Join Voice Over Expert Pat Fraley as he discusses “Knowing VO Genre & Style”. In this episode, Pat helps you to discover the importance of knowing voice over genres and styles, and being able to adjust your performance level to them.
Pat Fraley, Pat Fraley Teaches, PatFraley.com, VO, Genre, Styles, Voice Overs, Voice Acting
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Patrick Fraley has created voices for over 4,000 characters, placing him among the top ten performers of all time to be cast in animation. He has produced dozens of award-winning audiobooks, such as, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Very Easy Death, and The Light in The Piazza. Pat produced and performed all 100 voices on the award winning audiobook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which People Magazine hailed as, “The best yet of this evergreen.” Patrick teaches events, workshops, and seminars on various aspects of voice over across the country, and has created a variety of instructional books and CDs, all available at PatFraley.com. He is a member of The Voice and Speech Trainers of America, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Professional Acting from Cornell University.
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Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Pat Fraley.
Pat Fraley: Hi. This is Pat Fraley. I wanted to give you a brief lesson on the importance of being able to adjust your performance to the various genres and styles of voiceover. First, a working definition of genre. Genre is another word for category. I used it instead because it’s French and therefore, (indiscernible). Not that I don’t go as far as to pronounce it. Genre! And spit on the mic.
For our purposes, the genres of voiceover are radio commercials, TV spots, animation tracks, ADR, interactive gaming projects, audio books, et cetera. Each of these genres generally call for a different level of performance particularly, when characters are called for. For example, animation often calls for more exaggerated or better extended characterization.
Sometimes at the level of a French farce. Big is not enough. Interactive calls for characterization on a more real plane. And audio books oftentimes requires just enough characterization to infer the character. Almost an attitude adjustment. If you don’t deliver a large enough performance for animation, you aren’t giving the animator the advocative tracks to do their job. If you don’t adjust your performance in an interactive gaming project by serving up a strong sense of reality, you don’t connect with the player.
And if you go too far with the character in an audio book, you sever or damage the listener’s suspension of disbelief. Hey, they know you’re not a pirate as you read to them. They make the unspoken contract to suspend their knowledge if you don’t push it too far, but if you do go too far, you break it ‘arr. Once broken, they turn off the iPod.
So, those are some generalizations on genre. What about the definition of style? Style is the distinct manner of expression within a genre. Just like a sitcom is a genre but Fawlty Towers was in that genre but so is Friends. They had two distinctly different styles. Like in a genre of audio books, you have The Great Gatsby and Huck Finn.
It doesn’t matter how versatile or fast you are to characterization. If you can’t recognize the genre and style of a project and can’t accomplish the necessary adjustments of performance which is needful. Your efforts of successfully auditioning for a job are dramatically decreased if you don’t know how to adjust and fit into the genre and style of any given script, text or copy.
Let me give you an example of a job I just booked. Now, believe me, I can give you 100 other lessons from unsuccessful auditions but I’m reasonably sure that I booked this because I understood the genre and style which was needful on this assignment. The audition was for an interactive game. The title, at least what they gave me was The Hardy Boys.
Now, before I read the audition script, I know that the genre of interactive gaming calls for a sense of reality so that the player can relay to the characters. Now, what about the style? The Hardy Boys is kind of old school and as much as characters are a bit more presented, it ain’t Law and Order. I looked at the script and read the description of the three characters I’m auditioning for. Now knowing that they have me for three characters for the prize of one, I figured I better make all three characters separate, even though there’s a strong possibility I won’t be cast in all three of those.
I was right. I got cast in three but only one of the ones I auditioned for. So the first character I auditioned for was described as an eccentric, flamboyant, ex-stage actor in his 50s. So I lay him down following the description but with enough reality, so it sounds like he’s thinking and feeling. Here’s a bit of the audition.
Of course I’m not taking anything away from your detecting prowess. In fact, I should have said you’ve been misled here by the Bayport P.D. If left to your own devices, you would likely have stayed on the correct trail. I assume you have questions to ask? Hmm?
Next, I have a character described as merely having a strong voice, mid-50s. I knew he had to separate from the two other voices, so here’s what I did.
Pat Fraley, it’s Thomas. Budding detectives and of course, it will be my pleasure and they aren’t letting me leave, you know. They think I’m a thief.
And my third character I auditioned for was described as the previous character’s brother. Well off, strong voice, not nice in his late 50s. With the genre and style firmly implanted in my brain, he came off like this.
Pat Fraley, this is Samuel. Not anymore, he’s not. I’m renouncing him as my brother. Do you hear me, Thomas? I renounce you.
Did you notice that all the characters sound like they came out of the same bag? Same level of performance? I hope I’m capable of playing all three at a higher level like for animation or more subtle for an audio book, but I was guided by my knowledge of genre and style for this project. So that’s it. Now, this job wouldn’t have come my way if I didn’t have the ability at characterization. It was tempered, however and molded to fit into the genre and style of the project.
Last word of wisdom. It comes from Harrison Ford. He once said, “My job is an assistant story teller. It all begins and ends with a story.” If you’d like some personal attention to gaining the skills of recognizing style and genre and playing them, you can find information on it on my website, patfraley.com. You’ll find it on my teaching page. Thanks for listening.
Julie-Ann Dean: To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
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