Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting
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Don't Fast-forward Through Commercials...Biggest Mistakes In Voice Over: Part 2 | The Actors' Network

Don't Fast-forward Through Commercials...Biggest Mistakes In Voice Over: Part 2 | The Actors' Network | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

Voice actor, Anna Vocino, recently startted a series about the typical mistakes voice actors (and those aspiring to be) make and how to avoid them. Her latest post talks about why it is critical to watch TV and listen to radio. 

 

We can't tell you how many actors we've run into over the years who smugly assert that they don't own a TV as though it were some kind of badge of honor. To these actors we say, "Get over yourself." On the other hand, if you genuinely feel that watching TV is somehow "beneath you," that's fine, but then with the exception of industrial narration and possibly audiobooks, you probably shouldn't waste your time pursuing voiceover. 

 

Why? Commercial, animation and game breakdowns are chockful of references to characters and actors that you wouldn't understand unless you watch TV and get pop culture references. If a script  refers to a "Ron Swanson"-type, someone with a Cat Denning vibe or "Rick Grimes" from "The Walking Dead," you need to have a general idea of who those characters are. Does this mean that you have to watch every episode of every show? No. That's why God created YouTube. BUT you need to have an awareness of what and who is popular, because we can guarantee you, that even if you're not watching TV, the writers and producers who cast commercials, cartoons and games are.

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Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting
Stay informed and on top of the changes in our rapidly-evolving voiceover industry.
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The Atlantic: "Hollywood's Voice-Over Community Is Reeling"

The Atlantic: "Hollywood's Voice-Over Community Is Reeling" | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

 

The Atlantic: "High-profile white voice actors are relinquishing their roles as characters of color. But the departures have caused divisions among their peers."

Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Interesting article which discusses how actors, like Kristin Bell and Hank Azaria, have recently relinquished playing characters who are supposed to be people of color and the changes this will have on voiceover casting going forward. While their actions were generally applauded, there are still a few dissenting voices within the industry, including casting directors, who believe that the best actor, irrespective of race or ethnicity, should be chosen for the role.

 

That you should only consider actors of the same race if the character is supposed to be a person of color seems obvious to me; there should be no ambiguity about that, but casting based on an actor's ethnicity seems like a more complicated, nuanced issue. If only Americans are allowed to play Americans, British only British characters and Australians only Australians, it seems as though half the roles in TV and movies will have to be recast.

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As Audiobook Market Grows, Narrators of Color Find Their Voice - The New York Times

As Audiobook Market Grows, Narrators of Color Find Their Voice - The New York Times | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

NY Times: "Publishers are increasingly seeking out audio talent that reflects the race and experience of the books’ authors and characters. But what constitutes a black, Latino or Asian voice?"

Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Far too long overdue, but finally audiobook narrators are able to compete on the basis of their talent---their ability to connect with a story and engage their audience---as opposed to just whether they have the  perfect neutral Mid-western "American" accent (whatever that is or ever was). 

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A Century of “Shrill”: How Bias in Technology Has Hurt Women’s Voices | New Yorker Magazine

A Century of “Shrill”: How Bias in Technology Has Hurt Women’s Voices | New Yorker Magazine | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

Has audio technology been shaped by, tailored to and optimized for the voiceband frequency of male voices and if so, are women using the same recording technology at an inherent disadvantage? New Yorker writer, Tina Tallon makes a compelling case as she reveals "how gendered technological bias and failures in the design of audio technology have affected how women’s voices are perceived in society." 

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Do You Know What To Charge For Your Voiceover Work? | Joe Zieja

Valuable information contained in this video from LA-based, voice talent, Joe Zieja, in which he explains the difference between "session" and "usage" fees, why you should avoid "in perpetuity" buyouts and where you can find the best online tool for figuring out how much to charge for any type of voiceover job, from ads to e-learning to games.

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How You Should Invest in Your Voiceover Career To Avoid Throwing Away  Your Money

How You Should Invest in Your Voiceover Career To Avoid Throwing Away  Your Money | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

Helpful, realistic advice from voice actor, Jamie Muffett, on how to get the most bang for your voiceover training buck and keep your expectations in check. 

Sirenetta Leonis insight:
We strongly agree with Jamie that acting is key and you are better off starting with studying the essentials, namely learning how to act, script analysis and taking direction. As he says the other stuff (recording technology, business, marketing, etc.) can be learned later. 

