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May 03, 2011

Cipher Complex

Get a gander at this great clip of a game I gabbed on, as a guard, grunter, and groaner. Got it? Good.



Cipher Complex isn't a fully developed game; in fact, it unfortunately didn't make its way into full production. This clip is a vertical slice, or a gameplay demo for the early development stage. I did my work under the direction of the fabulous DB Cooper.

Even though this title didn't see store shelves, I'm still thrilled to be in the company of great voice talents like Anthony Mendez (Cipher), Philip Banks (bad guy General Kim), and DB, who appropriately voices Mission Control. Kevin Genus also gets guard and grunt duty here.

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October 28, 2010

FaffCon2: Atlanta 2011!

The success of the first FaffCon event in Portland has led to FaffCon 2, coming to Atlanta in 2011. Early registration begins November 1st!

FaffCon is a voiceover "unconference"; instead of being locked in to seminar or workshop content dictated by others, you get to choose what aspect of voiceover work gets discussed/worked on/et cetera. Congrats to FaffCon's organizer, Amy Snively, on the success of the (un)conference!

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October 25, 2010

JewelBeat - Free Music & Sound Effects

There aren't many dedicated sites featuring production music that's both free and royalty-free; JewelBeat.com is one such site, and there's a nice selection of short SFX as well. Definitely worth a visit if you need production elements for a quick job.

Free Music, Free Sound Effects - JewelBeat
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September 20, 2010

New PSAs for National Voice Over Appreciation Month

Check out all three new PSAs for National Voice Over Appreciation Month! Dave Courvoisier put it together with 16 voice actors, including David Houston, Tricia Basanyi, Linda Ristig, Liz de Nesnera, Lee Gordon, Jody Krangle, Justin S. Barrett, Lindsay Martell, Ken Maxon, Rowell Gormon, Mike Coon, Doug Turkel, Melanie Haynes, and Daniel Wallace. Also included: David Atwood, Mahmoud Taji, Jay Sawyer, Jim Barton, Ken Maxon, Morgan Barnhart, Dan Roberts, Trish Basanyi, Andy Boyns, Bob Souer, Dave Courvoisier, Mike Roberts, Edo Peters, CC Petersen, Jodi Krangle, Ralph Hass, and Michael Schoen.

PSA 1

PSA 2

PSA 3


More info at http://www.nationalvoiceovermonth.com!

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September 30, 2009

DB & Me

My good friend and VO colleague DB Cooper was in town a couple of weeks ago for the Austin Game Developers Conference. We've worked together long-distance, via phone and e-mail, but this was the first time we've actually met up in the "real world". DB and other conference-goers wrapped up the week at Guero's, so I happily crashed the party. With permission, of course.

 

Voiceover artists David Houston and DB Cooper wrap up Austin GDC '09 at a post-conference get-together.
 

 

Earlier in the week, DB shared her expertise for technology company Level 3's Red Couch interview series:

 

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April 15, 2009

Jennifer Hale VO Showcase

My previous post referenced gaming & animation fans who can be more than a little critical of voice actors in those mediums. It's nice, then, to see fans go to the same lengths to recognize excellence in voice acting. A YouTube user compiled this series of clips featuring the exceptional work of voice actor Jennifer Hale:

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April 14, 2009

Still Think Voice Acting is Easy?

 

 

 

You may change your mind after reading this excellent article from gaming site 1up.com

Hardcore gamers are notorious for attacking "bad" voice acting in games; some of the vitriol is deserved, but a sub-par voice performance usually isn't due to a lack of talent. Working videogame actors discuss the challenges presented in this unque genre of VO.

 

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February 22, 2009

Anime Voice Acting 101



Bang Zoom! Entertainment has been running a series of voice acting workshops around the country, answering the eternal question: “how do I become an anime voice actor?”. Anime News Network sat down with workshop teacher Tony Oliver, a longtime voice actor, director and producer, to find out what it's all about.

Link

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January 17, 2009

Who's That Voice?

