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Student wins AX Idol Voice Acting competition

Oct. 8, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University student took first place in this year's AX Idol Voice Acting competition, held during the 2009 Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Sean E. Chiplock, a sophomore from Saginaw, Mich., majoring in communication, won the prize by voicing the character Kenshin in a scene from the TV series "Rurouni Kenshin."

AX Idol Voice Acting competition
Video--Sean E. Chiplock's winning performance

AX Idol is one of the most popular events staged by Anime Expo, the nation's largest anime and manga convention. Participants compete in either the voice acting or singing category and are judged by working members of the anime industry.

"To me, this competition was a chance to prove to myself that my desire to pursue professional voice acting is serious and that I'm ready to put forth the effort needed to progress," Chiplock says. "AX Idol is the first official contest I've entered regarding this unique sort of career choice. I hope to use my time in college to garner the experience needed to get my foot in the door after graduation, or sooner if opportunity allows for it."

Chiplock's voice acting began as a high school hobby. He became interested in the field after watching an anime teaser that focused on a voice actor. Nearly all of the projects he's worked on since have been at the amateur level through online forums such as the Voice Acting Alliance. Most are "fandubs," where he and others put their own voices to scenes or episodes of existing anime DVD titles, TV shows and video games.

"I strongly felt that pursuing a career in bringing entertainment to others through vocal efforts was something I would enjoy doing," Chiplock says. "My time practicing the craft, fortunately, has begun to land me some paid work, which I can only hope the victory at AX Idol will help further."

He has finished lines for an upcoming iPhone RPG game, been asked to participate in a future full-length anime movie and recently became the "voicemail call center" for a carwash booking company. Additionally, he's worked with indie musical groups such as the L33tstr33t Boys and various aspiring animators.

Chiplock graduated from Heritage High School and is the son of Jerome Chiplock. He came to WMU on a Medallion Scholarship, the highest merit-based honor the University can bestow to an incoming freshman.

The 19-year-old communication major is a member of WMU's Lee Honors College. He is working on a minor in Japanese and plans to also complete a theatre minor and possibly a media-related minor.

His extracurricular activities on campus include membership in the Anime Addicts student organization and two student theatre troupes that perform through the University's Theater for Community Health peer-education program. He also has helped several students complete academic projects that utilized voice acting, allowing him to become familiar with WMU's professional-style recording booth.

Chiplock says he practices voice acting in some form every day, and has been known to do voice work in his residence hall room for marathon sessions lasting up to six hours.

"My computer serves as both the medium in which I audition for fandubs and projects and record the lines for said projects. Thank God for patient hallmates, who've had to put up with so many hours of loud noises and silly voices," he says.

"But perhaps even more interesting is how I prepare the room for sound quality beforehand, which involves several blankets, a bathroom rug and using my Nintendo Wii as a paperweight. It's a spectacle to behold, I assure you."

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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