After showing audio designer Ryan Roth (@DualRyan) our finalized script we talked about which vocal talent would be a good fit for our narrator. It had to be someone who could sound clear, concise, upbeat and expressive. Ryan felt actor Dexter Howe (@DexterHowe) would be a shoe-in. He also enlisted the help of audio engineer Alexis Eskandari (http://www.youtube.com/user/aleskand).
Calls were made, and the studio was booked. Heading into the studio with just a script is enough, but foresight can go a long way. Rather then just have copies of the script for everyone to read off of, we created an industry standard line sheet. This made it much easier for Dexter to perform, for us to direct the performance (if needed), and for Alexis and Ryan to identify and edit readings. Take a look below for an example.
The leftmost column numbers the sounds which makes organizing them much easier. To its right comes the character who is speaking the part. The next two columns are for the time code, used mostly for film and TV so the audio matches the action on screen. For the purposes of our game these aren’t needed. Following that is a column with the line itself which may or may not have a bit of direction attached to it. Finally you’ll see the right columns are numbered 1 to 5, and these represent the number of takes (or versions) of the reading.
Multiple takes are desired, if not necessary, since the actor has a few chances to say the line different ways then we can all play them back and decide which one works best for the scene. New School Blues had approximately 65 lines of dialogue, with generally 4-5 takes of each. Do the math quick and you’ll find Dexter read about 300 lines in about 3-4 hours! Next post we’ll get a bit deeper into voice direction and talk later on sound quality and file types. Stay tuned!