For a beginning voice actor, one of the most challenging elements of performance is mastering delivery. It takes time and practice to make sure that your performances sound natural, and not like a monotone recital from someone reading off a script. The concept of movement, both physically behind the mic, and in the creation of movement in scenes, can help to create authentic performances, engage your listener, and draw them into the story.
It all starts with Acting
In stage acting, a play is like a musical score, with each character playing a theme that interacts and weaves with the other characters. An actor's task is to bring their own sound on stage and find the notes in other actors that harmonize with it.
This concept can be applied to voice acting as well. The human brain has a natural tendency to associate movement with sound, so if you can create the illusion of movement in your performance, it will be much more effective. Think of yourself as a soloist in a large, ambitious project; all you need to do is find your place in a larger scheme of things. This involves creating your character and their movement as they interact with your audience. Just like stage acting, for voice acting to be engaging, we must interact with our listeners in a way that brings them into the story.
Bringing Your Listener into the Story
When we are onstage, our goal should be to create a scene with our audience. We cannot simply stand still and recite a monologue to ourselves; rather, each movement becomes an opportunity for the audience to get into the story we are telling them.
When you record in your studio, even though no one is physically present in front of you, there will always be someone listening: your listener! Even though they aren't there in person, they're listening at home via their headphones or speakers. All too often, voice actors get locked into a stiff position once they get behind the mic and start their audition, with the only energy coming out of their mouths. This stance and energy can leave your performance – body, voice, and emotions – TOO locked. Movement is key if you want to sound authentic.
"We cannot simply stand still and recite a monologue to ourselves; rather, each movement becomes an opportunity for you to engage the audience to become part of the story." - Anne G
To tell a story effectively, you must move throughout the space and engage with your audience. Actors have to be able to move their bodies physically in order to convey the emotions they are feeling, and represent their character. And, as voice actors, we are always a character - no matter what genre we are voicing! By moving your body physically, and aligning with your character's emotion at any given point in the story, you can relieve pressure on just the mouth "speaking", and allow yourself to focus more clearly on storytelling, character work, and how the movement will affect overall performance. Using movement techniques behind the mic will help you get in touch with your physical abilities and express yourself through them.
In addition, the concept of movement through a scene can help tell more believable and authentic stories. It’s important to understand that characters have unique qualities of movement. Ask yourself what the character needs to be feeling and then let go physically to help you express that emotion. It's important not only to consider what kind of mood your character might be feeling at any given moment within each line but also how they would react emotionally if something were said off-script outside of those lines (subtext!).
Movement during a scene, if needed and makes sense in the text, helps performance and choices. The human body has a natural rhythm, and when you learn how to tap into that rhythm by moving with intention and feeling, your ability as an actor will soar. You don't need fancy choreography for every character, but there should be some sort of physicality involved at times because it will help bring those moments alive for both yourself and for those who listen. Movement can be as simple as a shift in your chair, gesturing with your hands, changing your facial expression, eyebrow movement, and even the way you breathe.
When creating scenes with the copy that has been provided to us, you create a storytelling "movement" that helps define the character and their emotions and reactions to the story that is being told. Learning how to move fluidly through these internal states is essential if we want to portray real people who aren't perfect all at once. When you couple the physical with the inner life of your acting, magic can happen!
Voice Acting is an amazing medium of expression; a complex and nuanced art form. As with any type of acting, there are many different ways to approach it successfully. A stagnant voice can be exhausting for the listener and will make your performance less interesting. Movement can help bring your listeners into your story and engage them in unique and wonderful ways.!
I'd love to hear how you implement movement in your performances! Tell us in the ; it’scomments below!
Thanks for reading!
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Anne Ganguzza is a professional voice actor and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voiceover and business skills - including voice over Coaching and Genre-based Demo Production. She specializes in conversational Commercial & Narration styles, including Corporate, eLearning, Technology, and On-Hold Messaging. Located in Orange County, California, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students via ipDTL and Zoom.