Heroine Progress Report – Voice Recording (Part 2)

Feb 18, 2011 // GregaMan

Well then, I think it’s about time we take a look at an actual recording session! Continuing from last time is Sound Production Support Yamanaka-san!

Before We Start this Report. . .

All right! Let’s get this report under w. . . What’s that? You say you want to know how long the recording process takes? Well, for your average anime episode (roughly 30 minutes), sessions usually last about four hours. Games tend to take a longer time in proportion to the amount of dialogue. Aero had roughly 150 lines to record, and it took us about three hours. We also had Kanda-san record some promotional commentary, so our session ended up taking a whopping seven hours!

Now, why did I bring this up? Because for voice recording, timetables are extremely important! All of our voice actors for this project are very busy people, and they’re all needed elsewhere for other sessions as soon as ours finish. Then you’ve also got to worry about the studio’s timetable. We can’t let our sessions spill over into other people’s time slots, so if we run overtime we have to schedule another recording date. Or even if we’re able to extend our time slot, it costs that much extra.

In other words, the voice recording process is a battle against the clock!!

As Capcom’s Voice staff, we’re charged with two key tasks: “Stick to your timeframe” and “Do great work”.


On to the Studio!

I think I’ve gone far enough with the introductions, so let’s get on with it!

We did this recording in a studio downtown, back in late January. I can’t get too specific right now, but for Legends 3, we’re planning to hold several sessions. This was the first. Now let’s check out that studio!


Whoops, looks like Aero’s voice actress, Akemi Kanda, was in mid-prep. Sorry to disturb! But it’s time to start!


Recording Begins!

“Wow, there’s our Aero!”

As soon as recording began, Kanda-san transformed into Aero.

All of the dialogue recorded for this session was overflowing with bright, cheerful personality—perfect for a character like Aero. Of course, you’ll have to see for yourself when the game comes out!

The actress conducts her recording session from within a sectioned-off room known as a “booth”. No one else is allowed to enter, so as to eliminate background noise. Naturally, that means I was also kicked out. Luckily, the booth is separated by glass, so I was still able to observe the session!

Speaking of glass, see that apparition-like figure with the glasses? Perhaps you’ve already figured it out, but. . . .

Yup, that’s our director, Eguchi-san! He watched on intently with the other Capcom folk as Kanda-san performed equally intently from inside the booth. So as not to disrupt things, I took care not to let her notice my photography.


Voice Directing

The session continued, with Eguchi-san giving out precise directions on delivery: “Do that line with a bit more tomboyishness,” he’ll say. Or, “Tone down the excitement a bit on this line.” His direction gives the actress specific guidance on her performance, and ultimately helps sculpt Aero’s character. Since this is the character that the Devroom and its users created together, she’s extra important, so Eguchi-san took great care.

Now then, I think I’d like to explain in simple terms how we actually record the audio. For this session, the following members from the Legends 3 dev team were present to give directions.

-Director Eguchi: As you know, he dishes out directions and instructions for each of the characters. In a sense, he’s responsible for really bringing Aero to life, so you could say he’s like Aero’s father.

-Sound Director Hama: As the Sound Director, Hama-san gives feedback in response to Eguchi-san’s directions, constantly imagining how things will sound once they’re actually in the game.

As for me, I do a variety of things, such as organizing schedules with our voice actors’ agencies. I guess you could say I handle all the miscellaneous odd jobs aside from directing. There were a few other Legends 3 staff members hanging around as well, including Ishikawa-san from PR.

ALSO, there’s another person called the “Voice Director”, who explains Capcom’s requests to the actors in simple terms.

The voice director uses this equipment to give out instructions and make various adjustments. Look at all the switches. As a voice expert, he even checks things like the actors’ Japanese pronunciation, and makes sure they’re sticking to the script.


Flow of the Process

Here’s a little step-by-step rundown of the entire process, from beginning to approval.

1. First, we do a practice run-through. We have the actors read through the script before showing up, and by this point, they give nearly flawless performances. Pretty amazing!

2. Real recording begins.

3. Direction from the Voice Director. This is where the Voice Director shares his very specific feedback, regarding things like pronunciation and line delivery.

