Monday, May 28, 2007

I am a FanBoy

As you may or may not be aware, I have provided the voices of Goten and Videl on DragonBall Z for many years. While the show stopped recording a few years back, we still voice video games and such. This weekend I was in Raleigh, NC for an anime convention called Animazement. Myself, Kyle Hebert, and Takeshi Kusao did a panel for all DragonBall Z fans. We were overwhelmed by the turn out! Seems we aren't the only ones who miss the show! The energy from the moment you walked in the room was unbelievable...and contagious! I will never forget it.

What made it more special was Kusaosan being in attendence. He is the original Japanese voice of Trunks, Goten's best friend on the show. There is a famous 'dance' from the show where Goten and Trunks fuse together to make Gotenks (whom I also voice along with Laura Bailey). At the end of the hour long panel (which was amazing), Kusaosan asked me to perform the fusion scream...a big deal for any fan of DBZ, and a great honor for me. See, I've been doing this for years, but to have the original voice with me was awesome!

My friend Bob Souer was kind enough to link video of the event from YouTube on his blog. It's much easier to view there than the original links. There is also video of me discussing how I became involved with the show.

You can read Bob's blog here.

I've seen a few coments on YouTube teasing the maker of the clip for being a 'fanboy'. If you were would know we were all 'fanboys' at that moment! I truly appreciate his enthusiasm!

In addition, an anime fan website did a half hour interview with Kyle Hebert and myself talking about cartoons, voice over, etc...I will let you know when it is posted! Kyle also has a video blog which I will appear on...I will let you know when it is up!

Finally, here is another short clip of our yell, only there is a blurry picture at the end of myself and Kusaosan doing the fusion pose. If anyone else has a copy of this picture...will you send it to me? An enourmous 'THANK YOU' to all the fans for your support. Someone on a message board called this one of the greatest moments in anime history...I'm inclined to agree :)

It was an amzaing weekend to say the least!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I Am Animazed

This weekend I am in Raleigh, NC for the Animazement 2007 Anime convention. I am appearing on several panels as an American anime voice guest. What is wonderful about Animazement is that Japanese and American voice actors are brought together and participate on the same panels with the help of a translator. I am honored to be here.

As my next panel begins in only 45 minutes- this post will be brief. I will update when I can with many of the incredible things happening here.

I wanted to quickly write a few things however. Today I had the honor of meeting Akira Kamiya. He is a VERY famous Japanese voice actor and has voiced too many things to list. Not just anime, but also American movies brought to Japan. He has been the voice of James Bond, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson, and many more. Kamiya has been a voice actor for 37 years. It has not been lost on me how much I can learn from him.

I spent about an hour today talking with Kamiya about the differences between American and Japanese voice actors. Turns out, we make about the same amount of money (WOW!) and work on similar projects. There is little money in anime in Japan, so many of the actors voice commercials on radio and tv to suplement their income (sound familiar?!). Many act in movies and work on camera as well. I don't know why, but I always assumed the original voices of these shows had to be millionaires!

After our talk, I went downstairs to watch Kamiya's panel about how to be a Japanese voice actor. I learned a lot! Martial arts is great training for fighting sounds and helps your breathing techniques. Warm ups are essential to a good session.

My favorite thing I took away today was how beautiful the Japanese language is. They don't just say the words or read the lines, they make it beautiful. Inflections change everything. The words are like songs, and each note is cherished and given its own recognition. I believe I will try this technique in my own voice acting. I want each word to stand alone and be great. I want my inflection to mean more than the sentence. It is possible to portray emotion with tones.

OK, please forgive my sporadic berevity...there is much in my head and so little time now to write it all out!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Branding...It's Everything You Are

I have learned more about being a voice actor in the last two weeks than I ever could have imagined. Many questions have been answered, many more have presented themselves. As you may be aware from previous posts, I recently began studying with Nancy Wolfson, an amazing woman in LA. (Our first private session is in June) She is known for her abilities in coaching voice talent and helping them reach the next level of their careers. The best part is, she is a very cool person! I have been fortunate to exchange several e-mails with her recently that shed some light on many things I never fully grasped. The main one being [Que scary music]...BRANDING!

