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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

drowning
drowning posted in Friends:
Did something happen between you two in the past? If so, I feel like she might have some unresolved issues with you that you need to discuss with her. And, time doesn't always mean a lot. I've gotten closer to someone before compared to someone whom I had known for 8 years.
reply about 18 hours
country_girl19
country_girl19 posted in Friends:
Dear Dish-it,                          Me and my friend just started talking again, and it seems like she regrets it. She'll leave me for the people she has only known for a couple of months, when I've been friends with her for a year. Also, she gets annoyed with me, and I don't know what to do.
reply about 18 hours
drowning
drowning posted in Family Issues:
I'll be honest, I don't think that it's very fair that you're placing so much blame on your mother. Cancer is very hard to heal in any animal or person. She may of been able to help one spot, but that doesn't mean that she was going to be able to heal the rest. There's a slim chance that they could of made it through, but it's probably for the best that she put him down. Cancer is a painful thing to go through for dogs and humans alike. It would of been worse to push it. As for the depression, I understand where you're coming from with it. It's a difficult thing to go through and it makes things hard to do. I've struggled with things in the past and sometimes still do, so take my word on this: Eat. What. You. Can. Don't starve yourself. Don't binge. Don't do anything. Keep eating. Your health matters too. You need to find things to do, like hobbies (drawing, reading, writing, ect.) and spend time with friends when you can. At least talk to your friends, don't push them away. They're there for you, even when they might not know how to be. Don't be ashamed to cry, it's perfectly fine too. It's a better alternative of getting things out than a lot of things you could be doing. Do not, under any circumstances, start cutting. Take it from someone who's dealt with it on a personal level in several ways, do not start it. It is not something you "won't get addicted too" and it will not be a "one time thing." Do not try it. Do not start it. Do not try to find "softer" alternatives to cutting. Self-harm is not a fixer, it does not help anything. It isn't something to be ashamed of. It's a personal issue along with mental illness. But it is a very big deal. "And to go and kill him like that instead of getting him help?" There isn't always a place to help. Sometimes it won't do the things we wish it would.
reply 1 day
RavenClawRaina
My dog, Loki, was old and had cancer. He was 14. My mom healed one of his cancer spots but not even a month later, she put him down. He had life in him. He played like a puppy. If she healed one spot, why couldnt she heal the rest? He could have lived right? He was like my little brother, I loved him like one. He was family. Every since he passed, Ive been depressed. Losing weight and not wanting to go out and hangout with friends. Me and my mom get into fights more. At some points, I hate her for what she did. I dont dare tell anyone about my depression and I cry every night until 3:30 am. I have considered cutting but I dont want anyone to judge me. Im not going to but I just want someone to understand what his loss did to my heart. Ive had him since i was a baby. He was my best friend. And to go and kill him like that instead of getting him help? I was mad. Can anyone relate? Can someone help me? ( im not going to a therapist btw ) UGH WHAT DO I DO?!  
reply 1 day
Pokemonlegends05
Sometimes Video Games can Cheer you up as well. Happy, Vibrant Games: New Super Mario Bros. U Pokemon Shuffle Any of the Mario Party games. Minecraft Super Mario 3d world (Wow, a ton of Mario games :p) Jak and Daxter Super Mario 64 These are useful for making this :e into this  =(
reply 6 days