That announcer guy…


Voice Acting? Here’s little history….

Back in the early 90’s, I was working at the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles and working as a session singer. I sang songs for writers to pitch to major recording artists.

At that time, it was extremely difficult to break into the voice acting biz. Only a lucky select group of voice actors, the likes of Don LaFontaine, were able to achieve the dream and they had to live near the major markets! In the 80’s and 90’s that deep ‘announcer’ voice was the big thing. In fact, the bigger, the better!

Things started to change, though. In the early 90’s, the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) was introduced.  ISDN allowed folks to digitally transmit voice over the phone lines! Now, major players could record outside of major network/radio stations and studios. While it was still difficult to break in, smaller studios and radio stations started gaining more access and control. 

Well, now, we all know what happened from there…

Poof! Just like that computers and the internet were born! We became a digital world. And, guess what? 

First of all, that announcer voice that everyone loved, lost a bit of its allure. Personally, I think it’s because the world became more connected and people wanted to relate to the voice over.

What do you think? 

Take a listen yourself. Listen to FM radio next time you hop in your car. Yep. Most of the v.o. talent sound like the guy/gal living next door. That’s on purpose!

Also, we’ve seen a boom in the quantity and types of v.o. work that’s out there. For example, in the past year alone I’ve done voice acting on:

  • Audiobooks
  • Radio Commercials
  • Television Commercials
  • Corporate Tutorials
  • Web Videos
  • eLearning
  • Animations
  • Children Interactive Toys
  • Apps
  • Award Ceremony Narration, and more

What’s coming next in the voice over world? It’s hard to say. Some think we may be replaced by ‘Siri’-like digitized voice overs. Maybe, but I’m not sold on that just yet. Because, I believe in the power of a good connection. And, of course, the power of a good announcer every once in a while, too. 

Just for old time sake.

Rachel Alena, a national voice talent, brings 20 years of experience in voice acting to her students. She has voiced hundreds of narrations for clients such as Disney, The Rockefeller Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Schnucks and Alliance Residential. She also provides private voice over training for students all across the country. Her studio is located near Boulder, Colorado.

Copy reading for voice actors. It’s all about connection.

Good voice actors don’t just read words. They strive to reach out and touch the audience!

As a voice acting coach, I’m often asked…what makes a narration pop?

My answer?

Listen up voice actors…it’s all about connection!

Connect to just one person who feels like you are talking to them. If you can accomplish this, then you’ve done your job.

To help with this, familiarize yourself with the script BEFORE you start. To do this:

  • Read through the copy
  • Speak it out loud
  • Understand what you are saying
  • Ask the writer or director for more information about the back-story of the script
  • Understand who your audience is and who you are speaking to
  • Relax! The more comfortable you are, the better your recording will sound
  • Be likeable, personable and friendly
  • Annunciate. Sound clear and concise

It’s really important that voice actors understand the ‘what and why’ of the material they are reading. Without this, the necessary connection between the voice talent and the listener is lost. And, just think of how sad that would be! That important message, or story, or concept, or thing, or feeling that the person on the other end of the microphone needs to hear may be lost. An opportunity missed!

So, the next time you pick up a script and start to read…take a pause. Then, start again. This time, though, really think…about WHAT you are saying and WHO you’re talking to….

…Go ahead. Make a connection!

Rachel Alena, a national voice talent, brings 20 years of experience in voice acting to her students. She has voiced hundreds of narrations for clients such as Disney, Microsoft, The Rockefeller Foundation, Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Schnucks, Uber and Alliance Residential. She also provides private voice over training for students all across the country. Her studio is located near Boulder, Colorado.

Voice Over Boot Camp!

Voice over coach Rachel Alena and Boulder Writing Studio Present….

Voice Over Boot Camp (click here to sign up!)

Find your voice! Voice over training to learn the essentials of the voice-over industry in this 4-week immersion with professional voice acting coach and national voice talent Rachel Alena.

Designed for absolute beginners and those looking to improve their skills, this hands-on intensive explores the business of the voice acting world and the skills necessary for a successful voice acting career. Participants will leave with a solid working knowledge of the voice over industry, their own vocal talent, and the basics of setting up a home studio.

