Animation voice over is one of Alan’s favorite genres because it allows him to adopt that fitting phrase of ‘being animated.’ Although it may seem a confusing expression to share, his advice for working in animation is to be animated!
Not that a designer needs to animate you, or an artist needs to draw you, but instead, you need to encapsulate a larger-than-life personality when delivering your character. What goes through your mind when someone says ‘’They’re a bit animated aren’t they?’’ Does it make you think that they are a hand-drawn or computer-animated visual design? Probably not. Does it make you think that they have a larger-than-life personality? Possibly yes!
Where do you think the phrase came from? Well, think of it as a reference to those wonderful cartoons we all grew up with. Bugs Bunny, Bart Simpson, and Donald Duck are giant characters with prominent, larger-than-life (or animated) personalities.
Defining Animation Voice Over
Is there a difference between an animation or cartoon? A video game is animated but we wouldn’t class it as an animation in voice over. Having worked in Anime, Alan wouldn’t put that in the same boat as animation. So, for the sake of the narrative, animation refers to animated cartoons excluding anime. Think of Looney Tunes, The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and so on.
The first animation Alan was ever invited to perform on was on a dubbing project. The animation was produced to match the lip flaps of the syllables delivered in Spanish. His job was to make the English translation fit the delivery. It is not uncommon to be given multiple characters within a session. In fact, on this project, he voiced a soldier, an older brother, a giant, and a few other things! What does that mean for his vocal delivery? He must encapsulate at least three different characters all with unique characteristics.
Making Each Character Unique
Here are my top tips for differentiating between characters when recording for animation
- Tempo! Loud and fast offer a massive benefit to animation. A crazy squirrel scientist about to launch his space-bending machine might talk ridiculously fast whilst our baggy-eared bloodhound looking for a nice warm fire for a nap might be very slow when delivering his lines.
- Pitch! Pitch inside of animation is one my favourite character-building tools. What pitch would you give our squirrel friend and our bloodhound friend? Well, for Alan, the squirrel would get a crazy high-pitched voice whilst the bloodhound would be low and slow!
- Mannerisms! Animation is so fun! We can have a great time playing with mannerisms. A snort, a crazy laugh, a twitch, or a catchphrase are just a few examples of some highly unique mannerisms a character can have!
- Accents! Within animation, accents help with stereotypes. A typical one seen repeatedly is when representing British people, and they all seemingly talk with the Queens English or RP (Royal Pronunciation). Britain has four countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The stereotype we always see in animation (specifically in England) is the queens English. Alan lived around 220 miles from the queen and observed that all the same accents offer a unique stereotype associate to a character.
Becoming the Character
In all the animations Alan has done, he’s been fortunate enough to have two pieces of helpful stimulation: some lines from the script and a picture of the character. It seems basic, but some people do not even get that! He then starts to become that character by asking, how does a cat move? What’s the posture of a goblin? He tries to get into its skin for animation roles, whatever the feeling is. Sanford Meisner, one of the world’s most recognized industry practitioners, said to “exist truthfully under imaginary circumstances”.
So, you are becoming the character you want to portray. What else is left? What more do you need?
You need to see, smell, hear, taste, and touch what your character is feeling. Senses are the icing on the cake for animation characters. To become the animation, you must put yourself in the character’s skin. The goblin might be under a bridge, cold, smelling food from the local takeaway, seeing and hearing people scutter by. The cat might be in an ally, rooting through a bin, hearing rats, crawling about, enticing the cats’ sense of smell ready for it to hunt for its prey.
Alan Delivers Intuitive Animation Voice Over
Once you do this you find yourself living out what Meisner said. You achieve a truthful performance with your pre-established imaginary circumstances. Exist in that moment. Kids have no issues acting. The playground is filled with monsters, heroes, animals, presidents, astronauts, and nearly anything else you can imagine. But somewhere between 8 and 12, we surrendered that to a more ‘practical’ way of behaving. Alan believes in a more intuitive or visceral way of portraying characters. Animation voice over invites back the child-like innocence and imagination. He is fully committed to the story and the moment when he’s in that space. That is his goal as a performer in animation. If you’re working on a project, contact Alan for an animation voice over audition today!