(Topic ID: 50572)

Pinball Callouts: Why are they so hard to get right?


By BC_Gambit

6 years ago



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  • Latest reply 6 years ago by Finrod
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    #1 6 years ago

    It is an exciting time in pinball. JJP and Stern both coming out with exciting games simultaneously, and interestingly (IMO) the callouts glaringly seem weak on both games.

    RareHero might have the mightiest qualifications in Pinside to know why callouts are so hard to do right. But what does everybody think?

    With the initial announcement I thought Metallica would likely have epic callouts, what with the Metalpocalypse talent and the man screaming on this soundboard yelling "TRIPLE SUPER JACKPOT-UH!" : http://jameshetfieldsoundboard.com/

    I think you can insert most of these random phrases and get better callouts than the band did on this game, from what I have heard so far (who knows, maybe they magically picked all the weakest callouts to undersell their product early on... or maybe not).

    And WoZ's callouts IMO actually undermine the game, and it is too bad. The game screams WoZ movie, and high quality. The voice actors seem pretty low rent. Why not just use direct quotes from the movie, or at least get better talent, and/or a narrator to avoid the badness. I would honestly rather have a "flying monkey screeches at you the whole game" setting than hear most of the WoZ quotes again and again.

    Does that mean these games are assy and I think you should light yours on fire and you are a bad human being for liking them? No, unless we are talking about Avengers (obligatory dig at the current punching bag du jour... sorry ).

    But compare Spiderman's custom callouts, hell even buget Stern's Avatar callouts, to these games and it is night and day.

    I'm off to play with the Jame Hetfield soundboard some more and imagine callouts that could have been...

    #2 6 years ago

    It's a fine line between clever and dumb. Sometimes you hit the mark, sometimes you don't. SM, LOTR, TSPP, MB, AFM, MM, TZ, and TAF are all some of the best, if you ask me.

    #3 6 years ago

    Voice acting isn't easy. Even professional actors need to learn how to do it. You're isolated in a booth trying to emote into thin air, and if you're someone who's main skill is say, playing guitar, that doesn't mean you're magically good at it. I know voice actors (for instance, if you've heard Princess Peach in a Nintendo title she's my sister's friend, I've talked to her about her work). They train for this stuff.

    Now it's not rocket science, in theory anyone can do it, but that doesn't mean *anyone* can do it, and the Metallica call outs are proof of that!

    #4 6 years ago

    What, you don't like "the snake owes me money" callout

    I totally agree though, for the Metallica pin they should have only stuck with Hetfield and Trijullio (if he's the one that does the "raise the power") for doing the voice callouts - everyone else sounds like they had to pull their sections from random interviews totally unrelated to a pinball game.

    #5 6 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    It's a fine line between clever and dumb. Sometimes you hit the mark, sometimes you don't. SM, LOTR, TSPP, MB, AFM, MM, TZ, and TAF are all some of the best, if you ask me.

    You left out Scared Stiff.

    #6 6 years ago

    And IJ and STTNG, too.

    #7 6 years ago

    Don't forget FT!

    #8 6 years ago

    I concur this aspect of pinball manufacturing is very hit or miss.
    I have not really been able to pinpoint what makes great call outs and bad ones.

    If trying for wit sometimes it comes off as stupid. Some of the best call outs are those tied closely to game rules IMHO.

    #9 6 years ago

    Why does rarehero have better knowledge of this than anyone else?

    #10 6 years ago

    Let's just say all DMDs have great callouts lol

    #11 6 years ago

    It drives me nuts too, as this is my profession. I own Voice Over studio in Burbank, Ca. Called Mai Tai Studios (shameless plug) and I have worked with so many professional voice actors over the last 15 years Its a shame both Stern and JJP can't do better. I could easily recommend better VO actors and sound alikes that could do a better job on so many games. I'm not sure where they pull their talent pool, but we have the best in LA.

    Kevin

    #12 6 years ago
    Quoted from BC_Gambit:

    The game screams WoZ movie, and high quality.

    I really hope that at some point the option is made available to have original movie dialogue for the WOZ callouts. I agree that if they have access to this classic dialogue as part of the licence it would be a tragedy not to use it. It would be really cool if Alex or someone else in the JJP team could at some point spend some time on choosing and preparing some original dialogue for an alternative set of callouts which could be selected via the settings menu.

    I mean is the line "I have a feeling were not in Kansas anymore" really not going to be in the game? This has to be one of the most famous movie quotes of all time and has even become a commonly used figure of speech in the English vernacular.

    In my opinion having the original dialogue in the game would take it to another level and really immerse the player in the full experience of this classic movie.

