ROSOR FORET: "Many people think that voice-overs are something within everyone’s reach, because we all speak. But that is not the case."

04/28/2020

This month we interview Rosor Foret, a professional voice actor and founder of locutorscatalans.cat, an agency which offers voices in different languages and registers for national and international projects from the cultural, tourism and audiovisual sector. We talk with her about her profession and about this project.

How did you begin in the world of audiovisual?

I studied Audiovisual Communication at the UPF, between 2003 and 2007. After several (badly paid or unpaid) jobs, I began to work as a journalist for Betevé. First behind the camera, but gradually they began to put me in front and they asked me to read items for the news and reports. At that time, phonetics, diction and locution were very important for Betevé (BTV), so we took several courses. I saw that I liked it and I had a certain ability.

 

Why did you choose to devote yourself specifically to voice-over?

It was by chance; I was good at it and I explored it. To tell the truth, there were not many training centres. But, one day, a friend talked to me about a postgraduate course that they were giving at IDEC and I decided to sign up for it. There I laid the foundations, but I didn’t know that I would end up devoting myself to it. Then came the difficult work: to find a niche in the market.

 

Locutors Catalans is the first online voice bank in the Catalan language. How and why did this project arise?

When I had been (partially) devoted to voice-over for three or four years, I realized that there were hardly any voice agencies in Catalan. In other countries there were hundreds, in many languages, and a great many worked on line. Indeed, this was how I began to work, from home, carrying out an intensive search for platforms and agencies which worked remotely. Here, in Catalonia, there weren’t any.

 

What services do you offer in the world of audiovisual, especially film and television?

Locutors Catalans operates as an agency; we work face-to-face and on line with voice and dubbing actors in Catalan and other languages. All of the voice actors with which we work are filtered; we do not accept amateur candidates. We offer voice-over (and occasionally dubbing) services to the audiovisual, tourism and cultural sector. That is, we record everything from advertising to voice-overs for company videos, audio guides, e-learning, voices for documentaries, reports, short films, and also PA systems or telephone switchboards, among others.

We also offer text translation and proofreading services, because this is very important work closely linked to that of voice-over. We thus centralize the entire process.

 

Your work is basically on line. What difference is there between a voice actor and an online voice actor?

The main difference is that the professional working on line has to have a command of the technical part and audio editing. They moreover need to have a studio with high-quality equipment (microphone, preamplifier, mixing desk or audio interface, soundproofed room…). Often, and now even more given the situation that we are going through, the studios or agencies want to be able to manage the voice actors. We therefore connect remotely with the agency and/or the end client so that they can monitor the recording. Therefore, an online voice actor, who is normally alone, has to be able to do everything: control the technical part, the acting, everything related to the voice, edit the recordings and speak English, because we work a lot with other countries.

 

What qualities must a voice or someone who wants to devote themselves to voice-overs have?

Having a nice voice is not everything, but it is a good starting point. With Locutors Catalans I hold castings every day and the voices that I choose the most are those which are most pleasant to the ear, of course. There are, however, different, special or atypical voices, which people also request.

For me, with 10 years’ experience, the most important aspect is undoubtedly training. Many people think that voice-overs are something within everyone’s reach, because we all speak. But that is not the case. There are a great many techniques that you need to learn: positioning the voice, breathing, being versatile with the registers, not droning on, knowing how you have to be in front of a microphone, understanding what the client wants and knowing how to do it… Not to speak of business management, because you are still a versatile freelancer and you also have to do your own accounts, marketing, etc.

 

And what are the specific qualities for dubbing or putting the voice for a documentary, for example?

If we are going to talk about dubbing we’ll have to start another interview, because it’s a separate world. The technique is extremely complicated and you need many years of training, as an actor, and of practice in the studio.

The difficulty is different with a documentary. They tend to be very long texts and you have to record them in the same session. But, as occurs with your body, your voice gets tired and, if you do not have a good technique and a well-trained voice box, you can do yourself damage. Your voice also changes over the hours and this is noted a great deal. Sometimes, when they ask you to make a modification it is very complicated to get the quality of the voice to be identical to the original, whether one hour or two days have passed. This, for me, is one of the aspects which demonstrate whether or not the voice actor is a good professional.

