Saturday, January 31, 2009

Voice acting vs. Stage acting ...

As some of you already know, I've been taking acting classes for quite some time now. The course I'm doing right now is running about half a year (once a week, two hours) and will end with us, a group of eight women, performing the play we studied on stage on march 19th. The play will last about three quarters of an hour, and every one of us is performing multiple roles - I'm doing three characters (one big role, with a nice, overdone french accent, two small roles) - and it involves a lot of costumes, wigs.... Fun! :)

I find acting in sight of of others very different to acting in front of a mic - though of course the acting classes have helped me a lot with my voice acting.

For one thing, in voiceacting, like on stage, my whole body is involved. I'm actually changing expressions, ruffle my hair, avert my face when shy.. etc. when doing a voice role - and though I take great care to not change my position in relation to the mic, which would of course impair the quality of the recording, I'm constantly moving. Sometimes I have to do retakes because I forget about the sensitivity of the mic - when angry (for the role), I tend to bang my fist on the table... and almost always, just when I've got the sentence right, a bus goes by outside my window.... some people might have interesting things to say about the outtakes I sometimes send along. :p

Nevertheless, acting on stage is very different. For my current role, my acting teacher is constantly admonishing me: bigger, bigger, bigger!
Body language is so important. I found that I tend to be too subtle sometimes - which does work for the mic, which is very intimate, but not on stage. The audience is too far away, so your gestures have to be grander, and even your voice has to convey more urgency. That's one of the biggest challenges for me - if anything, I tend to underact, and get curiously shy as soon as I have to go all out.

One of my acting teachers once told me

When you come to class, leave all your inhibitions at the door.

She is absolutely right. Forget who you are - or at least, most of who you are - and be the character - don't just change your voice, change your body language, too. If the role demands you to be a serial killer, be cold. If it demands you to be a flirtatious person, go all out. Play. Try to forget about the reactions - it's not you, it's your character! Only then can you be believable, and that's were the demands for voice acting and theatre acting meet. I'm not saying this is easy - on the contrary - and I'm certainly not saying that I always succeed....
but I give it my best, and every little thing I learn, I try to incorporate in my voice acting.

A very nice exercise is about subtext - take a sentence like "The weather is fine today".
Now convey anger with that sentence.
Now flirt with someone.
Now be desperate.
Now say it in a way that takes the whole world in your arms.

Funny, isn't it?
You don't seem to hear the words anymore when doing this - you're conveying emotion, just by inflection, and to make it really work, you need body language, too.
This is one of the reasons why I always stand in front of the mic when I have to be angry for a role, for example.

Now where was I going with this?
Aaaah yes... :)
For anyone who really wants go into voice acting, acting classes are always a good investment. It helps you to loosen up, and teaches you valuable skills and exercises. The same goes for singing lessons!
Singing demands a certain body posture, which will have a very positive effect on your acting, plus a positve influence on the way you breathe, and your self-confidence.

More on that later!
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Work on "The Afflicted" has started!

As the end of january draws near, work on my new film, the re-imagining of Kate Lee's "The Afflicted" has finally started in earnest - there's so much to do and so little time!

Of course, that's what I always say - but in this case, as there's a deadline...

Most of the vo's are in, and I think I've found just the right actors to bring this to a new life - more on that later, at this moment I won't give away names yet. :)

Mike DeBoing has consented to do some special "The Movies" mods for me - thank you, Mike! - so some of the sets I built in Moviestorm have been tailored so that the TM footage can be green-screened into them at a later point. AngriBhuddist has done a special mod for Moviestorm for me - looks great! - and I'm having fun putting this film together!

This is the first time I actually asked modders to make content especially for one of my movies; so far I always used what was available to everyone, or put things together for TM with my very limited modding skills using Rileyman's excellent "set2prop" program and MED... so I'm very excited about this!

Finally, here are two screenshots of "The Afflicted" - they will give you an idea about the look of the film, and showcase one of the sets I built for it in Moviestorm.
As you can see, I went for a monochrome look, which fits the movie nicely, I think.

It also shows two of the characters of the movie:
Terbing, the male lead, and Treen, which is voiced by me.

More updates to come soon!
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Saving Grace is featured on the Moviestorm frontpage!

And in addition to that, Matt Kelland and David Bailey interviewed me - you can find the interview on the Moviestorm News!

I'm grateful the guys gave me the opportunity to talk about filmmaking - and I hope that Saving Grace will do a little bit to get more anymation/machinima makers interested in trying Moviestorm out - it's a great program; I find using it very intuitive, and there are new features added to it constantly!

In addition to this, the Moviestorm team is the most helpful I ever came across - wether it's driver problems, or great sites for soundeffects, special effects - you ask for help, and they are there!

I appreciate this kind of support very much - makes realising my visions much easier for me.

Thank you very much! :)
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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Endings and beginnings: about writing

Norrie and I were talking yesterday - and among other things, wondered about some viewers expressing their interest in a sequel to Saving Grace - someone even asked flat out when part two would be coming!

Now on the one hand, this, of course, is flattering - it shows that the viewers like Grace enough to want to know more about her, see what will become of her... they got involved, the character grew to be real to them, which is a great compliment.

On the other hand, my reaction to this is just "No!"
To me, this story is told. Everything I wanted to touch upon with this movie is there. It is the end of what I wanted to tell about her.

I remember I got quite a lot of queries about a sequel series when I did the four parts of Stolen Death , which ended in a wide open, too.

Which brings me further to musing about why I dislike so-called "happy endings" so much. As anyone familiar with my stories can probably agree upon, I'm perfectly fine with endings that revolve around death - I've killed off my "heroines" and "heros" so often, made me wonder about my state of mind sometimes... :p .. but honestly, a protagonist dying is not necessarily bad - sometimes, it is the only way a story can end.

It's probably because I see life as not having "happy endings" - at least not in the fashion that is implied in calling them that. At best the thing that we get sold as a happy ending in any given Hollywood movie is not an ending, but the beginning of something new. Too often endings seem to be manufactored so that the audience can go away "happy" - every string of the story caught up, everything tidied up to a neat, no room for own ideas, all's well that ends well, thing.
Everyone is happy, we can go home now. Oh bugger off, that's just - not real!

I don't want to have everything delivered on a silver platter. Life doesn't work that way. I want room for speculation, I want the sense of a new beginning. I want to have my own thoughts about what this new beginning could be all about - or not, if I choose it to be so. And quite often, I do choose the latter.

As Norrie said yesterday:

Acceptance and contentment are a wonderful thing.

Concerning the characters I write about, I accept that their story is told.
I let go of them. I accompanied them on a part of their way, and now they wander off into the unknown, and I am content to wave them fondly goodbye.
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