We’re in the transition of re-opening from the pandemic shutdown, but what does this mean in the world of voiceover? Will it change forever, or are we going back to what it once was? No one knows exactly, but I reached out to some colleagues in the voice business to get their take, and here’s what I heard: If you are feeling like you are in limbo-land right now and not sure what’s next, you are not alone.
Confusion and speculation abound because we know there will be a new normal, but we’re just not sure what that will be. Here are some tips on what I’ve been experiencing and hearing around town that will give you some current info and an idea of what voiceover will look like moving forward.
Agents & Managers: While there are agents and managers who may start to go into their offices, from what I am hearing, they will not be going into the office as much as in the past. Most agents will likely be working from home or a combination of office and home. It seems some may opt for a small office or space where they can meet if they have to have people come in, but primarily will be working from home.
What does this means for you as a voiceover actor? Agents will continue to email you copy, and you still will record auditions from home.
Casting Directors: It is still difficult to do in-person casting, as they need 45 minutes to disinfect and sanitize between auditions. Those rules and regulations are still in place, and auditions were starting to move towards auditioning from home before COVID anyway.
What does this means for you as a voiceover actor? More in-person castings will be going away. You will continue recording auditions from home.
Recording Sessions: More and more, even your jobs will continue to happen in your home studio. Clients had to put this in place during COVID and are now realizing they’ve saved a lot of money, as well as time and management of scheduling. They’re getting used to talent having high-quality, in-home studios. They themselves have invested in Sound Kits they’ve put together and which are sometimes delivered to the talent’s home by courier. This is coupled with the ease of scheduling because there’s not a third party involved: “Can you do it this afternoon? Tomorrow?” When the actor can say “Yes!” then… presto! It’s done, saving time and the management of scheduling.
What does this means for you as a voiceover actor? Honestly, it’s surprising what has sometimes passed as good sound throughout this past year. It’s cheaper and faster, and now very doable. Sound quality expectations will probably be higher once we aren’t in crisis mode, and the bigger budget commercials, high-end video games, and animation may very likely want to bring you into the studio for the best audio quality. But now you also will need to have your own home studio with capabilities for good quality if you’re represented by an agency in a major market.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to invest in this until you know you need it, but you must have at least an “audition quality” set up at home. If you get into a bind to record, there are now places you can book and pay for out of your own pocket, which was not the case during lockdown. However, those studios can’t get as many actors in at a time, so that’s something to consider as well. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity, and yet, you don’t want to overspend until you know this is what you want to put your time and money into. The good news is that, if you’re starting out, there’s a little more wiggle room now on how much money to put into a beginning home studio.
Source Connect: This audio software solution is still the number one go-to for clients to use when you book a job. However, some studios are using Cleanfeed.net for looping and ADR, so actors can go to a website instead of purchasing a license from Source Connect. If you primarily do commercial, animation, and/or video games, you will probably need to license Source Connect and pay a monthly fee. (Talk with your rep, and of course, use their guidance.) This is not the kind of thing that you should wait to buy only if you book a job. You need it ready to go, and to do that, you will need to walk through it with a Source Connect rep, have some knowledge of how to use it, and what to do with it.
Classes: I see these continuing online through a Zoom-type format for a while. From my experience, the remote classes have worked quite well and are more valuable than ever since we can’t have group in-person learning (at least in Los Angeles). It’s an excellent way to find community and have hands-on practice. A lot of the online info out there tends to make broad sweeping statements that may not be true in every situation. So, in-person classes from working V.O. artists, casting directors, and the like are the best way to go. The regulations on COVID sanitization and vaccination will probably keep us in this next phase for awhile. It’s still important to meet people even through this process and keep up your skills and knowledge of what’s going on.
The good news is that voiceover is more alive and well than ever—it has been a resilient piece of the entertainment community that continued even during the toughest days of the lock down. A well-known animator recently told me on my podcast that he’s never been busier!
Kathy Grable is an L.A. voice-over prototype with a warmth and sincerity that reminds listeners of a close friend. You’ve heard her in animated shows like Tom & Jerry, Rocket Power, and Futurama and commercials for Pepsi, Disney, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, and as the Baskin-Robbins “Talking Spoon.” Kathy was also the voice double for Nicole Kidman in the hit film Batman Forever. On-camera, she’s been seen in Mike & Molly, Harry’s Law, Last Man Standing, and The Wedding Band on TBS. She’s a sought-after V/O coach, director, and demo producer. When not performing, Kathy co-owns and operates a company that distributes e-books, comics, audio dramas, and her own podcast, In My Voice, with guests from all aspects of the voiceover world. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or go to https://anchor.fm/kathy-grable0 for all the episodes.