The Weirder Side to Voicing from Home
Being a voice actor can be fun and rewarding, absolutely, but there are also some weirder aspects to the job (especially for voice actors who work mostly from home). So for now, let's step away from the more serious discussions and delve into some of the unexpected experiences of voice acting from home. Keep in mind that not all voice actors' experiences are the same, and these are just my personal accounts.
A lot of modern voice acting is done from home, and definitely that's where I do the vast majority of mine. And while sometimes clients just want the raw recording, errors and all, and will have their own people do all the editing, most of the time they prefer if I clean it up and remove any mistakes before sending it in (as is the norm for all work provided by FlyVoiceovers). One of the weird—and admittedly frustrating-yet-amusing—experiences I have when doing error pickups for myself, is that I'll occasionally forget how I'm supposed to pronounce a word. And I'm not talking about foreign words or particularly difficult words. I mean simple, ordinary, everyday words in my own native language. Words that I say all the time without issue, but suddenly find myself stumbling over after doing a few retakes. Like, for instance, the word “fact.” My brain may just blank on it. How do you say it, again? Fack? Fack-ta? It's a bit like that scene in the movie Pontypool in which they repeat a word over and over again until it stops making sense. It's just such a strange thing to stare at a word, know you know how to say it, but then fear maybe you don't actually. Maybe you've been saying it wrong your entire life and only just now realized it. Thankfully, this passes quickly enough and can be remedied by saying a few different lines using the word, or by just taking a brief break (sometimes all we really need is a snack to fix our brains).
Another strange experience is a result of spending days listening to my own voice for hours as I edit multiple jobs. This leads to the dilemma of forgetting what my “real” voice even is. As much as voice actors provide “natural” and “conversational” deliveries, that's still a voice we've trained to produce and isn't necessarily what we sound like when in casual company. So sometimes I'll ask myself if my voice is really like the perky teenager I just was for an ad, or the more mature and calm voice I did for a training video. For a horrifying moment I will doubt even having a “real” voice, and worry I've just gone through life switching from one voice to the other, a never-ending stream of characters with no true identity. But then over my headset I'll hear myself make a mistake in the reading and slip out of character as I mutter something like, “Oops, wait, let's try that again,” and oh yeah, that's what I sound like. Those moments of randomly hearing my actual voice can honestly be kind of jarring, too. I just get so used to hearing this other voice speaking for so long that part of my brain kind of forgets it's me.
And the last surreal experience to being a voice actor who primarily works from home is forgetting language entirely. This is different from forgetting how words are pronounced, and is more to do with the isolation leading to very few opportunities to talk without going by a script. Due to the recent pandemic and folks having to stay home, perhaps more people have also experienced this phenomenon. Usually, for me, it only gets bad after a particularly long run of days shutting myself up in my booth for work. It leads to instances where, when I do talk to another person, I forget how. This has resulted in me calling the garage the “car house hole,” and saying phrases like “vacuum the lawn.” Though one time recently my brain just got languages mixed up, since I've also been studying French. So while I was trying to explain that I think I left something in the car, I kept saying it was in the “voiture,” very sure that I was using the correct word in the moment and completely unable to remember the word "car." What's especially weird is that this only seems to affect speech, leaving my writing unscathed. Brains are odd.
While I love being a voice actor, it can be rather isolating at times. That, in turn, can end up playing tricks on your mind. I'm not sure if I'm alone in these experiences, but it's important for me—and any other voice actors working from home—to remember to take breaks and interact with other people whenever possible. Humans are social creatures, and we need that socializing to keep our brains sharp and focused. Or else we may forget the sound of our own voice, or the word for the place the voiture goes. You know, with the door. And the thing.