The Wonderful World of Dis...er...Animation & Video Games
Where to begin? Where to begin? Eenie-meenie-miney-moe… Just kidding! Hey folks, I’m the one writing this here blog, so I’ll be the one deciding which direction we take on this journey first. Sorry, not sorry. (But actually, I really would love to hear your input so we can dig into the things you’re most interested to learn about VO!)
Anywaaaaaay, now that we have a foundation to build upon (i.e. what voice over is and who provides those beautiful voices—see last week’s post if this isn’t sounding familiar), let’s take some time to really flesh out the various genres that voice talents lend their voices to.
As I’ve mentioned previously, VO is a pretty expansive industry, so there are LOTS of opportunities for voiceover artists to get in the game, so to speak. Now, I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, so let’s take this whole genre conversation in bite-size chunks. Today, I want to focus primarily on the genres of animation and video games. In my experience, these tend to be the areas of VO more obviously recognized by the common pleb…or really everyone who isn’t a super VO nerd like myself… Note to self: I need to get out more.
So, let’s start simple. It probably goes without saying that animation encompasses any kind of “moving picture” media, particularly that which has traditionally been drawn/painted by hand or, more commonly today, computer-generated images (CGI). In a word: cartoons. Animated media can be your classic Saturday morning cartoons, feature-length
films (think Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, etc.), online videos, and on and on and on.
Quick aside: it’s totally common for multiple VO genres to overlap. For instance, a corporate training video can be animated. Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.
If you’re still with me, thanks for putting up with my (probably) unnecessary explanations. I just like to be really thorough! Back to the topic at hand, VO meets animation when (ready for another blatantly obvious explanation?!) animated characters need a voice! Now, you may be saying to yourself (or out loud to your computer or mobile device screen), “Tyler, seriously, this is SOOO obvious, like, TOO obvious.” Yes, I know. But take a moment and reflect on how big an impact VO has on animation. Imagine your favorite animated movie or show without the voices behind the characters. Imagine Simba without Matthew Broderick or Woody without Tom Hanks or the Joker without Mark Hamill. Voice actors not only give a voice to our beloved characters, but they also help flesh out their personalities, give them their quirks, and make them the icons we remember them as for generations.
Another fun fact about animation voice over: the voice acting is generally done before the animation. Sorry to burst your bubble if you always imagined voicing an animated character to be the opening scene of Mrs. Doubtfire (that’s more akin to how dubbing a new language onto a pre-existing animation works). This is really cool because, oftentimes, a voice actor can actually influence how a character or a scene gets animated. The way a line is delivered can change a character’s facial expression, body language, and overall demeanor. Voice actors: we have the power!
While similar to animation in that it is typically a, well, animated medium, video games do stand apart from traditional animation and are classified as their own genre in the VO realm. Generally speaking, voicing video game characters can often be more demanding of the actor than a film or television show counterpart. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of talent and skill that goes into crafting, maintaining, and delivering an excellent voice performance in a movie or show. No doubt. Absolutely. Case closed. My point, however, is that video games (depending on the game, of course) often tend to be a more complex form of storytelling and, therefore, require more of the voice actors bringing the characters to life.
How about an example? Many video games have a branching structure underlying the story. By this, I simply mean a player may be offered a choice in-game that will take the story in two totally different directions depending on the choice the player makes. In these kinds of games, a voice actor needs to be able to perform all possible outcomes for any given choice a player might make.
Additionally, video game voice actors often need to provide various types of voice acting. Dialogue in a cutscene flows differently than a one-off line inserted into the action of gameplay.
In the end (and here’s another obvious point for you), the video game genre is far more interactive than animation (and most other VO genres for that matter). Because of this interactive nature, it requires its own nuances in voice acting that are completely unique to itself.
In either case, these genres are the ones that are the most acting heavy. While all VO genres demand a certain level of acting ability, animation and video games are by far the two that demand the most. Many other VO genres ask for “conversational” or “natural” tones and cadences and, while this does incorporate some extent of acting (after all, you’re acting conversational while talking to yourself in an isolation booth), they don’t necessitate the range of emotions, dynamics, or development that are inherent in animation and video games. For this reason, many animation and video game voice actors have a background in acting and/or theatre. It’s also why a lot of big-name Hollywood actors are cast as the voices of some of our favorite characters today.
Whew! We’ve made it to our next checkpoint! I hope that was as informative and interesting for you as it was for me. I love learning more about these VO genres in particular, as my ultimate goal and dream in my personal VO journey is to land a role (or many, many roles) in animated shows, films, and video games. What did you find intriguing about today’s topic? Did you learn anything new? Let me know in the comments below. I want to hear from you!
Next week, we’ll dive into another facet of VO genres and start to see just how diverse this industry is! Until then, friends, keep telling stories!
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller | Professional Nerd
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