Heroine Progress Report – Voice Recording (Part 3)

Feb 25, 2011 // GregaMan

Heroine Progress Report – Voice Recording (Part 3)

Hey there, everybody! Sound Production Support Yamanaka here.

I’ll bet some of you out there are wondering about the “secret voice actor” I mentioned in my last report, but please just wait for it a little longer!! I’m sure your imaginations are running wild, but hey, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to, right? Now jump!

And another giant thank-you to Kanda-san for all her cooperation with this report!! As I was looking back over the last report in preparation for today’s, it occurred to me that I hadn’t really talked about the process up until Kanda-san’s selection. So today, I think I’ll work that in as I discuss the casting process and some of the stuff that went on behind the scenes for our web auditions.


Web Auditions

The key concept for the Legends 3 project is, of course, that it’s a game developed with user input. As you all know by now, the first such fan input-based plan we implemented was the design competition for our new heroine character. “Aero” was then selected by popular vote. We then took her original design draft and made adjustments to tailor her better to the Legends universe, and from that we in turn created a 3D model. All of this has been covered in previous “Heroine Progress Reports”.

Aside from Aero’s visual design, we also needed to decide on her voice, i.e., her voice actress. Normally, this would be decided by the development team (namely, the director and producer) based on her looks, personality, role in the game, and promotional needs.

But Aero was a different story.






“For Legends 3, the users are part of the dev team! They’re the ones who chose our new heroine’s design, so they should decide on our voice actress!”







Such were the words of Director Eguchi, which set everything else in motion. Sadly, due to contractual differences between Japanese and overseas voice actors, we were only able to hold this event in Japan. We really apologize to our North American Devroomers for that.


Voice Actress Casting

First, I suppose I should explain how voice actors and actresses get selected to begin with. The process is essentially the same for both Japan and abroad.

This profile sheet sets the basic criteria for our actress selection. They use the same type of sheet in the anime industry as well, and it serves an extremely important role in the casting process.

This sheet was created before the name “Aero” had been decided. It contains all of Director Eguchi’s thoughts on the character and what he thought her voice should sound like. However, at the time this sheet was filled out, there were still many things left undecided, so plenty of information was still missing.

Using this sheet as a basis, we recruit the aid of a go-between company, who in turn provide us with voice samples from freelance or agency-affiliated actresses that they think would be a good fit. We use these voice samples to make our casting selections. It’s the same thing we had our users do to choose their favorite actress on the Devroom.

Casting is handled by our core dev team members, including Director Eguchi, Producer Kitabayashi, Assistant Directors Tomita and Shiozawa, Art Director Ishihara, Sound Director Hama, and others. Listening through all the voice samples, they discuss and debate at length over which ones they like, which ones they want to hear again, and so on. Key criteria points for casting vary with each character, but generally include voice pitch and acting ability. For example, Aero is supposed to be a fourteen-year-old. Thus, her voice should sound youngish, and yet she isn’t a child, per se. If her voice were too high, she’d sound too childish, but if it were too deep, she’d sound too grown up. On top of that, since she’s the heroine of the game, she’ll obviously be appearing in a vast variety of scenes, so her actress needed to be able to handle a great range of emotion.

The problem here is that there’s a difference in perception amongst our Japanese and overseas audiences. Have you Japanese readers out there ever watched an English-dubbed anime and thought, “These characters’ voices are way too deep for their age”? Conversely, have you North American readers ever watched a Japanese anime and thought, “These characters’ voices are way too high for their age”? Anyone who’s ever experienced this can see how the different regions have different perceptions of the correct pitch for any given character. It’s especially hard when you’re dealing with a fourteen-year-old character, who’s somewhere between an adult and a child.

For this issue, we recruited the aid of our localization team! Here at Capcom, we’ve got people working from a variety of different countries to translate our games into different languages. We asked for their opinions in choosing actors and actresses that wouldn’t sound strange to our overseas audiences.


Web Audition Setup

So how did we set up these web auditions, anyway?

Well, first we had to find actresses who were able to participate in such a thing. This proved to be difficult on its own! Most voice acting agencies had never dealt with a scenario like the one we were proposing, so at first nobody’s response was very positive. It wasn’t until we had pled our case to them vehemently that they finally came around and agreed to cooperate.

“The users will be taking part in the game’s development for this project!!”

“We want to show people a new kind of game design!!”

“We want the users to pick the voice that they  think goes with the character!!”

And so on.

The document below was required to proceed with this idea.

In short, it says, “We won’t release information about the participating actresses.” This was a necessary condition in order to carry out our plans. Since the actress was decided by popular vote, we didn’t want to tarnish the reputations of the actresses who didn’t get selected.


Voice Sample Recording for the Web Auditions

So awhile back, we held some web auditions on the Japanese Devroom. Actually, the audio files we used for that were not the voice samples we received from our actresses’ agencies. They were specially recorded clips for use in the web auditions. You see, each of those samples we received from the agencies were recorded in different environments under different conditions, so it wouldn’t have been fair to use them for this. So, in order to hold a fair, equitable web audition, we actually had each actress come to one studio and record something in the same environment, under the same conditions.

Director Eguchi did take part in these recordings, but the only “directing” he actually did was to say, “Just keep doing takes until the actresses are satisfied with their own performances.” I think I mentioned in my last report, but normally a director gives all sorts of advice and instruction during these sessions, and they sort of construct the character as they go. But for these particular sessions, we only provided the aforementioned character profile sheet and a “Audition Script”, and just let them go at it.

This is the script we used. There are some parts we still aren’t allowed to reveal, so obviously we didn’t get to use those for the web audition, either! Too bad!

If you’re wondering why we handled things this way, it’s because we didn’t want the character to be completely set in stone by Capcom at the time of the audition. We didn’t just want the audition to determine our casting. We wanted our casting to determine things about the character, if you know what I mean.

Even though Aero was created in a completely new way, and even though each actress who took part in this audition had her own unique method, I think each of them was “Aero” in their own way. All of them were true pros.

We got a lot of comments from people saying it was a really tough decision, and I totally agree. But I also think that everybody made the right choice, picking up on very little nuances in performance when they placed their votes. I guess if there’s anything to be learned from the experience, it’s that an actor’s got to go with their gut inspiration, and so do we creators! It’s the same in game development; oftentimes, we end up using ideas that we fell in love with at first sight, things that impressed us immediately.

And in the end, Aero was a character created by the fans, so her voice should be the one that the fans think most suitable!



I’d like to give a big thanks once again to all the actresses who took part in our web auditions, as well as their agencies to putting up with some really weird requests!! All you fans, look forward to hearing more of the voice of Aero!!

Although we were only able to hold the Aero auditions in Japan, we actually are planning something voice acting-related for the North American Devroom! Can’t say what or when yet, but it’s a-comin’!