Before you run screaming from the computer...allow me to share a few things Nancy has taught me. First, branding is much easier than you realize. It simply comes down to who you are as a person. Period. It's not any more difficult than that.

What are your likes, your dislikes? What are the colors and images you surround yourself with everyday? With Nancy's permission, here is a section from an e-mail Nancy sent me...

"I've done branding sessions where I've been sitting across the room with someone who might genetically sound just like anyone else, but they're wearing some really funky outfit or earring or pocketbook or even something on the checks they write that is just unlike anything anyone else would be wearing or having printed on their checks. I've had people say straight to my face "There's nothing unique about me" whilst holding a key chain that nobody else would have and/or sporting some bejeweled hair clip that nobody but that person would wear and I've stripped them of it and thrown it in my scanner. People REEK of their brands - they just are not trained to be objective viewers of themselves. Here's a quote you can tell the bloggers I gave them to chew on: “Oh what a power to see ourselves as others see us.”--Robert Burns (Scottish poet)" - Nancy Wolfson

Wow. Have you ever heard it put quite that way? I hadn't. It makes sense doesn't it? Look at your walls, look at the greeting cards you send your friends, look in your backyard, look at yourself. YOU ARE YOUR BRAND! Just find the image that shows it. Find the colors, the shapes, the lines...those are the things that will represent your voice and your business.

I've found mine (with Nancy's tremendous help!)...what's yours?

As a side note: I am learning so much so quickly I can't keep up with it all! In future posts, I will share a few things I've learned about finding the right coach, surrounding yourself with the right people, and how hard it can be to put together a great audition! Stay tuned!

Monday, May 14, 2007

For North Carolina Voice Actors

My friend Bob Souer has a post on his blog today talking about a fantastic get-together we are having in June!

If you are a voice actor or voice talent of any level, and live in the Carolinas...we would love to see you there!

It will begin June 23rd at the Village Tavern restaraunt at 11am in Winston-Salem, NC. Afterward, we will go bowling (where you will learn why I once won a bowling trophy for the best golf score)! It will be a chance to meet new people, and visit with old friends.

For this get-together, it is VO people only, no family or friends please. If you plan to attend, please e-mail our friend Donovan Corneetz at:

success [at]

It will be a great day- I hope to see you there!

Friday, May 11, 2007

You Are Never Too Young to Advertise!

I was leaving the house the other day and noticed my mailbox was open. When I got out of the car to close it, I saw a folded piece of paper inside. Upon inspecting the piece of paper, I realized it was a handmade flier. It seems we have an entrepreneur in our neighborhood!

I've attached a picture of this flier above (with the child's name and number blacked out). Isn't this GREAT?!

The flier for Brooke's business is hand-made, which gives it a personal feel. I know everyone on our street got the same note, but I also know this one was done just for me. A lot of time went in to her marketing campaign, she chose a fair price for her product (albeit a little low in my opinion!) and set out to get new business. You better believe I will be buying her cupcakes!

Ok, maybe I am over-analysing a child's idea and artwork- but I did find it impressive. What is funny to me is that most adults don't fully grasp the idea of marketing and branding nearly as well as little Brooke here!

In fact, after much thought and research, I have finally made the decision to take the next steps in my own career. Recently, I was fortunate to have my commercial demo reviewed by Nancy Wolfson during one of her telesiminars with Anna Vocino. I have been waiting a long time for an honest review of my work. Nancy felt that my demo wasn't properly showcasing my talents, but she did compliment me on my branding! Understanding who you are is the most important part of any business. What do you offer, and how can you portray that to your clients? Obviously, I need much more work on my presentation, which is why I have chosen to begin private classes with Nancy right away! (Our first phoner is in June)

I am already confident in my product (my vocal ability) but realize I can still learn more about technique. When the time is right, I will have a professional demo produced, a professional website and logo designed, and then I will be ready to advertise! Who knows, maybe I will start with hand-drawn fliers in each of your mailboxes! Get ready!

