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Authors: Frank Catalano

Rand Unwrapped

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RAND UNWRAPPED

Confessions of a ROBOTECH Warrior

by Frank Catalano

Rand Unwrapped – Confessions of a Robotech Warrior Copyright © 2012 Frank Catalano

Copying material from this work in whole or part is strictly forbidden by law without author's prior written permission.

Author's Representative:

The Creative Edge

Anthony Carter

[email protected]

eBook ISBN: 9781625171986

Print ISBN: 1456543652

Print ISBN-13: 9781456543655

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011900925

Cover art by Tommy Yune, provided courtesy of Harmony Gold Inc., USA©1985-2012. All rights reserved.

No creative work happens without the support of family and friends. A special thank you to:

Brenda Catalano

Alexandra Catalano

Francesca Catalano

and

Ronald J. Wong.

Dedicated to the memory of

Carl Macek

(1951 - 2010)

A very special thank you to

Harmony Gold

Frank Agrama – Chairman and CEO

Christy Duran – President and General Counsel

Tommy Yune – Creative Director

and

Robotech series staff and writers

Gregory Snegoff

Robert Barron

Greg Finley

Steve Kramer

Mike Reynolds

Tao Will

Ardwight Chamberlain

Jason Klassi

Jim Wager

Steve Flood

Books by Frank Catalano

Art of the Monologue

Monologues they haven't heard yet

The Creative Audience

The collaborative role of the audience in the creation of the visual and performing arts

White Knight Black Night

Short monologues for auditions

The Resting Place

a play

Autumn Sweet

a play

Rand Unwrapped

Confessions of a Robotech Warrior

Table of Contents

Forward
        
Making Pictures Talk What's this book about anyway?

Chapter 1
      
Creating a character from a picture

Chapter 2
      
Everybody's Got to Start Somewhere

Chapter 3
      
Arriving at Robotech

Chapter 4
      
Playing Admiral Rick Hunter (well… not really)

Chapter 5
      
Becoming Rand

Chapter 6
      
Heroes

Chapter 7
      
Bullies

Chapter 8
      
Rook, Dante Alighieri and Caitlin Burkowitz

Chapter 9
      
Playing Guns

Chapter 10
    
We Are All Robotech Warriors

Rand's Creed

FORWARD
Making Pictures Talk What's this book about anyway?

Before I set out to do anything, I like to define what it is I am attempting to do before I begin. In this book, I want to explore my internal choices for performing the voice for the animated character of Rand in
The New Generation
season of the
Robotech
television series. The creation of this character was the result of an ongoing process of exploration and discovery. I didn't walk in the door on the first day of recording with all the answers but rather created choices for the character bit by bit as the series progressed. This is a book about my journey as an actor and connection of events from my past experiences (as best as I can remember) in finding the character of Rand in the animated television series
Robotech.
It is not a book about
The New Generation
or it's characters or plot line. I will leave those elements to the Robotech fans to teach me.

CHAPTER 1
Creating a character from a picture

“I wonder what the heck is going on around here?”

- Episode 9 – The Genesis Pits

As an acting teacher, many students have asked me the question. What's the best way to create a character for an audition or within a play or film? The quick answer is that the clues for any character can be found within the framework of the underlying script provided by the writer. The written script, like a blue print, contains a combination of character traits including
action
(how the character moves and reacts to a specific environment), a
physical description
(what does the character look like) and
dialogue
(how does the character speak, what do they say and how do they say it). An actor uses these elements in making choices to effectively portray a particular character. They can consider what is contained in the script including the writer's physical description of the character and dialogue components. What does the character say when they talk about themselves and what do other characters within the piece say about the character? In addition, an actor can analyze other characters within the piece as they relate to their character. Actors become investigators making notes of how other characters behave around the character they are playing. Much of the information provided by writers is presented through either visual or oral exposition. Exposition can be in the form of visual flashbacks or dialogue. It allows both the audience and the actor playing the role some understanding about the character's past. The actor can then assimilate all of these factors and make specific choices about how they will portray the character within a particular moment in a film or play. This process takes place over a given period of time through rehearsals and readings. However, for an audition, the creative dynamic is much different.

