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Helping new studios by Chris62 & Killian


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#21 jtoc72

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 04:13 PM

Once you are in contact with your chosen VO artist(s), you can give a bit more detail about the project. I would normally ask for lines to be returned in blocks; that way, if there is a problem with them, the artist doesn’t have to sit down and redo 30 pages of dialogue, as you weren’t specific enough when you gave them their brief.

Always give a time scale for when you need the lines back by. Never just give them out, wait 3 weeks then start a torrent of mails demanding them back because they are holding up your production; that’s not a good way to establish a good image with your fellow artists!

When you get the lines back, always check them over. VO’s won’t mind on the whole if you ask them to redo lines (provided you haven’t asked them to do 30 pages of dialogue without asking for a sample back first!); of course there’s a line to draw here. Don’t keep asking for lines to be redone; if you have a specific way you want them done, SAY SO AT THE START! Don’t waste the artist’s valuable time doing lines over and over then change how you want them presented. That will only risk you losing their good favour for future projects


First, a big thank you to Chris and Killian for taking the time and trouble to generate this thread.

I'm starting to write my script for the first installment of The Commonwealth. I had originally shot the entire first part with subtitles (actually, with on-screen word bubbles), but that was a while ago and I've decided to try to make the picture a "talkie" instead.

Plus, a lot has changed in the past couple years with external editing being the norm, etc.

With one exception, my main characters are not envisioned as native English speakers. The first male lead is an Arab with a violent, tragic past. :osama: The first female lead is a tough, street-wise black woman. The second male lead is an alien. :alien: The second female lead is a Russian Jew (though I'm open to other ethnic groups with this last one, the first male and female leads aren't open to change or reinterpretation).

Since I live in a very diverse neighborhood, I know what I'm hoping to hear come out of my characters' mouths, but I am not sure what the etiquette is for asking for people who have specific accents or otherwise "fit" the character. Is it considered rude, or is it OK to be very specific?

Example: My native English-speaking main character is an African-American female. She's in late 30s and joined the military to escape from a life of poverty in a dystopian future Detroit. She's an officer, but she's self-made; no one ever thought she'd work her way up the ranks from NCO to a commission.

In my mind, I hear someone who speaks assertively, authoritatively, and economically because her "native" way of speaking is assertive and authoritative, but also confrontational and laced with profanity - a pattern she'll "default" to under stressful conditions. In any situation, the character speaks with an "urban" accent common among people of color, but not among other urban dwellers.

Here are my questions:

1) Where would I post this sort of request?

2) Should that much background on the character be included in the VO request or somewhere else?

3) Is the characterization offensive to anyone? :censored:

4) Assuming I got a response from a very well-intended person, but someone who totally doesn't fit the character, is it bad form to take a pass on those grounds?

Thanks in advance!

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#22 Killian

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 04:30 PM

Well, let's look at the questions in order:-

1) For VO requests, there is a specific thread for it in the Production Help forum; it doesn't hurt to tag the same post onto your production thread, either (as some forum users might not be watching multiple threads).

2) As the director, you can give as much or as little detail about the part initially as you see if. The up side is that you might find VO artists who think "hey, I can do that!" who will approach you and strike up a dialogue. The downside is that if you're TOO specific with your requirements, you might find that no-one feels they are able to fulfil the criteria, and you might unintentionally turn people away who might otherwise be a perfect fit.

3) We're pretty broad-minded here, so most requests (if they are done with a specific reasoning behind it) will be accepted for artistic integrity. Of course, if you were asking for racially offensive stereotypes, you might not get a lot of responses :)

4) If you give the auditioning process due reference in your request thread, explaining the restrictions, most good VO actors will understand if you politely decline their auditions, provided you give an informed reason for the choice (i.e. voice too old, voice too young; wrong kind of accent, etc).

That said, setting the bar TOO high can also be detrimental to actually getting the role filled; sometimes, you have to balance the exact portrayal you had in mind with the practicality of getting the role filled which, at the end of the day, is a decision only YOU as the director can make. The biggest issue I can envisage you having based on what you've said above is that the vast majority of the VO Actors here ARE all native English speakers in the main (and, as far as I'm aware, there aren't many Middle Eastern VO actors here that could fit the Arabian role, for example; but there ARE a number of very good VOs that would be pretty much indistinguishable from a such an individual in the same role; as said, it's a question of how much you're willing to bend your requirements to get what you need, which is pretty much the ongoing struggle of any machinima director, in any aspect of making a movie!)

