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Animated Insights for Non Artists:
Greg Weisman Interview, Part 2 - Voice Directing
by Shannon Muir - This article originally appeared in Suite 101.

Greg credits his foray into animation voice directing to a longtime interest in theatre. He acted in high school and college plays, though the majority of his experience was as the collegiate level. Once he found himself acting alongside people such as Andre Brauer (the star of Gideon's Crossing on ABC), Greg realized maybe he wasn't cut out to be a big-time actor. However, he very much enjoyed directing college productions and made sure to try his hand at all aspects of play production. Some things he liked doing, and others not so much.

When Greg moved to New York he left theatre behind entirely. Greg told me there's really no room for someone who wants to do theatre in New York or Los Angeles as a hobby because "community theatre in that sense doesn't exist because there are so many actors looking for some kind of showcase." Producing and directing a play for his Masters Degree was the only theatre work Greg did for years after returning to Los Angeles.

While a supervising producer on Gargoyles (see Part One) Greg began to attend the voice recording sessions. Greg describes these sessions as "the fun part of the process… on he whole," and a "compact moment of three hours all about the possibility." Problems may crop up later down the line in production, but at the voice recording, you get a sense of what can be. Of the caliber of voice actors he's worked with over the years, Greg says, "you can get… people, professional voice actors and others to work your stuff. Absolutely talented and they bring the words you've written to life." As a writer, he feels 7 out of 10 times voice actors bring words alive, maybe 1 out of 10 times it's better in your mind, but there's 2 times out of 10 where dialogue's improved.

Greg transitioned to voice directing while on Gargoyles. He sat in the sessions alongside Disney's voice director Jamie Thomason, whom he credits as "a better dialogue director than I'll ever be." Jamie gave Greg the opportunity to oversee a few "patch" (phoned in) sessions and eventually gave him the opportunity to voice direct an entire Gargoyles episode "Vendettas." With its small cast, "all five actors made my first experience of directing a show myself a complete and total pleasure," though the final animated episode didn't turn out as well as he'd hoped.

He also had the opportunity to assist dialogue director Sue Blu with pickup sessions while working on the several series with her at Sony. These were Starship Troopers (the official show link is http://www.spe.sony.com/tv/kids/roughnecks/index.htm; http://www.trooperpx.com/RSTC/series.html also is also worth checking out) and Max Steel -- see sites at http://www.maxsteeltv.com and http://www.spe.sony.com/tv/kids/maxsteel/index_max.htm.

Greg's big opportunity came when a former UCLA Extension student, Jonathan Klein, asked him to voice direct a new English adaptation of the Japanese series 3x3 EYES which the company wanted to make a more prestige -- and union -- project.. If you're not familiar with the series, you can get more information at http://www.pioneer-ent.com/ and http://www.sazan.net/digest/news/, but be aware this series considered for age 13 and up in the United States. Greg recruited many of the voice talents he'd worked with on other projects, including Christian Campbell (Josh McGrath/Max Steel from Max Steel), Brigette Bako (Angela from Gargoyles), and Edward Asner (Hudson from Gargoyles) as leading characters.

Automatic Dialogue Replacement (the technical term for the dubbing process, often called ADR) differs from creating original animated product. When animation's created, the process goes from script to voice record, then storyboard and animation. With ADR, the finished animation already exists. Greg told me that the challenge is "translating Japanese to English not only literally… also idioms and that it fits the lip synch."

At the time of our conversation, Greg just began work as voice director for the new Disney series Team Atlantis, based on the summer movie release Atlantis (see http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/atlantis/index.html for the official movie website [click here for the Digital Media FX Atlanis Site] ). Of the first session he said, "It was fun but it's too early to say how the whole thing will go." He looks forward to the challenge and feels all his work up until now prepared him to helm voice directing for a series. (NOTE: not long after this was published, Disney decided to shelve the Team Atlantis series. The exact reason is unknown. There are plans for a direct-to-video using some of the completed material.)

Greg also enjoys directing original radio plays every summer at the "Gathering of the Gargoyles," an annual convention dedicated to the Gargoyles series he worked on as supervising producer. The convention's official website is http://gathering.gargoyles-fans.org/

Join me next time for Part Three: Writing and Story Editing.


Shannon Muir is known in the animation industry for her work as a production coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker at conventions like Comic Con International.

Muir moved to Los Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately 8,000), knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business. Since then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality, whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles about the industry.

You can email Shannon Muir at shanemuir@aol.com.

All editorialized columns, including this one, that appear in Digital Media FX are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of Digital Media FX, its partner sites, and its advertisers.

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