    #13 6 years ago

    Yeah the Metallica callouts are almost embarrassing. Like "That snake is mean" or whatever he says exactly. Terrible! They are a heavy awesome band and I get the humor but they come across like wussies! If they wanted to make the callouts humorous they should add some other characters like a mom or an old lady that yells out "Turn that devil music off"! and maybe the band comes back and says something clever. I dunno hopefully they update all of that or the callouts will just grow on us over time.

    #14 6 years ago

    Re WoZ call outs
    it would sound odd if you mixed original voices with recordings done for the pinball machine

    No body in the movie says 'Jackpot', 'Special', 'Extra Ball'......

    #15 6 years ago

    NGG call outs are priceless

    #16 6 years ago
    Quoted from PopBumperPete:

    Re WoZ call outs
    it would sound odd if you mixed original voices with recordings done for the pinball machine
    No body in the movie says 'Jackpot', 'Special', 'Extra Ball'......

    I disagree (that it would sound weird, that is... I haven't tripped hard enough across my sanity to think that WoZ the movie was all about pinball...yet.)

    A decent example is Tron and IM. Both mix custom voice actors (okay, maybe just actor) with dialogue from the movie and the last thing I think about the audio from these games is "weird". Actually, the female computer voice on Tron is actually "just" David Thiel's wife, but at least she did a good job (it sounds very appropriate post sound FX processing).

    Better than the job the band did on Metallica overall, and better than anything I have heard out of WoZ so far.

    #17 6 years ago

    I have HOOK - and I love the game but I have forgiven it for the "Break A Window!" callout.

    There is no target or rollover or ramp or other shot to make that accomplishes breaking a window - this callout simply hangs out there with no possible "response" from the player.

    In HOOK, this callout is more of a random sound-byte thrown in to create excitement and nothing more. In 1991, We had not yet grown "used to" the games actually telling us to do different things (which this game has also) - "Fly up the ramp!" and other callouts in HOOK.

    This was a very early DMD game and so how the callouts/DMD technology might play in pinball was yet to evolve.

    #18 6 years ago
    Quoted from markmon:

    Why does rarehero have better knowledge of this than anyone else?

    Not more knowledge necessarily than "anyone else", but more than the average joe I would imagine (doing audio work for a living, and I am not sure how involved he was with the Family Guy audio package but he at least has been closer to a game under development than I have been for example). It would have been silly for him to not be involved at all, but sometimes life is silly.

    #19 6 years ago
    Quoted from PennSkier:

    I have HOOK - and I love the game but I have forgiven it for the "Break A Window!" callout.

    You're not thinking enough like a hooligan. Perhaps they wanted to push interactive gaming and were encouraging the player to smash the playfield glass or the translite window (or both for a double super jackpot).

    Er.... never mind

    #20 6 years ago

    I haven't even heard Metallica yet, but would like to agree with SM having awesome callouts. I read in one of the reviews where SR said it was the first time they had all the movie dialogue digitally, so they could extract the movie lines seperately without the background noise and do everything they wanted with them. Also, I love J.K. Simmons and appreciate that he came in to do all the custom work. Of course, I'm also a Portal fan, and usually hear a little Cave Johnson in there too. (I'd love it if SM started giving me the lemons speech during gameplay for no reason.)

    #21 6 years ago

    I agree, the Metallica callouts are about as inspired as Dirty Harry. Want to own a Dirty Harry, but you have to admit the callouts are pretty bad.

    #22 6 years ago

    I have honestly not played ANY game where I was thinking, "Man I wish this had better callouts."

    --Luke

    #23 6 years ago
    Quoted from HighNoon:

    I have honestly not played ANY game where I was thinking, "Man I wish this had better callouts."
    --Luke

    Ever play 24? I love the game play but the callouts are horrid at best.

    #24 6 years ago
    Quoted from Pgh-Navigator:

    Ever play 24? I love the game play but the callouts are horrid at best.

    Yes and I agree the callouts are bad. I still stand by my statement, though.

    #25 6 years ago

    I agree that call outs are another aspect that immerses the player into the game and when they are not good there is a bit of disconnect. That doesn't mean the game can't still be good, it just takes away from the experience though. The metallica call outs are just plain bad. I was thinking of getting a premium down the road but after hearing the whole sound package I don't think I will. This is a machine that needs epic sound to be successful Imo.

    10
    #26 6 years ago

    Sometimes (voice) actors don't want anything to do with other products... Tom Hanks being a perfect example. Sometimes they are way too expensive (Johnny Depp), so maybe you get a soundalike. Sometimes there isn't time to get them into a studio because they have too much other stuff going on. Generally speaking, when you wind up with the audio package you wind up with, it's due to real-world considerations forcing compromises being made as opposed to what the design team really wanted to do.

