Thursday, 30 January 2014

Cracking the Accent Code

How often have you encountered a job where an accent other than your own native dulcet tones is required? Well, this has been quite a month for me. I've been working on projects which require Welsh, Russian, Cornish, Dublin, Chicago-esque (not sure of the right word to describe this accent!) and Mancunian dialects. No mean feat, I can tell you! And they were all for projects with tight turnarounds. Accent work often then has to be layered with male or female colourings and intonation, plus allow for differences in characterisation, including age, class and personality. So getting the basics right, and cracking the code, is really important.

So when this occurs in your work, where do you go? Where can you find the 'way in' learning an accent?  The quickest answer, and the one most readily at our fingertips is, of course, You Tube, and many gems of accent examples can be found there. However, sometimes the video searches contain the most random of information, and irritatingly when you are in a hurry, they are by people trying to imitate the accent of a particular region, rather than by the native speakers themselves. There is, it seems, a trend amongst Eastern European teenagers to try to copy accents of the British Isles (and often very badly!) - not helpful when I have a chapter or two to narrate, and really need to get to grips with the correct mouth placements and sounds.

Videojug contains a few diamonds though. Gareth Jamieson, British Vocal Coach, and Actor, puts his thoughts and expertise into producing short Videos on a few main accents, such as this American one. He isn't always perfect, but he can give you an idea of where to begin, and makes you stop and think about your lip and tongue movements as you formulate vowel sounds.

I've also enjoyed fellow UK Voiceover Artist Jay Britton's Raise Your Voice Accent videos on YouTube. You can find one of them (his Australian version) here.

My favourite method though, if it is available for a particular accent is, Accent Help. Although it comes at a (reasonable) price rather than as a free resource, the work is thorough, and well worth it. You download the resource materials onto your PC or Mac, and can follow a series of tutorials in combination with numerous audio recordings of natives speaking set pieces. It has been designed especially for actors who need to conquer a new accent, and fast.

Where else do you look? Am I missing a vital piece of the Accent pie?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Branding for a brand New Year.

As we welcome in 2014, it's an opportunity to consider what this year will mean for your business branding.

Have you considered using a Brand Voice for your business? A brand voice is a specific person that speaks for a company. All major companies use a brand voice but a lot of times you will only hear them on the radio or in a TV advertisement. A brand voice can and should be expanded to be used on customer support lines when a customer is put on hold, employee voice mails, presentations and other communication channels where a voice actor is needed. The voice in which a company uses to speak with its customers is important and carries business implications too. Studies have shown that using the right voice in an ad can increase memorability of an ad by 26%. By using a brand voice consistently across all mediums, the impact can be more consistent and even greater.

One thing to remember is that your phone system is your first point of contact with customers – you need to present a professional image. Using an employee who 'has a nice voice' is a cheap option, but a Professional Voiceover who understands the importance of pitch, rhythm and intonation, and has broadcast quality recording sound is invaluable, and in the long run a much better marketing choice for your business.

So, make sure you take the time to invest in a professional voice actor for all of your business activities. It’ll save you money
and headaches in the long run and will help you build a stronger brand that can withstand the test of time.

For many people being put on hold is just a fact of life. Do we really need to suffer through mediocre music and poor vocal quality sound?

Capitalize on your brands uniqueness by investing in a Professional Voiceover to integrate your Audio Output. How can you implement simple and cost-effective changes to your voice branding that will make you stand out from the crowd?