Heard but Not Seen: The People Behind the Voices
Oct 10, 2019
Whether you made your first foray into the world of film and TV counting cookies with Cookie Monster, or discovering your love for M&Ms with Jon Lovitz and JK Simmons — one defining factor remains the same; you’re much more likely to remember the voices of your favourite animated characters than you are the face of the person who played them. And while film and animation are quite rightly credited for many of our most-loved advertising moments, an often over-looked, yet hugely important part of the craft lies in the art of voice acting.
You might consider voice acting a once-in-a-life time job — turning up to the studio, putting on a silly voice for a few hours, then heading home — but to truly bring a character to life takes time… skill… and a lot of hard work. Giving voice to a character means getting to know them on a personal level; experiencing the emotions they’re feeling alongside them, and expressing those emotions using only your vocal chords. It means giving sound to every stutter and splutter… every thought process… each sigh of relief… grunt of dismay, or giggle. It means bringing emphasis to the epic, as the narrator of The X Factor does — and it means making viewers feel calm and comfortable, like Morgan Freeman did for Visa. And then think of game actors… nobody runs, jumps, punches, kicks or steals a car in silence — and each of those notions has to be voiced. Expression goes far beyond words and body language and shows itself in the form of vocal cues we can all relate to.
So what does it take to fall in love with a voice — and who can we look to for inspiration? It’s hard to have a conversation about voice acting without paying homage to June Foray. With a CV spanning everything from theatrical shorts and feature films, to video games and talking toys — June’s incredible 85-year career (from 1929 to 2014) saw her give life to names like Rocky the Flying Squirrel… Natasha Fatale of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show… Granny from The Looney Tunes Show and countless chipmunks, witches, mothers, bunnies and ducks in between. To hear her act is a masterclass, packing power and personality into every line — and she paved the way for the likes of Billy West, Jon DiMaggio and Tara Strong to follow in her footsteps —or as they’re more commonly known; Dr Zoidberg, Jake the Dog and Bubbles the Powerpuff Girl. And let’s not forget Hank Azaria who plays a shopping list of Simpsons characters from Moe to Professor Frink… Nancy Cartwright who gave us Bart, and Tom Kenny — A.K.A Spongebob.
And while animation takes up only a small space in the world of advertising, every brand should employ the same level of care and attention to detail when it comes to crafting their own voice as our neighbours in the film industry do. Your company has character and personality — and that should be not just seen, but heard, every time you communicate with your audience. Do you want to be captivating and inspirational, like an advert for Planet Earth… formal and corporate, like Siri… or cheeky and cheerful — like the voice of Planters? Choose wisely, and much like the music of a certain era or the theme tune of your favourite TV show, your name will be remembered for years to come.
That’s all folks!