By Elaine Clark
Ever wanted to be a voice of a toy? Over the past 30 years, I’ve voiced, cast, directed, or recorded well over a hundred toys. It started when Teddy Ruxpin shook up the scene in the mid-80s as the original animated storytelling bear. Now, just about every toy talks, whether it’s plush, learning, doll, electronic, or novelty.
So what makes a toy voice sound great? The FUN factor! The audience is kids, so the voice inside the toy or game must be entertaining. It needs to be joyful, playful, positive, and energetic. That means committing your whole body to the recording so the sound files POP.
Voicing toys requires a specific type of acting that is clean, crisp, and punches through when it is down sampled to 8k. That means that the voice has to have amazing diction and clarity to compensate for the loss in sound quality. You may have noticed that some dolls sound like they have a lisp, even though the actor didn’t record it that way. Pitch, frequency, and tonality play a factor in the casting process. Some actors’ voices down sample better than others.
Understanding how to record concatenated speech and parse in words is another performance requirement. I teach this technique in my Bringing Voices To Life class.
A script might have hundreds of lines like this:
I love the color ___________.
Touch the __________ triangle.
_________ is my favorite color.
Then, the actor records a page or two of colors that will be parsed into the sentences. Notice that the three examples listed above have spaces at the end, middle, and beginning of the sentences. Each parsed word needs to be recorded with three different inflections in order for it to fit the musical and emotional content of the sentence.
Add to that an educational element. That means that certain words per line need to be stressed, too. Plus, it’s a four-hour session and you’ve got to keep your character consistent. So, a toy voice actor needs energy, fun, clear diction, technique, acting ability and stamina to deliver the goods.
Want to learn more about Voicing Toys? Join us for Toys, Apps, & Spin-Offs on Sat. 16 Sep.