Unfortunately, some aspiring voice actors start off by sinking thousands of dollars into top-of-the-line recording equipment, without realizing that if you're unable to interpret copy and deliver the client's message effectively, all the Neumanns in the world won't help you. 
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The Current State of Voiceover: Two Approaches Radio/Broadcast and Acting | Huffington Post

The Current State of Voiceover: Two Approaches Radio/Broadcast and Acting | Huffington Post | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it
We think veteran casting director, producer, and author, Kate McClanaghan, offers some interesting insights in this article. While we don't disagree with her primary contention that there are two differing paths people seem to take with regards to embarking on a voiceover career—"the broadcast/radio approach and the acting approach"—we think that she really gets to the heart of it with her on-target observation: "I’ve worked with relatively inexperienced talent who were infinitely more professional than some of those I’ve had in the booth with 20 or more years of “mic experience.” It’s all relative. You’re either a professional or you’re not."

We absolutely agree with this and will go so far as to state that taking a professional approach is most important; more than "natural talent." Anyone can plug a mic into his or her computer and call him- or herself a "voice actor" or "voice artist," but what really distinguishes voice actors from one another is their degree of professionalism and how seriously they take their craft. Those who study, develop a critical ear, seek out professional training, commit to developing and honing their skills, and are willing to do the work—even the parts that aren't necessarily fun or immediately lucrative—are the ones who have the greatest chance of succeeding in this business and building sustainable careers. 
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The Science Behind Hating Hillary's Voice: Is It Loud, Monotone, Shrill? Or Sexist?

The Science Behind Hating Hillary's Voice: Is It Loud, Monotone, Shrill? Or Sexist? | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it


"Commentators often criticize Hillary Clinton for having a loud, monotone, and shrill voice. In this video, The Atlantic..talks to voice experts to understand what makes Clinton’s voice allegedly more annoying than her competitors. The conclusions are complex...And then, of course, there’s another element at play: sexism." 

An interesting analysis, not only of Hillary's speech delivery, but of underlying societal differences of how male and female politicians' voices are perceived. 

From a voiceover perspective, one of the experts interviewed makes an astute observation on how Hillary projects from the throat rather than using her diaphragm which adds to the overall flatness. 

 The ultimate question the video poses though is "Should she, or we, care?" Of course, as voice professionals we'd have to say "Yes, it wouldn't hurt for her to work with a voice coach to modulate and improve her delivery," but we take your point, The Atlantic.


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Lin-Manuel Miranda Powerfully, Movingly, Eloquently Expresses Solidarity With Orlando | US Magazine

Lin-Manuel Miranda Powerfully, Movingly, Eloquently Expresses Solidarity With Orlando | US Magazine | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

Powerful, heartfelt, beautiful. Thanks Lin Manuel Miranda for putting our feelings into words in your inimitably eloquent way: "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love." #WeStandWithOrlando

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The 'Hamilton' Cast Shares Top Acting Tips That Apply To Voice Acting, Too! | Backstage

"Three of "Hamilton's" cast members offer actors their best advice in the wake of their 2016 Tony Award nominations! Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr), Jonathan Groff (King George III), and Christopher Jackson (George Washington) share their advice on auditions, vocal care, and not throwing away your shot!"


While their advice specifically pertains to theatre, 90% applies to voiceover as well. Those of you who work on long-form projects which require stamina, focus and commitment over weeks, months, and sometimes even years (audiobooks, e-learning modules, text-to-speech data bases) will find their insights particularly relevant in that they address your same challenges of sustaining a high level of performance and maintaining good vocal quality over time. 

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7-Time Tony Award-Nominated Actor & Disney's "Robin Hood," Brian Bedford, Dies at 80

All Disney cartoons & images go Walt Disney Pictures. I Own nothing
Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Versatile and gifted actor, Brian Bedford, was renowned for his wide-ranging repertoire of classic stage roles over a career spanning seven decades, but to many of us, he'll be best remembered as "Robin Hood" from Disney's animated classic. Thank you for the great, inspired performances & commitment to your craft, Mr Bedford. May you rest in peace.


For more information on his life and brilliant career: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/14/theater/brian-bedford-master-stage-actor-dies-at-80.html

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Saoirse Ronan Teaches Stephen Colbert How NOT To Do An Irish Accent | CBS

The star of Brooklyn gives Stephen a primer in speaking with an Irish brogue. 

Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Saorise Ronan demonstrates to Stephen Colbert why everything you learned about doing an Irish accent is probably wrong, plus a tutorial on impossible-to-pronounce Irish names. For example, who knew that "Saorise" rhymes with "inertia"?

