Okay, so upfront, let me just note that saying “voice actors” is the next step in the process is a tad disingenuous. It’s not like I can’t move on until this step is completed. What I mean is, after the script is done, I start looking for voice actors. Usually I’ll have a voice for a given character in mind when I’m writing their dialogue, and I try to find an actor that matches that. The urgency of finding the voice actors depends on the importance of the character in the script, or how close I am to actually animating the scene(s) in which they appear, For example, the main characters in this script are The Lube and Pherodoxy. Getting their voicework done is much more important than any of the extras or bit characters, because I really can’t get too far animating their scenes if I don’t have their voices to sync the animation to.
A lot of the time (and generally what I prefer), I’ll be able to voice the character(s) myself. I have fairly decent range, and I’m pretty confident in my acting ability, so if there’s a way I can do it myself, I will. However, although I can do a lot of different character types, if I start doing too many voices in the cartoons, hearing them side by side, it does start to become noticeable that it’s the same guy voicing multiple characters. Other voice actors are talented enough that this isn’t an issue for them. I am not good enough. I voice two of the main characters in the series (Chronomonator and Seymour Evil), and I don’t want people thinking they hear those characters in the scene if they don’t belong there. It’s distracting and unprofessional (unless you’re South Park).
The hunt for voice actors can be painful. Outsourcing anything is painful, because I like to be in control and have things exactly how they are in my head. When I send a script to a voice actor, it inevitably comes back with a very different interpretation. I usually send the actor a version of the script that is tweaked specifically for their character that includes added notes and direction. I try to provide as much instruction as possible so they can hear it the way I hear it. If I’m lucky, they’ll get it right and I can move on. If I’m unlucky, all I can do is provide further direction until I’ve conveyed what I’m looking for. Often I will be able to cobble together bits and pieces from multiple takes to construct what I’m looking for.
The actor will send me a sound file which I will cut up and edit in Adobe Soundbooth** (Exhibit A), so that each line is it’s own individual sound file. A lot of people use Audacity for their sound editing. That totally works. It’s great software, and it’s free. I just prefer Soundbooth because it makes what I need to do simpler. I find Audacity a little clunky. I may bring the sound file into FL Studio (Exhibit B) if effects need to be applied such as reverb and echo, and then I will save a separate version of the effected file. It’s important to always save backups. You never want to overwrite source files. Just in case. I try to organize the files by character and scene (Exhibit C), and there they sit until I bring them into Adobe Flash to start animating.
Again, this is an ongoing process that can go right up until I’m done animating, though if I know I’m going to be outsourcing voice work, getting the dialogue from the actors is something I’ll want to do early on.
Wanna voice act in one of my cartoons? Well I’m sorry. I really am. I am inundated with such requests AAALLL the time, and it’s just gotten to the point where I have to turn them down. There aren’t enough roles to go around. I don’t do this because I’m a dick, in fact, it’s just the opposite. I’m too nice of a guy to tell someone that they suck, and I’ll end up settling with something I’m not happy with. So when I need a voice actor, I’ll find them myself.
Want to be a voice actor for someone else? Awesome. You should.
1) Have a quality microphone. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re microphone is shitty, you’re useless as a voice actor.
2) You may just naturally suck. Some people just don’t have good voices and/or cannot act. The acting part might be able to be improved, but if you weren’t blessed with vocal range, or some kind of unique quality or resonance… you may have to give up that dream.