The Human Voice
Description: The human voice is the personal and social glue that binds us, and the most important sound in our lives. The moment we open our mouth we leak information about our biological, psychological and social status. Babies use it to establish emotional ties and acquire language, adults to decode mood and meaning in intimate and professional relationships. Far from being rendered redundant by modern technology, the human voice has enormous and enduring significance.
Focus: An exploration of the expressive range of the human voice and the way it affects us emotionally, psychologically and shapes our identity. This is an essential primer crammed with ideas for how to use voice and dialogue creatively.
Now You're Talking
Description: Now You’re Talking explores the full range of our voice – how we speak and how we sing; how our vocal anatomy works; what happens when things go wrong; and how technology enables us to imitate and manipulate the human voice.
Focus: Covering the evolution of voice and speech and its mechanics, voice's role in identity, and a history of recording and speech synthesis. This book provides useful background to understand the voice mechanically and the enormous range of challenges in its emulation through synthesis.
Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures
Description: Produce professional level dialogue tracks with industry-proven techniques and insights from an Emmy Award winning sound editor. Gain innovative solutions to common dialogue editing challenges such as room tone balancing, noise removal, perspective control, finding and using alternative takes, and even time management and postproduction politics.
Focus: While this book is about dialogue editorial for film, there a many useful insights for voice designers working in games. Dialogue editorial for games is often a simple and straightforward affair and understanding the intricacies and challenges of film post-production can be very useful. This book is also riddled with useful ideas for creativity in terms of how what the audiences hears or doesn't hear can shape their perception of a character or a relationship.
Description: With sound becoming more important in cinema exhibition and DVD release, this book offers user-friendly knowledge and stimulating exercises to help compose a story, develop characters and create emotion through skilful creation of the sound track.
Focus: While entitled "Sound Design", this book focuses on the essence of "design" aspect of audio design; the theoretical and conceptual uses of sound to help shape and support story and character rather than techniques. This book provides a fundamental understanding of how to use the sounds of voice and dialogue to build worlds and tell stories.
Description: Internationally-renowned directing coach Weston demonstrates what constitutes a good performance, what actors want from a director, what directors do wrong, script analysis and preparation, how actors work, and shares insights into the director/actor relationship.
Focus: While industry voice and dialogue roles do not often involve Voice Direction, understanding this craft is essential to us all. We need to be able to anticipate the needs of Voice Directors and support their work and may sometimes need to undertake this work ourselves.
The Voice In Cinema
Description: In this brilliant essay, Michel Chion, internationally cited authority on the history and poetics of film sound, examines the human voice in cinema. Chion explores subjective voices, bonding and entrapment by telephone, voice-thieves, screams (male and female), siren calls, and the silence of mute characters-all uniquely cinematic deployments.
Focus: This book is an exploration of the creative use of voice in film, citing many successful films as examples. This is a useful read for building out your storytelling toolkit.
The Casting Handbook
Suzy Caitliff & Jennifer Granville
Description: Casting is a crucial element of any production - and yet the craft and skills needed to put together a successful and exciting cast are often overlooked. The Casting Handbook explains the casting process from beginning to end and covers everything producers and directors need to know.
Focus: Though it has a focus on casting for film and theatre and has a London focus, many principles carry over to games. Voice Designers have varying degrees of involvement in casting from studio to studio, and this book provides an excellent foundation to understanding this craft.
Video Game Storytelling
Description: With Video Game Storytelling, game writer and producer Evan Skolnick provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide to storytelling basics and how they can be applied at every stage of the development process - by all members of the team. This clear, concise reference pairs relevant examples from top games and other media with a breakdown of the key roles in game development, showing how a team's shared understanding and application of core storytelling principles can deepen the player experience.
Focus: Written from a Writer/Narrative Designer's perspective, this book is a great foundational reference for understanding the expression and execution of storytelling in games as a medium. Understanding this as a Voice Designer is imperative as we are the spearpoint for story in audio.
The Gamer's Brain
Description: Making a successful video game is hard. Even games that are successful at launch may fail to engage and retain players in the long term due to issues with the user experience (UX). In a nutshell, game UX is about considering the gamer's brain: understanding human capabilities and limitations to anticipate how a game will be perceived, the emotions and motivation it will elicit, and how players will interact with it.
