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Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

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Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby flygrl513 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:25 pm

I thought this was an interesting article. It must be odd to audition for something when they can't tell you what it is. How do you negotiate a fee or even really understand how to perform the role?

Secrecy is paramount, videogame companies say. Leaks can cause knee-jerk reactions on social media or tip off rivals to games under development. For actors, that makes it hard to prep for gigs and keep resumes up-to-date. They are usually hired by third-party casting agents who work for multiple game companies. In some cases, actors only discover what titles they have appeared in by looking at entertainment sites such as Amazon.com Inc.’s IMDb.


I guess it's a little different with voice acting, but any actor has to understand the character and context to do a good job, right? I'm not an actor but it seems like that would be an essential input to the process.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/so-you-were ... 1480875580
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby Nance » Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:55 pm

That must be so weird. I guess the gaming companies already have an idea about who they want or how they want it and they instruct the casting agent accordingly?

You know what I would find the weirdest thing to do in a sound booth? Noises... Like grunts, moans, panting etc.
I mean I have some studio experience and while it can be wildly funny to bother the sound guy with random noises, to do that on purpose would make me feel very self conscious.
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby flygrl513 » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:25 pm

[quote="Nance"]
You know what I would find the weirdest thing to do in a sound booth? Noises... Like grunts, moans, panting etc.
I mean I have some studio experience and while it can be wildly funny to bother the sound guy with random noises, to do that on purpose would make me feel very self conscious.[/quote]

That's funny! Wish I could do voices... My husband is good at it. He can do a great Obama impression.

I wonder if Dwight actually goes to a sound recording studio to create his work. I mean, I'm pretty sure he has the best technology in his home. Do you think, being as successful as he is, he could just get an "assignment" and mail it in? It would probably save the producers money, and they already know the quality of his work. That would be a great work assignment, wouldn't it? "Read the following lines as a zombie pirate who is about to bite the gamer's head off." Haha!
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby Nance » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:45 pm

I really think Dwight has to go into work just like the rest of us haha. There's a lot involved in recording things like this. It's acting too! So you probably still need a director.

The only experience I have in a recording studio is singing. I can't do impressions. At least I don't think so. I never really tried it. I can do accents, emotions etc.
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby Bix » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:09 pm

For video games, Dwight has done just regular studio in-front-of-the-mic work and "motion capture," the full-on-body-suit acting with the motion points.

But right now, SAG actors are on strike. Leading up to it, I kept getting regular announcements from SAG about the video game dispute: https://www.wired.com/2016/10/videogame ... nt-strike/

Among their biggest beefs is getting a cut of the residuals a game earns, on top of the average baseline salary of $825 for a four-hour session, according to The Wall Street Journal, which notes that roughly 5,000 Guild members specialize in videogame work. The Guild also wants additional pay for vocally stressful work—shouting, screaming, emitting gurgling death noises, that sort of thing—that can strain or even damage the vocal chords. Such sessions would be limited to two hours daily, with more conventional voice-work capped at eight. Actors also want to know exactly what game they’re signing on for, and they want stunt coordinators in the studio to ensure their safety during motion-capture work.
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby Bix » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:16 pm

The Fall 2016 SAG-AFTRA issue is rich with information: https://www.sagaftra.org/files/sa_fall16_public.pdf
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby flygrl513 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:23 am

Interesting! Thanks. It really doesn't sound like they were asking for much, and in an evolving business like that you have to expect frequent contractual negotiations. The last negotiation happened in the mid-90s? That can't be right. I must be misreading the article... I mean, that's still the age of Super Mario. I'm not a gamer but I'm pretty sure things have changed a bit. ;) It sounds like the publishers just offered a small wage/bonus increase and ignored their other demands.

I wonder why these companies are digging in their heels. Is it just greed?
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Re: Voice Actors and Video Game Secrecy

Postby Bix » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:42 am

Part of it is greed, of cours. Wanting to "rake it in," and buy themselves that "solid-gold jet pack" (Dana Gould reference). That's humans for ya!

But in most cases it's probably the greed of needing to survive in an independent business where the competition is extremely high. "We spent all this money buying this equipment and renting this space and paying for the concept, and paying for the talent, etc. and we're up against companies like Disney!" That's why there are a lot of contracts that are one-time deals--they pay the talent for their work in the development stage, and that's it, they don't have to worry about paying anyone later. Those are the projects that the non-union talent off the street migrates to. But SAG-AFTRA talent, the "real" and protected talent in the industry, requires much more attention... since the company is paying for the names and the established careers. For the professionalism. For the status of being a SAG-AFTRA project.

No company knows if their game is going to be a success, or a bust. So for some, having to pay out regularly beyond that first appearance fee, when the company wants to save up money for future productions, is a problem for them. They've got to budget themselves, not just for that one project but for the ones that follow, if they want to remain players in the game and have a future doing what they're doing. But if they're hiring SAG-AFTRA to raise their project's status? They should have to pay for that privilege.

Yet right now, nobody from the big companies to the upstarts are giving the actors their fair share because the entertainment media has changed since the '90s, and they're not contractually obligated to.

Another concern for companies is piracy--someone stealing an idea, releasing it before the original company does, and then taking the credit while then turning around and saying, "You stole my idea!" because the original concept came out later. Hence the lack of description to everyone, even the voice talent, as to what they're getting into. (Which is a little beyond paranoid. If you're doing a project, surely you have it copyrighted already!)

When Dwight talks about not wanting to mention things he's appeared in, that's a third problem: crappy material. You walk blind into something and hope for the best. Having done non-union acting, that's part of what you're faced with and have to deal with; you get a job, you go, you shut up and do it. (That's how I ended up standing in total darkness at midnight, no food, no water, no lights, no heat, waiting on a dirt road for a bus in the middle of the desert at some unmarked crossroads, to come and pick me and a hundred of my new friends up from the day's commercial shoot.) This kind of blind hiring is not acceptable for SAG-AFTRA, however, because as a professional actor, you want to build your resume and have good, meaningful roles--not reciting crap lines or finding yourself in a role that goes against everything you believe in. But... ethics? In a land of profit and publicity? Banish the thought!
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