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Party Trick Or Real Character?

Maybe your friends have said to you “Wow what a cool voice!” or, “thats a neat accent it sounds so funny!” Is it an authentic character? Or a mere party trick? What’s the difference? My definition of a ‘party trick’ (as far as voice over goes), is a voice or accent outside of your normal speaking voice, which you can do a few lines of (for a laugh or two at a party). They can be charming and fun, but are they authentic? Could you perform that character with authenticity and purpose for hours at a time for multiple episodes of a series? ‘Authenticity’, means the character you are performing is a part of you and your ‘toy box’ of evocative and real characters, ones you’ve honed, worked on in detail and really spent time to develop. I use the word ‘characters’ as opposed to ‘voices’ because a voice is simply a voice if there is nothing behind it. I’ve often worked with young actors and adult actors who are asked to audition for multiple characters. This is a challenge for any actor and requires a lot of prep. What I often see is actors who don’t really know how to create multiple authentic and different sounding characters. The most important character in animation is ‘an exaggerated you’. This is a version of yourself at an energy level of 10! Clear, purposeful and no secrets! There is much more to it, but the acting must alway be at the core of this character and any new character you create. Any ‘augmentation’ of your vocal print (higher, lower, accent etc) must come only after you’ve discovered the characters true self (Villain, hero, bully, wimp etc). Then and only then can you create and perform a character with a vocal sound outside of your own. With changes in pitch or pacing, you need to take note of the ‘physical changes’ in your vocal chords and placement as well. IMPORTANT: Does the character strain your vocal chords? Be very careful of where it sits in your range and avoid any sounds that sit too much in the throat. Being honest with yourself is the best practice, so ask the question: “Is this an evocative and developed character or accent? Can I perform this character at the snap of a finger and stay in character whilst acting with purpose and conviction for hours on end in a high pressure session? If no, its a party trick! I have plenty of party tricks myself, but also many strong and developed characters and accents I use when called upon. Party tricks can be developed into usable characters, but there are proven methods that are effective to give you the confidence to pull a ‘crazy cat’ out of your back pocket or a grumpy old coot from your sleeve!

If your interested in further character development for your career in voice over, be it for better auditions or for a new animation demo, send an email and I’ll be happy to help!

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