I was invited on an all expense paid trip by Disney to attend the Zootopia In-home Release Press Junket for an exclusive interview with Paul McGrath and to try my talents at being a voice actor for Disney.
Have you ever been inside a recording studio? Many eons ago I used to visit my friends recording studio and was always amazed at the immense amount of technological features that would be used to produce music. But that was just music. I surely wasn’t prepared for what I would see inside the Disneytoons Studio recording studio. Not only are they handling sound, but it has to be synced with the animation it’s being used for. I didn’t realize that I was about to become a voice actor for Disney!!! Having the chance to do some voice recording was pretty cool and I’d like to think I did a pretty good job since I nailed it on the second take for timing. Check out my interview with Paul McGrath, he’s a Dialogue Mixer at DisneyToons Studios, and video clip of my voice acting recording for Zootopia.
The Day I Became A Voice Actor For Disney’s Zootopia
Paul welcomed us into his recording studio and explained that a lot of the character voicing for Zootopia was done inside this very studio, as well as a lot of other projects for feature animation.
When does the recording studio become involved in the film making process?
The recording room is that we’re involved from the very beginning of the film through the very end. And even though everything’s been digitized and things have become more computer generated, animation and the process of animation is still done the same way that it was back with Snow White where it starts with the voice – well it starts with the script, but then it starts with the voice. We have to record the voices to give the Animators the duration that this character is going to be on-screen. So we start with recording very early on. Working with sketches and drawings and then eventually we get into animation and layout. Towards the end of the film is a process called ADR, which is Automated Dialogue Replacement. This is where we can take out one actor’s performance and put in somebody else.
Here’s my voice acting debut…I voiced Fru Fru (Mr. Big’s daughter), my line was “What did we say, no icing anyone at my wedding!”
I had the choice of doing Fru Fru or Mr. Big, and I just couldn’t resist saying icing…All of Mr. Big’s recording was done in this same room! I wonder how many takes it took the voice actor for Fru Fru to get that line down, LOL.
How many takes does it take to get a line down by a professional voice actor?
It’s not uncommon for them to read the line 50 to 60 times, easily.
Have you ever had a voice actor give up or change the line?
Never had an actor give up. During actual recording sessions the Directors are in there with the actors guiding them. With Mr. Big, Rich Moore and Byron Howard would tell the actor “make the line your own. Say it how you want, that will feel comfortable to you.” So yes absolutely. They make changes, they make tweaks, they do several different versions of the same line.
Which department oversees voice actors?
The casting department is always looking for and listening for new voices. Usually what happens is there’s a general meeting with an agent and an audition will come in. Where somebody comes in and they’re not reading for a part per say, but they’re just kinda’ showcasing what they can do. And then the casting department will listen to that and say, “Oh I’ll keep you in mind for something that I know I have two projects away or one project away.”
Do any of the outtakes that happen in here suddenly get written into the movie?
Yes, yes. I think the accidental mistakes they do that everyone just cut up in the room and it wasn’t on the page. Maurice LaMarche, Mr. Big, a lot of things that he did were not on the script and then wound up in the film, as well as Jennifer and Jason. They were always ad-libbing.
If you could be a voice actor for Disney, which Zootopia character would you love the chance to voice?
Zootopia runs approx. 108 minutes, is rated PG and is NOW available in Digital HD/SD, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand. If you didn’t have a chance to pre-order Zootopia on Blu-ray, now is the time to grab a copy from Amazon (affiliate link) for your next movie night.
Join the conversation online and tell me which character you would choose to be a voice actor for Disney on using the hashtag #ZootopiaBluray