All voice actors have experienced "Mic shock", you have read the script, and get prepared for the session to go in a certain direction, but the client changes things up.
Voice coach Deb Munro from Deb's Voice did a great job of addressing this scenario recently, and here is what she had to say.
"You’re in the studio…you were well prepared when you arrived…You begin to voice the project at hand and the clients want you to go in a different direction. If you’re a seasoned pro, you know exactly what to do because you always come prepared with another option in your back pocket, but let’s face it, even the pro’s will get stumped from time to time and it probably took them some time before they figured out how to always be prepared for the unexpected.
"This has happened to me more times than I like to admit. I can be extremely creative and spontaneous and I know how to bring copy to life, but there have been times when I’ve been asked to offer another option and I either resort to traditional stock characters (whether broadcast or animation) or I resort to stock reads. If you’re a good talent you can get away with this but I live under the theory that there is always someone better, brighter and faster than you are, so always attain to be the best you that you can be. This meant I needed to be prepared for these kinds of situations because if I’m not, someone else will be.
"If you are a newbie or newer to the industry, I can’t suggest enough how important it is for you to go and watch the pros in action. Volunteer for a studio or local casting/director or just ask to watch the next animation or commercial being performed. You’d be amazed at what you can learn from watching others who’ve been doing this for years. You will notice that they usually bring out more than one option to their read and in fact the clients may pull them in a thousand different directions by the time they’re done. This is why versatility is so important in this craft. You have to make bold choices, and but still be flexible.
"More than likely we spend some time prior to the project or audition prepping. We make choices and work hard to apply them while we’re performing (while at the same time making it sound all natural – as if you made no distinct choices at all). Once we are given direction, if we are too memorized or stuck in our choices, we can become harder to direct. This is one reason they suggest we don’t memorize in Voice. Interesting enough the same is true for film, yet you do have to memorize and still be adaptable.
"So let’s say you are doing a commercial and you’ve done it the way the client suggested but now they’ve asked you if you have anything else and to you, it’s a car commercial that seems pretty cut and dry to you:
"Head on down to City Ford NOW for the mega countdown 2012 sale. All new and used vehicles priced to clear to make room for our new 2012 line up. You don’t want to miss this!
"The clients are used to your standard broadcast read on this particular project that you’ve been voicing for years and is usually what they expect but today they want a change and just aren’t sure what they want (which is very common) and so it’s up to you to offer something unique and current. With commercials it’s safe to choose different styles of reads, but I still prefer to take on different personality types.
"I work with professions. So let’s say my first read was professional/broadcasty – then I would have read that as an on air talent (with a bit more realism), so now I will change it up and make myself the owner of the company who is about to lose his business if he doesn’t sell these trucks today, or perhaps the arrogant shopper who thinks they own the company but they don’t, (in fact they are just shoppers who think they own a piece of the company) or perhaps a psychotic woman who is just a nut. Each one of these choices in profession will offer me a completely different read.
"For animation it’s a little more detailed with choices and a lot more out of the box. For example the character is not animated yet and it can look like anything. Clients have no idea what they want. The script is as follows:
"Hurry. If we don’t get moving now, we’ll never get out of here on time. Ahhhh Watch out!
"Let’s say you have the luxury of making this whatever you want to. The first read you offer them is a typical superhero scene and you will save the day, but then you want to choose something outside of the box – this is where the sky is the limit but you have to know how to direct your mind to get to that creative spot. If you need to bring in a cheat sheet with notes that prompt creativity, go for it. WHATEVER IT TAKES PEOPLE – props can help but aren’t always recommended because they can make unwanted noise, but your pencil can be your best friend. Perhaps you will still be the superhero but change octave in your voice or put a pencil in your right cheek while you talk, suddenly this changes your character completely.
"Maybe you are a typical blue collar worker and the time clock is about to go off to release you for the weekend, but then the boss appears. Perhaps you are a mole in the ground and you are running from hole to hole as a mean human keeps filling each one, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones. You could be the mom/dad in a cave trying to find your way out, or for humors sake you could be a piece of poo trying to reach it is destination – okay a little much I know but you’d be surprised at one some people come up with and the results of some of the most bizarre choices.
"The point to all this is, you need to prepare for the inevitable; that you will be required to come up with something on your own in the spur of the moment. Will you freeze or will you be prepared? This is why it’s so important you are good at things like improv, character creation, acting and most importantly make believe. It happens to the best of this. Try and remember little things like this:
- Change the style of the read
- Change the speed or pitch
- Change the profession
- Change the age
- Change the location
- Change the scene completely
- Go from something totally out there
- Use your pencil to create a different sound
- Give your character an overbite
- How about an under bite
- How about with bucked teeth
"The sky is the limit – you are only limited to your imagination. There is something to playing it safe but the best will succeed by taking huge risks to be unique. Find your place and keep practicing on your own so you’ll be ready for the unexpected.
Thanks for sharing Deb! Anyone else out there want have any “Mic shock” stories they like to share?
JulieRae MacLeod Marketing and Sales @ InternetJock