Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Interview: Voice Acting in Video Games

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 13, 2007

Comments (15)

David SobolovWhat's the life of a video game voice actor like?

Does it pay be a union talent in the field of video game voice acting?

Find answers to these questions and more by checking out the Voices.com interview with David Sobolov at VOX Daily.

If you're a voice actor who provides vocal talents for video games, you may be able to relate to David Sobolov, a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and active video game voice actor.

This week, I had the opportunity to interview David about SAG related video game voice acting work and asked some key questions that may reveal some of the answers you've been looking for if you are wondering if you should be in the union to do this sort of work.

Here's my interview with David Sobolov. Enjoy!

Stephanie: How did you get your first SAG voice acting job for video games?

David: Auditioning via my agent in Los Angeles.

Stephanie: What is an average recording session for video game voice acting like? Can you record some of these jobs from your own studio?

David: The sessions are booked for four hours and what happens during that time varies wildly depending on the project. Sometime I have game play to record, disjoined lines my character says, sometimes 40 pages! Other times there's a substantial amount of dialogue for cut scenes. That's happening more and more. It took four sessions to record my part for Sony's Rogue Galaxy but my three parts in Fantastic Four took less than an hour! These gigs are almost never done from a home studio. They like to see you in person.

Stephanie: What percentage of your voice over work consists of video game voice acting with SAG contracts?

David: All my video game work is on a union contract. I'd say videogames make up about 1/2 my work these days.

Stephanie: Are many of these SAG video game voice acting contracts based upon ongoing work with past clients or does the work come from mainly new business and or referrals?

David: More and more past clients are calling me in or auditioning and bringing me in for multiple games. Just like any other part of the business, it's all about relationships and about the producers knowing you can give them what they need in a pinch. Once they figure out what you can offer and they like it you'll often hear from them again and again.

Stephanie: Have you ever been able to turn a non-union voice acting job into a SAG voice acting job for video games? If so, do you find it is an easy task?

David: YES! I recently turned down some non-union work and then the company called me a few weeks later to ask me to help them sign a SAG contract.

Stephanie: Is most of your work local (LA)? Does living in major hotbeds for union and video game voice acting work play a significant role in whether you are hired for a SAG voice acting job where video games are concerned?

David: Yes, most of my work is based in Los Angeles. I agree, you are much more employable doing SAG videogame work if you live in a major production center like L.A. or NYC.

Stephanie: Do people hire you directly for your video game voice acting work or do they go through your agent?

David: Happily, I have some very good relationships with casting directors I've worked with in the past and sometimes we email 'out of school' - although they always call my agent to book. That's the protocol out here.

Stephanie: What was your favorite SAG voice acting job in video games?

David: I loved playing the delicious villain Malebolgia in Spawn!

Stephanie: Have you worked on franchise / legacy games? If so, do you enjoy returning to characters you have voiced in the past? Are there any challenges where this is concerned?

David: I've been cast in games they intended to be legacy (such as Advent Rising) but sequels weren't meant to be. The only recurring role I've had on a videogame was in the game version of the TV series I did called Sabrina The Animated Series. They had me back to voice the role of Spookie Jar in the game.

Although I might not remember what I did on a particular day a few days later (because I create characters on the fly - a skill you really need to develop if you want to work in games) - I can give them what we did before in multiple sessions if they play a snippet of what we did the last time.

Stephanie: Finally, do you have any advice for people who aspire to be a member of SAG in pursuit of video game voice acting?

David: Voice acting is not just about putting on a fun character voice like a coat... you need to be a very good actor to work consistently. Keep acting whenever and wherever you can!

We'll close with that thought.

Are you a voice actor who records for video games or a fan of David's work?

If so, please leave a comment with your thoughts about this interview. We'd love to hear from you!

Best,

Stephanie

Related Topics: hired, Los Angeles, Non-Union, TV, union, videogames


Comments


    Hey, I'm a big fan of video game voicers and wish to be one... can you give me any pointers or people to find for a casting session?

    Posted by:
    • Jake
    • April 18, 2007 9:40 PM

      Nice piece, thanks!

      For those who want to get more proficient at "creating characters on the fly" like David, I highly recommend taking some improv classes. It's a lot of fun and also very good for building confidence.

      Cheers,

      David

      Posted by:

        This interview actually helped me understand what I might go through going into a voice acting business!

        Thank you Voices!

        Posted by:
        • Steffeny A
        • April 21, 2007 12:11 PM

          Voice acting sounds like a lot of fun, but still challenging, which I would like to do, but how do you get connected?

          Posted by:
          • Carly
          • April 21, 2007 2:19 PM

            Thanks for the great interview I really enjoyed reading it. Video game voice over is something I would really like to do. Another reason to move to L.A.