    I've used this example so many times, but on TSPP, contractually and financially we could afford to use 3 voice actors. You're using Homer no matter what. I happen to think you're also using Bart no matter what. Who to use for #3? Hank Azaria's characters are way more interesting than Harry Shearer's for the most part, and using one of the voices as Marge (when that's all you get is Marge) doesn't provide you with a very rich experience (same with Lisa). No one will ever convince me that I made the wrong choices on voice talent for Simpsons.

    Sometimes you can use clips from the movie, sometimes you can't. Just depends on the contract. Fortunately on LOTR we were able to use any audio clip we wanted. Then we had the money to get 2 more people. Of course you're getting Elijah if you can. Our first choice for additional VO work was Hugo Weaving, he turned us down, as did #2 Ian McKellen. So we "wound up" with JRD who did a great job, of course.

    For WOZ, pretty much everyone who worked on the movie is dead. Just a fact of life for a 74-year-old movie. Even if Judy was still alive, do you think she would sound the same at 90(?) as she did at 16? So then you get into the clips from movie vs soundalikes. If you want custom speech, you're using soundalikes. You're not mixing the two because it's so incredibly obvious that the 2 talents aren't the same, then your sound package becomes disjointed. We put out an audition script and probably got at least 6 responses to each role, usually quite a few more IIRC. From there, you can only work with people who auditioned for you, so you pick the best one from all of those, just like any other part in a production.

    I think you would find a game made with only speech calls directly from the movie would be fairly boring and unexciting.

    #27 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinball_keefer:

    So then you get into the clips from movie vs soundalikes. If you want custom speech, you're using soundalikes. You're not mixing the two because it's so incredibly obvious that the 2 talents aren't the same, then your sound package becomes disjointed.

    Good post, and thanks for the insights into specific tables, I just don't entirely agree with the point I quoted. There's a third option, which is to use clips from the movie for the specific characters (assuming you have the rights) combined with voice talent. The key is to not overlap them.

    I don't want to backseat drive Oz, I haven't played it or heard the callouts, but I'll use it just as an example.

    So say you get a good handful of clips from Dorothy, she has enough emotive lines in the movie that it would probably be reasonable. Then maybe you get a new Wicked Witch. Mix and EQ the two so they're not disjointed, that's not hard. Better yet though, I like it when games use real clips, but also introduce a 'narrator' who handles the true game calls. JACKPOT! and the like. I don't really need Dorothy to pop up and tell me to "shoot the left ramp!", she can stick with making nicely timed remarks about Kansas.

    Getting a voice actor to try and imitate a famous character can be tricky, people know what they're expecting to hear. I'd rather hear the real thing in smaller doses, with the rest being more 'original' myself.

    #28 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinball_keefer:

    I think you would find a game made with only speech calls directly from the movie would be fairly boring and unexciting.

    Well I truly hope this isn't the case for Predator

    #29 6 years ago
    Quoted from markmon:

    Why does rarehero have better knowledge of this than anyone else?

    Cuz I know everything about everything in the universe!!!!!

    Quoted from BC_Gambit:

    Not more knowledge necessarily than "anyone else", but more than the average joe I would imagine (doing audio work for a living, and I am not sure how involved he was with the Family Guy audio package but he at least has been closer to a game under development than I have been for example). It would have been silly for him to not be involved at all, but sometimes life is silly.

    I actually have zero experience with audio. Directing in animation = drawing.

    Here's the guy you want to talk to .....

    Quoted from cleland:

    It drives me nuts too, as this is my profession. I own Voice Over studio in Burbank, Ca. Called Mai Tai Studios (shameless plug) and I have worked with so many professional voice actors over the last 15 years Its a shame both Stern and JJP can't do better. I could easily recommend better VO actors and sound alikes that could do a better job on so many games. I'm not sure where they pull their talent pool, but we have the best in LA.
    Kevin

    Kev - you're the guy to answer this. To me it seems like something's off about the mix with some of the "bad" voicework like Shittybeast and now the Metallica guys. It's almost too "live" or too clear...as if they're in the room with you talking vs. part of an audio package. Is this purely just shitty acting being obvious - or something to do with how it was recorded or mixed?

    #30 6 years ago

    Greg just plays with his (pin)balls all day

    #31 6 years ago
    Quoted from xbloodgreenx:

    Greg just plays with his (pin)balls all day

    I wish!

