A few days ago, we told you we'd be talking to actress Wendy Braun , who has lent her voice to the popular and acclaimed Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises.
Her work goes well beyond Gianna Parasini in ME; she has also been involved with Rainn Wilson's hit web series, "The Flipside" and has over 50 film and TV credits, including guest starring roles on "Bones," "Criminal Minds," "The Mentalist," and others. All told, she has racked up over 1,000 total voiceover credits and you know, when someone really loves their job, it shows.
Here is our interview, in which Wendy answers our questions along with a few submitted reader queries. We always involve ya.
PSXE: How did you get into voice acting for games? Was the Mass Effect gig your first?
< b < wendy: Wendy: "I think Dragon Age was the first one. I had been doing acting for years; TV and film and commercials, just doing all sorts of voiceover stuff. You have auditions for all kinds of roles and I had an audition for Dragon Age. One job begets another job, and this was great because you get to go to a place you couldnât go to in the physical world. So Dragon Age and Dragon II were lots of fun."</b<wendy:<>
PSXE: What kind of background information do you get on the game before such voice over parts? And do you have anything visual to help guide you?
Wendy: "They’re just so amazing, they give you so much. They’ve drawn such a rich character so you get a great description of what’s happening and what’s going on. They give you an idea of the scene, and it’s really fun because you get to play the scene in different ways. In TV or film, you can’t really do that but in the game world, you can take the scene in different directions. You get a sense of it at first, and then you bring in your take as well. It’s sort of a co-collaboration. And I’m always amazed to see the finished project. It’s just so wild to see what they do and how they put it all together."
[For the visual aid part of the question]
"It’s not like you get to watch something and record the voice to an animation; there is no live animation. You’re alone in a booth so you have to create all the fundamentals you’d normally get on a film set. It’s kind of a solo activity. But it’s still a full-body experience; it isn’t just your voice, you really have to physically go there as an actor."
Tangent- As our interviews are more discussion-based than direct-fire Q&A, this got us talking about motion capture, and I asked Wendy what she thought about doing mo-cap for games.
Wendy: "I think part of the reason they’re starting to do that [motion capture] is because they’ve realized the voice actor can do so much with their physicality. If you were to film me recording Gianna for Mass Effect you’d see that she’s doing just about everything I would do. I’m really feeling myself in the moment and if I’m not able to do that, the audience knows I’m not. So yes, it would be more fun to do that kind of thing; physically shooting it."
PSXE: Do you see more of your peers – TV and movie actors/actresses – opting to work more with the gaming industry as it becomes more mainstream?
Wendy: "I’d say definitely. I think nowadays you have to do it all as an actor; it’s all acting, it’s not like there’s a hierarchy. It’s all the same work. It all requires the same intense focus and commitment and it’s really no easier than doing a film. So I see that a lot of my peers are absolutely happy to fill all their plates. The roles are equally exciting and challenging and fulfilling. I also think that the finished product is unlike seeing yourself on film."
PSXE: If you could pick any game series to do a voice for, which would it be?
Wendy: "Well, I’m not much of a gamer but doing something like Uncharted on a huge set where you get to be in it would be great, and the next logical step. Sometimes I feel like I’m a master at Ms. Pac-Man—"
I had to remind her at this point that retro is just so IN these days, and anybody who even mentions the name Pac-Man is cooler than they think they are.
"—and I feel like that more when I’m running around after my two kids. However, I can say that I was an arcade kid. At the time, when I was 13, my life goal was to have my very own tabletop Ms. Pac-Man game. Like, that’s all I wanted. ‘laughs’ So I’m not much of a gamer now, but my husband is a Mass Effect fan and a gamer, though, so I’ve witnessed the joy and entertainment video games can bring."
PSXE: Can you see yourself doing more voices in games? And if so, why?
Wendy: "Absolutely, yes. I think it’s just because as an actor, you get to go to these amazing places in the gaming world. So physically, mentally, emotionally, you get to play and stretch as an actor, and play all different kinds of characters. The one thing I always do; I literally step into the shoes of the character. So when I was playing Gianna, I wore these three-inch black boots, because it took me to a certain place; it let me click in and really feel the physicality. You can’t just phone in your voice; you can’t do that role in flip-flops. Literally step into the character’s shoes and you will fit the character more literally and more organically than you would otherwise.
It has just been a wild ride and a lot of fun."
It's always enjoyable to speak to someone who not only takes their work seriously, but also loves every bit of it. It's more than a little likely that you'll hear Wendy's voice a great deal in the future, and that should include video games. If you'd like to learn more about Wendy and what she's up to, visit her official website . We'd like to thank Ms. Braun for her time, and we will reiterate a point we've made before:
As of now, voice acting is one of the the most important elements of the interactive entertainment experience. We require that talent for our experiences to be realistic and believable, and that's the usual goal, yes?