Category Archives: Auditions

Voice Acting and Script Context

The last time I worked on an animation project the director stood just a few feet away from me in the booth.  Unusual, I thought.  But as we moved from scene to scene he continually filled me in on the setting and the back-story,  making  sure I understood the context of the lines I was recording.

I had watched him do this with the actor scheduled before me. It occurred to me that he was in the booth to give instant organic feed-back to the acting and to paint the context as vividly as possible without the barrier of glass, microphones and talk-backs.

I also realized that this was a project where the director really did have the big picture, the vision, the entire script knocking around in his brain.  He knew where each  story line led and how to get the actors on the path so when the pieces , recorded lines, were stitched together in editing the result would be good story-telling.

Sure, it’s always better if you can have the entire cast in the studio at the same time.  But very often,  for lots of reasons,  you just can’t.  And if you have to bring the voices in one at a time, this was the way to do it.

There is a great article on Rock, Paper, Shotgun that addresses this issue (and others) as it relates to voice directing and acting for video games.  Hat tip to fellow voice talkers  David Houston and Bob Souer for the link.

In Search of The Next Billy Mays

Tangentially related to voice over, the call has gone out to find a replacement for hyper-pitchman Billy Mays who unexpectedly passed away in 2009.  The joke around our house was that when one of  Mr. Mays’ TV spots came on, you could hit “mute” on the remote and still hear him.

Trade publication Advertising Age was invited to cover one of the auditions and columnist Larry Dobrow took a crack at the gig as you’ll see in the video.

Faux Audition Finalists Fronted

Voice over actor and fun guy Peter O’Connell has announced the finalists for the “just for fun” auditions for the voice of the ABC Evening News with Dianne Sawyer. Visit Peter’s blog and vote for your favorite finalists.

Remember, it’s all just for grins and aside from a little notoriety and maybe some link love, both you and the winner will receive bupkes.

What is the Context?

Been thinking about the word “context” this morning. It’s one of the lenses through which we should see the script as we prepare for the job or an audition. It helps us determine choices.

I think language scholar Oscar E. Nybakken has a very useful take on the word “context” for the voice actor:

Context not only casts a play of light and shadow on a word but frequently  suggests its primary meaning.

Adding light and shadow to the read is a wonderful thing as long as it serves the story.  There’s that “context” thing again.

Creative Slating

My agents have a rule about slating which is short and sweet.

Name only. Not even the role. Put that in the file name.

The intent is to curb the behavior of some actors who think that rude noises, mini-biographies, or lame attempts at being funny during the slate will make them more memorable when in fact producers and casting people find them annoying and a time suck.

So what’s a voiceover performer to do? Especially with a name like mine. Two syllables.

Well, more than you might think. Pat Fraley has some notions on creative slating in his audio seminar “Quick and Slick Voiceover Tricks available on Dan O’Day’s website. You also get tips on how to add layers to your “triplets” or those three-in-a-row readings and a discussion on whether or not you should add processing or production values to auditions once in a while, assuming you are auditioning out of your home studio.

Pat has a very entertaining way of teaching and has some nuggets in there for you.

Disclosure: For plugging the audio seminar I receive bupkis. I just think it’s good.

Should I slate in Character?

That’s one of the questions that floats up during the four part podcast interview Voicebanks’s Tracey Patton has with Bob Bergen and Bill Holmes.  Both are busy voice actors and teachers.

So when auditioning for character or animation roles, should you slate in character. Some say yes. Bob says “no” for a simple reason that make sense.  If you slate as “you” and the “character”, you’ve just given the producer two voices.  More choices.  They love that.  Just make sure you give them good seperation between the two.