I’ve had slow days, good days and bad days but it has all gone by pretty quickly. I don’t buy into the whole “new year, new me” thing but I can certainly tell you one thing… I want to… nay… WILL work harder than I have ever done before. Not to say I haven’t worked hard this year of course but I like to push myself and really put all of my focus into my work. This year for me has been amazing for my acting career and although I tend to be doing more on-camera work than voice over, I am still enjoying every minute of it.
Looking forward to what 2014 has in store and hope you all have a Happy New Year.
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I can’t believe how fast time just went by but this weekend is Oz Comic Con. I’ll do my usual con blog afterwards since I shall be attending the animation panel on Saturday and the Voice Over Masterclass workshop with Rob Paulsen and Bill Farmer on Sunday. So keep your eyes out on my feed for updates.
June already? Time is just going faster and faster the older I get. Not that I am particularly old but once I hit that good old 25 mark, that pretty much means I have at least a good few years left on me before I hit 30. I have been pretty quiet on the blog front since I have been undergoing many different projects and taking up a lot of different things that occupy my time. Let me run you down with some of the things I have been up to:
- Acting related work
- Studying American Accents
- An upcoming web project in the works
- Intensely training in Doce Pares Eskrima (I just received my Blue Belt a few days ago after much hard work and dedication). This also results me in having to train my body, lose heaps of weight and be prepared for just about anything
- Watching yet again more Tokusatsu shows (still watching Sun Vulcan which has become a Showa period favourite of mine so far)
- Attending live music gigs (Aerosmith and Tenacious D)
- Doing everything within this year to get my life on track and to make my dreams a reality.
Ok so my list may seem small and as with life, being preoccupied or just plain old procrastinating sometimes happens around this time too. I will be attending this year’s Oz Comic Con in Melbourne on both days which is the 6th and 7th of July because I am dying to meet some incredible voice actors, one of them making up the majority of my childhood cartoon viewing… Rob Paulsen!! (Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, Yakko from Animaniacs, Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among many others). And with attending conventions comes a blog!
Not to mention that I am still in the works as I plan to attend this year’s Armageddon Expo once again. For the last two years, I have been incredibly overwhelmed with the voice actors I have met and the workshops I have attended to gain a little information here and there about the voice over industry each and every time.
Until next time becase I have a lot of work to do right now.
It has been a while since I have written one of these blogs but I have been making sure to get prepared for the new year (well the not so new year now after being a couple of weeks) to get everything moving forward. I find that procastinating and distracting yourself from your real work is counter-productive so I made myself a small new year’s resolution to make sure I do at least one or more productive tasks a day. This mindset has actually kept my focus sharp and I seem to be on track with everything at the moment which is good to know. The downtime between acting auditions and finding voice over work is used for practice, research and listening exercises. The other day, due to the counter-productive laziness, I managed to listen to nine hours worth of Talkin’ Toons podcast material. Before I begin this next section of this blog series, let me fill you in on what I have managed to do to get my voice over work on track:
- Booked some American dialect coaching (you must learn an American accent to do any dubbing work in the US or original animation work)
- Booked in for a new demo recording (a short targeted demo is in the works)
- I bought a digital radio/alarm clock/iPod dock so I can listen to radio stations to research voice over trends
- I have organised my workspace to well… be more of a workspace.
Just doing these little things can make a difference to your working life. It is good to have some down time in between but keeping focused on the tasks at hand makes the journey even more sweeter and the rewards more fulfilling once things begin to happen. And now, the segway into a time in high school when this sort of work ethic had to be done to make a movie in my media class in high school.
Year 12 Media at North Geelong Secondary College, 2007. We were given the biggest assignment for the year, to make a short film with all the trimmings. Various editing techniques, camera techniques etc had to be incorporated to make the best short film we could possibly make. I found out that we had a camera specifically designed for stop motion animation. This let my ideas begin to swell within my brain and I was keen to get something like this happening after previously watching Wallace and Gromit and some other little stop motion films beforehand. Before we could begin any sort of filming, we had to write essentially a whole manual that included the film’s script, storyboards, plot/synopsis, equipment needed and compile it into a typed written assignment. I had to come up with an idea which I didn’t have at first but mucked around with.
