Monthly Archives: August 2018

Aug
31

You never know…

ADVENTURES IN VOICE MATCH-MAKING: for today’s W-T-Friday post, how about a round of applause for ‘Traxer MICHAEL STECHER! From work done in a Voicetrax class years ago, Michael found himself getting THAT CLOSE to pinch-hitting for Patrick Warburton! Here’s a little briefing we got from Disney/Miyazaki Voice Caster and Guest Director NED LOTT:

“Hi Sam and Voicetrax Staff,

This month, I have been a part of a casting for a sound-a-like of the character KRONK, originally voiced by Patrick Warburton, from the Disney Animated Feature, Emperor’s New Groove.

When Voicetrax offered “SOUND-A-LIKE SAVVY” a few years ago, one of the voices Michael Stecher prepared was that of KRONK. I told him at that time that it was a very good match, and to keep working on it as the day could come where Patrick Warburton could pass on a job.

And sure enough, this month, Patrick has passed on a project using that voice. So remembering Michael’s strong match from that class, I was able to include him in the Disney casting where he made it past the first round where he was competing against strong sound-a-like actors including Patrick’s own son.

Disney has now chosen a finalist that was a different actor, but I wanted to let you know how proud I am of Michael for his preparation and professionality of the process and for getting so far.

This is the second sound-a-like from Voicetrax making it past the first round, after Vicki Baum did it a few years ago for Helena Bonham Carter’s RED from Lone Ranger.

Thank you for offering that class…

All the best,

–Ned”

Thanks, Ned! And Michael, KEEP AT IT – the beautiful thing about voice-acting is that one “close” after another eventually gets you the cigar!

WTFriday graphic


Aug
27

The Ultimate TRIPLE THREAT

DATELINE SAUSALITO: The Voicetrax TRIPLE THREAT WINNER is revealed! Three classes in three voice-over genres with three Guest Director judges apiece, and it’s all come down to this: Finalists slalomed their way through live performances, group direction exercises and self-direction exercises to determine the SUPREME TRIPLE THREAT! Were there any surprises? Watch the video below to find out…

Triple Threat FINALS

DATELINE SAUSALITO: The Voicetrax TRIPLE THREAT WINNER is revealed! Three classes in three voice-over genres with three Guest Director judges apiece, and it's all come down to this: Finalists slalomed their way through live performances, group direction exercises and self-direction exercises to determine the SUPREME TRIPLE THREAT! Were there any surprises? Watch the video below to find out…

Posted by Voicetrax SF on Monday, August 27, 2018


Aug
20

UNMASKED again with PETER COYOTE!

WHAT’S MORE EXCLUSIVE THAN A CLASS WITH PETER COYOTE? How about Peter Coyote teaching with an exclusive technique? For Invitational Unmasking Your Infinite Potential: Scene Study Edition, Peter broke out his trademark masks – this time, for work in short scenes. And the results were just astonishing, giving actors immediate access to personas they’d never considered before! The effect is so phenomenal that Peter has written an entire book on the subject… but don’t just take our word for it:

“Mask work is a powerful means for tapping into character. In the mask workshop I met Marla and Veronica, two characters unlike me and unlike each other. I felt I knew them but they were also revealing themselves to me as we worked. Dear Marla assisted me a few days later in an on-camera audition class. She helped me get right where I needed to be at the top of the scene in both physicality and personality. I hope to be able to do more mask work in the future.”

– Amy Larson

“I hate improv… when forced to do it, I get anxious and “in my head”. I had never worked with masks but when I simply put one on and looked at my image in a mirror, a body movement came to me… after I employed that movement and my body registered the effect, it was as if I had suddenly stabilized on a surfboard… I hid behind the mask, became the character I had just instantly created with the body movement and just sort of flowed. It was really nice for me because it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten anything out of improv and I can totally use this technique to help my character development in the future… actually, already purchased my own mask for that very purpose!”

~ Keith Conti

“Peter was able to demonstrate how our perceptions of self get in the way of our ancient, instinctive knowledge about the character we are bringing to life, and wearing a blank mask allowed that knowledge to come out, and improve my acting and character development. The mask also reveals how we “wear” a mask every day, our own face, and what that unconsciously communicates to those we encounter. By considering what our mask is, we change all of our body language, and therein lies the key to freeing our infinite potential. A profound lesson for acting, and everyday living.”