 

How does someone have to prepare, for example, before doing a voice-over or dubbing?

With voice-overs, which is where I have more experience (I have done less dubbing and I cannot talk like someone who is normally devoted to it), you first have to have a good technique, and to be fit, like a sportsperson, and you do not achieve this in two days. You gradually work on it and you never stopped doing it. When you receive an assignment, you have to read the text and look at the images or listen to the music, if there is any. Next, you must know what the client or the agency wants, and how they want you to approach the voice-over. We tend to talk about moods, intentions, textures of the voice… This is very important when you do advertising, which is what is most difficult for me, together with dubbing. Then you need to prepare the text, to take notes, to establish a pattern, to note down the pronunciation of difficult words or those that you do not know... And when you have done all that, you can start recording.

Normally, I never record first thing in the morning, because my voice and my body are still asleep. I do some sport, stretching or yoga, and then I can start. This is also therefore important, to have your body and your voice “aligned”, as I like to say.

 

You have also worked with the world of advertising, which shoots a lot in our city. Is there a great deal of difference between working for advertising and for fiction?

Advertising is the jewel in the crown. For me it is what is most difficult, because you have to say so much in so few words... It seems simple, but that is what is so magical, that it is extremely difficult to get it right with a good spot and a good voice-over. Not everyone can say “¿Te gusta conducir?” (Do you enjoy driving?), not like Luís Posada.

There are obviously easier, less well-crafted adverts, and the voice is consistent with this. But powerful brands, which produce brilliant spots, have brilliant people putting the voice. It is a complicated territory to enter.

 

What project did you find the most inspiring to work on?

For the last couple of years I have been collaborating with Innovamat, an educational project on mathematics, in a multiplatform format, which is fantastic. It’s a very young team, which began about three years ago and which has grown a great deal. They are moreover in 300 schools in Catalonia and they offer materials to work on at home (which they have reinforced over the last few weeks). They have very well-prepared content and this has been very enriching for me because I have seen it grow almost from the beginning, trying to bring the best to the voices of all the characters of the project and of Bmath.

When the lockdown began, I started recording a series of audio tales which we called #ContesAntivirals. They are intended for children, but everyone can listen to them. They aim to make these times that we are having to live through easier. You can listen to them on SoundCloud.

 

What difficulties do you think that a voice actor can encounter in their work?

It is complicated to carve out a place in the world of voice-over. However, the trend is increasingly on line, as with other professions, and I believe that this change of scenario makes it more democratic. I also understand that it is difficult for someone coming from the analogue world, who is used to going to record in studios, to make the switch and to work from home, to be in charge of the technical part, to have a presence on the Internet (website, social media, online agencies…). In any case, the profession has undergone a considerable change over the last decade and someone who wants to devote themselves to it has to be able to deal with this new scenario with confidence.

 

Is the fact that you can work on line an advantage in these times that we are experiencing due to covid-19? How do you continue to work in this situation?

Absolutely; it’s an important advantage, 75% of our projects are on line, not face to face, so it has not affected our dynamics too much. It is, however, true that they are beginning to ask to control the recordings more with the client connected, because the studios have had to close and, until now, when sessions were held with the client present, you almost always went to the studio.

I do not know whether this will be an isolated incident or whether this new panorama, which we have been forced to accept, will change the direction of our profession. It has always been clear to me that the future of voice-over was on line, although advertising continued to be undertaken in studios. No one knows what will happen from now on.

 

An increasing amount of audio content is consumed in digital format. Why do you think this is the case? What do you think that this brings to the listener?

Maybe we are tired of screens. Intoxicated. But we have them with us, and this allows us to listen to what we want, where and when we want. Just sound. I think that this is the key.

A few years ago they said that radio, which is the direct precedent of these contents, was condemned to die…. But it has survived and it is more active than ever, thanks to the Internet. Because it has something magical (both producing it, and listening to it), because it accompanies you while you are working or going for a walk or travelling; it doesn’t abduct you. It soothes your mind and your eyes.

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