Ratner recently sat down for an exclusive with uInterview founder Erik Meers to discuss what it was like working as Donnel Udina on Mass Effect.
“Donnel Udina was completely different from Flint. He was a creep!” Ratner said. “In fact, he was shot and killed in the third season of the game. He was sort of an Irish accent and he was a classic politician, stab you in the back kind of guy. I probably read for it, and again, for a game like that, let alone all the rest of them that cost tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to make before it even hits the market. They did a big casting.
“Somehow I sounded enough like a slimy, politician, creep, that I got the character of Donnel Udina, which lasted three full years,” he added. “Right around that time, many of us had taken to our basements and our garages because portable voice-over equipment and booths had become available. The TV commercials, radio commercials, TV promos for networks and cable shows, we were doing our of our houses. But, the gaming companies, to this day, ask the actors to come into places like Technicolor and other specialty post-production facilities that have highly sensitive and very, very expensive recording equipment that we don’t have. They want to be able to control the audio.”
As for the approach of recording the voice of a video game character, the process is a lot different from TV, too.
“We go in one at a time, unlike G.I. Joe and Transformers where we’re in this ensemble cast where we do our characters back and forth,” Ratner revealed. “We record all our lines at once for an hour or an hour and a half session. Then, we get called back if we’re falling out of a spaceship to our death and we need to sound a bit more hysterical, they’ll have us redo it. Normally, it’s one, two or three sessions max and that’s it for the game. The writing, directing and creating of these games are so much more technically and artistically complex than TV cartoons. Are they better? Is the art better? Is the acting better? The acting tends to be more naturalistic and more realistic as opposed to little purple Smurfs.”