Critical Role: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn Talks Voice Directing The Legend of Vox Machina During Pandemic

The voice director of Critical Role's upcoming animated series saw new opportunities and challenges from recording voiceovers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical Role fans should be familiar with The Legend of Vox Machina's voice director Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, as she made multiple appearances during the popular web series' first campaign as the guest character Zahra. In addition to her countless appearances on various animated shows as a voice actor, McGlynn is also an experienced voice director that has worked on popular shows like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Star Wars: Resistance and the English dub of Cowboy Bebop. The Legend of Vox Machina provided new challenges for McGlynn, in part because the series is an adaptation of an improvised D&D came and because the series had to be recorded during a pandemic that prevented group recordings in a studio.

ComicBook.com had the chance to talk with McGlynn via email about her work on The Legend of Vox Machina, the unexpected benefits that remote recording provided, and fan expectations.

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn Headshot
(Photo: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn)

ComicBook.com: You've been a voice director for some of the biggest cartoons in recent years, including She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. How does working on the upcoming Critical Role project compare to your other work, both in terms of the actual job "in the booth" and in terms of fan expectations?

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn: Well, I guess the biggest difference is the cast. These amazing people are my family. I officiated Laura and Travis' wedding so we've all been working and playing together for years. We all know which hats to wear during the sessions and which ones to take off to make sure we're getting what they need. Travis and Sam supervise everything as we go so it's a real collaborative effort. As for the fans, the love we feel from them is directly injected into the work we're doing in the booth. I'm very aware of expectations so that's always in the back of my mind, but at the end of the day it's about telling an amazing story to the best of our abilities. That way the fans are happy and so are people tuning in who are learning about Critical Role for the first time.

McGlynn: Did your past involvement with Critical Role impact how you approach voice directing the show?

Yes, of course! Being a fan of Critical Role as well as a guest on the show meant I was already fully entrenched in the context of the story and the arcs of the characters. It gave me the perfect foundation to build upon when recreating these characters for The Legend of Vox Machina. I was still an active viewer while in the booth but also had the responsibility of guiding the performances through each storyline.

What were the biggest challenges that recording during a pandemic presented? Were there any unexpected benefits to remote recordings?

McGlynn: Well, I have to admit, I love the remote recording that was thrust upon us when the pandemic hit. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing like the electricity between actors when they're all in the room together, but recording remotely made it a more intimate experience. We could really hone in on specific moments with each actor while still being in a remote room together. Usually, in a group record, the actors are very aware of not overlapping during the record. To do so would mean we'd have to "marry" the take, meaning the overlapped lines could not be separated during the editing process. But with everyone recording separately, on different tracks, we could have them overlap, interrupt each other, step on each other, which makes for a very naturalistic feeling during the scenes.

How does directing an adaptation of an RPG livestream differ from other projects you've worked on, especially since this is a property that all the voice actors are so familiar with?

McGlynn: I think the most fun part was taking material that was improvised on the show and finding that spark of making it up on the fly again with the scripted material. We're all actors, we're used to "lifting material" from the page to make it sound as if we're organically creating it. But in this instance, these actors actually did organically come up with the words they were speaking so the trick was to make it sound as spontaneous as it did on the live stream. That's something I've not encountered before with any other show. This is also a testament to our brilliant writing team who adapted the streaming content into the recreated story arc of the animated series.

Any final words for the Critters as they wait for The Legend of Vox Machina to come out?

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Hold onto your butts because this is going to blow your minds. Be prepared to see everything you love about Critical Role and these amazing characters, but also be ready for the unexpected. It's a huge undertaking to bring so many characters to life that initially were created by the cast and especially by Matt. We remain true to the essence of all of them, but as in any adaptation, there may be a few surprises which we hope you will enjoy. And I can't wait for you all to see what this amazing team of actors, writers, artists, animators and creatives have been cooking up. Long live Vox Machina!

The Legend of Vox Machina will air on Amazon Prime. No release date has been announced for the series, but Amazon Prime has stated that the series is coming soon. Amazon Prime has also renewed The Legend of Vox Machina for a second season.