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"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 18: Voice Over Workshop

Late in 2011, I went to the Australian Radio School run by Sean Craig Murphy. It was a twelve week course that broke down the radio industry into all its individual parts and taught you how to utilize your personality to become a good presenter. A year and a half later, I decided to give their voice over workshop a go. It was a one weekend course about working in the voice over industry, particularly in radio ads.

The workshop was run by successful VO artist and producer Eddie Bye. He was a nice, funny guy who was passionate about his industry and eager to share in it. There were eight people there - one of them was Eddie's father-in-law, who had gotten in for free. Gah.

So here's what we learned on the first day:
Types of voice over - There are different types of voice over within the industry, such as

  • Retail (think Woolworths specials etc)
  • Natural (Have you ever bought or rented a video that wasn't quite right?...)
  • Soft sell (The timeless allure of a Zamels bracelet...)
  • Hard Sell (Come down to Harvey Norman for their Super Saturday specials!!)
  • Conversational ('So what was that number again?' 'It was.......')
  • Promo (Tonight on channel 10...)
  • Corporate (Welcome to ANZ. To apply for a home loan, press 1...)
The importance of pronunciation and how to breathe with your diaphragm.
How to improve the quality of your voice (acidic fruit juice, avoid dairy etc)
Taking direction
How to voice act (as distinct from other voice overs)
The types of voice agents.
How to be picked up by an agent.

After all that, we were asked to pick three ads from a room full of scripts and they would be the ads we voiced in our demo for tomorrow. Here were the ads I picked:
  • One for the Animal Welfare League. An emotional piece where I had to act as a volunteer who was really sad about the state of the animals and put the call out for volunteers.
  • One for the Ultimate Bloke's Expo. Because I wanted to have a go at being the blokey voice that told people about beer and utes.
  • An A&R computers ad. I was sucked in by the opening line about Santa, where it said 'Give the fat guy the sack and come down to A&R computers.' But I didn't realise that the rest of it was full of ridiculous computer jargon until I started practising it. I went back into the room and swapped it for
  • An ad for Remove All. Pretty much a garbage company. It was a listing of useless facts followed by more useful facts which involved the company.

On Sunday we went in to record our demos. There were five of us there and we took turns doing an ad at a time. We had to start by saying our names. I was the only one who was asked to do it again. I did the AWL ad first and I knocked it out of the park. I had them eating out of the palm of my hand. It wasn't until I got out of the booth and heard it back that I realised I had in fact not knocked it out of the park. It was decidedly unknocked. Gone through for a strike and my career was looking in doubt. I just have a really drawly voice and I don't think it suited the ad.

The second one went better. It was the Bloke's Expo one and despite the fact that I have a bit of a higher pitched voice, I pulled it off.

The third one was fun. I managed to put on a really grand voice and pronounce "Useless fact!" like I was Pete Smith in Sale of the Century. I felt I did that one pretty well too.

I've been told the completed demo will come in an email around the end of the week. I'll post it here when it does. But I wouldn't get my hopes up.


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