~ Michael Stecher

“…Peter’s approach is fresh, exciting, and very compatible with both Meisner and Practical Aesthetics, as well as all the training I’ve gotten at Voicetrax.. As Peter promised it would, the mask exercise completely liberated me from my self-concept, and made it possible for me to simply be another person–instantly! In the week since class, I’ve ordered some neutral masks from Amazon… I’ve been working on a new monologue for another Voicetrax class, and I plan to use masks (when they arrive) to experiment with performing the monologue through different characters. Thank you, Peter Coyote–the class is aptly named because I do feel infinite!”
~Shannon Kealey

“Upon donning the mask, the Self evaporates, and one becomes a tabula rasa, an “original face” – both nothing and potentially anything – forging ahead in the moment on gut instincts alone with a beginners mind’s sense of curiosity and exploration.”
~Sean Cain

“Once again, I loved Peter’s class. My experience with the masks was just as amazing as last year — perhaps more so, since this time, I trusted that a character would just appear… I also found the exercise assuming different postures very helpful this time around. I liked that we tried the postures in both an exaggerated and a more pulled-back mode. I was fascinated to feel the often subtle differences between exaggerated and pulled-back, as well as to hear the different reactions of my classmates. More than ever before, I feel that I have become much more aware, on a sort of cellular level, of how many “selves” live inside me and how accessible they are. I have been experimenting with reading audition scripts in the voices of several different characters (and in different postures) before I use my “own” voice, and I think it is really waking up my takes.

Peter’s wisdom and humor made the whole day a joy. How lovely to get to have such a good time while learning so much!”
~Nina Greeley

“You’re not who think you are”, is what’s stuck with me most since the class. I suppose you could rephrase that to ‘you’re a hell of a lot more than you’re aware’. There is something magical with mask and the mirror – a gate opened to the subconscious and a welcomed break from day to day self-critiques, limiting assessments & various identity crises. It’s a break I don’t often realize is available. I think Peter’s emphasis here is valuable to any open minded individual in any walk of life, but particularly so with actors. As adults, we’ve interacted with so many different people over the years – all impressing & accumulating some amount of human data into our minds. The mask work somehow summons characters from the stew, seemingly at random but often with fantastic specificity. I also found that afterwards, I felt much more balance, energy, optimism and curiosity. I should really start meditating!

Thanks so much Peter!”
~David Gast

Unmasking Inf Potential


Aug
13

Let’s Make A Scene, ROUND ONE…

FOR ONCE, WE GET TO MAKE A SCENE! We’d like to thank all participants in Voicetrax’s inaugural “Lets’ Make A Scene” for making class with director FRANK COPPOLA such a success! As Frank said, the main objective was to make everyone a better actor – and we think there’s no disagreement the mission was accomplished on that objective!

Far tougher to determine were the students who made the most notable progress from where they started, and this is what Frank had to ponder for a while. But the verdict is now in:

“Hi All,

Working with all of you during our four weeks together has been an extremely rewarding experience for me – and I hope for you too.

As I said on our first night together, the progress you make in the class will be your best takeaway from Let’s Make A Scene. Well, every one of you made significant progress in building performance confidence, developing on-stage presence, developing a character, committing to a character, committing to tasks/intentions and unleashing emotions in front of an audience. And yes, learning all those #*$%+^# lines.

The four actors to go to the finals are: Faye Jaime, Scott Kessler, Chuck Kourouklis, and Amy Larson.

Narrowing my decision down to four has been a very difficult decision to make.
You are all terrific and I enjoyed working with every one of you.”

Many thanks to Frank for setting such a creative and successful tone for the series, and congratulations to the finalists! But most of all, thanks to every one of you for bringing your commitment and focus to this class. You’ve made us very proud!

LMAS graphic


Aug
09

BEYON’ THE MIC…

by Samantha Paris

To riff off that Shakira hit song, “My Hips Don’t Lie”, the lips may try to lie but they won’t be able to get away with it if a microphone is involved.

Even after more than forty-something years of voice acting, and thirty years of teaching, it never ceases to amaze me how that simple piece of hardware known as a “mic” can ferret out the truth as well as any lie detector ever could. That mic picks up absolutely ev-er-y-thing in the voice, and can sniff out inauthenticty like a airport K-9 hound detects all things illicit.

The mic magnifies the fact that people can only sound authentic when they truly mean what they are saying. But you cannot truly mean what you are saying if you don’t even understand the full measure of what you are saying.

The voice actor’s quest for authenticity begins with tapping into the truth that lies within every script and connecting with your own powers of imagination, empathy and expression to deliver on it. These skills can be taught and developed like the aptitudes required for many types of professions.

As my Voicetrax students will readily tell you, the real work of a voice actor begins well before you ever draw a breath and move your lips to utter a syllable. The “heavy lifting” takes place between your ears…that means diligently analyzing a script, seeking out and absorbing the true meaning in every word of every line of copy, and reading between those lines in search of that all-important hidden “bunny” that lies in just about every script (and situation in life).

So what does Finding the Bunny mean?

