Heroine Progress Report – Voice Recording (Part 1)

Feb 10, 2011 // GregaMan

-“Voice Recording”?

Yes, this time, we’ll be reporting on the voice recording process! We’ll be revealing what it’s like to record those voices you always hear in games and anime. For this report, we’ll be relying on the firsthand accounts of Sound Production Support staff member Yamanaka-san.


Nice to meet you, I’m Yamanaka from Sound Production Support. What that job title means is that I handle whatever tasks are necessary to provide the sound staff with a work environment in which they can focus on their sound development. In the context of this report, that also means working together with external management companies (for example, our voice actress’s agency) and acting as a Capcom representative.

Now then, when someone says “voice recording”, what kind of image comes to mind?

“They take a big script, record some voice, and sync it up with scenes of animation or film!!”

Exactly right!! Now what about game voice recording? Actually, even with games, it’s the same concept—they have a story script, they record the voices, and then sync it up to scenes in the game. The difference is that while with anime and movies, there’s generally only one type of script, with games there are a number of types.

In this first report, I’ll be talking about those scripts.


-Different Types of Scripts

For Legends 3, we’ve employed three types of scripts:

First, there’s the “Demo Scenes Script.” Surely you’re familiar with the story scenes in games, where the characters move and act and speak without you even touching the controller. These go by any number of names, such as “cutscenes”, “in-game movies”, and so forth, but here on the Legends 3 dev team, they’re referred to as “Demo Scenes”. Just like with anime or movie scripts, these “Demo Scene” scripts simply provide the main story.

Next, we’ve got the “Mission Voice Script”. Sometimes in a game, fulfilling certain in-game conditions or performing certain actions will trigger a bit of dialogue.

The top section describes the current scenario. The middle area gives the speaking characters’ names and below that (orange) is their lines of dialogue. The bottom gives notes about how the lines should be delivered.

Example: “Just keep heading in this direction and you’re bound to run into that goon!!”

Here on the team, we call this “Mission Voice”. Since Mission Voice inherently takes players’ control input into account, the Mission Voice script specifies conditions, like “Character goes to Point X and initiates a conversation with NPC Y.” Just like with the Demo Scene Script, the Mission Voice Script simply follows along with the main story, so it doesn’t differ from the Demo Scene Script in terms of format. Both of these script types are largely the same as a script you’d get for an anime or film.

And then there’s the third script, which is unique to games. We call this the “In-Game Voice Script”. This script consists of dialog spoken in direct correlation to player input or other game mechanics. For example, sometimes a player character will go “Hee-YAH!” or “Ow!” when he attacks or is attacked, or in Mega Man Legends, sometimes Roll will say something like, “I’m getting a Reaverbot reading to the right of your current position!” This is dialogue that relates directly to player input. That’s why we call it “In-Game Voice”.

This type of script does not cover the game’s story, but rather relates to the following:


Sustaining Damage

Commencing a Battle

Among other things, of course. As a result, this script is not organized scene-by-scene the way the Demo Scene Script and Mission Voice Script are. Rather, it is organized character-by-character. Moreover, since this script has to cover each and every character in each and every scenario in the game, it is the biggest of the three scripts.

In-Game Script. An action or situation is given, and then the line is written below that.

-The English Version

Might as well talk a little bit about the English version as well, while we’re here. Naturally, the voice acting will be in English for the English version, so we needed separate scripts just for that.

Japanese scripts are generally written top-to-bottom, but English ones are written horizontally. The process of translating these scripts is referred to amongst our team as “Localization”. But localization is more than just translating text from Japanese to English. It’s much more laborious than that.


-Localizing is Tough!

Let’s take the following line as an example.


“Dorobo wo tsukamaete kure! Bakku wo nusumarechimatta!”


When you translate the above line, there are a lot of things you have to consider. Japanese tends to use lots of vague expressions which don’t provide information to work in English. As you can see in the above literal translation, plurals, subjects, and pronouns are often omitted entirely.

How many thieves were there?

Was the thief a male or female?

How did the thief take the bag?

Whose bag was it?

In English, these seemingly minor details can change the entire structure of a sentence or at least change certain words, so the localizer must always be well informed on the surrounding context and general scenario. Otherwise the text might end up inconsistent with the actual game content. Then they also have to look out for things like character or object names that don’t work or that have inappropriate undertones in English. Translators have to do a lot of checking.

Here’s one more example. In the voice sample we used for Aero’s actress audition, the term “takoyaki” came up. For the unfamiliar, takoyaki is a Japanese food, where they stick pieces of octopus inside balls of batter.

In Japan, there’s likely not a single person who doesn’t know what takoyaki is, but overseas, most people haven’t even heard of it. In some countries, they don’t even eat octopus. On a side note, this “takoyaki” reference in the game actual holds great significance, but details regarding that are top secret for the time being. But since it’s so significant, we have to be sure that all audiences understand the reference. So what we did was change the takoyaki reference to a “gyro” reference. Similarly to takoyaki, gyros are a sort of casual food that most people overseas are at least somewhat familiar with, even though the Japanese are mostly unfamiliar. (For those unfamiliar, a gyro [sounds like “YEE-ro”] is a folded pita wrap made with sliced meat).


-Aero? Sephira?

Then there are times when we choose not to change names. Our new heroine, Aero, was one such case. Since her design gave off a sort of “light, breezy” vibe, Director Eguchi gave her the name Aero. But then it turned out that in America, Aero is actually a name for males. It’s a particularly uncommon name, so probably not that many people would have noticed it was a boy’s name, but for awhile we were thinking of changing her name to “Sephira”—meaning “Western Wind”—for the English version.

But in light of the popular opinion amongst the North American Devroom users, as well as Director Eguchi’s desire to keep the two versions as similar as possible, we ended up sticking with “Aero” for the English version in the end.


-A Message from Kanda-san

As you can see, a lot of hardship goes into generating these scripts.

For our next report, I’ll be talking about the voice recording process for Aero’s voice actress, Akemi Kanda! But first, make sure you’re up to speed on Aero’s 3D Modeling by checking out the latest Modeling Report !

Now, as a teaser for the next report, I present to you a message from Kanda-san!

Akemi Kanda

Birthday: November 10th

Birthplace: Aichi Prefecture

Graduate of the Aoni-juku Tokyo School

Specialties: Nagoya dialect, modern dance, Japanese traditional dance, basic lifesaving certification

Agency: Aoni Productions


-Career History

“SD Gundam Sankokuden Brave Battle Warriors” – Sonshoukou

“Cross Game” – Tsukishima Wakaba, Takigawa Akane

“Negima! Magister Negi Magi” – Kagurazaka Asuna

A Comment from Akemi Kanda

Hello, I’m Akemi Kanda. When I auditioned for this role, I felt very passionate about this particular project that all the members of the staff have brought to us, and I was so happy when I found out I got the part that I literally started jumping up and down! I really want to deliver an energized performance in portraying the lovely Aero. I’ll do my best!