him & his wife were patrons for the National Truck Drivers’ Memorial in Tarcutta, New South Wales.  A quote from one of his lesser know songs “Along the road of song” encapsulates some of his conection with the road.

“‘Neath the gumtrees by the roadway,
As the sun goes down outback
I lay at rest in peaceful reverie,
Then I thought of all the songs I’d sung
About the outback track,
And that is how this vision came to me.”

This Australian icon has won an unrivalled 37 Golden Guitar Awards and is in the Aria Hall of Fame. He was a prolific song writer and when he died at age 76, he was recoding his 106th Album.

Slim Dusty is remembered by his arts centre has been founded in Kempsey New South Wales which was his home town. It was opened in 2015 and designed to keep the legacy and music of Slim Dusty alive.]

His daughter Anne Kirkpatrick is also a renowned country singer and songwriter. Anne carries on the legacy proudly and has won Golden Guitar Awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1979, 1991, and twice in 1992. Anne also won an ARIA Award for Best Australian Country Record in 1992.

John Williamson

One of the greatest Country Icons of the 80’s was John Williamson . John plays awareness songs and is very vocal and active in supporting the Red Cross and various wildlife funds including Wildlife Warriors world wide. His famous hit “True Blue” was adopted by the Australian Cricket team and encapsulated concepts and lyrics that helped people understand what it was to be truly Australian. It was recorded and produced in a Sydney Recording Studio and still is played on country radio to this day. 

Modern movements and changes

Modern artists write and perform quite differently to the simplicity of land and travel ballads. Slim Dusty provides an example of simple folk song telling. Recent artists produce modern pop sounds and harder rock edge. The songs have quite dazzling high budget video clips and are usually sung with American accents. Often young Australian Artists will not use a Sydney Recording Studio and send their song stems to Nashville to try and get the same sounds as the American artists. However there are quite accomplished Sydney Recording Studios such as Crash Symphony Productions that successfully emulate the Nashville sound and can mix Country music in an authentic way.

29 Apr

Christian praise and worship music

Christian praise and worship music

Christian praise and worship music is actually a growing phenomenon. Right from its roots back in medieval times when we first had praise and worship music written down, it was a crucial part of society. In fact the tradition of religious music of course goes far earlier but the first systematic recorded notation is traced to the monks of the 13th and 14th centuries. This is not a historic blog, but the point of referring to that era is to to understand how music often emanated from and was developed in religious institutions. Sometimes its repetitive and formulaic, and justifiably open to the criticism that it is unoriginal.

However it is worth understanding that in a congregation context, effective christian praise music will flow and be easy for people to sing along with. The idea is actually to transport the believer into a mental and emotional “safe space” where they can commune with their God. Is this brain washing? Possibly… but whose brain doesn’t need a good washing from time to time! Like all music, the goal is to take one away from the hustle and bustle of life. It is a way of transporting ones mind and heart to a safer place. As the Psalmist wrote many thousands of years ago: “I long to dwell in the shelter of the Most High”.

The current state of things

So where is christian praise and worship music at these days? There are many producers and large churches pumping out the praise hits all around the world. How do they walk in to a Sydney Recording studio and know what to create that will sell. One of the biggest sellers is actually right here in Sydney. The Hillsong Church/music corporation continually strikes a chord with people all over the world. Year after year they seem to top American charts, despite the thousands of amazing musicians in that country. So what is the magic formula that keeps their music fresh and circulating throughout churches around the globe?

An insight into the way a group like Hillsong would think:

Music is a language which can cross cultural boundaries in a heartbeat. It unites people around all walks of life. From sport to social gatherings and worship services it brings people together and has the power to unify.

Why does it have this power? What is unique about music that it can bring people into unity of purpose?

Music comes from Cultural roots.

