Otakon 2014: Tony Oliver's Adventures in Voice Acting
Tony Oliver, voice of numerous anime and video game characters over the many years of his career, gave a panel presentation on some of the ways to train yourself to be a voice actor. His first piece of advice, as is heard from pretty much any voice actor that on “How do you become a voice actor?” is to act. Act everywhere you can. On stage in local theater, in fan productions, everywhere. Act act act and act some more as the first thing about voice acting is that it’s acting, not making funny voices for a few minutes. More specifically to voiceover acting, Tony said one of the most important things into to learn how to project and enunciate. He demonstrated several breathing techniques for getting more air into your lungs through diaphragm exercises. Surprisingly the usual “breathe by inflating your chest” isn’t particularly useful for pushing out a lot of air.
Once proper breathing is established, Tony said that training yourself in how to place your voice in your body is the next step in developing a voice for voice acting. He demonstrated by changing the location of his body where his voice was centered from his chest to his throat to his mouth area, completely changing the sound of his voice without changing anything about what he was doing with his vocal chords. Tony also emphasized the importance of fully using your mouth so sounds come out clearly rather than mumbled. His final process advice was to be fearless. If you’re going to fail, fail big and make sure you get something out of it. You will be rejected a lot, so knowing how to handle something less than success is important.
Once Tony finished his demonstration he had several groups come up to do quick reads from some of the projects he has worked on in the past. The most interesting group was a set brought up to do a reading from the first season of Eureka 7. Seeing cosplayers acting very much out of character for the character they’re playing always seems to be funny. They also did a very good job. Before we finished Tony encouraged everyone to give volunteer work at their local library a try. A lot of libraries have programs that have people reading books to those who can’t read using character voices.