Focus: UX is an essential component of successful Voice Design, with features such as combat NPC barks responsible for communicating critical gameplay information to the player. The voice is deeply psychological and an enormous amount of information can be encoded into a single line of dialogue. This book will help develop an understanding of UX and how voice can play its part.
The Science of Storytelling
Description: Why stories make us human and how to tell them better. In this incisive, thought-provoking book, aware-winning writer Will Storr demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us. Applying dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, he shows how we can use these tools to tell better stories - and make sense of our chaotic modern world.
Focus: Just as voice is intensely psychological, so too is storytelling. This book will help the reader develop an understanding of storytelling, what comprises a story and through this ideas on how voice may support it.
Leading with Sound: Proactive Sound Practices in Video Game Development
Description: Leading with Sound is the must-have companion guide to working on video game projects. Focused on the creative, collaborative, philosophical and organizational skills behind game sound and eschewing the technical, this book celebrates the subjects most essential to leading with sound in video game development at any level. Refuting the traditional optics of sound as a service in favour of sound as a pro-active visionary department, this book examines each of the four food-groups of dialogue, sound design, music and mix, not through the usual technical and production lenses of ‘how’ and ‘when’, but the essential lens of ‘why’ that enables leadership with sound.
Focus: This book outlines a proactive creative philosophy for working in game audio, and an essential one for working in Voice Design.
Principles of Game Audio and Sound Design: Sound Design and Audio Implementation for Interactive and Immersive Media
Description: Principles of Game Audio and Sound Design is a comprehensive introduction to the art of sound for games and interactive media using Unity. This accessible guide encompasses both the conceptual challenges of the artform as well as the technical and creative aspects, such as sound design, spatial audio, scripting, implementation and mixing.
Focus: An excellent primer for anyone looking to work in game audio, covering a comprehensive range of topics.
Actions: The Actors' Thesaurus
Description: This book gathers together a list of of action words and makes them available in an organized and comprehensive format.
Focus: This thesaurus of action words is a useful reference book for a range of Voice Design tasks, such as voice direction, writing context descriptions for barks which might be used by a range of people such as actors, directors, localization specialists, translators, etc. Choosing the right words can be really important to getting the results you want and this is an excellent resource with a performance focus.
The Audio Expert: Everything You Need to Know About Audio
Description: This book is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of audio, both practical and theoretical. It brings together the concepts of musical instrument physics, acoustics, electronics, aural perception and much more. In language that is not overly technical, the book will benefit readers at beginner to advanced levels.
Focus: This is more of an encyclopedia rather than a way of absorbing the sum total of audio knowledge! It distinguishes itself from other similar books by being written in a simple, digestible, easily referenced format. Not a necessity by any means as Google often does the trick, but if you're looking for something comprehensive with accessible explanations then its very useful to have around.
Game Audio Mixing
Description: Game Audio Mixing offers a holistic view of the mixing process for games, from philosophical and psychological considerations to the artistic considerations and technical processes behind acoustic rendering, interactive mixing, mastering, and much more. This book includes a comprehensive overview of many game audio mixing techniques, processes, and workflows, with advice from audio directors and sound supervisors.
Focus: This book provides an excellent exploration of the wide ranging challenges, solutions and stylistic choices confronting games when mixing. Whether we are pre-mixing our work or only mastering our assets, voice is often the anchor point of the mix and so it is important that we understand how games are mixed so that we can do our part to make this process as straightforward as possible.
Accents: A Manual for Actors
Description: This practical reference manual, with its precise, authentic instructions on how to speak in more than 100 dialects, has established itself as the most useful and comprehensive guide to accents available, now increased by a third in this revised printing. As before, the accents range from regional U.S. and British dialects to European accents that include, among others, the Germanic, Slavic and Romance Languages. Completing his around-the-world journey, the author then covers the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Focus: Accents are an important aspect of casting and performance for voice design and play a significant role in world building. Their execution is not always straightforward and inauthentic performances can massively undermine our intended goals, and so having a rough understanding of accents is important.