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Voice actor/director Michael Schwalbe “You need the passion for getting good”

Top image: Michael Schwalbe, portrait on his own website.

Navigating the landscape of voice acting in the games industry can be daunting, especially in an era where traditional entry-level opportunities are dwindling due to the rise of AI. “The industry is really not in a healthy place at the moment”, says Michael Schwalbe, professional voice actor and director at What He Said Voiceovers

However, amidst the challenges lies opportunity. Some tips: building a solid home studio and mastering audio engineering are paramount, as broadcast-level audio production forms the backbone of the craft. Moreover, never underestimate the importance of proactive outreach and networking. Leveraging online communities like the Voice Acting Club and cultivating relationships with talent agencies are crucial steps toward breaking into the industry. Because, as Schwalbe reveals, “Most serious games are going to come through talent agencies.”

Complexities of voice acting

Voice acting in the gaming industry demands a multifaceted skill set and a tenacious work ethic, according to Schwalbe. “Compared to making a game, in which you can kind of see from a distance all the moving parts, voice acting absolutely has much more of a barrier to entry.” Navigating the complexities of voice acting requires proficiency in marketing, business management, organization, audio engineering, acting, and communication. From juggling auditions and invoicing to adapting scripts and directing sessions, voice actors must wear many hats to succeed. “It does take a lot of time invested,” he says, “but you need to have the passion for getting good first before you have the passion for trying to get credits or bookings.”

Schwalbe dispels misconceptions about the affordability of professional voice acting services, highlighting the potential cost-effectiveness of hiring seasoned talent for game projects. “So you can literally get most actors for less than a thousand bucks per person for a game.” For developers venturing into the world of voice acting, Schwalbe offers insights into evaluating voice talent and directing performances. He emphasizes the importance of attention to detail in selecting voice actors for gaming projects. “The most important thing a director can tell an actor is to stop focusing on the voice and focus on the emotion, the feeling.”

Check out the complete conversation between Michael Schwalbe and Jay Powell at IndieGameBusiness.


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