 

 

 

 

Even if you're a fan of both fast food and videogames, you've probably never spent much time wondering just what connection exists between Spyro the Dragon and the Taco Bell Chihuahua. For those of you who have, this article will put your mind at ease.

The piece takes popular characters from games and other media, and reveals the voices --- sometimes with surprising results. 

(Hat-tip to voice talent Doug Turkel for mentioning this via Twitter. Thanks!)

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December 19, 2008

Voice Actor Injured in Mumbai Terror Attacks Returns Home

(From IGN)

Actor Michael Rudder, who was shot three times in the Mumbai terror attacks, returned home to Montreal yesterday:

 

 

Montreal actor Michael Rudder, who was shot in last month's attacks in Mumbai, returned home late Wednesday after spending several weeks in an Indian hospital, saying he received a "great gift" from his experience.

Rudder was greeted by a cheering crowd of friends, fellow actors and supporters as he arrived at Montreal's Pierre Trudeau International Airport after travelling with the assistance of a nurse.

Speaking to reporters from a wheelchair, he said he owed a debt of gratitude for the "enormous outpouring of love" he received from people all over the world after the attacks.

"I'm going to get a sign that says 'World's luckiest guy,'" a beaming Rudder said.

He also offered a prayer for the people of India still reeling from the deadly series of attacks that rocked the country's financial capital and left more than 170 people dead.

"I hope they're protected," he said.

 

 

Rudder has voiced characters in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and several other videogames. He's also a TV and film actor.

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June 13, 2008

Ouch.

 

 

 

 

Turns out I have more in common with Daniel Craig than just a similar vocal quality:

 

Daniel Craig Injured While Filming Bond 

 

The report states that Craig "sliced the tip off of one of his fingers during the shooting of an action scene". As it happens, years ago I sliced the tip off of one of my fingers during the shaving of an action figure.

"Huh?" You're no doubt asking. Long story short: Once upon a time, customizing action figures was a hobby of mine. An attempt to slice away some excess plastic from one such superhero resulted an errant slip with an Exacto knife. (If you've never had the pleasure, I can guarantee you that a brand-new Exacto blade is sufficiently sharp as to cut flesh without any pain --- at least for a few seconds, after which the pain pretty much leaves no doubt you've been cut. I do not recommend the experience.) 

An ER doc managed to sew the disc-shaped piece of skin back where it belonged, but it would literally be one year before the nerves healed completely.  

I'm sure you'll agree that all this is further proof as to why I'm a perfect substitute for Daniel Craig.

/sarcasm off 

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May 28, 2008

"Overpaid Voice Actors", episode # 48,763

 

Niko Bellic stalks in Grand Theft Auto IV.
 

 

 

With this story all over the news of late...

A Video Game Star and His Less-Than-Stellar Pay

...it was probably due to rear its ugly head again.

By "it", I refer to the deluge of internet commentary that inevitably follows any and all media reports of voice actors seeking residuals for videogame work. It ranges from the stupefyingly uninformed ("You get paid big bucks just to sit there and talk into a mic, so STFU") to the kind of union-bashing, anti-residuals snark that evokes the ghost of mogul Lew Wasserman (who once famously said "When my plumber fixes my toilet, I don't pay him every time I flush the @#%$ thing!"). The first opinion isn't worth wasting keystrokes refuting, and the second I'll address later.

Somewhat more reasoned are the arguments that game programmers don't get royalties, and that because their contribution is at least as vital as the actors, the latter shouldn't keep getting paid after the fact. Yes, I have heard tales of game companies overworking and underpaying its programmers, testers, and developers; and if this is becoming the norm rather than the exception, then that's an inequity that also needs to be addressed. Generally speaking, though, a simple (but key) distinction is often lost in this argument: members of the creative team work on salary, while the voice actor is a freelancer.

