Post with 1 note
As much as we all love being involved in the arts whether it be acting, voice over, theater, music and such, we all need to create a life outside of these things to do the following:
1) To avoid becoming what is known as “an acting robot”. An acting robot is a term that is sometimes used to describe someone who only lives for acting and that is it. This tends to create boring people with no interesting characteristics that they can bring to characters. I live by the Vincent Price quote “A man who limits his interests limits his life” for a reason.
2) Entertainment can be a lot of hard work that takes dedication, patience, persistence, practice and a damn good work ethic to keep seeking work or to be involved in projects opening your mind to new and amazing things.
What I am going to do is write from time to time things I like to do outside of voice over and why I do these things. Sometimes great things can come out of the little things I like to be involved in. It can give me inspiration, a new set of skills I would of never thought about having (which could lead to certain roles) and a sense of balance. Before I get into the first thing I like to be involved in, here is a little story to show why I need this particular hobby/way of life to keep myself balanced.
It was around Year 12 and I seemed to have it all, a girlfriend, a job, a school band (nothing with brass instruments, rock stuff) in which we played some pretty awesome sets and also a proper originals band that I was working on putting together. My now ex-girlfriend used to be my drummer for this band (I guess I had a bit of a John and Yoko phase at this point when you are both musicians in a band together) and all of this stuff I mention is where it all began to fall apart. First off, I got frustrated working in a supermarket and just quit entirely so I could just get through Year 12. My girlfriend broke her arm just before my examination performances so I had to get one of the back up singer’s boyfriends to play drums for us and after it was all said and done, I went through a rough patch where my girlfriend and I weren’t communicating all that much so I decided to break it off. Oh I forgot to mention that I was in another band in which we played a lot of covers, trying to write originals but I was fired from said band because of “timing problems”. I lost the first band which I had founded with a few friends but they decided they did not want me (hell, they didn’t even tell me I had these problems which I could of been happy to fix). After I broke up with my now ex girlfriend, I almost destroyed my band entirely and disbanded the other members (well, they kind of went MIA for most of it and stopped rocking up to rehearsals). I had my studies as a sound engineer to look forward to at this point and my band was being revived by a close friend of mine who became my lead guitarist and the rest fell into place. I had a band once again which we started doing shows and it was an exciting time in my life. Towards the third year of my studies, I was given an ultimatum to either stay in the band or leave the band because of some record deal bullshit that fell through anyway and pretty much tried to destroy the bonds we had built.
A lot of things were not going right for me at this point, it left me with mixed feelings, most of them anger. Every time a band fell apart (and I tried to find new bands), it would just not work. I was starting to worry that a career in music was not going to work for me at all and I started having doubts about my life’s direction. It was not until halfway through my second or third year at JMC that after watching cartoons on Youtube, an idea sparked that I should pursue voice over because 1) I loved animation and 2) It was something to do with my voice. Hell, if singing in a band did not work out, surely being a voice actor would make me happy. I chose to go into business for myself, work my own hours. When I started to pursue acting, I landed a car commercial which I am still proud to have on my resume. I’m sorry if I seem to go off in all sorts of different directions but I assure you, I am getting to the main point of what this hobby/way of life was that has now kept me sane and balanced through the good times and the bad.
I admit it, I am terrible at sports. I even tried a few, Golf, Archery and there was always the sports in school and I know that I wasn’t the most athletic person. Being bad at sports kind of made me feel bad. When my brothers decided to play music, they chose the guitar. I chose piano which later lead to singing. When my brothers played football and basketball, I decided I wanted to try something physical that I would enjoy. There was no way I was going to be involved in any team sport and because I was that kid with the glasses and I was not going to wear contacts for any reason.
I looked in the Yellow Pages (you know, that big yellow book people used to find work in), and came across the martial arts section. Around this time, I was exposed to video games such as Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and enjoyed this genre of games. Sure, I cannot shoot fireballs out of my hands or do anything supernatural but there was something about martial arts that had a certain appeal to my brain. I wanted self confidence and I wanted to feel strong. I had a lot of self esteem issues in the past so this was the turning point in which I would pursue the martial arts. It has been a fair journey but this is how it went all down.
