Whew. I just got back in town from an AMAZING weekend in Chicago. We had our first big milestone of our "Iggy and the Inhalers" animated cartoon with the recording of all of the voice acting! And it was great.
The recording session was a reunion of sorts as well. Gary and I first started working together in our fantabulous theater company, "Live Action Cartoonists" nearly 10 years ago. We put on some great shows that featured interactive video, music and drawing giant cartoons live on stage. Lead by our amazing director, Natsu Onoda, LAC was a bonafide do-it-yourself supergroup. Gary was our video-designer and technological whiz, Andy Brommel was our sound-designer and composer, I drew cartoons and Natsu wrote and directed all our kooky shows. In our very first show about Astro Boy, Jenn Frank played the iconic Japanese cartoon character brilliantly (and she remained a staple in future LAC performances). What I loved about LAC is that we took what we had....(often tight deadlines and limited resources) and added some over-enthusiasm and "just-so-crazy-it-might-just-work" creativity to create some really memorable shows.
So, it didn't come to any surprise that when Gary and I concieved of Booster Shot Comics and started working on this animated Iggy and the Inhalers project, that we'd call upon our dear, talented friends for some help! As I was thinking about what Iggy might actually sound like, Jenn Frank immediately came to mind. Jenn and I have worked together on a ton of projects, and I knew she would be absolutely perfect for our title character. Thanks to a tip from a colleague on the project, I was alerted of the talents of actor Sam Miller. We met in a coffee shop a few weeks back and Sam nearly knocked me out of my chair when he effortlessly transitioned from the twangy drawl of Broncho to the booming voice of Coltron. He then threw in some insane allergen monster voices to thoroughly blow my mind. I talked to Gary shortly afterwards and we were set.
The final, and most critical piece, was enlisting Andy to be our sound and music guy. When he agreed, we knew this was going to be fantastic. Andy set up shop in a make-shift audio studio at his office in a beautiful high rise in downtown Chicago. The view from the conference room where we set up was amazing. I pretended I was in "Mad Men" at least a few times that day.
Andy set up the "soundbooth" in his adjoining office.... with the greatest view a soundbooth has ever had.
Jenn and Sam met up with us shortly afterwards, and after a little breakfast, we were off to the races. The recording process went surprisingly well. We had the actor recording the vocal track in the sound booth while the other actor read the other characters' lines into a mic in the conference room that ran into the headphones of the actor in the soundbooth. I'm assuming this is standard operating procedure for voice recording, but I was utterly impressed with the organizational precision of it all.
It was a pretty amazing set up, and Sam and Jenn did some amazing work. I kept finding myself smiling to myself, hearing characters I had created when I was a kid have actual voices for the very first time was... surreal. The 11 year-old me wouldn't have believed any of this. Jenn provided the perfect voice for Iggy and her interactions with Sam's Broncho and Coltron were sooo funny.
Andy was already experimenting with some robotic voice effects for Coltron's voice and it will be fantastic. Gary was a great director and guided the actors to takes that emphasized the various specific learning points we were aiming for. Later in the day Natsu (who miraculously happened to be in town that weekend) also stopped by to see us all. As I looked around the room, I couldn't help but thinking about how fun it was to be collaborating with my old pals again. It really felt like "the band was getting back together." In the years since Live Action Cartoonists, all of us have gone our own directions, off to our own lives and careers in different cities- and it just felt good to be working on something creative together again.
In the end, I think we all left our little DIY recording studio with a sense of accomplishment knowing that we ended up with something pretty great. Now the next step is to come up with something fitting of the amazing voice and audio work we've captured.... THE ANIMATION!
We'll be keeping you posted on that mammoth (but amazingly exciting) task!