    #32 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rarehero:

    To me it seems like something's off about the mix with some of the "bad" voicework like Shittybeast and now the Metallica guys. It's almost too "live" or too clear...as if they're in the room with you talking vs. part of an audio package. Is this purely just shitty acting being obvious - or something to do with how it was recorded or mixed?

    It's hard to tell from the videos, but it sounds like they're dropping the music levels to play back the callouts, which makes them jump out somewhat awkwardly, on top of the already awkward acting. If that's the case I imagine the mix could be fixed with a software patch easily, might help.

    #33 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinball_keefer:

    I think you would find a game made with only speech calls directly from the movie would be fairly boring and unexciting.

    Depends on the movie...Iron Man uses a ton of clips from the first 2 movies, and it sounds fantastic.

    #34 6 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    It's hard to tell from the videos, but it sounds like they're dropping the music levels to play back the callouts, which makes them jump out somewhat awkwardly, on top of the already awkward acting. If that's the case I imagine the mix could be fixed with a software patch easily, might help.

    Yeah, mix them under and it would be at least be tolerable.

    #35 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rarehero:

    Is this purely just shitty acting being obvious - or something to do with how it was recorded or mixed?

    I believe a bit of reverb could help out. The call outs sound dry, harsh, and live in MET.

    #36 6 years ago
    Quoted from BC_Gambit:

    It is an exciting time in pinball. JJP and Stern both coming out with exciting games simultaneously, and interestingly (IMO) the callouts glaringly seem weak on both games.
    RareHero might have the mightiest qualifications in Pinside to know why callouts are so hard to do right. But what does everybody think?
    With the initial announcement I thought Metallica would likely have epic callouts, what with the Metalpocalypse talent and the man screaming on this soundboard yelling "TRIPLE SUPER JACKPOT-UH!" : http://jameshetfieldsoundboard.com/
    I think you can insert most of these random phrases and get better callouts than the band did on this game, from what I have heard so far (who knows, maybe they magically picked all the weakest callouts to undersell their product early on... or maybe not).
    And WoZ's callouts IMO actually undermine the game, and it is too bad. The game screams WoZ movie, and high quality. The voice actors seem pretty low rent. Why not just use direct quotes from the movie, or at least get better talent, and/or a narrator to avoid the badness. I would honestly rather have a "flying monkey screeches at you the whole game" setting than hear most of the WoZ quotes again and again.
    Does that mean these games are assy and I think you should light yours on fire and you are a bad human being for liking them? No, unless we are talking about Avengers (obligatory dig at the current punching bag du jour... sorry ).
    But compare spiderman's custom callouts, hell even buget Stern's Avatar callouts, to these games and it is night and day.
    I'm off to play with the Jame Hetfield soundboard some more and imagine callouts that could have been...

    Official Metallica launch parties are about June 7th. Judge it then. In the meantime Lyman is on this game for the next 2 months. Baby is still in the oven cooking ! Mini updates are weekly on this puppy

    #37 6 years ago

    Hope Lyman is informed or is reading any of these ideas!!

    #38 6 years ago

    Thanks for the inside info mnpinball, you are always spot on!!

    #39 6 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Good post, and thanks for the insights into specific tables, I just don't entirely agree with the point I quoted. There's a third option, which is to use clips from the movie for the specific characters (assuming you have the rights) combined with voice talent. The key is to not overlap them.
    I don't want to backseat drive Oz, I haven't played it or heard the callouts, but I'll use it just as an example.
    So say you get a good handful of clips from Dorothy, she has enough emotive lines in the movie that it would probably be reasonable. Then maybe you get a new Wicked Witch. Mix and EQ the two so they're not disjointed, that's not hard. Better yet though, I like it when games use real clips, but also introduce a 'narrator' who handles the true game calls. JACKPOT! and the like. I don't really need Dorothy to pop up and tell me to "shoot the left ramp!", she can stick with making nicely timed remarks about Kansas.
    Getting a voice actor to try and imitate a famous character can be tricky, people know what they're expecting to hear. I'd rather hear the real thing in smaller doses, with the rest being more 'original' myself.

    Thank you Keith for commenting, but I was also thinking "what if" for this option, particularly for WoZ. A mix of movie quotes and a narrator type character or two has worked out well in the past, I am not sure if it was considered or a possibility for WoZ. It is certainly not a "must" to do stupid stuff like in Transformers where they start a Peter Cullen movie quote from the film, then continue it with the "not even close" sound alike.

    #40 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinball_keefer:

    Fortunately on LOTR we were able to use any audio clip we wanted. Then we had the money to get 2 more people. Of course you're getting Elijah if you can. Our first choice for additional VO work was Hugo Weaving, he turned us down, as did #2 Ian McKellen. So we "wound up" with JRD who did a great job, of course.