The music that we grow up with and traditionally listen to has a far more powerful effect on us than other types of music. As a wedding musician I am often confronted with a Greek or Lebanese audience who – while certainly enjoying the pop classics – go to a whole other level when traditional music is played. Its a mesmerising force and evokes memories, cultural connection and heritage. Is it any wonder the Scotts used to march to war with the deafening sound of Bag Pipes in tow? The British were often steeled in wartime by the powerful brass bands. Many of these great traditional bands step into a Sydney music studio to put down the magic on wax. 

Music is also a social phenomenon

It brings us together and we find our selves arm in arm singing our favourite lyrics. A shared experience is always a heightened experience. Not to mention the very social aspect of the musicians and singers themselves. Many bands of all types and especially worship bands testify to this fact. It is well know that if a band is well connected socially and enjoy each others company away from the music, they will inevitably play more effectively and cohesively as a band. Any decent voice over artist walking into a Sydney Voice over studio will understand this concept. 

Music engages the emotions

 This doesn’t necessarily indicate that music has to be about emotions, but it certainly expresses and connects to the emotional side of humans. Psychologists and neuroscientists would agree. Recents studies have showed that creating music an listening engage the emotional centres of the brain. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that that what ever the emotion being expressed by the songwriter is felt by the listener. If this were the case, who would ever listen to the blues or to any sad love songs?  But it certainly does induce a heightened emotional state of being and humans tend to like that. This also can come from good drama, poetry, nature or art. Music however seems to be a short cut to the emotions. Every good producer in a Sydney recording studio will understand this connection. 

Music is physical

Its also important to understand that music is a physical thing. From the rhythms and movements that it evokes to the deep bass waves that penetrate our body. It encourages us to move. Movement and connection with moving music is very, very healthy.

Often in hospices and retirement homes, men and women who are quite crippled with age will spontaneously begin dancing and moving around like teenagers when played music. Music tends to store itself in the recesses of our brain and can be awakened many years after a special moment or circumstance. In fact when people go into a Sydney Voice over studio or a Sydney recording studio they often find moving around while performing gets a better take!

Music in worship

This all adds up to help us understand why music is such a great vehicle for worship. It involves all of us, the body and mind and therefore is a great way to engage spiritually on a deep level. Good preaching and story telling can get you in the mood after 30 or 40 minutes. Where as music can get you to a deep place of experience and connection in a matter of seconds. Even in a Sydney voice over studio, a worshipful experience is possible. Because of the complete engagement of oneself in the activity it is a very satisfying way to meditate on our God and enjoy His Presence.

22 Apr

Voice Over Work – How to get started.

An Introduction to Voice Over work

Voice over work is extremely competitive. The recorded spoken word is all around us in the media that we consume. It is so ubiquitous in fact that we, as consumers of audio, take it for granted. As a result, getting a job as a voice over artist is challenging. Candidates mistakenly think that because they can speak they can also easily get into the industry and be good at it. It’s not that easy! In this article we are going to look at what it takes to be good at voice over work and how to get into the business.

Our studio, Crash Symphony Productions, has been recording the voice since 2006. We are uniquely located close to Australia’s two largest CBD’s: Sydney City and North Sydney. As a result recording the spoken word has become our thing! We are going to examine all the important boxes that need to be ticked in order to be successful in this competitive industry. Read on to learn more about how you can get into the voice over industry!

The Voice Over Showreel

The showreel is the most important element needed to get this kind of work. Investing in a good showreel is about 70% of what is required to get the work in the first place. Don’t try doing it yourself at home. It simply doesn’t work. Most clients will only listen to the first ten to twenty seconds of a voice over demo before either moving on to the next.

We always suggest that candidates start their voice over demo with a greeting. Introduce yourself and tell the potential client something about your voice. Make it super brief and then move on to the main produced content. Don’t put any music behind the introduction. Make it honest and clear. They need the opportunity to hear your true voice before getting into the meat of your showreel.

Fine Tuning the Demo

Once you move into the main body of the your showreel choose some ads that vary in style and genre. Business, TV commercials, phone greetings, radio announcements, and general acting scripts are all good examples of the mix that is required on a successful demo. If all the short components are the same you will be limiting your job opportunities. You should demonstrate that you are diverse and capable. Don’t make the mistake of making each element long. Each should be extremely short and they should cross-fade into each other. Maintaining the attention of the listener is the ultimate goal and very hard to do.

