So here we are, a fresh New Year full of promise and soon to be forgotten resolutions is upon us! I hope you all spent some great holidays with your friends and loved ones.
2017 was definitely fun but challenging as I embarked on this voice acting journey. Luckily I met some wonderful mentors and friends that helped me kick things off!
Some 2017 stats :
+ 40 auditions.
+ 30 audiobooks (23 already available on Audible).
+ 100 hours of finished recording.
I have also recorded TV ads, IVR systems, eLearning modules, one fantastic video game trailer and taken part in a swashbuckling TV pilot read! Check out all the videos and voice samples in my portfolio.
Here are the key takeaways that I am focusing on for 2018:
Reading a book or ad goes beyond enunciation techniques and vocal warmups. It’s about making clear and strong character voice choices.
For example in the With Myth Wildfire series by Alexandria Clarke, I had to find unique voices for over 10 different female characters. The easiest way to do this – just like in an improv scene – is to “cheat”, i.e. base your characters on people you know. For example, Adrienne was a delightful mix of twisted and femme fatale and always brought to mind Charlize Theron in "Snow White and the Huntsman". On the other hand her daughter Nora had a pure yet sparkling quality which I associate with Kirsten Dunst in a role like "Marie-Antoinette".
One of the biggest challenges for any audiobook reader is consistency – both of audio levels and character voices – especially on long projects.
On the technical side, the most useful tool in my belt is my setup which has graduated to include some sweet new headphones that make every single little mistake pop out crystal clear as well as a piano bench which help keep my posture straight and level during long recording sessions. On the acting side, commiting to character voices can be tricky when the character’s appearances are few and widespread throughout a story – like the nasty inspector in the French adaptation of Once Gone by Blake Pierce. Once again, associating the character with a person you know is my most useful tip to keep track of things.
Rhythm and pacing are key to an enjoyable listen. I took this very literally in my first audiobook project – With Summers Songs by Janice Cole Hopkins – where I added music to keep with the story’s musical thread.
Even when stories are not as musically inclined, I've always noticed that the rhythm of the voice makes a huge difference in my attention and retention of a story. For example, marking a clear tone change at the beginning of a paragraph helps to better follow the structure of a story. The same goes for properly “closing” your sentences (finishing in a downward tone for sentences other than questions). Chapter ends are also interesting depending on whether you want to give a cliff-hanger feeling or if there is a sense of finality in the text.
Probably the most important thing to producing a good audiobook is to care about the content, no matter whether you are reading a book summary, some puppy dog training techniques... or playing a runaway alien on a mission to save humanity.
To quote my improv teachers: “believe It and they will see it”
Finally some audiobook recommendations from other narrators which I really enjoyed (and learned from):
Would love to hear from you ! Have you listened to any of my audiobooks or come across my voice on a voice messaging system? Remember, the first book on Audible is free :)
French-American audiobook narrator and VO. Paris born, San Francisco living, Japan lovin'. Find out more.