Another angle to look at might be to try finding actors through the Voice Acting Alliance forums (http://voiceactingal...board/index.php), as several productions have had success with requesting auditions there, especially if you have a large cast.

#23 jtoc72

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 04:41 PM

Another angle to look at might be to try finding actors through the Voice Acting Alliance forums (http://voiceactingal...board/index.php), as several productions have had success with requesting auditions there, especially if you have a large cast.


Thanks for the tip! I didn't know there was such a site!

Is there a thread around her for script reviews?

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#24 Killian

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 04:52 PM

Not a thread as such (but there are a couple of "I'll proofread your script" offers floating about, if I recall correctly); Jase and A_N_D do do some script reading, but it's as well to request that on an individual basis as I can imagine both gents are probably snowed under with requests for that!

There are, however, so good script pointers on the I101 thread down at the TMOA Forum that might be worth having a look at as well.

Failing either, there is always the option to "go public" and throw out the script to whoever asks, but I'd venture to say that that may not get you the best response. I would instead suggest that you check out the movies which you think would be as close to your overall style as you can see and approach the script-writer/director of those with a polite request PM, asking if they could check out your script (asking those who produce a similar feel of movie rather than just anyone would be the best way to go, in my opinion, as otherwise you risk asking someone who doesn't really "get" the feeling or style you're trying to achieve and may make suggestions that might not work for you, but that's my opinion on it).

However, the issue with that is that none of us has the time we'd like to devote to our hobby, so you might not be that successful with it.

#25 Chris62

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 06:42 PM

I agree with killian a lot of us are working on projects so we do not always have the time to look at other scripts.
If you read the script over and there's some parts of it that dose not sound right then you should make changes also you have to work with what you can do with the softwear your working with if it's the movies or iclone or moviestorm what ever your working with there are somthing that can't be done that's when you have to get creative.
As far as vo actors ask nicely if they would be in your movie show them a script or there part in the script they might say yes or no the biggest thing be nice no one gets payed to do this.
We all work hard to put out movies vos music or scripts.
I hope this helps.

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#26 Johnny Ex

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 02:35 PM

Hey brothers, I didn't want to make a new thread so I thought I'd ask fer help here...
I see alot of cool avatars that are animated and I have some neat ones as well. How do I actually get one up and working?
I've tried everything...thanks.
Cheers for this thread boys.
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#27 Killian

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 05:32 PM

Provided it's the requisite size and (possibly) hosted off site (not used an animated avatar, so don't know if the board server links them properly), you just link it as usual in your User CP details and voila!

If it doesn't work as a direct link from the board server, you need to remote host it and link it (which requires that the gif fits the requirement for board avatars still (as in image size and file size, I should imagine).


#28 Johnny Ex

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 05:42 PM

Provided it's the requisite size and (possibly) hosted off site (not used an animated avatar, so don't know if the board server links them properly), you just link it as usual in your User CP details and voila!

If it doesn't work as a direct link from the board server, you need to remote host it and link it (which requires that the gif fits the requirement for board avatars still (as in image size and file size, I should imagine).

Thanks. I sort of have it figured out. It is a size issue more than anything else at this point. I'll git er'.
I Appreciate the help.
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#29 Aemielius

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 11:28 PM

Chris, Killian. I read both of your threads on this, but I think one piece of advice was left out. It is one, Killian, you yourself gave me.
That it doesn't matter what tools/programs someone chooses to use but practice with it. Get to know your tools, because the better you know them, the better you know their limitations, the better you can exploit their benefits.
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#30 Aemielius

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 11:33 PM

You will find, as I myself am still learning, there is an answer posted for just about every question you will have.
As you probably already know, many of these guys have been doing this for years.
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#31 Killian

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 12:16 AM

Cheers, Aem :)

You do make a good point (and it's one that, thankfully, as a mature community we don't suffer from as much as TMO did), in that somewhere (not necessarily here, but it's a good place to start looking!) there's an answer to practically any question you can think of to do with anymation making (whether it be software specific, editing, scripting, advice, etc).

