Working Wednesday: Animation Voice-Over Recording Session

animation voice-overFinally! I get inside the booth to start recording my part. Shaboom is an educational web cartoon about Jewish tenants and culture. Prior to the animation voice-over recording session, the producer, Sarah, sent me a video of her pronouncing the Jewish words to make sure I would get the pronunciation down. We also talked about what  storylines were going to be added to the show. My regular role in the show is the young daughter of the Plony family, Lila. However, the creators have decided to add some short folktales to the mix. They weren’t sure who would play what role. They planned to have me and another actress read for the same parts and decide later which ones they would use us for. That type of casting is not unusual.

Before we start recording, I ask the engineer to play my “vocal reference.” It is usually a clip from a prior episode he plays to help me and the directors remember what my character’s voice sounds like so it will be consistent with previous performances. I like to read the lines once or twice until I feel pleased with my read and then the directors give me feedback. They will either like it and want to move on or ask for another read. In this case, it was a little more difficult for them to hear me because they were not there in person. The producers were listening to me through their computer. You can hear the voices of Sarah, her partner Jeremy, and the engineer Eric in the video. As you will notice, even the engineer sometimes has an opinion. Quite often, the engineer will say nothing except when it comes to technical issues. Occasionally, he will comment on performance. If he does, it’s probably a good suggestion worth considering.

I ask a lot of questions during my animation voice-over recording session because I am hoping to get everything the producers could possibly want recorded so that I don’t have to come back and they won’t have to spend any more money. Time is money in the voice-over business. Studio time is a lot of money. It’s important to not goof around or chat too much. Follow the lead of the people in charge. If you get done early, great! More often than not, voice actors are working right up to the last minute of the time booked.

After we recorded the main dialogue and the dialogue for the incidental characters, we had a song! I am not a pitch perfect singer, but I have recorded many songs in character. It’s important to remember for most cartoons, keeping the character’s, voice, charm, and humor when singing is often more important than getting the intonation just right. Don’t be intimidated. If you can carry a tune more or less, you will probably be just fine. In my case, I’m playing a 5 yr. old girl. Chances are she isn’t qualified to sing at Carnegie Hall either.

They didn’t provide a guide track, but luckily, I knew the tune ahead of time. A guide track is really helpful when there is one. That gives you, the actor, time to listen to the song before you get into the studio and practice before you get there. Or at least, they will have it in the studio for you to sing along with. In this animation voice-over recording session, there was no guide and instead, the engineer decided to clap the beat and sing along with me. Therefore, what you hear is him singing to guide me. You can’t hear me because he muted me on the speakers and is hearing me through his headphones.

If you want to hear my performance, you should go to YouTube and follow the Shaboom channel. The Rosh Hashanah episode will be up soon!


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