I tend to go for jobs that give me more than just a paycheck at the end of the month. During my marketing years in Paris for SHIGETA I learned the benefits of aromatherapy and massages with the masseuse goddess herself, Chico Shigeta. But since I started voice acting and especially long-form narrations, I've discovered a whole new realm of practices essential to this career and with the lucky side-effect of benefiting my overall health. Below are the top 5 most helpful practices I'm taking away from this career so far.
If there was only 1 mantra for voice actors I believe it would be hydration. It's amazing the amount of water you go through during recording sessions! The one in my profile pic - recording the role of Yvette for an exciting video-game set during the French Revolution - was a 1.5 liter / hour ratio. Besides the fact that your body and cells just needs regular water replenishment (especially in a hot and airless recording box...), proper hydration is essential to keeping those vocal cords supple and reducing annoying mouth noises.
Exit the salty and spicy, hello light and digestible. This doesn't mean you should starve yourself - stomachs can get very vocal as well - but just that you should pay more attention to how some types of food impact your performance. I do my recordings in the morning and my go to breakfast is a bowl of fruits with nuts. Dairy is known to be a big no no... but I'm French so can't totally get rid of that one.
3. Dental hygiene
No I did not start brushing my teeth when I started into voice acting. What I did do is start brushing more often during the day. I've found this to be the most effective tool against mouth noises (them again!).
4. Daily workout
Sirens, keys, tongue twisters ("red leather, yellow leather")... you name it. These are all part my morning vocal workout to get the best enunciation and sound. I also stretch for about 10 minutes just to get the blood flowing and keep a good posture. No matter how good you are, hunched shoulders are going to make your character sound defeated (I actually use this for some teenager roles in an ongoing project). I've learned I sound most energetic when my head is nice and straight with a slight upward tilt.
Actually breathing is kind of a controversial subject in the audiobook world. Should you hear your breaths? Should you erase them? After much trial and error as well as many hours spent listening to veteran narrators, I have decided to embrace them. One, I am not a robot and it just sounds more natural to hear some breathing. Two, if you are trying to avoid them, you either have to stop breathing - again, I am not a robot - or erase the breaths out of your recordings which is incredibly tedious and time-consuming. Now, with each book I work on, I am increasing my breathing capacity and refining my pace and flow... while also toning my abs! Love this job )
So what do you think? Would the "Voice over Detox" make it to the NY Times bestselling list?
French-American audiobook narrator and VO. Paris born, San Francisco living, Japan lovin'. Find out more.