What started out as a simple phone call quickly turned into an opportunity of a lifetime to become a part of one the most successful video game franchises of all-time.
Danielle Bellini heard from someone close to the situation that the role of sideline reporter in the upcoming –now released– Madden title was going to be a new feature. Once she heard about the opportunity, Bellini knew it was a chance she couldn’t pass up.
“I knew that I just had to get in on this,” she said. “‘I’ve got to audition, and I’ve got to put my name up for it.’ Sure enough, I got the audition, went in, read some lines.
“I was so nervous. I remember my palms were sweating, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Was I just going to be reading or complete improvisation?”
The position of sideline reporter for the Madden NFL franchise may not seem like a major piece of the franchise to consumers who play the game, but to the developers, producers, and, more importantly, the lucky person selected for the role, it’s a crucial part of the game that helps tie the production together.
Bellini wasn’t sure of just how many people she was going up against for the role, but admitted it wasn’t something she was too concerned with.
“I had no idea who else (I was competing against), or what else,” she said. “I just had to concentrate on myself.”
People may assume that it’s all fun and games when you get to be part of the broadcast crew in a video game, but as it turns out, it isn’t all fun. The participants don’t just walk into a studio, record their lines and go home. In fact, it takes countless hours of work by the broadcasters that needs to be done in order to put the best product out there.
“We started up in January, and then there was kind of, it was just pieced out,” she said. “They had to get a lot of audio, and I know there was travel involved so there was a bunch for them (producers) to do. It wasn’t, ‘here we go now record, record, record, record’ by any means.
“We’d have a session and then maybe another one a few days later. A week would pass, and then we’d have another two sessions. So, it was over a period of months which was great for me because it let me get even more comfortable just with the whole process and what my role was. I was happy that it worked out that way.”
As far as how those sessions went, Bellini said they varied from session-to-session. Some sessions were planning processes while others were recording off cards or improvising. Bellini noted that as the sessions went on, and the more comfortable she became, she began to put more of her own touches on to the recordings.
The Emmy-winning broadcast journalist, who you can find out more about at her website, would follow the cards she was given when doing the voiceovers, but would move away from the script as she saw fit in order to make the audio sound as natural and realistic as possible.
In order to make sure that what she was saying was relevant to each aspect of the individual games, the producers would give Bellini little tips to make sure she was hitting on the right subjects at the right time.
“I stood at the microphone and the guys (team) would guide me by telling me, ‘hey, this is the beginning of the season; this is the middle of the season; we’re at the super bowl!’ They were just so awesome. Saying, ‘we need to downplay this; this is important; this is not important; fans really want to know about this’.”
Of course, when it all comes down to it, Bellini was still just recording lines from a studio. She wasn’t actually on an NFL sideline recording reports from a real game. Bellini stated that it was all about putting herself into the proper mindset to do her best work.
“My mind was just football, football, football,” she exclaimed. “Just visualizing the field, and hearing the crowd. There were just little tricks I did to help.”
When production was all said and done, Bellini realized that she, as her friends and family put it, was part of football video game history. She was the sideline reporter for the 25th Anniversary edition of the Madden NFL franchise.
“I felt a lot of pressure not only from the madden community, but from the people in my own life,” she said. “When I finally heard myself, I just thought ‘Yes! Yes!’.”
Bellini stated that she doesn’t have any information about her potential inclusion in future editions of Madden NFL, but mentioned that it would “be an honor” to have the opportunity again.