by Victoria Irwin
I personally love working on Anime. It’s where I began my career. It’s a great challenge technically – matching lip flaps, giving a fresh spin and American flavor to beloved shows, all while honoring the original Japanese. I love the people involved too. Hard working, kind folk. And the looping is an important skill to maintain. That said, it pays the least of any voice acting gig in entertainment. Impossible to even make a living at it! Western animation is fun because we get to work as a cast – often all in the same room. Like a radio play. Performance is always improved when you have people to play with. It also pays MUCH better and union jobs pay residuals.
2. Do you ever play pranks on your wife, by calling her up from random phone numbers, testing out new voices on her? If so, has it ever backfired and was she ever really angry with you for pranking her?
No, mostly it just annoys her. She’s heard pretty much everything I can do at this point. Once in a while, she doesn’t recognize a new character, but she’s pretty sharp. Tough to fool her.
3. You have been a voice actor for over 30 years, how do you keep the creative juices flowing and keep coming up with new character voices?
I love what I do, period. I practice gratitude every day, whether I’m feeling it or not. As long as creative writers come up with new characters, I’ll find new voices. Kinda happens naturally.
4. Several voice actors have said that voice acting is theatre in a booth. How much larger than life can you be behind a mic versus being on camera?
I’ve only been on camera a couple of times and hated it. The freedom in the voice booth is like playing in a sandbox. We actually get to use our imaginations every day and work with some of the most talented, ego-free people in the world. Easy to dive in and dig deep with no judgement.
5. It has become rather affordable to create a home studio. How did you set up your home studio and what type of equipment do you use?
I converted a small closet, built portable walls and a door, covered the walls with 4” acoustic foam, and the room sounds amazing. I use a relatively inexpensive old Shure KSM27 mic and an Mbox with a remote monitor and keyboard in the booth for instant edits. I also have a voice patch, so I can be directed over the phone. I use that weekly for my Toonami records. I’m Mac based. Main computer is an IMac 27”. I also have other mics for podcasting. On the road, I have a portable protools rig, but lately have just been using an IPad, Apogee USB mic and Twisted Wave.
6. Have you ever cosplayed one of the characters you have voiced? If so, which one(s)?
Not yet. May happen soon.
7. You are one of a small circle of people who actually grew up in the Los Angeles area, was it easier to have grown up in the area to break into the business? Would it have been more difficult being a local boy if you didn’t make it and seeing the offices as a constant reminder of failure?
I never intended to go into voice acting, or any other kind of acting for that matter! I’ve held at least 20 other jobs – many I’ve even enjoyed! So no, failure doesn’t really come into play in my life except as a tool to learn from – and ALL have prepared me in some way for what I do now. If you want to be a voice actor full time – especially in animation, you have to be here. But don’t move here until you’ve got significant experience and other means to support yourself. Remember, once here, you’re competing against the best in the world.
8. You have done work for both video games and anime franchises. Which work do you prefer? How do they differ?
I love them both for different reasons. Acting is acting. In Games, the challenge is mostly in endurance for me. An anime session may require 40-50 lines per hour. A game, you may be doing 150-200 lines in an hour – and several takes of each, for four hours straight…all while maintaining as high quality a performance on the last line as on the first. Games pay WAY better. No residuals tho.
9. Do you have any dream projects or franchises that you would like to work on? If so, which ones?
I would have loved to work on a Miyazaki film, but it looks like that window has closed. Would like to do more animated feature work. For many of the franchises. Just a tough nut to crack. Most of those gigs go straight to the celebs. There are a couple of projects I’m working on now that are truly dream gigs. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to talk about them yet.
10. Have you ever had a “starstruck” moment when working with another voice actor?
Yes. Frank Welker. One of the greatest of all time, and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Peter Cullen. Holy crap, what a voice! Dee Bradley Baker. Genius.
So many. I have fanboy moments almost daily! I get to work with an insanely talented group of people every day. They’ve all blown me away at one point or another – and some constantly. Lately, it’s been Eric Bauza. He’s one to watch. Wow.
Visit Steve Blum’s official website at: http://www.steveblumvoices.com/
Follow him on Twitter: @blumspew and @adultswim #WatchToonami