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ZeniMax Voice-Over Lead Discusses Process for Adding Character Voices to The Elder Scrolls Online

ZeniMax Voice-Over Lead Discusses Process for Adding Character Voices to The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) development team has published an in-depth interview with their Voice-Over (VO) Lead, Becky Ichnoski, about the intricate process of adding voices to the multitude of characters in Tamriel. As the team behind a sprawling MMORPG that contains approximately 300,000 lines of VO in English alone, Ichnoski and her team, including VO supervisors Jessica Crowe and DB Cooper, are pivotal to the immersive experience of the game.

The process of incorporating voice-overs into the game is broken down into three segments, Ichnoski explained: pre-recording, recording, and post-recording. The pre-recording phase involves everything from casting to creating scripts, while the recording phase captures the actual voice-over, sometimes remotely due to ongoing changes in the post-COVID world. Post-recording sees the VO lines integrated into the game, polished, and finalized.

Ichnoski also shared some inside stories about casting particular characters, highlighting an instance where they sought Phil LaMarr to voice Dhulef from the High Isle Chapter, a character specifically written with LaMarr in mind. Similarly, she mentioned Bumper Robinson, who voiced the Lark of Rosgard in Necrom after being a standout in a previous audition.

As for the actual recording process, it’s quite a meticulous one, involving multiple stakeholders including the voice actor, a writer, a VO supervisor for pronunciation and support, a director, and an engineer. The focus isn’t just on delivering lines, but on delivering them right, with the correct pronunciation of lore words, the right tonality, and the perfect voice that matches the character’s persona.

Interestingly, it seems some voice actors are also players and fans of The Elder Scrolls series. Julianne Beuscher, for instance, was thrilled to voice the Black Dragon in the Dark Brotherhood release, as she has been a huge fan of the series since its inception.

The third phase, post-recording, is no less meticulous. Files are formatted, integrated into the game, and polished to perfection. Voice-over post-production (VOPP) is a critical step, ensuring that special effects are added where necessary, voice and text matches, and there are no awkward pauses in conversations between characters.

Ichnoski wrapped up the chat by discussing some of her favorite characters voiced in the past, including Sotha Sil (voiced by Matthew Jayson Cwern), Arox the Mutilator (voiced by Mark Whitten), Captain Siravaen (voiced by Anna Graves), Velsa from the Thieves Guild (voiced by Debra Wilson), and Miksotet, a minor character voiced by Imari Williams that left a significant impression.

All of these insights help paint a comprehensive picture of the hard work and meticulous attention to detail that goes into creating the immersive world of The Elder Scrolls Online, truly a labor of love by a devoted team for their dedicated player community.

In a game as vast as ESO, it’s the voices that breathe life into the characters, and now players have a better understanding of just what it takes to give Tamriel’s characters their voices.