Chaotic Thoughts #4: And Yet They Must Scream
Hello everyone, welcome to Chaotic Thoughts, an inside view of the development of Thoughts in Chaos, the third episode of the Antioch Chronicles.
This week on Chaotic Thoughts we're finishing up our interview with our talented voice actor's Ruben "Auspex Turmalis" Moreno, Eric "Zeus Legion" Dieter and Bridget Maguire-Colton. As a bonus we have a vocal preview of Turmalis, and a scene from one of our Interlude maps between Haley and Trench!
CT: What differences between now and when you did Episodes 1 & 2 are there in regards to voice acting?
AUSPEX: I'd say I'm probably more confident now. When I did Episode 1, I thought it was a stretch for me to voice six characters (Turmalis, Khorun, Nurohk, Nannoth/Taeradun, Mox, and Gurney). When I did Episode 2, it felt like a stretch to voice two more (Trench and Khrillian). But now, it doesn't feel out of the question for me to contemplate doing additional voices. I'm not as worried about my own limitations... probably because I'm much more open to criticism, so there isn't as much at stake. I'm perfectly happy to go back to the drawing board, or to let someone else take over. I was very closed off and more than a bit stuck up back then. Haha! And strangely, in 18 years time, I didn't think there would be much change in my voice, but there's notably more presence in the lower register. I guess getting older lowers your voice! It's an obvious thing, but one that I didn't think about too much until now.
ZEUS: Not a lot. I still have a computerized studio, a professional mic, similar software. My voice is deeper than ever now. I suppose I have a more evolved ear for dialogue with all the copywriting I’ve done. I think the biggest change is that I edit all of my own audio and I can reproduce the Protoss Effect myself.
CT: What did you use for voice editing originally and what do you use now? How is that affecting the editing? We've got the samples showing a pretty good replication of what you had originally. Was it easy to remember how to do it, or did you struggle to get it back to the right way?
AUSPEX: Back in the day, I used Cool Edit 96 (and subsequent versions) and a little bit of GoldWave. Cool Edit was the software that Adobe bought up and later turned into Audition. To this day, I'm still using Audition for editing voice-over audio. The editing goes much faster these days, mostly because our computing power is orders of magnitude better than it was 18 years ago, but the processing demand of audio editing hasn't really climbed to keep pace... so editing is nearly instantaneous on individual takes. I can record 50 minutes worth of audio takes and then do basic processing like noise reduction, dynamics, and EQ on the entire 50-minute file within a minute or two, tops. It's such a huge difference. On the flip side, while I kept fastidious notes on the effects chains and processing order that I used for each of the characters, I don't actually have most of the presets from back then in the new software... so I'm forced to guess and try my best to replicate the sound that I achieved back then. In listening to the old clips, a lot of it sounds rough, noisy, or just plain harsh to me now, so in the new episode, if something doesn't quite match the old sound, it's okay because I can use that as an excuse to apply a more modern audio style and keep things clean and intelligible. A lot of the Protoss effects in StarCraft 2, for example, are way more subtle than they were in the first game, which has the benefit of making characters a lot easier to understand. Anyway... some of the characters were easy to fall back into, like Trench and Turmalis, while some others, like Khrillian, are requiring more effort to nail down correctly.
ZEUS: I used GoldWave back then. These days I use Audacity. I’d use Adobe Audition but I don’t like to spend obscene amounts of money or pirate crap online.
CT: Have you done any voice acting outside of Antioch? If so, feel free to plug anything here.
AUSPEX: Nothing of note.
ZEUS: Tons of stuff, mostly hundreds of radio commercials for everything from comic books, novels, and guns to floating islands and family outdoor events featuring flamethrowers and helicopter rides. I did 4 characters for Heroes of Newerth including GunBlade and the Cenobite Torturer, a cameo in an Accursed Farms short called Stranger in Need, did a cameo in Final Metamorphosis as Ulrezaj, several characters in StarCraft Universe including Tal’Zerash, Chief Hardwick in the Leviathan Chronicles, and tons of other stuff. I’m available for hire!
BRIDGET: I've done a few other projects including the voice of the rule changes for US Women's LaCrosse, but probably very little you can actually hear.
CT: Can you tell us a bit about the process you use for getting into characters? Is it different for each character or do you have some sort of routine you use each time you voice act to get ready?
AUSPEX: For me, if I'm returning to an old character, I start by listening to old clips from the original episodes. I'll just start re-reading the old lines and trying to match the delivery I had back then. If I can get really close, then I know I'm in the right headspace to continue the character. If it's a new character, often I'll draw inspiration from actors in movies that I love. Maybe the character reminds me of a character from an iconic movie, which can be a really helpful starting point.
ZEUS: Pretty much the same as Ruben. Listen to the old stuff, try to recreate it, modify it as needed. If its a new character, their look and any background info can help me get an idea of what they should sound like and I just practice different ways of saying their dialogue until something pops. Honestly, its not a lot different than what many of us did as kids, pretending to be a giant robot or a ninja or whatever. You just take that to the max, become the character for a bit, and do the performance. And if you’re on mic with multiple people, you try your best to make each other laugh uncontrollably because having fun is just as important as getting paid.
BRIDGET: To get into Haley, I like to look at a picture of her. I also tend to listen to some of my previous recordings to remind myself what I did.
CT: Have there been any emotional moments for you in the new script? Can you tell us about them without giving out any spoilers?
AUSPEX: The whole thing is emotional for me. I could have never predicted that 16 years after I stopped working on Antioch, it would be resurrected, re-interpreted, given a shiny coat of paint, and then propelled into new territory to finally come full circle. Given that I didn't write the script this time (though I have been given the opportunity to lend my input), it's a much different feeling to discover what the fate of various characters might be. I've sort of let go of the reins on the whole thing, but the great thing is that it's been in the best hands possible with this new project. For some of the characters, it's been wonderful to see them get to have one last big adventure and "do their thing," and for other characters, there are some poignant moments that really make me glad I got a chance to add some real depth of emotion that wasn't there in the first two episodes. It's been a nice rounding of the experience.
ZEUS: All the bloody, horrible, mortifying, torturous deaths at the end. Oh, and the Zerg/Protoss love story that came from out of nowhere in the middle of the story, now that was a real tearjerker. Oh wait, did I just spoil those?
BRIDGET: Oh my gosh, yes! One scene in particular had me tearing up just reading it. I don't want to give anything away, but I hope the players get the same feelings I had alone in my booth.
And now the part you really want ... some exclusive previews of the upcoming Thoughts in Chaos!
En Taro Antioch!