‘Who got the casting call for the main character’ on movies and TV series is a powerful topic that attracts the attention from people and creates a buzz. In fact, casting is considered as a highly important step for producers because it affects not only the popularity, but also the quality of the whole production. If you look back all the popular movies and TV series in the media history, you will notice that there was the perfect cast suited to the characters.
Casting is the critical component no matter what media you are producing. Game is a special genre which has various characters under the deep story and unique world. Especially if you are planning to dub your game in other languages, you should put more effort to find the right voice talents who can bring the characters life. Would you like to know the key for the successful Korean dubbing for your game? Then let’s talk about the first step, ‘CASTING’.
Question 1 – Who does the casting?
Answer – Artistic Director or Casting Director
In the case of large scaled studios, a casting director mainly dedicates on it, and normally the artistic director who has lots of experience with professional voice actors takes the role. Those who work on the casting process are basically needed the following skills.
– In-depth knowledge of the dubbing process
– Broad understanding of the game contents
– A deep and detail understanding of each actor’s acting style, tone, personality, etc.
All techniques mentioned above are important since the success and failure of casting can be up to how skillful the casting director is. That’s why only the one with considerable experience in the voiceover industry is in charge of casting.
Question 2 – What will be needed for casting?
Answer – Basic game information, audio script, attributes of each character (e.g. role, gender, age, personality, etc.) and audio files of source languages. As you may expected, the more the better.
It would be the best to have all the information mentioned above, but we know it’s not easy to provide all of them before actual recording session for many reasons like security or work in progress. At the same time, it’s impossible to wait until the material is completely ready due to the delivery schedule.
In the case you don’t have enough information to provide, we’d like to suggest discussing with the artistic director from a recording studio rather than delay. Since planning the schedule of recording session is also key factor for the successful project, the recording studio will suggest the realistic plan to meet “good casting” and “keep the schedule”.
Question 3 – Which attributes of voice actors should be checked for casting?
- Acting skills
- Voice – Pitch, Tone, Voice register, Voice color
- Others – Work Ethnic (Faithfulness/Believability), Experience
It can be categorized into 3 parts – acting skills, voice color and others. Of course, the top priority is an ‘acting skill’. You may think the next is ‘voice’, but it isn’t. Especially, in the case of the voiceover with other language, there is a common misunderstanding that casting is a process to find a similar voice color and tone with the voice of source language. However, experienced casting directors emphasize that the personality of voice actors is more important than their voice. That means, even though the voice color and tone are a little bit different with the source audio, it’s more important to find a voice actor who has similar personalities with the character’s one. When the voice actors play the role reflecting their personality, more natural and powerful acting is followed. In terms of that, the directors with more experience are likely to make a better cast since they know not only the voice actors’ acting skills but also their life and personality.
Plus, the voice color and tone for each feeling is going to be different by each culture that your potential users are involved in. (e.g. ‘Sexy’ or ‘Warrior’ concepts are quite different by each country so different voice color and tones even for the same characters can be required). Therefore, it’s not always the correct criteria for the best casting to stick to the voice color and tone of the original version.
Question 4 – What type of casting is there?
- Studio casting: casting voice actors by the studio. Mostly samples are not provided.
- Database casting: a studio provides sample recording files from a database and client chooses the suitable one.
- Live casting: holding an audition with a sample script of the game in a studio
It’s hard to say which one is the best since it will be different depends on the project specification and the recording studio you collaborate with.
(1) Studio casting will be the best when you have a recording studio that you’ve worked with for years. They already have a deep understanding of your product line and know who the best for your characters are. However, in the case of a totally new project, database casting will be better since it’s hard for the studio to have enough information and understanding for the title.
(2) If you look for a new studio to work with and need to verify the candidates, we would like to recommend the live casting. However, it’s impossible to hold an audition from each bidder due to the budget and time. In this case, it will be better to ask a live casting only with the final candidate and join the audition session. Then, you can check their recording facilities, director’s skill, and the criteria you want before you make the final decision.
Question 5 – Why the casting phase is important in the gaming voiceover?
Answer – casting is like a blueprint of the entire recording session.
You may be surprised if you notice how much time and efforts the director (or casting director) puts for a good casting and figure out the importance of the casting phase.
They have to review and analyze all the materials provided from their client until getting a deep understanding of each character, and then decide the direction of acting style for each voice actor. Besides, the director should consider the relationships and interactions of all characters in the story, not only the character each. Thus, the outline of overall recording plan comes from the casting phase, and accordingly enough materials and sufficient time to fully understand the entire content are essential for the best casting.
Question 6 – When do I have to proceed to cast?
Answer – We recommend selecting a recording studio you want to work with first and then start the actual casting.
You may want to see the casting sheet with your quotation but most of the recording studios recommend not to.
What they say is, when clients request a quotation, it should be delivered within 1~5 days. As you can imagine, it’s not enough time to do the whole casting process. Another reason is that only limited information of the game can be provided on the quotation stage so it’s very hard for the director to understand the contents. If the director casts voice actors without fully understanding, miscasting can be found when you start the actual recording session.
As for a recording studio, casting is one of the important outputs which requires a bunch of time and efforts. It is controversial that the casting sheet is considered as an additional submission at the quotation stage as well.
Appendix. Case Studies
* My game is a typical action RPG and there is no information we can provide. Can you recommend which voice actor is good for the main character?
→ There is no same character even if it’s a typical game of a certain genre. That means there is no certain voice actor possibly matching for it. Please let us know the detail description of your character.
* Please find the same voice as the original file.
→ The process of localization doesn’t mean the translation of source lines into the target language. Likewise, dubbing is not the process of finding a same voice color in the target language. Casting should be counted not only the voice, but also various factors mentioned above.
* I got a casting sheet received from Studio A, but prefer recording in Studio B due to various reasons. Can it be okay?
→ The casting sheet received from Studio A is the result of the casting process by the director of Studio A and the director must have own direction of the production. Therefore, even if you proceed voiceover in B studio with the same voice actors, you must be aware that the result will be totally different since the direction and ability of directors are different for sure.
* Please do live casting for all the main characters of the game.
→ Live casting is not always the best option. We’d recommend discussing with the recording studio which one is the best option. Then, you may find the better option in terms of quality, cost, and schedule.
In fact, live casting is meaningless if you can’t properly select the candidates who are going to perform on the live casting. In the case your studio already has a list of the suitable voice actors for your game with confidence, it may be inefficient to perform live casting with paying an additional cost.
In general, live casting is good for the following cases. 1) Main characters of AAA title 2) The overall content is unique compared to other games. 3) The game character is unusual with the unique background 4) Required to cast non-professional voice actors. Like this, when the casting director cannot confirm the characters from the provided data, live casting is recommended.
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