Whilst there are some specific Movies-based bits in this thread, hopefully it's still generic enough that the complete beginner will still find parts of it useful.

And, if you CAN'T find the answer here, elsewhere on the boards or by using the ever-handy Google, there is a veritable cornucopia of talented directors, writers, actors and modding genii that hang around this haven of creativity who will usually respond to a polite advice request, either in the form of a post or a PM!

God, I LOVE this place :)


#32 Killian

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 07:31 PM

Voiceacting 101:- Some tips and thoughts for new voiceactors
I have been prompted into producing this as a sideline to the general moviemaking tips, so here it is.

I’m hoping that the more experienced VO actors/actresses will chip in and add their tuppence worth to this as we go along. Also, if you have any VO related questions, please feel free to ask them here!

What Equipment should I use?
The most important thing for anyone doing VO acting is have a decent microphone; it doesn’t have to be several hundred dollars worth, but it does need to be capable of recording a decent, clear VO file. Don’t spend a fortune if you’re not looking to get into “serious” VO work, though, as it won’t be worth it for you.

Other things to take into consideration here are things such as microphone positioning and recording area. It’s no good having a decent mike if you record in a large room with the TV on in the background and whilst your significant other is trying to hold a conversation with you, or if you have the mic so close to your mouth that it pops everytime you pronounce a word.

Most headset mics come with a windshield or cover (usually a thin cap of foam) that is, in most cases, sufficient to prevent most instances of popping and clicking… if you take care with the positioning.

Don’t place the mike directly in front of your mouth or you’re effectively negating the point of the shield in the first place.

Optimum positioning for a headset mic can range from slightly above the mouth to halfway up your face and off to the side; it depends on the mic and it’s sensitivity.

Test the positioning carefully before you start doing any serious line recording (try a series of lines at your normal speaking volume which contain a lot of “S”, “P” and “F” sounds; record about 30 seconds to a minute of this dialogue then play it back and see how it sounds).

Also, don’t assume just because you have set your mic correctly for a series of VOs a week ago that it will remember that when you need to record your next set!

Desktop mics are a different kettle of fish, but I heartily recommend you “test” the position of your mic with some test lines before launching off into a script, as mentioned above.

One thing I would say; even if you have one, DON’T use a built-in mic; they simply suck for doing anywhere near decent recording (unless you like the sound of the power supply, fans etc, in the background!); a good separate mic can be obtained for a reasonable price, so don’t skimp.

How should I Record my lines?
Whatever software you use to record your VOs, you have two methods of doing this; 1 large file or several small ones.

There are pros and cons for each method and some directors ask for them in one form or another. If the director hasn’t asked for them in a specific method, ask the director.

1 File Production: you can record all your lines in one sitting without losing the mood or character you have taken on; it’s also easier for the director to level the sound or add effects in one go if needed. The drawback is that the file can end up rather large (especially if you neglect to pause between takes or cut out bloopers).

Individual Lines: you can record your lines in more than one sitting and they are usually in a format that the director can slot straight into their program of choice. The drawback is that doing separate lines in more than one sitting (or even within the same sitting) can cause you to “lose the character”; it’s also much, much harder to level the volume of 50+ individual lines than it is to do one then split the file up.

What format should I record lines in?
The format the file should be recorded in varies by the engine; most TM directors want them in OGG or WAV format (or sometimes MP3 if they want to do filtering etc themselves) for example; always provide the file in the format requested and, if the director hasn’t said what format they want the file in, ask.

How many Takes should I do?
I would venture that you do at least 2 takes of each line (unless a director is working with an established VO actor who is playing a recurring role they already know, in which case 1 take is usually all that’s needed!) Don’t be afraid of giving the director some variety (and, I venture to add, I’d definitely expect to receive at least 2 takes of each line from someone I hadn’t worked with before), but don’t stray too far from the script, even if given carte blanche by the director to adlib!

How do I Pronounce…?
Sci-fi and Fantasy can be especially problematic for VO actors (what with all the weird names flying about). The director should give you a guide on how to pronounce these (either in the form of a phonetic breakdown or an audio file of themselves indicating how it should be pronounced). If you need one and don’t have one, then shame on the director! Ask for one if you’re not sure.

