Article by Shruti Chopra, Voice-artiste
The name ‘Shruti’ in Vedic texts of Hinduism means musical intonation and “what is heard” in general. It seems like very early on, destiny had decided that my voice was to play an integral part in my journey. The journey as a voice artiste however, has seen many ups and downs.
My background in television exposed me to various creative fields, such as direction, scriptwriting, editing, anchoring, etc. After 2-3 years of being an employee at TV channels, I decided it was time to give voicing a shot. As a writer, I liked to believe that I had given life to alphabet through various scripts. It was now time to make scripts come alive through my voice.
I realized early on that experience counts, and self-criticism can lead to a hunger to learn more, which eventually leads to growth. While several days were spent sharing my demo CD and attending audition after audition, time at home was spent loudly enacting all kinds of written material (even Hindi newspapers) and taking mental notes of the voices on the TV screen. I also spent a lot of time observing senior voice talents at sound studios where my myriad questions were warmly welcomed by them and friendly sound engineers. This is where I equipped myself with some invaluable gems of knowledge that would sustain me for years to come. For those who want to make this field a career, here are some points which may help:
- Gain a better understanding of what “voice” is. Having a great sounding voice is only half the battle. Develop your diction, pronunciation, clarity, lung power and throw. Understand the pace you need to deliver a particular script. Feel the emotion that the lines intend to convey. An understanding of human psychology also goes a long way, especially in dubbing, where you are the voice for someone else. In essence, know that you are an invisible actor and work towards it.
- Every format and medium has a different demand. Just like actors work in short films and suspense thrillers, documentaries and drama, comedy and romance, know the format, duration and genre that you are voicing for and cater to its specific demands.
- Technical knowledge is important. A voice artiste has to make the microphone and headphones their best friend. Professional microphones are very sensitive and it is essential to know how to breathe right while voicing, how much distance to maintain from the microphone, and at what level you want the audio in your headphones to be at. Basic knowledge of sound proofing and equipment will provide a holistic learning experience.
- The client is always right. You may not agree with a client’s suggestions, but at the end of the day, you must cater to them and be a thorough professional. However, do provide your suggestions and always insist on voicing lines which are grammatically accurate.
- Be prepared for financial instability. A voice artiste’s profession is one where you have to constantly network and look out for newer projects. There could be months/years where you are earning exceedingly well and others where you are waiting for work. Take it in your stride.
- Never copy someone else’s style or voice. Stay true to who you are and what you can deliver. Own your unique style and better it. Your competition is with yourself. Never stagnate.
- Voicing is not a hobby. This is not a profession where you can choose your timings, work days or work part-time. In media, projects always have a tight deadline and in order to sustain regular clients, no opportunity must be lost.
- Self Confidence is the key to success. Over confidence is not. To be a good voice artiste, you must lose any inhibition you have while delivering your script and have complete faith in yourself to give it your all. Lose the fear of being judged, but gain the truth that someone out there is always better.
- Competition is intense in the industry. Be aware of this, but know your strengths and weaknesses and chart out your own journey. Always focus on your own career graph.
- Be prepared for unfair clients. There are a few organizations and individuals that indulge in endless bargaining, expect you to work for unreasonable budgets, sneak in more content for lesser remuneration, and never pay up on time despite months of repeated follow ups. Respect your talent and choose whom you work with.
Being a voice artiste is extremely fulfilling and enjoyable! Voicing is an extremely creative career where there is enough and more variety in work, and you meet new, engaging and dynamic people in the industry. Every day offers a new challenge, every script – a new promise, and every vocal cord – the potential to tug at the heartstrings of your audience!
Shruti Chopra is a voice-artiste and scriptwriter. She has been voicing for several television channels and independent clients for the last 10 years.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and may not reflect those of this organisation.