With so many of pieces of software out there that do essentially the same thing, it can be really confusing and really difficult to pick one for yourself. But don’t worry about it, because in this week’s video, I’m going to talk about software, what you need, and how to get it. Here we go.
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Okay, so you want to give this whole voice-acting thing a try, but first, you need a way to get this voice into that machine. In this video, I’m going to show you all the hardware you need to do just that.
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I’m Joe Zieja, former Air Force Captain, and now a voice actor and author in the Los Angeles area. I have been featured in thousands of corporate videos, narration, commercials, promos, video games, anime, cartoons, everything. And I’ve done a fair amount of it from my home studio. In today’s video, we’re going to talk about the signal chain, what that means, and three essential pieces of gear you need to start getting into voice acting.
So what’s a signal chain? A signal chain is the path your voice takes from you to the computer. Someone asks you what your signal chain is, they’re just saying, “what kind of equipment do you have? What’s in between your lips and my ears?” There’s a bunch of things that can be included in that signal chain. A microphone, a preamp, an interface, a computer. Some people also include the audio software they use, and the way that they transfer files to the client.
We’re going to talk about the three essential pieces of gear in your signal chain that you need to get started. First, a microphone. Now, there are thousands of different kinds and brands and all that kind of stuff of microphones out there. You want to start with something basic. I’m going to recommend the MXL 990/991 condenser microphone. Don’t go with a dynamic microphone. It’s a bunch of techno stuff, I’ll explain why, maybe, in another more detailed video. But use a condenser microphone. I started with the MXL 990/991. You can get it for less than $100. It’s easy to use, it takes a lot of beating, and it’s a very reliable, decent-sounding microphone that’s great to start with.
I do not recommend going the USB route. A lot of people are asking me, like, what kind of USB mic should I use for this? I just don’t like the way that USB mics sound. Neither do clients, for the most part. And they can tell the difference. A USB mic doesn’t sound as good, it’s more difficult to upgrade, and also it doesn’t sound as good. If you absolutely must get a USB microphone, check out something that Blue makes, like the Blue Yeti or the Blue Snowball. Test a couple out and see which ones sound the best. Again, I don’t recommend going the USB mic route.
Second, you need an interface, something to take the signal from the microphone to your computer. Think of it like a soundcard, which is basically what it is. It’s an external soundcard that takes the signal from the microphone, digitizes it, and then gives it to your computer in a way that it can understand. For beginners, I recommend the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface. This is a extremely easy-to-use, plug-and-play interface that I’ve never had any issues with. Focusrite makes really solid products that are free of any of those weird technical things that, when you try to set up a new piece of hardware, takes you hours to do. That’s been my major problem with most interfaces, is that they’re difficult to set up. Focusrite is plug-and-play, and every piece of gear that I mention today, you’re going to see a link for in the description below.
Do you already have some pieces of a signal chain? Post them in the comments below.
The third thing you need seems kind of obvious, but a good computer and some cables to connect it all together. I use Canare, C-A-N-A-R-E, cables, their XLR cables are the ones you need to connect your microphone to your interface. The computer doesn’t need to be that whiz-bang. You’re just processing audio, you’re not really going to start producing video. If you want to produce video, you’re going to need something a little bit more powerful. But in our case, we’re just looking at something, probably, that was made in the last five years or so. A good CPU with about 8 gigabytes of RAM is your minimum baseline for a PC, or Mac. You’re also going to need some kind of recording software, but we’re going to go into that in another video.
Okay, so maybe I lied that you only need three pieces of gear. You’re also going to need something that helps you listen back. Now, before you spend hundreds of dollars on a complicated high-fidelity studio monitor system, I just recommend getting a pair of headphones. The Sennheiser HD280 is the brand and the model that I recommend. I still have one in my studio today. They’re not very expensive, they’re all over the place, and the fidelity is good enough that you get a good sense of the quality of your audio, without being too technically specific with the frequencies.
That’s it. That’s your signal chain. It’s not too scary, right? With a couple of pieces of equipment and a modest investment, you are well on your way, and have everything you need, to start laying down some tracks. But the most important thing is, get out there, and start doing it. Start getting some experience, and figure out what works for you, and your gear.
That’s a wrap. If you liked this video, if it helped you, let me know in the comments below, and let me know by liking and subscribing to the channel. If you hit the bell, you then get notified every time I post something new. And I am posting something new every week. I also encourage you to follow me on social media, the links of which are all in the description below, where you’ll get more tips, tricks, behind-the-scenes, funny stuff, all the good stuff that’s out there, from a voice actor in Los Angeles.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you in the booth.
Voice acting is a passion. It’s an art. All artists like working for free. Right? Nope! Pay me. In this video, we’re going to talk about three places to find paying voiceover work. Here we go. For more great hints and tips about how to become a voice actor, click Like and Subscribe on this video and hit the bell icon so you get notified every time I post something new. I’m Joe Zieja, former Air Force captain and now a voice actor and author in the Los Angeles area. I’ve done thousands of videos, commercials, promos, cartoons, animations from my home studio, and you bet I got paid for it all.
