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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

Autonomy
"Lulu335" wrote: I live in a military family, which means we have to move A LOT. I'm halfway through 6th grade, and I'm really stressed out. The reason is because I have a guy who really likes me, and we liked each other back in the 5th grade, and he's even got me presents and everything, but now I'm starting to doubt whether I still like him or not. And he is a great guy; he's silly, funny, kind- but I just don't know if he's the right guy for me. Plus there's a friend of mine who I know likes me as more than a friend, and he's a great guy, too. I really need advise!! Oh sweetheart, your situation is so, so very far from being complicated. In fact, it's actually, entirely simple. But I'm here to help you see that, because you can't see it yourself quite yet. Brace yourself, you may never hear such advice in your life ever again. Or you might, I can't predict the future. You're in sixth grade, you said. Assuming you live in the United states and weren't held back, you're probably 12, maybe 11. The problem is, the human brain isn't fully developed until a person hits the age of about 25. This means, without debate, that your brain unable to fully grasp what being in a relationship actually entails, what it means, what the consequences are, and so forth. You can't even fathom it, my dear. I couldn't at your age; no one can. You've just begun to hit puberty at this point in your very young, completely normal life. Certain hormones are now being developed by your body that, up until puberty began, your body did not produce. Let me explain, in simple terms, what this means: these new hormones are giving you fuzzy feelings for boys, but these feelings are not what people with fully developed brains call "love." Love means being self sacrificing, compromising, giving and taking, communicating clearly and honestly, and so much more. What you're feeling is a part of love-romance-but it's not all there is to love. It's actually just a few simple chemicals being released in your brain: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and few others. Your brain releases those chemicals when, say, you see a boy you like, and those chemicals make you feel all fuzzy inside. In fact, (brace yourself,) there's nothing inherently special about the boys you like, or the boys that like you; in fact, they're also, entirely normal, and aside from a few minor differences in character, completely like most other boys their age. Had you been born in another town, gone to another school, you would have gotten the same fuzzy feeling about whatever boy you thought you liked at that school. You see? I'm not saying this to make you feel insignificant, but perhaps the insight will make moving easier for you. The next place your militant parents settle down in will also have a middle school, with a bunch of normal 11-14 year old boys and girls, all doing the exact same things the kids at your school do right now. Does that put things in perspective for you? The world is a very, very big place, and it's home to billions upon billions of people. Your situation is far from being a needle in a hay stack; it's more like a blade of grass, in a vast field of foliage. The feelings you're feeling aren't uncommon or complicated, they just feel that way to you. (Now, really brace yourself, because this is going to get uncomfortable.) We, as people, tend to think that we're special. Each one of us a unique snowflake, drifting about in big blue sky, that exists solely to show the world how special we are. The problem is, the other seven billions snowflakes (people) think exactly like we do, and in this way, we are all the same. We think our problems are new problems that no one has ever dealt with before, and no one else could possibly understand the pain and suffering we're going through. We all think this way, by nature; but it's simply naive. Heartache and suffering have existed since people existed, and possibly before then. Your situation may not be ideal to you, but once you come to terms with the fact that life isn't ideal for anyone, you might actually feel comfort. The easiest way to cope with our many problems, is to accept them for what they are: a part of the human experience. Natural, normal, repeating generation after generation without end. Again, these are concepts that require some deep thought, and you might not fully grasp them quite yet. But remember them. With time, as you grow, think about them more, and you will find peace with your life. And remember this: although you're stuck (for now) on a giant rock hurling around the sun at an incredible speed, you're not alone. With billions of other people stuck here with you, you'll never be without friends.
reply about 8 hours
Fun_125
I personally think that when you ARE ready then go for it! As long as the person you like isn't a jerk to anyone or you go for it! Just don't get too serious. It's middle school. Good luck!
reply about 10 hours
Error44
"Lulu335" wrote:I live in a military family, which means we have to move A LOT. I'm halfway through 6th grade, and I'm really stressed out. The reason is because I have a guy who really likes me, and we liked each other back in the 5th grade, and he's even got me presents and everything, but now I'm starting to doubt whether I still like him or not. And he is a great guy; he's silly, funny, kind- but I just don't know if he's the right guy for me. Plus there's a friend of mine who I know likes me as more than a friend, and he's a great guy, too. I really need advise!!I know, it is too late but I think you should not go for a deeper relationship, don't make it hard for yourself and try to be his just friend because you are so young .
reply about 13 hours
Error44
"queenslay173" wrote:I was at school when I noticed people started to tell me this boy liked me and I thought it was cool because I'm used to that type of stuff then we started to dated in October we broke up right before christmas and it was so strange. we got back together in the beginning of January and we broke up again on the 4 my friends are really mad at me and he seemed really upset I like him but I just don't want to be with him anymore what should I do ?- confused lover Tell him your reasons and make it clear for both of you
reply about 13 hours
lottie_h141
lottie_h141 posted in Style:
thank u!!! acc helps so much. Obvs going to superstars aswell 
reply 3 days