Why Do Dub Voice Actors Stick To The Same Studios?
by Justin Sevakis,
Over the years, I've seen many voice actors stay in one circle only (Viz, Funimation, Sentai, or 4Kids). I've asked myself some questions and created scenarios in my head which gives an idea of the kind of things I've wanted to see, but have not or probably will not see. For example, why haven't I seen Johnny Yong Bosch on Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, Monica Rial on Naruto Shippūden, Stephenie Sheh on One Piece, or even Veronica Taylor on Fate/Zero? How do voice actors get from this anime to that anime are what kind of borders (if any) do face?
Most of the time, it's a physical distance issue. Auditions are usually held in person, a rapport with a dub staff or dub studio generally occurs one-on-one, and unless that voice actor goes to a lot of anime conventions and socializes a lot, they often don't know the people in charge in other, far flung parts of North America well enough to get hired for a job there. Auditions are usually held in person, and while trusted "regulars" can send in audition reels, most of the time recording has to be done in person. And even if they did, distance is an issue, and anime doesn't pay very much.
For a good, consistent sounding audio recording, it's generally a good idea to record your entire cast in the same room, with the same equipment. Each studio's selection of microphones, microphone pre-amplifiers, Protools plug-ins, and even the shape of the booth can all affect how a recording sounds, and it's important to keep everything sounding consistent. Also, you need to have the same director in the studio to supervise.
A lot of the actors you named simply don't live in the same state as the studios you wish were recording them. Funimation records in Dallas, Texas. Stephanie Sheh lives in Los Angeles. She might be able to fly in to record a movie role or something, but a recurring role in a never-ending show like One Piece? Forget it! Funimation doesn't have the budget to fly her out every week, and it's not a good use of anyone's time. People like Todd Haberkorn and Vic Mignogna, who used to live in Texas but now live in LA might fly back for a little while to record a sequel to a series they were in years ago, but they're not going to be Funimation's first choice for a show anymore. The logistics are too difficult, and airfare (and possbly hotels) is too expensive. If they discover later that just one or two lines need to be re-recorded, but the actors have already flown home, they're screwed.
NYAV Post has studios in both LA and New York, where they were careful to buy identical equipment and have similar sounding rooms, but they're the only studio I know of that regularly straddles two locations like that. If a voice actor is visiting another city and knows someone on the staff of a show (Pokémon, for example), there's a chance they can drop in and do a bit part, or a guest starring role. But that's as far as it goes.
For actors who are less involved with the anime scene, there's also a tendency to just stay at one studio simply because they enjoy working with the staff, they are happy to do that one job for them and them only, and that's enough for them. Actors that aren't anime fans often just don't care enough to try and push into other anime studios -- unless they're otaku themselves, and into anime and the scene in general, their time is often better spent trying to chase down on-camera roles and other things that pay better and have more visibility than anime work.
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Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis wrote Answerman between July 2013 and August 2019, and had over 20 years of experience in the anime business at the time. These days, he's the owner of the video production company MediaOCD, where he produces many anime Blu-rays. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.
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