Having voiced cartoon characters including Ren and Stimpy, Fry, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, Doug Funnie, and Bugs Bunny, Billy West is one of the most respected and prolific actors in animation. In this interview with Vanity Fair, he breaks down some of his characterizations and his sources of inspiration.
THE BEST Voices
UK tech company Sonantic has developed an AI-driven text-to-speech system that can generate digital voices with much greater expression than others. In this clip, you’ll hear “Faith” a completely artificial voice character act out a story with tremendous emotion. Look out voice actors, the robots are coming for you!
Dee Bradley Baker has brought characters to life on everything from American Dad! to Samurai Jack. He also has the ability to imitate the sounds of all kinds of creatures, from birds to pigs to angry squirrels. Great Big Story sat down with Dee and asked him to improvise some animal noises. Those alien sounds were insane.
You might not know Pamela Adlon’s face, but she’s the talented actor behind Bobby on King of the Hill and Spinelli on Recess, among others. In the latest of Vanity Fair’s voice improv videos, they asked her to come up with eight new character voices on the spot. The scenarios she comes up with are just as imaginative as the voices.
Cartoon fans will recognize Phil LaMarr as the man behind the voices of Samurai Jack, Hermes Conrad on Futurama, and hundreds of other characters. Vanity Fair asked Phil to improvise 12 new character voices entirely based on their illustrations. If there’s one thing the clip proves is just how impressive his range is.
The 1979 Sugar Hill Gang track Rapper’s Delight put hip hop on the map for many of us. Now enjoy a cover of the seminal rap track, as performed by the trio of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, courtesy of YouTuber Steven Rosenthal. It seems like Siri has the best sense of rhythm.
Best known as SpongeBob Squarepants, voice actor Tom Kenny has been featured in numerous cartoons since the 1990s. In this funny Vanity Fair clip, he was put on the spot and asked to improvise voices for five new characters. It’s amazing how he brings all of them to life.
“After probably about 200 sketches, I decided on the free-range chicken… and that makes sense to me.” TheCrafsMan shows us how he designs then sculpts a figure for resin casting, while wooing us with the most soothing voice in an art lesson since the mighty Bob Ross.
(PG-13: Language) Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland presents a series of not so useful tips to help budding voice actors hone their craft and perform just like he does. No time to watch? Rescue some dogs, drink lots of Hennessey, and you’ll be a star in no time.
He might not be a household name, but you’ll quickly recognize actor Phil LaMarr as characters like Hermes on Futurama, and Jack in Samurai Jack. He also played a pivotal role in Pulp Fiction, and was a regular on MADtv. Great Big Story recently sat down to chat with Phil.
The Royal Institution shares a 1985 lecture by professor David Pye as he shows off a vintage analog device which allowed a skilled player to synthesize sounds that approximated a human voice. He then showed off what was then state-of-the-art electronic speech synthesis.
The great Stephen Hawking appeared in a skit made by UK charity Comic Relief. It’s about him looking for a new voice for his text-to-speech device. Sadly, none of the correct options were available: Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, or Gilbert Gottfried. It’s not rocket science.
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