After working nearly 13 years in voiceovers, I'm here to answer your questions about the biz. My most recent work is for Magnum and EA's Dead Space 3 campaign. I'm most well known for my movie trailer commercials.

my agency site http://www.red24management.com/voices/rob-smith and a proof pic on twitter: https://twitter.com/Robersdee/status/455783185977049088/photo/1

Special AMA recording, and a request https://soundcloud.com/robersdee/reddit-ama

My talk show you the tube https://www.youtube.com/user/Robersdee24

Comments: 139 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

TheSecondToLastOfUs15 karma

How did you get into it? What are the qualifications someone would need to get noticed?

robersdee18 karma

I don't have any real qualifications, I did a small college course in sound design/engineering that I never finished. The only real qualification you need is drive/motivation and also something unique (or mostly unique ) about your voice to stand out. I , for example , have a deep voice. Surprisingly the % of people with that "trailer" type voice in the biz is quite low compared to regular VO artists.

BaronMatfei13 karma

Do you have to be based in NYC or LA? It's always been a dream of mine to do VO work but I'm based in NOLA.

robersdee10 karma

Well I'm based in the UK! I work with an american accent for a lot of my projects. The beauty of doing VO's is that you can be from anywhere as long as you have the flexibility and skill for accents.

csl5124 karma

Do you need to do regional accents within the US, or is it a specific kind of neutral American?

robersdee8 karma

to be honest, mostly just NA (north american) though I have done a few crazy car salesmen commercials in a southern accent.

Portgas11 karma

Can you record you saying "I've got ballz of steel"?

robersdee12 karma

Yes I can. Ill post it on YouTube in the next half hour.

robersdee14 karma

ok its now in the OP

balloonpoop4 karma

Dude! Why are you so awesome?

robersdee6 karma

thanks, I don't know, a great mystery of the universe I suppose.

carvedog9 karma

Wow this is cool. I live in the mountains of Idaho but through knowing someone who liked my voice and was part of the hiring process I almost did some work for a major insurance company. I can't stand my voice to be honest but I do great accents and have lived all over the world so it doesn't seem hard to me. I have also dome some narration on a documentary and DJ'ed a bit. This gives me hope to try some more.

Thanks. I will read some more now.

robersdee3 karma

that's great, your biggest enemy seems to be your confidence. Accents are a sought after commodity. Are they gonna hire you for several jobs? of course because people know you can do any accent. It's easier for companies to just go "erm, ok can you do this accent also? great we have more work for you" instead of them taking the time and resources to find someone else.

pffftyagassed9 karma

This is something I've always been interested in. I worked as a Senior Advisor for Apple and people would constantly comment about how nice my voice sounded while on the phone. Same happens to me when I speak in general. Any tips for someone looking to enter the field?

robersdee2 karma

If its something your interested in then go for it. A Small mixing desk and a semi decent condenser mic wont set you back a great deal in this day and age. record a few demo's, work on your strong areas and email agencies like mad! good luck

Gequinn7 karma

Did you ever meet Don LaFontaine?

robersdee5 karma

No, unfortunately not. He is a massive hero of mine.

SirMooseAlot7 karma

Does voice over work provide the majority of your income? Is this a side gig or your full time profession? How many hours a week do to work?

robersdee4 karma

Once upon a time it did, nowadays I usually subsidize quiet times with other work.

ChickenHubben6 karma

Do you resent big name actors who do voice overs, essentially take work from you? Are you in a union?

robersdee5 karma

No, it's just good business. People relate to a voice so it's not unreasonable to want a "big name" to advertise their product/show etc. Mind you, when they start doing movie trailers I'll have something to say :)

rolacolalola6 karma

Do you ever get recognized over the telephone if you need to call somebody (utilities/people you don't know etc)? and also What are the perks of your job?

I have more but I'll stop there haha.

robersdee13 karma

No, I don't get recognised. But I do have fun with cold calling salesman. I'll often dive straight into Duke Nukem or just narrate everything they say in a movie style.

MyReligionIsPhysics4 karma

[deleted]

robersdee10 karma

Love the username and a post of this measure deserves the time to answer it.

1) although a booth can be good for sound quality (or lack thereof) its pretty low on the priority if your just starting out.

