Friday, August 12, 2016

What's next for AVA?

AVA's dedicated purpose is to provide a place for voice actors, myself included, to learn and grow in new and exciting ways. However, I want it to be more than me just me talking at you and hoping you'll listen. I want to make it more interactive for my readers and more cooperative with my peers in the industry.

And I'm here today to discuss how that might happen. I have some plans for new and interesting things for AVA, not just articles, but new formats of learning and exploring. I want to share a couple of these ideas real quick:

Let's Learn Accents series: By pulling a variety of accents out of our rear ends, voice actors can nimbly adapt to a large number of interesting roles that our natural accents wouldn't necessarily allow for. I have a decent repertoire of accents at the ready, but this is an opportunity for BOTH of us to learn something new, as I will also be tackling accents I'm not intimately familiar with, and then you can either sing my praises as the Vox Adonis (trademark pending, and no, you can't steal the name for your RPG!) or point and laugh as I fail miserably.

The way this will work is, I'll pick an accent - you are free to recommend one to me - and study it for roughly a month, with the intention being to publish one Let's Learn Accents per month. When the time comes to publish the article, I will list first a disclaimer about the nature of faking an accent (because people will probably get mad at me if I don't), then list the number of points that make that accent unique from others. By memorizing and practicing those points, we can craft an accent that sounds genuine and believable. Finally, I will post a sound clip or a video of me doing that accent using what I learned, and it's up to you to tell me how much I sucked.

Interviews: I am a curious individual, and I think it's important for voice actors to have a working knowledge and appreciation for the other aspects of the entertainment industry and related media. I would like to seek out and interview people of different walks of life - voice actors, audio engineers, game developers, animators, and perhaps even some more...tangentially-related professions and hobbies. I already have some figures I've zeroed in on, and I think we could all benefit from what we find.

Right now, interviews are going to be text only, as finding a way to efficiently record both me and the interviewee is proving to be a bit tricky. However, I would like to expand in the future and see if we can get text and audio at some point. Bear with me.

A quick list of planned articles:
- A short series on recording, editing, and exporting with Audacity for dummies (by a dummy)
- The usefulness of voice over lessons and what you get from them
- How to improve your voice acting before you start auditioning (not using them as your sole training)
- The art of narration: what I learned and how it differs from other types of voice over
- A series on how I got started voice acting
- And, you know, even more...

Have an idea for an article? If you've got an interesting perspective or piece of advice, I invite you to submit it so everyone can read it here. I'd love for AVA to become a place where everyone can freely share what they've learned and observed. That's really all I'm doing - I'm not a legend who's done this since time immemorial, I'm a trained but still young voice actor who wants to grow and help others grow with him. And to that end, I welcome the perspectives of others.

If you've got an article of your own you'd like to see posted here, you can email me at jamesburtonvo@gmail.com discussing what it's about, and I'll see what I can do to represent it here. Even if it's something you've just written previously (perhaps on your own blog or website), I can link back to it to share that perspective.

I always welcome constructive criticism. If you think something could stand to be improved about the blog layout, or one of my performances that I link to here, feel free to share it. (With tact, of course - telling me to die in a fire isn't going to look good on anyone.) To repeat, I'm not a pro who's been in the industry for decades, and I don't pretend to be one. I share what I've learned because I don't always hear those points being made, or perhaps not in the way I make them, but I still have a lot to learn, and if you can help me grow, I welcome your input.

Beyond your feedback and input, tell me also what you'd like to see in this site. I've shared a couple of ideas with you, and I do plan on writing further articles to expound on what I've observed so far, but let me know what sorts of things you think voice actors could use to grow, and perhaps we can work to make that happen here. Leave a comment, email me, send a carrier pigeon, whatever is necessary, and I'll see if I can accommodate.

I know there's no funny article this week, but I was hoping this could be audience participation time. What do you think of the idea of the Let's Learn Accents series, and what sort of accent would you like us to try first? Know anyone, or a certain profession, that you think could stand to be interviewed to learn their perspective? Any other cool ideas we can all use to grow together? Let me know so we can make this a better, more inclusive blog for everyone.

2 comments:

  1. I like the idea. Accents and impersonations are the way I have acted both on stage and behind the microphone. Most of the time my most natural voice is never heard from.

    I'd like to know where you find projects to audition for. BTVA keeps giving me the same thing whenever I search. I know there's more out there I'm not seeing. I think it'd also be nice to know how to cope with the 90% of the time you will be rejected.

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    1. Without an agent (and at the moment, I have no agent), auditions can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to find, because rarely is there one unified place to find them in (and the few sites that have that claim, like BTVA and Casting Call Club, can have their downsides). There are Facebook groups like Online Voice Actors Actresses and Voice Acting Alliance that people post public auditions to, and "Online voice over production jobs" is dedicated to professional-level paying jobs. Keeping my eyes peeled in those groups is how I've landed a few key roles.

      But one of the most difficult things I've had to learn about finding voice over work is that there is no streamlined process. I don't remember who it was, but I saw one voice actor post on Facebook that the focus should be less on auditions, and more on marketing and making yourself known to people who can pull you higher. That's something I can do better on, too, and it involves going straight to project creators (or potential ones) and becoming a friendly face to them so their minds immediately jump to you when they need a voice.

      Sometimes I get cast based on one audition out of many. Sometimes, inexplicably, they find me. The most bizarre case (involving a project I'm not yet allowed to talk about) involved someone finding my audiobook demo on YouTube (which has, like, 3 views) and asking me to audition for a video game. I got the part.

      My theory so far is, feel free to audition for a variety of roles, official and unofficial, professional and fan-level, to make your presence known, while going to project creators and keeping feelers out in groups and sites that may alert you to opportunities. There doesn't seem to be a "right" way of doing it, and I'm still working on how to do it better, so perhaps I'll keep you and the people of AVA posted.

      Perhaps the whole "dealing with job rejection" issue is worthy of its own article, so all I can say for now is, "don't take it personally." Sometimes the casting decision is a very, very difficult choice to make, or sometimes people choose randomly because they liked them all. Either way, if you're a good actor and you know it, and you didn't commit a basic auditioning error, it's more of an "it's not you, it's me" thing on the casting director's part. Best to decide what you can do better next time and try to knock everything afterwards out of the park.

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