In an audition setting, much of the work is done by the actor. They have to read the script or specific sections of the script provided by the producer for the audition. These sections are called
sides
and can be any number of pages culled from a full script for the purpose of the audition. The actor, when possible, tries to read the entire script to get an idea of the piece in its entirety. It gives the actor a better picture of their character's role within the story as a whole. If the full script is not available, then the actor usually makes specific choices for the audition based upon the reading of the sides, instructions provided by the casting office or information provided by their agent. These choices might include what to wear for the character, how to move and how to speak the lines. During the audition, the actor may receive additional notes from the casting director to incorporate into the reading. Once the actor is cast in the project they can incorporate those choices into the character. However, the audition process is quite different than the production process, which incorporates the work of other performers and the director.

Once cast in a play or film, the actor's choices must fit within the creative framework provided by the director and the interpretations of other characters in the project. The meaning here, is that the choices of other actor's, by their very nature, must be acknowledged and responded to by an actor's character choices within the framework of the text. This complex creative collaboration is carefully crafted over a period of time and with the guiding hand of a good director, should result in a unified work. In film and theatre, the gestation period for the creation of a character by an actor may take place over several weeks of rehearsal or shooting. In television, there is usually a very short
finite period to develop a character from the first read of the script to actual shooting. Often in television series, actors create characters over a period of episodes and seasons. This is often the result in a conscious or unconscious collaboration of the writers, producers who collectively create the character's core over a period of episodes. They may see certain mannerism or characteristics in an actor's interpretation of the character. They in turn write these characteristics into the script. Also, during production, the back story of a character can be developed and incorporated into future episodes. Character development also takes place character to character. Often as a television or web series progresses, each actor's choices for his or her character evolve simultaneously with those of the ensemble as a whole. The process is really never complete and can continue to evolve until the last day of shooting. In theatre, the process may continue until the last performance of the production before an audience. Now while there may be some similarities of character creation with live theatre and film, creating an animated character is a much different process.

The production of an animated film or series is often created piece by piece like a visual artist creates a mosaic. In most cases, actors create their character choices outside of the normal ensemble format. They record their characters voices alone without the face-to-face contact they would have in a play or live action film. While they may have the voices of other characters available to them in their headphones, they often do not have the other actor in the room with them. They don't have the visual reactions of other characters to play against. The only cue they may have is the vocal tone and emotion that they might be getting in their headphones—if they have it at all and what's up on the screen. What I've described here is trying to voice a character from previously existing footage. This was the case in creating the characters for
Robotech
. The footage was already created in Japan and all of the actor's that voiced characters in the series had to work with that footage. That meant, that what was up on the screen was “there” and could not be changed. The vocal read provided by a voice actor for a character had to make sense within that visual footage. An actor can also create a voice for an animated character from a storyboard.

A storyboard is a series of images with dialogue that visually describes what the animated footage will look like before it is produced. It details the dialogue and the physical actions of the characters within each scene. In this case, the actor can work with writers and storyboard artists to create a specific voice for the character before it has been animated. The actor has the benefit of working with a storyboard illustration of the character and a visual detail of the comedic or dramatic situation. Storyboards in many ways read like a comic book version of what the animated product will look like when it is completed. The storyboard might include a detailed description of the character's appearance or reaction within a particular scene, the lines the character speaks and may even take into consideration the mannerisms of the specific actor creating a voice for the character. This collaborative process between the actor, writer and animator can result in an animated character having many of the same physical and vocal characteristics of the actor playing the role. The final animation of the animated character of the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature
Aladdin (1992)
incorporated many of the mannerisms and interpretation of Robin Williams in the creation of the Genie character. However, if the Genie character had been voiced by another actor, it might not have been created in quite
the same way. When an actor creates a voice from a storyboard there is a lot more flexibility.

When a line is delivered, it is spoken to a specific set of circumstances that are present within the storyline. Why I'm making this distinction is that the process is still piece by piece – almost like creating a visual mosaic of each moment the character experiences within the framework of the work as a whole. But the actor in this case, works with the director, writers and animators to create a voice that works for the character and the particular situation. There are no requirements to sync the vocal interpretation to an already created visual setting or action. The actor can concentrate on the character and make specific choices within that particular scene. Once it is completed, there is a finished vocalized piece of the mosaic and the actor can move on to the next situation in the story. Once, the voice work is completed, the animators create the visual portion of the film around the lines that have been recorded. The actor's voice and character choices are integrated completely into the fabric of the total work resulting in a seamless connection of voice actor and animation. The creation of a character within the framework of Japanese animae, the second creative process, is quite different.

BOOK: Rand Unwrapped
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