An article from the old and gone Website, Vox Feminae
I’m posting this article for posterity. I began my web-career working on a voice-over site for media creators called Game StudioSound. I did well back in those days and I eventually moved on to other projects. I recently learned that a site that I had an article on had been shuttered. Gamespy closed their servers down; economy and all. I invite you to peruse the ancient past. Welcome to the year 2000!
Via Vox Feminae:
Derick Snow runs the excellent Game StudioSound site hosted on PlanetHalfLife.
Hello all, I'm Derick Snow, and I have a little trick for you voice actors that I learned a few years back.
About a two or so years ago, I did a commercial that required a surprisingly "Cobra Commander"-esque sound to it. The problem was the character needed to have a slightly "British" sound to it, and I was having trouble keeping consistent for an entire minute.
So, I simply raspified into my computer mike for about an hour with headphones on. After about a two minute session of recording, I listened to each take of a list of words I came up with to bring out vowel structures: "what a to DO to DIE today at a quarter to TWO to TWO...It's a KIILAahhhh sound SYSeeTEM!" etc., and just kept at it, trying different inflection for the rasp. The trick to recording those short sessions was that I could edit the best of my voice samples into one piece, and then try to get it all in one run. It took some doing, but soon it sounded exactly the way I heard it from all those smaller runs. The actual studio recording was a breeze after that. I finally had the character down and was able to improvise with perfection once I knew my role.
I also ran into a similar situation when I did the HL Mod "Redemption" for the Counterstrike boxed set. I used my home setup for this one, since it was a small team working in Europe with no resources.
I had the task of actually trying to sound like a character people were already familiar with, "Barney". The first go around, I simply listened to a few lines from the original games and just went with it. I failed miserably. Doing a voice that people already know is a pain because they have expectations of how he sounds; if it is just slightly higher/lower pitched is just not good enough.
I listened to "Good morning, Mr. Freeman" about ten thousand times this time. I recorded it on tape and listened to his phrases as I said his lines. Sooner or later, I got it fairly down, and whenever I said a line I compared that line to my previous lines to check for consistency. If it was off, I'd simply try again until I had all of the script finished. Daunting, but worth it.
So where am I going with this? If you vary your characters like I do, make sure you compare your character with some of your previously recorded lines before you totally change your accent or tone without realizing it. It really stinks to have to redo half a script just because you "thought it was close." Now, when I do a radio/TV spot and am doing a particular character (Pirate Steve, for instace), I make sure it is consistent using that comparison trick with my micro-recorder and PC. It really pays off in the long run and gets return customers!
Have fun, gang!