The first style I took up was Tae Kwon Do. I tried out for some classes, wore the uniform and spent hours practicing my punches and kicks. My instructor was very old school, he used to discipline his students by hitting them with a table tennis racket (by the way, that is something you can’t really do in modern martial arts today) and then you had to go do 20 push ups. We had to do leap frog as an exercise and I remember going to leap over this one poor woman and as I executed the jump, my hands on her back forced her to go down which made me fall. I remember my kicks being able to go high, in a round house and in an axe kick. I am not that flexible any more. But there was something about this style that didn’t feel right and in the end before my first grading, I decided to quit.
The second form I took up was Australian Form Fighting. It combined Karate with Wrestling, Boxing and a few other different styles. This was my first entry into very physically intense martial arts training. I had done a couple of classes to see whether I would enjoy it and thought I would give it a go. It got crazy, I was about 12-15 years old at the time and I remember having to wrestle a 19 year old student who lived down the road from me (and at the rank of Brown Belt). I couldn’t budge him, not even once. Also, I started getting the biggest sweat rash from my armpit all the way down the side of my body. I thought this was incredibly stupid and pointless, my impatience striked again and I chose to leave. My Mum was not happy about this and it makes me feel bad when at the time, she was helping pay for my classes and my uniform.
The third style was Kyokushin Karate. If you know me, I love anything Japanese, but a Japanese martial arts style is ancient and there is so much tradition involved. They don’t like to change up their style much and you needed to memorise all these different moves. I started doing this style with a couple of friends and this was a style my Dad and my older brother once took up for a while. Honestly, it felt like Tae Kwon Do again though I remember seeing a tournament (full contact) and I thought it looked impressive. Again, white belt all over again and I chose to leave this one too and so did my friends. I stopped going to martial arts classes altogether because I didn’t really want to make my Mum angry to put me through another class.
Present day, or well starting around October 2010. I was a young adult at this time and frustrated with the previous events mentioned of my band dying off and I had just finished my studies at JMC and wanted to pursue voice over. I had to make a long, hard decision about my choice of martial arts style if I was going to take it up again and promised myself (even though I was an adult anyway) that I would pay for my own classes and take the time to learn a style all the way. I flipped through the phone book again and came across an ad which talked about Filopino Stick Fighting. Ooh, a weapon based style, now this got my attention. I looked through the little ad in the phone book and it also mentioned sticks, staves, knives and street fighting. It also sounds practical, not as strict as some of my other previous styles. I looked up some videos on Youtube and right there and then, I decided to make the move. The style is called Doce Pares Eskrima or Filopino Stick Fighting. Doce Pare is Spanish for 12 pairs and Eskrima means fencing. I rang up by going through the website and talked to this instructor. The instructor (Glen Eden) told me that if I was to pursue this style, that I would need to learn something from each class or else it would be a waste of time. Wow, this guy was serious, I could not argue with that. I went in for my first class on October 2010 and holy crap, this style was intense. I watched as other students were spinning their sticks in the air with such ferocity and grace and executing moves that made my jaw drop. I was a bit on the unfit side and this first class took it right out of me. The next day, I felt every part of my body ache. This went on for a couple of weeks but I was persistence and took the time to learn the style. This persistence paid off as I wanted to be the best that I could be. Glen only made students go up a belt when they were ready and not by the curriculum whilst Josh (my current instructor) followed the curriculum but being an instructor black belt had to make the call when to push up the ranks. The gym moved to Breakwater and I moved to live in a suburb called Highton (only 10 minutes away, convineant). In 2011, I worked day and night, getting fit and perfecting my craft. I was only a white belt but had no belt to show for it. Belts started to get brought back in to make the system in Geelong more unified. I went for my first belt which was Yellow and was very excited to move up in rank. I worked on my techniques and for some reason, decided to drink Jameson all night. I went the next morning for my grading, slightly sluggish but still able to fight. I was hitting the pads in the street fighting part of it like no tomorrow and demonstrating my form work. My instructor was impressed that I put in the hard yards and thus, I became a yellow belt. Many months later, I was suprised to learn that I was ready to go up another rank, Orange belt. I had to demonstrate my kicks, punches and form work with the sticks once again. Hard into the training, I wanted to push myself physically so I was able to earn this belt. In just one year, I went up two belt ranks. I also participated in my first stick fighting tournament in which I was overwhelmed instantly. I lost my first two matches in single and double stick. Due to numbers, I managed to rank third place in double stick.
