Developing character voices

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Great Plains
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Post by Great Plains » July 17th, 2008, 9:46 pm

Cloud Mountain wrote:I do much like Kristin does in her head but on paper.

I use different colors to mark my script for each person. And also keep the set character voices in mind. What helps me to do that is to assume a particular body position or shape each time I do the particular character.

Marking the script in different highlighter colors of each character, I record a different track for each one, going through ALL of the script of a story one character at a time, to maintain uniformity. If I don't do that things get muddied up. I edit the voice on its own track. Each character being on its own separate track makes it very simple to edit. Also, being on a separate track I can apply different effects to each separate voice, changing tone or pitch or gain, compression, EQing... whatever. The important thing to remember when using this technique is to select ALL tracks when doing an insert, to be certain all exchanges remain in sync.

Have fun developing your own style!
I do a similar think with the colors. I don't do the separate tracks thing; until recently, Audacity didn't handle separate tracks very well. The bleeding edge CVS version does a marvelous job, though. What software do you use?

As for effects, the only thing I usually do is add some reverb if the setting calls for it.
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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » July 18th, 2008, 7:47 am

Great Plains wrote:
sjmarky wrote:
Great Plains wrote: This would be a cool regular feature for the podcast. A 2 or 3 minute segment where a LibriVox denizen more experienced in the art of acting gives a tip about character voices, accents, how to read dialog without sounding totally stilted, etc.

8)
I'd be willing to chip in.
Right on! Let's make a date to do a Skype chat interview sometime this weekend? Let me know 8)
I could do that. And/or I could put together a short segment and send it to whomever is doing the community podcast.
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Great Plains
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Post by Great Plains » July 18th, 2008, 4:20 pm

sjmarky wrote: I could do that. And/or I could put together a short segment and send it to whomever is doing the community podcast.
Whichever. If you have something in mind, don't let me stand in the way 8)
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ceastman
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Post by ceastman » July 19th, 2008, 1:41 pm

Another person you might ask to participate in the Voices segment is Ted Delorme (username Mask o' Glass). I don't know how active he is these days, but he generally does character voices for his readings, and is a professional actor/voice actor.

-Catharine

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Post by chocoholic » July 19th, 2008, 1:49 pm

John Lieder also does voice characterizations; I think he said there would be 16 for The Adventures of Reddy Fox. His characters sound very, very different from one another (i.e. bear vs bluejay vs skunk, lol).
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Post by PaulW » July 19th, 2008, 3:12 pm

ceastman wrote:Another person you might ask to participate in the Voices segment is Ted Delorme (username Mask o' Glass). I don't know how active he is these days, but he generally does character voices for his readings, and is a professional actor/voice actor.

-Catharine
Ted is currently working on The Lectures of Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, Vol. 2. And I don't know if anyone has mentioned Andy Minter (ExEmGe)...he did several different voices, mainly with accents, in his reading of Four Max Carrados Detective Stories, which I enjoyed very much...it's on my list of #1 LV readings, in fact. :D
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Post by SmokestackJones » July 19th, 2008, 7:16 pm

Hey there,

Lemme know when you guys publish the podcast. I wanna hear.

-SJ
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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » July 21st, 2008, 7:13 pm

So, is someone going to coordinate all this?
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Jerome
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Post by Jerome » July 21st, 2008, 9:06 pm

Cool idea for the podcast. :)

I'm fairly new to recording, but do try to come up with distinctive character voices, and appreciate pointers from experienced readers.

As for any tips of my own, I've found that incorporating elements from voices I've heard into my characters helps them sound more distinctive and less generic. For example, when I recorded Gawayne and the Green Knight ( http://librivox.org/gawayne-and-the-green-knight-by-charlton-miner-lewis-2/ ), I based the voice of the Green Knight on Christopher Lee's Saruman from the LOTR films. I'm not sure if this is something professional voice actors do, but it's worked for me so far.
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Post by Cori » July 22nd, 2008, 2:03 am

Yep, I think I'm going to pick it all up for the podcast, SJM!

What I'd like to do is get all of you who've put in ideas here so far, to record something about what you've said -- with examples! Those'll go into the podcasts, one or two a week, and then I'd also like to make a "meta-show" out of them ... so arrange them all into one informative "character voice" special. My previous special podcast, I knew what I wanted to say in advance, and it was just a question of finding people willing to go along with it. This time, it's being organised the other way round -- once I've learned as much as I can from all you chaps, it can be put into a single piece. I think. :D

Will be PMing people shortly ... get your thinking caps on and your vocal cords loosened up!
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Post by timberwolfmage » August 8th, 2008, 10:18 am

Did not know about this thread until I listened (late) to last week's podcast, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in here, and if I'm accidentally echoing someone else in this thread, forgive me:

When I did Hard Times last year, I tried to make different voices for different characters -- though I don't pretend to be as good as some people on this forum -- and I found it helpful to take the recording very slow, especially during dialogue-heavy periods or points where characters were interrupting each other (Dickens characters are talkative). Basically, I had to keep reminding myself that I did in fact have the opportunity to go through and edit the file afterwards, so I could afford to take pauses and make sure I was being consistent and using the right voice at any given point. Possibly this is really obvious to most people, but it was useful to remind myself not to attempt to rush through it.
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Post by GlassMask » August 14th, 2008, 12:35 pm

sjmarky wrote: Don't do anything that causes strain. Audiobook voices need to be sustained over many pages; hoarseness or inability to sustain voice will ruin it.
Several of the voices in "Enchanted Island of Yew" were an enormous pain in the butt and vocal chords to do. But I did 'em anyway, for the same reason I used to do lots of pratfalls in my younger days. If it gets a laugh, it's worth it. Or maybe I'm just loopy from all those pratfalls…

All part of that "suffering for your art" thing…

Ted
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ceastman
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Post by ceastman » August 14th, 2008, 9:29 pm

Heh, yes, I remember you complaining about the.. people of Twi, yes? I think it vos ze Russian accent you kind of wish you hadn't done, right?

-Catharine

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Post by GlassMask » August 15th, 2008, 6:10 am

Oh no, Russian is easy and fun. I learned it when I did a two-man radio show. The other actor played Robert Frost, and I played pretty much everyone else he met on his trip to Russia. Just yesterday, I cast a Russian guy to play… wait for it… a hispanic waiter.

In Yew, the high pitched fairy voices were tough. They were electronically altered, but I was going as high as I could before filtering them. And the gravelly, low-pitched giant's voice was the other one, for obvious reasons. So Terrence McGovern's advice was sound. Launchpad McQuack wouldn't lie. I'm just saying it's okay to do voices like that for brief periods of time with minor characters. I wouldn't recommend it for a whole book.

Ted
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