Most voice over showreels are a maximum of three minutes. Most clients will not listen to the entire demo so make sure that the best parts are at the beginning of the demo and not at the end. Using a professional studio, like Crash Symphony Productions, to create your demo will make a huge difference to your chances of success.

The quality of the demo is impacted by the recording facility. We are able to record your voice in a very quiet space where there are no intrusive noises that get on to the recording. Our microphones and recording equipment are extremely high-end. This means the audio quality is very good and your vocal will sound its absolute best on the showreel. Our engineers are also very experienced at recording scripts. We can guide you through the process by making sure that you get the best performance for each part of the demo.

The Tone of Your Voice

There’s no question about it – Some people just have the voice. There’s a natural tonal quality that comes with the anatomical geometry of every individual. Some voices just sound amazing. It may be a male with a deep and rich vocal tone or a female with a sweet and sexy tone. There’s no doubting that the natural tonal quality of your voice is going to make a difference to your chances of success. However, this is not as much of a major factor as people may initially anticipate. Other factors play a much more important role in the success of the talent. Read on to learn more!

The Clarity of Your Voice

Clarity of voice is something that needs to be worked on. We refer to this as diction. Making sure that all the t’s and s’s are pronounced properly is really important and very much a learned skill. People who have done extensive training in acting are usually very good at increasing the clarity of their voice through these trained skills.

There’s no doubt that the recording equipment has a significant impact on the clarity of the voice on a recording. It isn’t just the talent’s skill. A condenser microphone in a very quiet, acoustically inactive, and sonically impermeable space is the ideal place to record a voice over. The microphone’s proximity to the voice is critical to getting the clarity right, too. If the mouth is too close to the microphone the bass frequencies will be loud and this makes the voice sound muddy. Conversely, if it is too far away the detail will be lost, also. If the microphone is too low with respect to the oral cavity the harsh sibilant frequencies will be loud and shrill. All these audio engineering factors play a major role in the perceived clarity of the voice on the recording.

Understanding Vocal Inflections

Vocal inflections are an important part of creating tense in a voice over recording. An inflection is an upward or downward movement in the pitch of the voice during the reading of a passage. Upward inflections are an indicating to the listen that the passage or idea will continue. That it is NOT the end of the idea. Conversely, a downward inflection indicates the end of a passage. It is a kind of auditory full stop to the listener. Once a talent is aware of the importance of inflections it is easy to do. It is amazing how few people are aware of inflections. They are really important for creating a good voice over recording.

The overall dynamic and contour of the voice over passage is super important in retaining the attention of the listener and ultimately in selling the idea. Without vocal inflections in the appropriate places the read can sound very monotonous.

Reading Tempo

Tempo, or read-speed, is another aspect of voice over recording that gets easily over looked by the talent. Many inexperienced voice over artists will tend to read very fast. They get nervous when they begin to record and, as a result, begin to race through the script. This is not good for the listener as it makes it hard for them to understand the message. An experienced voice talent will be able to adjust their reading tempo to what is required for the script. Maintaining the tempo is also critically important. When the producer asks the talent to slow the tempo down some inexperienced artists will slow down initially only to accelerate back up to their initial hyped tempo. Being flexible and controlled with the tempo is the sign of a strong voice over artist.

Reading Skills during a voice over

Reading skill is arguably the make or break of a good voice over artist. Truly professional voice over artists can walk into a studio, be handed a script that they have never seen before, and read it so fluently that you would think that they were saying it naturally off-the-cuff. This is akin to a violinist who can sight-read sheet music in an orchestra. Of course, it is not common for a talent to be thrown into such a situation but many times the script can be changed during the recording session. The strength of the artist’s sight-reading skills is a telling sign of who is a true professional and who is not. 

