Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

“Seeing It”

I wanted to share some videos that provide great insight into visual story telling, which is something I feel is important particularly in voice acting for animation and games.

Voice acting isn’t like a stage play with sets and lighting and an entire cast for an actor to work off of or serve as targets for shifting focus and emotional nuance. In VO, the peaks and valleys of your performance are usually sustained and informed only by your own imagination, that is, by the “movie playing in your mind.”

VO is often just an actor standing alone in a recording booth. Despite this isolation, a voice actor is called upon to fully conjure a performance that perfectly fits with the scenery, music, sound effects and other performances which are to be later stitched together in the final edit.

I once heard it said that with on-camera you shoot first and edit last and with animation you edit first and shoot last. There is an interesting insight to this. The voice actor’s performance is an important part of the upfront “editing” of a voice over project.

Voice actors must anticipate the performances they are interacting with along with the timing, the blocking and gags. It’s as if you must “see it” before it ever exists.

For me, seeing the scene on the page unfold in the mind’s eye is key to the specificity of a good voice acting performance. Without this, a voice performance will come off as unrooted, flat or lacking specificity.

Animation is visual story telling and the animators are relying on you to bring your own vision to their script. An understanding of visual story telling in film can be helpful here.

Along these lines, I’ve found a few mini-features that illustrate the paramount importance of good visual story telling:


Here’s another terrific analysis of the brilliance of Chuck Jones.


Want inspiration and ideas for what you do? “Read. Read everything” -Chuck Jones Love that!

Finally, here’s a great analysis of visual comedy in film, which I totally agree with:

Check out Tony’s outstanding collection of film and story analysis on YouTube, Every Frame a Painting.” It’s all excellent and should be required viewing, because you are  not just being directed in a session or audition, you are directing yourself.



© Dee Bradley Baker 2020

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