I recently began a very, VERY exciting new chapter in my life - my voice acting career has taken me from England to the USA. I am having a lot of fun so far and though TV and movies have taught me well, there is still a lot about America that I have to learn and figure out. Now based in the United States, with today marking one week since I flew out here to Los Angeles and tomorrow being Independence Day, I thought I would take a humorous look at all the questions I have about this great country.
Waiting is hard, isn't it? It's like the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song goes, "The waiting is the hardest part." When there's something you really, really want, having to wait for it can be tough and the longer you have to wait for it, the tougher it can be. I have been interested in writing a blog post about waiting for a while, yet in a weird way, I have kind of waited to write this blog post. Nevertheless, I have been thinking a lot about waiting recently. For a start, I think there are different types of waiting.
There's something that I personally feel is incredibly important and try to hold onto in life, a motto I'll occasionally remind myself: never lose your ability to be grateful.
I always find it funny when I watch a trailer for an upcoming video game, recognise a voice and yet the voice actor is not allowed to reveal that they are indeed that character. It makes me wonder: why keep video game voice actors a secret?
Voice actors are not renowned for being famous. If your goal in life is to be well-known, to be a celebrity, there are a million better ways to accomplish that than by being a voice actor. It truly is a craft and a business where it is wise to do it because you love it.
If you showed 100 people a picture of Homer Simpson and asked them to identify who he is, how many people do you think would correctly identify him? I don't have an answer for this but I think 90 or more people would probably be able to "guess" correctly. That's 9 out of 10 people or greater. I feel this is quite a fair estimate for the main character of one of the most iconic television shows in history. But if you asked 100 people who voices Homer Simpson, how many of them do you think would know this? Well this time, I might have an answer…
The other day I had a sudden realisation: I have watched quite a few animated shows in the last few years where a character voiced by a celebrity has been replaced.
When I say “celebrity” I am not talking exclusively of A-listers, what I mean more accurately is a “high-profile” person, someone you can look at and say, “Oh that’s the lady from that movie” or “Oh that’s the bloke from that comedy series”. They are recognisable in some way, though somewhat ironically; it might not at all be by their voice.
I strive to focus on the present and try to avoid looking too much into the past or ponder too much about the future. Yet recently I have had to find and watch many of my old performances. I have reacted to those different performances in various ways and it made me think a lot about how other actors may feel about their performances.
Some actors are incredibly critical of themselves when watching themselves back. Others look back and think of all the ways they could have done things differently. It can be very difficult for actors to stay objective and to not quickly rush to the conclusion that they're terrible.
Though I didn't fall into every trap in the book, there were some performances I watched back that I initially felt dissatisfied with, where upon seeing the final result I thought to myself, "If I had known it was going to be like that, I would have done it differently!" But there are some old lessons I then remembered and also some new things I realised, some reassuring reasons why actors and their past performances are not terrible, which I thought would be interesting to share.
I say this absolutely sincerely and without irony: I love TV shows that reuse action sequences.
I imagine that a lot of people, if they heard that a show reuses footage, could easily jump to some conclusion that it is lazy or being cheap or that the show won't be good. However, I feel there are many benefits to doing it.
Though mastering different accents is not a necessary undertaking on the path to becoming a successful voice actor (or any other kind of actor) it is still a cool and fun skill to have. Being able to convincingly and consistently perform another accent will open doors for you and widen the range of opportunities available to you.
Naturally when trying to learn an accent, you must know what that accent truly is and to be able to listen back to yourself objectively to know whether you are doing it justice. There are abilities you'll want to master along the way, such as being able to perform the accent at different volumes and with different emotions. But there is one way I feel that you can know for sure that you can confidently say that you can perform an accent. Ready to hear it?
Cartoons are very popular. I mean they are really, really popular. Not a day goes by where some animated show or feature isn’t on the television or even at the cinema. Cartoons have evolved greatly from the days when they were just humble and quirky animated shorts. Now, a cartoon can be just about anything.
There’s hand drawn and computer animated; family and adult; shorts, shows and feature length; serious and comedic; brightly coloured and subtly shaded; realistic and just all out crazy. Even a single studio can produce a plethora of animated delights. Look at Studio Ghibli – they have both animated features that are highly grounded in realism and others that… well… that really are not.