Viewed without this information, it's easy to think of our VO actor as being greedy, an unscrupulous sod; trying to squeeze out yet more money from a game, a few bucks at a time, after already sitting on a king's ransom. Mine isn't an unbiased viewpoint, but I'm nonetheless here to tell you that it just ain't so. It's important to remember that sales-based residuals aren't "bonuses" or "extra money", as many people out there seem to think. They're deferred payments against the lifetime value of the work. In other words, when residuals are part of a negotiated contract --- something that's not currently part of SAG and AFTRA's "new media" agreements --- the studio is essentially saying "your work is worth X, but that's too large an amount for us to pay up front. Therefore, we'll pay you a smaller percentage up front, and if the game is a success, then we'll pay you the remainder of that value over time." Film stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Ray Liotta get weekly checks for their movie roles not because their performances are stellar, but because their client (the studio) is on an installment plan. (This is one reason why the studios, long ago, agreed to the royalties system proposed by SAG; it places a risk on the part of the actor --- he stands to lose, say, 80% of the value of his work --- alongside the financial risk incurred by the studio on that project.)

There even exist a few voice actors, some for whom I have great respect, who are of the opinion that Hollick signed the contract, knew what he was getting into, and should stop bumping his gums about the lack of residuals. I'm not saying that wouldn't have been a prudent choice, but let's look at some other issues. Leaving aside the fact that his contract doesn't cover the use of his voice for promotional purposes over the Internet, who are any of us to tell an unknown voice actor to say no to a six-figure payday, even one that isn't currently as equitable as it should be?  As much as I admire those who stick to their principles when it's least convenient --- and they are to be admired --- actors have to eat. (Also, 100 grand is nothing to sneeze at, but it doesn't go as far when you live in NYC or L.A.; and residence in these cities is a near-absolute requirement for an actor to do videogame VO work .)

Another such colleague has opined that voice actors shouldn't receive royalties for games, with the reasoning that gamers don't buy titles based on the quality of the actor's performance. This may be true to a degree --- mitigated in no small part by the willingness of those same gamers to flame bad voice acting in game forums --- but it misses the point by a mile. Again, TV and film actors receive royalties for their work not because of their sheer acting prowess, but because the performing unions fought to ensure that these artists --- regardless of the artist's ability or inability to act his or her way out of a paper bag --- aren't left with an inequitable share of profits. The unions understood well that competition for acting jobs is fierce, to a degree that few other industries and professions can relate to.

Or, put another way, in the form of a rebuttal to Lew Wasserman: your plumber doesn't have to audition for his next job against hundreds of other hopeful wannabe plumbers, hoping against hope that he'll land the gig. Taking it a step farther: If the plumber had fixed the toilet so that it spat out a thousand bucks every time it was flushed, he'd be justified in asking for a percentage of that payout. But I digress.

Bottom line: the percentage of actors who can wrap up one job, then count on another gig being in place the next day, is small. As in single digits.

All this may be moot, however, if SAG and AFTRA are unable to negotiate residuals into their new contracts with the studios and production companies (represented by AMPTP). The TV writers were reasonably successful in their quest, but that's no guarantee. We'll see.

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May 07, 2008

'Quantum of Solace' Videogame Site Launched

From MI6:

Activision today officially confirmed the videogame adaptation of the upcoming James Bond film "Quantum of Solace", and launched a teaser website to promote the title.

[The website] gives fans access to some early concept artwork from the locations featured in the game, as well as the opportunity to sign-up to the community to vote on polls and ask the development team questions. This site will serve as the hub of activity for the game and will be updated on a regular basis.

Development studios are confirmed as Eurocom, Treyarch, Beenox and Vicarious Visions. The game will be released this Fall. Treyarch are understood to be heading up development on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, with Beenox producing the Nintendo Wii version, and Vicarious Visions working on the hand-held platforms. Eurocom are understood to be developing the PC version.

Speaking about Activision's direction with the 007 licence, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said "Bond is one of the great videogame franchises of all time and that really was a result of GoldenEye 64. I think the key to re-energising the Bond franchise is going to be ultimately the highest possible game quality."

Last November, Activision confirmed a second 007 title was also under development.

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February 05, 2008

Bond Game Update: COD4

MI6 reports that the new Bond game will be based on the same graphics engine used in Call of Duty 4.