Getting on a Voice Over Site

Now that you have your voice over showreel recorded and have honed the craft of being the talent the final step is to get the demo on a site. There are three most common sites that a prospective client might find their voice. A voice agency’s website, a studio website, or if the talent has their own webpage. Let’s examine each of these in some more detail.

Voice Agencies

Voice agencies are by far the most common places that a prospective client will find their talent. The agents will be able to liaise with the client and fast-track their search by communicating with them and identifying what specifically they need. These companies are usually very well established and have great visibility on search engines like Google. As a result a lot of traffic is captured and directed to the agencies. Getting signed to an agent is great but difficult. You need to have an incredible demo, be a proven performer, and it means you can’t have your demo on any other sites. It also means that a large chunk of the earnings will go to pay the agent.Voice over

Studio Webpages

Studios have taken to creating pages where they show off some of the freelance artists that they work with and think are good. The main benefit of this is that if a client contacts the studio first regarding a project the task of locking in the talent is hastened. These artists are freelance and are not signed to another agent. They also have more flexibility with the payment in dealing directly with the talent rather than the agent.This has certainly proven much more practical for CSP.

Talent Pages

Highly ambitious and organised artists will completely manage their own dealings and their website is central to getting new clients. They will need to compete with the SEO power of large talent agencies. If they succeed the financial rewards are enormous.

Reliability for Appointments and Return Business

Being a reliable business operator is the final point to having a successful career in the voice over industry. Some of the points listed here are so obvious but not everyone follows them. These are things like turning up to scheduled appointments on time and making sure that scripts are well rehearsed before the session.

Conclusion

As you can see there are some very specific boxes that need to be ticked in order to have a successful career as a voice over artist. Some of these points are within the control of the talent like reliability, getting a good demo made, and having visibility on the search engines. Other factors are more difficult to acquire like the skills that professional actors spend years training for and a natural tone.

Hopefully this article will help aspiring voice over artists get there careers off the ground. For further questions please feel welcome to contact us here at [email protected] Alternatively, give us a call on 0408 300 402. Best of luck!

28 Mar
Sydney Recording Studios

Becoming a voice over artist

Becoming a voice over artist.

Becoming a voice over artist first requires knowing what to expect. What do you need to feel confident walking into a Sydney Voice over studio.

There are many different types of voice over jobs. Becoming a voice over artist for example may require a specific knowledge of languages and accents. If you have had personal cultural experience and training in a range of language contexts, this will definitely broaden your appeal to a voice over studio. I would hesitate to say that a 1 year course in French would qualify you to do a French voice over. But if on top of that you had spent a year or 2 in France and spoke and studied regularly, you could begin to think about such work.

In the same way, it is wise to expose yourself to a wide range of styles and contexts. Listen with intent to ANY advertisement you come across on the television or radio. Normal people listen to the songs and news on the radio. Wanna be voice over artists look forward to the advertisements coming on in between the songs! Listen carefully and repeat what you hear. Granted, not every advertisement will be your style, but the more different types you expose yourself to, the more prepared you will be for a random voice over studio call.

Voice over acting

On a whole other level, there is voice over acting. Many movie roles for animations fall to regular screen actors, but there are several “voice celebrities” of note that specialise in voice acting. One standout is Dan Castalleneta from the Simpsons. Dan is well versed in different types of characters and is a master of changing his voice. He has made famous the voices of:

Homer Simpson

Groundskeeper Willie

Sideshow Mel

Mayor Quimby

Grampa Simpson

Itchy

Krusty the Clown

Barney Gumble

Santa’s Little Helper (yep, he trained himself to speak dog)

Hans Moleman,

The Squeaky Voiced Teen

Blue Haired Lawyer

Arnie Pie

Charlie

Rabbi Drustofski

And at least 10 other random voices that are used as cameo roles.

Another legend of the voice over cast is Hank Azaria who fills in the role of over 20 cameo acts. Nancy Cartwright of courses is legendary for the voices of Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum and Nelson Muntz, as well as Maggie Simpson!

