Be­hind the Mic

Animation Magazine - - Tv -

The record­ing stu­dio chal­lenges writ­ers, direc­tors and actors to unite emo­tion, com­edy and au­then­tic­ity. By Mark J. Lerner.

An­i­ma­tion Mag­a­zine).

It’s painstak­ing: the lines we write have to be the same num­ber of syl­la­bles as in the fin­ished an­i­ma­tion shots — and we need to make sure th­ese lines have the right mouth shapes at the right point in the word. You can’t con­vinc­ingly dub the word “cool” over an orig­i­nal word such as “kale” — that “oo” in cool is small and round, but the “a” in kale is big and wide.

Next step: The actors need to be re-recorded with the new di­a­logue, which re­quires a voice di­rec­tor, sound en­gi­neers, pro­duc­tion co­or­di­na­tors and, of course, the voice actors.

I got a chance to speak to some of the actors be­hind the scenes about the voice-record­ing process. One such ac­tor is Erica Schroeder, from such leg­endary shows as Poke­mon, Yu- Gi- Oh!, One Piece, Winx Club and Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles. She’s cur­rently the voice of Grace and Pan- chum on Poke­mon XY; she also played Nurse Joy in sea­sons 6-8, and has voiced 50 other char­ac­ters over the show’s span. She also voices Melissa Trail on Yu- Gi- Oh!

The full in­ter­view with video will be posted on­line, so keep an eye out. Mean­while, here are some take­aways from our con­ver­sa­tion:

Keep it real: An­i­ma­tion has the ca­pa­bil­ity to bring fan­tas­ti­cal worlds to life, and it’s easy to get lost in the whim­si­cal­ity of it all — play­ing voices as too car- toony, stagey or af­fected. But Erica in­sisted on one key rule: stay true to real emo­tion. Erica said that as an ac­tor you have to find — and be­lieve in — the real emo­tion that your char­ac­ter would be feel­ing at that mo­ment. Even though the sit­u­a­tion might seem out­landish or ab­surd to those of us view­ing it from the out­side, it’s re­ally hap­pen­ing from the point of view of the per­son you’re play­ing, so the key is to try to tune into those real emo­tions, rather than just play­ing them su­per­fi­cially or for laughs.

To her, com­edy is just as “real” as straight dra­matic act­ing. “The dif­fer­ence is not that it’s not real,” says Erica. “We see mon­sters ev­ery day, peo­ple who are larger than life.” So while the temp­ta­tion may be to go wild and fan­tas­ti­cal, it’s bet­ter if your per­for­mance comes from a wild­ness that’s ground- ed in real peo­ple. An­i­mated char­ac­ters may be fan­tas­ti­cal, but we care about them be­cause they’re still fun­da­men­tally hu­man.

This rule ap­plied par­tic­u­larly to Erica’s role in the film. “What’s re­ally fun and in­ter­est­ing about play­ing this role in par­tic­u­lar is that I get to play it with my ac­tual son,” she says. “Play­ing a mother of chil­dren who are some­times in trou­ble, or con­fused, or find­ing their way, it’s some­thing I in­her­ently un­der­stand as a mother my­self.” Ba­boon An­i­ma­tion is a U.S.-based col­lec­tive of Os­car-nom­i­nated, multi-Emmy win­ning an­i­ma­tion writ­ers with cred­its on dozens of the most iconic an­i­mated shows world­wide [

The Cannes Film Fes­ti­val is the most pres­ti­gious event of its type in the world. Breath­lessly cov­ered by trades, film sites and pa­parazzi, the fes­ti­val on the Croisette is the tastemaker for the in­dus­try. It sets an agenda of screen­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion among cinephiles and pro­fes­sion­als alike for the rest of the year — some­times to great ben­e­fit, and other times not so much.

But one thing Cannes is not known for is em­brac­ing an­i­mated films. In­stead, the glitzy na­ture of the fes­ti­val puts much of its em­pha­sis on ap­pear­ances by movie stars, renowned direc­tors and even on the crafts­peo­ple work­ing in such well-re­garded dis­ci­plines as cin­e­matog­ra­phy, edit­ing and screen­writ­ing.

De­spite an­i­ma­tion’s grow­ing stature in the movie world, both as a cre­ative force and a com­mer­cial one, the fes­ti­val rarely fea­tures an­i­mated fea­tures. This year, only The Red Tur­tle rep­re­sents the medium of an­i­ma­tion, screen­ing in the Un Cer­tain Re­gard sec­tion.

The Red Tur­tle is, to be sure, a wor­thy film. Di­rected by Michael Du­dok de Wit and co-pro­duced by Wild Bunch in France and Stu­dio Ghi­bli in Ja­pan, The Red Tur­tle is a di­a­logue-free movie about a man who bat­tles a red tur­tle in his at­tempts to es­cape a de­serted is­land.

But that re­ally doesn’t ex­cuse the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val from re­flect­ing the growth of an­i­mated fea­tures in the global mar­ket. An­i­mated fea­tures earn more at the box of­fice per film than non-an­i­mated fea­tures, rep­re­sent­ing an in­creas­ingly sig­nif­i­cant de­mand for an­i­mated films. And with the di­ver­sity in the sub­ject mat­ter and au­di­ences that an­i­ma­tion is reach­ing, it’s clearly time for an­i­ma­tion to take a larger role at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

It’s en­cour­ag­ing that this year there is a new part­ner­ship with An­necy that will spot­light four projects at the film mar­ket. But fail­ing to seek out and in­clude more an­i­ma­tion in the main fes­ti­val is in­creas­ingly look­ing like a fail­ure to rec­og­nize a medium pro­duc­ing state of the art film­mak­ing.

Re­gard­less, the staff at An­i­ma­tion Mag­a­zine is ded­i­cated to cov­er­ing an­i­ma­tion wher­ever it is made, shown and ap­pre­ci­ated. We hope you en­joy our cov­er­age of the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val and Cannes Film Mar­ket on the pages that fol­low and through­out the fes­ti­val it­self at www.an­i­ma­tion­magazine.net. As they say in Cannes, au revoir! [

Voice ac­tor Erica Schroeder lends per­for­mance artistry to the tech­ni­cal de­mands of an­i­ma­tion ADR.

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