Originally, I wanted to make a complete plasticine stop motion film involing a lonely ronin who would walk around temple grounds practicing his sword skills. My teacher however thought it would be too technical and the moment I mentioned “sword”, he instantly thought violence (which he dissaproved of with his strong Christian morals). I had to think a little harder on the idea but then it came to me, I happened to be in possession of some Lego. Suddenly my mind began to come up with this minimalistic, philisophical idea of where the film could go. This movie would be called “Der Plastik Indre” which is translated from Danish as “The Plastic Mind”. It turned out to be a slightly avant-garde piece in which I narrated the entire project with my own voice over (this was before I had even considered voice over as a career). The story was about a small lego man who did not understand his existance. I was inspired by this thought process after watching Neon Genesis: Evangelion which took a similar path when discussing religion and the meaning of life. I created a small diorama that was painted entirely pitch black and then had several more made that included a colourful felt blanket and a pitch white background afterwards.
I sat in front of the stop motion camera, inching every little bit of movement that I could on the little Lego man in front of me. I added a Lego door in which he would travel in between the depths of his mind. It was coming along nicely until my media teacher thought that no one would take the Lego man seriously in this way. I disagreed and continued to film my project (after all, it had been approved) and I was way ahead of my fellow students who were still writing out their scripts and storyboards. I spent a few lunch breaks working on my masterpiece. Being a bit shy and not wanting to make a lot of noise, I had to record my voice over in an open classroom environment and thought people would look at me weird if I was talking to myself. The other problem I encountered during this process was building a soundtrack. Now here is where my sound engineering skills were not completely developed. I played a random melody that consisted of choir voices on my Casio digital piano and put a microphone over my piano to record the sound (by the way, this comes out awful). For the ending music credits, I remember I used one of the demo samples and just let it record. I am not sure if it was copyrighted (because we had to use all original music) but I let it slide.
Finally, after working on my little animation and doing the final process of editing through Final Cut Pro, it was finished! I previewed it several times to many different potential media students for the new year. Some people thought I was on drugs when I made this but I just had a vivid imagination. I still have a copy of this film lying around on a disk but have had trouble converting it to Youtube in the past. If I do manage to uncover it all over again, I may share it with you all :)
This was my first time I had done some voice over work (besides a little thing I did for a radio station for my event organisation group) and really got into the nuts and bolts of stop motion animation. Stay tuned for more as I talk about the cartoons of SBS (the multicultural channel) which I generally watched from my teens till today whenever I get a chance.
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Taking an entire day of vocal rest is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. I am hoping this gets my voice back to normal.
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James Arnold Taylor (Obi Wan Kenobi, Johnny Test, Waldorf Sockbat) talking about making a transformation in your life. I’ve always liked his work because he is not only one versatile, talented guy but because he survived years of having mould in his system which almost killed off his voice. An incredible feat for someone who changed his ways by knowing his “kryptonite” and finding his strengths. It has actually gotten me off my butt to write down a list of goals and make some more major changes in my life.
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After a cruisy, relaxing weekend filled with great friends and amazing food (along with the weather as Summer is soon to hit Australia), I feel like writing the second installment of my new mini blog series. Today my blog continues from Channel 9’s “What’s Up Doc?” variety show which showcased all the cartoons from Warner Bros. Nowadays, Kids WB which showcases Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10 and including some earlier shows which are now featured on the channel called GO! Back when I was young however, Channel 9 was the station to watch in the afternoon for Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Tiny Toons and of course one of my all time favourites, Batman: The Animated Series.
I had the honour of meeting Batman himself, Kevin Conroy, back in 2011 and he also assisted in answering my question at the animation panel at Armageddon Expo explaining the importance of making brave acting choices when it came to crying or laughter. Every other VA on that panel assisted that year and it also lead to a great discussion with Steven Blum on his career. For those who may not know, I grew up with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is the general term I use but I have since conquered it over the years. Autism has its little bits and pieces on so many levels from OCD to Aspergers (these two tended to be what I would have more of after conquering the severe side of the Autism spectrum). Autism is a learning disability which usually leads to communication problems and “limited interests”. Though for my young mind, one of the things I loved to do, much like any other child would, was to watch cartoons. Though my obsession with cartoons or things of this fascination would soon see me watching cartoons for a majority of my life. I started to have a greater understanding and a greater appreciation after being introduced to Anime formally later down the track. Who knew that watching all of these cartoons would take this shy, quiet boy who did not speak until he was five years old into someone who eventually became an actor looking to go into voice over.
Batman: The Animated Series was one of those amazing cartoons that I don’t see very often in animation. For its time, it was quite dark. There were restrictions on violence but the fact of the matter is, the subject context was dark and it was not sugar coated. At the same time when all your cartoons were bright, colourful and wacky was something that was dark, gritty and overall entertaining. My fascination with Batman lead to me watching some old video tapes I got from my Dad for my birthday but this was an old 60s-70s series. I watched them over and over again because I just loved the fact it was Batman. Coming home after school just to watch Batman and all of these other amazing TV shows is something that I cannot grasp with some of today’s cartoons. Some of them are still interesting for example such as Adventure Time and Regular Show which you would need Pay TV to view but I guess what I have trouble grasping is the change in animation. I talked about how hand drawn was quickly being replaced by 3D or digital animation and it was becoming apparent. Digital animation is much more crisp but I guess the potential is increased and the workload is either more or less demanding.
