Over the years of producing game audio, one area I only every dipped in and out of was voice work. Given my background is in radio, as a journo and newsreader, I’m certainly used to recording voices. But I’ve got to be honest and say I’ve never really been ‘into’ game voice recording on a grand scale (maybe that’s where I went wrong eh?).
But then a project came along that I couldn’t resist: recording a single character voice for “The Kraken Sleepeth”, developed by Andy Gibson aka Team Pesky. Andy is a games industry veteran who’s now running his own ship here in York. TKS (as we call it) is a twin-stick shooter cum gothic mystery that’s about to hit the Windows App Store, before a further roll-out down the line on other platforms:
“Descend into the depths of the 7 seas and Professor Eldritch`s sanity in this original twin-stick shooter. Steer the bathysphere through undersea caverns and lost cities to uncover the awful secret, long forgotten but sleeping deep beneath the world’s oceans. As the player descends light starts to fade…. Discover the secrets of ancient curses in this uniquely atmospheric shooter from Team Pesky, creators of ‘Little Acorns’.”
Andy asked if I could find an actor to play the part of the game’s protagonist, the Victorian explorer / scientist Professor Eldritch. He goes beneath the waves in his magnificent submersible machine, only to find much more than he bargained for…
After auditioning a couple of great actors we settled on Peet Torjussen, who I’ve worked with before. He provided some of the creature sounds for Little Deviants and is a fabulous comic actor. He actually does a stage turn as a character called Sir Dickie Benson, a sozzled old thespian along the lines of Peter O’Toole or Oliver Reed. Pete’s taken Dickie to Edinburgh and is well practised in the art of sounding like a slightly crazed posh fella.
The recording was done at a hired studio. Actually it was an acoustic room normally used for musicians but it fitted my needs perfectly. I brought all my own gear: laptop running Windows 8 and Adobe Audition CC 2014 (the latest version), a Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 USB audio device, headphones plus a single Genelec 8010 for monitoring, and most important of all: an SE Z5600 tube mic.
The SE is a fabulous microphone that has a warm, rich sound and can handle anything you throw at it.With Peet’s powerful voice, complete with authentic wheezing and spluttering, I needed to bring out the big guns
It does weigh a bit, so some duct tape is needed to prop the stand up and avoid some embarrassing droop!
We recorded together in one room: Peet, me and Andy. This worked really well as we could fire feedback at Peet much more naturally. It did mean I had to monitor very carefully through my headphones though, to distance myself from the room sound.
The whole system worked well. The recordings were great, Peet performed brilliantly and, crucially, Andy was pleased and felt I’d over-delivered. That’s never a bad thing.
Here’s a wee taste of the Professor:
Audition came into its own: recording in Multitrack mode with markers laid down to signify a good take. Over the next day or so I went through the session, labelling each file before levelling everything out and letting Audition do its thing – extracting a few hundred files from the mix-down of the entire session. I’m a bit of an Audition evangelist but it’s with good reason.
It’s sometimes as easy to take the gear to the job. Hiring a studio means you don’t need to worry about who turns off the lights. Voice recording can be a laugh.
Voice recording should be a laugh.