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Confessions of a Video Game Voice Actor

With Voice Actress Paula Tiso

By Neilie Johnson, 7/4/2009

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Other than that guy recently in the news who's getting paid over $100,000 to lounge around on a tropical island, voice actress Paula Tiso has my dream job. Based in Los Angeles, Paula's been doing voiceover narration, commercials, promos and voice acting for animated films and video games for the last fifteen years and has the rock star client list to prove it. She's worked with such high profile companies as Sierra Mist, American Greetings and McDonalds. Been to Hong Kong or Tokyo Disney lately? Then you've heard Paula's voice doing the English language announcements.

Among her impressive list of corporate and entertainment credits are numerous acting roles in some of the highest-rated video games out there, including Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid, Disgaea and Destroy All Humans. We caught up with Paula at her Tinseltown home and asked her for some tips for all those aspiring video game voice actors out there.

AG: How did you become a voice actor?

PT: After moving to Los Angeles and working with several sketch comedy groups , I took a day job at a Talent agency in the Voiceover department. I went from scheduling the actors appointments and transferring their auditions for the clients listening pleasure to being in the recording booth directing their auditions. I took a few voiceover classes around town so I could better understand the process for my booth directing but then I discovered I really enjoyed the other side of the desk- the Voice actor side.

AG: What kind of training do you need to become a voice actor?

PT: When I moved to Los Angeles I had already earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theater Arts. As I mentioned I took some classes around Hollywood and Burbank specifically for voiceover. Animation, commercial voiceover, promo- you name it I took the classes. But I have found that all voice actors have a different story of how they cam to be a voiceover performer.

AG: Do voice actors audition just like other types of actors do?

PT: Yup, except you donít have to dress the part. It is a highly competitive field.

AG: Which video game titles have you provided voices for?

PT: Check out my Wikipedia entry itís pretty accurate. I have been doing this for a long time so I have accrued a fairly large body of work.

AG: What was your favorite video game character you performed the voice for?

PT: I loved working on the DESTROY ALL HUMANS games , the scripts are so funny and the casting folk are so fun it is always a hilarious session!

AG: What's the toughest thing about voice acting Ė as opposed to stage/tv acting?

PT: The voice actor has to capture ALL of the characters attributes in the voice, there is a high level of energy needed even if the character is a fairly calm and low key character the actors attention must always be intensely focused to bring the character to life. There are no props, makeup, costume , or hair used to enhance the character, it is all about the voice actorís choices and their voice.

AG: What do you like best about it?

PT: I am a fairly private person who also loves to perform, I get the best of both worlds!

AG: Do you work alone/recording your lines alone or with other actors?

PT: Usually we work alone on video games. Alone with the director and the engineers and the line supervisor and a whole roomful of suits form the gaming company, or at least thatís who I think they are we donít always get introduced- we get ushered into the recording booth and then itís just you and the mic and your script. Well actually sometimes you have to record to picture and then you have a TV monitor also.

AG: In general, what's the production schedule/how much time do you have to finish a video game voiceover project?

PT: It really depends on the project and the role you have been cast in. sometimes I have a few weeks of sessions, and sometimes a few hours and I am done!

AG: Do you find you have creative input in regard to the video game voices you do, or do voice directors usually control the process?

PT: Once the character has been designed the casting people are instructed to look for a specific kind of voice to go with the character, so I find that after being cast in a role there is definitely some input that the actors can contribute to the presentation of their character but many decisions about the character have been made even before the actor becomes part of the process.

AG: Which unusual talent do you possess that you've used (or have yet to use) for a game character?

PT: Good question.

AG: Do you travel a lot, to work in different studios?

PT: Yes, I have worked in many different studios but for my game sessions they have all been in the Los Angeles area.

AG: Unbeknownst to anyone else, do you ever take advantage of the non-visual aspect of your job and work in your pajamas?

PT: All jobs I have done for games have been at outside studios, meaning not my own, so I am always dressed in regular clothes for my sessions, On the other hand for the radio imaging and TV promo work I do in my own studio, Rich Corinthian Audio, I have been known to voice a script before I have the time to get dressed for the dayÖ

AG: Very cool. Thanks, Paula! For more information, check out Paula Tiso's website.


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