**Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this event, all opinions are 100% my own **
On a recent press trip, to DisneyToon Studios, I was very fortunate to be in the very studio where they did a lot of the character voicing for Zootopia. I learned the process of recording with Dialogue Mixer Paul McGraf. With an animated movie like Zootopia, Paul was involved in the recording room from the very beginning of the film through the very end.
According to Paul McGraf “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 script, then it starts with the voice”.
Each of the major characters, actors like the voice of Judy and Nick had 15 hours’ worth of recording time. Smaller (no pun intended) characters like “Mr. Big” had about 5 hours of recording time. How many times do the actors have to read their lines? It’s not uncommon for them to read the line 50 to 60 times. Easily! Has an actor ever given up, and just did not want to try the line anymore? Surprisingly for Paul this has never happened.
What are the steps that are taken to record a voice? The dialogue mixer, “records the voices to give the Animators the duration that this character is going be on screen. We start with recording very early on. With sketches and drawings and then eventually we get into animation and layout” – Paul McGraf.
Have you ever wanted to see what it was like in a recording booth? Well we were going to find out, with a processes called ADR, which is Automated Dialogue Replacement, this is when the dialogue mixer takes out one Actor’s performance and puts in somebody else. We were able to have the choice of voicing Fru Fru or Mr. Big! We had voiced the character then and we saw ourselves in the animated film.
I chose to voice Fru Fru because she is adorable, and I wanted to see how it was to have a high squeaky voice… We were given the line “No icing anyone at my wedding!" Simple right? Well it took me three tries to get the entire sentence out, I got tongue tied and was stumbling… Paul was very professional and said he could fix my wording with “movie magic” luckily by the third try I actually got the sentence out.. yay me. Check out my clip of Fru Fru, below:
Have you ever changed a line for an Actor? Paul McGraf, said “In the actual recording sessions the Directors are in there and I pretty much stay out of it. I’m just a technical liaison for them. Directors will always say, especially with Mr. Big, Rich Moore and, and Byron Howard would say, “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”.
Do any of the outtakes that happen in here suddenly get written into the movie? According to Paul McGraf “Yes! Everyone just cut up in the room and it wasn’t on the page Maurice LaMarche, Mr. Big, a lot of things that were not on the script and then wound up in the film, as well as Ginnifer and Jason. They were always ad libbing”.
We learned that the Casting Department is always looking for and listening for new voices. I will be waiting by the phone, ha ha just kidding. Voice acting was not my strong point, but it was a blast to do and I think the final outcome came out pretty cute. Be sure to pick up a copy of Zootopia, on dvd available everywhere!
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Zootopia is available on Blu-ray and DVD everywhere!
Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .