A lot of people, including voice over artists, those new to the world of voiceover, or ones just curious about this industry, wonder what happens during a typical day for a voice over artist. One super cool thing about this field is that days are rarely the same. The kind of voice work we perform runs the gamut of genres, and the subject matter changes as well. Recently, I used voice memos on my phone to track what I did in a day. Here’s the scoop from that recording:
9 a.m. Voice Memo
I woke up fairly early this Monday morning and had my one cup of coffee a day that I allow myself, after that it’s strictly water until I’m done with work. I try to drink at least 2 cups of water before I start work just to lubricate and care for the vocal cords and recover from the astringency of the caffeine. Then I’m onto my emails, sorting out job priorities and checking my To-Do list and my calendar. Then I organize my day and get going.
This morning I am continuing the recording of an ongoing project that I’ve been working on for a couple of days. It’s a five-and-a-half-hour course. It’s kind of like an eLearning course, but it was originally videotaped in Spanish and I am dubbing it in English. The dubbing is specific, meaning over 50% of the dubs are for pictures where we see the face and mouth movements of the original speaker, and the timings are tight.
Although my client wants the finished files to be in sync with the action and the words they haven’t asked for a tight sync, as you might need for a commercial or television series. I don’t have to worry about exact matchings of consonants and f’s and v’s and other spots where the lips come together, but I am matching the beginnings and endings of each phrase and also the spirit of the original speaker.
Sometimes people ask, do you have to know the language to dub from it? I find it helps. I am fluent in French and understand Spanish well and understand enough Italian to know how to perform a good match. But I’ve also dubbed from Mandarin, which I don’t speak. Chinese is completely different. When I dub from Chinese it’s from time code only, although even then, it helps to have the original video to better match the performance.
Anyway, when doing this project, I use a separate DAW (digital audio workspace) from my daily (Twisted Wave) software, as Twisted Wave is superior for editing, but is a single-track resource. For this project, I need to be able to bring in the original audio track, plus the video, plus the new track I’m recording. In essence, a multi-track recording system.
I use Garageband for this. I’ve tried Logix, and other DAWs for dubbing with video components, but Garageband works well for my purposes. I’ll bounce the files I’ve completed over to a saved wav and send them off for editing and sweetening. Happily, I don’t edit any of my work anymore unless it’s less than 30 seconds. I will send it all on to my sound engineer, who receives files from me every day.
Meanwhile, before I started the session for this 14-minute dubbing file I lined up a couple of other things to do. On Friday after I closed, someone had sent me a public service announcement to do. I glanced at the script and their desired timing did not match up with the number of words they sent me. So I l sent it off to them along with a note which said, “Hey guys, you booked me for 90 seconds, based on the word count before I lay down a track, this is going to come in at 2 minutes and 30, and I gave them the math and pointed them to my script timer page so they could see how many words they needed to cut it down to if they want it to come in at 90 seconds.
I got a quick note back from the client who said, ok, no problem, I’ll cut the copy. But it came back with only enough words cut to save about 15 seconds. (argh) So, I’ll lay the track down for him and send him a rough draft to confirm that’s the length he wants before I send it on to my sound engineer for a fine cut/sweetening/mixing.
And I better get going because I have a neighbor who is making a delivery on a pallet of stones for a garden makeover and I want to record as much as I can before any possible truck noise interrupts my flow.
Now it’s 10:15
My 14-minute dubbed file is complete and the truck is here and offloading stones, so I’m updating you. Another nice little voice over job just came in from an ongoing eLearning K-6 program. I do one of their little animated characters, kind of a Vanellope von Schweetz inspired rabbit. I just confirmed receipt of the script – that’s something I always do. Quick communication builds trust with clients.
I refilled my quart water container.
I also just sent a note to my copy editor. I have another large project I am juggling which was originally written in French but there were problems with the translation. So, I negotiated a separate contract to hire a copyeditor, to fix the script for American markets. The note sent was to coordinate the timing of the scripts with my recording schedule.
The truck is now gone. Back to work and on to the next dubbing file.
