By Stephanie Ciccarelli
October 23, 2007
Join Voice Over Expert Sunday Muse as she shares her expertise as a children's voice acting coach in her lecture "Kids Voice Acting : How To Become a Cartoon Character". By keeping it 'active' and projecting a larger than life image with their voices, children learn how to physicalize and vocalize the exaggerated sides of themselves to achieve their goals and create memorable characters while gaining self-esteem.
Sunday Muse, Voice Acting Coach, Kids Voice Acting Coach, Children's Voice Acting Coach, Toronto, Cartoon Voices, Cartoon Voice Acting
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Now, for our special guest.
Sunday Muse: My name is Sunday Muse. I teach how to do cartoon voices to children and teens in Toronto, Montreal and New York, most recently. Today, I'd like to talk about kids becoming the character, what it means for them to maintain the energy of the character specifically for the purpose of becoming a cartoon because it's very different than natural talking energy just like I am talking right now. It's a much more projected kind of speaking that children need to enter and I mean, I really do focus on that because that is essentially what gets them the job and teaches them how to use the microphone and how to connect to this wonderful world of cartoons.
So, how do I help them become the character? I base a lot of the beginnings of my workshops and private lessons if people have not worked with me before, I base it a lot on having a visual image of the character and what that means to each child. So, the expression of one character, I always say, "Can you imitate that, see what that feels like on your own face and what are - if you're playing a piece of sushi which I actually have pictures of little cartoon pieces of sushi. It's a series called Yam Roll and what is the mouth of this little piece of sushi doing? Can you do that?
And we go through each child doing different facial expressions and then I say, "Okay, now what would it feel like to let the voice out in that kind of expressive place?" and usually 99.9% of the time, the voice energy, the voice level does not match the projection needed to become the cartoon. So, they may do the character the first time and the character kind of talks like (indiscernible) where we can't understand what you're saying and so the whole basis of what I teach is about. Okay, so how do you keep your voice animated? Well, you have to not only project which is very important but also to connect the body to the voice and how do you do that? Well, you ask yourself and I ask the kids, "What is the character doing at this very moment?" Make it up on the spot, let's just use our imagination and see what the character is doing and they say, "My character is shoveling sand." I'm like, "Okay." So, can you physically do that with your body and think about projecting your voice and say some dialog and they do and nine times out of ten, their energy improves greatly.
Now, this take a lot of practice, I must say. It doesn't come in one shot. Some people think that doing voice work happens in a day. You can come and do one workshop and you're set for life but like I say with anything else, if you're learning ballet or hockey, you can't learn it in a day. You need time to process this work. Again, the biggest thing with kids is I always say keep it active, keep it active. What is the character doing in this moment or what is the character feeling. And then how can you put that in your body. If the character is angry, show me angry face basically but not just a simple angry face but let's exaggerate it because cartoons are the exaggerated side of our selves, in my opinion. They're the extreme of emotions. They're the extremes of us and so in order to do that you have to get really, really big and it's tiring at first for many of my students and then they get into repetition with it and practice and it starts to really unfold and become more natural.
So, I start with visual images then we do of course work with the microphone and learning how to project into a microphone so that they're not - their mouth is not attached to the microphone because that would blast everybody away but rather how do you relate to this microphone which is this thing that's stuck in front of you and how do you move your body with this microphone? Well, you can't jump around the room of course but you have to physicalize on the spot and move your arms. As long as you're not moving your head from side to side, we can hear you or the casting directors can hear what the talent is doing in the audition which is vital. Some kids I have just jump all over the place and their head is going left to right and I'm like, "No. Stop. We can't hear you." And that's a problem because you're rolling down on the ground. So it's an acting class on the spot in a way.
Then we do script breakdown and what gets lost so quickly is the connection to the story because what ends up happening is that the child reading the script just goes from his line, to his line, to his line and it sounds kind of flat and like a song with one note, that what I say a lot. This is a song with one note. We do not like songs with one note. They're very boring. We need variation and all kinds of notes and crescendos and different emotions.
So, I help them break down their script according to what action or emotion they are doing with each line and then I say, "What are you doing with your arms?" Because often times they just stand there and they say the lines and there's no energy in the voice and I'm like, "You have got to move your arms." And they are like, "Well, how do we - why would we move our arms?" Well, because you're a cartoon. Cartoons are exaggerated. When you look at your script figure out what you are doing actively in each line and then do that in your body.
That is essentially the translation of how I work with - how I teach kids to become the character. That's the simplified breakdown and it's very effective so far. I learn as I go, the kids teach me a great deal and exaggeration is a fantastic way to get kids out of their heads and in their bodies so that they're thinking larger than life. They're thinking looking ridiculous. I always say, "Don't be afraid to look ridiculous here." Cartoons don't always look normal, they look kind of kookie and wild sometimes, so you need to risk that as well and that's I think all I'm going to cover today.
Thank you for tuning in and I look forward to continuing on another topic, another day. Again, my name is Sunday Muse. Goodbye.
Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
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As a leading voice actor specializing in animation, Sunday Muse has become the "Go To" person for those in the animation industry who seek to learn a one of a kind technique she devised called "Actively on the Spot." This original technique teaches students how to animate their bodies and voice through connecting to the emotions and actions of the characters they're playing. By using this technique, Sunday's clients have gone on to book roles in major cartoons such as "FAMILY GUY"on FOX, "SUPER WHY" on PBS (by the creators of "BLUES CLUES") 'WILL & DEWITT,"(KIDS WB) "FUTURE IS WILD." (DISCOVERY KIDS NBC) Top casting directors such as Debra Toffan & Jessie Thomson who cast "MISS SPIDER," "ROLIE POLIE OLIE," "CAILLOU," "ARTHUR," seek her expertise on casting recommendations for lead roles in animated series.
"SUNDAY MUSE CARTOON VOICES FOR KIDS," is a one of a kind workshop taught in Toronto and Vancouver, where Sunday shares all the valuable tools she gained during her many years as a lead voice for cartoons. Sunday has provided her vocal talents in popular series as: Disney's Emmy award winning Rolie Polie Olie, (Playhouse Disney) Cheer Bear/CARE BEARS, JO-JO'S CIRCUS (Playhouse Disney) TIME WARP TRIO (Discovery Kids - NBC) CAILLOU, (PBS) RESCUE HEROES, UNDERGRADS, YAM ROLL, JANE & THE DRAGON, 6 TEEN, as well as dozens of radio commercials.
Sunday has been a featured guest on numerous radio shows and she delivers a voice over podcast "How Kids do Characters."
Sunday Muse honed her acting skills on the stages of National Theatre School, Second City, Yuk Yuk's, Laugh Resort, and her one woman shows.
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