Match Game: VO!
Voice Matching for Voice Acting
In one day last week, I auditioned for 5 different voice match roles. Here’s some useful info about voice matching and how I handle these auditions…
What is Voice Matching?
Voice Matching is when a voice actor is hired to provide the voice of a prior role that was originally performed by another actor. It requires a special set of impersonation skills, and is normally cast via an audition. With celebrities or iconic characters, the studios will usually want an exact (or close as possible) match. Historical figures may or may not have an audio reference. For others, they may only want the general range and feel of the character.
When is Voice Matching used?
There are many scenarios where voice matching may be called for. The original actor may have other commitments or be ill. The project may be for recording a scratch track (later to be voiced by the original actor). With historical voices or for actors who have passed away, the needs run from filling in some missing lines, to recreating a voice from history. Another possibility is that the original actor was in a movie version, and doesn’t want to reprise his role for a game or series. And of course sometimes the studios may have financial or other issues with given actors.
Who have you voice matched for VO projects, Joe?
Here’s a partial list of some of my past voice matching jobs: Steve Martin, Harrison Ford, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Ronald Reagan, Adolf Hitler, Elvis Presley, Colonel Sanders, Patrick Stewart, Sean Connery, Leonardo Da Vinci, James Madison, HAL 9000, FDR, Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Tambor, Bryan Cranston, Charles Babbage, Steve Jobs, Werner Herzog, Max Headroom, Chris O’Dowd, WWII veteran voices, and voices from The Alamo.
Each of these voice match impressions took time to develop. And for every one that I’ve used on a project, there are dozens more that I’ve got in reserve. It’s a constant process of learning and creating.
What does it take as a voice actor to do matching?
As with most things, it takes lots of practice. You’ll also have to get used to all of the intricacies of your own voice. For me, training in singing and improv were the most useful. Everyone’s voice and ears are different. Some will be more successful than others at this. Each accent, character or impression can take weeks, months or years to perfect. Don’t be daunted. Baby steps. Start with voices that are already similar to your own. Sometimes, I’ll even combine several voices I’m comfortable with to get a new one. Get feedback from other voice actors, coaches or mentors. With time, everyone can extend the range of their vocal capabilities. And if you don’t end up with a spot-on impression, you may still end up with a great character voice to use on future projects.
A Real World Example: Vincent Price
In my prior post, “Price of Horror” (click to read), I go into some of the details about the process of replicating the voice of Vincent Price. The upshot was that it landed me an audition and a real job further down the line. This has happened to me several times, including a job for “This American Life” on NPR – you can read about that in “Comedy To Cash” (click to read).
It pays to work on your craft, even if there’s no audition or job at stake right now. You may be creating something you’ll need for the future. Better to have more tools in your toolbox.
Have you done Voice Matching for projects? Impressions of celebrities? Accents? Funny characters?
Let me know your views on this topic in the comments below!
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com