Tenured animation voice over artist Shelly Shenoy discusses the tips and tricks she uses to find success in the voice over industry, specifically for animation. In this episode, Shelly emphasizes the importance of mastering microphone technique, equipment knowledge, self-recording, and commercial voice over basics. Moving on to animation, Shelly discusses the concept of “givens” in voice acting, including the selection of tone of voice, the placement of voice, and the use of wallas (nonverbal sound effects) to enhance auditions. She also highlights the significance of delivering performances with authentic emotional stakes.
Learn more about Shelly: https://www.shellyshenoy.com/
Well, hi there and welcome to Voiceover Experts, your monthly educational podcast helping you bring your voice acting career from a regular voice acting career to level eleven. What we do is if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know, we do. Put it on eleven. Exactly. With insightful lessons presented by voice's voiceover coaches. My name is Shelley Shenoy and I am your voice's featured coach for the month of October.
Now, this is the part where I'm supposed to tell you how famous and magnificent I am. All the jobs I've done that I've had an animation commercial, thousands of bookings, like I'm the voice of HBO Max and the Little Mermaid commercials that I was in. Game of Thrones, Batman Minecraft, red Dead, Redemption Two, The Walking Dead, blah, blah, blah. But instead I'm gonna tell you to google me. Just look me up on IMDb. Look at my acting website, Shelleychnoid.com, or my coaching website Nycvoch.com, which is available to anyone in the world. Despite the NYC, NYC is where I am. Anywhere else in the world is where you are.
Now, I'm gonna encourage you to listen all the way through this episode because some really cool stuff is going to happen at the end of the episode, but it won't make sense if you don't listen to the middle. So, here we go. This month we are getting into what no other coach on voices dares to talk about on the platform. And for good reason. It's incredibly hard to properly educate and coach people in the world of animation. I just happen to be pretty great at it.
So, with no further ado, ladies and gentlemen, we are diving into invaluable tips in the animation industry, only they do have a value. So visit NYC. Vocation.com.
If you're a voice actor anywhere in the world and you want to start training with me personally in the world of animation, now disclaimer and your first tip before you deep dive into animation training, do yourself and your coach a solid favor. Unless you are just doing this for funsies. But if it's not for funses and you really are here to start a career, you should know what you're doing on the microphone before you deep dive into animation training. You've got to have microphone technique, know your microphone choreography, know your equipment backwards and forwards, know how to record yourself better than anything, know how to edit yourself, know how to sound like a working voice actor, know how auditions are formatted and paced.
Do all of this in the world of commercial where you are learning as you go and potentially making money while doing it. And when you have all your basics down with your equipment, your mic, everything else, then start your training in animation. So this way, when you're training how to scream and cry and shout orders on the battlefield, in your animation training, you're not also learning your equipment at the same time. Animation should be fun. And when you're ready, it will be. So when I'm training people in animation, we go over 25 to 30 to 100 billion endless Googleplex of animation pointers and tips and training and all of the elements that make my voice actors stand out in a crowd of a million wannabe V voice actors for animation.
But here in this podcast, I've been asked to give you three to five pointers in animation. Sorry for the teaser there, but the people at Voices said this podcast was not allowed to be three days long. So let's look at three to five educational points for you to take away today. So in the commercial world, descriptors for any audition are called specs. Specs stand for specific, specific adjectives. So the specs might be conversational, bubbly, joyful, whatever. In animation, I call the specs givens, because it's all you're given. So what you are given could be anything from the name of the character, the name of the show, a detailed photograph of the character, the emotion of the character, or emotional status per each line, the character's history, their bio, anything, all that stuff. But the only thing you're going to be given every single time is the line itself.
Disclaimer. Sometimes you're not even given the line, and you're just asked to make weird pig noises in a farm where you may or may not be hunted by zombies. Anyway, the line informs everything you do, the emotion, the situation, the expression. But sometimes you just need more to really go from to make your audition pop. And this is where we get into adding givens yourself. And then we're gonna go over some really important stuff that goes into the delivery of your auditions.
So let's go. We're gonna talk about three givens. Here's the first one. Let's look at the tone of voice you select. So a lot of times when people are reading characters back to back to back to back, this is one of the easiest things that they tend to forget or totally overlook. They're like, I'm reading for a character here, then I'm reading for a character here, then I'm reading for a character here. And none of the characters actually sound different from one another because you're using the same tone of voice for all of them. So think about what goes into selecting the tone of voice. Is it low? Is it medium? Is it high? Is it bold? Boisterous? Rich? Dark? Velvety? Higher? Whimsical. Bubbly. What are you going to select for your character? This is going to already make a huge difference in your performance, right? So let's say that you're given the character a mum or a dad aged 30 to 50. Okay?
General here. You know that they're tired, but you're given the line and it's, hey, kiddo, do you want to help me pick these toys up? Okay, if you pick a lower tone of voice, hey, kiddo, do you want to help me pick these toys up? You've got a totally different delivery on the line if you pick a whimsical lighter, brighter, hey, kiddo, you want to help me pick these toys up? You're already sounding like a completely different character. There are so many different things that can go into just one simple line, so picking the tone of voice is going to make a huge difference right from the start.