4. Rerecording of noted sections.

5. Rerecording continues until Voice Director gives his okay.

6. Direction from Capcom.

7. Rerecording of noted sections.

8. Once Capcom’s people have given their okay, the session is over.

And we do this for each script.

Basically, the key players in the process form a triangle: the Voice Actor, the Voice Director, and Capcom. There tends to be a lot negotiation and back-and-forth with a setup like this, but for Legends 3, they proved to be an exceptionally speedy group. Way to go, guys! Kanda-san’s performance as Aero was so convincing, you’d almost think they were the same person. The session progressed so smoothly it was actually a little shocking.

Huh? What’s that blue blob in the corner?

Whoa, it’s none other than Uchida-san of Rockman Unity!! It seems they’ll be posting about the voice recording process on the Rockman Unity fansite as well, so Uchida-san showed up to observe.

Later on, those goofballs held their own “session”.


The English Version

Naturally, Japan isn’t the only one doing voice sessions. They also conducted the first English session in America at the end of December. Since Eguchi-san was too busy to make it out there, Localization specialist Janet-san went instead. She was kind enough to tell us about how it all went down.

Q: Was the process any different than how we conducted it in Japan?

A: We basically followed the same method, however, we didn’t separate the approval steps (steps 3-8). If I or the voice director had directions to convey, we were able to do so at will. Also, I think we allowed the actress a larger degree of freedom to interpret the character, allowing her to put a bit of herself into the character.

Q: What was the hardest thing about it?

A: At first, I thought it would be getting through all of the lines for every character in the game in the limited time we had, but thanks to the great talents we had, we made it with plenty of breathing room. The hardest part, actually, was probably trying to make sure that the actors and actresses didn’t wear out their voices! Being an action game where there are lots of battles, there are a lot of efforts (grunts, moans, attacking noises, etc.) to voice, and they can be a real strain on one’s vocal chords.

Q: What was Aero’s voice actress like?

A: She’s very smart, talented and energetic. I think she had the perfect voice for bringing out the slightly smart-alecky, tomboy-ish side of Aero without sacrificing her cuteness.

Thanks for the info, Janet-san! We wanted to release more details about this, but we’re restricted right now from revealing the name or other information about the English voice actress. Sorry! Instead, we’ve got some words from the actress herself!

Q: What prior experience do you have with Mega Man?  What about the Mega Man Legends series specifically?

A: I have actually worked on another game with the MegaMan characters last year and so I became much more familiar with the series that way. Though I was playing a different character for this title, it was still fun to play in the MegaMan world. My husband told me a lot about the characters and the world when I found out I was cast, since I grew up without a TV and missed many shows (especially Japanese animation). I am excited with what a respected franchise it is though.

Q: What do you think the most interesting aspect of your character is?

A: I think the most interesting part of Aero is her fierce loyalty. I appreciate that she is smart and determined. I admire her ability to hang with the boys but also get things done in her own spunky way.

Q: did you approach the role?  Is there anything you could share as to how you would get in character?

A: It was pretty easy for me to work on this character since the voice director did a great job of explaining the circumstances and situations my character was in. I took the descriptions and based my choices on that.



So did you get a general feel for what this process is like?

Actually, there was someone else who joined in on that day’s session. . . .

Someone recording lines along with Kanda-san. Someone whose character is connected to Aero in some way. . . .

Unfortunately, it’s still a secret for now! Don’t worry, eventually I’ll be reporting on that actor’s sessions as well, so stay tuned!

I’d also just like to say that doing these recording sessions for Legends 3 has been extremely enjoyable. Nothing but lovely actresses portraying lovely characters in a lovely world. It’s really heartwarming. Kanda-san’s really put her entire being into this role. Of course, we’ve still only just begun! There’s plenty more recording left to be done!

As you may know, Aero’s voice actress was selected by popular vote on the Japanese Devroom, since she was a fan-created character. But what of all the other voice actors? Well, next time I’ll be discussing the actor selection process!

That’s all for today!

Good job, Kanda-san!