Last time we discussed developing your character voice we focused on analyzing voice over scripts and helping to possibly flesh out a background story for your character. These things form the base work for your character, but they’re not the end story. A character should be like any real person you know – full of life and personality. There are two more voice over tips for highlighting the character’s essence for yourself so that your audience can really visualize and connect with it – and that’s it right there: visualize and connect. If you can visualize, really really picture this character in your head, so can they. If you can connect with this character, really understand what they’re “like”, so can your audience.
First let’s visualize. How could you possibly connect with a character that has no face? No eyes to look into to find the soul? No clothes or perhaps purple skin or metal arms? If your character holds no image for you then how can it contain depth? So get out your pen and paper. Or crayons. Yes! After you have read the script, re-read the character’s lines and gotten a sense of style and personality based on the writer’s set-up of this character, sketch the character on paper. It doesn’t matter if you’re not Matisse. All that matters is that you’ve given this image some thought based on what you read first. If you portray a character you can’t visualize, it won’t really be portrayed at all. If you portray a character you visualized and sketched, even poorly, you have LIFE now. Something. Anything. Something REAL.
Next comes the connection. You can see this character now! Maybe you gave him wide, large eyes to convey innocence. Maybe you gave your character crazy hair that sticks straight up to convey a sense of adventure and a careless, carefree attitude. Let’s hope you got these images based on what you inferred from the text you analyzed first. So keep going with that. If you got a sense of what the character looks like from understanding the copy, you should also be able to apply descriptive words to this character. We want to use “actionable adjectives” when listing the character personality: words that can be directly applied to your performance: shy, manic, cheery, sarcastic, ethereal, etc… This is really important, and I will elaborate on this next time (actionable words versus…..all other ideas about how to “do” the script.) For now, you’ve got your homework. Visualize, connect, and bring something off a piece of paper to life. You can also try and get in the heads of artists that already have it mastered, like none other than the voice of Disney characters “Goofy” and “Pluto.” All that’s left is committing to YOUR animation voice.