As someone who enjoys creating characters, it’s often hard to think about a personal favourite. In fact, recently I have been working with a veteran of the animation industry in LA – Richard Horvitz and together we’re going to create a brand new animation demo which you will see posted here soon. Incidentally, if you’re looking at getting into voicing for animation, do enrol in a course with Richard – he really is fantastic.
The main thing to look at in the creation of a voice is the story. If we simply start with the voice, then all the audience will hear is someone trying to create a voice – there will be a ‘disconnect’ between the character and the dialogue, and whilst they might not be able to put their finger on it, the audience will get a sense that something is off.
The focus needs to be on the dialogue itself. As a voice over, the first thing to do is to stop referring to the character in the third person. If we are truly to become this person, then we must think of them as ourselves. So “he is an alien” quickly becomes “I am an alien”.
After that, we can start looking at what it is I want in the scene. Everyone has a ‘want’, and this shouldn’t be confused with the ‘motivation’ that method actors look for when dissecting a script.
After that, we can start to have fun, and that really is what it should all be about. Richard has taught me to come to the microphone to play pretend and play pretend fully, and I absolutely love our lessons together – he calls them ‘Play Dates’ and once you’ve had one, you’ll easily understand why.
Now a couple of years ago I was approached by the NHS to see if I was interested in playing the role of a talking penis (hmm, I wonder if the search engines will pick up on that word, leading to a surge of traffic from some very disappointed people). Well, suffice to say that I thought it sounded like fun, especially when they told me that they had a vague idea of what they wanted in terms of the voice, but were clearly up for hearing what I could do.
At the time, “The Inbetweeners” was a very popular show and they thought that they would want their character to sound a bit like Simon. Well, I obliged but as I was mucking around in the studio, I also created another voice. The drawings had the penis dressed in a hoodie, and that took me into my library of voices to bring out someone that sounded a lot more ‘street’.
As it turned out, they liked them both so much that they actually recorded two different videos, hence I got to play both characters. To this day, when people ask me about my favourite character, I’m more than happy to tell them that I was a talking willy and direct them to the videos in question:
I am also available to play other body parts too, although I draw the line at knees. Not really, I’ll play knees.