Sunday, May 18, 2014

Puzzle Piece To Writing - Voice Acting

March 5, 2014 - Steven Vitte takes a general acting class.
May 17, 2014 - Steven Vitte takes a voice over recording session in his local recording studio.

What you read above is the truth. Just the other day I stepped out in faith and took on a recording session that involved general voice over work. It was a private session that only involved me and an audio engineer, but from what I experienced I can surely say that I felt happy going on this kind of adventure. I felt comfortable throughout this session and it only got better as time went on. I truly appreciate the help I received from the audio engineer and he helped me along the way. He made suggestions as to which words I should hit on with more emphasis, and I went back and corrected those parts.

Attending a voice over recording session for just a couple hours gave me more clarity as far as one part of the creative process in game development is concerned. I experienced it up front and center, albeit in a trial process, just what voice actors and voice actresses actually do when they prepare for official recording sessions. Voice over work is an important part of the development process of a video game these days and it's important because with the technology we now have we can implement voice acting if we so choose and listen to the main characters of the game's story. Voice actors bring life to video game characters and they put their vocal stamp on what gamers will envision a character's voice to sound like.

"Write for the ear, and not for the eye."

This is one rule that I have always kept in mind whenever I write my custom scripts and stories. Whatever writing project you work on, you must make sure that the sounds of your writing come across as smooth and understandable for your audience. Gamers are not looking forward to listen to oratories presented in debate class fashion, and such dialogue should only be used sparingly and when appropriate. Gamers would appreciate one liners and two liners that get right to the point more. A writer doesn't need to give his or her characters lengthy, in-depth explanations as to why those characters performed certain actions. Actions speak louder than words anyway. Gamers can see that when they watch scenes play out.

I have made it known to some people that I respect the work of voice actors and voice actresses, and I sincerely mean that. It takes time to properly rehearse lines and it takes patience to flesh out the best lines. Voice acting carries the dialogue of writers and depending on who the voice actors are, certain types of characters are brought to life and they jump out to give gamers a positive impression. Sometimes we only need to listen to a character in a scene to determine what kind of character he or she is to us, regardless of what the character looks like.

I have had a phone conversation with an aspiring voice actor who is looking to make his break and this conversation also opened my eyes a little bit into what exactly goes into the process. This conversation went on for nearly 20 minutes and it was a good talk because I got to find out for myself what is needed to take the necessary steps. There are 2 things that this kind man let me know about and they are...

1) The Voice Over business is NOT easy.
2) There is plenty of work to be had out there.

#1 is definitely something I want to touch on because there are some gamers out there who don't really understand how tough this particular business is. The Voice Over business is NOT easy and there are reasons why. You can't just expect to march into a studio cold turkey and read lines without practice. You will very much sound flat and out of tune with your voice if you go about it that way. Practice sharpens the blade, so to speak. Sports athletes need to practice, artists need to practice, news analysts need to practice, and the same is true for voice actors.

Also, and this is only a fact and nothing to discourage folks, not everybody will be cut out for this avenue. Some people just may not have the voice that can be sustained in the form of a video game adventure. You won't know for sure whether or not you have a good enough voice until you test out your voice. Sometimes it's hard for us to hear ourselves because when we talk we don't necessarily think about our voices sounding like what they really are. I read out a line and I hear myself one way, but other people will hear me a different way. It's not until the audio is played back to me that I realize what my voice really sounds like. I'm sure that's the case with other people.

Now I'm in a unique position because I am trying to get my work primarily noticed as a writer, but in the past few months, starting at the tail end of 2013, I have began to take the idea of voice acting more seriously. If I can use voice acting as a platform to help aid my writing in some way, then there is no reason why I can't use this platform.

A writer will know if his or her scripted lines are any good if a voice actor can cleanly display them vocally. Depending on what the dialogue is, it will either be a hit or a dud, but either way, a writer must be prepared for any and all criticism that comes at his or her way. A writer will know if some lines he or she wrote will come across as too wordy, too vague, too plain or too complex once a voice actor rehearses those lines. If a line doesn't sound right at first, then chances are it won't be right in the big picture.

I will surely update you guys on this endeavor in due time, but some things take time, especially when you live out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I should act out that last sentence?

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