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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

EndlessDream
EndlessDream posted in Style:
You need breakfast and lunch. Starving yourself, even if you aren't hungry, makes you loose energy to the point you could pass out from not eating. Keep your diet healthy. For breakfast, at least have yogurt, fruit, and juice. Drink at least 4 full glasses of water a day. Trim down on the snacks. Everyone has different bodies and build. You may just be large-boned. And that's not bad! That makes you stronger and higher ability to gain muscle. Loosing weight doesn't happen over night. It can take months. 
reply about 11 hours
Nekogirl101
Nekogirl101 posted in Style:
For years my parents would tell me I'm skinny but compared to other people, my waist was bigger and I would always hide it. Though it was obvious I weighed more, I've only been doing this for a week and I didn't ever tell anyone what I was doing until my parents found out. I would skip lunch and breakfast and say I was full. I only ate a big dinner every night. Once my parents found out, they said it was unhealthy and if I didn't  stop, I would develop an eating disorder. I obviously listened to them, but I've tried as best as I can so far. I have barely lost any weight from exercise and my parents won't let me go on a diet because I already 'eat healthy enough'. I want to lose weight without exercising being 3/4s of my lifestyle. I know, I'm a lazy idiot for saying all this.
reply about 12 hours
rainbowpoptart
Yes, purely for the fact that you should not "hate" your sister (or anyone, for that matter).  I'm guessing by "get in trouble for her", you mean she does something wrong and the blame is all put on you? Yeah, little siblings tend to do that a lot. My brother did for the longest time, until my parents found out how much a liar he is. She, hopefully, will grow out of this eventually. Either that, or your parent[s]/guardian[s] will eventually see through her. You lose your friends to her? By this do you mean your friends want to hang out with her and they want you to tag along and you don't? Or do you mean your friends chose your sister over you? If it's the latter, then perhaps you shouldn't have ever referred to those people as friends. You'll find friends who'll prefer you over your sister, I'm sure of it. The only thing I can tell you to do is try to get along with your sister. Every group of siblings has their cats and dogs moment in life, but they grow out of it (most of the time; there are, of course, circumstances where it doesn't work out that way). Please be grateful for your sister, even if you two fight a lot. You never know how much you need something until it's gone.
reply 1 day
liddielover
i hate my little sister because i get introuble for her and lose my friends to her.is that wrong?
reply 1 day
skylar245
skylar245 posted in Friends:
"rainbowpoptart" wrote: "skylar245" wrote: Teacher said to wait for the Bus Driver and the counselor, she just talks to me and doesn't tell The Princible Then maybe try telling the principal yourself, and you should also report that the driver, teacher, and counselor haven't done anything to help you. If that fails, tell another trusted adult, like your mother. I'm sure someone you're close to would do their best to get justice. This is a major problem and it's a shame no one's done anything to help. ​No one listens to me anyway but my friends
reply 3 days