11.28.11

blast from the past

Good morning! Check out this this fab blog post from Top Online Colleges called the 10 voice actors who shaped your childhood and you didn’t even know it. Learn more behind the scenes info about the voice greats, Elmo, Bugs Bunny and even Wilma from The Flintstones. Yabba dabba doo!

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11.24.11

sounds: laugh

Happy Thursday!
Today’s featured sound exercise is all about the LAUGH.
Again, you want to experiment with different lengths, sizes and shapes like you did with the fight sounds.
Try playing around with both high pitch and belly generated sounds.
Laughs can be nasal, raspy, and squeaky sounding.
They can be quiet or booming.
Sometimes there is a build or they can be steady.
Try the following when approaching the laughing attitudes from the list below, “muhaha, hahaha, hooooaahha, ahhhhaahah, hehe, etc”.
Have fun, experiment and most importantly don’t judge yourself- just let it happen!
  • Evil
  • Old
  • Childlike
  • Goofy
  • Nervous
  • Snooty
  • Manic

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11.23.11

the animation voice demo

Hey there! Last month the Vox Daily Blog featured the article I wrote called The Animation Voice Demo- 6 Key Elements. For those who missed it, here it is today featured on the VPS bloggedy blog. I hope you enjoy the read :)

THE ANIMATION VOICE DEMO- 6 KEY ELEMENTS BY MELISSA ALTRO

Let me break it down for you folks, if you want an agent to represent you in voice, you NEED a voice demo to submit to them in order to be considered. That being said, you need a character demo to be cast in general regardless of where your job opportunities come from. Below I’ve put together a list of the key 6 elements in my opinion that makes a voice demo great!

6 KEY ELEMENTS:

  1. Length
  2. Collection of solid character voices
  3. Writing
  4. Music/Sound Effects
  5. Direction
  6. Editing/Sound Mixing

1. LENGTH

The ideal length of a voice demo should fall between a minimum of one minute long and at a maximum of two minutes. Like any kind of entertainment or impactful art, if it’s worthwhile, it will keep your listener’s attention. Also, the length will depend on the amount of character voices and length of the individual pieces. These are choices your director will make depending on your range and quality of delivery.

2. SOLID CHARACTER VOICES

You want your character voices to be strong and distinctive so you should only have between 8-12 characters. If you have a collection of voices that are truly unique and stand a part from the rest your number might be closer to 12. If you are still in the process of developing your range you should stick to a number that’s closer to 8 character voices. Overlap creates for a redundant demo. You want to impress and surprise, keeping your listener engaged so you want to avoid having a collection of character voices that sound too similar. Ideally you want a variety of stock characters and your own “one of a kinds.” This is an important mixture so that you can convey to your listener that you have the ability to play popular types of characters and that you have pulse on what’s current. While the “one of a kinds” will allow your listener to know that you are creative and thoughtful. This is a dynamic combination and if executed successfully will without a doubt impress any listener!

3. WRITING

The writing in your demo is very important. Humour is key. Everybody loves to laugh and it’s essential when we’re talking cartoons that humour is involved. Also, you don’t want to take yourself too seriously so it’s best to have material that’s light and clever and perhaps even include some moments that are a bit self-depreciating of self-referential.

4.  SOUND EFFECTS

Sound effects can really bring a read alive. A good sound effect or music choice will bring energy to a read. It can even give it context and will further support the character’s intention or mood of the read, i.e. an evil sounding music piece will heighten the suspense and danger of a scheming villain character voice. That being said, it’s very important that the music or sound effects do not over power the read or distract from the character. You want to include music that’s in sync with the actor’s delivery and avoid adding anything that is too busy or chaotic sounding or by contrast too slow or dull sounding. It’s a fine balance!

5. DIRECTION

How important is good direction? Well, a good director knows how to bring out the best in you. This director will get your reads to be varied with changes in pacing, mood and energy levels. It’s also essential that you director is creative and imaginative. Wacky vision and exploring sometimes what seems “weird” is what will make your demo stand out from the rest.