These are a very special type of voice over artist and will not necessarily be the goal posts for advertising, narration oriented voice over artists. None the less, they lay out an impressive work ethic and none of them achieved what they did with out hours and years of practice.

A regular voice over artist for advertisements

You too can become a proficient voice over Artist and walk into any Sydney Sound Studio with confidence.

 Part of becoming a voice over artist is becoming a fluent reader. You will often only be given the script at a moments notice. It is a great idea to expose yourself to a number of different scripts before even walking into a Sydney recording studio. Here are some practice scripts covering a range of styles and typical situations.

Each of the scripts contain ideas from a director and also important demographic info. They all feature a fictional business. Use them as tool building examples to help you understand how scripts are ordered and formatted.

The scripts also include information about the age of the voice you should portray, the gender (best not challenge yourself on that one…), the role, the accent and other concepts that may be useful. Most however are up to you to put your own spin on.

How to hustle for voice over work

  • Firstly, where is the voice over work? How do you land more jobs? This is a big part of the job because of the huge level of competition out there.
  • One interesting first step to take is to search for products that YOU yourself would buy. Something genuinely useful that you are interested in. When you buy a product from someone (a product that you genuinely need) you have an in. As long as you have a good email signature, marketing tactics set up with a business card and a web site. Providing this information as a customer of a company gives them an additional connection.
  • Particularly a smaller company that perhaps has advertisements and low scale videos on youtube, but not yet voice over. You’d be surprised how you can generate business for yourself if you highlight a very obvious need in a company that is slow of the mark to market themselves. This is all about getting a start. Sales tactics and networking are just as important as your training.

Take advantage of Linkedin. Create a professional profile. You’re not searching for social friends but clients. here’s a link to a helpful set of tips for creating a great profile.

 

Learn all the techniques and marketing strategies. Before you know it, you will be walking into a Sydney Voice Over studio like Crash Symphony productions and laying down your first advertisement!

Recording Studio

     

13 Mar

Understanding music theory

Bursting the bubble

Music theory is important. You would be surprised how many people there are who can make a guitar do almost anything. Yet those same people have very little idea about music theory or how to relate what they are doing to other musicians. I call it “the guitar bubble”. Often such people walk into a Sydney recording studio or voice over studio under prepared to communicate with those around them.

Learning piano helps with this a little but in the same way, pianists have their own way of thinking that often relies on notes on a page. Often in a Sydney Sound Studio there will be a pianist on hand to baby sit other musicians. But why rely on this!?

As far as song writing and communicating with other musicians goes, there is no substitute for sitting down and simply learning “how music theory works”. Its not merely necessary, its fun!  It will unlock many pathways to writing and composing that previously you were ignorant of.

An introduction to scales.

The variance of pitch in an organised fashion ascending and descending is basically what gives us scales. There are different ways of organising these pitches or “notes”. One stand out feature across almost all cultures is that note that seems to “repeat itself” and sound “the same” but higher. We call this the octave. It is between this octave that various scale patterns occur.

Modern Western culture recognises 12 tones per octave, arranged in semitones (what we call the “chromatic scale”). This is all the useable notes squeezed into one octave consecutively and essentially it is not organised into music theory yet.

The major scale.

To come up with organised scales we apply patterns to each of these notes and arrange them in ascending order. The most friendly to the western ear  and used in most recording studios and voice over studios is the major scale which is comprised of the pattern of intervals: Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone (TTSTTTS). This was popularised by the solfege names given it (as used in the movie “The Sound of Music” ) DO,REI, MI, FA, SOL, LA, TI, DO. In C major (C, D, E, F, G, A, B , C ). Most songs you hear on the radio are created using this formula with different starting notes, rearranging the notes into a melody.  Becoming familiar with this scale on the Piano and your specialist instrument (guitar or otherwise) is one of the first steps to conquering theory.

