Hey gang! Let’s talk about voices. I mentioned yesterday that we’ve had a problem come up with Sian’s voice actress. If you want to get to that part, skip to the last paragraph. If you’re curious about the voice recording process, read on.
Back when sakevisual started, voiced EVNs weren’t very common. In fact, the general public sentiment was that they should be avoided altogether due to things like filesize, and lack of good and/or affordable voice actors. But after the good response to Ripples, I knew I wanted Jisei to be voiced. It was a messy process trying to organize all of it the first time around, but the final product was well-received, and I was hooked. I resolved to make sure that any release I’d charge money for would have voices in it.
Because apparently things are more fun when they’re difficult.
Our process these days is less of a mess than it was for Jisei, but it’s still kind of a mash-up of several different things.
1.) Casting - This should take place once the script is complete. Casting at the start of production is generally not a great idea (speaking from experience), as you may lose voice actors along the way if you wait a long time to start recording. You’ll also have a much stronger grasp on what a character should sound like AFTER the script is written rather than before. When you cast, you can scout, hold closed auditions, or hold open auditions.
-Scouting: Offering a role directly to a single actor. In the case of Backstage Pass, the actors for the main five characters were cast this way.
-Closed Auditions: Picking a few actors you know and asking them all to read for a part, then choosing the one you think fits best. For Backstage Pass, I sent out auditions to several actors I know before choosing Rachel’s voice.
-Open Auditions: Posting auditions online (or elsewhere publicly) to get as many options as possible. I generally use this for supporting cast, as I like to find new talent and give people a chance to show off any voices I might not know they’re capable of. This is also the most time-consuming process of all, as you have to go through each audition carefully, and there are a lot. Backstage Pass brought in over 500 auditions, and I listened to every single one.
2.) Recording - AKA the fun part. With the rising popularity of online voice acting, it’s common for a creator to email scripts to everyone, then sit back and wait for the recordings to come rolling in. That’s the easiest path, and probably the one that will yield the worst results. You may have two talented actors in a scene, but if one actor reads an argument as a shouting match and the other reads it as a calm debate, they’re going to sound like they came from different games. When I use online actors, I call them up via Skype (or any other voice chat program) and listen in while they record. That way I can give direction and feedback live to get the most appropriate read possible. For local actors, I either use my own mic setup, or we record at a local studio (pictured above).
3.) Sound Editing - Or, the job most people forget exists. Once all the voices are recorded, they have to be cleaned up. Mics record at different volumes, and those have to all be adjusted to the same level. Stray clicking noises or breathing need to be removed. There’s a lot of sound engineering magic that goes on behind the scenes to make everything sound normal.
4.) Review - After all the lines are ready to go, they need to be reviewed. The director finally gets to listen to everyone together and hear a complete piece. This is where you check for anything that needs to be redone. Some lines may have background noise that can’t be fully removed. Maybe a read sounded good at the time, but doesn’t fit in the context of the other actors. Some of the lines may have been rewritten since you recorded. If anything needs to be redone, you call the actor back in and repeat 2-4 as necessary. If the actor isn’t available, you might even have to go back to step 1. Recasting in voiceover is actually fairly common, especially since there’s no face that viewers can connect with the character.
So, why did I write all of this in the first place? Well, I guess to make the big “duh” point that voiceover takes a long time to get through, and can extend the development time of a project by a lot. And that’s where we are right now.
We’ve still got bug fixes and other things going for Backstage Pass, but the bulk of the work left to do involves getting the voices done. While we’re moving at a pretty good pace for the most part, our actress for Sian has just come down with bronchitis, which leaves a big question mark over when she’ll be able to record again. We know you guys have been waiting a long time for this already, so instead of making the decision for you, we’d like your thoughts. My initial plan was to release all the voices at once, but I honestly don’t know when that will happen now. Do you prefer to wait, or would you rather we release the game without Sian’s voice (once all the others are finished), and then patch her voice in later? Or, if you have another idea, what do you think?
Woo! It’s the first Monday I’ve had free in a long time, since the last few weeks have been consumed with time in the studio recording voices for Backstage Pass. Let’s respond to things. (Note that several questions will probably be merged if they are similar).
Since I made one last year, I thought I’d make one this year too—-so here it is, Otakon catalog 2014, featuring all my new prints this year as well as a couple of old ones.
The Madoka and Free sets are coming back as prints this year. In their stead, I have the full set of double-sided kagepro bookmarks. I’ll have two DMMD prints available, and they will be at a discounted price if you buy both of them. My original prints are pretty much just place holders *cough*, I only have a small stock of those so be sure to grab them quickly if you are interested!
Again, I’ll be at table P-10 this year with yueru, hope to see you guys there!
Everyone go to Otakon and buy a John print, k?
Whoa! Busy week for me, gang, and it’s all good things. I’ve been in the studio every day recording with some local actors, and every session has made me more excited for the voiced version than the last. If you can play with voices on, and you don’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
I mentioned it very briefly on twitter, but for the sake of an official confirmation, I’d like everyone to welcome Ian Sinclair as the voice of John Brandon. If you pay attention to English dubs, you’ve probably already heard Ian in One Piece, Black Butler, and as the title character in Space Dandy.
We’re still on track to get all the voices recorded within the next few weeks, but I’ll do what I can to get some voice samples out for you guys to listen to before then.
In other news, we’re currently privately testing Lloyd’s route. Once we make sure it doesn’t crash horribly, it should be available in the beta. Thanks for hanging with us!
Whoa. I’ve definitely lost track of time. So, short version: The personal situation escalated into a full blown emergency that involved a “is he dead?” scare after we lost contact with someone for nearly a week. The good news: He’s not dead. The bad news: We’re not out of the woods yet in terms of this situation, and it’s been really difficult.
But let’s catch up on what’s happened to Backstage Pass this past month or so. We’ve fixed a lot of bugs, created several new ones, and fixed most of those. Steam now has achievements, which is pretty great (with thanks to Emmanuel Marty and forsakenproductions). We’ve finished up a lot of recording, ending with Alvin yesterday, which leaves Sian and John left. John will likely be finished first, but recording for Sian will take at least 40 hours in the studio, not counting any fixes found later. AnimeFest is coming next month and while we almost certainly will be done recording by then, there’s a good chance the sound editing won’t be complete.
Coming up next, Lloyd’s route along with another bevy of bug and typo fixes. And hopefully another update, ACTUALLY weekly this time.
I discovered how to pick colors in oekaki so in all my excitement I ended up painting this. :3 :3 :3
Don’t judge me I had no idea what I wanted him to wear so I just slapped on some random stuff
This is a beautiful thing.
Alvin is the ultimate fanboy. He’s also fully recorded as of ::checks watch:: two hours ago. This isn’t really a voice sample as much as a teaser, but you’ll hear more when we release the new trailer with voices. : D
Only Sian and John left now. We’re so close, gang.
Alvin geeking out hardcore. This is a beautiful thing.
An outtake from Adam’s snow scene. Micah Solusod, ladies and gentlemen.