Voiceovers by Gregory Houser
A man, a martini, and a lot of microphones.: The missing ingredient.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The missing ingredient.

It's funny how things work out. I wanted to post something tonight that had more to do with the actual acting side of things, especially since I often find myself looking at the business aspects of voiceover, the technology, etc., but nothing was really coming to mind that I could say that either hasn't been 100 times before, or by people who are far more experienced than I am...

and then I get an e-mail which provided me the answer I needed.

You see, it was from someone I've known for a long time who was looking to take their VO career to the next level. Now I'll be the first to tell you that I'm no guru when it comes to acting. I very much enjoy using the "school of make believe" when it comes to acting (mixed with a smattering of Adler, Meisner, and Stanislavski, not to mention more than a little physicality... especially when voice acting). Despite all the wonderful things that each of these methods offered me, I just wasn't all that believeable. So for someone to ask for my advice when it came to acting was a bit out of left-field for me.

So, I listened to the demo he had recently recorded and it was nice. The copy was nice, the production was very well done, the FX were timed appropriately, the voice was there... and then it hit me that I didn't like this demo at all. I was just listening to this person's voice, and nothing more. There was nothing which I was drawn to, nothing to keep me engaged or interested. I couldn't believe it, becuase the actor asking for my advice was wonderfully charasmatic. I didn't get any of that.

There was something missing and I knew exactly what it was because for so long, I'd been doing the same thing. He was missing the most important thing which a voice actor can bring to his/her performance. Themself.

Sounds crazy, but it's true. Think about it; what is the first question which an actor asks themselves when preparing for a role or a scene? "Who am I?" Why would they do that, if not to figure out just what they need to bring to a character?

Another way of thinking of it is this. If you ever meet any successful voice actors, you'll quickly notice the the same general characteristic for each and every one. Yes, they're talented, and yes, they're versatile, but you know what? Every character, every role they perform has some aspect of themselves which makes the character they're playing undeniably their own, and irrefutably believable. Don't believe me? Spend some time around guys like Pat Fraley and Bob Bergen, Deb Monroe, D.B. Cooper. It's part of who they are. If you really want to see something interesting, look at interviews with Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, and even Don LaFontaine and Joe Cipriano. What draws you to these folks in person and through their interviews is the same thing which their personalities bring to their performance as a voice actor.

And unfortunately, it's the hardest lesson to learn (at least for me, and I suspect that I'm not alone).

So my comment to anyone who stumbles across this blog is this. Don't worry about the gear you're using for your voiceovers. Don't worry about your level of experience, or whether you'll get the audition. Don't even worry all that much about your voice. Just be true to yourself and stop worrying about the little stuff and most of it will work out for itself. As Bob Bergen is often quoted as saying "the world has all the voices it needs, but what it doesn't have is you. What you bring to the table is what makes your characters come alive."



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