Voice On The Blob: Career As A Cartoon Voice-over Artist

Posted on February 2, 2011 in Alternative Careers

By Aditya Mani:

If you are reading this article, chances are that you have stumbled upon this whilst perusing through all the alternative career choices on our variegated list, or much to your possible indignation, you are cursing your fortune if this is the first list on your search — ‘Alternative Careers’ ; because unlike most career counselling pieces, this one does not exemplify the lines of action for breaking into an outlandish domain nor does it make you wretch in disgust at your current and ‘ordinary’ job. You won’t be shown the door, let alone be forced to walk through one. The only objective is to introduce you to a profession that is very easily typecasted as juvenile and immature, at times even unnecessary. For such people, this particular profession is virtually non-existent.

The profession I am talking about is one that brings joy to millions of children all across the world; the profession I am talking about is as diverse as it is complex, and the profession I am talking about is one of the major reasons why cartoons and animations are titillating and enthralling to the adult senses. The profession I am talking about is cartoon voice-over.

Starting with Disney classics such as Steamboat Willie and Silly Symphonies, the voice of an animated character was always one of the most distinguishing and striking feature of the cartoon. Today, more than 80 years down the line, the role of voice-over artists has grown exponentially and with the developments in technology and graphics, the significance of these voice actors also grew with time. The responsibilities of such an actor go far beyond the mere reading of lines from a predetermined script to match the lip movements of the on screen character. The actor has to infuse a unique personality into the character replete with all the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies that define a cartoon character. The actor not only has to speak, but also sing, laugh, cry, exclaim and loath with his/her animated avatar. Some renowned artists like Seth Macfarlane and Dee Bradley Baker provide their voices seamlessly to multiple characters in the same show, each with its own unique traits.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to engage this profession fulltime as it isn’t high-paying and doesn’t subscribe to the nine to five routine – but it is headed that way. Therefore, most actors do it for the passion rather than the monetary benefits. Also, to succeed in this field it is very important to have mastered diction, pronunciation and voice modulation apart from being creative and spontaneous.

India lags woefully behind when it comes to cartoon voices as can be seen from the low-budget animation films being released in India. Even the English cartoons when dubbed into Hindi fall flat on their faces when serious and melancholic scenes inadvertently become funny because of the voices. Passion and love for cartoons is something that has been missing in the Indian Film industry thus far. I can only hope that this particular discourse has actually inspired someone unfortunate enough to read it, to kick start a cartoon revolution so widespread and intense that medical practitioners the nation over will be addressed as, “eeeh, what’s up doc?”