Quality Control
All VOs should take at least some responsibility for quality control. You should not be sending off a batch of lines that you wouldn’t be happy to use in your own movie; if you wouldn’t use them, how can you expect someone else to??

Now, with different mic setups, positioning of PC, Mac or laptop and room ambience, you can’t reasonably expect every actor to produce a perfect VO file but, given a little time, thought and prep, you can avoid too many of the “newbie” mistakes (such as pops, being too loud, etc).

VO Actors: The Director's Perspective
As indicated above (and elsewhere) a lot of an actor’s performance should be indicated to the actor by the script or the director individually. If a director wants surprise to be evident in a line, for example, it’s their responsibility to let the actor know that’s how they want that line read. A director shouldn’t need to be sending lines back to an actor for reinterpretation if they’re provided notes (if filming someone else’s script) or haven’t indicated in the script the emotion they are trying to convey.

If you need lines back by a specific time, you must indicate this at the outset of the project. By the same token, you must also allow for real life concerns to result in delays. Equally, a VO actor should try wherever possible to adhere to the deadline.

Finally, remember that ALL VO actors are giving their time and effort to projects for FREE, so don’t make unreasonable demands of them!

#33 Aemielius

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 12:50 PM

VO Actors: The Director's Perspective
As indicated above (and elsewhere) a lot of an actor’s performance should be indicated to the actor by the script or the director individually. If a director wants surprise to be evident in a line, for example, it’s their responsibility to let the actor know that’s how they want that line read. A director shouldn’t need to be sending lines back to an actor for reinterpretation if they’re provided notes (if filming someone else’s script) or haven’t indicated in the script the emotion they are trying to convey.

If you need lines back by a specific time, you must indicate this at the outset of the project. By the same token, you must also allow for real life concerns to result in delays. Equally, a VO actor should try wherever possible to adhere to the deadline.

Finally, remember that ALL VO actors are giving their time and effort to projects for FREE, so don’t make unreasonable demands of them!


VO Actors: The Writer's Perspective.
Generally, as a writer trying to pitch or sell a script there are several elements that we leave out. Transitions, Parentheticals, Shots, Generals...etc. The studio rep only wants scene info and dialogue in a spec script. "Writers write, Directors direct, and ne'er the twain shall meet."

In the case we have here in TMU is quite different. Writers are more often than not, the directors and what you want is a finished or shooting script. Don't be afraid of adding that parenthetical to help coax your Actor into a more emotional performance or helping add the pause needed for a dramatic flair. Just remember to keep them short and simple. ie;

Joshua
(gasping)
That was the longest run of my life.

NOT:

Joshua
(breathless)
That (hack) the longe..(gag & wheeze) run of (cough up a kidney) my life.

Also, all those other elements help. Think of your script as a story, and the more your Actors can get into your story, the more they can 'see' it in their mind, the better they will be able to get into character and the better their performance will be.
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#34 Chris62

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 02:46 PM

Great point Aemielius i agree.

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#35 afterThought

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 08:28 PM

Thanks for the post, Killian! :)

There's a couple things I've encountered as a new voiceactor that I'd like to share.

Regarding POP filters to control the plosive sounds, I purchased a metal one that has a clamp that attaches to my desk (for my setup that works well). I was recommended the metal one over the cloth-like material because depending on how close you talk to it, you might want to wash it someday. :tongue_smilie:

Secondly, I was recently enlightened about using Noise Removal to get rid of the background hum in recordings. I hadn't had much luck with it previously without distorting my vocals so I stopped trying. But when done right, it does make a noticeable difference that's worth the effort. I personally use Audacity, which is free and also includes a Noise Removal feature. If you're not quite sure how to use it, check here. The setting that I was recommended was to keep the 'Step 2' slider closer to the "Less" side. I think that especially if you have a Director who is using your lines without any music or background noise in the scene, this will make a big difference that they will appreciate.

#36 Chris62

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:08 AM

The best mic to use is a digtal mic because it's made for the computer i use one and i never get any hum in the back ground of the vos.

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