Animated Video Production

There’s Tons of Voiceover Work (If You’re Good)

Shawn 02.26.2014

Here is Part 2 of my interview with Bob Bergen – the voice of Luke Skywalker.

In it he talks about the process of voiceover for animation and what it takes to be successful. (Spoiler alert: you have to be good at it).

Notable mentions are Patrick Warburton (“Seinfeld,” Emperor’s New Groove, “Venture Bros.”) and Eric Bauza (“The Looney Tunes Show,” “Adventure Time”). Transcript below:

IR: What’s the biggest difference between voiceover for animation and live action?

BOB: When you do voiceover for animation – at least at the beginning – you record the voices first, and then they animate to the soundtrack. When you do voices for live-action you’re usually working to a picture – not always, but usually. There are lots of pros and lots of cons to all of this.

First of all, when you do an animated feature you’re not there with your scene partner – you’re doing all of your stuff wild. So, you really need a good director (and fortunately, they’re really good directors) to guide you and give you advice or adjustments and directions to match your scene partner’s intent.

I’ll give you an example:

I did a movie called The Emperor’s New Groove where I played “Bucky the Squirrel,” and Patrick Warburton played “Kronk.” The two of us had never been in the studio together – still haven’t – we have great on-screen chemistry, but we’ve never worked together. That’s because we recorded at different times.

For live-action, you might be with a group of people – you might be by yourself, but you are working to picture usually.

IR: How do you see the industry developing over the next ten years, and/or how has it changed since you got your start?

BOB: Wow.

When I got into the business, as I said earlier voiceover was in the major markets, and it is now available to anybody with a microphone and a walk-in closet. But that’s the generic voiceover.

Animation is still pretty much done in Los Angeles.

When I got into the business, there were three networks. Each network had Saturday morning cartoons and there was some syndication stuff. Today there is Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, [etc.]. There are certainly networks that are devoted to animation.

When I got into the business Disney might have done an animated feature once every 5-7 years. Today, every major studio has a thriving animation department.

Games didn’t have voices when I got into the business. I believe Pong was the big game back then. (I’m actually being facetious but close to it.)

There was no Internet. No web cartoons. There has never been more work and more opportunities in animation than today. But, there’s more competition today than ever, so it’s relative.

People complain all the time about the celebrities doing a lot of the animated features. This is not a new phenomenon. Disney, in their first animated feature – Snow White – hired celebrities, but they were the celebrities from radio.

Radio character actors, and a lot of movie character actors, voiced the Disney features – for years. It just kind of feels like there are more celebrities today than before because there’s more product today, and we know these celebrities from TV and features and they’re just more well known people.

But if you look in the credits of an animated feature you’ll see things that say “Additional Voices.” Those are us. Those are the people whose faces are not well known. Those are the people who can do ten characters in that one scene. Those are the uber-talented animation people that continue to get work in animated features.

Would we like to play the lead? You bet.

Do we kind of resent the studios going, “Celebrities will bring in a box office?” Uh-huh.

Our egos would love to play the leads, but for the most part there’s work for everybody. Again, going back to what I said earlier, the residuals are fantastic on animated features.

IR: Is anyone interesting new making a name for himself in animation voiceover?

BOB: I can’t think of anybody off the top of my head – Eric Bauza. I mean he’s not that new – he’s been around for a few years, but Eric Bauza – brilliant.

First time I worked with him on the Looney Toons show I’m like, “Hey, welcome,” because it’s always fun to find brilliant new talent.

Here’s the deal guys:

If you’re really good, you’re gonna work. The problem is, most people aren’t and that’s the simple truth.

Most people might want it, but they’re not willing to do everything it takes to get there.

Let’s say you’ve got the talent:

  • Are you gonna move to LA to work in cartoons?
  • Are you gonna invest in the classes, and the demos, and the website, and the marketing
  • Are you going to network and rub elbows and meet the players so you’re prepared for that opportunity when it knocks?

Most people aren’t willing to go the distance. It’s not a coincidence when someone really really really really talented from the get-go, just makes a name for themselves in animation. Because if you’re good, everyone’s gonna want you – from the agents to the casting directors.

Shawn

Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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