            Posted by:
            • Michael Welch
            • April 21, 2007 4:38 PM

              I'm a fan of David's since we met almost two years ago to help me whip my demo into shape. He's great as a director and coach behind the glass, terrific at evoking characters you don't know you have in you, and advising on what's marketable and what isn't. I had an absolute blast recording with him.

              For those who are looking to bootstrap their careers (and who have substantial talent to ante) I'd suggest David's voice over demo production service; it's a great way to meet him, pick his brain, learn more about the industry, and walk away with a professional demo that'll represent you well to clients.

              (Hi, David!)

              Posted by:

                Hi,

                I'm very interested in doing voice-over for video games.

                Do you have any advice for a 17 year old with no professional experience?

                Nicole

                Posted by:
                • Nicole
                • August 4, 2007 2:56 PM

                  Hi Nicole,

                  Thank you for your comment and question.

                  First, I suggest you take advantage of all the resources here at Voices.com including the blogs, podcasts (Voice Over Experts in particular http://podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts/ ) and also research the demos of voice actors who specialize in video game voice acting such as David Sobolov, Kari Wahlgren, and many others.

                  Take advantage of all the free resources that you can and look into some lessons with a voice over coach. There are several who teach animation and video game voice acting.

                  DB Cooper is a pro at voice overs for video games. Take a moment to read this article from a conference we sponsored and attended about voice overs for video games:

                  DB Cooper Lecture at VOICE 2007

                  Search this blog also for video game voice acting articles and interviews.

                  Hope that helps,

                  Stephanie

                  Posted by:

                    How does one apply for a voice career, whether its in a video game or cartoon? Because I think I have a unique voice that could be to great use.

                    Posted by:
                    • Star
                    • August 22, 2007 11:57 PM

                      Hello, my name is Josh.

                      I've loved video games for years and noticed that voice overs are being used at an increasing rate. I've always had fun reading about a game or movie for weeks and when it finally comes out finding out what the characters voices sound like and wanting to use my voice for some of them. I live in Massachusetts and was wondering if you had any ideas of where I could start to look for a career in voice acting for games, anime...

                      Thanks for the help.

                      Josh

                      Posted by:
                      • Josh
                      • June 2, 2008 11:51 PM

                        Hi, my name is Austin.

                        I'm not sure how recent this thread is but I'd like to know where one would go to take schooling (besides improve as previously mentioned). As you have said Los Angeles seems the primary place to be for work opportunities but are their any specific schools for this career path?

                        I'm from Canada and I've always loved to try out new voices that I have heard on TV and especially in my video games. I think it would be a great career, fun as well as very different and challenging. I can also sing quite well (modesty) and am able to mimic my voice to many vocal artists. It would be a dream if I could work for several video game companies such Blizzard, EA, or any company really. I would love to get my voice into as many TV shows and video games as possible.

                        Some personal direction would be greatly appreciated.

                        Thank You!

                        Austin

                        Posted by:
                        • Austin
                        • April 20, 2009 11:08 PM

                          Dear Austin,

                          Thank you for commenting and for your questions. What I would recommend is pursuing education in the theatrical arts. Try to find colleges or universities that offer drama programs. You mentioned that you're in Canada, as am I. From what I've heard, Humber College is very good for musical theatre and there is also a great drama program Ryerson in Toronto.

                          What it all comes down to is your ability to act, improvise and interpret copy. Having a great voice, or a versatile voice, is only one aspect of voice acting.

                          I hope this has helped!

                          Best wishes from Canada,

                          Stephanie

                          Posted by:

                            Nice interview!

                            I think I already have the talent, and I'd really like to break into the industry somehow. Unfortunately enough, right now I live in Tennessee. Is it true that I would have to move to California to have almost any chance, or is there anything I can do while here to somehow get my foot in the door at least?

                            Posted by:
                            • Bobby Crockett
                            • September 20, 2009 9:04 PM

                              Hi,

                              I am a 17 year old kid that wants to be a voice over for video games. I just dont know how to get started or what I have to do to become a voice over for video games. I would like to voice characters from anime games.

                              Posted by:
                              • Connor Thyne
                              • May 3, 2012 11:22 AM

                                Great article!
                                Does David have any suggestions for vocalists who want to be apart of recording the soundtrack of a video game?
                                Im a vocalist living in Chicago, IL. I sing in a cover band, at weddings, churches, done back ground vocals and lead vocals on a few albums, etc. I hear the soundtracks to video games and am in love with how rich and dynamic they can be. There are some great vocals creating the "ooo's and ahhh's" or singing the words. One of my goals is to be the vocalist for the video game soundtracks. Is that still considered voice over work? What does that piece look like?
                                Thank you ahead of time for any insight!

                                Respectfully,
                                maggie mitchell

                                Posted by:
                                • Maggie
                                • June 11, 2013 3:32 PM

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