To not be overly lengthy on the last paragraph, today was an amazing day. The second tournament, my goal, to win a match and have fun. I had been training for months on end and I wanted to at least have something to show for it. If you have ever seen stick fighting, we wear suits of armour with a helmet (similar to that of a fencing mask or Kendo mask but more cage like), lots of protective gear for elbows, arms, legs and boxes (for your crotch hahaha). Stick Fighting is more like a game but sometimes when those strikes hit, you can sometimes feel them if you are not careful. Hard and fast the sticks come at you and you have to demonstrate that you can get in many hits, defend and move around to please the judges. You are scored on how many hits you make, your movements, defense and get awarded points for disarms. Three disarms means you win regardless of how many rounds you have. Each round is one minute with a thirty second break in between. Three rounds, a fourth elimination round if the two of you break even. My opponent was a tall, slightly large fellow by the name of Kyle. I think he may of been new but he seemed to know what he was doing. As I geared up and ready to go, I made sure to get many strikes in as possible. I managed to move very quickly due to my fitness which began to slow my opponent down as he started to burn out over time. In the second round, I scored a disarm without even knowing it (this happens a lot more than you think, to disarm, you must do so in one swift movement). By the third round, I was mixing up my strikes (you cannot perform the same strikes over and over, they must be in combinations). The timer went off and the three rounds ended. I stood there, hot in my suit of armour waiting for the announcement. And then, a smile came across my face when I heard “By unnanimous decision, the winner, Kyle” and my hand was lifted as you would for a boxing or MMA match. It was a proud moment because for the first time ever, I WON! I won a match! This was a confidence booster. The second match I lost but I was proud to face off against an opponent with a little more challenge. He was quick on his feet and had excellent timing. He went on to place first. But that did not shatter my dreams because I knew I burnt out towards the end even though I scored even with him in the first half of the match.
To sum up my current martial arts history from this time on:
- I have gone up two belts in a year. White to Yellow and Yellow to Orange
- I won my first match in a tournament after having lost twice the previous year proving that I can compete on the same level as these different age groups
You see, martial arts gives me a balance in life. It keeps me physically fit, it doesn’t allow me to gain unneccessary weight, it gives me self confidence, strength, quick reflexes and the ability to detect certain danger. It also controls my anger, yeah I used to be very angry. I know this sounds comic book corny but with great power comes great responsibility. When you are given the tools and techniques to defend yourself, if danger ever occurs, you just need to be ready to face the challenge. I am not a thug by any means, I don’t like people who go around looking for fights. If I want to fight, I’ll do it in a controlled full contact environment. I actually tried some full contact fighting in MMA gear, my jaw was swollen for three days. I had never been in a fight before at this point (yeah I would fight with my brothers but not in the sense that it feels like a simulation of what could happen in a real street fight).
The point I am trying to get across is that I chose to take up martial arts again is because it used to be a big part of my life. It kept me balanced. I have regained that balance and the self confidence I had always strived for. This style could translate to movie roles and I include it as a skill on my resume. And I would say the same to you, do something that doesn’t relate to acting that you enjoy. Why? Because it makes you a more interesting person and gives you something to work with in future acting careers.
So tell me, what do you enjoy doing besides acting? I am still looking at trying new things but apart from acting, music and movies, martial arts is what really gets me ready to rock.
Now if you will excuse me, I wouldn’t mind trying to find where I can practice some Kendo or Fencing in Australia. Or something other than martial arts.
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.
Make sure to stay tuned next week as I will continue my blog about VO/Animation Memories and also a special blog dedicated to the art of dialect coaching. I am learning a general American accent next week as you will need this highly for US based acting/voice over work.
Quote with 1 note
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.
