Last time I introduced the Human Sound Effects recording,
in other words, the various noises and changes in sound based on human
behaviours. Using a scene from the movie
You’ve Got Mail, I recorded a straight take based on the script. Now we will add the suggested human sound
effects listed in The Voice Over for Animation book (by Jean Ann Wright and MJ
Lallo). I will then provide comments on
my recording experiences.
Take 1: Play it straight, off the script.
Take 2: Character1 is choking, Joe is laughing, Kathleen is whimpering,
Character2 is smoking a cigar.
With the laughing, I was getting a big contrast in
volume. To equalise it I found laughing
to one side helped and it still sounded natural. Laughing with an “ooo” sound carried
incredibly well, so I had to really turn my head for that. The cigar smoking was the opposite
problem. I had to exaggerate the sound
(sucking on a pen) to make it audible.
Take 3: Character1 is sneezing, Joe is in ecstacy, Kathleen is
coughing, Character2 is grunting (as if lifting something heavy).
Sneezes can be both bassy and explosive! In terms of equalising this was
difficult. Interestingly, I found
sneezing above the mic and facing up kept the volume down most. The worst part about the cough was technique
and damaging the throat a little.
Character1 is slurping, Joe is eating an apple, Kathleen
is yawning, Character2 is out of breath.
It was very easy to overdo the slurping. So unlike the cigar effect, this one needed
to be toned down. I decided on live
props for both the drink and apple in this instance. The heavy breathing was extra-bassy so needed
a less direct positioning.
is lisping, Joe is stuttering, Kathleen is just waking up, Character2 is
The hardest thing about stuttering is timing, because it
simply wouldn’t sync with the pre-existing video clip. Stuttering was also hard to do effectively
for a character and it was hard to not tense the body and sometimes the
completed words would be harsher and louder after the effort of producing them.
Sound Effects is such a big area, so I’m going to try and
cover what I can. The Voice Over for
Animation book (by Jean Ann Wright and MJ Lallo) that I am using suggests the
following exercise – to watch a DVD scene with the sound down and improvising
using your own voices but with a different twist each time. The twists will be the added sound effects.
The point of the exercise it to work with the microphone
and experiment, changing the position of the mic and modulating the voice
whilst keeping it a consistent level. I’ll
put the results and my thoughts about the experience of performing each take iin the next blog entry (part 2).
The scene I am going to use for this exercise is from the
movie, You’ve Got Mail (0-46 seconds) as it uses a few different characters and
I don’t know the movie all that well, so I won’t feel quite so inhibited.
JOE: Absolut on the rocks with a fresh glass,
KATHLEEN: A white wine, please.
CHARACTER 1: Thank
KATHLEEN: (very friendly) Oh,
KATHLEEN: Remember me, from the bookstore?
JOE: Of course I remember you.
KATHLEEN: How’s your aunt?
She’s good. (gets his drink) I have to deliver this. I have a very thirsty date. She’s part
It’s Joe, isn’t it?
JOE: And you’re Kathleen.
Joe vanishes into the party.
KATHLEEN: Kathleen Kelly.
2: Two white wines, please.
Thanks to the 40 Voices Challenge, I have made my first update to my
voice-over demo. I’m encouraged that there
is improvement in sound quality and I believe that my voice is demonstrating
some versatility. Oh, so much room for
improvement however, so onward to the next challenge!
OK, I’m officially out of any comfort zone I may have
had. My next three challenges, according
to the 40 Voices Table,
#5 Woman, #6 Sound Effect and #7 Animal.
I have certainly never had any natural curiosity or talent for producing
these sounds, so let’s see how things go…
The fifth voice challenge shall be Lady Bracknell from Oscar
Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which opened in London in
it an early experiment in Victorian melodrama, which is part satire, part
comedy of manners and part intellectual farce, whilst underneath taking aim at
self-righteous moralism and hypocrisy in Victorian Society.
look at the character Lady Bracknell.
refers to her as Algernon’s snobbish, mercenary, and
domineering aunt and Gwendolen’s mother.
Lady Bracknell married well, and her primary goal in life is to see her
daughter do the same. The humour in her
speeches is unintentional, and she embodies the hypocracy and stupidity in the British
aristocracy. She is also a cunning,
So, how does this affect the voice? She needs to sound upper-class, certainly and
with a serious, authoritative tone. The
other important aspect is that she appears in a Victorian melodrama, so a
‘hammy’ or over-the-top performance is required.
Here are some examples of Lady Bracknells who have graced
Movie with Judie Dench as Lady Bracknell – Understated, commanding
1952 Movie with Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell –
1986 TV Movie with Joan Plowright as Lady Bracknell –
It’s also encouraging that men have played Lady
Bracknell, such as David Suchet, which in an interview he described as a very
strange and unfamiliar feeling. Another example of an authoritarian lady figure is Lady
Catherine De Bourg from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
After soaking these up, I felt I still needed a pep talk
before trying this out. So I tried out
the tips of Professor David Ley on how to do a produce British accent.
OK, finally, here are the lines I’ve selected for the
1) Lady Bracknell: It
is very strange. This Mr. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health.
poor Bunbury is a dreadful invalid.
Lady Bracknell: Well,
I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his
mind whether he was going to live or to die.
2) Lady Bracknell: A
very good age to be married at. I have always been of opinion that a man who
desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you
Jack: [After some
hesitation] I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.
Lady Bracknell: I
am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural
ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is
gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in
England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would
prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of
violence in Grosvenor Square. What is your income?
3) Lady Bracknell: Where
did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class ticket for this seaside
resort find you?
Jack: [Gravely] In
Lady Bracknell: A
seriously] Yes, Lady Bracknell. I was in a hand-bag- a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it- an ordinary
hand-bag, in fact.
Lady Bracknell: In
what locality did this Mr. James, or Thomas, Cardew come across this ordinary
Jack: In the
cloak-room at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for his own.
Lady Bracknell: The
cloak-room at Victoria Station?