Inside a Video Game Voiceover Studio

08/27/2014 by Russ Pitts | Source: Polygon
Jennifer Hale asks a few questions about the character. That's less than 30 seconds after she walks in the room.

Her arrival prompts the usual bit of Hollywood hug and kiss, and some hello-how-are-yous, but then it's down to business.

Who is this character? What is she doing? Why is she here?

And then, just a minute later, she's in the booth and she's nailing it.

If you've played a video game in the past several years, you'll probably recognize her voice. Her list of credits is enormous. Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Metroid Prime, Knights of the Old Republic, Mercenaries, the Metal Gear Solid series, Mass Effect 2 and 3, Gears of War 3, Diablo 3, Halo 4 and 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops, BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us and Broken Age are not even half of the games she's contributed to.

And now, added to that list, is Defense Grid 2.

Executive Producer Jeff Pobst and Script Co-Writer Sam Ernst are directing, sitting in chairs with wood frames and slung canvas, like you'd expect. Each is holding a script the size of a small phone book. The engineer signals he's ready to begin. And Hale begins.

Standing in the recording booth, she runs over a couple of lines, trying out different voices. She's playing a new character, a former scientist who is now part of a computer, and who will help the player.

Hale asks if it's all right if the character is well-traveled. "She's moved around a lot, but spent a lot of time in Australia?" she suggests.

Pobst says, "Sure."

And then Hale drops it, and it's perfect. A fully realized character, pulled out of the bag like it's nothing. The result of (and perhaps the cause for) over two decades of successful work in the video game industry.

For every game you play, this scene will repeat multiple times. Each character, each voice, each barely noticeable grunt or scream is created by a person in a booth. Not always by someone as innately talented as Hale, but someone. Somewhere.

After 10 minutes of working with Hale, Ernst and Pobst noticeably relax. It's working. The new character, voiced by the veteran Hale, sounds better than they'd hoped. Stitched together after the fact with the voices recorded by the other actors, it will somehow feel perfectly in place. Even though Hale had never heard those voices, and hadn't read the script until today.

Ernst and Pobst celebrate with pastries and warm smiles, while Hale continues to rocket through the script, laying down lines, adding life to the game that's still being made hundreds of miles away, in a completely different state.

This is game development.

Read the full article HERE.