    Curious as to why you would have chosen Hugo over McKellen and JRD? Really would be interesting to hear how different LOTR would be with someone other than JRD doing all those great call-outs. Hard to imagine that anyone could have done a better job, even McKellen.

    #41 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rarehero:

    Kev - you're the guy to answer this. To me it seems like something's off about the mix with some of the "bad" voicework like Shittybeast and now the Metallica guys. It's almost too "live" or too clear...as if they're in the room with you talking vs. part of an audio package. Is this purely just shitty acting being obvious - or something to do with how it was recorded or mixed?

    Part of it is lack of energy in the line deliveries, along with no effects at all on the voice call outs, which makes them sound so in your face. They were probably mic'd too close when recording because making music is different than recording VO. When you're singing live on stage you're eating the mic to avoid feedback. VO work requires a little more nuance in working the mic proximity. Also, the mix of them is way to much to the front over the music. I'm sure this will be addressed for Metallica but you basically work with what you have. If there's no true acting talent to begin with, there only so much you can do with the audio.

    #42 6 years ago

    After owning Avatar for half a year it is THE benchmark of a great all around sound package to which I compare all others. The call outs and sound effect/clips library is HUGE. I am not sure I've heard them all yet. Every once and awhile I hear a clip I've never heard before. The music changes between modes is a smooth transition also.

    #43 6 years ago
    Quoted from bub2010:

    After owning Avatar for half a year it is THE benchmark of a great all around sound package to which I compare all others. The call outs and sound effect/clips library is HUGE. I am not sure I've heard them all yet. Every once and awhile I hear a clip I've never heard before. The music changes between modes is a smooth transition also.

    One thing I wish they'd fix - they took Sigourney's "Empty your mind...it shouldn't be hard for you" and split it into two clips, thus ruining the joke. Stitch that back together for the Avatar update I dream about lol

    #44 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rarehero:

    One thing I wish they'd fix - they took Sigourney's "Empty your mind...it shouldn't be hard for you" and split it into two clips, thus ruining the joke. Stitch that back together for the Avatar update I dream about lol

    Sorry for thinking you were a sound guy, I obviously mis-remembered that bit.

    Thank you to everybody who has chimed in, especially those who have walked the walk so to speak.

    I am in the Avatar fan club as well. But I seem to enjoy all Sterns from the cost reduced era (BBH to TRS) so I am a sick sick man .

    #45 6 years ago

    A lot of replies refer to actor quality, but it's more than that, it's writing and imagination.

    Example, was playing Elvis, and on Game Over you just hear Elvis going "..it's over."
    Is there not ONE thing they could have done instead? A song lyric, a quote from a movie, a radio reporter or just the "..has left the building" thing?

    There's literally hundreds of cases of this in Pinball, where just a little more thought or better writing could do wonders, some games have cringey dialogue or use really odd samples from films that don't really fit in with the given shot.
    I love Tron to bits but the dialogue outside of Castors is really muted and murmed, needs way, way more Quorra too, considering she's the "heart" of the movie. Awesome music package though.

    That's the negative, though, and its a really, really small one, the positive is that most games have good music and for callouts some games are *really* on the money IJ, TAF and NGG for example.

    1 week later
    #46 6 years ago

    Played Metallica quite a bit last night, there are really only a couple really obnoxious callouts that I heard. Like 'Electric Chair', just too loud over the mix. All in all though, I think Metallica is going to be a huge hit for Stern.

    #47 6 years ago

    I'm just glad that pinball uses a lot of speach. It drives me crazy that all my redemption games use the same two or three speach lines over and over. They have entire sound chip in there and don't even begin to utilize it to its potential.

    #48 6 years ago
    Quoted from HighNoon:

    I have honestly not played ANY game where I was thinking, "Man I wish this had better callouts."
    --Luke

    Maybe not.... but i HAVE played games in which the callouts were so great/funny that I wanted to play again just to keep hearing a few of them (ie Scared Stiff).

    #49 6 years ago

    Its sad that Stern makes a music pin with a great band who has tons of fans in this market, yet they skimp out on a sound aspect in the name of getting a product to market faster. Its all about the money.

    #50 6 years ago
    Quoted from NathanP:

    Its sad that Stern makes a music pin with a great band who has tons of fans in this market, yet they skimp out on a sound aspect in the name of getting a product to market faster. Its all about the money.

    That doesn't seem like the case at all. I don't know how you got to that conclusion based on a few random videos posted online.

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