Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Some people think voice acting is easier than film or theater acting. And in a lot of ways, it is. You don’t need to worry about wardrobe, hair, and makeup. Zits? Who cares! The thing is, depending on the director, voice acting can be more challenging than other kinds of acting. You won’t have the luxury of body or facial expressions to emphasize your lines – it’s all you and your voice. And sometimes, you’ll only have lines to read, because the animation hasn’t been finalized yet, or is still locked down and super secret. So you’ll need to completely paint the character and scene in your own head. The problem? The scene you painted might be very different from the scene your director painted in her head. And that’s where it gets weird.
Voice work requires a crazy imagination, so you should practice painting mental images of your characters and background scenery in your mind. You’ll need to be super confident so you won’t feel stupid creating strange voices for personified characters like animals, robots, inanimate objects, or even aliens. Acting skills will help you remove you from you so you can completely immerse yourself in someone else’s creation – hopefully exactly the way they envisioned it. And versatility is important. You should have an entire stable of voices and characters you can use at will. A younger voice. An older voice. A funny voice. An angry voice. A sarcastic voice. A sad voice. A ridiculous voice too! The more, the better. Trust me, directors may ask you to completely shift gears to something you might never have imagined, and you need to be ready to completely shake off and erase your own mental images, and rewrite it quickly. It’s no picnic.
A lot of directors will close their eyes and listen to your delivery, and believe me, once a director closes her or his eyes, you’re in trouble. She’s either trying to see if she can fit your performance into her vision, or she’s wondering how your imagery of her characters could possibly be so completely wrong. So, again, be ready to completely change your approach immediately.
So, yes, in that sense, voice acting can be a lot more difficult than stage or film acting.
Your “stage” will be a tiny, dark, padded room with a giant silver microphone hanging in front of your nose, and a set of nasty headphones that are probably broken and three sizes too big for you. And you’ll be alone. Locked in that room. With someone yelling instructions loudly in your headphones. You can’t bounce your lines off someone else and wait for their reaction, because they probably won’t be at the same place at the same time. No phones, no distractions, no noise. Don’t sneeze, cough, burp, or… well, you know the other thing either. The smell will never leave.
Don’t be surprised if you’re cast for multiple roles in the same project to save a little money in production costs. Remember, those voices will need to sound like they really are different voices. our blog and find the content that matters to them. So go ahead and #hashtag away!