2) For main projects I use a sony c800g, mainly because its brilliant for the low end (my range) I also have a less expensive mics I use for day to day projects ranging from $100 to $1000. Dont get me wrong, with the right know how and magic sparkle I can still get professional sounding results out of a $100 mic.

3) I just do voices! when your speaking your practicing. I have never sat down and practised but I talk to myself like a mental case.

4) your first reel doesn't have to be anything fancy, just record a few different lines in different characters/tones. Like I mentioned earlier make up some fake products to match your tone, its not the validity of what your advertising, its how good you sound above everything.

5) being an actor helps on the acting side of things (ie: for actual voice acting eg game characters, radio plays and the like)

6) get an agent now, or at least start spamming the hell outta agencies, send send send, email email email. you'll get one bite but it'll take an awful lot of fishing.

7) at one point I could live off it, sadly after the economic recession and loads of these "voice over" 2-for-a-dollar sites it became more and more difficult. I supplement VA these days with small jobs here and there if needs be. Its like any actor will tell you the work can be few and far between sometimes.

no problem, glad you enjoyed it.

LouisCkay4 karma

[deleted]

robersdee4 karma

some well, some not so well.

Fourwindsgone3 karma

I just checked out your site. Good work, man. V.O. work has always been a fantasy of mine. Best of luck to you

robersdee1 karma

thanks!

goborage2 karma

If I called you a voice actor, would you be offended?

robersdee5 karma

Yes, I will find you, and i will kill you (Liam Neeson voice)

Richard_b2 karma

Have you insured your voice? Like I know some sports stars insure their feet/arms etc. have you done a similar thing? Also, have you any tips for someone looking to move in to a similar Line of work? Thanks!

robersdee4 karma

no, I'm nowhere near the point of insuring my voice, infact I actively damage it. If my voice were a shiny new trombone I would be throwing it under the bed every day covering it in dust until I needed it.

TriStateArea_Ruler2 karma

How do you find work now? Does your agency send you scripts/projects and you just record them? Are there contract negotiations?

robersdee3 karma

Yes, my agency will send me projects and ill send the client demo's. Unfortunately negotiating is not something I get to do in this financial climate, I just nod and read the words like a good dog. I also record gratis VO's for some indie projects for fun, to help people out.

shotgun_ninja1 karma

Tagging you as possible VO guy for future game projects...

robersdee1 karma

it would be a pleasure

TriStateArea_Ruler1 karma

Do you receive a sample script/scene to record a demo? Or do you send prior recorded demos in the vein of the project?

robersdee1 karma

can be a bit of both.

Jackobi2 karma

Were you ever offered a role that you wouldn't do? If so, what was that role?

robersdee10 karma

I was never offered anything I wouldn't do, I'm a vocal whore.

atrain4442 karma

How did you get your start? Were you approached by someone or did you audition? What was your first project?

robersdee5 karma

I started at a party, I did an impression of duke nukem many many moons ago and people loved it so much that it inspired me to give it a shot!

csl5121 karma

Have you seen Lake Bell's film "In a World"? What did you think of it?

robersdee1 karma

I have yes. It wasn't bad. although some parts are a little inaccurate

Inkadventure1 karma

Why are the English dubs on anime so terrible? Most of them render it unwatchable for me.

robersdee7 karma

I don't watch anime unfortunately, but I hear its in the contract to be as terrible as possible .

NorbitGorbit1 karma

Is there worry that computer generated voices might take the low-end voiceover work away?

robersdee2 karma

no, although one day we will all be killed by robots.

toastedtowelie1 karma

What did you do to get your foot in the door so to say? I have been told I have the perfect radio voice and have always dreamed of doing VO work. Thank you for your time sir!

Edit: stupid auto correct

robersdee3 karma

I sent a lot of emails (and mainly analogue mail back then) to every agency I could. I remember sending upwards of 400 letters one month (all with fancy stationary, a burned demo etc etc) and only getting one reply, such reply was a generic "were sorry but......." sometimes it can be heartbreaking.

fkn_wiseass1 karma

so how do you get started? is it the usual, make some recordings and shop them around?

robersdee1 karma

I'll probably get this one a lot, I answered a little further up/down. Thanks for asking though. :)

baconmaster241 karma

What are some challenges you have encountered in the VO business, that most people don't expect from that industry?

robersdee1 karma

Large VO sites that have killed us! people doing bad recordings for no money on poor equipment.

