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Don LaFontaine Reasoned That Voice Over is All in The Read

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

August 10, 2009

Comments (19)

Man reading a scriptDo you need to have a voice hot enough to melt chocolate to do voice over?

What about a million dollar voice whose rich, luxurious timbre oozes cash?

While a pleasant, attractive, or otherwise unique voice is a definite plus, it isn't necessarily the quality of a voice that books... more often than not it's the interpretation of a script with the right delivery that finds its way to success.

It's In The Read

The late Don LaFontaine, a giant among voice artists with a larger than life voice, would be the first person to tell you that contrary to popular belief the voice itself isn't the center of the voice over universe... it's the read.

Know what I mean?

To illustrate, someone with a voice that sounds commercially viable may not have the foggiest idea of how to read a script with authenticity, power, and emotion whereas someone with different vocal qualities who is able to read with purpose may get the booking due to how they interpreted the script.

Voice Over is Voice Acting

Acting is at the very core of voice over, and that being said, the ability to act is integral to shaping a message for an intended audience in order to fulfill the prime objective or goal of the director.

Without purpose, nuance, context, and confidence, a voice over becomes merely a voice over, failing to embody the elements required to achieve the desired read which contributes greatly in meeting the wider vision of the project.

Another Leaf Out of Don LaFontaine's Book

I think Don would wholeheartedly agree with what's been said in this article and I'm sure he'd want to add a little more to what is being said.

Given the opportunity, what he would also tell you is to let your voice take a backseat to your read.

Don't focus on vocal limitations or quirks because if you do, it will negatively affect your read, and as we've just discovered, it's all in the read.

Lastly, he'd encourage you to accept your voice as it is and use it to the best of your ability, and use it as a vehicle to communicate the objectives of the text.

Can You Think of a Time When Your Read Got The Gig?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Joshua Blake

Related Topics: Don LaFontaine, how to, Read, voice acting, voice over, voice talent, voiceovers, voices


Comments


    I'm printing this one out and taping it to my mic. :)

    Posted by:
    • Norm Hayden
    • August 10, 2009 9:50 AM

      Hear, hear... I believe this might be one of the biggest issues for VO's (at least for me) to focus more on the text than how my voice sounds.....

      Thanx for yet another great article!

      Posted by:
      • Dan Hagen
      • August 10, 2009 10:00 AM

        Awesome words from the Don.
        Thanks Steph!

        Posted by:

          This is definitely one of those reality checks that I think many voice actors (amateur and professional) need to be reminded of time and time again the longer they do this for. It certainly was for me, as I'm pretty sure I can point out times where my read was likely the reason for landing (or not landing) a role.

          Thank you for sharing this, Stephanie!

          Posted by:

            Wow that makes me feel a lot better, I quite like my voice but yet I don't really if that makes any sense.

            Wise words from Don.

            Posted by:
            • Philip McCabe
            • August 10, 2009 1:19 PM

              Absolutely true!

              Posted by:

                He's absolutely right. When you try too hard to make your voice sound good, chances are your reading will miss authenticity and you will sound very dull. When you THINK about the words, about what they mean and how they should be read, that's when you'll deliver your best reading.

                Posted by:

                  Boy, ain't THAT the truth, Stephanie!

                  Posted by:

                    Great perspective on how to do it. I remember my elementary school days (circa 1800) when my English teacher used to place so much emphasis on expressive reading...learning how to convey the emotion from page to audience--no matter how the voice sounded. The Don is still contributing...

                    Posted by:

                      Thanks for posting this.
                      My biggest personal advance came when I stopped trying to sound "like that guy".... meaning, the guy with the growling deep pipes... I won't be doing a movie trailer, unless its for something whimsical. And that's okay. Giving up on trying to sound like someone else and embracing my own unique tone and timbre allowed me to focus more keenly on delivery and interpretation. It's a great compliment when a client books you because you "nailed the read".

                      Posted by:

                        I 100% agree too! I saw a Youtube video where Don said the same thing. It's all in the delivery (or the read).

                        Posted by:
                        • Frank James Bailey
                        • August 10, 2009 3:47 PM

                          Don had both .. an incredibly beautiful instrument, AND the ability to sound totally real and trustworthy. Not many will reach that peak.

                          Posted by:

                            Great article, I've said this a million times...I refuse to do an audition when the client says "I want a sound alike"..There are so many great voice out there by people just being who they are....You can learn about delivery from other greats...but put it into the realm of your voice...Doors will open...sometimes when you least expect it...

                            Thanks for all you do Voices.com...
                            Randy Anderson

                            Posted by:
                            • Randy Anderson
                            • August 10, 2009 5:16 PM

                              Don did what he did and did it the best because he created his own rules and others followed. And that my friends is key. Be you and interpret with your feelings and your style and your life experiences.
                              You'll create an original flavor. And that's how you become great.
                              Ed V

                              Posted by:

                                I definitely had a situation where my ability to read the script better made the difference. A producer new to voice over work told me of a man he had met at a party who was not a voice actor. This man had what the producer believed was the perfect voice for a project. He loved the man's slight drawl, the timber of his voice, his pacing during casual conversation...the kind of voice you just like to listen to. Anyway, he brings the man in for a read, hands him the paper with the copy on it....and the man froze. He read through it a few times, sounded awful, started apologizing, then started swearing. His timber was gone, his pacing was stilted. He sounded like he was reading off a piece of paper. The producer called me in and asked if I could give it a read. He described what he wanted, and I gave it to him. He was amazed that I could change my voice to fut the part. I explained that I was trained to be able to do just that. Needless to say the producer assured me he would never use anyone other than a professional again. It's all in the read!
                                Michael Lenz

                                Posted by:

                                  What a great advice! I was always concerned about my voice quality, about how it sounds. However, this article was a great reminder that voice is not everything, but the read is what matters. Thank you so much Stephanie for posting these articles. They're helping me to learn more about the voice-over world and techniques.

                                  I hope someday, in the near future, I will finally get professional training and start working as a professional voice-over talent. This blog will always be my favorite source of education!!! Thank you so much Stephanie!!!

                                  Best wishes,
                                  Pablo Hernandez

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Pablo Hernandez
                                  • August 11, 2009 2:02 PM

                                    Hi Stephanie,

                                    Daniel Goldman here. Thanks for sharing this within VOX Daily. This is one of those subjects that is SO fundamental to voice acting....about the read. It mimics another principle.....Quality vs Quantity....same idea with reference to how one uses their voice and works the read vs just purely/solely relying upon the voice itself. However, I sure hope that producers looking to hire voice actors especially keep these key principles in mind.

                                    Thanks again Stephanie, for sharing!

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Daniel Goldman
                                    • August 15, 2009 9:12 AM

                                      Excellent advice! Thank you for posting, Stephanie! I'm new to the VO world, but I've been speaking, singing and/or acting all my professional life. My personal connection to this is the following: you can spend thousands of dollars to develop a full and resonant voice (as I have as an opera singer), but if you don't interpret the words and emotion behind them, you're just making sound.

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Ron Madden
                                      • August 15, 2009 9:34 AM

                                        This site was mentioned at a local presentation on the VO business I attended just this evening. I am glad to have come across this particular post right out of the gate- very helpful information- and it validated my belief that I just may have the skills needed to dip my toes into this industry. Thanks!

                                        Posted by:
                                        • Jade Hovey
                                        • August 20, 2009 12:59 AM

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