Jan 19 – Site Update - Posted By Adam
theO Chat Kyle Hebert Q&A Transcript
Thanks to everyone who participated in our theOtaku Chat Reunion weekend. Below is a transcript of our chat Q&A with anime voice acting legend, Kyle Hebert!
Adam: Everyone type your questions. Kyle will respond and say 'next' when he's ready for the next one! Sakaira will be transcribing this for future posting so all theO fans can read
Kyle Hebert: ok cool. i can do this. there's no math involved. yay.
cowboysean: Before working on Samurai 7 as the voice of Mosuke, did you watch the Seven Samurai movie to learn how to act like the character?
Kyle Hebert: actually no, cowboysean. i originally auditioned for several of the leads, was asked by director Chris Bevins. Then I was brought in and just cast as Mosuke, without any auditioning. As is standard in any VO session, you show up, the director tells you about it and you're off and running. No rehearsals, no prep time, etc. (next)
TenshiHoshino: What animated characters that inspired you Voice act growing up?
Kyle Hebert: Well, Tenshi, Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes is where it all began for me, in early childhood in the 70s.
Kyle Hebert: I would do impressions, create characters, record parody commercials and things onto a cassette. My dad told me all about Mel Blanc, and that planted the seed. (next)
Adam: Kyle: You've been in the biz a long time, how things changed over the years?
Kyle Hebert: Good question, Adam. I assumed that when dvd hit the market in the late 90s, the whole "dub vs sub" war would go away. But alas. Obviously the internet has changed everything, including how we consume media. I think piracy and torrenting led to the new on demand streaming culture that exists. It forced the industry to get with the times and embrace a new business model.
Kyle Hebert: Fans want it as soon as its aired in Japan, and now with services like crunchy roll and Funimation, and Viz, fans can get their shows legit quicker than ever before.
Kyle Hebert: Its the best time to be an anime fan right now, certainly the cheapest. With all the streaming options, box set bargains, and the spread of conventions embracing the culture, I think the industry is great shape, whereas in years past, studios were crumbling. (next)
MewMew: What was the biggest challenge you had as a voice actor working with new talent that came aboard mid way through a show as an introduced character, and what was it like to say goodbye to actors that you worked with when they were killed off on the show?
Kyle Hebert: That would be a question more geared towards directing, MewMew, which I've never had the opportunity to do. Because we record one actor at a time, we never get the whole camaraderie that goes along with casts that record on cartoons, for example. (next)
Sakaira: How stressful is voice acting? Does it strain your throat often?
Kyle Hebert: Sakaira, the most stressful aspect for me personally has to do situations that require screaming for hours on end. Video games more often than anime show, from my experience anyway. The stress of the career has more to do with the lack of consistent work.
Auditions don't pay and the audition-to-booking ratio is staggeringly low, regardless of your resume or time in the industry. (next)
Adam: Quick follow up on that, what's generally the audition to booking ratio just to give people a rough idea of the process
Kyle Hebert: For me, it seems that I might get 1 gig out of 50 auditions. Some weeks, the ratio gets a bit bitter, others worse. (next)
Starscream: I once accidentally punched a wall that I was positioned far too near once while recording and gave myself a case of the ol' ham hand. Have you ever gestured far too wildly and injured yourself by mistake?
Kyle Hebert: Luckily, no, Starscream. I have accidentally hit the pop filter next to the mic from being too close in the studio multiple times. Sometimes, knock a pencil off the music stand where the script is. (next)
moletta: Do you have any particular words or phrases that are problematic for you?
Kyle Hebert: Sure, moletta, by nature of not being a native Japanese speaker, especially if its a long name, I can end up putting the wrong emphasis on the wrong syllable. It cracks me up how many fans still say "na-ROO-toe". (next)
Angel: Do you have any advice for anyone wishing to go into voice acting ?
Kyle Hebert: Angel, the short answer (and trust me , no sarcasm or snakiness intended): google is your friend.
Kyle Hebert: dee bradley baker has a FABULOUS advice based blog called I Want To Be A Voice Actor.com
Kyle Hebert: you have to be an actor FIRST. get training, experience, on camera, on stage, wherever you can.
Kyle Hebert: move where the work is, if your goal is to do voice over for animation. Los Angeles has the most opportunity. if you're happy doing commercials for radio/tv, any major city has opportunity.
Kyle Hebert: once you have training under your belt, then comes the demo stage. a character demo is separate from a commercial demo. there both roughly a minute long. you can make practice ones at home of course, but ultimately ones you email out to agents and casting people should be professionally recorded/directed/produced. Skipping to that stage without training first is a waste of your money and time.
Kyle Hebert: while you shop your demo around to agents and casting people (i.e. mailing, emailing, using Google to find agent addresses etc), network, join voice acting forums.
Kyle Hebert: this whole process takes years, a super thick skin, and investing thousands of dollars (equipment, classes, moving).
Variance: Do you have any odd rituals you do before you start voicing a character? I was also told to ask how you take your coffee?
Kyle Hebert: hahah. If I see an audition script for a character in my inbox, hopefully there's a picture because that helps me with fine tuning a voice. The script has a bullet point bio about the character and the lines showing a range of emotion, from different scenes in the story, all out of context.
Kyle Hebert: i tend to talk out loud in different voices, all throughout the day, without even looking at auditions. sometimes i chance upon something fun or quirky and mentally file it away.
Kyle Hebert: i like my coffee dark roast, with lots of cream and sugar. typically just coffee mate italian cream makes it sweet enough. i'm a k-cup and nespresso addict and love trying new flavors. my new fave is Crazy Cups' Peanut Butter and Jelly coffee.
Kyle Hebert: (next)
moletta: Being as you just talked about a low audition to booking ratio, have you ever had a gig that you turned down?
