Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gamasutra Interviews Wendee Lee

That Wendee Lee. Pretty much video game/animation voice over royalty.

It's a good interview talking about the challenges facing this emerging medium.

This part was my fave:
G: They've only started to hire real actors for games in the new millenium, like with Grand Theft Auto 3, so these concerns are new to gaming, aren't they?

WL: There certainly has been a big change in the way that we recorded in the 90’s and how we’re recording now. That’s really true.

I’m always curious how the audience perceives, say, celebrity talent
versus voice actors, or actors who also do voice-over, that understand
that skill that it takes to really put all of your performance into
your voice, which not all acting requires. There’s generally much more
subtlety for cinema, for film, and I always feel we should leave it to
the professionals who do this!

G: In the case of a game like Yakuza, for instance, and no
offense to certain people, there was a lot of big name voice talent in
it – not voice talent, like, acting talent, and they weren't
necessarily the best fit for it. Unless you’ve got a game like Shrek. Of course you wanna have Mike Myers doing the friggin’ thing –

WL: Right, right. He’s gotta be the green guy.

G: It’s gotta be him, or else it’s stupid. But I think in the case of an original game, you really don’t need that.

WL: I think that’s a really good point. I would like to hear that more
often! You know, it’s kind of a problem for voice actors, because in
the last 5, 8 years, maybe even longer, more and more celebrities with
children want to be involved in entertainment that’s sort of geared for
that – now I’m thinking in terms of animation and so forth, not just
strictly games – and often we feel disappointed that we weren’t given
at least a shot, or we weren’t even in the running.
I feel that’s more of a Hollywood move, to sort of attach names to
titles. And they can work out. But often we feel like we could deliver
something a little more accurate, and it’s infringed on some of our
To no fault of anyone, I think a lot of companies tried the celebrity
route. And I think it needed to be exercised to get a feel for how it
works. There’s nothing wrong with giving it a shot.
But I have to be honest: I auditioned for Shrek as a voice replacement for some of the main characters.
And I think that some of the studios are coming around to understand;
one: celebrities aren’t always available for voicing, and when I was a
voice director for live action, the last thing actors want to one their
days off is to come in and do their own ADR.
So then to also be tied to a title that requires multiple days in a
studio, often a celebrity’s schedule doesn’t allow, and they sometimes
feel, to me, that they’re in over their heads. Because there’s so much
screaming, and fighting, and impacts, and reactions, that are nuances
that we have practiced for years and years, and are new to people that
aren’t voice actors.

I totally agree with that. I think celebs can be important to moving any property, but if the voice doesn't quite fit, or isn't quite right, it'll just prove distracting. Sometimes I think even replacing a celeb voice on a game can be better for the game as a whole.

Read the rest of the interview here @ Gamasutra!

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