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Becoming a Professional Voice Actor

Have you ever thought about the peeps behind the voices of your fave cartoons like X-Men or Dragon Ball Z, and what it's like making funny voices for a living? We scored a chat with Mike Kopsa, a voice actor who was the voice of Beast on X-Men Evolution and has also been in InuYasha, Mega Man, Mobile Suit Gundam and more! Here's what he had to say about being a voice actor.

Getting Started as a Professional Voice Actor

All you have to do is show up, make a funny voice and get paid, right? No way! There's a lot of work and skill involved in voice acting. First, make sure you have a good background in acting and a good voice with very clear diction. "You have to be able to transfer [everything] through voice - you can't use body language or anything else that works on camera," says Mike. Then, make a collection of voice samples that's 2-3 minutes long, put it onto a CD and start dropping it off, with a resume, to all the places you can find that hire voice talent. "The production houses will produce your demo tapes for about $100-200 US. They'll help you make a slick voiceover demo," suggests Mike.

What Kind of Voice Acting Work Can You Get?

Voice acting work breaks down into two different kinds of jobs: Additional Dialogue Recording (ADR) and Prelay.

  • ADR is when you are re-doing the dialogue for an animated show that has already been created - usually dubbing it into a new language. ADR is hard because you have to act out the lines and match your voice to the character's mouth movements (called "flaps" by most voice actors).
  • Prelay is easier because your voice is recorded before the animated cartoon is drawn, so the artists can match the character flaps to your lines. Prelay work is much harder to get, as there are usually only a few Prelay projects available in a city.

What is it Like Working as a Voice Actor?

Working in the voice-acting business is a lot of fun if you can get the work. "It's competitive and there's a lot of rejection, you have to be able to get along with people," says Mike. One of the best things about working as a voice actor is, "The people in the industry are really friendly and easygoing; everybody respects everybody else. It's very different from the film/TV acting business, which has a lot of politics," says Mike.

Can You Make Big Bucks Doing Voice Acting?

The big money in voice acting comes from doing Prelay work. If you're good, and lucky enough to get more than 10 lines per episode, you'll be able to make about $700 US per episode. With 22 episodes per series, you can make about $15,000 US doing one series that will take you about a month.

However, getting Prelay work is very hard. Most of the time you'll get ADR work, which pays about $140 US/hour and can get you about 5 hours of work per series. That will earn you about $700 US for a day of work. "It's better than a poke in the eye!" says Mike.

That sounds like some big bucks, but don't forget that you won't get a lot of acting projects. Very few actors are strictly cartoon voice actors - most of them also do regular acting projects to help pay the bills.

Final Words From a Voice Acting Pro!

"Voice acting can be great - the more fun you bring to it, the more fun you'll have. If you want to do it, do your research. Find out who's hiring, take voice and acting courses, work hard at it. Make a game out of figuring out how to get what you want and it can be the most rewarding thing you do. The first few times you do it, it can be really intimidating, but if you really want to do it, follow your dream and give it a shot."

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Voice Acting - Cool Profession or Lame Job?

  • Totally cool - I'd love to be the voice behind cool anime characters!
  • Totally lame - who wants to talk for a living?
  • I'd do it as a part-time gig.

Dear Dish-It In The Forums

rainbowpoptart
Goodness... I see where your mother is coming from: if you eat too much, no matter how healthy the food is, and don't work off the calories, you're going to gain weight. But she's being very obsessive and dramatic about it. There is nothing wrong with eating pizza or a cookie every now and then, and there's nothing wrong with relaxing from time to time either. As long as you aren't constantly eating junk and not burning the calories, then you do not have a problem. Eating unhealthy things every now and then does not make you fat. EATING every now and then does not make you fat. Try explaining this to her, calmly and patiently. Tell her that you don't want to be forced to do all of this exercising - being forced to exercise makes it a lot less interesting. Do not take "This is for your own good" for an answer; if you do not want to do it, it is NOT for your good. (This, of course, would be a different story if you were actually fat.) ALSO tell her that exercising too much and not satiating your cravings is JUST AS UNHEALTHY AS BEING FAT IS. If you were to not eat healthful meals and not snack every now and then, no matter how healthy or unhealthy the food is, plus exercise so frequently, you would not be healthy.  Eating is good for you, even if the food isn't. Eating too little and eating too much is not healthy. Exercise is good for you. Not exercising enough and exercising too much is not good for you. If you talking to her doesn't help, try telling another adult how you feel, and maybe they can help get it through to her. Regardless of what happens, take care of yourself. Moderate how much you eat, but don't limit yourself to less than you feel you need. Exercise, but don't do something you don't want to; working out should be fun. Good luck with everything. I'm really sorry that she makes you feel so badly about this.
reply 1 day
jake495
jake495 posted in Family Issues:
Make sure she knows its your body not hers In a respectful way of course
reply 1 day
ThePaleWalker636
I'm perfectly happy with myself. I'm around 5'6" and somewhere between 140-150 pounds, and I don't feel fat. But my mom is constantly telling me that I am, or, at least, that I'm going to be. She forces me to go to exercise classes because I don't like many sports, tries making me go on diets, but I don't want to. She tells me that if I continue the way I am, having an extra cookie once in a while and only eating cereal for breakfast, that I'll end up fat, and she makes sure to emphasize how horrible that is for a person to live with. She rolls her eyes and sighs whenever she sees me getting a snack, and just in general makes me feel awful for eating the things I like and for relaxing. I've told her that I don't want to do these things and that she makes me feel bad when she says things like that, but she swears it's for my own good and that I should never want to be fat, that it ruins people's lives. How should I deal with this?
reply 1 day
drowning
drowning posted in Friends:
"NS12" wrote: I meet this guy at a festival and we have been talking for the whole week and my mum has noticed I keep texting someone and I know I need to tell her but I don t know how I am going to tell her, I doubt she ll get angry or anything but he lives about 4/5 hours away from me. I know I need to tell her as I don t like keeping secrets from her. I know this was a bit ago, but I truly hope that you were able to be open with your mother. If you feel as if they won't get mad at you, then chances are that your guardian will not. Honesty is the best policy, and if you feel guilt keeping a secret, then it is one you probably shouldn't be keeping.
reply 2 days
drowning
I agree with @rainbowpoptart. You really shouldn't worry about relationships that much given your age. I promise, they're better things to worry about than boys and more secure romances occur later on in life anyways. But, given the situation, you shouldn't worry about either. The boy is unfaithful and so is your friend. If your best friend really valued your friendship, she would not have put it in a position that could end it. Don't waste your time on those who will not put you first just as you do for them; better people will come into your life and they are the ones who you should really worry about.
reply 2 days