With animation being such a popular genre of voice over, I’ve reached out to some casting directors in the field to find out what they look for from voice over talent and how they cast animated roles. My interview with animation and live action casting director Danielle Pretsfelder brings insight and offers answers to those interested in the animation voice over industry.
I actually “fell” into casting for animation. I had been in live action casting for several years and always loved casting, especially for the Children & Family market, so the expansion to animation fit well within my skill set.
What do you look for when casting for animated characters?
I look for a unique but maintainable vocal quality. It is so important that a VO actor isn’t just “putting on a voice”, but truly acting and that whatever voice they create for the character, they are able to comfortably speak and “emote” in consistently. To me, creating an animated character is no different than creating a live action/on-camera character, in the sense you must really CREATE the character and do the character work. Although we may only hear a voice, we should be able to visualize the character just as we would visualize a character in a live action project. In some ways, it requires MORE character work and research from the actor-as our only way to know the character is through the “voice”, as opposed to when you are on camera and both your body and voice can bring the character to life.
Do you cast on both coasts?
I do! But as a New York Based Gal, I love trying to find New York talent for my New York projects whenever possible! Of course Los Angeles is booming with great voice over talent and great voice over projects, but we have SO many great voice over projects and voice over actors in New York and I try to find opportunities to collaborate with local talent whenever possible. It’s so nice to have an entire creative team present/in person. Of course technology is wonderful and allows us to work with talent regardless of their geographical location, but there is something wonderful about the chemistry and the dynamic about working together, in person.
Do you listen to character demos?
I do! And I encourage actors to create demo reels of their character work. I am lucky enough to have the capacity to store all of my auditions, so I hold on to all auditions ever submitted to me. This allows me to share talent’s past auditions and character demos. Since we often are looking for talent to voice more than one character in a series, it is always helpful to hear other examples of character work.
Would you rather hear someone who sent you a demo of their actual speaking voice?
I like to hear both, actually. The MORE you can share with me, the better! And, it’s always helpful to know that a VO actor has the skill set to do both character work and narration work (i.e. work in their “real” voice). This shows me the versatility of their voice and ability.
What changes have you noticed in the animation casting world in the last five years?
As technology progresses, the voice over world/animation casting world is moving faster than ever! With more talent having their own studios and the ability to record higher quality auditions and self-record content that is of high enough quality to be used on air as finished products, there are MORE people submitting on projects and projects move faster than ever! The increase in original, animated, online content of high value has also grown exponentially in the last five years, which means more GREAT opportunities for actors than ever before!
Do you ever search for talent online at sites like Voices.com or Voice123.com?
Both are truly great resources but I rarely use them due to having so many “go to” folks in my arsenal. But, I encourage ALL voice over actors to have their demos up on both sites.
Do you only receive demos through agents?
I receive demos mainly through agents but if I meet a VO actor another way, I gladly accept their demos!
Danielle Pretsfelder is a Casting Director at a major cable network, where she casts for both Animation & Live Action, for long form & short form content for initial exhibition, both on air and on digital platforms. She has been in casting for over 10 years.