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Your Cool Ain’t Necessarily 'Cool'
... Give Clients What THEY Want

By David Radtke
Voice Actor
Recently I was hired to voice as a young "cool and hip" 25- to 30-year old guy for an in-house video.
I got the script along with the storyboard a few hours before the recording session. I then dutifully analyzed and practiced the script a few times.
I was ready, willing, and feeling like a "cool and hip" 25- to 30-year old guy (in a 41 year old body).

The session proceeded as usual, ending with a satisfied client at its conclusion.
Nice and smooth. Another day at the office.
Except that the final read was almost 180 degrees different from what I had prepared.
What happened?

You see, what I thought a "cool and hip" 25- to 30-year old guy was didn't fit with what the director had thought a "cool and hip" 25- to 30-year old guy was.

And guess what? This is pretty normal.

As voice actors, we do our best to prepare a script using the written directions as a guide.
But once we get inside the booth, what we prepared might be anywhere from slightly different to vastly different from what the director wants.

We have to be flexible enough to throw away our preconceived image of the person we are portraying in order to fit the correct image that the director is guiding us toward.
It's always a good idea to prepare and analyze a script before a session, but don't over-practice.
Too much practice and preparation can solidify a certain type of read in your head, making it hard to go in a different direction when the director asks for it.

Oh, and when the director does ask for a change in your read, never ever say, "But I was trying for more of a XYZ kinda read."
You're not there to try to convince them to use your interpretation of the character, but to give them what they want - that's what you're getting paid to do.

David Radtke is a voice actor, on-screen actor, musician, writer, blogger, graphic designer, website developer, father of two and ... WHEW! Isn't that enough? Nope. Give him time and he'll add something else (but he's pretty sure two kids is his limit). Also, he writes a highly informative VO blog, Voice Actor's Notebook.

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Comments (3)
Jud Niven
7/10/2011 at 9:21 PM
Wise words David. I had that happen to me at an ADR session for a cartoon series, where I was given my character description and had a voice nailed down, three words in the director, very nicely, took me in a completely different direction, and for a short while threw me off in the booth...and then I eventually got back on track.
Roy Wells
7/9/2011 at 10:01 AM
Right-On David! That's why the producer/director is there, making the big bucks. It's his/her way or.....
Alan Sklar
7/9/2011 at 9:04 AM
Reminds me of the Golden Rule ... THE GUY WHO HAS THE GOLD MAKES THE RULES

But seriously, preparing a few different ways to read is a good idea. I remember a story told about Peter Thomas. He would read a script six different ways and they were all brilliant. The producer was awed and had to decide which rendition to use.
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