Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing
byon 01-23-2012 at 08:43 PM (2905 Views)
Nothing says "Let's talk about professional voice acting!" like a photograph of something completely unrelated.
Hey, are you dreaming of being a professional voice actor one day? Fantastic! Let's talk. Let's talk about the one thing that aspiring artists lack more than anything else. And no, it's not talent, drive, or professional grade equipment. It's the ability to take direction! These days with that fancy schmancy thing we call the internet, a lot of people do voicework from home. That means there's a lot of self-direction going on, and not a lot of aspiring actors really learning what it means to have to work with a director. Sure, you'll have someone email you back asking for a redo once in a while, but it's not the same thing. How would you feel if the director asked you to redo every single line? What if you had to redo them all twice? Would you be offended? Annoyed? Think the director is being too much of a control freak? You're going to have to let go of those feelings, because that's exactly how it's going to be in the professional realm.
When you're in the booth, there's rarely a chance where you "get" the line on your first read. Why? Because you don't get to see the whole picture. A good director will know ahead of time how everything should sound. That means that while you might give a fantastic delivery, it's not really an appropriate reaction to the scene. Ever listen to an amateur production and feel like all the characters seem to be in separate rooms? One is screaming and angry, the other is more subdued and sounds only slightly annoyed. Alone, both sets of lines might sound fine. Together, they sound like neither of the actors knows what's going on. That's what a director is for. The director understands the flow of the scene, and can weave your lines together to make everything sound better. The director also catches things you do that you might not hear yourself. Would you rather have someone point out a mistake you made after the finished product is out, or before?
The hardest thing for anyone going in for a first audition is to prove they respond well to direction. It's not something you get to practice too much online, and many people are accustomed to clinging to their own interpretation of a character. You have to throw all of that out the window. If the director at the audition wants to hear you do it differently, do it differently. If the character is quiet and the director says shout, then shout. Sometimes directors give contrary direction just to see how well you respond. Resist, and they won't be interested in working with you. One director asked me to deliver lines in a manner completely unlike the character I was reading for. Turns out he was secretly auditioning me for another character who showed up later in the series. I didn't get either, but I DID get cast as yet another character because he liked working with me. There are plenty of people with talent out there. You will only shine if you prove you are easy to work with and capable of taking direction.
If you can, definitely get some theater or on stage experience. Even school is a start, but community theater is preferred. Theater is a good place for voice actors because you get to develop your voice AND spend a lot of time working with a director. There are also more theater opportunities around than voice acting opportunities, so it's a really good "in."
A couple directing phrases, you might hear in the booth:
-ABC Read: This is where you read each line three times and give a different delivery on each read. The director will pick the one he or she likes best (line A, B, or C) and ask you to redo it, possibly with a change here or there. So yeah, you'll have to remember which line is which when you do it. This is rare for dubbing, but it tends to be standard practice for everything else. If you read a line once and hear a long pause, chances are the director is waiting for you to read it two more times before saying anything.
-Split the Difference: Deliver the line somewhere in between the two previous deliveries. So if you whispered the first time and shouted the second time, the director wants to hear you speak at a normal volume for this one.
-Reacs: Short for reaction. These are the little gasps, "eh?"s and "unghf!"s that seem to pepper anime. If the director asks for a "reac," that's what they mean.
-Record to Picture: Usually used in dubbing. Recording while watching the video of the flaps you're matching.
-Go Wild: - Usually used in dubbing. The opposite of recording to picture. Basically, say the line again, even though the video currently playing on the screen isn't what you're supposed to be dubbing. Which basically means you have to memorize the speed and tempo of your line as you record it the first time. When the director tells you to "go wild," you have to redo the line (with whatever changes are being asked for) while still doing it at the proper pace to match the lip flaps you just watched.