Voice Coaches Blog

Take Two: A second look at Voice Acting

Posted 12:00 pm by team

Enjoy the humor and realism that our amazing team member Chris Scharling has to offer. What can’t this guy do? Enjoy his thoughts:

It’s occurred to me recently that a lot can be gained by teaching my students what I need from them as a producer. If you understand your job as a voice actor, you’re off to a good start. That being said, I think that you can be even better prepared to anticipate how we can work together best from understanding a little bit more about my job.

One of the basics that you know as a voice actor is this: your job is to make the producer happy with your performance by taking their direction; the producer has the final say over the work that you’re doing.

The basics out of the way, I’d like to tell you a little more about what I’m here to do. We’re all familiar with the concept of “wearing multiple hats.” One of my hats is “producer”. Another one is “husband / father.” Another one is “video game addict.”

I think it’s helpful to understand that under the umbrella of the “producer” hat, there’s a couple of other hats. One is: “good listener.” I’m going to listen to your performance very closely. I’ll look for places where your enunciation might not be sharp enough. I’ll also look for opportunities to clarify emphasis, and make sure that the listener is clearly understanding what’s being communicated.

Another hat that I wear as producer is “bad listener.” Stick with me here.

I learned this from my background as a sound designer. Developing sound effects for different projects, I have to take into account what system the person listening to my work will be listening through: will they be employing a 7.2 surround sound setup at home in a room that has no external noise? Will they be listening on their tablet while the fish tank bubbles in the background? Will they be listening in the car, while the road underneath them hums along quietly? As a sound designer, I have to account for these options. Neither audience deserves a poor result, so I have to make sure they’re getting the best they can in those settings.

Your performance as a voice actor is going to be listened to differently as well: by active listeners, and by passive listeners. Your performance should be able to turn a passive listener (someone involved primarily in another activity — washing dishes, getting ready for work) into an active listener. This is why I play the role of poor listener: is the voice actor’s performance doing what it needs to do to gain my attention? If not, then I need to make sure it does.

I feel that if you understand this, you can be much more attuned to my direction, and therefore better understand how to work with a producer.

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