Prominent interactive performers delivered the 411 on video game performing and shared advice for breaking into the industry at SAG-AFTRA Plaza on Feb. 26. How to Level Up on Video Game Work! attendees had the opportunity to speak with panelists and try out popular union signatory video games. The event was a collaborative effort, organized by the NextGen Performers L.A. Subcommittee and the SAG-AFTRA Interactive Committee. Dee Bradley Baker, America Young and Sarah Elmaleh began by quashing the misconception that performance in interactive projects is the same as in film or TV, when in reality the voiceover and performance capture work involved in video game production is different in many ways.
Voiceover performers are often alone in a booth and asked to create abnormal, straining and theatrically heavy voice work, such as sound effects and animal sounds that require an actor to know how to care for his or her voice. Similarly, acting work differs from its theatrical and TV counterparts, beginning with the sparsity of the set, which often only has basic props needed to create distinct motions, such as a chair for sitting. In both types of interactive work, the set and costumes live primarily in the performer’s imagination and, thus, both require the performer to have seasoned improvisational skills. The objective of performance capture is to digitize nuanced movements such as facial expressions, walking and body language, which means that the performer uses their entire body to get the cuts. It also means performers can portray numerous characters, regardless of their look, age or ability. Productions often capitalize on this by hiring a single performer for a full one-day shoot. Panelists encouraged attendees who want to pursue a career in interactive work to research the production process, get familiar with the business and build relationships of their own with developers.
Luckily, for those trying to break in, L.A. is the center of interactive work right now, so you are in the right place!