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Default Mass Effect 3 - Jennifer Hale Interview and More

July 28th, 2011, 02:16
Jennifer Hale - the voice of FemShep, Bastilla and more - has been interviewed at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I'm going to file it under Mass Effect 3, so I can collect a couple of minor other items here.
A snip that exposes why voiceacting is often so bad:
RPS: Obviously intonation is so crucial. So how do directors get around the lack of someone to respond to?
Hale: Sometimes, on extraordinarily rare occasions, you’ll be able to hear the dialogue of the other person. That’s only working with BioWare, because they have a very specific system that allows that to happen. However, working with BioWare I tend to be the first one recording my stuff, so other people work off me, but I’m not always necessarily working off of them. To get around it I read really fast, I read as much as I can, because you don’t usually get the scripts ahead of time, because they’re highly confidential. The producers are given mountains and mountains of work, and it’s extremely difficult to get anyone anything ahead of time, so it’s basically the art of cold-reading and acting on the spot. I’ll ask physically where am I, what’s going on, how much ambient noise, how much battle – just standard acting questions. But you’ve got to hold them all in your head, you’ve also got to know your history with the other person you’re talking to and what you want from them, and then drop into that moment, and let it rip.
In related news, Shamus Young rants about the inevitable choice of pretty blond FemShep and the shoft toward focusing on shooter fans:
The numbers are against us. As studios dump more money into graphics they have to aim their releases wider and wider to have a shot at breaking even. Since the “action shooter” fans vastly outnumber the character & lore buffs, this is simply a matter of attrition through demographics. I’ve been raging against the ridiculous race to make more, shinier pixels for years now, and this is why. This is exactly why.
…and in general Mass Effect stuff, Newsarama has an interview with writer Mac Walters about the comic series.
More information.
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July 28th, 2011, 02:16
Interesting (short) interview. I think her work in ME1&2 is possibly the best voice acting I've ever heard in a game. There's a few inconsistencies noticeable from time to time, but considering the gigantic amount of dialog, exclamations, etc., it's nearly perfect.

As a side note, I recently did a TV voice-over recording session with the guy who does the Master Chief voice from Halo games. I understand that's a huge deal, but I have never played or heard a single Halo game. He also works as a DJ on a classic rock station in Chicago. Small framed guy, probably late fifties. His normal speaking voice is OK, but unremarkable. Put him in front of a microphone though and it's amazing to hear the transformation.
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July 28th, 2011, 03:31
Shamus needs to rant a little less, they are just voting for DEFAULT looks. Who would bother using those??

That's a very interesting article with Hale! Why wouldn't they have all the actors together? Why are they so worried about keeping the dialog confidential? Are they that worried about spoilers??
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July 28th, 2011, 05:20
It would be near impossible to get all the actors to do it at once.

I've never been involved in game production, but voice-over stuff is almost always done solo in a studio with director prompts. Producing these things must be a logistical nightmare. Keeping track of the scripts alone must be a monumental task. I would guess that they cover most of the lines 3+ times and also do different reads to achieve different voice inflections. I'd bet it would be almost impossible for Hale or anyone else to really understand the plot… she's likely getting fed lines which she parrots back, or else is reading off a print out of specific sections at a time and given a small amount of context to which to read them… "you're under gunfire here, read it like you're getting shot at…" "You're really pissed off when you say these next lines" "You're flirting aggressively here" etc. Then tht gets broken up by coffee and lunch breaks, internal meetings that pop up among the producers and creative staff… Like I said, damn near impossible to understand, especially if they have to do reads for multiple reactions… It's not even a straightforward script. The conversation branches.