This challenging yet satisfying process is revealed in my memoir, Finding the Bunny (Voice Haven Productions, 2018) in a scene borrowed from an actual Script Analysis class at Voicetrax. Here’s an excerpt, from a point in the story when I explain the genesis of the principle:

“….when I first started studying voice-over all those years ago, I knew that because I didn’t have an amazing voice, I was going to have to do something different to stand out from all the other actors. I was going to have to act better than anyone. Period. I knew my job would be to really bring the writers’ words to life; to see everything in the copy that each writer intended and, sometimes, see even more! So that’s what I did. And I made a career out of it. On countless occasions, I was told by producers that I was cast because my interpretation was better than anyone else’s. I really took pride in that. It felt good knowing that I booked jobs because I had a brain; because I could act and I didn’t just have a pretty voice.”

I continue on, later explaining:

“I was the middle child. My siblings and I are each three years apart. There is my younger sister, Lori; then me; and then my older brother, Larry. Before my parents’ divorce, my brother was about eleven-ish and I was eight-ish. My father used to subscribe to Playboy.”

I look around the room. “For the articles, right?” Everyone laughs.

“My brother was allowed to take out the centerfolds, and he had Miss January through Miss December plastered on his bedroom walls. Larry taught me that on the cover of the magazine, there was always a small Playboy bunny hidden somewhere. You know, their logo, with the big ears and all. Larry would test me to see if I could find it, and sometimes I would spend what seemed like hours staring at the cover, trying to find the bunny. I loved it when I found one! So, what’s my point? I started to learn voice-over when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t have a lot of life experience to use. So, looking at my scripts back then and knowing I didn’t have a special voice, I knew I had to try to see as much as I could in the copy. In other words, I was looking for the bunny.”

This simple yet profound idea has significantly influenced my life’s work. It’s so rewarding to share this concept with aspiring and working voice actors and non-voice actors alike, since nearly every script known to mankind has a hidden bunny just waiting to be discovered, and metaphorically, so does every situation in life.

So, where’s the “bunny” in your life?

Samantha Paris is the author of “Finding the Bunny – The secrets of America’s most influential and invisible art revealed through the struggles of one woman’s journey”, with the foreword by Peter Coyote (Voice Haven Productions, Sausalito, CA, 2018). Visit:

www.findingthebunny.com

The book is available in print and e-book. If you’ve already enjoyed “Finding the Bunny”, we invite you to leave a review on GoodReads and/or Amazon. If you have a question for the author, contact: findingthebunny@gmail.com


Aug
07

Working with TASIA VALENZA…

Getting it all OFF THE PAGE: another gorgeous weekend in Sausalito, another whirlwind session of “Off The Page” with LA screen and voice-acting veteran TASIA VALENZA! We say it all the time; the only way to take somebody else’s words and make them feel genuine and alive – to get them “off the page” – is to ACT them! And Tasia has a very special capacity to bring out your brilliance with some of the least “actable” scripts out there! Just ask a student or two…

“Off The Page with Tasia was all about connection. She helped us connect the myriad of roles we play in our everyday lives with the personas we create for our voiceover performances. She helped us connect with each script, guiding us to speak to a specific person in order to infuse our performance with authenticity. She helped us connect with her, and with one another, in a dynamic and safe space. After a class with Tasia, no one departs as strangers.”

– Heather Orosco

“Tasia was fantastic, and pulled out of us … more of us, than we realized we had to offer. She created a safe platform for us to explore our different facets that we can bring to the table, while helping us really connect to each script. She held us to a high standard of authenticity, while calling up our multi-colored uniqueness.”

– Laura Oglesby

“I thought Tasia’s workshop was awesome! She did a “roles” exercise on Saturday, where we listed on a worksheet all the various roles we play in our lives. She asked us which one of these “roles” we take into the booth. It was very helpful! I also loved the affirmation meditation she started with on Sunday; it set a great tone for the day. Tasia really drove the point home that we have to be talking to “someone” and suggested that we put up a mirror in our booths. She would often stand on the side of the booth glass talking to us as we performed, which instantly changed and improved our reads. We performed so many scripts, had a lot of booth time and received great feedback and things to work on each time. Her attention to detail and time she spent on us was so great.”

– Ning Recio

Feeling a little sorry you missed it all? Not to worry – a little birdie tells us Tasia might just be back in the Spring!

Off The Page pic


Aug
03

‘Traxers On The Job, 8/3/18

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE… the more ‘Traxers converge on a voice-over project? “Change” was the theme for an in-house training narration requiring several different voices – seven, to be precise, of whom we personally know six: DIANA CHEN, ALLISON DUFTY, DEVIN GLISCHINSKI, JIM MCKENZIE, GEOFF COLTON, and CHUCK KOUROUKLIS! And while change may be enough of an issue to require training in the corporate world, there are a couple things that never change:

1) Dedicate yourself to your craft and the rewards will come, and
2) As fun as those rewards are, it’s even MORE fun to share that success with your Voicetrax pals!

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone involved!

Chuck & Diana


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