Friday, September 12, 2014

Directing Voice Actors

Between the voiceover work that I'm planning on doing for my ICTV show Prerequisites and the bizarre kitchen appliance voices that our group needs for our short film, I thought it would be useful to figure out techniques on how to direct voice actors.

Well as it turns out, directing voices isn't a whole lot different from directing normal actions. More often than not, the most compelling performances are produced by the most unorthodox forms of directing. One my favorite examples of this (sorry if this is something Arturo showed before, but it just really stuck with me) is how the directors of Up had Jordan Nagai perform his lines as Russell. Whereas other studios may have brought in a more "theatrical" kid for the part - or even a professional adult voice actor, as so many cartoons now resort to doing - Pixar took a risk and banked on a totally inexperienced kid. To make him read the lines as a child would really speak, they made him do laps around the room, hang on to bars hung over his head, etc. It was a creative approach, one that I would imagine was comfortable for Jordan to work with and which ultimately ended in a better voice for the character.

A few other tips I like, curtesy of the  article you can find here, include going deep, not forgetting to record the incidentals, and always doing multiple takes. When you give an actor a line to read, it's going to be almost meaningless if they don't know the context. You need to give their character a backstory - as goofy as it sounds - and help the actor be able to identify with their character. Even if they're playing something that they have nothing in common with, a good director should be able to find that common ground and make actors see their characters in a different light.

Also, from a more technical standpoint, it's important to keep the mic running a bit both before and after each take, to catch some stuff that you may otherwise miss and want to keep in. At the same time, one take is never sufficient to know whether or not you have the content that you want (plus it's easier to lose), so you want to have your actors read their lines a variety of ways to make sure that you've covered all your bases.

So long story short, the next time you find yourself in need of some casual voice actors, make them do some weird things help them both A) Get their inflection right and B) get them in character. Canon and Diana (or whoever is directing producing our group's film) take note, and go cast an awesome blender.

1 comment:

  1. Jigme should make an awesome blender, specially if you stress him even more