Rich’s trip to NYC to finish up the last major recordings for The Silver Lining concludes.
The Journey Home
Wrapping up the recordings was a big milestone for this project. Its the first step towards bringing a conclusion to a game we have worked for over a decade to complete.
I hung around the city a few extra days to meet up with some of my other friends and catch a few shows. If you are ever in town I highly recommend checking out The Chris and Paul Show, as well as Sketch Block and Penny’s Open Mic where you never know what you’re going to see next.
I also took the time to grab a burger down at Shake Shack. Really good food and drink in the beautiful setting of Madison Park. There is often a lineup but I got lucky that day , it had just rained so everyone had run for cover.
When I first started this project I never dreamed I would get a chance to travel and see the world because of it. Thanks to it I’ve made many new friends over the years and I can now add 3 additional ones to that list.
I boarded the train and headed home satisfied with the knowledge that our sound designer would be busy for quite a while editing all that new material.
Part 4: Director Rich Flores’ recording journey in New York brings him at last to record the final lines for Queen Valanice .
Day 3: The Queen
The next morning I awoke and found my destination on a New York City map. I was meeting up with Elizabeth Gee, who voices the fair Queen
Valanice. Her appartment was physically not that far off from my temporary residence in Astoria but unfortunately there was also the East River between us. I walked to the subway, took the N line to Lexington Avenue, transfered over the 5 train and made my way to her neightbourhood. Elizabeth lived in a nice and busy part of the city. I found her place, rang the buzzer and she came to greet me at the door.
This was actually the first time I met Elizabeth. Unlike the other main roles she had not come to the audition. Michael was familiar with her work and felt she would be perfect for the role.
Elizabeth spoke with Michael for a while on Skype. Unlike Jason and Jay who had recorded additional dialog over the years Elizabeth had done all her lines 6 years ago so it was very different for her to return to that long forgotten role. Michael walked her through the script and together they refound the essence of her previous performance.
In the meantime I got everything setup so that we were ready to go. It was the hottest day of the heat wave and unfortunately for both of us we had a full day of recordings ahead with the air conditioning off. We had to take regular pauses so we could turn the air conditioning on temporarily to cool the place off and Elizabeth had her own battery powered fan to help keep her cool. Every now and then we also had to stop because her upstairs neighbour arrived and was walking around, that’s a real New York appartment.
Elizabeth brought a motherly charm to her lines, one that will definitely be felt more when we get to Episode 5. Then came the point where we needed to record the much needed screams sound effects. They were so intense we posted a note on the door about the recordings incase someone came running. Elizabeth could definitely have a successful career as a professional screamer and I would not be surprised if we reused her screams in future projects.
Working with Elizabeth was wonderful and I hope to do so again in the future.
Elizabeth Gee: Film & TV credits: Sloane & Alexis Arcaro’s Lion Bold, Victoria Rivera’s Taste, Matthew Post’s Better in Death, Chris Carbone’s Water, Kevin Segalla’s Thanks, Ed, Yonatan Regeur’s So It Goes, Lou Berger’s Show on the Road as well as Joshua Bee Alafia’s web commercial ampm Housecalls. Theatre: Daniel Haley’s Walk With Me, Francesca Andre’s So the Ghosts Can Speak, Ed Musto’s Mass. Murder Shute Branch, Mannerz, For All The Rude People, Louder Than Words, Porter Peace: Separate Flights and Armistice; Paul Eiseman’s Looking Back (the Happy Prince); The Bacchae (Agave) and Oedipus Rex (Second Messenger) for Cypreco (Jay Michaels, director); Turbulence: Rage II for Cockpit Ensemble; Ring Round the Moon (the Mother), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hippolyta), director Paul Eiseman; and Maggie’s Daughters (Jay Michaels, Director) and a staged reading of King Christina by Martha Kearns.
Rich’s trip continues with a journey to Pennsylvania to record King Graham, voiced by Jason Victor.
Day 2: The King
I got up early the next day to catch a bus which took me to the outskirts of known civilization to the little rural town of Easton Pennsylvania. The bus dropped me off in the center of town. A block away the weekend market was going on in the center square. I hung around there and enjoyed the music as I waited for our resident King of Daventry to give me a ride.
He eventually arrived and a few minutes later we got to his place. Jason’s family was gracious enough to take a day off and leave the place to us. Jason pulled out his iPad, I strapped on the wireless earphones, Michael directed over Skype and we were off. In no time, Jason morphed into the king of adventure we all know and love and we were ready to go.
