A Whole Lotta Birds

Dave Fennoy could voice each one of these birds...and would make them all sound different. Just by being 'Dave' and putting himself into each character's shoes. Or in this case... feathers!

I recently had the opportunity to spend 12 hours learning and observing the genius that is Dave Fennoy. You might have heard Dave voicing promos for HULU.COM, ABC, The WB, Fox, CBS, Showtime, Starz, ESPN, The Disney Channel and TV One. Or you might know his voice from video games such as STARCRAFT II, Metal Gear, That’s So Raven, Ultimate Spiderman, Delta Force, Star Wars, Laura Croft Tomb Raider, and many others. Or on film or TV on Ghost Rider, Happy Feet and King’s Ransom and he has proved a cartoon favorite in such series as The LeBrons, Kim Possible, Ben 10, Darkwing Duck, New Kids on the Block, Pro Stars, Johnny Quest and Sonic the Hedgehog. IMDB has named him one of the 20 best male game voices of all time.


I signed up for the 12-hour workshop through The Voice Actors Studio to develop the skills and techniques to become a successful video game voice actor. I have no idea if I would ever want to get into video games but figured that acting is acting and no matter what you are voicing in VO you are always playing some sort of a character.


Well, what I learned from Dave is that all characters already reside in you. There is no need to 'develop' a character or to come up with a crazy voice that you then create a persona to match up with that voice.


I learned that Dave looks at a picture of a character that is being proposed for a video game or he reads a description of that character and then he puts himself 'inside' that character. He thinks about who that character is; his background, what he desires, where the character physically is located at the moment, what the surroundings are like, what the given circumstance is, his motivation and reason for speaking at that time, who else is with him and what is their relationship to each other.


And THEN he speaks. Mind you, all of this characterization goes through Dave's mind in a matter of a few seconds. And what comes out is speech voiced in exactly the way you would image this character to speak if he was right in the room with you.


Dave doesn't put on crazy voices or what he pre-determines that a character should sound like. He internalizes the character, becomes the character and what comes out in his voice is the character.


I watched and heard Dave do this countless times during the two day seminar. He would go in and out of character on the spot. And as soon as he spoke, I found myself thinking "That is exactly how that character would sound!"


And Dave isn't stingy with his process! He will gladly share it with any and all who are fortunate enough to listen and learn from him. He has the wisdom, knowledge and patience to coach other voice actors, no matter what their level of experience is, to make a character sound real, believable and for the actor to not sound as if he were just reading printed lines on a page.


I learned SO much from Dave. And while I may never venture into the world of voicing characters for video games, I will be able to use what I learned from Dave in the genres that I DO voice, which is narration and commercials. I may no longer be a thirty-something soccer mom and I've never been a brain surgeon, but I'd bet I could sound like one!!