The Voice in the Booth
Sign Language …
A number of years ago I saw a video of myself in the booth doing a voice over and was quite astounded by how physically animated I got. There were weird facial expressions, hand gestures and arms going everywhere.
Sure, I knew I always made a conscious effort to get into the character of the read as best I could, but the amount of animation surprised me.
I started to check out other voice over artists at work and discovered I wasn’t alone in the extra movements in the booth department.
I guess it helps us to emphasize the words, tone and sentiment in the script. People in many countries and cultures around the world have been perfecting the art form for centuries - Take the Italians for example, they ‘re masters at it.
My crazy sign language and hand gestures haven’t gone unnoticed either. Nathan Russell – Creative Director at NOVA in Brisbane has noted these weird movements from the booth and suggested that all my gestures be recorded somehow and turned into some kind of sign language that writers could use to give specialised direction to the voice artist.
For example – The pointed finger would mean, drive home the message. Two open hands - calm, measured and reassuring. A clenched fist – make it sound tough and determined.
Of course there are hundreds more that could be used. You could even have a separate column on the script for the placement of the gestures.
Hand gestures, facial expressions and arm movements may appear a little unusual to the casual observer, but there is no doubt they help the end product. I once wore a noisy shirt (made from some type of stiff polyester fabric) to a voice session and was asked stop moving around so much because my shirt was making too much noise. So I put a halt to all arm waving and finger pointing and the read sounded totally flat and void of emotion and feeling. I ended up doing the session with the shirt off. Lucky I don’t move my legs around during a performance or it might have been pants of as well.
Maybe you’ve got a few favorite gestures of your own – please share.
The Voice in the Booth
Pronounce this ...
As a Voice Artist I’m occasionally challenged with some absolute cracker pronunciations.
But nothing beats the annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (The APSAs). This award ceremony showcases the very best movies, movie makers, directors, producers, and actors from throughout the Asia Pacific region. The Awards night has been broadcast on SBS and in recent years is streamed live on the web to a potential audience of billions of movie buffs. So it’s a pretty big show!
For the past 4 years, thanks to my friends at TPD Media and Brisbane Marketing and Events I’ve had the honor of being the Voice Artist / Announcer for this spectacular.
Award nominees come from countries like Japan, Korea, China, Iran, Russia, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Turkey and many more including Australia.
Because of the shear diversity and trickiness of some of the pronunciations required for this job, organizers even hire an expert in linguistic and how to say strange names – the talented Greg Saunders from Melbourne.
Part of my task is to give a brief a synopsis on all the nominated movies, make general announcements on the night and welcome the winners to the stage to accept their award. Now this is where it starts to get interesting. Not only do the winners get a mention, so do the director, the writer, the producer, the co-stars and anybody else who deserves a shout out.
Sure, these may well be household names to Asia Pacific movie buffs, but to a balding Voice Artist with his trusty Sennheiser microphone at the ready – this can present some challenges. For example the mind races just a tad when you’re first presented with this script for the winner of Best Screen Play – Happy Hour from Japan.
“From Japan - Produced by Satoshi TAKATA, Hideyuki OKAMOTO and Tadashi Nohara. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Written by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Tadashi Nohara and Tomoyuki Takahashi.
This is Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Tadashi Nohara and Tomoyuki Takahashi’s first APSA. Please welcome Tadashi Nohara to the stage to accept the award.”
All I can say is – thank the lord the producers of the Awards presentation thought it would be a good idea to have these pre-recorded. Let’s just say I defently didn’t get this one first take.
What pronunciation pearlers have you come across – please share.