By Lani Minella
Metamorph At Large
Production Company)

Part 1:

Part 2:
What Price, Talent?
"Stars" and Union
talent costs

Part 3:
Other Voiceover Costs

Part 4:
Finding Great Talent: Audition Secrets

Click to hear Lani's Voiceover Demo Reel

Lani's Credit list - Voiceover talent
for over 400 games
and counting

Lani's Credit List in PDF format



If you've been thrown into the lions den by your boss, who now expects you to cast your companies latest twitch game, stop fretting and listen up. Here's some tips on how to find the best voice over talent for your game or as Duke Nukem might say, "I'm about to tell you how to weed whack the wussies and nail down the best pipes your money can buy."

Put your prospective talent through the following tests:

1. Have your talent do an umprepared or "cold" read of your dialogue. Can they cold read well or does it sound like they are reading? Being conversational is important. Voice actors need to be able to scan ahead while speaking without a lot of stopping and pre-reading.

2. Have them read for at least six lines. While in a character, ask the talent to read the line with a range of emotions. Do they take direction correctly and quickly while maintaining a good attitude?

During their reading, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they stay in character for more than 3 lines?
  • Does the talent have a good imagination or a good repertoire of different voice choices that they can pull up in an instant, offering original ideas about what a certain character might sound like? This separates the better talents from the newbies.
  • Do they have high energy and staying power? Make them do some screams, expletives and yells in quick succession. If they complain that it ruins their voice, you may want to save them for bedtime storytelling. The more recording you complete without a lot of rest periods, the more time and money you save.
  • Listen to see if they enunciate clearly with special attention to word endings like Ts, Ds, Ms and Gs. Many products end up with 8 bit sampling rates, which destroy the clarity of words unless they are almost over-pronounced.
  • Do they have good mic technique?
  • Do they maintain steady levels?
  • Do they pop Ps and Bs? Are there excessive mouth and breath noises? The pros know how to time breaths to make editing a lot easier. The amateurs often turn away from the mic, or smack their lips and forget that their hands slapping against their legs make for unwanted noise.
  • Do they visualize their character by using face and silent body movements to assist with expressive vocalizations? We voice actors need not worry about looking like idiots when performing. It's what we sound like that matters.

One last word on directing.
Doing voiceovers well and giving good direction fall into the same category. Easier said than done. I enjoy being able to give good direction because, as a voice actor myself, I know some of the tricks I use to achieve certain sounds, emotions, or impersonations. Some of the worst direction I have had is by people who try to give too much subtext or silly suggestions. Here is what I mean:

"I want you to be a cross between Daffy Duck and Peter Lorre."
"Sound like a combo of Bud Bundy of Married With Children and Dean Kain from Superman."
"She was raised by immigrants who worked hard; she grew up in a mining town; she never had any new toys as a child and now she is afraid of losing her pet iguana."

I know that some producers/directors feel as if they should let the actor bring his or her own ideas to the table before ever giving them a line read. Fine. Go ahead. But ask for two different takes in a row, and if that doesn't yank your crank, give that line read!
I hate to hear, "Just do it again." I want to know how I should alter it. The funny thing is when you perfectly imitate the line read, and whoever gave it to you decides it didn't work that way. That's okay. We actors expect things to be tried in different ways until they click. Don't hold back on criticism or compliments. If actors seem to be struggling, find something good to say about what they're doing anyway. It just may relax them enough to trash the stage fright and get on with the show.

Got more questions? Just drop me a line - I will gladly answer any questions or offer consultation on any of your needs.You can also e-mail me at [email protected]. My current website is: and I am in the process of building a new one. You can page me at 800-357-7040. On behalf of Pro-Motions Productions, I wish each of you all the best.