Featured Voices 3

Continuing my “Featured Voices” series highlighting online interviews with voice-over talents:

Vanness Wu
Interviewed in The Star Online: Animation Buff — Excerpt:

Q: What are the challenges you faced in voice acting in English?

A: The biggest challenge, for this one, was … because the artwork was not finished and there were no actors or actresses that were picked at that time, so pretty much the only other lines (of dialogue) – the only other person I was hearing – was the vocal producer in the other room.

She really helped me get into the character, helped get more details of what’s going on in the room. (Laughs) God bless her for being professional.

Q: How different is voice acting from acting?

A: It’s a little bit different, you don’t have to really worry about camera angles – because there is no camera (laughs). Sometimes, it’s simple lines, like “I’d like to get a cup of water”, that you have to do a couple more takes of just to get the proper effect, because it is animation. Some of the simpler lines I thought would be throwaway lines, but instead they had to be more specific in the way you said it.

A: How different is it to do voice acting in English compared with Mandarin?

B: English is my mother tongue, so it came quite easily. The Mandarin part was a little more difficult, the accent’s a bit different, and that was the most challenging part for me.

Brian Funshine (aka Brian Alexander)
Interviewed in The Taipei Times: Pizza TV advertisement brings Funshine to Taiwan — Excerpt:

[Brian] hails from Florida and has been in Taiwan for about nine years. A former English teacher who married a Taiwanese woman, he said he got the [Domino’s] pizza job from a referral by a studio where he had done earlier voice-over projects, including ads for Volvo, Harley Davidson and Via Technologies.

When asked how a foreigner prepares for a voice-over gig assignment like this, Funshine, who speaks Chinese, said: “Well, of course, my Taiwanese wife helped me make sure that my pronunciation was correct, and also, I practiced and rehearsed a lot, and I was also able to use a few voice-over acting techniques that I’ve learned from earlier work.”

Although he can speak Mandarin well and knows his tones, Funshine said that some of his Taiwanese clients want him to speak Chinese with a bad accent on purpose.

“It’s funny, but some clients actually want me to use ‘bad pronunciation,’ I guess because it adds humor to the commercial for Taiwanese viewers,” he said. “For example, in the pizza commercial, in the phrase ‘Da Mei Le’ … the first character, ‘Da’, should be said with a rising second tone, but I was told to do it using the first tone. The company wanted me to intentionally sound more foreign.”

Tanaka Chie
Interviewed in The Star Online: Thrilled by the challenge.

Brian Bowles
Interviewed in the Tottenham Journal: Sound-alike Brian Bowels ‘Em Over — Excerpt:

The self-styled “vocal chameleon” has made more than 2,000 recordings during his 20 years in the business – taking off Michael Parkinson, Ozzy Osbourne, Prince Charles, Tony Blair, David Beckham, Clint Eastwood, Chris Tarrant and even Homer Simpson – but oddly the Crouch Ender had not planned for a life as a vocal copycat.

“I was never one of those kids constantly doing impressions of teachers, which is how people usually start,” said Mr Bowles, of Redston Road.

“Actually I used to sing in harmony vocal bands, doing covers of swing classics, and what I had to do was learn complex harmony vocals, which really trains your ear.

“When I decided to switch to performing radio comedy, I recorded lots of silly voices on a tape and sent it out to BBC producers.

“A producer suggested me for a satirical Radio 4 show called Week Ending. I realised that it would involve me doing lots of impressions, including of the Prime Minister and so on, but the producer just looked at me and said, ‘You’ll be alright’.”

After Week Ending, Mr Bowles went on to do impressions for legendary shows Spitting Image and Dead Ringers, along with a whole host of voice-over, radio and dubbing work.

Jon Cavaluzzo
Interviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle: His voice informs countless museum-goers — Excerpt:

[Recording tours] is very hard. It’s not like a 15-second “Wow, that toothpaste is really refreshing!” commercial. I’m talking about reading 50 pages of copy about the Sassanid Empire of Persia. I’m cold reading (without seeing the script beforehand) it and it has to be perfect. Sometimes you have long, long passages and they’re full of embedded or parenthetical phrases; you have to maintain the sense of it and get to the end without any hesitation or stammering.

I’m lightning fast. I do a lot of it in one take. They hand me the text, they push “record,” and I speak. That’s why they use me, I think. Because I’m fast. For the Academy of Sciences, I think it was all recorded in one session, probably three hours.

The work is sporadic and unpredictable. And it doesn’t pay very well because it’s a flat buyout. You get paid the session fee and that’s it. No residual payments or royalties. It’s $350 for the first hour and then $150 for every half-hour after that, which is a standard union rate.

I make less than $20,000 annually from the voice work. If I were doing commercial work it would be many times that. In 1985, when I was just out of school, I did a one-day shoot for Honeycomb cereal and made about $6,000. But there’s not much commercial work done here. If I could get it, I’d stop bartending.

Bill Reiter
Interview in the New Westminster News Leader with a UK voice talent: COFFEE WITH: Meet the voice — Excerpt:

[Bill] has arguably the single most well-known voice in [British Columbia], heard in more than 4,500 radio and 300 TV commercials over a 40-year career.

To look at Bill—who shared a coffee at the Sapperton Starbucks recently—with his heavy-set frame, broad face and full, grey beard, one might assume his voice would be deep.

(He’s been called the “Very White Barry White.”)

But it’s not. It’s actually high, with a windy resonance, yet with the strange ability to seem full at the same time. For sure, it’s one of a kind.

[Bill says he’s done a lot of his work for fun], but it’s not so bad to be acknowledged, something Bill will get this month when he is inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.


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