By the middle of the afternoon we wrapped up the new lines for Graham which felt like a grand milestone, one we had to tweet to the world. Then we ordered pizza.
We sat at the table and chatted all the while knowing our work was not done because Jason had also been asked to play a new character for Episode 5.
Our stomachs full we conferenced with Mike and Cesar about just how this new character would sound. It ended up being a mix of several voice types so sometimes when he had to stop he had find it again which was interesting to watch.
We wrapped the final lines just after dinner. We spent a bit of time discussing the long journey that had led us here and how incredible it was to finally reach the finish line. There would obviously be some pickups down the line for all intensive purposes King Graham had just taken his last adventure.
After recording his own message to the fans, Jason dropped me off at the bus stop around 8 p.m. that night and I caught my ride back to the big city. I would not get to Astoria before midnight. I relaxed a bit and got some sleep, I had another long day ahead of me tomorrow.
Jason started acting at Mount Olive High School in Fiddler on the Roof (Lazar Wolf) opposite Russ Crespolini, Guys and Dolls (Uncle Arvide), and Tommy (Captain Walker). In college, Jason continued acting in summer theater at CCM in Damn Yankees (Bouley) and Camelot (Sir Dinadan). Jason returned to the stage in the 4-H Club (John) and Noises Off (Gary/Roger). He also performed in two radio show benefits to raise money for local community theaters.
Jason’s musical credits include playing violin in the College of New Jersey Orchestra for four years, singing in the College of New Jersey chorale for 4 years, singing in an a-capella men’s quartet (The Guys) for 2 years, and singing with the Country Gentlemen for 1 year.
Independent Film credits include Hard Boiled (Mr. Dark) and Symbols (Jason).
Since becoming a father of two wonderful boys, he only has time to make up his lines as he goes along by performing in the Improv comedy group called Out of Order Improv.
Jason would like to thank his friends for pulling him in creative directions, his family for building his confidence, his supportive wife and friend, Hilary, for encouraging him to follow his dreams, and his boys, Ben and Jake, who teach me more than I can ever hope to teach them.
A common thread through most of these creative endeavors is that Dave and Russ have always been there to pull me back in when I start taking life too seriously. My first children’s play, I acted opposite Russ; My first musical in High School, there was Russ and Dave; Improv comedy? That was Russ and Dave’s idea to have me join them, and it was Russ who found the auditions for TSL, and drove Dave and I to NYC on the coldest day I have ever felt. If it weren’t for those guys, I’d probably be playing more video games instead of doing the voice for one. Thanks, guys!
I never thought that when I was just a kid getting frustrated at typing commands at an 8 bit computer game, that one day computer game characters would have voices, and that I would be one of them! It’s incredibly rewarding to see the final product and I can only wish the best of luck for everyone.
Rich’s trip to NYC to record the final lines for TSL started off with the talented Jay Michaels, the voice of Shadrack.
Day 1: The Villain
The first actor on my list was our resident bad guy Shadrack. This was the first time I got to meet up with Jay Michaels since the day of the voice auditions back in 2004. He was the one responsible for getting us the space for the auditions infact. I remember when he read for the role. He finished the last line and all the directors turned to one another and noded in agreement, he WAS Shadrack and that’s how that role came to pass.
Due to his schedule and limited availability he actually came all the way to Queens for the recording. Given the size of the appartment, everybody had to keep quiet, we even turned off the air conditioner and unfortunately we were in the middle of a heat wave.
In the past Michael would sit with the voice actors and direct them as they read their lines. Thanks to the advancements of internet technology even with Cesar and Michael on the other side of the continent they were still able to be present remotely via Skype.
I setup the microphone, hit the record button and let them do their work. Like a pro Jay read the lines and nailed most of the dialog on the first take. Less than an hour later the air conditioning was back on again and we were cooling off once more.
Jay finally got a chance to take a look at the completed game. With a smile he left a message for the fans before heading out.
Jay Michaels began his career as an actor in the late 70s, appearing off-Broadway, in film, and on television. By the late 80s, he successfully made the move to stage director and producer. He recently added film director/editor and producer to his credentials. Michaels presented events for the HBO Summer Stage, two winners of the Samuel French Theatre Festival, four entries in New York’s Fringe Festival, and served as co-producer of the 2001 Midtown Theatre Festival. He directed and produced a series of widely popular modernized Shakespeare productions for Genesis Repertory – where he currently serves as president of the board. He was a promotional manager for the Broadway revivals of Guys & Dolls (1992), Damn Yankees (1994) and The Vagina Monologues at Broadway’s Town Hall. He also served as a tour manager for Cats, Les Miserables, and Edwin Drood. Film credits include producer/editor of the documentary, Heart of the Community, and promotional sponsor for Ric Serena’s comedy, Twelve Fingers, and the war drama, The Color of Truth. He also appeared in Suzanne Sitelman’s macabre comedy, Norman, A Modern Metamorphosis and Eliana Ujueta’s crime drama, Beneath The Rock. He is currently directing the independent feature, Bard of the Streets. He is thrilled to be the voice of Shadrack in The Silver Lining.
