Character GooLash – Creating Multiple Characters for Demos and Projects
With an open mind combine:
– A ton of creativity
– Files/Clips/Recordings of characters you like
– several pieces of paper or digital pages
– Character Breakdown Sheet
– A ton of research
– Home studio – or recording device
– Some friends to help egg you on
It’s extremely important no matter what genre you pursue that you create your stable of characters. Everything you voice has a character in it. Some of the characters may feel like they are just you, but you are a character and it’s rare you ever get to be just YOU. Even professional/broadcast type projects are still a character. Not everything you do will be just one stock character. It’s important that you offer a variety of characters so that you have more than one thing to offer your client.
We all have our signature character; this is either the real you, or the ‘you’ that you’re hired to be most (for most of us this is our announcer read). I notice that most people never truly voice in their real voice. Most of us tend to put on our recording voice, so that again is another of your characters. Who you are when you walk into a bank, or are in trouble etc. are all different extensions of you and create different parts of your personality. You change all the time depending on your surroundings, so you’re already multiple characters. You just don’t know it yet!
In general voice projects such as commercial and narration, I recommend you create characters with different professions. I try creating characters such as; Teacher, Salesman, Friendly Worker (Conversational), Scientist type, Sex Goddess etc. I like using professions to help me establish characters, then I can adjust each one using things like youthful vs older, friendly vs serious, mysterious vs nothing to prove, innocent vs confident, soft spoken vs aggressive etc. The best way for me to bring them to life is to base the characters on someone real or fictitious in my life that would suit these stereotypes. It’s important in this profession to use stereotypes to your advantage.
This isn’t always an easy thing to do, so its important that you learn how to document them and adjust when necessary. Research is the best way to accomplish this. If you have that favorite friendly teacher, or the irritating unique teacher and you can mimic them, great. If you can’t mimic them from memory then record them speaking and use that as your reference. Always try and get an audio or video recording. This way it’s easy to remember. Use whatever tools you need to document the character. Things they say, how they act, anything about their personality that will be helpful to bring them to life every time. Perhaps you don’t know anyone like the character you are trying to create, then utilize the www to help you find one that will work. If I was to try and come up with my scientist for example, I might remember a character from a movie and look that up or rent the movie and mimic or create my own style based on their personality traits. Or go to sites like YouTube™ and type in scientist, or doctor giving advise or whatever you can think of to find what you’re looking for. In the commercial world I would look up things like Clinically Proven commercial, prescription commercial etc. and I would find tons of scientific types of characters. In the narration world I would look up Medical Tutorials, or scientist talking to class, teacher giving lecture etc.
If you want to know what types of characters you will need to create a demo, I highly recommend reading my article “Character Stew.” Listen to several demos on the genre you are pursuing and listen for the variety in each one. You will hear tons that aren’t so good and you should know when you hear a good demo. Don’t mimic their characters, but try and label the types of characters they are covering and find your own version of that type of character.
Using real life experiences and tons of familiarity, you can create as many characters as you’d like. Real people make the best characters because they are not saturated. Mimicking real people instead of celebrities keeps your characters unique. You friend or teacher who always had that quirk, could make you a ton of money. You should also have a good idea of the most popular celebrities who are similar to you, as clients use celebrities as references all the time. Pay attention to the world around you and find a way to develop your roster.
Stay Tuned for Animation and Video Game Characters
Until next time everyone
All my best
VO Chef Deb (aka – Deb Munro)
firstname.lastname@example.org (don’t hesitate to email me with any questions)