There is such variety that you may find the idea of me trying to suggest that there is a common trait that they all share while simultaneously also being the reason why so many people love animation is utterly mad. To be honest, you’re right. But just hear me out anyway.
There is an important distinction that I personally like to make between being DEPRESSED and having DEPRESSION.
Due to its many ways of being undetectable, depression is a funny topic for people to understand and thus it makes it even harder for them to talk about. A disease that makes you think irrationally sounds irrational to a rational person. A lot of people just don't really even comprehend what it is, how severe their problems are or even recognise that they (or someone else) have even got it.
All this naturally led to me thinking up this distinction. It is my personal way of understanding it all, both for myself and for others.
Deciding whether or not to go to university, can be one of the biggest decisions you ever make. With university fees increasing (in the UK), it's more important than ever to know beforehand whether going will be worth it.
I am a person who on the surface, looked like a great university candidate – I was an academic, hard-working kid who liked Maths. However, my time at university was quite disastrous and – despite getting a good degree in a good subject – it set me back very far. Maybe I wouldn't have gone on to accomplish all that I have done or be the young man I am today without the hardship, it's hard to tell. Nevertheless, I have very mixed feelings about whether my university experience was ultimately a liability or an asset.
It is my wish that young students going to university not only feel that they are making the right choice but also that they are proved absolutely correct throughout the rest of their lives with no regrets.
I love cartoons - it's no big secret - and I have always been happy with the way that they have evolved throughout the years. On the whole, I like the things that have changed and I like the things that have stayed the same. Sometimes I would like to see a few more shows animated in a particular way; or I would like to see more shows make use of a rarely used style of storytelling. However, this is not often; very rarely do I feel this way. There is one thing however, which I have not seen change in cartoons. I know this will sound odd but bare with me, as it something which I profoundly hope will change in the near future...
With time, everything changes and cartoons are no exception. The creation of animated shows has transformed vastly over the decades – with artistic, acting and storytelling styles evolving enormously. Though it is debatable as to whether on the whole cartoons are now better, there are things that I don't really see in cartoons anymore that I feel (and I think most people also feel) make them a whole lot better. So here are 5 cartoon improvements:
After an update to Super Mario Maker in November 2015, there is now a Hard version of the mini-game Gnat Attack. This mode is incredibly difficult but those who manage to beat it will earn Mystery Mushroom Costume 101: Fighter Fly. In fact, it is so tough that not many people seem to have beaten it. As such, I couldn't really find any guides online or many videos of people doing it. After beating the game myself, I wanted to share what I felt helped me and hopefully it will help some of you out there too.
I really love Super Mario Maker for the Wii U and have had tremendous fun creating courses. However, I have even more fun when I am playing everyone else’s levels. As such, I have played over 1000 courses and beaten Expert and Super Expert Mode over 50 combined times, including a number of levels with incredibly low completion rates (less than 1%). There are lots of fun levels out there but on these modes, you will see the most difficult courses – either using clever ideas or just plain old poor design. Here are the top 10 things that have worked for me to hopefully help you beat this mode:
I have just finished my first (and hopefully last) Premium subscription to Voice123. At the cost of $395, what this generally entailed me to is for the past year I would get auditions from their "Smart Cast" system and would be more likely to get more private auditions than non-paying members. Literally weeks into my subscription however, I had my doubts about whether the site was right for me and soon after that I knew in my heart that after my year was up I would not want to go through it all again. Wondering why? Read on...
It's amazing how life changes in so many ways and what in your life makes you evaluate that change. What has made me take a look back... has been the Pokémon animé. That's as geektacular as this post gets I promise, as over the last 9 months I have had quite a large and wonderful wave of nostalgia thanks to this cartoon.
Cartoons have had a hugely positive impact on my life in a variety of wonderful ways. So I personally find it strange when every once in a while I see something about a parent who won't let their children watch television or hear someone saying cartoons are bad for kids.
Here are 5 reasons I feel cartoons are a force for good:
The Simpsons is without doubt one of the most popular and well-loved television shows in the world and has been going strong for over 25 years. However, many argue that the show isn't as good as it used to be. I myself do prefer some of the "older" episodes but have found there to be a huge number of terrific episodes after the show supposedly "lost its touch". The show still brings me a lot of joy, great laughs and I love it. I actually think there are ways in which the show has improved with newer episodes. So here are 5 ways I personally feel newer episodes are better than older ones: