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Hi All,

Question for the game audio folks out there - I'm doing a playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution now and noticing that a lot of the character voices sound very up close/clear and 'voiceovery' in fixed camera-angle conversations where they're not really that tight on the game camera.

I'm sure this doesn't bother the huge majority of players out there, but it jumped out to me and probably would to anyone who's familiar with how production audio tends to sound.

So I'm wondering: when recording game dialogue, do you bother recording for perspective at all, or record it super up-close, hot and present, letting the game itself do all of the rolloffs/etc. in realtime?

If you know this dialogue's going to be for a fixed-perspective shot like a conversation, would you bother burning in some rolled off highs/low EQ in advance to try to 'match' it a little more like in post?

Have you noticed a trend towards one or the other and if so, do you feel it's changing?

Luca

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

we recorded the dialogue for brothers in arms 2 and 3, as well as borderlands, duke nukem and dragonball z budokai 3.

In each of those cases we ran a 2 mic setup, but that was to handle main challenge of keeping the yelling and talking/whispering phrases in line with one another and working well.

Its my experience that perspective recording would dramatically increase the deliverables of voice files (since you'd need close and distant perspectives across the tens of thousands of files that get played back in game) and would extend and complicate the mixing and sound programming process.

This is not to say that something like that wouldn't be worth the effort, just to say that the effort towards voice cutting, editing and programming comes on the tail end of the development process so funds and time tend to be winding down at that point.

In most cases, perspective mixing just has to happen in the programming stage due to outside constraints.

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Thanks Rene, really good insights. I can see why for random NPCs wandering out in the world, you would want to record pretty close and let the engine do it in realtime. More files = more headaches. But in cases where you know the perspective, like an in-game conversation where you've two characters locked standing face-to-face, Bioware-style, would you still bother recording your one set of deliverables for those lines from boom perspective? So that there doesn't have to be any realtime rolloffs or anything, but it'll fit the angle? –  Luca Fusi Oct 25 '11 at 22:23
    
And I've seen some of those videos on the Budokai 3 VO sessions, that must've been a blast. –  Luca Fusi Oct 25 '11 at 22:24

It's an excellent question. For cutscenes, there's definitely a trend to use more perspective, I like to record both using perspective mics and a boom or lav mic to always have a close option.

For in-game cinematics which are pre-rendered you're relying on the capabilities of the audio engine to use real-time DSP effects to create the sense of depth, such as using a low-pass filter, volume attenuation and reverb depending on the distance.

I noticed the same on Gears of War 2, all the dialogue sounded very flat and poorly placed.

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Another issue in why a lot of games choose the close mic perspective is Localization. Localization is generally outsourced to different recording studios depending on language, and using multiple mic set up in the english version complicates and could serious compromise the quality of the localized versions. In this respect it is much safer to record the english at one fixed perspective and then let the game engine add the feeling of distance. Having said that we are currently going down the multi mic/perspective road, because we are trying to help the animation team jump the uncanny valley. As the fidelity of the visuals increase I think the approach and complexity of the recording requirements for dialogue will also change.

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Yes, an excellent question.

A lot of game dialog is driven by schedules (unfortunately). Any change to the standard VO process (large diaphram mic in a recording booth) that might threaten a schedule is hard to shepherd thru. Improvements are the result of individual audio directors or VO directors pushing for them.

The results of alternative ways of capturing world dialog are quite startling. 5 years ago I had the pleasure of seeing an A - B type demo given by Charles Deenan of dialog recorded for a basketball video game ( NBA Street think?). Same dialog, same implementation, 1st batch recorded in booth, 2nd on a basketball court with Lavs and the actors actually moving around. There was no question that the fidelity of the former was better, but there was also no question that the effect of the latter on the feel of the game was head and shoulders above the former.

Over the next couple of years I intended to incorporate this lesson in the battle chatter of some games, but never had a schedule that permitted it. This kind of work complicates the scheduling of actors, the list of gear required, the recording process, and the editing process, but i believe is worth it.

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