11:20 – Mid-Morning Hustle
Hmmm, I just got an invitation to another job as I completed the last dubbed file. The price is at least 50% too low at $150 for 6 minutes. Nope. I thanked them very much for thinking of me and invited them to please keep me in mind for other projects with better voice over rates. I also just set up a meeting with one of my writers. I subcontract copywriting for demos I produce and research for blog posts I create and other marketing materials. The meeting is at 11:30, so I’ve dubbed a total of 30 minutes so far this morning, so I’m on track with that project.
I also got the animated rabbit lines complete, (switched DAWs for that) and I did an audition. I don’t audition much anymore, as I happily have a huge roster of existing clients and get more coming in from my website. But this one just landed during a time when I had an extra minute and it is right in my wheelhouse, and the price was very right so, I had to send that off. And the timing is right. The garden workers are back moving those stones around, so I’ll grab a snack before my meeting and find out if they plan on working this afternoon. If so, I’ll keep recording through lunch right after my writer-meeting.
1:30 PM – Onward & Upward
Ok! Happily the garden workers left and over lunch, another job came in. A request for an insurance ad for regional radio voice over and interestingly, the client reached out to me through Facebook. I’ve been seeing a slight increase in contact this way. They found me through a Pay-2-play network but didn’t contact me there. Went to the website instead and then sent both an inquiry and a FB friend request – which I saw first. They needed a quick turnaround, we settled on a price of $500 and the client sent me a reference of a cut from a demo on my website of how they’d like the style. I’ll do that first before I get back into my dubbing project.
3:45 PM – Almost Coaching Time
The rest of the afternoon kind of flew. I had a set of pickups (paid) to shoot off to a regular eLearning client, got in another 30 minutes of dubbing done as well as the insurance ad. Had time to sneak in a few auditions, and heard from a new client about a cool project for an AI voice for his album. He’s a musician (pretty well known in the Eurodance market in the mid-2010s) and asked for a recording of several lines to embed in one of the songs on his concept album. He’s asking for a buyout, so I have to sort that out, but I’ll do it later because I have to get ready for my private coaching session at 4 p.m.
Every day I coach voice over performance between 4 and 5 and sometimes consult on marketing strategy and demo production. So I’m wrapping up the productive part of the day and moving into coaching time. Today is the third session with this voice talent. Based on things I’ve gleaned from my 30+ years in the biz and my early days in theatre school and broadcasting, I’ve developed a method and a way to approach the work that is partly planned and part custom to each person. I’ve been really pleased with the results. So many people I’ve worked with have said stuff like “This is gold,” “Wow! I’ve never heard this before,” and my fav recent feedback, “This is life-changing!” Yay. It helps me know I’m on the right track.
5:05 PM – Wrapping it Up
Now it’s time to tidy the rest of the work, files, etc from the day. I receive files from my sound engineer and deliver them, make changes in my CRM (I use VoiceoverView). Luckily, my husband is my biz partner and has taken care of the printing,(getting me to sign) invoicing, collections, and marketing work for the day. I’ll finish up with notes for my upcoming blog post and then (again, I’ve become a little spoiled) my darling Husband will call me to supper at 6. And that’ll be a wrap.
Variations on a Day
A couple of times a week I work in the evenings. Most often this is to teach group voice over classes or webinars or occasionally record a more pressing project. But I have been schooling myself to cut back on my hours, which were unsustainable through the pandemic at 60-80 hours a week. What else was there to do then, right? I also work a few hours every weekend, staying on top of my blog and other writing, which is a major part of my marketing efforts along with creating courses and webinars. Oh! And I have a weekly accountability group that I spend about 90 minutes meeting with once a week.
Before I put a sound studio in my house, I was limited geographically to the kind of work I had access to. I still (happily) scooped a lot of it. Enough to be a heavy hitter in my home market out of the gate. And when I transitioned into the online world, a lot of my days were spent building a clientele. I’d audition at least 10, and more consistently, 30 times a day. Now I don’t have time for that and my auditioning is down to 2 or 3 max, 10 on a rare day. Usually, it’s more like about 5.
The cool thing about this job is the variety. Every project is new and different. I love eLearning for what I can discover along the way myself. Corporate and explainer voice over for digging into the message and bringing it life, weight, moment, poignancy. Gaming and character work are just pure fun. Commercials are my first love – I fell for them as a kid. When other girls played house or Barbies, I wanted to play “commercial” or Shakespeare, but no one else ever wanted to play that.
What about you? What are your favs? And what does your day look like?