Animaniacs, Tiny Toons and Pinky and the Brain were some of the most bizarre, wacky and secret adult content filled cartoons I had ever watched. Oblivious to adult jokes back then, I just remember the Warner Brothers and Warner Sister running around and being as outrageous as the Looney Tunes but set in my era of childhood. Not knowing the names of voice actors, I would see the characters bought to life by the likes of Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, Tress Macnielle, Jess Harnell, Frank Welker, Cree Summer and many more. After short pieces of Animaniacs it would move to animated segments from Pinky and the Brain, Katie Ka-Boom, Elmyra and Buttons etc. Tiny Toons was a little less outrageous than Animaniacs but I did catch on to the fact that they studied at a University taught by the veteran Looney Tunes. I would revisit these shows thanks to the power of Youtube bringing my childhood memories roaring back. I was mentioned in the Pinky episode of Rob Paulsen’s “Talkin’ Toons” podcast which made these memories last forever. The question came from my Twitter handle of @ktiddvoices and is about 25 minutes or so into the episode. Hearing Pinky not only say my full name but also answer my question made my inner fanboy squeal with joy. Squealing is probably not the most manliest thing to do but it boggled my mind and just left this incredible smile on my face.
My fascination with animation continued throughout my childhood when Channel 7 would provide cartoons in the morning as well as the afternoon. I find it sad that great animation is replaced with lacklustre “educational” content that is usually low budget and home made and does not give a child the time to relax. Kids WB has this covered however. Channel 7 used to be something grand for a child to enjoy his afternoons after school to relax after a long day. Channel 7 had a show in the mornings called “Agro’s Cartoon Connection”. Agro was a foul mouthed little puppet who was actually quite perverted, oblivious to young viewers (or not depending on how you were raised) but if you ever look at the old footage, you will see why this show stopped altogether. Back in the 80s, sketch comedy shows in Australia were full of somewhat racist, non-PC content which I guess in a way related to our laid back, Australian who-gives-a-damn way of life while being able to take a joke without being outrageously offended and this would of been the same since Paul Hogan’s sketch comedy or even the variety comedy likes of Graham Kennedy. You cannot get away with most of this stuff without hearing from the censors. Agro’s Cartoon Connection featured many different shows but the ones I remember include one of two Anime shows that I had watched called “Sailor Moon”. More aimed at a female audience, it was fascinating that a female protagonist in a skimpy Japanese school uniform would have magical powers. My memory may be sketchy but I cannot remember if either Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or my first memory of Anime in the form of Samurai Pizza Cats was either a morning or an afternoon show. I guess these two things would shape my brain into being fascinated with Japanese culture (mainly from the Samurai Pizza Cats but TMNT would of had a slight impact on the ideas of ninjas). Turtle Mania was still present during this time as I would have the original action figures of all four turtles, Master Splinter and Shredder. Samurai Pizza Cats is one of the more obscure, underated shows that not a lot of people would remember. Somewhere in time, I was informed that I used to also watch the original Voltron: Defenders of the Universe. I had no recollection of this in my past but it was nice to know there was something classic that I had in my repetoire of animation I would grow up with. I guess watching cartoons which had a reoccuring theme of Pizza also makes me understand why I loved going to Pizza Hut restaurants so much. Although as a child, I only enjoyed cheese pizza, garlic bread and ice cream.
I believe that brings me to the end of this installment of VO/Animation Standouts and Memories. Keep your eye out for Part 3 when I go into detail about the greatest part of waking up to a school morning or during the holidays from Primary School to my early teenage years, a little show on Channel 10 (no longer existant) called Cheez TV. So many cartoons were viewed during this time period.
To try and keep something regular going, I am starting a new little blog series which I call VO/Animation Standouts and Memories. In this blog series, I am going to recall favourite episodes and memories from animation I have watched over the course of my life. Oh and of course, voice over. We all have something that we hang on to that inspires us, moves us and essentially just bring a great sense of joy into our lives. The length of the posts will vary because as I do tend to ramble, I intend to make this a regular thing. The blog is called “Voice Over Adventures” but this does not just include the conventions I attend, the work I have done for other people voluntarily or anything that I am doing currently in life. I wish to share with you, the readers and onlookers for this blog site, my aural and visual memories of animation and voice over through the years. The first VO/Animation Standouts and Memories for this post will be based on Looney Tunes.
