Cartoon Voice Overs
Breaking into the field of cartoon voice acting is a lot easier than you may have first imagined. With some hard work and persistence, the following insights will help you make your entrance into the world of cartoon and animation voice over work.
Performing Cartoon Voice Over Work Remotely
The state of the entertainment industry changed significantly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions forcing most film shoots to grind to a halt. However, one branch of the movie business that was prepared to keep producing at full capacity was the animation industry. While live-action film productions often call for large crews and on-location shooting, animators have the unique ability to continue working from home. One of the reasons for this is the ease with which cartoon voice actors can now record high-quality voice over performances and take part in live-directed sessions remotely.
Develop Multiple Skill Sets to Flourish in Animation Voice over
Above all else, the animation voice artist must possess a wide vocal range. Voice over actors who can make their voices sound younger tend to be hired most often for cartoon voice over jobs. However, many older professionals have also been able to market their skills for use in cartoons and animations.
The best cartoon voice over candidate will have an energetic voice and plenty of inflection. Believe it or not, voice acting is not just about the voice. Oftentimes, voice actors involve facial expressions and physical movements to get into character, and read the script with the appropriate tone and emotion. There are many other ways that physicality can play a part in the sound of the voice.
In today’s voice acting industry, specializing in one kind of voice over doesn’t mean only knowing one thing. According to voice actor and coach Shelly Shenoy, in order to succeed in the area of voice over that you’re most drawn to—in this case, animation—you need to expose yourself to the 3 main ‘buckets’ of voice over:
- Long-form narration that hones the skill of stamina reading and clean character splits
- Commercial reads that hone the art of the sale
- Animation projects that hone the development of special character work
Think of each of the above as the posts of a three-legged stool. Only when you’ve exposed yourself to all three and dedicated time to developing skills from each, will you find exactly what you enjoy and where you flourish as an animation voice actor.
Our Beginner’s Guide to Voice Acting provides a great primer on taking the plunge and developing your career in the voice over business.
Uncovering Your Niche With Sample Scripts
In their “Day in the Life” webinars, voice actors Anatol Silotch and Katie Harrington explained how important practicing with sample scripts was to their early success. Learning to understand a script, rather than simply reading it, is something that requires constant practice. Using sample scripts, like these video game voice over scripts, is a great way to build up strength in this area.
Getting Into Character and Finding Success
Getting into character requires more than a great voice. It also requires creativity.
We sat down with long-time animation voice actor and coach Ron Rubin. In his webinar with us, he provides the key takeaways to find your character and concentrate on embodying them for your performance.
It’s a long one, so bookmark it for later!
In Anatol Silotch’s case, his start in voice over began when someone told him to get into voice acting not because he had a great voice, but because he had a creative mind. Having a creative mind is essential for plucking out the voice that’s perfectly suited to the scripted character. Successful animation voice actors consider the elements of a character and filter through a thousand different voices in their heads until they settle on the one that embodies a character.
When character voice actors share their advice about getting into character, another point they touch on is doing research. That research can consist of product or company research, script pronunciation, or research into what a unique character, like an ‘apathetic mother,’ might sound like.
To create a fully-realized character, acting coach Dee Cannon recommends asking yourself questions like:
1. Who am I?
2. Where am I?
3. When is it?
4. Where have I just come from?
5. What do I want?
Answering these questions as the character will help you do that important script interpretation, which is just as important as how to pronounce tricky words in the script.
A Note on Dealing with Rejection
Every job you don’t land offers an opportunity for reflection. For Harrington, that meant paying attention to the types of jobs she was and wasn’t landing, and then identifying a trend.
The trend she noticed was that she wasn’t landing mother roles. With that realization, Harrington now ‘works smarter’ by trying to select jobs that are 100% suited to her skillset and character work. Yes, that decreases the number of jobs she auditions for in a day, but her win rate has skyrocketed since she now identifies jobs that are perfect for her and her skill set.
Sometimes, voice actors don’t win a job simply because they didn’t happen to fit the character. In moments like this, it’s important to remember that, above all, it’s never personal.
Take your reflection beyond the job description and role by circling back to your audition. Is there any ambient noise in the background? Can you hear rush hour traffic in the background? Is the audio too quiet? Did you follow the specified file naming convention? Did you slate? Anything short of perfection will hinder the client’s ability to fully grasp your awesome animation character capabilities.
Recap on Getting Into Animation
If you know the job is perfect for you and you’ve researched and practiced the script to fully realize the character, finish it off with a high-quality audition.
Always keep practicing with sample scripts that showcase your unique talents. Never take rejection personally and always reflect back objectively to learn from the audition.
Subscribe to a Voices talent membership to launch your cartoon voice over career today.