We all want to find work that’s creatively fulfilling. They say that whole thing about, find something that you love doing, and you’ll never work a day in your life. We all want to be fulfilled. We want something that feels easy and free and is rewarding. But you know what else is great? Eating. And you can’t do that if you’re not making money. voiceover is a unique industry. It’s freelance, but it’s its own specific kind of freelance. We’ll talk about some of the nuances about how to find that work today when I give you three places you’re going to be able to find voice acting work today.
Source number one, marketing. Now, I’m going to be completely honest with you, here. Marketing, not my thing. Never has been my thing. But there are many talent I know who have made their entire career out of marketing. They have complicated CRMs. They had Excel spreadsheets. They follow up. They’re extremely diligent about the way they contact their clients and potential clients and it really works out for them. So marketing is one of the three ways that I recommend people look for voice acting work. Essentially, you’re looking for someone that you think would need voiceover. Look for production houses. Look for people that are making videos. Look for people that are making cartoons on the web. Look for people that are making video games, independent video game studio. Reach out to them. Don’t be afraid, because the worst they can do is what? Say no. Right?
Honestly, 95% of them are going to say no. You have to be okay with that before you start doing marketing. In order to do effective marketing, you’re going to need a couple of tools. As a matter of fact, you’re going to need tools for all three of these sources. Namely, some good communication skills to make a pitch letter, and a good demo. We’ll talk about that stuff in a later video. What’s your one biggest fear about marketing? Post it in the comments below.
Source number two, agents. Do you absolutely hate the idea of doing any marketing and going out there and getting rejected and shmoozing and calling and emailing? Good, because that’s what agents are for. An agent’s job is to go out there, find the people that need voiceover, and then bring you the opportunities. They build a roster of highly skilled talent that can fell a whole number of different … solve a whole number of different problems for people who are looking for voice acting. Then they bring those opportunities to you. Note one important thing. I said opportunities. I did not say jobs.
An agent’s purpose, an agent’s job, is to bring you opportunities that you then have to audition, and audition well. You need to be working on your craft. You need to be making sure that your home studio setup sounds good enough so that someone isn’t distracted by it when you get an audition. Agents typically take a 10% commission. That means who is going to do the 90% of the work? It’s you. Finding an agent could be tricky business. I’ve got another video out there that shows you how to navigate the agent marketplace, how to present yourself, and how to know that you’re ready for an agent.
Source number three, online casting websites. Hoo boy. I saved this one for last for a couple of reasons. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding online casting websites because of the way that they bill people, the way that people think it becomes a bidding war and drives down prices in the industry. There’s all sorts of stigma to online casting websites that make it difficult to talk about. But I will say that when I started out, online casting websites represented about 95% of my career. You may be familiar with these kind of sites already if you’ve ever done any freelance work, because we are freelancers. Sites like Fiverr, Elance, and Upwork, those are all kind of … I won’t say that they’re casting websites because they’re not casting anybody, but it’s the same kind of format. Casting websites aggregate needs from all over the world into some kind of online database where you can then go, probably pay a membership fee, and then have some opportunities to audition.
By far, the most powerful of these websites are Voices.com, Voice123, bodalgo, and VO Planet. There are lots of them out there and I encourage you to explore them all and form your own opinions. Each one of these websites has something about it that maybe makes people uncomfortable to talk about, whether it’s the way that they bill their clients, the way they structure their membership fees. It’s something that you have to decide for yourself how you’re going to build a career. Don’t let anybody else browbeat you into not using something that’s going to get you paid, going to get your family fed. What I will say, is if you are going to use these sites, bid what you are worth. Do not undercut. Do not work for five dollars. The idea of a voice actor on Fiverr is absolutely ridiculous. If you can speak properly, you’re worth more than five dollars for your voiceover.
If you’re looking for a guide on what to charge, check the description in the links below and I will give you what’s called a GVAA rate guide, Global Voice Acting Academy’s rate guide. They’ll break things down for you there. I’ll also break it down for you in a future video. That’s it. Those are the three main sources of voice acting work that I know of and that I use in my career. Now, each of them have their won pros and consumers. Again, I encourage you to figure out what works for you. Probably some kind of hybrid model, like it is for me. I know talent that have made each of those sources an exclusive representation of their careers and have done very well. So no two careers are the same. The most important thing is you get out there and start spitting on some microphones. Try some stuff and see what works.
Have you already started finding work? Post some places in the comments where you’ve found some success. That’s a wrap. I encourage you to follow me on social media for more hints and tips on how to be a voice actor, some behind-the-scenes looks, and, of course, some funny stuff because I like to joke around as much as anybody. Those links are in the description below. If this video helped you, let me know by leaving a comment below. Hit the Like button and make sure you dot forget to subscribe. Thanks very much for stopping by and I’ll see you in the booth.
