In the development of a game with an especially high volume of dialogue, a voice-over designer is hired to support the audio lead, game writers, and recording engineers in the production of voice-over assets. This specialist’s talents are most commonly needed in the development of massive multiplplayer online games with hundreds of characters, like World of Warcraft or EverQuest.
In close collaboration with the creative director and staff of game writers, the voice-over designer manages the development of the script and coordinates with content teams concerning animation of characters to match dialogue and delivery of audio assets through the production pipeline. When VOs are recorded in-house, the designer is present for the sessions with the engineer and talent and offers input during the mixing and editing of audio. This person is the primary point of contact for third-party staff hired from an outside studio to record VOs and similarly supervises those sessions. Again, working closely with the audio lead and audio programmers, the voice-over designer ensures the timely delivery of assets and monitors the integration of dialogue into the game. He or she may also be responsible for producing sound design elements, such as Foley sound effects in relation to VOs.
The precise purview of the voice-over designer will vary by studio, but he or she will typically be involved with every stage of the script from inception to completion; this includes casting voice-over talent, advising on rewrites, and cooperating with the game’s sound designer to achieve a cohesive blend between recorded dialogue and manufactured sound in the game. As a specialist, the voice-over designer may be hired on a contract basis for a limited time and would answer directly to the sound designer, creative director, or game producer.
Skills & Education
A specific degree is not required for this career, though a degree or formal training in audio production and recording is highly preferred. The voice-over designer must have an expert-level knowledge of audio equalization, compression, artifact removal, and clean up of recorded sound. Familiarity with studio consoles in necessary, as is the use of software like Pro Tools. Familiarity with audio middleware like Wwise is helpful. The ability to differentiate and cast voice-over talent according to the intangible nuance of each character and the dialogue is a unique skill that cannot be taught, but is picked up through years of experience in game development or work in film and television animation sound production.
What to Expect
As mentioned previously, this role may often be offered as a contract position with a limited term of employment for a specific game. However, full-time positions do exist, though they may be few and far between. Those seeking a stable, permanent gig in game development with an emphasis on audio should consider first gaining experience as an assistant to the audio lead, and then promotion to lead within a development studio. As a senior-level role, the voice-over designer should have several years of experience in post-production audio, voice-over recording, sound design, automatic dialogue replacement, or a related field. Prior employment as a recording engineer or engineer’s assistant is also beneficial.
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