Posts in Insight
What Makes Bond Sound Like Bond?

With Film being a visual medium it’s quite understandable that most focus on what James Bond looks like. The character’s creator, Ian Fleming, gave us many helpful pointers on Bond’s look in the 14 original books. But Fleming was much less detailed about how Bond sounded. He never even specifies 007’s accent. Given the era and Bond’s status as a senior civil servant with a decent education it’s fair to assume that he was intended to speak with some sort of RP. But what about the parts of the voice that are not governed by accent? What about tone, pitch and effort?

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Rooted In The Tongue

“You silver tongued devil!” is a phrase we all have likely heard at some point in our lives. The evocative imagery of a person’s tongue – the source of their loquaciousness – being made of silver implies that their use of language is both valuable and expensive. It also calls to mind a certain artificiality or ulterior motive. Convincing someone of your virtue with your silver tongue is seen, in other words, as something of a hustle. Equivalent to charming someone with your looks instead of your intentions. 

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Your Voice is Nothing Without Body

When we talk about voice there is a tendency to focus on two things: your mouth and your throat. After all the mouth is used to shape the words and the sounds are made by your vocal cords. So, what relevance does the rest of your body have to the sound of your voice? A lot. It’s true that the squeak made by the folds of your vocal cords originates in your larynx, which is barricaded behind your Adam’s apple. It’s also true that you use the articulators of your mouth to create intelligible words. But where does the actual tone of your voice come from?

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The Agony and Ecstasy of Directing Yourself

One of the measures of an actor’s reputation is how easy or difficult you are to work with. You can probably all think of at least one Hollywood star who is famously difficult. There are also well-known stories of actors who are consistently popular on set because they are a breezeto be around. Beyond super-size trailer demands and personal hair stylists though, what actually causes others to label an actor easy or difficult? One measure is how easy they are to direct.

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Watch Your Larynx!

A great performer makes it look easy, don’t they? When an audience deliver themselves into the hands of a great professional artist they can relax. They can allow themselves to be taken to whatever place the writer/painter/musician/actor wants them to go. They are all happy to suspend their disbelief and go on a journey. That’s why we all need art. Art takes us to those parts of humanity not touched in our own lives. It’s exciting, it’s horrifying, it’s hilarious, it’s harrowing. Above all, art is life affirming and human.

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The Loneliness of The Audiobook Narrator

I was very happy with how the recording went that day. The challenge was to render a scene from World War II. A group of Wehrmacht soldiers were attempting to escape their pursuers on the frozen wastelands of the Eastern Front. In addition to narrating the scene in 1stperson I was also portraying 5 different characters all gripped in their own way by the immediacy of death. To play such a scene in one take all by yourself is no mean feat. Doing this sort of thing is why audiobook narration is so fiendishly difficult to do well.

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The Enduring Importance of Focus

There is a saying in business that goes: “if you try to sell to everybody, you’re really selling to nobody.” The implication of this phrase is that you can’t be all things to all customers. In traditional businesses this is absolutely true. If Coca-Cola tried to sell fruit and veg and sheet metal alongside offering telecommunications training, it’s unlikely they would have maintained their position as a leading soft drinks maker. Laser focus on a single brilliantly made product has carried thousands of businesses to success.

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The Difference Between Speaking and Reading

To many laypeople and, dare I say it a few actors who should know better, reading and speaking are the same thing. One is a synonym for the other. I freely admit that when I was 21, I thought exactly the same thing. Reading or narrating a text was about accuracy and clarity. You might vary your pace or tone a bit to keep it lively and intelligible and of course you would be sure to project (darling!) But speaking?

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Why Musical Theatre Prepared Me For Audiobooks

A few weeks ago, I was involved in a fascinating discussion about corrections and preparation in audiobook narration. Some excellent colleagues of mine didn’t entirely agree with my point of view over the role of the proofer. Some of my colleagues expressed a dislike of overly detailed prep, preferring instead to focus on their sight-reading virtuosity and a meticulous 1st Pass Edit before sending their work to a proofer. For me, this doesn’t work.

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How Studio Cat Learned To Collaborate

Studio Cat’s predecessor was a loner. She’d had a tough upbringing on the street and had learned not to trust anyone. When we rescued her, it took her a very long time to trust us. Eventually she became an affectionate companion, but she never, ever lost her intense dislike and mistrust of other cats.

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