VORG Web Article 04-17-2007

Are acting classes helpful for voice-actors?

By Marc Cashman

Surprising amounts of people in V-O don't come from acting backgrounds. They have great "pipes" or a great voiceprint, but their acting skills aren't strong. When I'm asked whether they should take an acting class, I say it depends upon what kind of classes they take and whom they take it with.

Voice acting today is based mainly upon using your natural voice. Listen to documentaries, voice-menu-prompt systems, or Radio and TV commercials, and you'll usually hear a natural-style voice-over. Voice-over producers look for voice actors with a sincere, believable voice. In most voice acting classes, actors pretend that the microphone is like someone's ear.

Therefore, ensure that any classes you attend teach you how to use your natural voice. Improvisation classes can be particularly helpful, teaching you spontaneity and how to be freer with your emotions. This is great for voice actors, preparing them for producers who'll tell you what emotion they want exhibited in a script.

But some acting classes aren't that helpful. Stage acting classes teach the actor to project so that their voice can be heard in the back of the theater, without the need of a microphone. Plus, being in front of a live audience calls for overacting, not the subtlety called for in voice acting. This is the opposite of a natural voice. With this type of training, it's common for the voice actor to over-project and overact. On-camera classes concentrate on body language, blocking, non-verbal techniques, and much, much more. They're not as concerned about the subtleties of voice acting, nor should they be.

Talk with acting teachers and explain that you're a voice actor looking to beef up your acting skills, and you're thinking of taking an acting class if their course can help you achieve that goal. Chances are, you'll find just the right teacher who can give you the skills you need to put the "acting" into voice acting.

About the author: www.cashmancommercials.com