The audio industry has become more competitive, and aspiring voice actors and directors may find it challenging to stand out. Tyler Walker, an ADR director, ADR engineer and Line producer for FUNimation Entertainment, shares about how they may overcome key challenges of developing their careers.
Developing an Interest in Voice Acting and Sound Design
Tyler explains that his interest in voice acting and sound design stemmed from his childhood.
“I was always into sound, and theatre and music and performance. When I was a kid, my best friend and I would make tapes of all kinds of things, and I loved to try to match up my record player with music or stories to the cartoons I watched.” Tyler describes.
“I was in choir, drama club, band and all that throughout grade school, and in high school I was introduced to other aspects, like live sound for plays and tech theatre. In college, I majored in Radio, Television and Film studies and really enjoyed the audio aspect of it all. I did some mixing and post production sound for student films, and playing in bands was my performance outlet.”
Turning your Passion into a Career
Tyler turned his passion into a career when he scored an opportunity to work for FUNimation, a renowned audio post-production studio.
“A friend of mine was working for FUNimation got me an interview. Six months later, they called me back and my first day was December 29th, 2002. That week I was working with Justin Cook, Chris Bevins, Laura Bailey, and Eric Vale on Fruits Basket.” Tyler explains.
Building a Career
Making Quality Casting Decisions
Twenty years have passed since his first day at FUNimation, and Tyler has garnered an impressive resume of ADR credentials. Whilst he has learnt several lessons during his term as an ADR director, Tyler admits that making quality casting decisions is one of the most important aspects of his job.
“As a director, a big part is the casting decisions – making sure you have the right person for the role and figuring out how to guide them into giving the best possible performance for the character, which in some cases can mean giving the performer room to shine.” Tyler explains.
Being Involved Throughout the Recording Process
Tyler also explains how an ADR Director is highly involved throughout the entire recording process.
“In a nutshell, [my] primary role is seeing the episode or movie or series through the recording process, while working with actors and engineers, writers, talent coordinators, producers and mix engineers. Mind you, my experience is with ADR for existing works, so [I need] to make sure [I’m] staying true to the material. At the same time, I have to make it work for the new audience the English language adaptation is bringing.” He continues.
Overcoming the Challenges of Building a VA Career
Tyler has also faced multiple challenges during his career, and has several valuable insights on how to overcome them. He suggests innovative ways to overcome common challenges that aspiring voice actors and directors may face:
Believing in Yourself
“A challenge that a lot of people face when [they] start out is believing [they] deserve success.” Tyler admits.
Explore Different Paths
To overcome this challenge, Tyler suggests exploring different paths and expanding your perspective.
“Like many things in life, there are many paths one can travel, but I would say take your ambitions seriously, but don't let that be the only thing that defines you. Learn your craft, and try to find out more about the associated disciplines, like writing or production, because you may find you enjoy those even more.” He continues.
Working with Others
Tyler also admits that it is challenging to balance his roles as a leader and collaborator.
“Being able to control your sessions and maintain a kind of “collaborative authority.” Starting out in directing, there were definitely some sessions where an actor with more experience or confidence would try to run the session.” Tyler explains.
Be a Good Listener and Prioritize the Project’s Success
To overcome this challenge, Tyler stresses the importance of being a good listener, and prioritizing a project’s success over one’s own ego.
“Finding the balance of listening to them and respecting their contribution without getting steamrolled or being too defensive can be a tricky needle to thread.” Tyler explains.
Moreover, Tyler stresses the importance of being professional in his industry. He explains how treating his clients, actors and partners with respect allows him to form healthy working relationships.
“You treat them well and with respect, and hope they do the same. You will click better with some folks more than others, but that's okay. Try not to take artistic differences personally.” Tyler concludes.
Standing Out in a Saturated Industry
The voice acting industry has also become more competitive. Technology connects voice actors across the world, which greatly increases an audio post-production studio’s pool of talent.
Develop Professional Materials and Skills
To stand out from the crowd, Tyler encourages aspiring voice actors to prepare material and develop skills that would allow them to thrive in their industry.
“The game has dramatically changed since I started way back then. Now, having a demo reel and some ability to self-record is more important than ever.” Tyler explains.
Attend Workshops or Classes
Moreover, Tyler encourages voice actors to attend workshops or classes, which would also allow them to improve their skills and broaden their perspectives.
“There are lots of classes and workshops and resources out there that you can explore to familiarize yourself with the process of voice acting, so I would encourage taking one to see what it’s all about. Meet people, take risks, and be cool.” He advises.
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