Side Note: For some reason, the links above are not working properly on this post. Please visit Nancy Wolfson's website at and Anna Vocino at Thanks!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

3 Tiny Steps

There are three things I was reminded of this week which are essential to being a great voice actor.

First, always take time to watch or listen to your work. In the past, I have been guilty of not watching the shows I voice. For years, I was asked very specific questions about DragonBall Z I did not know the answers to. It was less than a year ago that I sat in a room with 2 other DBZ voice actors and watched movie 13 in its entirety. What did I learn? It's a good a great show. So, I came home and scoured YouTube for any episode I could find. I even found a scene I had forgotten about in which my characters have a lengthy conversation. WOW! 'Me' talking to 'me'- I was very proud!

DB Cooper said something at the VOICE conference that stuck with me. "If you want to voice video games, you have to play video games!" Sounds simple, but it is easy to get busy and forget to go back and review your work. I own one of the video games I voiced 3 characters on, yet I rarely play it. I plan to change that.

When I watched our friend's baby last week, I finally had time to sit and watch cartoons while rocking and rocking...and rocking. I started with a DVD of the upcoming show Raggs in which I voice a puppy. I knew this show was great, but watching the show as will be seen on tv was incredible. I then watched 3 DVD's of Solty Rei in which I voice Celica. My goodness there is some incredible acting in that show! I learned so much listening to the other actors and how they delivered their lines. I also learned 2 very important things about myself...

1) I am a much better voice actor than I realized.
2) I am not nearly as good a voice actor as I thought I was.

OK- what I realized is that I'm very good, but I can still be better! I plan to continue training and learning as much as I can.

The second step in being a voice actor is being confident in your work. I was reading a thread recently over at the VO-BB that talked about how much to charge for your work. It became a back and forth conversation between seasoned professionals and those new to the business. The 'newbies' thought taking lower paying jobs was fine as long as it helped in their learning process and added clients to their resume. The professionals did not want to see anyone taking lower rates, lest that become the norm for us all. Now, I am generalizing and paraphrasing- but you get the idea.

It occurred to me that it wasn't so much about money as it was about confidence, or lack there of. I believe in my abilities and do not choose to be underpaid for them. I also know the expense that went in to my studio, the time it takes to properly voice a script, clean it up, and send it off. I know there is only one voice on earth that sounds like mine...and it is mine! So, I believe I should be fairly compensated for the use of it.

If we were all equally confident in our voices, regardless of experience, we would not be willing to settle just to add a name to a resume.

Now, I could discuss that topic for pages- so I will move on the step number 3...share.

On Wednesday nights, I teach English as a second language to adults from all over the world. I have students from Russia, Thailand, Taiwan, Panama, Mexico, Cuba, etc., etc. Our only common language is English, so it is the only language spoken in class. Sometimes I have to be very creative in explaining certain words!

Last night, one of my favorite students from Mexico asked me about the word 'catalogue'. It seems he could not pronounce it correctly and needed a 'trick' to help him say it. I thought for a few moments before it hit me. I wrote the words 'cat' and 'log' on the board and had him say each word. Then I had him say them faster and faster until the two words eventually ran together. I told him to 'roll' the middle a bit just like in Spanish. Try it...eventually you will say 'catalogue' perfectly!

I am not a speech therapist by any means, but when you are forced to teach words- you will think about them more closely. Try doing this when you receive a voice over script, take each word and watch it 'jump' off the page as you read it! Don LaFontaine says to 'love' the words. Trust me- if you share your language you will learn to love it through fresh eyes.

I believe these three easy steps will make you a better voice actor. Review, Be Confident, and Share. Simple things that will make a big difference!