The circle of life is perhaps the most powerful scene from The Lion King. The song represented the peak of the Disney Renaissance in many ways. The sheer depth and scope that was put in every frame of animation can be seen. Across the past two decades, The Lion King has aged incredibly well, with 3D re-releases bringing new scale to the movie, and a Blue-ray edition that has been fantastic for home movie viewing.
It’s probably no surprise that an author named Ben from his blog viewsfromthesofa listed “The Circle of Life” as #10 in his top ten movie scenes. Ben perfectly describes the power of the song, and the tone it sets for the movie.
“There are few movies that open with goosebumps. The first scene of The Lion King is one of them though. The scene is effective and clear, telling a small story in of itself as well as setting the tone and foundation for the rest of the movie.”
Written and composed by Tim Rice and Elton, The Circle of Life won the Grammy award in 1994.
The following narrative is my description of recording my first ever commercial voice over gig for a Boston area radio commercial.
Deafening. The silence is absolutely deafening.
Thick padded walls, subwoofers that supersede my body weight, dual monitors with custom built transparent towers, and a motherboard sound system with dials and EQ’s that I’ve never heard of.
Wait the script. You’ve got a commercial to do, focus…
“I’m just gonna set up the mic, and we can get started. Just need five minutes!”
I mutter a response, in this acoustic space, even the faintest whisper can be a scream. I had dreamed for quite some time what recording in a professional environment would be like. But I wasn’t quite expecting such an overwhelming atmosphere.
No you idiot, focus, look back at the script. Highlight, look for articulation points…wait, why is my heart racing so fast?
“Everything is all set up!”
I sound a bit hurried, too unsure of myself. In my haste to answer, my voice had cracked slightly. You can’t do that. It’s time to record, I push any thoughts on unease out of my mind.
“Check. Check…testing 1, 2, 3…”
The recording room itself is even more deadened than the the audio space. There’s no electrical hum, no ambience. Nothing but the feedback from my own voice, and about 12 inches of meticulously placed acoustic foam and tiles. My director is too busy setting up the software. My mouth is cotton, but the high sensitivity ribbon microphone picks up every lip smack, every swallow, every breath. I’m not usually this nervous before any recording…
I look back to the script…
“Don’t be nervous!”
My director’s voice cuts through the silence. She is Chinese, an exchange student only a couple years older than me. English is obviously her second language, but beneath her thick accent I can hear she is as just as nervous and excited as I am. Somehow, for some reason, that makes me feel better. I take a small breath, and readjust my headphones.
She’s poured her heart and soul into this radio advertisement, and she reached out to me to help make this project a reality. I can’t let the butterflies in my stomach delay this pivotal moment in my budding career, and hers. In a flash, anxiety and trepidation are replaced with a sense of energy and excitement I’ve never felt before.
“Not anymore, roll tape!”
Welcome to the blog! My name is Kevin Urban, and welcome to “Silver Screen Studies”! Film is a global medium, and has been a cornerstone of American culture since the advent of motion picture. From Charlie Chaplin’s persona “The Tramp” to Disney’s “Queen Elsa”, movie characters are embedded in our thoughts and memories. They’re enduring characters that have stowed the test of time. In this blog where we will dive into the incredibly rich world of cinema, and study the individual impact and cultural status of such film characters.
“Cartoon Network’s Cartoon Theatre”, beautifully announced by Don Lafontaine (famed “In a World” Movie Trailer Voice Over Artist) was what first sparked my interest in the movies. From fantastic animated films such as “Balto”, “Cat’s Don’t Dance”, and “Batman vs. Superman” to mini theatrical shorts featuring the Looney Tunes, I was hooked. There was just something about these movies that differed from just small cartoons to me. Was it the grander stories they were telling? The Superb animation? The stellar acting? Perhaps a little bit of all. These characters just struck a chord with, and my brothers and I would quote them, debate about them, and even come up with ideas of our own about what they were going to do in the sequel.
This blog is going to be very fun to write about because I’ll be able to discuss an individual character from a favorite film of mine. I won’t have to limit it to just a little personal journal, no one would care about that! A discussion on Bugs Bunny, however! His place in American culture, his charismatic personality, his rise to fame, now that is something people want to read about!
I do believe “Silver Screen Studies” has the potential to appeal all types of audiences. Anyone with a love of movies, film or even cultural study will reach a lot of people!
See you at the movies!