Say Goodbye to the Lead Programmer’s Girlfriend Twelve Ways to Squeeze the Most Out of Professional Voice Actors The days of using the lead programmer’s girlfriend to record a game’s human audio are waning. Games like last year’s Walking Dead and 2011’s Portal 2 raised the bar for sound design across platforms, establishing a new norm in casual gaming. Voice acting plays such a critical role in sound design that developers can no longer pass off mediocre voice acting as an acceptable transgression—no matter how convenient it may be to use the friend of a friend. Finding professional voice actors and guiding them through the world you and your team have created can prove daunting to veterans and newbies alike. So here are 12 tips to take the dread out of the deed:
If Only Angelina Jolie Were Available… In your audition packet, offer your potential actors as many clues about your project as possible by including a backstory of the characters and the world they live in. Reference the pacing, style and intensity level of the game, and include a physical description of each character with a picture. To work around non-disclosure issues, developers often substitute the image of a celebrity to represent each character—but attaching a picture of Angelina Jolie as the prototype for your main female fighter will return bland Lara Croft impressions. A picture is worth 10,000 pixels to a voice actor— even a rough sketch will reward you with unique and relevant audition submissions.
Take a Wild-line Rollercoaster Ride Choose the lines the actors will be reading so that they represent the widest range of emotions needed for the session, but also
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throw in a couple of generic lines that will show off an actor’s inventiveness. If possible, include a scene with dialogue. This will supply the actor with further clues by showing how the character interacts with others, and it will allow you to hear how the actor deals with the difficult art of wild-lining (or having a conversation with no one). Actors must tap into their active imaginations to make the lines seem natural, so wild-lining separates the pros from the lead programmers’ girlfriends.
More Preparation = Less Perspiration Be prepared! Have a clean script ready to go. Check your phone patches, your mic setup and levels. Confirm everyone is on the same page regarding times and process. Being prepared will relax you and help ease the energy in the room, allowing the session to be as creative and productive as possible.