Peek behind the scenes of Portal, and hear how the voice acting magic happens

Chris Scott Barr - Mar 1, 2016, 1:26pm CST
Peek behind the scenes of Portal, and hear how the voice acting magic happens

Voice acting is an interesting craft. While you might think that it’s just as simple as walking into a booth, and delivering lines, there’s a lot more to it. After all, you need to convey all of the emotion of a scene, using nothing more than your voice. If you’ve ever wanted a peek behind the scenes to see how the voices in Portal are done, then I’ve got a treat for you.

It’s not hard to find a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff for TV and movies. After all, they’ve got cameras rolling for quite a bit of the material already. Video games are a very different story. The most you tend to get are developer commentary, or old files that were still hidden away inside of the game’s release. Today’s peek comes in the form of the latter, contained within the recent SteamVR performance test.

The performance test contained some of the first new Portal content that we’ve gotten in a while, though it’s not exactly long, or very story-driven. However, one of the files that was dug up from the demo included rough cuts and outtakes from Joe Michaels, who is the announcer for the demo, as well as in Portal 2.

Now finding some unused takes from a voice actor isn’t necessarily interesting all by itself. However, this file contained bits of garbled audio between takes. As it turns out, those nearly inaudible bits were actually directions being given to Joe, from the Valve writers. Tyler McVicker from Valve News Network put a lot of time into cleaning up the audio files and transcribing them. Thanks to his work, you can hear a lot of the process that went into getting those lines recorded exactly the way that we eventually heard them. Check out his video below:

It might not be the most interesting thing to some people, but if you’ve got any interest in how voice acting works, or just the behind-the-scenes stuff from how games are made, it’s really worth a listen. And if you want to see more about how the world of voice acting works, I’d recommend watching a documentary called I Know That Voice. It features John DiMaggio, and is currently available on Netflix.


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