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Animation by audio drama groups
Old 04-26-2012   #1
Kirok
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Default Animation by audio drama groups

I've corresponded with two animators recently - it would be unfair to go into details - who have had similar experiences when trying to add voice actors to their animations: it was just too hard! They each avoided using a VA cast in different ways but still acknowledge that it would definitely enhance their production if it were feasible.

As someone who has dabbled in audio and appreciates the audio engineers art, it brings me close to tears to see a fan produced animation ruined for the lack of the unique and skilful deliveries that I know can be had for free. I'd like to open a discussion about how the audio drama community might help animators or animation groups to achieve their full potential by sharing their expertise.

let's take a hypothetical case. Anabel the animator has a story, the time, the patience and the skill to make an animation. Now, stop me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that professional animation works by having the voice acting recording done first and the animation is made to fit the words. Anabel is interested in animating, she is drawn to the visual artistry of the moving pictures, and although she is no slouch at sound editing, she knows next to nothing about voice actors and how to direct them to get the best results for her production. She certainly has no idea where or how to tap into the amateur voice acting community. So she records the lines herself and animates that, or uses text-to-speech because, "using real VA's is opening a can of worms"

She lets it slide and slide and more and more people complement her on her animation but comment that it is let down by the lack of a voice track, it spoils their suspension of belief. She tries to get voice actors and starts hitting problems, the enthusiastic friends who were going to help fade into the wallpaper or else hand in recordings that sound like two tin cups and a piece of string or they flounce off when they are asked to re-record lines. The logistics of auditioning, sending out scripts and getting them back become insurmountable!

here's a hypothetical option - she advertises for an audio director. Maybe it is someone who might have produced an audio drama in the past which has gone into hiatus, a voice actor who has been working with a sound editor to learn the ropes or a Trek Radio DJ who wants to expand their repertoire. perhaps one of the regular audio drama groups might be waiting for their script writer to come up with the next season's scripts and they have some down-time? None of these require that a group has to sacrifice their own projects. In every case the people involved creatively expand their horizons whilst networking with their peers, practicing valuable skills and getting their name known by fandom.

It has been done before. Various Darker Projects VAs provided voices for ST Aurora. Why couldn't it be taken a step further so that an animator could pitch an animation to the DP Dark Council or Pendant Productions for them to consider as a pitch for them to produce the audio content? They still take pitches don't they? It would be billed as a joint AnabelAnimation / DP-or-Pendant production.

What would each get out of it? Anabel would get an experienced audio director who would audition the VA's, work with her to choose the right ones send out the scripts and chase the VAs to get the scripts back in. He'd work with Anabel to make sure the lines were good enough and if not, he would work with the VAs to get what they wanted. he might scrub and clean the audio files where needed but it would be Anabel's job to marry the audio to the video.

What would Arthur the audio director get out of it? He'd get his name on the credits of a freakin' animation!!! If it were a group and the job entailed a fair amount of work for them, they might agree that Anabel do some video trailers for them.

So that's my little day-dream.
- Are there audio engineers / directors / groups who would be interested in doing something like this?
- Has anyone had any experiences working with animation?
- How hard is it to lip synch to a video? (there are ways around this)

Filming live action fan films will always be the cadillac of fan productions but I really think that, by combining the skills of animators and audio groups, the new animation software available could be lifted out of the kid's game's category and be used to create some cutting edge animation.

Kirok of L'Stok
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Old 04-26-2012   #2
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I'm up for it. I chase down actors for several shows already, and am constantly putting people together.

Not a problem.
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Old 04-26-2012   #3
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Excelsior is working on just such a collaboration now. We'll see how it goes; we've been burned working with animators before, and our collaboratee has been burned by VA's, so we're both rather skittish.

If it goes well, we'll surely be open to more in the future. However, I think, given our production's small scale, we would not be looking for video trailers (which are basically ephemera) but animation content which would enhance our story in the same way that our contribution enhanced our collaboratees' stories. Vignettes are a possibility, or animations of key scenes, or (in exchange for really large amounts of VA work) larger segments. Certainly a simple credit would not be terribly compelling to me as a producer; the only people who read them are other producers, and none of us are using audio as a stepping-stone to the professional market. It would be fun, yes, but I can't justify the time spent on it when my own show is chronically behind schedule and my audience is hunting down my Facebook account to ask why I'm blogging about politics rather than revising the script for ep308. In the end, for me, it's all about Excelsior.

