|A popular voice acting club in Korea University, On Voicing meets regularly to dub fun videos and practice live dubbing. Photo by Lee Joo-ah.
Four people walk on stage. Instead of looking at the audience, the movie The Secret Life of Pets plays on the screen behind them. Microphones in hand, eyes on the screen, the performers start to live dub the characters in the movie in front of the audience of 80 people. Tweaking and adjusting their voices in unique ways, they sometimes sound like a cute cat, sometimes like an enormous dog.
“You just saw our proudest production, the Live Dubbing Show,” said Park Jung-woo, a member of On Voicing. “We perform with our voices only.”
On Voicing, founded in 2007, is Korea University’s voice acting club. Despite the unfamiliarity of the club’s subject, it is very popular among students, with a record 7 to 1 acceptance rate for this year’s recruitment.
“When I was younger, my friends made fun of my unique, high-pitched voice,” said Hwang Yu-na, president of On Voicing, as she explained how she came to apply for the club. “I wanted to test whether or not I could act with confidence just using my voice in front of a large audience.”
A typical semester in On Voicing centers on many voice acting activities. Their Dae-Yon video, a video clip used in their rivalry against Yonsei University during varsity matches, is one of them. They get videos and scripts from Korea University’s broadcasting system, KUTV, and dub parody videos for amusement. On Voicing also do their own voice acting and dubbing as members can post animations, movies or viral videos to gather club members who want to participate. After dubbing the video, they post it on their Naver café, Facebook page or Twitter for their followers to enjoy.
“Our members give feedback to each other through comments on one another’s online posts or face to face,” Park added. “We usually get along with one another, but when we do our jobs, we give out earnest feedback regardless of age or grade.”
The Live Dubbing Show is the main activity of On Voicing. Members perform live dubbing, following the sync and character. As performances like the Live Dubbing Show are not yet familiar in Korea and are hard to perform, even professionals are impressed by its high quality.
“Some members of the club actually go on to become professional voice actors,” Park said. “Kim Yeon-woo, who voices the Overwatch character Sombra, is one of our former members.”
The preparation for the Live Dubbing Show begins during the summer vacation. The members recommend dubbing materials for the show and pick the final four works, considering the number of the performers and the length of the video. Then, the members remove the original sound track and add background music, producing a video without character voices. Also, they write their own scripts, translating the lines into Korean and thoroughly editing them to sync with the characters. The video clips and the scripts are ready by the beginning of the fall semester, at the start of which the club casts the roles. After six weeks’ practice, the curtain rises.
“The most difficult part of the show is to be in sync with the characters’ mouth movements and clear pronunciation,” Park said. “After numerous feedback sessions and hours of instruction on performance, we find voices that resignate best with the characters.”
This year’s Live Dubbing Show used four works: the Japanese animation Hamtori and Sekko-boys, American drama Victorious, and movie The Secret Life of Pets. Park played the role of Hermes from Sekkoboys, a bluffing Sekko, meaning statue, who is an idol star.
“Hermes and I have very different personalities,” Park said with a laugh. “Acting out a character who is completely different from me is always a challenge. However, it is also intriguing being another person in front of so many people.”
At the end of the show, the members of On Voicing were thrilled and excited by the audience’s applause and cheers. The feeling of accomplishment after months of practice is the most impressive memory of the club’s activities.
On Voicing members think that voice acting is literally “voice acting”: not speaking for the characters but borrowing voices from the characters to make the audience feel like the characters are alive. In a sense, it means becoming the character itself.
“We want our club to grow to include a wider spectrum of voices that can produce high-quality performances,” Hwang said. “We consider our accomplishment more than a hobby; we also hope that On Voicing can be a starting point for influencing voice acting talent and aiding those who dream of becoming professional voice actors.”