The challenges of voicing Characters
Voicing characters is a whole different ballgame than a regular read for voice actors. I asked some of our busiest character talent how they approach character VO’s, and they had some great insight.
Internetjock Melody has done numerous character voices, including Madame President for Call of Duty Black Ops 2. She says first and foremost, in order to pull off a great character, you have to have the acting chops. It's not just enough to use "a funny voice." The acting skill must be there in order to make a character sound believable. And versatility is key when doing VO. (for example., Danny DeVito may be a wonderful actor, but he can only be -- well -- Danny DeVito).
“The more characters you can pull out of your hat, the better off you -- and the client -- are. Sometimes in addition to giving the client what they're asking for, I will also add a few of contrasting takes. I like them to have a choice. Many times, I've had a client come back to me and say, "We were looking for a sexy Jessica Rabbit, but hearing it read as Ellie May Clampett was hilarious. We never would have thought of that!" Again, the more voices you can come up with, the better.
“Many times, we are called upon to read alternating lines without the other actor present (e.g., a husband and wife bickering), so you must always keep the other person's lines in perspective, in order to make everything flow seamlessly and conversational. So, timing - particularly comic timing, is another very important issue. “
InternetJock Dean, who voices one purple dinosaur you may have heard of, gets a lot of work doing characters, as well as impersonations. He says overall he actually thinks they are easier.
“With a character read, it is easier than a regular read because your performance is dictated by the character. Meaning, as long as you sound like the character, or person you are imitating, it should be simple to finish the script. I almost always change the script and ad lib when doing characters, just to give it some more fun.”
But what about being asked to do a voice for a character that has no obvious “angle”, or direction to pursue? Internetjock Robin, who says about half of all his VO work is for characters, shared his take on this type of situation.
“I was once asked to create the voice of a rock for a TV spot. That was all that the description said… a rock. I then asked the producer, "How big a rock?" "Was it smooth or rough-textured?" "Cute or proud or shy?" At first, the producer thought I was nuts, but then, he heard how all that information made sense in bringing the character to life. After the commercial aired and was a big hit, the producer had me do three more spots… adding two more rocks who had different voices and who all spoke with each other.
“Doing character voices is the most fun and the most challenging. Preparing for a character is like prepping for any acting role. You have to understand the character's attitude and point of view, and also take into consideration the age, gender, and dimensions of the character… plus whether the character is human, animal or inanimate. “
Whether it’s for a holiday commercial, an animated whiteboard project, or a video game, when you want to bring a character to life having easy access to professional voice talent online can be a great advantage.
JulieRae MacLeod Marketing and Sales @ Internetjock