6. EDITING AND MIXING

Finally, it’s time for editing and sound mixing. Once your demo material is all recorded and you leave the studio, the editing process begins. It’s crucial that the sound engineer works with the director to make the transitions snappy and the gaps between the lines as small as possible. The awkward breaths and mouth noises should edited out as well leaving your reads sounding clean and clear! Sound effects and music are thoughtfully added and ta da! A brand spankin’ new voice demo!

11.23.11

Sounds: fight

Sounds also referred to as voice assists, are essential tools for a voice actor. They give ‘oompf’ to your lines and make your characters come alive and add a more dynamic edge to your read. Today we’re going to focus on FIGHT sounds. The goal here is to deliver these sounds in different lengths, shapes and sizes. Use the instructions below as a guide. HI-YAH!

—> Deliver the following sounds in small, medium and large versions

—> Deliver the following sounds in short, medium and long versions

  • Punch
  • Kick
  • Attack
  • Hit (as though you’re receiving a blow)
  • Wounded
  • Dying and last breath

To give some variety, mix it up and experiment with sounds like ” hy-ah, ki, shah, rah, gar, huh, aww, oompf, ouch, eeak, ughh, etc.”. Imagine the difference between getting your earlobe flicked, throwing punches at a school bully, and having an explosion go off in your face (think video game action on that one!).

Watch out not to strain your voice when creating these types of sounds. You want to generate diaphragmatic support and want to avoid uncomfortably constricting your throat to create the sound. Straining your throat can put a lot of pressure on your vocal cords and could damage your voice so take good care.

Thanks to Yuri and Tara for inspiring this post :)


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11.16.11

tongue twisters

Warming your voice up before an audition or recording session is super important. It’s best for your body, facial muscles, lips and tongue to be relaxed. Facial massage and stretching are a great start to a warm up, along with humming and articulation exercises. Here are a few of my favourite tongue twisters to help get you going. Don’t worry if you have find these tricky, that’s the point! They’re designed to make you work hard!

Repeat each line 5 times in a row clearly and quickly:

  • A box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits and a biscuit mixer
  • Red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather
  • Girl gargoyle, guy gargoyle
  • Toy boat
  • Red baby buggy bumpers


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11.15.11

5 things

Helloooo! Today’s blog spot features the article “5 Things a Voiceover Director Looks For” By  Todd Resnick of Resnick Interactive Group in Los Angeles (thanks VOX Daily for posting). I think Resnick makes some simple but great points about what is expected from an actor in a recording session. Happy reading!

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5 Things a Voiceover Director Looks For By Todd Resnick

Congratulations! You have the part. Now, what will the voice director expect from you once you’re in the booth?

1. Be on time (or early!) and bring a great attitude.

I think that says it all.

2. Be versatile.

Prepare a diversified range of voices. Oftentimes the director may still be “finding the voice” of the character. Use your talents to help him or her find it!

Be able to age your voice up or down. This can be tricky to do without sounding fake and forced, so practice to have this skill handy.

Be able to conjure alternate characters on the spot. Be ready if they suddenly change a character completely or add new characters and want new options.

3. Follow direction.

We want someone to take direction, interpret it, stay in character and get the job done. Don’t get frustrated, if you are unclear about something, ask. Even if this means getting the dreaded “line read”. A line read is simply saying: “we have something specific in our head”. We are not trying to undermine your creativity. Use it as a tool and move on.

4. Read well.

Novice Voice-Over actors have a natural tendency to read fast because they’re nervous. Breathe.

Even if you were just handed the script, it’s your job to bring the words to life and to not sound like you’re reading. Building a believable character is central to the creative process. You may try something that we haven’t thought of, and we could love it!

5. Prepare.

Read the script, if you have it in advance (you’d be surprised how many actors don’t). Otherwise, try to understand the genre of the project, or the tone of the content. Again, if you have any questions, ask.

The level of ease when working with someone shouldn’t be underestimated. Recording studios are not wide open spaces and it often feels like everyone is jammed together for hours or days at a time. Being flexible, energetic, and friendly will go a very long way!

About Todd Resnick

Todd Resnick is CEO at Resnick Interactive, a voice over casting company he started in 2000. Resnick Interactive is a full-service voice over company specializing in voice over casting, voice over directing and voice over production for today’s animation, advertisements and games.