Saarlak1 karma

This is something I really wanted to do when I was younger but I was never able to find an effective way to enter the market. I, too, have a deep voice and did some radio when I was in high school. I'm sure the pay (usually) sucks but it would be fun none the less. Congratulations on finding your way in and doing as well as you have!

robersdee3 karma

Thanks, but even though I've been doing this for over a decade I'm still only at about 20% of where I would like to be. It's tough to get VO work.

HarryKillua1 karma

Do you have some kind of training for voice-over, or you just really talented at it?

robersdee2 karma

There's always ways to improve and learn core skills ( college, uni, drama school) all of which are second to passion. I've always liked acting and always thought I wasn't too bad at it too!

MOPMetallica1 karma

Do VA's actually get really annoyed when celebrities (film actors) get all the main voice roles? I've read that I think it was Jon St. John (Duke Nukem's VA) said that he hates it when guys like Brad Pitt and stuff get roles for big projects when they are more reliant on body image and film techniques than voice acting.

robersdee2 karma

were all in the same boat, we are all actors trying to get paid. Yes, some need that pay more desperately than others (myself included) but you can't hold a grudge against someone for getting a VO job because they are more famous. It's the way of the world.

hjschrader091 karma

Can you give me some tips on how to get into the voice acting business? I can write, but I think I'd rather do this instead.

robersdee1 karma

get yourself a semi decent little mixing desk and mic and just start recording, learn how to use audition/audacity to clean up samples.

Chewy961 karma

If someone was good at, say, cartoony voices, like a wide range, what would you say would be the best way to get into the business?

robersdee3 karma

do demos for fake cereals , kind of a wacky showreel. Fake products that you can tailor to your voice reel.

MrChocholate1 karma

OH GOD WILL YOU RECORD MY VOICEMAIL

robersdee2 karma

yes, for 1 million dollars.

MrChocholate2 karma

Shit, I was willing to go to $750k but a mill is just too rich for my blood. I appreciate you letting me know your rates, though.

robersdee1 karma

seriously tho, message me privately and if I have time to do it I will!

Kidou1 karma

This is pretty much my dream job. How do I go about getting into it?

robersdee1 karma

see above/below post.

cwfutureboy1 karma

I've always wanted to get into VO work, but I don't want to work for companies that I disagree with socially, politically, etc.

How choosy can you be from day one?

robersdee1 karma

you cant even be choosy 10 years in, you do the work that comes to you in the early days.

edpaul4u1 karma

Do you teach these skills online. Or is there a place where can i upload something and you can advise me to fuck off

robersdee2 karma

I don't teach skills online unfortunately, but feel free to upload a demo and ill have a listen

CountBlucher1 karma

I'm very jealous dream job. Who told you that you were good enough or did you just make yourself good enough?

robersdee1 karma

It was more due to my voice, I have a really deep voice which lends itself to VA. Apart from practice that's it. Find and know your niche.

OxygenJunkee1 karma

What type of projects do you enjoy being in more?

robersdee1 karma

I wish I got more variety. I would love to do more characters (video game/ animated)

AlphaDeltaMike1 karma

You should give us a demo of what you can do, that is if you have a microphone it would be fantastic. vocaroo

robersdee1 karma

there's demos (albeit really old). theres a parody on youtube that i do as the "live ultimate movie trailer"

Sophira1 karma

Have you heard of VoiceBunny? What do you think about it?

robersdee1 karma

Each to their own, I think sites like this made it tough for professional VA's. See my comment below. It was pretty much the decline of VO's. your talking $1500 jobs are now being poached by people with substandard equipment/skills and palming recordings off for like $8. I joined a similar site (name withheld) and for job postings your getting like 400 auditions, your EXETREMELY lucky if you even EVER get heard on sites like these, let alone the 0.001% chance you'll actually get hired.

Get an agent, network with people, it takes time but It's actually easier than getting anything of substance from sites like these.

cheeseheadfoamy1 karma

Is there one dream franchise or company you'd like to do character work for?

robersdee2 karma

Yes, I would love to work for Rockstar north as a character. also have an exclusivity deal for a big hollywood studio for trailers.

