Friday, October 23, 2009

The 'Vipo' Experience--The Big Payback (w/apologies to the late Godfather of Soul)

In this Final installment of the 'Flying Dog' series, I want to try to describe not only the joy of being a part of such an epic 'toon, but also create a sense of wealth beyond the paycheck. There are so many seeds that were planted into me professionally via observation and participation, and so many fantastic lessons learned and--most importantly--good relationships established.
I have come away from this voice over adventure wiser, stronger, happier. Now granted... the 125-page quarterly sales statistical, toungue twisting voice over job may not leave you feeling all warm and gooey, but there IS a reward for any well done, completed work, especially the tough stuff!
The Big Payback in my case with this particular job was the many positive and educational situations that I was in. Director Joie Albrecht had the idea to have a group session where all of the villians interacted and performed in one scene. What fun we had and what a great moment for improv and chemistry.
Having a chance to work along side seasoned voice over professionals is ALWAYS a good thing and there are many attached to this project! John Mariano (whose award-winning credits include "The Animaniacs", "Hey, Arnold", "The Tick}( kept us all in stitches as he would magically transform himself into Robert DiNero right before our eyes, Annie V. Ramsey(yes...Annie was there!), the multi-talented and very funny Jock Ellis, my good friend (and "Improv King") Joe Thomas, Matilda Novak (a wonderful encourager), Jeff Scott of Mayday Productions and a plethora of punctual, powerful performers!
Many of these folks keep in touch with me on a regular basis--helping me grow as an artist AND a person. And yes...there IS a picture of my character-regal and evil all at once. A great job done by the illustrators/animators. Imagination rules!!

So don't just sit there...go to and get acquainted with the Flying Dog and all his friends...and enemies!
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Next: "Into 'The Hole'"

Friday, October 16, 2009

The 'Vipo' Experience--So You Thought Voicing Was Easy !?

One thing that always makes me chuckle is when people talk about how "easy" voice acting is. "How tough can it be", they ask. "You stand in front of a microphone, read a few paragraphs at best-get paid and go home. Easy!"
I'd liken voice acting to playing professional baseball--the very best ball players are effective only 3 times out of 10 and that stretches over a six-month period. A lot of training, sacrifice, repetitive workouts-not to mention the psychological aspect-goes in to achieve what a lot of people in other arenas might call mediocre results!
Voice acting is much the same with huge personal investment (both financial and temporal), training, vocal workouts, coaching and development...and you can STILL be turned away for not having the 'right' sound! And when you DO get hired, you have to be consistent, strong in your presentation, not prone to slumps.
On this particular team the 'manager' is Joie Albrecht--owner/producer/director of The Creation Factory, International...a voice casting director with over 20 years of experience and writing and production roots that stretch from Carole King to Disney! Her job was to manage over 50 different voice over characters in 26 episodes--on time and on budget, of course.
One of the many things that Joie is really good at is getting the very best character performance out of each actor she worked with. Her understanding of the way each should be presented and their relationship with each other was key to the cohesiveness of such a huge 'cartoon'. And when it came to the 'Summer King', his performance really had to be larger than life since he was the meanest and most manic of all the villains in the story.
I realized I was in real trouble when I delivered my first line in my most snaky evilness and Joie simply looked at me and said "I don't believe you...I'm not scared"! The rest of the session was a high wire act with no net. Joie pushed and encouraged and milked each line for its fullest effect--milking the actors along with the script! What I thought was going to be a fun-filled stroll in the park was just that--except the park was 'Jurassic' and Joie Albrecht was lizard-wranglin' my character into submission.
90 thrill packed minutes later Joie pronounced herself "very happy" with the results of my session--while I was left to seek oxygen and smelling salts...What a workout!! But as Dave Letterman would say,"It's a GOOD kind of tired..."

Next: The Big Payback...