Videogame voice actors strike


#468

data point: that’s about the same rate my wife got for a video game theme song, though that had folded in the whole public performance part.

Maybe you’re setting your sights too high? If this is a non-commercial work where you’re not likely to make money off it, perhaps hiring SAG talent isn’t the way to go? I mean, if you want to, you’ll probably get very professional work from people who have memorized their lines before they get to the studio (and you’re not paying for that time) but that might be overkill.

Even if a lower rate would be appropriate for your job, it’s taking away time that they could be billing at their normal rate so it’s probably hard for them to give you a discount. I wouldn’t expect to be able to hire the chef de cuisine at a Michelin-starred restaurant to make dinner for my family for $50 even if it’d only take them a half hour.


#469

There’s a lot of unbilled time that gets included with the $800/hr performance rate. You’re getting someone who’s read your entire script, learned their lines, practiced enough that they’re not going to say “um” and are going to use the proper emotional affect at the right time, can give you different options on the spot if you don’t like something they did, etc. All of that requires training and preparation.


#470

That’s the non SAG rate. The SAG rate is cheaper but has waaaaay more silly provisions.

I’m just complaining, not really serious about not using voice talent. Just wish I could get it a bit cheaper, obviously, and without all the attachments. I’m a tiny startup with no outside budget yet. :)


#471

Totally absurd


#472

Consider that for them working someplace means not working someplace else.

If they do this job it’s possible they can’t do something else. It’s also probably the only job they’ll do this week.

Along these lines. Taking a job means not taking others and their voice and time are finite resources.


#473

There is just absolutely no way its an opportunity cost. I doubt any voice actor is booked 40 hours a week unless they are on a huge project already. Its more likely its a “I only work a few hours a week at this” arrangement. Which is… kinda absurd, but whatever. The rates are the rates. This is through agencies, haven’t tried other means yet. Though I can only think of a CL post. Just wanted to give some figures to this discussion.

Also, the rate is one thing, this is a supply and demand thing and also a gatekeeper thing. The provisions and attachments for the things I can use their voice for and have to have this ongoing reporting as to how its used is the aggravating part. Unlike any other industry I have encountered.

I’m not trying to disparage anyone, just trying to understand.


#474

They may only actively work a few hours a day and less than the full 40 a week, but the rest of the time is spent commuting to the next job. The actor’s not going to punch in for an hour doing your gig then call it a day. They’re most likely got several other jobs lined up for the rest of the day spread out across the area.


#475

You can look at Fiverr to try to find somebody who does voice over. I know a couple people who do voice over work there, they mostly use Fiverr itself to find new work (i.e. charge 5 bucks for the first line, and then negotiate additional work from there.)

It may take a little work to find the right person, but for corporate sounding voice without a ton of emotional range, there should be a lot of options.


#476

Oh ouchies. yeah thats a lot.

@CLWheeljack ooh thats a cool site! cheers!


#477

Software engineering requires a massive amount of training and skill, but guys contacting themselves out aren’t pulling in $800 an hour.

Ultimately, if someone wants to pay that to them, so be it, but I wouldn’t.

If it’s some big name voice? Sure, maybe. For a voice over on some pitch tape? Yeah no.

They aren’t memorizing a play or something. They’re reading out loud.

To put some of this in perspective, the minimum wage for an actor on Broadway is $1600 a week. An hour of voice acting doesn’t seem to be worth half a week of actually acting on stage.

The mean wage for an actor at a theater company is around $20/hr.

For $800/hr, that seems like it’d indicate paying for some specific voice.


#478

How much to have one of those Broadway actors swing by your house and give you a show?

At the end of the day they’re still actors.

Comparing the arts to a 9-5 job is silly. And we’re talking about people that pull in on average like $30k a year or something. It’s not like they’re rolling in piles of cash.

And 3 minutes of talking… is a lot. The going rate for like a radio spot is around $10 a second. That’s 180 seconds of work. It tends to go by word count as well, which is… probably a shitload of words for 3 minutes of constant talking.

If you think text to speech is good enough then just do it yourself or find someone you know that will do it as a favor.
You’re hiring a professional actor to do something, they’re not going to be cheap, they can’t do this stuff for nickels when they rarely can find work.


#479

Honestly, I don’t think voice acting is the same thing as actually performing on stage on film, but even if it were… actors don’t generally make $800 an hour. As I said, actors at theater companies make a mean of $20 an hour… across the industry, actors as a whole make a mean average of around $30 a hour.

