I’m British voiceover guy (medium deep bass) who’s hired for those voices that people never even think about (elevators) or those ones that the public hate to hear;
E.g; your bank, THANK YOU FOR CALLING, PLEASE PRESS 1. SORRY, I DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THAT 😀
Q: Can you imitate-
A: Nope, I can’t even tell the differences between most accents, 99% of my work is done using my normal voice.
Q: What does your voice sound like?
A: Take a listen! www.RichardDiBritannia.com
Q: How do I get my voice ‘out there?’
A: Simply email every single production company you can find and ask them if they are accepting new voices for their books, if they are, send over your demo! But please, make sure it’s been reviewed!
How did you get this job? How do I get this kind of job?
I had around six redundancies in three years, plus a suspected brain tumor (thankfully false!) which buggered up my university plans.
After a while I thought that I’d follow my dream and be a voiceover guy. I bought the proper equipment to compete with the pros and started listening to the great masters speaking to train myself. That’s it. That’s all you need… And plenty of luck.
What equipment and what actions did you take to get your voice heard, so to speak?
I initially started off with a USB microphone, however it was far too electrically noisy therefore I took the plunge and bought:
- Violet Design Black Knight (later upgraded to a Sennheiser MKH 416)
- A Focusrite Voicemaster Platinum Pro
- A Focusrite 2i4 Audio Interface
- Beyerdynamic DT-150 headphones for monitoring
To get myself heard, I simply emailed every production company I could find on google, both in my area and further afield, asking them if they were looking for a new voice. Some said no, many never responded, however the ones that did around 10% gave me work within the first week.
I’ve bought a USB mic and started playing around a bit. But I’m curious how quickly you dumped your USB mic. Did you get any work using it or did you have to upgrade before getting any really good work? I guess I’m a bit hesitant to invest so much before knowing I can actually make a living doing it.
I was EXTREMELY lucky, my first job was long haul narration, around 30,000 words and paid around £1200. After that I realized how much of a pain a USB mic was due to electrical noise and bought the absolute best I could afford (all second hand!). Doing so cut down on my editing time immensely.
Did you know that you had the right voice for it before starting, or can anybody train themselves to the professional standards?
My voice was rather ‘warm’ to begin with, however it was almost ruined by acid reflux. I ended up almost mute for a couple of months.
Afterwards I simply copied what I found on Youtube to improve my voice, I’d say anyone can make their voice sound pleasant with training, it’s the ‘acting’ bit that’s tough.
Voice Actor and singer here. Currently seeing an ENT doc because of stomach issues which includes acid reflux for the past few years. Any tips you can give having gone through that?
I went through it and lost my voice for a couple of months, I really pity anyone who gets it. It’s actually what made me do this as a career. Mind turned out to be due to eating at night before sleeping and having too much spicy food. I wish you all the best of luck!
Have you ever been recognized for your voice in the street, at the pub, etc?
Only once at university. Also, getting into a lift and hearing your own voice is creepy as hell.
What kind of boat do you live on?
A narrowboat, it’s 57′ long and around 7′ wide.
Would that be the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (if you are, as your website suggests, a Yorkshireman)?
I float around depending on what’s going on in the area.
Actually, if you do this job for a couple of weeks you turn into either two types of people:
- A narcissist who loves their own voice
- Or me who criticizes each inflection
Admittedly though, on different days I either love it or hate it.
How’s the heating operated in a narrowboat situation?
Heating on this one is a diesel stove with pipes in the floor and roof. Basically 360 degree heating!
Is heating expensive in the winter? Also, what are your usual mooring fees?
It can be, depending on the price of diesel. I pay around £3500 a year in fees.
Do you find that computer generated voices are taking your work?
Nope, never had a single instance of it. I’ve had only one company so far link me to their video with a computerized voice for an example script.
I could listen to your voice all day man. get on the tv 🙂 Do you have plans to get on the box?
The pay for TV jobs can be obscene, however I’ve heard that 99% of them only go to Union regulated people. If I were to join the Union, I’d loose most of my day to day work.
What kind of animal is in your terrarium?
Fire bellied toads. They sound like tiny dogs barking when they croak.
What’s the weirdest thing you have voiced?
I was once asked to be the voice of a couple of taking eggs for a egg cooking system, the character were called ‘Justan Egg’ & ‘Mr Eggcelent’.
