Friday, August 26, 2016

Interview with Branden Loera, voice actor at Funimation

Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing actor Branden Loera. We've crossed virtual paths before, having been in Zelda Universe's Wind Waker dub, and from everything else I've seen him do (which, admittedly, I have not seen much, but maybe that will change), he's definitely got the acting chops to back him up.

What made me want to interview him, though, is his involvement with Funimation, the company responsible for dubbing and distributing English versions of such anime as Dragon Ball Z, Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, and pretty much every other anime you've ever liked. Of course, nondisclosure agreements go with voice acting like love does marriage and a horse does a carriage (if Frank Sinatra is to be believed), so we couldn't talk much about some of the work he's done with them. He's been working with them for a few months at least now, and given my burning curiosity to know more about his perspective, I think a lot of you may appreciate it, too. The interview itself - nine real questions, one for giggles at the end - is fairly lengthy, but more than worth it in my book.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Audacity for dummies (by a dummy), part 1: The very, very basics

Do you suck at editing audio? Me too, man! It's like we're soulmates or something!

Successful voice acting is a package deal that involves more than just the alluring "voice acting" part, so unfortunately, the little leeches known as "marketing" and "editing" (among other things) stick to the bottom of that fish's belly until they're symbiotic and therefore crucial to survival. To send in auditions (and sometimes work) from home, we at least need to know how to record our voices, clean them up a bit, and then send them on their merry ways to whoever needs them.

Friday, August 12, 2016

What's next for AVA?

AVA's dedicated purpose is to provide a place for voice actors, myself included, to learn and grow in new and exciting ways. However, I want it to be more than me just me talking at you and hoping you'll listen. I want to make it more interactive for my readers and more cooperative with my peers in the industry.

And I'm here today to discuss how that might happen. I have some plans for new and interesting things for AVA, not just articles, but new formats of learning and exploring. I want to share a couple of these ideas real quick:

Let's Learn Accents series: By pulling a variety of accents out of our rear ends, voice actors can nimbly adapt to a large number of interesting roles that our natural accents wouldn't necessarily allow for. I have a decent repertoire of accents at the ready, but this is an opportunity for BOTH of us to learn something new, as I will also be tackling accents I'm not intimately familiar with, and then you can either sing my praises as the Vox Adonis (trademark pending, and no, you can't steal the name for your RPG!) or point and laugh as I fail miserably.

The way this will work is, I'll pick an accent - you are free to recommend one to me - and study it for roughly a month, with the intention being to publish one Let's Learn Accents per month. When the time comes to publish the article, I will list first a disclaimer about the nature of faking an accent (because people will probably get mad at me if I don't), then list the number of points that make that accent unique from others. By memorizing and practicing those points, we can craft an accent that sounds genuine and believable. Finally, I will post a sound clip or a video of me doing that accent using what I learned, and it's up to you to tell me how much I sucked.

Interviews: I am a curious individual, and I think it's important for voice actors to have a working knowledge and appreciation for the other aspects of the entertainment industry and related media. I would like to seek out and interview people of different walks of life - voice actors, audio engineers, game developers, animators, and perhaps even some more...tangentially-related professions and hobbies. I already have some figures I've zeroed in on, and I think we could all benefit from what we find.

Right now, interviews are going to be text only, as finding a way to efficiently record both me and the interviewee is proving to be a bit tricky. However, I would like to expand in the future and see if we can get text and audio at some point. Bear with me.

A quick list of planned articles:
- A short series on recording, editing, and exporting with Audacity for dummies (by a dummy)
- The usefulness of voice over lessons and what you get from them
- How to improve your voice acting before you start auditioning (not using them as your sole training)
- The art of narration: what I learned and how it differs from other types of voice over
- A series on how I got started voice acting
- And, you know, even more...

Have an idea for an article? If you've got an interesting perspective or piece of advice, I invite you to submit it so everyone can read it here. I'd love for AVA to become a place where everyone can freely share what they've learned and observed. That's really all I'm doing - I'm not a legend who's done this since time immemorial, I'm a trained but still young voice actor who wants to grow and help others grow with him. And to that end, I welcome the perspectives of others.

If you've got an article of your own you'd like to see posted here, you can email me at jamesburtonvo@gmail.com discussing what it's about, and I'll see what I can do to represent it here. Even if it's something you've just written previously (perhaps on your own blog or website), I can link back to it to share that perspective.

I always welcome constructive criticism. If you think something could stand to be improved about the blog layout, or one of my performances that I link to here, feel free to share it. (With tact, of course - telling me to die in a fire isn't going to look good on anyone.) To repeat, I'm not a pro who's been in the industry for decades, and I don't pretend to be one. I share what I've learned because I don't always hear those points being made, or perhaps not in the way I make them, but I still have a lot to learn, and if you can help me grow, I welcome your input.

Beyond your feedback and input, tell me also what you'd like to see in this site. I've shared a couple of ideas with you, and I do plan on writing further articles to expound on what I've observed so far, but let me know what sorts of things you think voice actors could use to grow, and perhaps we can work to make that happen here. Leave a comment, email me, send a carrier pigeon, whatever is necessary, and I'll see if I can accommodate.

I know there's no funny article this week, but I was hoping this could be audience participation time. What do you think of the idea of the Let's Learn Accents series, and what sort of accent would you like us to try first? Know anyone, or a certain profession, that you think could stand to be interviewed to learn their perspective? Any other cool ideas we can all use to grow together? Let me know so we can make this a better, more inclusive blog for everyone.

Friday, August 5, 2016

How to audition for online projects (part 2)

A few weeks ago I wrote about 7 tips to avoid accidentally sabotaging your own audition. Auditions for Zelda Universe's Twilight Princess dub opened about a week ago, and my goodness has fan support erupted into a geyser of joy. I voiced the narrator and Rito Chieftain for ZU's Wind Waker dub, and the entire month-long casting process for that didn't see as many auditions as this received in its first few days.

And it did become clear to me that there must be a Part 2 to the subject of auditioning online, because in the over 1,000 auditions submitted in not even a week, there are a lot of common mistakes being made that I didn't address. I recommend you read my prior article on the subject first because it hits the bigger points (and come on, don't you want to be all chronologically proper?), but please stick around for 7 more tips (plus a couple of refreshers) for auditioning online.