Kyle Hebert: well, moletta, haven't had to turn down gigs except in rare instances where i am traveling out of town when the studio calls about availability. if the production time is in a crunch and they can't wait for me, then they have to cast someone else. that is frustrating, but its par for the course
Kyle Hebert: i've never been cast on something, get to the studio then decide "no that's not for me". actors tend to be desperate for work hahahah. (next)
raeossom29: What would be your favorite gig so far?
Kyle Hebert: my bit part on Wreck-It Ralph, raeossom29. It's my shortest role but from a personal standpoint, my proudest moment. I've always wanted to be on a Disney movie, or any huge pop culture media giant. Voicing Ryu in Street Fighter is the whole reason I got to be in the movie, since the creators wanted the original voice talent instead of the typical "let's hire a celeb" method.
Kyle Hebert: It felt so amazing to not only achieve a childhood dream, but be part of a fantastic movie, even in the littlest way. I was moved to tears, hearing about friends and fans who clapped when my scene at the beginning of the movie came up, or at the credits.
Adam: FOLLOW UP: Are you gonna be in Wreck it Ralph 2??
Kyle Hebert: director Rich Moore just completed work on Zooptopia which is about to come out. I'm on his Facebook, heheh. I have dropped hints about being available if need be hehehe. If they move forward with a sequel, I think it would make sense to have more cameos from characters we haven't seen, like Mario, etc....but I would jump at the chance to voice ANYTHING in that or any other high profile project.
worldend007: Have you ever regreted a role?
Kyle Hebert: luckily no, worldend007. hahaha. i will say that one was bittersweet. I was cast to take over a role on Eureka 7, from the late Bob Papenbrook (Bryce Papenbrook's father). He unfortunately passed away and I was called in by director Tony Oliver to voice match him and continue the character for season 2. I don't regret it at all, but its a sad set of circumstances. I hope I did the character justice. (next)
Sakaira: I heard from another voice actor that sometimes directors allow you to freely read a line however you want. If given this choice, do you deviate from the script directions or do you follow them?
Kyle Hebert: sakaira, it has make sense within the context of the character and story, and actors definitely work with the director to find that balance if a line comes into question. for anime, it has to match the lip flaps. sometimes, its off by a flap or two, so we can substitute a similar word to make up for it, for example. some directors have a definite idea of how they want a line read, while others can hear a take in a different direction the actor offers and roll with that. we have to be prepared for anything, really. (next)
Adam: It didn't go through but cowboysean asked which voice actors do you especially like to play off of
Kyle Hebert: alrightee. well, cowboysean, as i said earlier, anime sessions record one actor at a time, so its just me, the director, and the engineer. but in cartoons, the whole cast is there. some ones of note that really made an impression on me were Billy West and Gray Dislisle. (next)
TenshiHoshino: Is there any video game series you'd like to do VO in?
Kyle Hebert: of course, Tenshi, anything and everything. if actors had their way, we would get cast in every thing we audition for. I personally hope they make a Left for Dead 3, which is my favorite shooter series. I read for the first two, but wasn't cast. Ive read for but didn't make it onto Halo, Gears of War, Arkham everything, all the big triple A titles. (next)
Variance: Have you ever had a character that was hard to figure out?
Kyle Hebert: actually, no, variance. the director tells me all i need to know for the context of a scene. my job is to please the director/client. there's been a few times where maybe the attitude or voice didn't quite match after we did a few of the lines, so we went back after we stumbled upon something that worked better, and for consistency's sake went back. (next)
MewMew: Do you see anime/manga becoming bigger in the United States in the future? And do you think it will be competing with things like Marvel/DC or do you think they're different audiences?
Kyle Hebert: mew mew, I think there is crossover appeal for anime fans to embrace marvel/dc, but I don't see it working the other way around, sadly. Anime has always been a niche thing, while popular, and I don't see it ever going away. I think its very secure. There are more cons than ever now, and attendance grows every year. I think anime will always be a popular thing, but not to the level of Marvel movies. (next)
DistantStar: Do you have to continue doing any special voice training, or what do you do (if anything) to help your voice in preparation to recording?
Kyle Hebert: distant star, actors should always stay fresh on the current trends and brush up to hone skills, etc, regardless of experience. i try to take a workshop or two every year. i haven't done any voice prep before a session though. (next)
Angel: Was there a role that you would say to yourself "i want to play this character" in your career?
Kyle Hebert: i gotta say, angel, that who WOULDN'T wanna be Batman? But at the same time, Kevin Conroy is the ultimate voice of Batman, and I certainly couldn't ever come close to what he's brought to the character. My biggest dream in voice over is to land a new animated character that perhaps isn't made yet, something that ends up having the pop culture impact that Spongebob has, for example. (next)
Adam: ok let's do ONE last question and we'll switch to FREE chat mode :), who wants to be last!
raeossom29: What was it like to get your first gig?
Kyle Hebert: landing DBZ was surreal, as I was a fan of it first of all for five years before I auditioned. I even went around the apartment imitating the Narrator. I paced around my place giddy as a schoolgirl when Chris Sabat called me personally to say they wanted to use me. I voiced bit parts at first for a few months, then took on teenage Gohan in high school. I wasn't nervous. I just felt validated and grateful to be living my dream. (next)
Adam: That's a great ending to our moderated chat :). We will now disable moderation mode so everyone can chat freely. Please start it off everyone by thanking Kyle!
Kyle Hebert: thank YOU, everyone for being here tonight and making this big bald guy feel welcome. I really appreciate the support, especially for keeping the industry and kicking in 2016. remember, to spend your hard earned dollars on legit merchandise, official streams, and conventions to keep anime/manga thriving!