That and a talking ironing board… I remember sitting there thinking “what the heck is an ironing board supposed to sound like?”
What made you decide to live on a boat?
Family put me on here after a divorce, I’ve been paying rent on it ever since. Trying to move off!
How are the day to day costs of living on a boat?
Around £10 a week for Electricity, £60 a year for Gas and £10 a month for water.
How does your address work when you live on a boat? Like do you have a permanent address somewhere else or do you just use a PO box?
Post goes to a relative as I technically don’t have an address. Also, PO Box prices since the privatization of our Postal service are now obscene, I don’t use them. Plus, I hardly ever get any post.
If given the opportunity would you ever do Anime Dubs?
Hmm, tough question. I’m a fan of the original language (heck, I studied it at university for three years). The Japanese have put such a huge amount of effort into bringing the character to life, it seems a shame to dub over it rather than read it and hear the emotion in the original actors voice.
Then again, some dubs such as Ghost in the Shell or Cowboy Bebob just seem to fit naturally in my mind.
Have you ever wanted to do full-blown voice acting instead of just voiceovers for things you won’t get recognized by? Or do you enjoy just having the smaller roles?
I’d love to do full blown voiceovers, however quite honestly I don’t class myself as a good enough actor at the moment to focus on that side of the career. My personal favorite voice actor has to be Norio Wakamoto. I’d love just a 10th of his vocal gravitas.
What’s your favorite job been?
Probably the best one was one of my first, it was for the Utah Department of Health. Therefore a pretty big job. I had three directors attempting to instruct me over Skype to produce the perfect voice for their product constantly throwing me various tips. I learnt so much from that one session along with learning how direction really works.
How well divided is the employment positions between female voiceovers and male voiceovers?
For hard hitting work it’s almost always men due to the bass rumble, but the balance of VO’s seems to be a 50/50 mix of both with no real preference until you get to the top of the board. Then it’s a majority of men due to what I mentioned earlier.
Is the pay high for voiceover?
It can be obscene, the highest paying job I ever auditioned for (didn’t get it) was 144 words for Eve Online. Paid $10,000 just for that. The average pay is around £90 per job, however it’s not as if you get them every couple of days, I wish it was!
How do you find VO work? I work part-time at an NPR station and would love to be able to “round out” my hours and get something else on my resume.
Contact every production company you can find and ask them if they are looking to add new voices to their books. That’s all I did.
Can you record a message especially for Reddit? Nothing fancy, just a simple “Hello Reddit, this is /u/GandalfTheTartan. I hereby announce /u/Yamogi as supreme ruler of the universe and all within it. He is a fine gentleman and can do no wrong. Thank you all, and good night.” Pick and choose the wording as you so wish. I just want to live to hear someone say it.
How does background noise effect your recordings?
I have very, very little here. No vibrations from the ground due to being on water and if I have noisy neighbors, I simply move elsewhere.
I thought that the sounds of water at the least, and maybe sounds from the marina would be hard to stop from getting into the boat. Does OP have a sound booth in a boat?
Nope, not a thing. I’ve soundproofed most of the room. I tell people that ‘I live in a padded room and talk to myself… And get paid for it’!
What is it like living in a boat?
Small and crampt. Personally I’m saving up to move on land.
Is there a specific “clarity” in which you must speak? For example, news anchors often speak in a somewhat-strict anti-dialect most likely to be 100% understood. If so, how long did it take you to get it down?
It really depends on the job. However the audience has to understand you, admittedly sometimes I do overemphasize words, which costs me the odd audition.
I’m still working on my speaking voice, I make plenty of mistakes on a day to day basis due to having a terrible working memory. I simply do tongue twisters whenever I have a free moment (such as brewing another cup of coffee).
I noticed however a huge difference after recording a 90,000 word audiobook!
Did you notice a difference between the start of the audio book and the end of it?
Huge difference. My voice matures as it goes along. However I’m working to eliminate this to have it all similar and more professional sounding!
What is it like on the boat when a nasty storm rolls in?
Never had one, I’m on a flat canal. Wind however can be a real pain as I bounce off the canal walls.
THUD. THUD. THUD.
Has it ever interfered with any of your recordings?
A few days, it’s just like having construction workers turn up outside any business really. Some days it interferes, some days it doesn’t.
How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking? Your face looks younger than your voice sounds!
I’m 25, when I worked in a call center people thought I was 40+
Have you ever gone to the ocean with the boat?
