Want some hints on American regional accents? Check out this video from Amy Walker. She covers some of the accents you will hear across the US. Near the end, she talks about being spontaneous and practicing whatever you hear. Don’t think that listening and talking back is just my idea! It works.
One of the areas we cover in the class at City College is character voices. We’ll spend about 3 weeks experimenting to see if you have what it takes to create and maintain a character “voice.” Here’s some inspiration!
The two charts on this page highlight the different characters that each actor portrays in The Simpsons and South Park. Look at the number of voices the key actors are doing. Watch an episode and study what the actors need to do to change the entire personality, pitch, tone and cadence. Most voice actors who end up making a living (or at least earning money) doing cartoon voices are very versatile. They can slip in and out of convincing accents and dialects without missing a beat. They can age their voices. They can evolve a character into a new character with a few little tweaks. A few of the actors only do a few voices. In some cases this may be due to the fact that their voice has some unique quality that makes it hard for them to have as much versatility.
Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer carry the load in the Simpsons. They voice about 60% of all the voices in the show. Tress MacNeille and Pamela Hayden handle about a dozen characters each. The South Park cast is much smaller, so each of the key actors do even more voices. (See the link above for the South Park chart)
A big part of your job as an aspiring (or even as a working) voice actor is to study what other actors are doing. Listen, listen, listen. If you even have one tiny glimmer in your brain that you want to do cartoon voices, then you need to truly know if you have the ability to truly develop a convincing character (or 20!) and then hold onto it for the long haul.
Think back to the Trial by TV exercise where I said to try to spew out whatever you were hearing as you changed the channels randomly. I specifically mentioned foreign languages and how you don’t need to know what they are saying, what you want to do is find the cadence, the placement, the unique lilt and pattern of the language.
This girl does this remarkably well…she’s 19 and from Finland.
One of the newer voiceover guys on the VO-BB is quite a talented impressionist. Craig Crumpton is his name. He is also the publisher of Voice Actors in the News. And while impressions is not the key to the gravy train – it can be a wonderful tool to help you find characters that you CAN use to broaden your capabilities.
He did a single pass at the poem “Casey at Bat” with a bunch of different “famous” voices – men and women. Check it out:
And watch what happens to his face and body as he changes from voice to voice. Also listen to how his voice moves around inside his mouth – from his throat to his nose to the front to the back and everywhere in between.
UseMyAccent.com provides an opportunity for people to register as “Readers” – and to be paid, to read specific lines in their native accent. Actors receive mp3 files with their own lines read in the authentic accent they need to use. Membership is free for both Actors and Readers.