ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.01 - APRIL 2000

Frank Welker: Master of Many Voices
(continued from page 4)

According to Welker, blind testing is not a prevalent industry practice.

"I think for us, the actors, blind testing would really be great, because even in voice work you get voice typecast," he says. "The casting people will automatically put you into a pigeonhole, so if you do get a chance to audition for something that you normally wouldn't do, and they see your name, then they say, 'Well, I can tell it's him.' Then they don't want to hire you.

"So it's really nice when you have a legitimate test like that. A lot of times they can't tell who you are. It's more fun because you're being tested on how you sound, not the way people think you sound. I would prefer they always do it that way."

Improving Situations
Today, recording sessions are limited to four hours, much to Welker's relief.

"Speaking for myself, supposedly representing my fellow thespians, we are like children. Our attention span only lasts so long," he says. "I've seen award-winning shows done in an hour, and I've seen shows that have dragged on for a day.

Welker at a mid-'70s recording session before the 4-hour maximum recording rule. Photo by John Findlater. Courtesy of Frank Welker.

"No longer can you drag on for a day. Four hours is the maximum, which is great.

"Actors have got to get to other jobs. One show, one cannot a living make. So as professionals, you should be able -- if you're cast properly -- to do your job, and go on to the other one," he says.

Sometimes, Welker's versatility can pose a scheduling problem, particularly when he's cast in two different shows that are recording on the same day.

"It's better now with the four hour sessions for the studios too, because they have two chances of getting you instead of one show holding you all day," he says.

"Most studios don't like to do pickup lines, but it does work. Sometimes you're not able to physically be in that session. You've gotta get the track to Japan or wherever, so you gotta get that actor.

"I found that when you do a lot of different kinds of work like I do, it's even better that way, because when you're doing monsters, or special FX voices, you can concentrate on one line or action. You don't have all that dialogue inbetween. It's really helpful.

"When it's a story and jokes, then it's better as an ensemble group. Otherwise [if you're recording by yourself], all you're doing is reading your lines, and you don't know what the action is. The director has to tell you. You may not get as good a performance when you're performing as an ensemble group. (But sometimes when you do have a whole group, it can be just as disjointed.)

"Unfortunately, in one of our shows, the director would stop us all the time even when we were recording. ‘Stop-stop-stop.’ So you're never really getting that ensemble flow anyway."

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