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October 11, 2012 / Randy Coppinger

How Might Actors Constrain Editing?

Sarah Elmaleh asked,
What’s the biggest habit or misstep a (talented) actor might be innocent of, that constricts your decision-making when it comes to editing? Are these issues mainly caught in a well-run recording session to begin with, or are there any that can’t be helped or noticed at that point?

I don’t seem to have a single biggest. Instead, two situations come to mind.

Concatenation is tricky. It’s time consuming to get right in the studio yet so horrible and obvious when you get it wrong, come editing. Take this example:
“Find the // blue // triangle.”

We really should play “Find the” right before recording each color. Then we should play “Find the // blue” before each shape. But that can be a huge time suck, so often we don’t. When it comes time to edit, if the favorite read doesn’t fit then you’ve got to listen to the other takes and hope one will work. If not, you’re stuck; you either let it sound bad or you re-record.

Ensemble recordings like this are rare

It is uncommon to record more than one actor at the same time, which creates the second circumstance, relative to Sarah’s question. Not only is ensemble recording rare, but we may not even reference what’s already been recorded as we move through the sessions. It puts a lot of pressure on the director and each actor to get performances that can gel later. An actor might provide an amazing interpretation, but if it doesn’t work in the context of other recordings, the editor may be forced to use another, potentially inferior take.

Good planning and budgeting can minimize the likelihood of these problems. Also, some actors are very good at concatenation (Jim Cummings and Jennifer Hale come to mind). Most experienced voice actors are comfortable performing opposite no one (save the voice director) and are able to conjure several interpretations of a line for a better chance that one will likely fit the performances by other voice actors. When everything works well, editing is pretty straight forward. When it breaks down, there aren’t many good options for the dialog editor.

Listen to all of the questions and answers… Dialog Editing for Game Audio.

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