11.8.11

Register it up!

VPS breaking news: The DATES are SET for the next in-studio 6-WEEK CARTOON VOICE  CLASS!!! For those of you who didn’t get a spot this fall session, this is your chance to get in on the action in advance for 2012. What’s even more exciting is that I’ll be offering a 6-week class…for KIDS as well! All the info is below. It will be cold outside but we’ll keep warm and happy in the studio together!

Here’s all the info:

6-WEEK CARTOON VOICE CLASS FOR ADULTS

Dates: January 19, 26, February 2, 9, 16 & 23 (Thursdays)
Location: MCS Recording Studios- 550 Queen St. East
Time: 6:30 pm-9:30 pm (18 hours)
Class Size: Max 8 Students
Cost: $475 + HST

REGISTER NOW!

6-WEEK CARTOON CLASS FOR KIDS

Dates: January 18, 25 and February 1, 8, 15 & 22  (Wednesdays)
Location: MCS Recording Studios- 550 Queen St. East
Time: 6:30 pm-8:30 pm (12 hours)
Class Size: Max 8 Students
Cost: $350 + HST

REGISTER NOW!



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11.3.11

Mic Tips

Hey ho! Today’s blog spot features the article “Tips for Microphone Technique” by American voice actors Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt. I think they mention some useful stuff in here that’s worthwhile keeping in mind when you’re in the booth. Happy reading!

P.s. Try reading this article out loud to practice your reading skills. Yes sir, it’s knoweldge and practice all at once! Weee!

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Tips for Microphone Technique by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt

The mic can be rather daunting when you first start out in voice-over! Practicing at home with one will help to reduce the newness of it, and the distraction from it.

Here are some tips to get you started.

PROXIMITY

Find your own comfort zone, with regard to proximity. Many voice-over artists will angle slight to the right or left of the mic, for two reasons:

1) This can reduce or eliminate pops from plosive sounds like tb, or p. When you’re in a session, engineers can help by putting a “pop shield,” a stocking device or foam shield, in front of the mic. But if you angle- speak slightly across the mic – you create a similar effect to a pop screen.

2) You will be able to see and read your copy off to the right or left, without the mic being right in front of it.

VOLUME

Well, the mic is there to amplify the sound, so you can be as soft or loud as the job requires, but you need to work with the mic to create this. If you are recording yourself, make sure you are getting a solid wave form, and if you are working with an engineer s/he will do this by first getting a good level of your planned volume before recording the take. You can’t speak softly while the engineer gets a good level, and then shout during your take!

Every different session will call for something different in the way of volume . For example, if you want low, deep sounds from your voice it can help to get very close to the to the mic, perhaps two to three inches. If you know you are going to really project, and speak louder,  stand back, seven to nine inches from the mic, so your voice doesn’t distort.

Then trust the mic and your own voice and skill. If you need drama and a “dark” interpretation, you might try a whisper, or near-whisper. And if it is comedy, use a little more level and smile the whole time you are speaking. It is amazing that a smile can come right through the microphone to the listener!

LIGHTING

You must be able to see well, to read your copy! Make sure you are well prepared with contacts or reading glasses if you need them, and some artists even carry a small clip-on light, which runs on a battery, to attach to the stand holding your copy. Lighting must be ample to reduce the possibility of unnecessary errors when you read. In many studios you can ask to increase the level of light if it isn’t bright enough for you.

TECHNIQUE AND SKILL

Do your breathing exercises. Practice reading all kinds of different material at home in front of the mic. Try things and experiment at home to learn what your real strengths are. And stretch yourself to try new things. Try different pitches, different volumes, mimic cartoon characters or famous actors or comics. Read out loud in front of the mic and record it if you can, to listen back – you will learn so much from hearing your own work.

The more you develop and then employ your microphone technique and skill, the less the engineer and producer have to rely on enhancements in the studio. The less they work, the faster and easier the session, and the more likely you are to be re-hired! Plus, comfort and skill with the microphone shows your professionalism, getting the job done well and quickly, which is the producer’s goal!


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