When: Saturdays 10:00am-12:30pm, April 8–April 29

Cost: 4 sessions $480


Session One: Essentials of Voice Acting

You’ll learn:
•    The key to connecting with the audience
•    How to analyze a script to make it pop
•    What casting directors are looking for in a voice talent
•    How the voice acting industry works
•    Minimum requirements for long term success in the industry

You’ll practice:
•    Copy reading techniques
•    Fun, interactive script reading

Session Two: Voice Care & Commercial Voice Over Immersion

You’ll learn:
•    How the voice mechanism works and how to care for it
•    The different types of timing in voice acting
•    The importance of vocal rhythm and variation in narration
•    The business of radio, television, and web-spot voice acting

You’ll practice:
•    Breathing techniques essential for successful voice acting
•    Articulation exercises
•    Group analysis and reading of commercial script copy
•    Skill development of voicing commercial type copy
•    Starting to find your “money voice”
•    Microphone techniques

Session Three: Industrial Voice Over Immersion

You’ll learn:
•    The high-growth business of industrial voice over: voice acting for e-learning, tutorials & professional training materials
•    Who hires industrial voice talent and how much you can realistically get paid
•    Recording software and studio set up basics

You’ll practice:
•    Group script reading of industrial types of copy
•    Continued development of narration skills: script analysis, narration rhythm & vocal variation
•    Fine-tuning your ‘money voice’
•    Your first session in a client’s studio: what to expect & what’s expected

Session Four: Audiobook Narration

You’ll learn:
•    What audiobook writers and producers expect
•    Basic development of characters for animation, video games & audiobook narration
•    Time management
•    Where audiobook narration work is found
•    How the audiobook industry works

You’ll practice:
•    Storytelling skills for successful audiobook narration
•    Character development techniques
•    Audiobook narration timing
•    Review the importance of breath work
•    How to prepare for audiobook narration

Rachel Alena, a national voice talent, brings 20 years of experience in voice acting to her students. She has voiced hundreds of narrations for clients such as  The Rockefeller Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Momosa Publishing. She also provides private voice over training in her studio located near Denver, Colorado.

Image A Problem Solver: Your New Job Description

Voice talent and voice acting coach Rachel Alena talks about being:

A Problem Solver

Welcome to your new job description.

This morning, I took some time off to visit my step-dad. He is in a rehab center about an hour away from my recording studio. I had some time to think during the drive.

Prior to two weeks ago, he was on vacation in Mexico. At the time, his job was essentially to enjoy retirement. Learn about new cultures. Travel the world.

Unexpectedly though, while on vacation, he had a stroke. He lost his ability to speak. He currently can’t move the right side of his body. His thinking is fine, but his body isn’t yet receiving the messages. What a difficult thing for this wonderful man to have to go through.

This got me thinking on the drive home.

Now, my step-dad has a Very. New. Job. Description.

His current job description is now: Learn to walk again. Learn to form words again. Learn to communicate with the world again. These are problems he MUST now solve.

This is an extreme case of a new set of problems to solve. But, it reminds me of something many of us deal with every day.

Are you waiting for someone else to figure it out for you?

Is it too hard to start? Are you full of dreams and desires, but hoping someone will knock on your door and hand them to you? Or, are you waiting to be forced into a situation where you MUST solve problems. That seems like the hard way to go.

I can tell you this. As a voice talent and voice acting coach, I have had to learn the sometimes very difficult role of becoming a problem solver.

Of course, it’s awesome to get help from people with knowledge. Those with proven experience can guide you, teach you and be motivational. But, in the end, if you don’t make ‘problem solver’ part of your job description, you may find yourself a step behind the rest of the world. That’s because, as tough as this is, the world isn’t waiting for you. It’s busy handing rewards out to those who are figuring it out.

For example, for me, so far this week:

The Problem? I’m teaching voice over training workshops. They will be at The Boulder Writing Studio in Boulder, Colorado. As a voice acting coach providing these workshops, they need to be interactive, so students can hear themselves as we record.

My Solution? Figure out how to add mobile technology to my workshop trainings. Either I solve this problem and take action or I don’t teach voice acting workshops that are integrative. Period.

The Next Problem? Two people reached out to me this week asking me to provide them with voice over training. They are both out-of-state.

My Solution? Learn how to provide remote training. Either solve this problem or don’t connect with people outside of Colorado. Period.

As I sit here today…

I realize that my step-dad wasn’t waiting to be put in a situation where his brain and body MUST solve these very difficult problems. That’s just what happened. Now, he has no choice but to make it his job to be A Problem Solver.

What about you?

Are you interested in adding a little grit, hard work and determination to your life? Maybe the possible reward is getting what you really want?

If so, then consider adding the magic fairy dust otherwise known as ‘Problem Solver’ to your resume. Then see what happens.

Rachel Alena is a voice acting coach and voice talent based out of Colorado. She has narrated on hundreds of projects for companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Old Navy, Disney, T-Mobil and has been a voice talent for 20+ years.