Ah no, it’s a canal only boat. All I see here are cows passing wind and chavs impaling themselves on shopping trolleys at the bottom of the canal.
Do you give your loved ones a list of all your work? So that (God forbid) you died suddenly, they can always listen to your voice by phoning up banks or riding in elevators?
…I really should do, however they’d probably get sick of me trying to sell them insurance.
How did your friends and family react when you first started? Is there a gig you’ve done that they tease you about?
Some thought that I’d never make any money, the others thought I should have started years ago. Not that I know of, however one person keeps asking me to narrate their life.
Do you think that a female voice (for announcements like in train, etc) is better?
A female voice always cuts through frequencies better during hard to hear environments, but personally I’d love to voice the London underground.
So do you voice those in-between moments on tv networks? You know, the “coming up next!” and stuff?
TV Promo’s? Not yet, however I’ve practiced them as they can pay a decent amount. I’ve done promo’s for radio however
Who’s you’re favourite voiceover person in the industry?
Favorite person? A Japanese bloke named Norio Wakamoto. My favorite English voice? Richard Burton.
Do you have an agent or do you search out your own work?
I have a couple of agents, but 99.9% of my work is off my own back.
Does your dog bark and mess up your recordings a lot?
Not often! He’s very well behaved for a rescue dog!
Voices.com pro account … worth the money?
On Black Friday when it comes down to £113 for a year? Yep. Now? You could be very unlucky and struggle to make your money back if you’re just starting out.
So let me get this right. VoiceOver people do their own editing? You don’t just record it and send it in to let them do whatever?
It depends on the project, it’s mostly minimal editing such as removing the odd mistake / breath before sending it off to the client to make their job easier.
What’s your favorite part of the job, and how far do you want your voiceover career to go?
Favorite part? The commute! I want to be heard by many, many more people. When I almost lost my voice it made me realize how important my voice was.
Where do you find your jobs, initially, and did that change over time as you got more exposure?
Voices.com and oDesk to start with, however now I get a few emails rolling in.
Do you ever run across words you don’t know how to pronounce properly, and if so, did you have to learn IPA or do you just ask the client?
The worst words are from medical jobs, try saying idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome quickly.
What kind of pay is regular for these sorts of jobs?
I turn down most oDesk jobs nowadays as they offer less than £5 an hour, which is just an insult to the amount of work involved, and below minimum wage. Voices.com however has a minimum $100 per project requirement.
How much work is required in the back end, after the recording? Like, do you need to fix the gain, effects, fades, etc. of the audio before submission?
Depends on the company / client. For audiobooks it takes WEEKS to edit. For production houses, I simply send the raw audio from the session and they do the rest.
My setup is done so that all my EQ, gain, etc… Is automatically applied once I’m happy with the read (via Reaper).
Do you steer away from audiobooks because they usually want you to edit it yourself?
Audiobooks can pay huge amounts, but the time involved is gargantuan in comparison to advertisements and similar work.
People tell me I have a nice voice fairly regularly. What should I do to see if I have what it takes?
Join /r/Recordthis and take part in the airchecks. That’s probably the best place to start. Or join a couple of free vacancy sites. The most important thing is to have a good quality recording so that we can hear your voice as it would naturally sound.
What are your favourite projects that you have worked on?
Probably the favorite one was an audiobook called ‘The Book of Magic Power by Jason Augustus Newcomb’, it’s due to come out this week, hopefully.
What is the license free music and sfx library you use?
Freesound.org is my main one!
Does your voice sound the same to you as it does after recording?
I’m used to the sound of my voice, therefore to me it sounds perfectly normal. Most mics and speakers however do colour the sound of your own voice, which often makes it sound ‘worse’.
How exactly do you find out what kind of voice you have?
People say ‘Oh you have a deep voice or Oh you have a high voice’. I’m in the middle. That’s it!
How often to do you get to shore to let the pup run?
Every day, I’m on a canal!
Why are you not answering your questions via voice?
How many hours do you want me to stay here for? 😛
But quite honestly, my internet is capped to 50GB per month, I’d be running out of bandwith for the rest of it, which means, no more jobs!
Are you a classically trained actor?
Nope, I’ve never had any classes in my life. I really should take some.
Does the mustache help weigh down your lip thus giving you more control over your annunciation?
I’m British, it’s a legal requirement for a stiff upper lip.