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How to tell if you're "voice loser" and how blowing into a straw can save your voice (video) | Vox.com

How to tell if you're "voice loser" and how blowing into a straw can save your voice (video) | Vox.com | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

"People who talk from deep in their chests...tend to put more strain on their vocal cords (from over-usage) than people who talk from higher up, closer to the front of the face. It's possible to train yourself to become more of the latter."

Sirenetta Leonis insight:

IF YOU'VE EVER STRUGGLED THROUGH A SESSION OR AUDITION BECAUSE YOUR VOICE WASN'T 100%, YOU NEED TO WATCH THESE VIDEOS STAT!!!

 

Some of you may already be familiar with vocologist Ingo Titze's famous straw warm-ups that, if practiced regularly, can strengthen your vocal cords and train you to produce sounds in the healthiest way possible.

 

Even if you're not, it's worth investing a few minutes of your time to learn these helpful, quick-fix techniques, which can help you stay productive and in top form vocally even on days when you've over-used your voice and it starts to sound tired and hoarse.

 

If you have time, we recommend watching both videos, the first with Ingo Titze, who created these exercises, and the second with vocal coach, Tom Burke, who demonstrates the right (and wrong) ways to do the straw exercises.

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‘NPR Voice’ Has Taken Over the Airwaves | NY Times...and Why Voice Actors Should Care

‘NPR Voice’ Has Taken Over the Airwaves |  NY Times...and Why Voice Actors Should Care | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it
With the rise of amateur broadcasters comes a plague of pregnant pauses and off-kilter pronunciations.
Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Does this mean that you should look for Ira Glass to replace James Earl Jones in the Darth Vader flashback scene in upcoming "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens"?

Okay, we probably wouldn't go that far and we suspect that there will always be a place in voiceover for the Morgan Freemans, Benedict Cumberbatches and Judi Denches of the world, but it is important for the rest of us to note this unpolished everyguy/gal voice trend is being reflected in current advertising, too.

However, beware that if you choose to imitate it, please proceed with caution...While less is definitely more nowadays, "conversational and real" is king and you don't necessarily need "Voice of God" to sell a product, you still, however, need to be connected to the copy and the listener, and sound authentic and engaged. Examples, they cite, such as Ira and Marc Maron are "unpolished." but still genuinely curious and passionate about whatever they are discussing. A listless, flat read is still a listless, flat read and no sponsor will pay you to do that.

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CBS Sunday Morning: "Hear all about it: The rise in audiobooks"

Smartphones and digital downloads have helped make audio recordings of books a billion-dollar industry, with more than 45,000 new audiobooks recorded last year alone. Correspondent David Pogue talks with actors Laurence Fishburne, Jesse Eisenberg and Scott Brick, and thriller writer Brad Meltzer, about this expanding chapter in book publishing.

Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Entertaining piece from CBS This Morning on the rising popularity of audiobooks, featuring audiobook reader par excellence, Scott Brick, well-known to many of you. Looks like everyone wants in these days, including top Hollywood celebs. One other interesting thing they mention is that they are bypassing the "book" part altogether and pieces are being written expressly to be performed as audio plays. IIRC used to call them radio dramas, which just goes to prove that there is still a demand for theater of the mind. My one beef with the piece is that the only female narrator is shown on camera for literally one second. It would have been nice to have gotten her perspective, as well.

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Will Ferrell Plays Drama Teacher From Hell in Cut-for-Time SNL Sketch | Vulture.com

Will Ferrell Plays Drama Teacher From Hell in Cut-for-Time SNL Sketch | Vulture.com | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

All of my fellow past and present high school Drama nerds will appreciate this sketch which was cut for time from last week's SNL hosted by Will Ferrell. It's uneven, like many SNL sketches, but you may get a few laughs or more likely wince in recognition. 

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Lupita Nyong’o under fire from disability groups for 'evil' voice in Us | Film | The Guardian

Lupita Nyong’o under fire from disability groups for 'evil' voice in Us | Film | The Guardian | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it
Spasmodic dysphonia groups criticise actor for crediting disability as inspiration for her doppelganger’s voice in Jordan Peele film...
Sirenetta Leonis insight:

On one hand, as an actor, I fully understand and appreciate how you might draw inspiration for a character from an unexpected and unusual source, but ultimately, have to side with the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) in its criticism of Lupita Nyong’o for her recent revelation that she based the strained voice of her murderous character, "Red," in the film "Us," on Robert F Kennedy Jr, who has the disorder that causes involuntary spasms of the larynx. In raising their objection, the NSDA explained, "We understand that hearing the unique sound caused by symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia was the spark of inspiration for the voice of this character. What is difficult for us, and for the thousands of people living with spasmodic dysphonia, is this association to their voice with what might be considered haunting...Spasmodic dysphonia is not a creepy voice; it’s not a scary voice. It’s a disability that people are living with and [they] shouldn’t be judged on.” 

