By Stephanie Ciccarelli
June 15, 2010
To use or not to use headphones?
That is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous decibels or to take arms against a sea of sound waves and by opposing thine headphones, end them.
Dan Roberts joins us today to share his reflections on whether or not you should put the cans on while performing a voice over as inspired by sessions at VOICE 2010.
By Dan Roberts
"A Nightmare on Headphone Street." "The Good, the Bad, and the Headphones." "The Unbearable Lightness of Headphones." What do these movie titles have in common? Headphones have no business in them!
I know I'm being absurd, but think about it... The actors in our favorite movies and TV shows are not listening to themselves. They are in the moment... Acting.
"Ditch the headphones!" says Beau Weaver, who hosted a VOICE 2010 panel aimed at giving radio people acting tips. "Stop listening to yourself through processing. You are spending too much time judging yourself. Get into a performance space."
Ashton Smith echoed this advice on the Promo panel, saying that wearing head-phones changes the read. You should be concentrating on the performance. Get it?
Can you imagine Gary Cooper stopping to check his look in the mirror during the gunfight in "High Noon"? He wouldn't have had time to fire a shot. What if, while the villain bragged about his evil schemes, James Bond was busy admiring the cut of his tux instead of planning an escape? And what if John Travolta was constantly worried about his appearance in "Saturday Night Fever"? Oh, wait. That actually happened.
The point is: Stop analyzing what you're doing and just do it.
Remember... the most important word in Voice Acting is ACTING. Not voice.
Headphones keep you tethered to your board as well, perhaps leading to an inhibited performance. I mean, you don't want to move around too much or those Sony's will come flying off your head, right? Yet using your whole body in a performance is very important. The microphone picks up every nuance because your voice changes with each gesture.
There are also long-term health benefits to giving your headphones a rest. I can't tell you the number of guys I know who crank their 'cans' a little louder each year. They're killing their ears. Don't let this happen to you.
Obviously there are exceptions to the 'no head-phones' rule. If the director insists you wear them, you wear them. I'm a producer as well as voice-actor, so when I'm monitoring somebody else's performance, I wear them. Promo guys punch-in live when recording copy, so they need to hear the production. Singers must hear the music or the song will turn into a train-wreck. But in general, it's a good idea to lose the head-phones. So step away from the "Valley of the Headphones" and trust the experts. I think you'll find that it will breathe new life into your performances!
Dan Roberts is the voice of Dilbert and Hammy the Squirrel in web-toons found at Babelgum.com. He has over 20 years experience in broadcasting, and is a proud member of voices.com. For more information visit www.danrobertsvoice.com
You're welcome to drop him a line here or share your own ideas about headphones (and whether or not you should wear them during performance!)
Image courtesy Dan Roberts
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