The minor scale

An important off shoot or “cousin” of the major scale is the minor scale. This comes in several different forms. A form popular in classical music and heavy metal is the Harmonic Minor scale which looks like this: TSTTSm3S

With m3 representing minor 3rd jump in the middle of the scale. Its somewhat exotic and lends itself well to some genre. A more commonly used and easier on the ears minor scale in pop is the natural minor which is: TSTTSTT. This is actually the 6th mode of the major scale. In other words if you were to start and finish on the 6th note of any major scale you would have this scale. E.G. Derived from C major:  A. B. C. D. E. F. G. A. Known as A natural minor or the Aoelian mode. We will discuss modes a little later in the blog.

Triads and chords

The next important foundational concept in music theory is chords and triads. A triad is 3 notes separated usually by thirds that make up the foundation of a chord. For example, derived from the key of C major, the C major triad is simply. C, E AND G. When played together they are harmonically compatible.

Another type of triad is a minor triad. For example C Minor would read: C, Eb, G. Notice only the 3rd is altered to differentiate major from minor. An invaluable exercise is to sit at a keyboard or piano and play through the C major scale forming triads of each of the notes. For example, from the second note of the C major scale we derive a D minor triad: D, F, A. From the 3rd note and E minor triad: E, G, B and so on. This alone is a great start to writing chord progressions for songs. Try using triads/chords built from the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th notes of the major scale (any key is fine) and notice that they lend themselves nicely to progressions. This is kind of a “tool box” for the song writer in any Sydney Recording Studio.

Unusual triads

Other types of less common triads are: The diminished triad which is simply a stack of minor third intervals (very suspenseful sounding) try the notes: C, Eb, Gb. Diminished triads are often a passing triad. A great example of their use is to move from the 5th to the 6th chord in a progression. Eg: in G major: D triad, followed by Eb Diminished and ending on Eminor. Another type of triad is the Augmented, which is a stack of major third intervals and holds it’s own unique kind of tension. Eg: C, E, G#. This is just one aspect of music theory.

Adding the 7th

7th Chords are just an extension of the concept of a triad. For example the chord Cmajor7 is simply a C triad: C, E, G,  with a B on top (the 7th note of the C major scale) creating a “jazzier” sound. An Aminor 7th Chord contains A, C, E, G. Adding further extensions and intervals like the 9th  above the root note will result in a chord like A minor 9: A, C, E, G, B which is even richer and lusher on the ear than a 7th Chord. Often these sorts of chords will sound inappropriate and over done in pop writing. They are certainly worth experimenting with in any Sydney Voice Over studio.

The Cycle of fifths

Moving beyond pop and basic folk music with their simple combinations of common chord progressions we begin to look at using the Circle of Fifths. This concept rightly needs its own dedicated blog but they nuts and bolts of its revolve around what we call a “cadence” in classical music. An example of a cadence is one chord moving to “rest” onto another chord very satisfactorily. One of the most common is the perfect cadence where the “5” chord of a key moves to the “1” chord. For example a G chord (more specifically moving (or “resolving”) to a C chord. The interval downwards of this motion is a 5th and it is the strongest movement in music, often at the end of a progression or even the end of an entire song. Try playing a G7 chord (G, B, D, F) and resolving it to a C chord.

Following through

To take this idea in music theory and follow it on from the C chord would see us landing a 5th below very satisfactorily onto an F chord. The F would fall to a Bb, the Bb to an Eb and so on and so on all the way back to a G chord. This in a nutshell is the “cycle” or “circle” of fifths. It creates a great too for song writing and can see a song move in different directions to what is expected. Elton John’s writing reflects some of this. (See the chord progression for “Your Song”).

 

Elvis singing

Singing technique and ideas

If you are worried about your singing technique and a bit down in the dumps this blog will hopefully get you up and running with a few simple exercises and tips. Sining is so central to any culture and to peoples personal lives. You want your voice in tip top shape every time you enter a Sydney Recording Studio. Even if you are not a professional singer, it is well worth your time to learn to utilise this most valuable instrument. After all, you take it with you everywhere you go and in any Sydney voice over studio!

Stay hydrated!