As a youngster, I had no knowledge of Mel Blanc: The Man of a Thousand Voices or that any of these shows were made around the late 1930s and onwards. That was not until I saw the quality of animation from different sources. I guess in a way, it just felt that these old Looney Tunes cartoons felt new and exciting. Having been born in 1988 but watching cartoons throughout the 90s, most cartoons were still hand drawn right up until digital animation or 3D animation took the limelight. The first time I watched the Looney Tunes would of been around 1991-1992 from memory. Living in Australia (just so you international readers can get an understanding of watching animation from my perspective) there was a show on the major free to air networks (Channel 9 in this case) called What’s Up Doc? This show is just one of a few variety shows for watching cartoons when I was growing up. I will elaborate in future posts about the other cartoons on the other channels. What’s Up Doc? was a Warner Bros. based show which featured cartoons from the Warner Bros. line up. This included childhood favourites such as Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Batman: The Animated Series and of course, good old Looney Tunes.
This is where my viewing just had me in a trance. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, Tweety and all that different characters made up a majority of my TV viewing. On occasion, I had VHS tapes of certain Looney Tunes episodes one of them which contained a few Daffy Duck classics. Which brings me to an episode I rediscovered via Youtube. This episode was called “Daffy - The Commando”. During World War 2, there were a lot of anti-Nazi cartoons to boost morale during the war. Bugs Bunny was even involved in advertisements for selling war bonds. I will post this episode after this blog since it is in the public domain. Another episode was included on this VHS tape called “To Duck Or Not To Duck” which involved a boxing match between Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. Back to the first Daffy Duck cartoon, despite having no knowledge of WWII at my young age, this episode was one of my first memories of Daffy Duck. Just to hear the line “SCHULTZ!” makes me smile when Daffy has to outwit a German commander. I am also impressed that Mel Blanc hit the mark for having Daffy Duck speak German. Another Looney Tunes character that stands out in my memory was that of Marvin The Martian (one of my Dad’s favourites). Duck Dodgers and the 24th and a Half Century as well as the appearances in Bugs Bunny episodes are just incredible pieces of work.
I also watched a documentary on Mel Blanc a while back narrated by Maurice LaMarche and it just dawned on me what an incredible talent Mel was to the voice over industry. He was the man, first to be credited for voice over work but had such an extensive vocal range, pitch perfect timing and just being a solid actor by getting into the minds of each and every character he performed. Looking back on Looney Tunes should be the first thing any aspiring voice actor should do. Make a study of this, you might learn a thing or two. After Mel Blanc had passed away, when Looney Tunes had voice actors such as Billy West and Bob Bergen take on iconic roles, they do a pretty damn good job of restoring these characters for life. I have this same feeling when it comes to the Muppets and Sesame Street. Space Jam was the last Looney Tunes based movie I had really enjoyed. Back In Action was not as good as it could of been potentially.
For this current generation with the new revived Looney Tunes show and previous shows such as Looney Tunes Babies and the series based on Duck Dodgers, it is nice to know they live on in some special sort of way. It doesn’t have exactly the same comedic timing as the old stuff (or in some cases, the writing/animation for which would be noted as politically incorrect by today’s standards) but with the power of the internet, Looney Tunes will always be rediscovered each and every year. It is like introducing a teenager to Monty Python, they will understand once they watch it.
Feel free to comment or send me a link to your favourite Looney Tunes episode. I may have seen it but it would be nice to see how your memories of Looney Tunes differ from mine.
The next blog post will continue from Channel 9 as I talk about Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Pinky and the Brain and of course Batman: The Animated Series (including a brief mention of how I actually met Kevin Conroy).
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I was just flicking through Tumblr before and came across a page called Voice Acting Confessions. I first noticed this page when one of the confessions was “All of Grey DeLisle’s voices sound exactly the same”. I read through the six pages that are currently on this Tumblr page and to be honest, I am feeling a lot of negativity from these amatuer voice actors and fans despite staying anonymous.
First off, as an Australian voice actor/actor, I understand the hardships when you submit yourself or attend an audition and then don’t end up landing a role but hey, that’s life. This is why I took up live on-screen acting to get some acting experience to help further my career. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but there are some things that I would like to express when it comes to voice over based on what I have read on this Tumblr page.