Hey everyone, back for another addition of VO/Animation Standouts and Memories. Today I talk about a little TV show that ran for many years on Channel 10 starting at around 7pm every school morning called “Cheez TV”. Cheez TV ran between 1995-2005 so not only did it take up my entire years of Primary School but it ran over into high school as well. Ryan Lappin and Jade Gatt were the hosts of the show who would present cartoon after cartoon. For years, this is the show where a majority of my television viewing as a child would come from (especially in animation). I had to look up the Wikipedia page for all the shows I have watched. I shall list the ones I remember below and talk about them briefly. The aim of Cheez TV was to run against Agro’s Cartoon Connection on Channel 7. Cheez TV had a more broad audience and quickly ran Agro’s Cartoon Connection off the air as Channel 7 decided to opt for an adult morning breakfast show instead. So without further delay, here is what I watched on my television screen every morning over the years (that I can remember):
- The Marvel Action Hour (usually Iron Man and The Fantastic Four)
- The Incredible Hulk
- Spiderman: The Animated Series
- Street Sharks
- Extreme Dinosaurs
- Biker Mice From Mars
- Earthworm Jim
- The Tick
- Zoids: Chaotic Century
- Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog (also seen previously on VHS at one time)
- Dragonball Z
- Sonic X
- Men In Black: The Animated Series
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 Version)
- Dog City (a forgotten gem until I just remembered it then)
- Butt Ugly Martians From Mars
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (live action though voiced over)
- Count Duckula
- Inspector Gadget
Some other cartoons were mentioned in the list but I did not put them down because I probably did not watch them. Getting up to school every morning as much of a chore as it was at the time, I could never forget about watching Marvel cartoons during the mid 90s or watching glimpses of Anime such as Teknoman, Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. Pokemon is memorable because it taught me a lot about popularity and how crazy it can get (even though before it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). I guess my growing mind saw how much I got into a show collecting trading cards, Game Boy games and even stuff for the Nintendo 64. Dragon Ball Z was shown a lot between 2001 and so on to get my action fix. Although some mornings were a little slow because they could just stand there and talk for an entire half hour and not even fight once. The theme songs from some of these cartoons are incredible, lots of rock and metal stuff with soaring vocals. There was always the one or two odd shows such as Butt Ugly Martians or Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. It was weird to me because having seen the previous incarnations of live action Ninja Turtles, having a female Turtle turned that show up on its head. A short lived series that ran between 1997-1998 from Saban. I used to have action figures from Street Sharks, Extreme Dinosaurs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the first cartoon series), Biker Mice From Mars and Transformers. Some shows were previously shown on Channel 2 such as Rugrats and Count Duckula. Dog City was a show that caught my attention because it was an animated series from the Jim Henson universe. It started out as puppets but became a cartoon series. A very good one at that.
The thing about cartoons from this era was that it was still in the hand drawn territory, full of action, excitement and imagination. Animation has changed over the years and some shows for me are a little hit and miss. What it really comes down to is capturing the imagination. I guess when I looked back on a whole heap of those retro shows on Youtube to relive some childhood, it gave me the spark and the voice (pun intended) to pursue a career in voice over. Plus I was a singer, I used my voice a lot. My music wasn’t doing too well in my late teens to early twenties and my first chosen path (audio engineering) started to make me become unhappy. Although it did give me some great benefits asrecording knowledge has become very important for the self made voice actor.
Many awesome cartoons that filled the Monday to Friday gap of my youth. I hope you have enjoyed tonight’s blog and stay tuned next week as I go deeper into Channel 7 weekend cartoons on a show called Saturday Disney. I talk about shows I used to watch such as Aladdin, Gargoyles and The Mighty Ducks. A future episode down the track to come (or it may be added to the next) is what I call the Channel 2 Toons in which I cover shows such as Bangers and Mash, Banana Man and Daria.
As a reminder, if you wish to discuss or share some shows that you used to watch or can recommend, please feel free to post in the questions box that you can usually find on Tumblr.
Video with 1 note
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.
Post with 1 note
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).
Post with 5 notes
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
Page 1 of 4