Cartoons are amazing, they truly are. You mix drawings and animations with the versatile voices of voice actors and voilà, you have magic. I mean just think of the differences between the various cartoons that you may have watched. There’s The Proud Family, Rugrats, The Boondocks, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Looney Toons, Bob’s Burgers and so many more. Cartoons are mainly directed towards younger audiences but ones directed towards mature audiences have become more common. Then there are the ones in the middle that are family-friendly and an all-around treat for everyone. No matter who the cartoon is made for, they all have multiple things in common, one being the need for wonderful voices to make those characters come alive.
I Know That Voice
Voice acting is such a fascinating field. To hear people throw their voices around in the way voice actors do to truly encompass the nature of a character is amazing. YouTube is a great resource to experience the magic that occurs behind the scenes. I love watching Comic-Con panels, interviews and behind the scenes features. When watching, there are times when the voice matches the person and it makes complete sense but other times you’re completely caught off guard. I hear often how people, including myself, didn’t know about Bart Simpson being voiced by a woman, Nancy Cartwright. Actually, women voice quite a few male characters when you think about it.
There is a documentary called I Know That Voice, that gives an inside look into the world of voice acting. By the title of the documentary, I’m sure you can tell that a lot of familiar voices made an appearance such as Tara Strong (Bubbles from The PowerPuff Girls), Cree Summers (Susie Carmichael from Rugrats), Hank Azaria (Apu from The Simpsons) and John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama).
The documentary gives you a great look at what really goes into making a cartoon or animation. It also gives an interesting history lesson of where cartoons and voice acting came from. A lot of it stems from silent movies, musical theatre and puppetry. Radio was also a big element. Many voice actors had prior experience as radio hosts and they were able to translate that experience and use it for tv shows. Watching everyone tell their individual stories is such a treat and a great opportunity to learn.
Voice actors are needed in other areas outside of animations and cartoons even though they are the most common. Their voices are everywhere whether it be through a television screen, intercom system in the grocery store or over the phone. Before taking an Intro to Voice Over Workshop at The Voice Actors Studio, I mainly thought of voice-over work as only what appears in cartoons. I didn’t think about the recordings that tell you to press one in order to get in touch with the customer service line. Even Siri has a voice actress which I think we all know. The type of work an actor does depends entirely on them and what they choose to do. The workshop I attended was very interesting because it gave an inside look into what is needed to create a foundation.
There are quite a few similarities between singers and voice actors. For one, their finest instrument is their voice and those voices are often very flexible and agile. They also have a similar foundation when it comes to establishing their careers and that’s where the demo comes in. Voice actors also produce a demo that showcases their vocal range. Home studios are quite common when it comes to voice actors and it usually doesn’t have to be as lavish and grand as one might think. A closet or a quiet room is a great way to start with a microphone and good audio equipment. That was something that also made me more intrigued about the work of a voice actor. It doesn’t take as much as you would think to get started. You can work from the comfort of your own home or even take your work on the go.
A Fascinating World Indeed
Voice acting is such a versatile and flexible field. If someone decided to pursue this as a career option, there are so many places they could start. Audiobooks, television shows, video games, phone prompts, radio, and commercials all require this particular type of acting. Knowing a little more about what goes into being a voice actor provides an interesting perspective when watching The Minions or trying to get in touch with the shoe department of your favorite store. Who are some of your favorite cartoon characters and the people behind them? Let us know in the comments below!