Per request of my friend Andee, here’s the 411 on how you can get in a voice acting career:
^This is me loving the microphone for its fuwafuwa properties… year 2009
How do you know if you have the talent/skills?
I didn’t. When I started to get addicted to anime in highschool, I wanted to become a seiyuu (voice artist) in Japan. Mamoru Miyano and Aya Hirano are a few of my seiyuu inspirations. The closest I can get to being a seiyuu is doing Tagalog-dubbed animes. Luckily, I came across a program that trains students in voice acting (I’m in Batch 5 way back in 2008, they’re now on their Batch 15?)
Later, I found out that it’s not as simple as doing a chipmunk voice, robot voice, or how you copy the voices of famous personalities. It’s about how well you keep up that pitch in a range of different emotions and loudness, clarity of delivery, and how well you add emotions to words.
The hardest part for me was harnessing vocal power from different areas such as: head, nose, chest, and diaphragm. Mid-sentence, I revert to my chest voice. Which is probably why I never had a huge project in anime dubbing.
^See if you can do the same emotions while reading a line and looking at the video for timing. In dubbing, there is no ‘practice’ you record without pre-reading the script.
Where do you go for training?
Enrolling in talent training agencies like ABS-CBN’s Star Magic or GMA’s Artist Center can help you hone your hosting/singing/acting skills. Training with big agencies like those are quite costly though considering that you’re still testing the waters. I started out by enrolling in Creativoices Productions‘ Voiceworx. They specialize in training your voice acting skills as the owner is a voice artist himself. Mr Pocholo Gonzales or Sir Choy as we fondly call him is an inspiring figure to young talents and leaders. To me, he is a father figure who helped me meet the right people and landed me opportunities that I have today.
How about self-training?
At the back of my head, I remember someone saying: Voice artists are good singers, but not all singers are good voice artists. Especially in hosting, you may have a good voice but if you can’t speak eloquently with minimal moments of silence then you’ll remain just a singer.
If you can’t have a formal training, you can train yourself with the same training singers do.
- Practice reading out loud with a pen held in your mouth. When you finally remove it, you’ll find that your pronunciation has improved and speaking is a lot easier. You can also use a cork between your upper and lower front teeth.
- Do breathing exercises (this can be done while standing during a train ride). Be aware of where you’re deep breathing from. Hold your hand against your abdomen, and when you feel them expanding and contracting during your breathing, you know you’re doing it right. Watch your shoulders, they shouldn’t rise and fall. This is a sign of difficulty in breathing.
- Hands still over your stomach, take a deep breath and hum from your lowest pitch, slowly rising until you run out of breath or until your highest possible pitch. Do the same with a different tone. Practice with A,E,I,O,U. Try to combine all vowels in one breath too.
^Fedex Junior Achievement International Trade Challenge, Sep2008
What opportunities are there?
Some people think that as a voice talent, you’re only limited to dubbed dramas and animations, TV commercials (TVC), and radio commercials (RC). In reality, you can do hosting for events, TV hosting, voice over for events, game characters, audio books, DJ, podcasts, public venue announcements (ie. train stations, theaters), corporate AVPs, and telephone recordings.
What if you find out you don’t have a golden voice? You can be a scriptwriter and/or translator. Usually, foreign studios send over their materials with or without a rough English translation. The job of scriptwriters is to rephrase sentences and time them with the movement of the mouth (what we call ‘Ohhh’ or ‘Ahhh’). It’s time consuming to replay scenes and have a thesaurus at hand to find similar words that will fit the opening and closing of the mouth. But the best part is, you can work at home and it is a well-paying job.
^Hataw Hanep Hero 4, Nov2009 ~That’s me in the white dress, Petsha of DOD cosplay.
Should you consider voice acting as a full-time job and quit your current one?
I say no. Unless you are Danny Mandia or Sir Choy who have their hands full with directing, scriptwriting, and other things, don’t quit your day job. Worry not, I was once called for anime dubbing at 11pm and went home at 3am, my voice already tired for hosting at OtakonEK (call time, 6am)!
As a freelancer whose usual salary comes after 3 months, it’s hard to make this your bread and butter.
^Metro Comic Con, Aug 2009
How to score/get dubbing jobs?
I suggest starting your training with a reputable group. Usually, those who are being trained are invited to participate in dubbing sessions, thereby giving you a chance to showcase your skills in front of a director or voice caster. Otherwise, you can call production houses and submit your voice file. Make notes of what languages/accents you can do. A lot of commercial voice overs are translated into different languages where they might just need you. Else, you can do language coaching during dubbing.
^with Pocholo “The Voicemaster” Gonzales and my kababayan from Zamboanga City, Brian “Big Brian” Ligsay; Voiceworx 5 Graduation, Aug2009
What agencies can you go to?
Creativoices Productions, Hit Productions, Unitel Productions, Sound Design Productions, Liquid Post, Cutting Edge Productions, RoadRunner Audio post, and more that I am not aware of. Anyway, you can call their offices and ask if you can submit your voice to their pool.
How do you go about adding your voice filing?
Generally, when you’ve confirmed your appointment, you start by saying the ff: name, contact number, e-mail. They usually have a set of short dialogs which they will ask you to read. This is where you can show your skill in voice acting. The usual types are as follows: news, youthful brand, villain anime character, sexy voice, and DJ.
^stressed face, MMDA on the Road, March 2009
What have I done so far?
- hosting for anime conventions (OtakonEK-Sep2008; Anime Overload Festival-Nov2009; Metro Comic Con-Aug2009; Otaku Expo-Jan2010; 9th Toy Con-Jun2010)
- hosting for national student congress (FedEx-Junior Achievement International Trade Challenge-Sep2008; Philippine Youth Congress in Information Technology-Sep2008)
- TV hosting (MMDA on the Road, IBN-Mar2009)
- voice coaching for RC (Nestle All-Purpose Cream, Hit Productions-May2011)
- Kim Chiu voice for TVC (Rejoice Tri-Sachet, Leo Burnett, Sound Design-Feb2010; Whisper, Leo Burnett, Sound Design-April2012)
- TV guesting (Talakan, DZMM Teleradyo-Jan2010)
- extra anime character (Mask Man, Hero TV-Sep2008)
- participated in Hero TV’s Dubbing Academy-Oct2010
^Hero TV Dubbing Academy, Oct2010
The year 2010-2011 was my hiatus – hello senior year! I stopped appearing in cons and turned down many hosting & dubbing opportunities as well. I was also supposed to do another TVC last June 2011 but I was in Puerto Princesa :( Like my mentor, Sir Choy always said, “Availability is the best talent”.
Honestly, I don’t think I have a good diction. I tend to speak real fast. I’m lucky I was given a shot in this industry.