That’s why the idea that voice actors would be worth so much more seems silly to me.

Maybe they could find more work if they didn’t charge $800 an hour.

But presumably, that’s not actually the average wage, right? Because looking up averages for the industry, it puts the average way lower than that.

At some point, we can look at this strike, and see what the impact was… So, they went on strike, and it had… zero impact? Did it screw up any games? Was there any impact on anything at all? I think that’s why the voice actors didn’t end up getting what they wanted… because it turns out, they don’t really have that much leverage.


#480

But that’s my point. An actor at a theater company isn’t on stage 40 hours a week, and whatever script they learn is what they’re going to use for the next month or two. The minimum wage for an actor on Broadway if you just look at their time on stage is… well, it’s not $800, but it’s probably at least $100, and again that’s minimum wage. And that’s actually pretty close to software engineering rates.

I doubt that a person charging that rate is not walking into the studio and being handed the script for the first time while charging their $800 rate. That doesn’t match up with my experience in music at least. I used to be really impressed by how much my wife makes per hour compared to me, but once I factored in contract negotiation time, learning new songs, and rehearsal time, it’s not really that shocking.


#481

Not according to the data out there… hourly wages look to be around $20-30 for actors.

In terms of how many hours an actor normally puts in, if they aren’t doing extra rehearals, that’s around 30 hours. So if they’re making the minimum, you’re talking an hourly rate of around $50.

On some level, wages are whatever someone is willing to pay you to do a job… but something like the $800/hr for a no-name to do a voiceover on a short product pitch? That seems nuts to me.

But hey, if someone pays it, then that’s all that matters.


#482

Basically what wilykat is saying. Performance jobs are expensive because of the prep required for every single small job and because of the type of demands there is for these jobs. the shorter the job, the higher the expense per minute of delivery. If you want a lower rate you need to offer a longer gig.

There are not that many people who need top professional (voice) acting, but those who do are normally willing to pay going rates. Charging lower won’t make the actors get hired more because the amount of offers is pretty stable and most are willing to pay.

There’s also the factor of finality of delivery to consider. There are not that many really well trained professionals in creative fields (what outsiders consider really good many times is not really good enough), and they can allow to charge those rates also in part because their work is final and not fixable. That is, the product they are delivering can’t really be fixed post-hoc (maybe with some noise reducing filter and such, but the basic qualities of a voice performance are set on recording). So if you want a professional job for a product in which the quality of the acting might impact its success (the only reason to pay those rates, otherwise you don’t need a professional) you really don’t want to negotiate and go to less experienced actors unless you know really well what you are doing (including directing actors and doing your own prep as a hired, which is also expensive). Because if your alternative doesn’t work, and that’s very likely, you need to start from scratch again.

Finally there’s the recording and distribution aspect. @Timex, you know what’s the rate for Broadway actors having their play recorded and sold? (I’m curious, but I’m guessing that one’s a big bonus on their weekly pay)

Comparing something like this to software engineering or even to other artistic disciplines where the work is fixable and mutable (3D modelling, for example) is not very realistic.


#483

I don’t see what’s different about it. When I did consulting I didn’t charge only for the hours I was actually talking them through a solution, but I charged them for the hours I had to spend researching a solution for them and putting together any documents I had to prepare for them. That’s all prep work and I just billed the hours for the actual prep work itself. The only prep work I didn’t bill for was the prep work required for me to market myself to get that contract.

So if there is prep work, that prep work should be billed and any voice actor with enough experience should be able to estimate how many hours of prep they need for a single hour of actual recording and the agencies should be able to provide estimates based on that.

So sure, the supply of voice actors is a good argument for the cost but everyone making an excuse about the prep work is putting up pretty weak arguments when talking about an hourly rate.


#484

Apparently companies could make provisional agreements while the strike was going on or something. It came up when Square announced the new Life is Strange game would recast the actors and blamed it on the strike. That’s the only high profile game I know of that was affected.


#485

That would be nice and a lot more accurate but it just doesn’t happen. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t trust the artists to give them accurate hours or if it’s just never been that way, but it’s not. So I think they are doing what you then say:

I think that their hourly rate is a rollup of all of the prep time plus the actual studio time. Yes, it’s a lot more messy and inexact.


#486

1000 bucks for a 3 minute script is outrageous. Absolutely outrageous.


#487

I’ll do it for $799 - $999. It’s a bargain!