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.