Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Voice Recognition Engaged

There are some people out there that have very distinguishable voices: Alan Rickman, Morgan Freeman, George Takei- just to name a few. In other words these are people that will probably never voice a character in a Disney animated film but have good chances of voicing a character in a Dreamworks animated film (whenever I see anything for Kung Fu Panda all I see is Jack Black dressed as a panda attempting kung fu).

Still of Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda

Then there are other voices that are distinct but sometimes you can mistaken them: Benedict Cumberbatch, Owen Wilson, Oprah Winfrey- again, some examples. They are recognizable but sometimes there is that occasional time when you aren't sure if it is them or not.

But there is one voice that I never really thought I would be able to full on recognize because it isn't as distinct as the others, and yet on two occasions I have been able to clearly, and easily identify his voice and I blame The Avengers for this. Yes, I am referring to Tom Hiddleston, and the scenes in The Avengers that I am referring to is pretty much anytime Loki starts a mini-speech. The editors had this knack for once Loki started talking they would cut to show something else while Loki continued via voice over. It was dramatic and worked very well but through those I feel it trained my ear to recognize his voice without needing to see him. With these being J cuts, though, the first shot established that Loki was talking and the audience knows this as they transition to the other shots because they just showed him, but it still helps the brain make that association of the voice without the need for a visual aid.
From what I've seen of Loki's Avengers costumes they're similar on what he wore in Thor, but are a lot more lived-in and have better detailing. The Avengers is altogether a bigger movie with high production values, plus the costumes from each of the individual Avengers' own prequel movies presumably had to be tweaked a little in order to mesh the different looks.

Wallander - Kenneth Branagh!So the first incident of my ability to recognize his voice was almost immediate after hearing it and all because I was able to recognize what show my brother was watching. I was walking out of my room, passing by his, to go downstairs. He had his door closed and I could hear that he was watching something while I was in my room but didn't know what till I left. I immediately knew he was watching Wallander. I've been slowly making my way through that show- it isn't a background noise show, you really want to sit down and watch it intently but due to time constraints I can't do that often- and I know the tone of the sound from it, but I'm not sure if that was really what helped me figure out that it was Wallander. As I walked by his room, Hiddleston's character spoke at that moment and I immediately knew it was him and I immediately knew it was Wallander, even though his character said something very vague and you wouldn't really be able to know from the line what show it was.


I did a little victory dance in my head at being able to recognize it, which I confirmed I was correct a little later when I returned to my bedroom and saw what my brother was watching for he opened his door. But I paused in my victory dance and realized that I had just recognized Hiddleston's voice. It felt weird. Sure I've seen a lot of things that he has been in- who knows how many times I've watched The Avengers now- but I never thought his voice would be something I would be able to recognize. I thought that maybe I should lay off the Hiddleston movies/shows....but then I realized that a lot of them were too good to do that (I use to watch Midnight in Paris at least once a week all last semester, mostly for the music but also for the Woody Allen wit).

The second incident really confirmed that I could identify his voice even a very short line. In my Film and Holocaust class we were learning about the Wansee Conference and at first our professor showed us a 1982 film in German that was a re-enactment of what happened, but we didn't watch all of it because he was going to have us watch the HBO film from 2001 called Conspiracy of pretty much the same thing only in English and with details explained more. I was excited to watch the film because it was Stanley Tucci and Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth, so no complaints from me- it sure beats watching a 1940's film with Hitler yelling no matter how cinematicaly amazing it is. The film was just beginning and those participating in the meeting were just entering when I decided to shift positions in my seat. Our theatre is kind of worn and I spend 9 hours a week in there for my cinema classes and those seats are uncomfortable for three hours of sitting. Well while I was shifting I heard Tucci's character address someone of the staff and that's when I heard Hiddleston's voice again. Given the cast and everything, I knew it was plausible that he could have had a small role in it so for the rest of the film I wanted to confirm that it was him.

 (^ The full movie if you want to watch it. ^)

They next time he spoke and was on screen I believe I was grabbing a cough drop so I didn't cough through the whole movie. But I heard his voice and was annoyed at myself at missing a possible validation that it was actually him and not someone that sounded like him. Finally at the end of the film, as the main characters were leaving he came on screen for a moment....it was a side angle and because it was a 1940's period piece his hair was smoothed down and not the typical curls that I associate with a young Hiddleston so I doubted whether it was him or not. The film finished-  I enjoyed it for the history and that it was a well made film not for the subject matter- and my professor let the credits roll and there, as phone operator, I was able to confirm that it was indeed Hiddleston in the film.

It isn't a very scientific deduction, but merely an observation based upon two different events. I'm not really sure what I can do with this bit of knowledge besides just having a very strange ability that I'm an sure many a Hiddleston fangirl has...and cherishes....I bet they have just recordings of his voice that they listen to as they sleep...or that one audio book he did that my friend had us listen to in the car....yes I'm somewhat rambling now.

Anyway! So there is my useless talent for you all to know about. Although I did just think of a fun game to play with fellow geeks: Guess The Voice. One person plays a sound bite and the guesser has to guess based off voice and possible quote who says it. Technology and celebrities in one, the ideal geek game.
WooHoo Gif <-- cried laughing during this interview. http://pinterest.com/kasmackl/~-benedict-cumberbatch-~/
Okay, that is all.


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