Before anything else, we really need to understand that the vocal chords are a sensitive, functioning part of your body. They are your instrument and you have to look after them in every aspect of your singing technique. A very simple tip is to drink lots of water. This will keep your vocal cords moist so they can easily operate. You can also drink any other water beverage other than alcohol. It is advisable that they are unsweetened also. A warm tea is fantastic. Cold drinks are a bad idea and can tighten up your throat. The best temperature is luke-warm.

Breathing

Equally important and simple as far as singing technique goes is breathing habits. The best way to breath is from your diaphragm. Breathing from the diaphragm will give you far more control and force when you need it. Its better for dynamic range and consistency. It can take a while to get used to using your diaphragm. You should try lying on your back on the floor and place a hand over your abdomen just below your rib cage. When you breath in you should expand from here. Push your hand up as you breath in. Try singing a long note or a scale when you breath out and use this area of your abdomen to support the note. Do this a few times in a row and vary the strength and volume of the note. Experiment with this and become comfortable with this area of the body. It will pay dividends for all your singing habits. Another useful idea is to place a book on your diaphragm and aim to push it out when you breath in. This affects voice artists as well. If you enter a Sydney Voice over studio you want to understand these points.

Posture

One of the more overlooked and simple aspects of singing technique is posture. Maintaining a good posture will do wonders for your projection and strength. Try not to slouch or lean in odd directions when you sing. In order to really maximise your breathing and have a clear passage of air flow you want your back to be straight. A good way of training yourself into this habit is to stand with your back against a wall upright. Try singing in that position. Equally, lying flat on the floor will have the same affect.


Opening up your vowels and mouth cavity. Creating space in your mouth provides room for resonance. Ideally you want to practice keeping your tongue on the bottom of your jaw and away from the soft palette. The best way to do this is to open up your vowels and in particular sing the sounds “ah” and “uh”. This will automatically give you the goal of opening your vowels.

Once you have become accustomed to the feeling of an open jaw, try singing A-E-I-O-U with your jaw open in the same way. This singing technique will certainly feel odd at first but you will discover that it gives you much more flow and clarity when you begin to sing with this in mind. Of course there are exceptions in certain phrases and styles of music but generally and open jaw will give you more projection.  No matter how fancy the microphone, without correct projection no Sydney Sound Studio can help you.

The position of your chin



One of the more challenging aspect of control is keeping your chin parallel to the floor while singing. Odd as it may sound, we do have a tendency to raise the angle of our chin when we are reaching for higher notes. This unfortunately restricts the vocal chords and does the opposite of what we actually want. While it takes practice, it is certainly worth while and helps your over all control and strength.


Extending your vocal range

Once you have initiated all the above steps you can begin to think about extending your vocal range. Don’t rush this part of your singing technique! Firstly, find you range and know your limits. Don’t push out new notes and strain yourself. It is important to be comfortable with the range you already have and sing the highest and lowest notes with smoothness and clarity. When you have eliminated any airy-tone, you can begin to expand the range. Any new note should come gradually (most likely in semi-tones). Don’t add a new note until you have mastered all the notes in your range. There are safe ways to expand your range with a teacher. Get all the advice you can in this area and remember to proceed slowly with adequate warm ups. Make sure you warm up before entering a recording studio. There is nothing worse than pressing the record button and realising your vocal chords  are tense, un-lubricated and strained.


Different areas of your voice


Transition between the different voice areas. Your voice is made up different areas.

  • The male voice has 2 different areas: The middle voice and also Falsetto. The middle voice is the lower, deep chesty voice and the falsetto is a thinner higher range.
  • The female voice however has 3 segments: the chest register, the head register, and the middle register. These refer to the area from which the notes come in the body. The areas they resonate most
  • Head voice is where you sing high notes, they will literally resonate in your head. Try placing your hand on the top of your head as you sing these notes and notice the vibrations up there.  Likewise, the chest voice is where you sing lower notes, they resonate in your chest. The middle voice – other wise known as the mixed voice – is the area between your chest and head. It is the cross over area and requires work in order to create smooth transitions.
  • As you move from high notes to lower notes, you need change from head to chest voice. You will actually feel the notes moving up towards your head or down to your chest as you sing. Do not strain or try to keep notes in the same place as you ascend or descend, you want them to move through the different areas as this will create less strain.

