G.A.N.G. Voice Actor Coalition (GVAC)
Welcome to the G.A.N.G. Voice Actor Coalition (GVAC) - the Guild’s second pro-only branch! G.V.A.C. was formed to address the needs of dialog professionals in interactive entertainment - and is here to develop policy, highlight important issues, create communication channels, and evangelize the unique needs and issues surrounding the professional dialog production pipeline.
G.V.A.C. was officially launched at GDC 2009 - Join today to stay up on the latest news and information!
- To enrich and empower actors and dialog developers by providing information, educational resources, best practices, and community.
- Illuminate and address all elements of dialog and VO production, and facilitate discussion to tackle current issues.
- Explore new pipeline processes and technology that allows that advances production protocols - from the writing phase to the integration phase.
- Establish relationships with acting unions and other professional organizations to unify game audio industry best practices.
What makes game VO different from film VO?
Game voice over differs in many ways, but it depends how the voice is used. If the voice is used in a cutscene, often the requirements will be the same as an animated film, and in some cases, voice over is captured at the same time motion capture is recorded, by the same actors (Drake’s Fortune). Most often however game voice over will be recorded first, then lip sync and animation will be constructed to match the timing of the audio files, just as in film animation.
In some cases dialogue is recorded after animation is complete using ADR (Automated Dialogue Recording), and this method uses a combination of looking at the animated lips and movements and timing the actors to beeps to cue the correct timing to match the animation. This is often limited in terms of dramatic expression.
During gameplay, voice over may not be present in a linear fashion, especially when the player communicates with other non player characters. The most complex use of speech in games is in two distinct genres: Sports games and Role Playing / Adventure games.
In this example from the classic “Monkey Island 2”, the player converses with a barman about :30 into the video:
You’ll note that the player has plenty of time to figure out what he or she wants to say, during which time in reality, eventually the bartender would lose interest and resume their duties. However, the game will wait as long as the player wants.
This is also present in more current games such as Mass Effect:
The player can wait as long as they want to make a conversation choice, but in this case a selection appears before the other character has finished talking so they can move things along more realistically.
In Alpha Protocol this is taken a step further using the Dialogue Stance System, where the player doesn’t choose a worded response but instead an “attitude”, whether professional, pushy, flirty, etc.. And the response reflects a simple choice that can be made in a short time. This allows a conversation to take place in realtime, allowing for a much more cinematic and realistic presentation:
In a Sports title, numerous players perform sometimes dozens of different plays, which are then sequenced depending on hundreds or even thousands of combinations. Consider a fly ball to deep left field in a baseball game, caught by the in fielder and thrown to third base, where it is caught and the runner stops. The name of the players involved and the plays all need to be followed in sequence using a method known as “stitching”, where the names of players and the plays involved are tied together instantly as the game code recognizes the plays that are going on. They communicate this to a table of players and plays and the code “stitches” the relevant VO files together. The result is a very convincing play by play announcer. An easy example is Madden 2009.
There are many other ways voice is used in games, but the best way to find out is to play the games yourself and listen for the voice.
The greatest current difference is an element that pervades most games and that is that dramatic and immersive quality is not as high as an equivalent feature film. This is partly due to the player controlled experience but even in the most expensively produced cinematic game sequences, the results can be not nearly as convincing as a AAA high rated film. This is a goal that the top game companies are attempting to reach.
Is there a difference in rates for game VO?
SAG-AFTRA has “interactive” rates for its actors. These rates change annually and are updated here:
What if I want two lines of VO for twenty characters?
Refer to the "Atmospheric Rates" in the rate sheet.
What does “scale” mean?
Scale is the standard rate listed on the PDF rate sheet above. Double scale is twice the rate, triple scale is, well, you get the idea. Some actors will charge double or triple scale depending on their popularity and demand as well as their ability to generate multiple roles effectively.
Can I combine union and non union voice actors in the same project?
This is usually not allowed by union bylaws.