SlightlyStable1 karma

Do you ever do any acting in front of the camera or strictly voiceovers?

robersdee1 karma

I do some theater and small parts infront of the lens. I have a very very new show on YouTube called "yak soup" that I'm experimenting with.

TriStateArea_Ruler1 karma

What do you think about artificial voices like that Hatsune Miko (I think that's what she is?) thing? Do you foresee electronic voices overtaking the voice acting industry?

robersdee2 karma

It's not something I've given a lot of thought. There will always be the ' uncanny valley' you just can't beat the real human element.

ph15h1 karma

Out of all those companies you've worked with, which one is your favorite Voiceover gig?

robersdee2 karma

I couldn't pick one, although I did do a voice for a WD40 commercial that took half a day because I couldn't get through 1 particular line without cracking up. "keeps rust out of your tacklebox" just absolutely killed me.

OstrichMadeOfClay1 karma

What did you do for Disney?

robersdee3 karma

A few TV spots and trailers.

escme1 karma

Do you sing or do anything musical?

robersdee1 karma

No, I used to do some theatre but singing is usually not an option due to the bass of my voice. Although I do a mean rendition of "chocolate salty balls" on karaoke, much to the delight of the drunken crowd.

bbocenyaj1 karma

I recently made my first two demos and got an agent. I get sent one or two auditions weekly, seemingly most are for national spots...i feel like there is more I could be doing than just relying on my agent to send me auditions, but I do know i could hardly find anything without an agent to send me auditions...question being, how can I help my agent help me?

robersdee2 karma

YES! you've discovered the secret VO magic empty spell! its absolutely tough getting work, relying on your agency can get you some but you have to network. Send companies samples directly if needs be. There's a saying from up north "shy bairns get nowt" which for you internationals out there translates as "shy people get nothing"

zacharywcox1 karma

Were you in "Steal This Movie?"

robersdee1 karma

no, sadly not. It's always difficult getting exposure as a VO artist. If you would like to cast me in a movie that would be splendid.

zacharywcox2 karma

I'm actually a podcast host. Anything that you've been involved with in movies would be a great angle to get you on the show. What films have you done trailers or voices for? If you'd be interested in a podcast interview, that'd be wonderful! Let me know sir.

robersdee3 karma

it would be a please, email me [email protected]

bactchan1 karma

What is your favorite memory from a recording session and who are your favorite actors to work with?

robersdee2 karma

Doing trailers I tend to work alone (by that I mean not with any other actors directly. I would love to do move games/animated movies as opposed to my usual "in a world...." spiel. I've got a few favorite moments, one of which was while recording a commercial for a uk channel, they wanted me to record a special (and a bit naughty) trailer using the station managers name etc etc.

paulvs881 karma

What is your best known piece of work?

robersdee2 karma

arg, this is a tough one, over the years I have done many, probably my work with Disney (trailers). To be honest I'm proud of all (if yet fairly modest compared to some) work

Ackatronic1 karma

What's the secret to good voice over?

robersdee3 karma

Have a niche, mine is deep voiced trailers. Pick an area and work at it.

goodandnotbad1 karma

do they make u talk about dicks

OriginalShane3 karma

op pls respond

robersdee5 karma

they always, always do.

SuperC1421 karma

Do you need a lot of (expensive) equipment of your own? Voice acting is sort of my dream job and I'm curious how much I'd have to invest (financially) to get started.

I guess another way of asking it would be, do you record a lot from home, or do you tend to appear in person in your client's sound studio?

robersdee4 karma

Hi super, you can actually get started for very little, I do a lot of projects from home, I have 2 studios. one for more professional jobs and 1 for small jobs. Consumer mics have come a long way. you can get a small desk and a relatively cheap phantom powered microphone all for less than $200 if you shop around, sprinkle in a touch of noise reduction and normalization in (free) audacity) and you can actually get some stunning results.

Blaidd_Drwg871 karma

Which accent do you find most difficult? Which accent is your favorite?

robersdee3 karma

Welsh is the most difficult for me. My favorite is NA (north american)