Richard Flores has been with TSL since 2000, and a Director and Art Director since 2002. One of the driving forces and backbones of the project, he’s a perfectionist who’s always pushing our artists and animators to add those extra touches that make our game come to life and have that polish that really stands out. He’s also taken on a variety of other tasks over the years, and one of those was taking a trip to New York City this summer to get the final recordings for three of our main characters: Jason Victor (Graham), Jay Michaels (Shadrack), and Elizabeth Gee. Over the next few days, Rich will be sharing his story of wrapping up the voice recordings for The Silver Lining.
Back to the Big Apple
Even from the early days, New York City has always been a vital hub in regards to Phoenix Online and The Silver Lining. It was in the Big Apple that all the project directors first met face to face in early 2004.
I look back on that day with fond memories. I remember arriving at Michael Fortunato’s apartment in Manhattan in the wee hours of the morning having just completed a 6 hour drive from Montreal. After a quick meet and greet we headed back out into the concrete jungle to a small space we had managed to rent out. Mike knew some people who were gracious enough to provide us with a location to hold the first ever voice auditions for The Silver Lining.
We arrived, quickly setup and waited anxiously. The first auditionners soon arrived, and unexpected to us the first of many. We had put out an open call for any voice actors who might be interested but in reality we didn’t expect much response for a volunteer project. Boy were we wrong. Through the course of the day over 40 people would walk through the door looking for an opportunity to show off their talent.
Even though he was running on zero sleep my friend JB (who had driven the whole way down from Canada) greeted each actor as they came in and waited for their turn. I am still paying off that favor to this day.
It was a remarkable experience and a completely new one for me. I had never been in a position where I had to evaluate so many different performances reading the same few lines. Nor could I believe that so many people would take time out of their busy day to try out for our little project.
After a long day, we headed to Dallas BBQ along with any of our would be actors who had worked up an appetite. After a hardy meal we topped it all off with a huge slice of Roxy’s Cheese Cake in good old Times Square (something that would become an ongoing tradition for us every time we came to this fare city).
The sun had set but our job was far from done. We headed back to Michael’s apartment to review the tapes and start the hard task of figuring out just who would be the best candidate to play each of our lead roles. I think we literally wore out the video tape from fast forwarding and rewinding it so many times.
That was my first taste of New York and though it would turn out to be the first of many subsequent trips during the course of the project, that would be my last direct involvement with the voice acting portion of the game. That is until July of last summer.
Coming Full Circle
As many of you know, The Silver Lining project has evolved and changed constantly through the course of its lifetime. Not only has the name changed (once known as KQIX : Every Cloak has a Silver Lining) but also the size and format. The original story was much bigger and ultimately proved impossible to produce in a realistic time frame. It was therefore rewritten to fit a smaller scope but it also meant we needed to come up with a satisfactory ending that would not take 9 chapters to tell. When we went to an episodic model it was decided that the material already produced would the backbone of the story into which we would introduce certain plot threads that were originally meant to be told in later chapters. It also became apparent that a 5th episode would be required to bring the story to a proper conclusion.
That in itself would prove difficult because although we had recorded a lot of extra dialog for the later chapters in the early days , much of it would need to be rewritten to fit inside the new story structure. In order to achieve this we would need to contact all of the voice actors from the original recordings. Also up until now Michael had been taking care of any voice pickups the game required. However that changed when he moved back to California to be closer to his family.
Since I was relatively close to New York I volunteered for the assignment. One great thing about the The Silver Lining project is not only that I’ve gotten to make friends all over the world but its also given me a chance to travel. I bought a train ticket, packed up the recording equipment and headed down to the New York area to do the final voice recordings for Graham, Valanice and Shadrack for the 5th and final episode of The Silver Lining entitled “A Thousand Times Goodnight.”
Stepping off the train, I emerged to the view of the Empire State building as seen from 33rd street and 7th avenue. Every time I come to this city its that familiar sight that lets me know that I have indeed “come home.” I hopped the N train and headed for Astoria. My friends have a small apartment near the water front and were gracious enough to let me crash at their place for a few days.