 

 

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"In $25 billion video game industry, voice actors face broken vocal cords and low pay." Washington Post

"In $25 billion video game industry, voice actors face broken vocal cords and low pay." Washington Post | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it
Ashly Burch is a top voice actor — a career that comes with the risk of hemorrhaged vocal cords and little in the way of job security.
Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Insightful article from the Washington Post on the changing role of voice actors in the video game industry, including the long-term effects of vocal stress, the low pay for game work relative to other media and the consequences of the recently-settled SAG-AFTRA strike. 

 

The article, while fair,  is generally sympathetic to the voice actor's point-of-view. This observation from voice actor Kate Flannery really hit home with us: “That’s the weird thing about vocal stress...You push yourself to do these voices because you want to be easy to work with. And that’s where you get hurt. There’s a people-pleasing aspect that doesn’t happen when you’re [onscreen] acting.” 

 

Any voice actor who has been around a while has found him- or herself in a situation where, eager to please, they pushed themselves way too hard, and suffered the consequences. If they were lucky, they only lost their voice for a day or two. Others not so fortunate however, have suffered long-term and even permanent damage. Voice actors should be afforded more protection in this area and allowed to say "no" when a client is asking them to go beyond what is reasonable and do something potentially damaging to their voice without fear of repercussion or being blackballed for "being difficult."

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Something Else for Voice Actors to Worry About? Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana...Morgan Freeman? Meet The New Personal AI Assistant Zuck Built For His Family. 

Something Else for Voice Actors to Worry About? Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana...Morgan Freeman? Meet The New Personal AI Assistant Zuck Built For His Family.  | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

Facebook's CEO still loves to code...Over the last year, Zuckerberg has spent between 100 and 150 hours on his home project...a homemade, highly personal version of something like Amazon’s Alexa service, letting him and his wife Priscilla Chan use a custom iPhone app or a Facebook Messenger bot to turn lights on and off, play music based on personal tastes, open the front gate for friends, make toast, and even wake up their one-year-old daughter Max with Mandarin lessons. Morgan Freeman is the voice of Jarvis.

Sirenetta Leonis insight:
When money is no object, who wouldn't want a personal assistant that sounds like Morgan Freeman? 

Voice actors who do this type of work regularly, that's who. Not everyone is thrilled with the Freeman AI voice choice— "First,celebrities take all the animated feature film roles, and now they're taking over text-to-speech jobs too?'

No need to sound the alarm bell just yet though. In fact, we really don't think that those of you who do this type of work have all that much to worry about from celebrity competitors and here's why...

While it's true that celebrities may be willing to spend a few sessions in a studio recording dialogue for a full-length cartoon or Zuck's personal AI, it's highly unlikely that Mr. Freeman or any other A-lister would want to spend months in daily sessions recording the thousands of lines of repetitive dialogue needed to build a phonetic database large enough to cover all combinations of utterances that make up the English language. 

To our point, when Arnold Schwarzenegger recorded prompts for the Waze app last year, his time in the studio was limited to one hour: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/06/14/arnold-schwarzenegger-waze-terminator-voice-app-terminator-genisys/71124570/. Anyone who uses Waze regularly can tell you that when they use celebrities, the novelty factor wears off quickly and leaves you longing for the unknown, but competent, non-celeb voice actor who provides better, more complete directions.
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What Your Dog Can Teach You About Voice Acting: Scientific Proof That They Really Understand What You’re Saying

What Your Dog Can Teach You About Voice Acting: Scientific Proof That They Really Understand What You’re Saying | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

"Dogs understand both the meaning of words and the tone used to speak them, a new study finds."

Sirenetta Leonis insight:
It's no surprise that dogs understand words ("commands"), but what's really fascinating is that there's now scientific proof that they are also able to discern the tone and intention behind them, using both the left and right sides of their brains to process language and respond accordingly, just as we humans do. As one of the researchers who studied this explained it, “dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”

So what's the significance to voice actors? This is a perfect illustration of why the intention behind your words has to sync up in a believable, relatable manner with the words you're saying if you want to get through to your target audience. Words without intent are just empty words and no one will receive or care about your message. This holds true whether you are trying to sell us car or teaching your dog to fetch a stick.