Of course it's technically top secret so Bioware's story doesn't leak out, but I'm 95% certain even a central actor in the story like Hale would have only a foggy idea about what's going on in the story… It's likely they'd record it non-sequentially for various production reasons as well, (various actors aren't always available at precise dates, and stuff gets changed and re-recorded, probably many times over in a production this size) which would make it nearly impossible for her to really, fully understand the story.
Last edited by Ovenall; July 28th, 2011 at 05:27. Reason: clarity
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July 28th, 2011, 08:20
Originally Posted by Ovenall View Post
It would be near impossible to get all the actors to do it at once.
Why?

I'm sure it's impractical to get the entire cast together for every line of dialogue but why not the dialogue with, say, the party members and/or main antagonist? Any other form of acting gets at least some of the actors together for each scene - why is it "impossible" for games?

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July 28th, 2011, 13:40
That quote of Shamus Young doesn't present anything new.
It was all predictable since years ago.

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July 28th, 2011, 17:52
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Why?

I'm sure it's impractical to get the entire cast together for every line of dialogue but why not the dialogue with, say, the party members and/or main antagonist? Any other form of acting gets at least some of the actors together for each scene - why is it "impossible" for games?
OK, it's not impossible. But logistically it would be difficult to extremely difficult. I've only done recording sessions where it's one, finalized script. Even in a finalized, simple script, you still have the actors read each line "wild" sometimes with different speeds or intonations, just in case when you go to edit you need to fix something, or cut away, or whatever. You assemble a toolbox of sound clips that are then cobbled together with picture edits to create a cohesive finished product.

These games have branching dialog, are dozens of hours long, and probably have dozens of changes in script per day, based on changes to any number of other factors. Plus, they have to cover various reactions and different inflections and tones of voice into usable sound bites.

I'd guess that there's a huge detailed script mapped out with all the various branching dialog, and the actors read each line step by step. They can't (usually) ever step on each others' lines like you'd hear in a movie or play, because the action (generally) needs individual sound clips. They did a really good job on this in ME2. In DA:O there were really noticeable pauses when an NPC would interrupt another NPC… Pretty lame. And if they DID have the actors read at the same time, stepping on each others' lines once in a while like people do in real life, they'd have to get EVERYONE back in for a re-record if anything changed. Better to have the lines read wild, then assemble them as needed. It must be a very meticulous process.

Again, I'm not claiming to be an expert here. I'm just theorizing based on what she says in the interview and what I've learned through my own experiences.
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July 28th, 2011, 21:03
She's extremely talented and had an amazing career. Also smart enough to know Bioware's bullshit statistics of *18% play female* are nonsense.

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July 29th, 2011, 04:26
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
She's extremely talented and had an amazing career. Also smart enough to know Bioware's bullshit statistics of *18% play female* are nonsense.
Why would that be BS? I'm not taking any polls but, when you look out at the MMO landscapes, one in five sounds fairly close.
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July 29th, 2011, 10:25
Because ea/Bioware are using data where the majority of people on their networks are 15 to 25. At this age going to school, talking to their friends about the games they're playing as a female isn't really a popular topic for most young guys. Firstly the peer pressure and secondly they probably don't have the sexual security to feel comfortable doing it much less talking about it.

Thirdly, no one I know plays single player games on a online service. Multilayer? Sure. Nor do any of the sites I visit, even here at RPGWatch like Blue's or Codex most gamers with 10 or 20 years+ only use the online service for multiplayer.

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July 29th, 2011, 20:11
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
Because ea/Bioware are using data where the majority of people on their networks are 15 to 25. At this age going to school, talking to their friends about the games they're playing as a female isn't really a popular topic for most young guys. Firstly the peer pressure and secondly they probably don't have the sexual security to feel comfortable doing it much less talking about it.

Thirdly, no one I know plays single player games on a online service. Multilayer? Sure. Nor do any of the sites I visit, even here at RPGWatch like Blue's or Codex most gamers with 10 or 20 years+ only use the online service for multiplayer.
so its like a conspiracy?

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July 30th, 2011, 09:43
Sure if statistics are a conspiracy for you. Sounds like you were never a young male, if you don't understand.

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