Tag Archives: casting

Use improvisation to help voiceover

How Improv Makes A Better Voiceover Actor

Written for Backstage by Terry Berland

We all know the importance of improv for actors—but did you consider that improv can also help you in your voiceover career?

Here are five ways improv will make you a better voiceover actor.  Sometimes the importance of the ability to improv is not obvious and others.

1. Auditioning

You might be given totally different direction from the casting director than the choices with which you went into the audition. Direction is all about nuances and requires the ability to instantaneously switch out of your choices.

2. Radio Auditions


Radio is more personality driven than television, and can allow opportunities to be loose and broad and add your own individual humor. And two-person radio scripts almost always give you room to riff back and forth a couple of times to button off the audition.

3. Voicing Donuts and Pretzels

There are times your voice has to come between other visuals or music in the script. Your voice coming in once between other actions, visuals, or music is called a donut (one hole), and several times is called a pretzel. You have to react very quickly to the last sound or visual prompt, and the director can very well tell you to change your attitude in the words you are fitting into the allotted spaces. You’ll be happy you can only rely on your well-trained improv muscle in these situations.

4. Animation and Cartoons

Both are extremely personality driven and move very quickly. The improv muscle in your brain will again allow you to create without judging yourself.

5. ADR and Looping

These two venues have many opportunities that are not scripted and you have to come up with conversations quickly to match the feel of the scene in the background of the film or TV show. No one can be considered on an ADR/looping stage who is non-scripted or is not good at improv.

With good improv skills, you can be sure to have better voiceover auditions and bookings!

Current Trends In Voiceover

Written for BackStage by Terry Berland

Advertising reflects life itself. Life influenced by the Internet today is quick and loose with multiple resources of information, choices, visuals, and possibilities at our fingertips.

The culture we live in has changed the look and feel of commercials. Notice the bright, positive colors, the graphics, clothing, hairstyles, humor, environments, and storylines.

Voiceovers have greatly been effected by these influences, and the industry has changed as a result. Here are five current trends you should know:

  1. The sound of the voiceover announcer is more real.

    I have been casting and teaching voiceover technique for years and I stay acutely aware of what type of voices support the visuals and brands of a particular spot.

    The announcer who sounds like he is talking to a large audience with a smooth, polished, stiff, stylized, unapproachable deep tone is pretty much gone.

    The more “real” sound is referred to as the non-announcer announcer. This sound is approachable and connected to the listener. His sound is more in alignment to today’s world of accessibility. Companies want to be considered or branded as approachable, trusted, and relatable.

    There are trends other than the sound of the voice.

  2. Talent must be able to record auditions anywhere, at any time.

    With Internet access, clients are asking for auditions to be submitted to them very quickly. For this reason talent should have the ability to record at home or even on the go in the car. There are inexpensive mics with good quality that you can use with your laptop or iPad to record auditions. Take a little time to visit any electronics store and test some out. Look into clever ways to semi-soundproof the space you are working in at a very low cost.

  3. You’re expected to have a website.

    Be visible on the Internet for searches. You want to have as much of an online presence as possible for any producer to find you easily. This website should be simple, but should include your demo. The colors and visuals should be branded to match the feel of your sound.

  4. Self-submission Internet sites are available to you.

    Auditions are available on voiceover sites for self-submissions. Where you are in your career will influence your desire to register and submit auditions online.

  5. Voiceover agents are accessible in multiple cities.

    There are voiceover agents all over the United States. It is common for talent to have a couple of different agents in different cities.

To be a successful, working voice actor, you must be prepared to be competitive, train consistently, and keep up with the ever-changing industry.

Actors are intrigued with the possibility of expanding into voice over work.

TerryBerlandActors are intrigued with the possibility of expanding into voice over work. The old school myth is that it is a closed field and unattainable. Voice over opportunities for actors have opened up in the last couple of years and are continuing to open. More talent agencies are opening up voice departments and more internet media sites are affording opportunities for actors to find voice work. It is easy to break into? No. But the playing field is equal; everyone starts at the same place.

Originally casting at a New York City ad agency it was natural for me to first cast the on camera portion of a spot and then the voice over. I have always been on the look out for “voice talent” when casting my on camera spots or going to theatre, comedy and improv. Many voice-casting people are following suit. Of course the biggest factor in opening up the field is the internet. But let’s face it, the internet has opened everything up causing change and resulting in more opportunities and more competition.

Many people have been told, “You have a good voice for voice over”. What does that mean? To me, not much, as each situation calls for a different kind of voice. I can be asked for a voice that sounds like a paramedic, policeman, financially successful, type A personality, an ant, a dog (I cast the Taco Bell Chihuahua voice), a big tire, urban, trustworthy, soothing, a boss, insecure, hip, contemporary or comedic edge… just to name a few.

You have to learn the technique. Learn how to express whatever you are feeling through your voice only. Paint the picture. Then there are different venues. There is a difference between a radio and a TV read, an announcer and a non-announcer, promo, narration and personality driven. There are also many opportunities such as television, radio, film, industrial, corporate films, video games, narration, CD books, voices in toys, animation and web.

There are many ways to market yourself now to get your own work, have a home studio and submit your own auditions over the internet, audition in your agent’s office or the casting director’s office. Talent would rather come indirectly to audition for a casting director, such as myself, because they know that a limited number of auditions are being submitted to the ad agency; the ad agency will listen to each audition and make their choices. Whereas when a breakdown goes out over the internet directly to agents (agents have voice booths in their office and do their own casting), or talent are submitting via an on-line service, there are most likely hundreds of submissions and you never know if your submission is really going to be listened to.

Your approach to a VO career should be planned to get the best results. Basically you need to learn the strong fundamentals to make wise choices and be able to execute your choices. You then go through a progress of levels of expertise and finally make a demo that you can actually live up to, as opposed to one that is edited to make you sound better than you are. You have to be able to audition well and perform well in the studio at the time of booking.

Actors love being in front of that microphone. They are always jazzed when they leave my auditions. They say it “feels good”. If someone is handing you a magic wand, run. It takes work, focus and know how. The good news is everyone starts out on the same level. It is a discovery process. Be aware that you have a focused approach to save you money and time.

Actors love voice-overs. What could be better? It doesn’t matter what you wear or what you look like. Oh, and when you book something it’s usually two hours in the studio. If you are in the fortunate position, you can book several jobs in one day. TV voices bring you a residual return, as does on-camera.

So if you want to do it, start training and start doing it. The elusive, ironclad gate has been opened up. Walk through it. It’s fun and it’s a great possible extension to your career.

Terry Berland
www.berlandcasting.com