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Oscar Isaac's Narrates As Nike Obliterates 'Just Do It' Tagline in Awesome Olympics Opening Ceremony Ad | Creativity

Oscar Isaac's Narrates As Nike Obliterates 'Just Do It' Tagline in Awesome Olympics Opening Ceremony Ad | Creativity | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

"Oscar Isaac Narrates Spot Showing Athletes Going Way Beyond..."


A perfect example of how great voice acting can elevate even the most amazing visuals. Mr. Isaacs, best known as "Poe Dameron" from "Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens" to many of you, shows off his Julliard-trained acting chops, as he goes from casual to alarmed to frantic, effortlessly. Outstanding! 


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Voiceover Aspirations: Khloé Kardashian Reveals Her Deepest Secrets & Voice Acting Auditions | People

Voiceover Aspirations: Khloé Kardashian Reveals Her Deepest Secrets & Voice Acting Auditions | People | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

"I've done auditions for voiceover work," Khloé admitted in the post. "My agent brings them to me and I do them over the phone...but haven't been booked yet." She went on to add that she submits work anonymously so she's not judged for her famous last name. "It's so interesting – they'll give instructions like, 'sound like a young girl who's approachable.' What does that mean?" 


Wrong in so many ways. "Approachable" indeed. God help us all... 

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How Robin Wright Negotiated Equal Pay on ‘House of Cards’ | New York Times

How Robin Wright Negotiated Equal Pay on ‘House of Cards’ | New York Times | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

Channeling her inner "Claire Underwood," Robin Wright said that when negotiating with her Netflix bosses, she declared, “You better pay me or I’m going to go public.”


Go Robin! It's heartening to see another top-tier female actor standing up for her rights and getting equal pay. She and other top female talent like Jennifer Lawrence are helping ALL actors by making the issue of pay equality and who gets paid how much public and transparent. In doing so, that are strengthening everyone's hand.

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Creating a Computer Voice That People Like | New York Times

Creating a Computer Voice That People Like | New York Times | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

"The challenge of creating a computer 'personality' is now one that a growing number of software designers are grappling with as computers become portable and users with busy hands and eyes increasingly use voice interaction.


Machines are listening, understanding and speaking, and not just computers and smartphones. Voices have been added to a wide range of everyday objects like cars and toys, as well as household information 'appliances' like the home-companion robots Pepper and Jibo, and Alexa, the voice of the Amazon Echo speaker device."

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Gary Oldman On Voice Acting & Starring in $90 Million Crowd- Funded Game | Vulture

Gary Oldman On Voice Acting & Starring in $90 Million Crowd- Funded Game | Vulture | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it

"Every actor's favorite actor talks the future of performance capture and much, much more. Oldman stars in the $90 million Star Citizen: Squadron 42 PC game, which was funded by fans..Joining the 57-year-old actor in the star war is a cast that includes Jack Huston, Gillian Anderson, Mark Strong, Mark Hamill, John Rhys-Davies, and Andy Serkis."

Sirenetta Leonis insight:

We always enjoy interviews with the great Gary Oldman, because he is truly one of the best working actors in the business and always brings an interesting, intelligent perspective. He suggests that the crowd-funding model may be the way of the future and provide visionary artists and directors with a way to bypass the studio system altogether.

 

Additionally, his observations on how far the mo-cap technology has advanced in just six short years were also very eye-opening, and it is encouraging to hear that the technical burden placed on the actors has lightened considerably over time. When actors are freed from worrying about every single movement they make, that can only be a good thing. 

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"Siri and Cortana Sound Like Ladies Because of Sexism" says "Wired." "WTF???" says us.

"Siri and Cortana Sound Like Ladies Because of Sexism" says "Wired." "WTF???" says us. | Inside Voiceover—Curated Information + Insights On The Craft & Business of Voice Acting | Scoop.it
We want our technology to help us, but we want to be the bosses of it, so we are more likely to opt for a female interface.
Sirenetta Leonis insight:

Here we go again...the one extremely lucrative area of voiceover where women outperform men and it's due to "sexism" according to Wired Magazine's headline.  We've always heard "market research" given as the justification for using men to do the vast majority of high-paying movie trailer and network TV promo work, but never "sexism." Interesting....

 

Sensational headline aside, the rest of the article is timely and worth the read, and delves into some of the cultural and societal reasons why most of us prefer to hear female voices from our high-tech devices. 

 

The author is also correct in pointing out that as we engage more and more with the Internet of things, with each "thing" having her/his own voice and "personality," we will more than likely start to hear more variety in the gender and types of voices used for these types of applications.

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