 

Persisting with what you have learned

Save the above pointers on singing technique to your hard drive, sing daily and in a matter of weeks you will actually see progress. You will soon have the confidence to enter any Sydney Recording Studio ready to record a hit song.

 

voice over Sydney

12 Mar

Voice Over plugin chain

“Voice Over plugin chain” describes the order and types of plugins used on a voice channel. In this article we will describe the specific order that we choose to use. Furthermore, we will describe why we have chosen these specific plugins. This article assumes that the voice has already been recorded. What we are looking at, therefore, is the raw edited audio file. These plugins will sit on the channel strip within your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Read on to learn more about the audio plugins we use on our voice over chain.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

Low Cut Equalisation

The first plugin that we use is an EQ that will take out any unwanted low end rumble that exists. This is extremely important. This low cut filter will immediately improve the clarity of the vocal. I use the channel EQ in Logic Pro X very often. It’s easy to access and have a great visual analyser so you can see what’s going on.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

Broadband Compressor

The next on the voice over plugin chain is the broadband compressor. This is simply a compressor that compresses the entire vocal. I learn towards the UAD Teletronix LA2A because I know it well. It’s an emulation of the famous UA unit that has a slow attack optical attenuator. This has earned a name as being great for the compression of a vocal. It was originally used as a broadcast compressor and works perfectly for the spoken word. This helps control the vocal and stop the volume from jumping around.

RX 7 Spectral De-Noise

The RX Spectral Repair plugin is a real game changer for getting good clean voice overs. It is the noise reduction stage of the voice chain. You’ll need to find a clean piece of room tone on the audio file. Once found let the plugin run over that section while on the ‘learn’ mode. Once it analyses the room it takes a grab of it and can then easily remove the hiss and room sound of the audio. This is a must have, in opinion, to achieving great voice over recordings.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

RX 7 Mouth De-Click

By now you can see that izotopes RX advanced is a very useful suite to own for getting good voice overs. The RX Mouth De-Click is a new addition to the RX Advanced 7 suite. It looks at the audio and removes annoying mouth clicking that is all too common on voice over recordings. We can’t recommend this plugin in highly enough. Another serious game changer.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

Noise Gating

Now that we have a good clean voice over recording we look to reduce the noise between lines. You need a good noise gate. We use the UAD API Vision channel strip. We can adjust the settings so that the breaths and noise between vocal lines is completely removed. You’ll only be left with the spoken words. It’s important to listen through the voice over recording to make sure that there are no words that cut off. This is the downside of setting a noise gate as opposed to manual cutting the audio in between the lines. Most of the time the noise gate handles the audio very well.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

De-Essing

Harsh sibilant frequencies are common on voice recordings. This is where the ‘s’, ‘t’. and ‘ch’ sounds can be too loud. The de-esser plugin removes these ferocious sibilant frequencies. We use the Sonnox De-esser. This is a precision de-esser that is effectively a compressor for sibilant sounds. it was recommended to me by Michael Brauer himself when he was mixing one of my client’s tracks in New York. Ever since getting it I’ve been extremely happy with the results. You can see when the frequencies are and visually place the compressor component in the right place.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

Limiter

The Limiter is the final plugin that we use on our voice over channel strip. This simply boosts the overall volume of the vocal to the required level. The UAD Precision Limiter is a very reliable limiter and hasn’t failed us yet.

Voice Over Plugin Chain

Voice Over Plugin Chain Complete!

And so you have it! Our voice over plugin chain. This particular iteration of the voice over plugin chain has been about fifteen years in the making. It has developed in conjunction with technological advancements in the audio industry. This is particularly true for the plugins by Izotope. Their plugins are really making big improvements to our audio voice over capability. For that we thank them warmly.