Dave Courvoisier Talks Voice Over
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy award-winning news anchor on KLAS-TV (CBS), the most influential VO blogger of 2011, webauthor of SocialMediaVO.com and VOAToday.com, and the administrator for multiple LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter groups that network voice actors into online communities. Today, he offers insight on the art of voice over.
You are an Emmy-award-winning TV news anchor and a seasoned voice actor. Can you tell us how you got started in voice over?
It was a conscious decision. I had time on my hands, and I knew (in my 50’s) that I had at least one more big thing in me…preferably something I could take into semi-retirement. I don’t see me retiring…EVER. I chose VO, because I thought it was close enough to broadcasting to be not such huge leap. BOY was I wrong! I jumped into it like off a cliff, and I’ve been searching for the parachute string ever since. I believe it takes total immersion in an endeavor to make it work for you…if you’re serious about it. I started asking lots of questions to anybody who would listen…I found mentors…I began hanging out in online forums, buying books, attending seminars. I stumbled, I made mistakes, I forged ahead. That’s how I got started.
There are many microphone and software options. What mic recommendations and tips do you have for specific applications?
Many voice-actors are tech-heads or gear freaks, too (esp. the guys, it seems). A struggling VO can make the mistake of believing the better the equipment he/she gets, the better they’ll sound, and that’s only true to a point of diminishing returns. A good many of the top, agency-represented Union voice talent doing national gigs use the Sennheiser MKH 416. Which is a directional mic. The other Mic name that seems to get mentioned a lot in VO circles is Neumann. Both of these mics are crazy expensive, and not necessarily the best for your voice. Any one can go test out mics in a Guitar Center, Sam Ashe music, or similar store. That’s the best way to choose the best mic for you. But cost? You can find your “money” mic for between $100 – $300 in my point of view. There are more above that range…but modern mic designers, especially Blue Microphones, are hitting a sweet spot of cost/value lately that you would be ill-advised to ignore.
Voice over can require different sounds at different times, do you have techniques for achieving different vocal characteristics? Do you change anything other than your voice?
Yes, any number of things. There are, of course, all the effects and processing you can add electronically, but most clients prefer what I would call a straight, clean, neutral, plain-vanilla recording with a low noise floor, and no music. What’s left, then, is your performance, which is as it should be. You can certainly achieve different results with the way you position yourself ON the mic, but most of all you need to be smart about interpreting the author’s intent (whether it be ad copy or an audiobook), and true to yourself in BEING yourself and all the life experiences you bring to the mic. You’d be surprised what comes out of you once you’ve diagnosed the copy properly, and change your state of mind accordingly.
Do you have a favorite Blue mic? What do you like about it?
They’re ALL my favorite! I had a snowball when they first came out, and when I sold it, I got all my investment back. I’ve also owned the original “Mikey” for the iPhone 3G, and now the upgraded model for the iOS4 devices. I ran a contest in September of 2011 asking VO’s what mic they used, and collectively, the Blue Yeti Pro and the Yeti THX did very well among the contenders. (see: http://www.courvo.biz/2011/10/voatoday-microphone-results.html). After seeing the Spark Digital at CES, I’m anxious to try it out. Basically, I don’t have ENOUGH Blue mics in my trophy case!
What are your top three tips for the art of voice over?
Good question, ‘cause the ART of voice-over is absolutely different from the BUSINESS of voice-over…the latter requiring a much greater commitment of time to be able to be a success.
So, for the ART of voice over my three top tips are:
1) Practice all the time, on all kinds of copy that stretches you ability
2) Listen to TV/Radio ads, and others’ demos
3) Get ongoing and non-stop coaching, mentoring, and learning.
For more information on Dave Courvoisier and everything VO, visit http://www.courvo.biz/