Another given is the placement of voice. Where is the voice coming from? Is it coming from your chest? Is it coming from, like, over the top of your head? Is it coming from the side of your mouth? Is it coming from somewhere darker? Right. So the placement of where the voice is coming from makes a big difference. Another given is something called wallas. W A Ll A S. Wallas, a term in the voiceover industry for hundreds and hundreds of years. Back when they were doing this in the early 18, hundreds, voiceovering Shakespeare and whatnot, there's been something called Wallace. Wallace means nonverbal sound effects. You do this to aid and assist yourself making your lines come to life.
So if it's, hey, kiddo, can you help me pick up these toys? Or whatever. And your character like, what if your character is trying to pick up one of these really heavy toys? Hey, kiddo, you want to help me pick up these toys? Right? Those are all Wales. All of the vocal things I just did are wallas. What if she's balancing the parent is balancing a bunch of different toys. Hey, kiddo, do you want to help me pick up these toys? Oh, right. So Wallace come into play for just about every audition. Now be careful. When I'm training anybody in animation, I always say you got to use your discipline and your common sense. Because once you learn a trick like using wallas to do something, if you go nuts with it, you're going to sound nuts. If you go crazy with wallas, you're going to sound crazy. Don't do it. You've got to be a disciplined voice actor and use it creatively and where it's necessary only so that your audition really pops and comes to life organically. And the last thing that I want to talk about are the emotional stakes of the scene. Any scene. Your character could simply be bored. Your character could be angry or filled with joy.
Whatever it is, you've got to deliver this performance with the emotional stakes to be played honestly and thoroughly and heartfelt and with nothing but absolute honesty. Right. If your character is being honest, if you're being an honest performer while you're doing this, you're not going to add wallas like crazy all over the place, right. You're just being an actor that's using a trick over and over and over again. Your stakes have to be real. You've got to play this honestly. It's a misnomer in the industry that that voice acting is voice reading. If your character is in the battlefield or facing zombies or your character is a ghost or your character is running from a ghost. Whatever it is, you've got to play it truthfully. Now it's time for the fun part. I'm going to show you guys two examples. Here's the first example. The character is a mysterious woman who may or may not be an inquisitive sorcerer who has peered beyond the wall of reality and come back stranger. The character's name is weird. Not it's a weird name. Her name is weird.
The last given you're given is that the sorcerer speaks in dramatic tones but they want you to surprise them. It is said before the line was asked that your character this character was casually asked the time of day. The answer is you cannot conceive what it is to bind an hour to stand the shores of time and throw chains around its crashing waves. Even as you sunblindly track the sky to measure it, you fail to see the truth. There are other sons but if I had to guess I would say it's about 330. Okay, that's the line. That's all you get. I'm going to load this up with my own personal givens and audition for it. Here we go. You cannot conceive of what it is to bind an hour to stand on the shores of time and throw chains around its crashing waves. Even as your sun blindly track the sky to measure it, you fail to see the truth. There are other suns but if I had to guess I would say it's about 330, maybe 345. There you have it. Just loaded it up with my own personal choices. Okay, now let's give emotional givens. Okay, let's just say you're a person that is in the zombie apocalypse, talking to a younger sibling, trying to get them out of the hole they are hiding in and you've got to go. The lines are jesse, take my hand. Jesse, they're coming. Look at me. Take my hand. Gotcha. Okay, it says that you're struggling to grasp jesse, that there are struggles in there. When you finally get jesse, you've got them and you've got to go. Okay. That's all you're given. So what you have to do is imagine the postproduction edit while you're performing it. I know it's an impossible galaxy of imagination to grasp, but you've got to do it. You can't just say, jesse, take my hand. They're coming. Look at me, jesse. Jesse, take my hand. Oh, gotcha. Let's go. Right. That's one toe in and you don't have a job. That's one toe in the unemployment bath tub. Okay. Right. But if you go for it, if you hear the situation, if you see it in your mind, if you play the emotions real, if you raise the stakes and go for it, it would sound like this. Jesse, take my hand. Jesse, they are coming. We've got to go. Look at me. Look at me, jesse, take my hand. Come on, take it. Let's go. I got you. We gotta go. You hear the way that it was recorded. There's no distorted sound. You hear all the wallas. You hear exactly how old she is. You hear exactly how emotional the situation of this is. You hear how desperately she needs to get her sibling out of where they're in this, I don't know, wooden box they're hiding in. The treat here is hearing that audition. But what if you heard all the sound effects that happened in my mind as I was auditioning for it? It would sound exactly like this. Jesse, take my hand. Jesse, they are coming. We've got to go. Look at me. Look at me. Jessie, take my hand. Come on, take it. Let's go. I gotcha. We gotta go.
Hope you guys enjoyed a peek into my mind and my world of animation and education, teaching people and training people how to survive and thrive in this amazing, wacky, wonderful world of animation. To get in touch with me, I'm at Nycvoch.com [email protected]. If you want to slide directly into the DMs on Instagram, I'm Shelley Shenoy on Twitter. I'm shelley Shinnoi on Facebook. I'm voiceover coach. Simple as that. If you subscribe to the newsletters I never send via my website, I will send you a welcome email so we'll be in touch. I send a lot of gifs and links in my welcome emails, so be sure to add NYC VOC at Gmail to your contacts list so it doesn't go to spam trash. As for Voices, you can subscribe to Voiceover Experts for free wherever you listen to your podcasts and grow your career today. Thanks so much for listening. Shelley shinnoi. I'm out. Have an awesome day, an amazing career, and just keep auditioning. Have a good one, guys.