What this will mean for me is...actually, I haven't the first clue. I do know that the COD series has some of the most incredible-looking games I've ever seen, and it looks more and more like Bond 22 (VG) will fall into the same category.

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January 08, 2008

And This Little MI6 Agent Went...

Wii Wii Wii.

Okay. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me after that, take a look at the latest news in the 007 videogame saga:

Beenox Confirms Nintendo Wii Version

 

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November 22, 2007

Cat Officially Out of Bag.

Looks like the news is out elsewhere, so it might as well be out here as well:

 

MI6 News: David Houston to provide voice for James Bond in new videogame

According to several sources, voice-over actor David Houston will be providing the voice of James Bond in the upcoming 007 videogame from Activison. MI6 understands that Daniel Craig will be providing his likeness to the digital 007.  [More...]

 

 

Vox Daily has also published the news.

Seems there's some negative reaction among die-hard Bond fans at the MI6 forums. If I recall correctly, however, several fervent 007 fans were also dead certain that Daniel Craig was a terrible choice...before Casino Royale was released. He's now quite the fan favorite.

At any rate, I'm simply hoping the rest of the production comes off without a hitch --- according to the studio, the Bond 22 film won't be affected by the WGA strike as I indicated previously --- so that fans can judge the final product. Still very excited about the gig, and looking forward to the sessions.  

 

 

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October 03, 2007

Big Fish Update

The big videogame gig is in limbo, but still moving forward. 

The original recording dates (set for last week, in Los Angeles) were put on hold, due to some technical and/or managerial issues...which, as at least one game-developer friend confirms, occur fairly frequently in the industry. My agent assures me that I'm still hired as the lead voice, so it's just a matter of waiting for the go-ahead.

I normally wouldn't bother writing (or even worrying) about a gig offer that gets delayed, but this game is going to be a huge release on the major gaming consoles (Xbox 360, PS3) ...and could (potentially) strap a rocket to my little voiceover career. Hopefully the go-for-launch will be issued soon.

 

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September 30, 2007

Creating a New Age of VO in Games

Here's a must-listen for anyone involved in recording videogame voiceovers: this presentation by DB Cooper and Pat Fraley at the 2007 Game Developers Conference in Austin. (While it makes me even more disappointed that I wasn't able to attend, I'm gratified to be able to hear this after the fact.) It's geared toward audio directors, but every voice talent who wants to pursue acting in videogames --- and even those who've already done it --- can tap into a goldmine of valuable information.

The official synopsis:
 
"Audio directors have a right to know what to expect from the voice actors that are hired to voice games. The object of this program is to discuss and demonstrate directing techniques actors can easily respond to, scripting that will wring a fuller character from your actor, and audition ideas to ascertain that you’re getting the VO you really need for a part in a game."

Pat and DB are engaging, informative, and highly entertaining. Here's the link. (Scroll down the page a bit for the MP3 file; 70 minutes, 16 MB.)

 

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September 14, 2007

Big Fish Landed

I can't go into all the details at this time, but I've just landed the lead voice acting role in a major upcoming videogame (based on a long-running movie franchise). More info as it comes, or at least as it's allowed.
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December 22, 2006

Turning the Tables on Fate

Opportunity does knock, but sometimes --- no, make that all the time --- you need to flip the script and go knocking on opportunity’s door.

I was looking through online job postings a short while back when I saw an ad looking for “freelance writers with an expertise in gaming”. Now, while I do fancy myself a decent writer and have played more than my share of videogames over the last, um, two decades or so, this wasn’t really the kind of gig I was looking for. However, one of the job duties in the ad caught my eye:

“…Drafting a script for our voice talent.”

I immediately drafted an email asking if that voice talent would be hired directly, and stating that if so, I’d be ready and available. I think my query took them by surprise, but it led immediately to an audition and --- one week later --- a gig. I’ll be voicing tutorials for a number of highly popular online games (including some MMORPGs, for those of you who speak “gamer”).

It just goes to prove the adage that you’ve got to go find the gigs; to sit around hoping that they’ll find you is to very nearly ensure that they won’t.

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