What were some things that were in your domain that helped the quality of the finished voice product for the US Version?
The first step in getting voice actors is to decide who we want to use. The studio sends us a list of people they think might be good for the roles we need to cast, along with short reels for each actor. I spent hours listening to these reels over and over, until I could have probably recited them for you from memory, verbatim. I like to think my recommendations for particular actors carried some weight, but the decision for who we’d ultimately cast was up to the producer.
Once we’d picked the actors for each character, I wrote in voice direction. For anyone who doesn’t know, voice direction is a short blurb that the voice actor sees next to the line while they’re in the booth, and gives them an idea of what we’re looking for in their performance. Some examples:
• listing them off on her fingers (all end with ‘man’)
• finally settles on a word (“robot suit”), exasperated, irritated
• scrambling to find better rhetorical footing
• as if he is saying “I am Thor, son of Odin, and protector of the three realms!”
Bonus points if you can guess what lines and characters those are referring to! Our proofread, Karen, also helped with the voice direction when things really got down to the wire and I started running out of time.
The final step was actually going into the studio to record the voices. I was there for several recording sessions, and would have liked to be there for all of them, but unfortunately they happened in parallel with editing, and I had to bow out of the last few weeks. In voice recording, our job is mostly to make sure lines are being delivered correctly, look for nuance we might have missed in the voice direction, and work directly with the actor to help them establish the tone and voice of the character. I was able to be in the studio for nearly all of the first sessions, so I was able help each actor “set” their voice. Each actor also brought a lot to their role, and the quality of the dub is much more a product of their skill and professionalism than anything I did. Our VA for Zero III did an especially amazing job with a difficult character. I got the feeling early on in the editing process that whatever I wrote, the VA could make or break that character. Fortunately she made it, and very handily so.