First off, the comment about this confession: “All of Grey Delisle’s voices sound the same”. I hate this phrase because I have heard many other voice actors who have had this said about them. What you need to understand is that at least 95% of voice work is going to be “your own natural voice”. There is a small percentage of talented voice actors who do have those large vocal ranges but then why does Grey Delisle and all those other popular voice actors keep scoring roles? BECAUSE THEY CAN ACT! It isn’t about having a large range or a bunch of silly voices on tap, it is about delivering a believable performance through your voice, the one you were born with that has matured over time. I think Grey Delisle is fantastic and through her Tumblr page, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind even when she is making a joke. There is a time and place for everything but some people just take things way too seriously for their own good. Back to the point about acting, actors make choices when playing a role on-screen, so do voice actors when choosing a voice. These brave choices helps them land roles. It wouldn’t be called voice acting without the word “acting”. Also to note, my market is in one voice and this is called “naturalistic”. My current voice is my voice over voice. I can make a living off this one voice but I still need the acting to make it believable. I do intend to expand my range in the future.
One comment box actually said that they “… despise voice acting in general and it is all completely fake…” followed by the line after more rambling “… because voice actors can’t act”. Wait, what!? I’m sorry but this one kind of left me dumbfounded. Voice over has a sense of community and once you gain access into that community, they actually help each other. I’ve listened to anime directors, professional voice actors talk about this at conventions and also through the Talkin’ Toons podcast which Rob Paulsen talks about every now and again.
I’ve been reading a couple of posts relating to voice which involve fandubs, A-list voices and accents. I have mixed opinions on the following topics but let me list what I think of each to make reading about them a little easier:
- Fandubs: I’ve been known to watch TeamFourStar’s Dragon Ball Z Abridged dubs for fun and have also met LittleKuriboh in person. It is probably taken less seriously by certain professionals and amatuers but we do live in an age of remixing things and you see it on Youtube all the time. I also read one confession regarding the page Homestuck and how he edits he voice recordings to make him sound younger and this was heavily criticised. You know that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Alvin and the Chipmunks and a fair amount of other voice over have had this technology to alter the pitch of their voices for years now right!? Even certain alien creatures have to be pitched a few octaves lower for effect. This does happen sometimes and it could of been an artistic choice. Sure they might not be able to replicate it live but again, sometimes it is needed for an effect.
- A-list voices: I’ve watched a fair few animations with the usual celebrity voices such as Tom Hanks, Jack Black, Mike Myers etc. Again mixed opinions, whilst I am not a huge fan, some of these movies are good. Toy Story is an example of this and if you read the credits, some professional voice actors such as Jack Angel have been included in credit lists.
- Accents: Are you someone who is getting sick of American accents in dubs and just about anything? Reality check, if you want to make a living doing cartoons and dubs, you will have to at some point commit and move to where the work is. I do wish some of the work was a bit more widespread but the thing about such posts makes me wonder. If you are one of these amatuer voice actors, why are you not taking the initiative to team up with college animators or creating your own content? Take Seth McFarlane for example: He started out as an animator, became a voice actor in the process and over time despite Family Guy being canceled, he was reborn into a successful guy in the world of animated sitcoms having three with probably another two or three in the making. And if you want to hear different accents, look up shows/movies such as Steamboy, Black Butler, Hellsing etc. And if you are a purist, watch an animated show in its original language.
Overall, when I read these confessions, I feel nothing but jealously, hatred and even anger towards the profession, professionals or any one just having a crack. Again, I don’t want to put hatred towards this page because we are all entitled to our own opinions but it is just the negativity I feel from reading these posts shocks me. There is also the talk about “giving new people a chance”. Yeah that is all well and good but you do need to remember that this industry is STILL A BUSINESS. It is up to you if you are pursuing this profession which steps you wish to take and there is no right or wrong way to get into this industry. I’m still trying to make my way in and I don’t care how long it takes. I love my life how it is even through the ups and downs, the hills and troughs etc. The reason why I also say these things is because you need to have a love for this industry as well as that sense of determination which through a combination of hard work and persistence can you get what you want. You do not get these things handed out to you on to a silver platter, you actually have to WORK for these things. End your negativity and start thinking positive. It is a tough industry but the people who get somewhere are the ones who take intiative. For a great example of this, go listen to Crispin Freeman’s Voice Acting Mastery podcast where he interviews two former students of his who went on to voice a game called Dust: An Elysian Tale.
These are just my opinions but I do wish the best of luck to those of you who are putting in the hard yards to get to where you want to be. Whether you are a voice actor or just someone hard working looking to get somewhere in life. Listen to criticism or pointers when given to you to improve your craft and take anything you hear with a grain of salt. And to those reading this blog and still feeling woeful about the ups and downs of not getting anywhere, I’ve probably wasted too much of your time but hope that some of things I have said may motivate you to get to where you want to go. Hey, what are you doing still reading this… GO PRACTICE NOW! :P
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