Deep Silver, publishers of the Saints Row series, recently released a behind the scenes video of their standalone expansion Saints Row Gat Out of Hell. It gives the fans a look behind the voice acting of this upcoming video game.
But more than introducing the players to the people behind the voices of their favourite characters, the video shares some insights on voice acting from one of the video game industry’s best voice ensemble.
It highlights the “unique skills” of voice actors and the efforts they put in to pull off one of the toughest jobs in the voiceover industry. As Daniel Dae Kim, the actor behind the character Johnny Gat, puts it, “People who play an instrument are able to create different sounds and different melodies from that instrument. For those people who can use their voices in such a way that they create characters, different animals it is a pretty unique skill.”
Here are the tips we picked up from this amazing video.
A lot of it is improvisation
Eden Riegel who plays Jane Austen shares, “You are seeing the material for the first time… They will tell you a little bit about the game, they will show you some things to inspire you, and then the inspiration is kind of improvisational.” As with most animation and video game voiceover projects, when presented with the VO work, animation is not yet available. It is really up to your imagination and improvisation skills to pull off a great performance. You need to work well with the directors and creators to have a deep understanding of the characters so it will be easier develop the character and improvise.
It is not just the voice, it gets physical too.
Riegel adds, “You have to get your body into it as you can hear all that.” Andy Serkis, best known as a premier performance capture actor (motion capture acting, animation and voice work), once said in an interview, “(Voice acting) is the same as any acting experience… you are embodying a character… you are climbing inside the role and losing yourself in that role.” If you need to flap your arms, jump, bob your head or run in place to make your voice come out right as required in the script and direction, you have to do so, so that the performance will sound authentic.
To sound like a Demon (or any character) you have to be creative.
Dee Bradley Baker is the voice of Demons. While demonstrating the different Demon sounds he makes, he explains, “There are different ways to make a low sound. You can make it with your throat (demonstrates)… I use the flesh that flaps around my throat. And you can also modify it by pinching off the nose.” Be creative, experiment when you are developing different characters. To be a video game voiceover you have to have an arsenal of characters. You can’t just rely on your natural voice to pull off Demon No. 1 and Demon No. 2 and say they are different. Baker, has learned to utilise and manipulate his throat and parts of his body to make distinct sounds. Of course, with his 20 years of experience he has learned a trick or two (maybe even a hundred) – you can bet he will credit that to exploring possibilities and being creative.
Have fun and learn!
Lastly, Matt Mercer, the Blackbeard tells us just to enjoy and have fun. “Exertions, pain sounds, combat sounds in most games are pretty cathartic… I enjoy it! It is a pretty interesting method to learn. What is fun playing multiple characters is, as an actor you get to stretch your range. What is also an interesting challenge is to make it so that the characters are distinct and sound different enough were the player can’t tell.” When you let yourself go, you let yourself grow. Once you loosen up and go crazy, your creative juices will flow.
Saints Row Gat Out of Hell is scheduled to be release on the 20th of January, 2015 in North America and 23rd of January in Europe.