I told my wife a thousand times I would never, ever in a million years move to California. Then I became a voice actor. For more great tips on how to get started in voice acting and how to refine your craft, click the subscribe button below and make sure to hit the bell so you get notified when I post a new video every week.
I’m Joe Zieja, former air force captain, and now a voice actor and author in the Los Angeles area. I’ve let my voice to thousands of videos, commercials, animated cartoons all over the place, and I’ve done quite a bit of it from my home studio. But now that I’m in Los Angeles, I’m all over the place. In this video, I’m going to take you through three facts about Los Angeles and why it might be the right move for you if you’re going to get into voice acting.
Fact number one, this is a big pond. The great thing about Los Angeles is that there are so many people in it. There are so many opportunities. There are so many places to get coaching, find gigs, meet casting directors, all that stuff. The bad thing about Hollywood is, it’s a big pond. There are thousands and thousands of very highly skilled, highly trained talent all within a small radius, all competing for the same work.
You’re diving right into a pool of extremely competitive talent and it’s going to be very, very hard to stand out no matter how good you are. The most common thing I hear from people when they get rejected from agents in Los Angeles is, “They said they already had somebody that sounded like me.” It’s probably true. Although each of us has our own unique voice print, we’re all lumped into categories and it’s going to be very difficult for you to stand out.
If you have trouble coping with the idea that you may experience long periods of rejection or long periods of not working, Los Angeles may not be the place for you and that’s totally okay. You can still pursue a voice acting career not in Los Angeles, although there will be some limitations that we’ll talk about in the rest of this video.
As a matter of fact, I spent about two years developing my voice acting career before I moved to Los Angeles and it’s served me very well when I came in because I came into Los Angeles with a pretty solid career and a solid idea of what I was doing. People ask me all the time, how do you become successful in Los Angeles?” My answer is always, you should be successful before you get to Los Angeles. What have you heard about acting in Los Angeles? Post it in the comments below. Let’s have a rumor mill.
Fact number two, you could earn more, but you will spend more. It is a fact that Los Angeles is one of the most expensive places in the country, if not the world to live. Renting a two bedroom apartment in the middle of Hollywood where it is noisy and crazy and insane is going to cost you like $2,000 a month. So, you need to be prepared before you come out here that you’re going to spend more on housing.
That being said, in Los Angeles you now have access to some of the most powerful agents in the world. You have access to the most high paying job opportunities in the world. The career opportunities are huge. They are larger than what you’d find outside of Los Angeles, so it’s kind of a gamble. The union even has an extra pay scale for LA talent. LA pay scale is more than a pay scale for anywhere else in the country because people are willing to pay for Los Angeles talent.
Fact number three, and this was the big one for me. If you want to get into video games, animation and anime, that sort of thing, Los Angeles is the only place to be. With a few exceptions ff course. For me, this happened about two years after I started my career. I was doing very well. I’d quit my job, I was full time working for myself from home and I was talking to my manager at the time. I said, “Well, what am I doing now?” She said, “What do you want to do?”
I said, “I really want to get into games and animation. Games are my passion. I’ve been a gamer my whole life, I want to get into games” She’s like, “Pack your bags buddy, you’re moving to Los Angeles.” With very few exceptions, the video game and cartoon industry is all here. Everything is here. Cartoon Network is here, Nickelodeon is here, ES, all sorts of stuff. Sony, everybody’s here in Los Angeles.
There are some opportunities in New York and there are a few opportunities in Chicago and some in Texas for anime, and there’s a little bit of a small gaming community in Texas as well. But for the most part, if you’re going to go full throttle and you want to get into video games and animation, Los Angeles is the only place to do it.
Most studios won’t accept home studios from other parts in the world. They want you there with their directors. Sometimes you’re going to be working in a full motion capture suit and they obviously can’t film that from the other side of the world. Or, you might be working in an ensemble where there are eight actors in the same room recording the same script. For all that kind of stuff, you got to be in Los Angeles.
There you have it. LA is like a big casino; lots of risk with the potential for lots of reward. It’s going to cost you a lot more to live out here, but the potential to get bigger gigs and bigger opportunities and jump into video games and animation may be the deciding factor for you.
I wouldn’t change my decision for anything, but if you’re looking for a lower budget lifestyle with a lot less pressure and a lot less chaos and you’re not interested in video games and animation, then Los Angeles may not be the place for you, and that’s okay. In my video series we’re going to talk about all the things you can do to build a stable voiceover career from your home, so don’t worry about it.
But I got to tell you, the weather is pretty good. Here’s a question for you, what’s one thing you would miss about your current location if you did decide to move to Los Angeles? Post it in the comments below. That’s a wrap everyone. I encourage you to follow me on social media for more tips, tricks, and behind the scenes looks into a life of a voice actor in Los Angeles.
You can find all those links in the video description below. Make sure you like and subscribe if this video helped you and let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to hit the bell icon so you get notified when I post a new tip every week. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you in the booth.