That being said, we are, in fact, doing our current animation project simply for credit, because it's an experiment, and because we had some extra capacity in our pipeline, and because I was moved by pity and regret at the voice-trackless animation in question. And I know not all producer-types are as provincial and single-minded as I am (for example, JulieH above!). So there's hope for Kirok's dream.
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Old 04-26-2012   #4
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Hmm... Also, if you know any animators who don't have a storyline in mind, and are looking for already completed sound to animate - I have 50 hours worth, and they're welcome to use any of it (with proper credit, etc., of course)
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Old 04-26-2012   #5
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Hmm... Also, if you know any animators who don't have a storyline in mind, and are looking for already completed sound to animate - I have 50 hours worth, and they're welcome to use any of it (with proper credit, etc., of course)
I must admit my first instinct was to think, "not much chance of that!" However on closer scrutiny the idea has a lot of merit. The animator would have a piece that has its whole audio track done, right down to the music and sound effects.

The effort involved in animation, although it is nowhere as labour intensive as when it was cel drawn, is still substantial, so if someone is going to make one, they are going to be following their own dream. Which is not to say it couldn't happen - they could be a production team member or simply someone who appreciates good audio drama - its just that, human nature being what it is, they are more likely to want to animate something that they have written themselves.

Which is a pity because, just as I believe that animators should team up with audio groups to get the best voice acting, I also believe that it would pay them to take on a writer to help them create the best plot and dialogue possible.

Can an audio drama translate straight across as an animation? Well, not all audio groups are like Star Trek: Excelsior, in that they will "shop around" for scripts to perform and in so doing will naturally chose the best they can find. Most Trek audio drama groups came about because they were driven by the content and chose audio drama as a means to an end. To them the content is king!

Why can I see little laser target dots dancing over my chest?

James, I wouldn't be too quick to write off a trailer as ephemeral, you might be thinking of your standard movie trailer or TV commercial. Have a look at the playlist of book trailers I put together HERE - Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and Night of the Living Trekkies are virtually mini-movies, and the trailer is as famous as the book! Just imagine one written by you about Excelsior!

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Old 04-27-2012   #6
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Hmm... Also, if you know any animators who don't have a storyline in mind, and are looking for already completed sound to animate - I have 50 hours worth, and they're welcome to use any of it (with proper credit, etc., of course)
This would be the jackpot.

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The effort involved in animation, although it is nowhere as labour intensive as when it was cel drawn, is still substantial, so if someone is going to make one, they are going to be following their own dream.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that this is true in both media. It takes a six-person post-production team two months to do an episode of Excelsior. In terms of man-hours, it's probably less than a full-scale animation (which I figure take one man about fourteen months for one hour of footage) -- but not much less, and that's before we talk about actors' commitments.

I know other audio studios are able to put out a lot more product in a lot fewer man-hours, but, at least for us, engaging to produce even an hour of outside audio, and promising to do it up to our usual standards, is a considerable investment. We're willing to do it, and we're even willing to admit that our considerable experience with the production cycle and existing infrastructure gives us certain economies of scale, so we might "price" our participation in a collaboration lower the animator would. But, if somebody's got to give up creative direction as you propose, and I just don't see a compelling reason for your assumption that it be the audio folks -- except for the fact that fan animators are, on the whole, used to working alone.

I don't mean to sound like I'm pointing sniper rifles at anyone! Just saying, "Here's why this isn't happening more often, so how can we make these kinds of collaborations more attractive to all parties?"

EDIT: Obvs, the Excelsior situation is very different from that of a multi-production studio like DP or Pendant or BrokenSea. You'd have to ask them whether they'd accept an animation pitch. I can only speak for us, and perhaps other solo-project groups like Continuing Mission or Giant Gnome Productions. (Yes, I know GGP keeps claiming to produce other shows, but we know better by now.)

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Old 04-27-2012   #7
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I don't mean to sound like I'm pointing sniper rifles at anyone! Just saying, "Here's why this isn't happening more often, so how can we make these kinds of collaborations more attractive to all parties?"
Point taken, and I hope I didn't sound unappreciative of the work involved in the audio contribution to an animated production. I suppose what I'm doing in this thread is laying the groundwork for putting together a pitch on behalf an animator.

Gotta blaze!

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Old 11-13-2012   #8
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hello! i am new to the voice over field. can anyone tell me where and how to audition for voice over jobs in the animation and drama market?will very much appreciate it.
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