Don LaFontaine. Do you know that name? If you do not, you know the voice. Think movie trailers. When you see the words: “In a world…” I bet you hear them in a very distinct voice. You most likely hear these words in a tremendously resonant, dramatic voice filled to the brim with gravitas. Don LaFontaine was the godfather of the movie trailer voiceover. He worked primarily from 1976 through 2007 providing all manner of voicework but is primarily known for his perfect voice in many of our beloved movie trailers. By the way, if you’re curious, he was most proud of his work in the Elephant Man (1980) trailer.
While we’re just all loosey-goosey naming names; how about the name James Urbaniak? He happens to voice the main character of Doctor Venture (amongst other characters) in one of my favorite cartoons, The Venture Brothers. James is a voice and traditional actor that has 156 credits to his name according to IMDB, including roles in very successful films and television shows. And that’s so far. That is a pretty solid career in entertainment.
Voicework is so prevalent in our daily lives it is almost astounding. It could be a person bringing to life an adorable tree-like humanoid (a Flora Colossus if we’re being real about it) in Guardians of the Galaxy through a variation on three simple words or the ad you just saw for a revolutionary washer and dryer. It takes a very special voice to make that character or message come to life. If voicework is something that you feel may be calling you, especially in times of disruption and potential life-altering pivot opportunities, there are ways to make your voice shine and possibly allow you to be a part of something special. And more importantly, enduring.
In order to get started along this path, you will need a voiceover demo. Essentially this is a targeted representation of your voice talent that you can then send to either vocal talent representatives or (not recommended) to job opportunities directly, unsolicited. Here we have a few tips on how to create a voiceover demo reel that will be impressive and drive results.
- If you are not recording your demo on your own, choose the right location and team to get you there. Look to a studio that possibly even specializes in only one or two things, voicework being one. A comfortable and professional setting will help set the stage for a great demo reel
- Keep your content fresh and updated. Try not to include anything that will date your material or tie it to any specific point in time that will distract from your performance
- Know your audience. If you are unsure of your direction in voicework, first, set a trial recording with your recording partner. Riff on things and see what feels comfortable. However, gone are the days of mixed reels featuring narration, commercial, traditional acting, and other styles on the same reel. Be specific with your audience when you are sending in work. If it’s for a voice acting gig, send them in all of your best characters and energies but that’s all
- Work to perfect your delivery. The next time you watch an animated film or a commercial, close your eyes and see where your brand fits. What would you have added to the performance, if allowed? Successful voice actors are successful for a reason. The delivery and poise are so natural (even with extreme characters) apparent, due to hard work
- Figure yourself out. What is your voice? What can your voice do? What is your brand and what can it bring to a project? Again, booking a session at a professional studio to just riff and find that voice can be tremendously helpful to an aspiring voice actor. It is not a waste of time or money and it also helps you find the right recording partner before it gets…serious.
New Leonard Media is passionate about assuring all who wish to, are able to find their voice, and share it with the world. Keep creating and keep sharing your stories. And please, do yourself a favor and watch the movie In a World…It’s about an aspiring voice actor who must go up against her famous voice actor father for a huge role. Believe us when we say, it is a fantastic watch.