Video game development is a global industry, which helps voice actors find more work opportunities. Voice acting is an industry in itself. However, it is difficult to determine the actual size of the industry.
Global voice over market
One of the top-tier companies in voice over and audio services and products, Voices.com, has commissioned a research group to determine the size of the market. Their report was published on their website in 2017, based on available data from 2015.
Voice over jobs per location
According to the report, the global voice over industry is worth around US$4.4 billion, broken down as:
- 14% are completed in North America
- 86% are completed around the world
Voice over jobs per sector
- 58% for the entertainment industry
- 19% for the advertising industry
- 18% for the business sector
- 5% for education
The global market spends 53.2% of the total spend in the animation industry, while in North America, only 22.2% of the business are spent on voice over work for the animation industry.
As you can see, there is big money in voice acting, however, casting voice actors is still a difficult task.
Casting voice actors for video games
It seems like is it a no brainer to cast voice actors for video game production, but it's not so. In fact, it is one of the most difficult tasks because the voice actor will play a big part in bringing a video game character its virtual presence and life. If a video game has characters exceeding 100, you will understand the difficulty in casting voiceover talents because each character's personality is unique so the voice should be very specific.
The question is, when do you start casting voice actors? How can you determine which talents to use, avoiding a miscast and choosing the right talents who would fit your budget? How can you manage it? Here are some tips.
In the past, video game characters speaking English managed to have a global appeal. But recent developments have made video games development and video game marketing very competitive. Since video games are now global and released in different markets almost simultaneously, localization becomes one of the keys in making the game succeed globally. But there are specific games where English is the primary language that also wow the international users.
The development of video games has improved and many countries such as Brazil and South Korea are becoming strong video game developing nations. Moreover, the online multiplayer games are more complex, with different worlds inhabited by hundreds or thousands of various characters.
This means that video game localization is more in demand, particularly when you're expanding your game overseas. It creates many opportunities for voice actors to help in the complex task of completing the persona of each character.
If you are a game developer, it is difficult to do the casting yourself. It is better to hire an experienced voice over producer for video games localization. The producer has qualified staff, such as a voice over director and a project manager who will lead the casting and production of the voice over. They fully understand the process and have access to professional voice talents with proven records of accomplishment. They will ensure that the performance of the voice actors is of high quality and that the production is on scope and on time.
Once you have the right production team, you can concentrate on the casting of voice actors. Two goals should be satisfied during the casting process. If your game has multiple characters, you want to choose voice actors with the best acting ability and wide voice range, since you do not hire individual voice actor for each character. Their voice range will determine how many characters you can assign to them.
However, you also need to manage the use of your voice talents. If you have two main characters who talk with each other frequently, it is best not to cast just one voice actor for the two characters.
Below are some ideas on how to better manage voice over talents to address the issue.
1. Character segmentation
Determine which character talks to another character extensively. It is important to have voice separation, which applies not only to video games but to other projects with narrative content as well. Do not discount the idea that many of the voice actors will be assigned to multiple characters, but for the main ones, it is important that their voices be separate and distinct.
Video games are played over many times and for long hours since most of them are in stages. Therefore, at one point, the players and even the viewers will recognize that the same voice is used, even if the voice talent tries hard to make his voice distinct for each character.
See to it that you identify characters who are usually interacting, such as sidekicks and bodyguards, neighbors that live nearby or rivals who inevitably cross paths often. These are some of the characters where voice separation is very critical.
It will help you manage the talents if you segment your characters by game chapters, locales and worlds. Character segmentation will be of great help to the director and project manager. You should also note how these characters interact with each other so they can determine how many characters can be assigned to each talent.
2. Concentrate on the core characters
Most video games contain a key group of characters that play the main roles in the story. These could be the avatars that each player chooses to travel across the virtual world, realms or kingdoms. Other times, the key characters are the main adversaries of the players of the game.
The main characters typically have more speaking lines, wider performance range and longer screen time in the virtual worlds of the game. Usually, a video game has more than 30-40 main characters. Provide this essential information to the production team.
You should cast the voice actors for the main characters first so you can maximize the voice separation. Choose their unique talent that closely resembles the character in the game. Moreover, the voice of the character should be as close to the resting voice of the actor, so there would be less strain on their voice while they are acting.
3. Provide your team with every available audio and character references
Casting will be more efficient and reliable if you provide the production team will all the necessary information that will help them when casting the voice actors. This could include the original voice over files, bios of the characters, including their ethnic background and images of the characters.
However, expect some changes when the game is localized, since there could be some expectations and requirements from other target markets that should be met. The portraits of the characters are useful to the talent caster and the voice actors, since they can also already visualize the performance required.
Ensure that all information and files are labeled properly. Moreover, it is better when every data about each character is available in table format and easy to sort. The casting manager typically sorts the video game characters by voice profile, tribe or group, age, gender and world.
It is important to note here that in every video game localization, there will always be the chance of additional recording. It could be because some lines were missed in the script or the reference to a particular gender is wrong, the performance of a character is off or there are some mistranslations.
A video game can have several thousands of unique voice over files. With a professional production team, these errors can easily be resolved before your video game is released.
Hiring the right voice actors for your video game does not have a standard. It all depends on the theme of your game, the scope of performance required, the number of characters you have in the game, the languages you need and your budget. You can economize and make the process more efficient when you plan for it from the beginning. Voice work requires several processes.
Aside from the casting, there's the recording, directing, line editing and voice implementation among the various other tasks. Hiring a professional video game production team will save you time and money. You are likewise ensured that your localized video game is of high quality.
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