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Sound Recording Takes Shape

Most of the Resident Evil series is set in America, so the characters speak English. Of course this means that we have to record each character’s dialogue in English.



We have Japanese voice actors record the dialogue of games which are in Japanese, and there was even a time when development staff recorded the voices for games. That was fine back then, but now as every aspect of our games becomes higher quality, and as we try to appeal to a more global audience, the quality of in-game voice must increase as well.


The voice for the Resident Evil series has been praised as exceptional, and that is due in large part to holding the voice recording sessions in America. We recorded the voice for Darkside Chronicles in America as well.


We broke the recording up into a number of sessions. I went to one such session in Los Angeles in March.


Los Angeles has plenty of great weather in March, but I was closed up in the studio all day and couldn’t enjoy it at all. Also, we were trying to have the actors that worked on the older games work on Darkside as much as possible, so the actor/actress was often connected to our studio remotely to do their recordings. The role of Claire was played by Alyson Court and Ada Wong’s voice was provided by Sally Cahill. These actresses are both based in Canada, so they weren’t actually with us while we recorded. This technology is very advanced, and is very commonplace in the industry right now, but there are still drops in the connection, and since the actor/actress isn’t there in the room with you, it can be frustrating at times.


In spite of those issues, the studio was great because there was free coffee, donuts, fruit and salad. You could have as much as you wanted! It was always fun to munch on these snacks when waiting for a tech problem to get sorted out, or just while taking a break.


We worked with JUST CAUSE for the voice recording of this game. They are excellent at what they do in terms of voice recording and motion capture, and did great work on Resident Evil 5 in both of those areas. JUST CAUSE has a great sense of quality and a passion for games. They are a great partner to Capcom. I know that we will be able to reach our high goals for quality working with them.


The theme of the voice recording was “presence”.
We learned an important lesson about voice during Umbrella Chronicles. We learned that voice is extremely effective when trying to build tension. In Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles the camera advances automatically, so we are able to sync a dramatic conversation between characters that matches what’s happening. You couldn’t have such a fluid and natural conversation happening if you were controlling the characters movement directly.


We felt we had to set the bar for voice very high on this game, but just saying you want to have powerful voice acting that conveys a sense of presence is much easier than executing it. First, we create a Japanese script that flows naturally, correcting, editing and trying different things as we go. The next step is the very difficult task of translating the script. All of the voice is recorded in English, so special care and attention needs to be paid to the translation process. We cannot translate the script literally. Sometimes, completely different expressions need to be used in English. For example, there is the line “Mushikera!” (“You worm!”) in the Japanese script, however, there is no good phrase that means “You worm!” in English. This line is rather important in the scenario, so it had to be translated very carefully. In the end we couldn’t find something that got the meaning across exactly, so we settled on “You rat!” for the translation.


There were a number of cases where the actors just couldn’t get a feel for the lines, and the presence which we were aiming for couldn’t be achieved. The first voice recording session didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, so we took the time to hold some extra sessions to fix our mistakes. Through trial and error, the voice director and studio staff was able to more fully understand the meaning behind the brilliant words we had written. By giving examples of what kind of tension we were going for, and by providing videos which made the scenes and situations as easy to understand as possible, we were able to eliminate the problems. We were able to get all the voices, sighs, breathing, groans and whimpers that are necessary to conveying a realistic sense of presence.


This process has yielded voice for Darkside Chronicles which I feel is a cut above other game voices. I can’t wait for all of you to hear it! You can’t help but be pulled right in!


■ About Me
Recently the air plants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tillandsia) I’ve been keeping have been dying. I like air plants and carnivorous plants, so I’ve got a few of them in my house. Of course, Ivy is one of my favorite Resident Evil monsters. I also like the plant-based Ultraman bad guys.

2009.08.07