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The Gatekeeper (repost by Aris) writes...

I have some questions on how the voice recording was done.

I've looked through the archives, and it appears that you get all the actors together at one time but I'm not getting an entirely clear picture. You have mentioned doing some editing on the voices for rhythms and the like. Is this possible to do when the recording is done in a group session? I know the partial answer, each voice is on it's own track, but wouldn't the natural bounce (if you would) of all the actors playing off each other make for a natural sounding dialogue?

Were the recording sessions filmed as well, so that some of the facial expressions of the actors could be incorporated into the animation? I can just picture Marina Sirtis sneering at Keith David.

What is the sequence that things are done? I think the script and story board comes first, but are the voices recorded before or after the animation, or it is a kind of hand in hand process?

The reason I ask, is because I remember listening to an interview with a voice actor (back in the mid '70's) and he said that all his lines were sent to the studio on a tape that he did at his home.

Greg responds...

Anything's possible but that last scenario sounds awful strange to me.

Here's the basic order:

1. Write the scripts.
2. Design new characters. This begins even before the script is finished sometimes.
3. Record the voices.
4. Storyboards are drawn. (This sometimes also begins before all the voices are recorded, depending on deadline pressure. But ideally it waits for the board artist to get the voice tape.)
5. Direct the board. (For timing, etc.)
6. Send materials overseas for animation.
7. Animation.
8. Post-Production. Retakes, editing, sound, etc.

As for step 3 itself, we tried as often as possible to get all the actors together in one room. This was almost never completely possible. There'd always be someone who wasn't available or was out of town or something. (For example, Keith David spent most of the second season performing in SEVEN GUITARS on Broadway. We would pick him up by "phone patch" from a studio in New York. One time, I seem to recall, we had to get Jim "Fang" Belushi by phone patch from Australia, where he was shooting a movie.

So we had to edit in anyone who wasn't in the session. Plus sometimes the best takes weren't consecutive. Say, Thom "Lex" Adcox did a great reading of a question. And Jeff "Brooklyn" Bennett stuttered when answering. Jeff probably did two or three great takes of his line. But we'd still want to use Lex's great take. So we'd edit it too.

And sometimes we'd tighten things up for pace. Since, as you noted, we had to allow each line to be on a separate track, that meant we couldn't overlap dialogue in the recording booth. But in real life, people often interrupt each other or talk over each other, etc. So sometimes we'd edit to create that overlapping effect.

Still the reason we TRIED to get everyone together is because we'd generally get a better, higher energy performance from most of the actors by allowing them to play off each other.

Response recorded on August 01, 2000