“We want this to look as natural as possible… “
With the upcoming Western release of tactical role-playing game Valkyria Chronicles 4, SEGA’s localisation producer Andrew Davis spoke to PlayStation Blog about the work that goes into translating a game, as well as the adjustments needed to adapt the voice-overs for a different language.
The localisation team spent about 10 weeks in the studio during the English voice-over recording process and kept the exact same team members throughout the procedure to maintain consistency in the VO’s direction.
Referring to the game’s prologue cutscene as an example when the team didn’t have to worry about lip-syncing (lead character Claude is talking over a blank screen), Davis brings up the importance of establishing cadence and tone.
“Claude’s Japanese VO for this opening scene had so many extended pauses that it took a lot of work to match the English script and VO to the Japanese even without animation to worry about,” explained Davis.
“We also had to consider the length of the subtitles for each spoken phrase; each line needed to be short enough in subtitles to look presentable, but the audio needed to be as long and drawn out as possible to match the heavy, deflated tone in the scene.”
Watch the Valkria Chronicles 4 prologue below:
Valkyria Chronicles 4 supports English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish subtitles; the game also features dual audio tracks, allowing players to switch between Japanese and English dubs depending on their preference.
“We’ll do our best in matching English voice talent with their character,” said Davis. “Sometimes that means the English and Japanese voices will sound very similar – Claude is a great example of that – but other times the English analogue to a Japanese voice or personality won’t sound exactly the same.
“For example, Raz’s Japanese voice actor has a kind of deep growl to his voice – he’s a delinquent with some swagger. Trying to match this effect exactly in English might have come across as a bit too affected or ‘tryhard’, so instead we kept close to the actor’s natural range while making him sound like an American delinquent. He uses more ‘naughty’ words and a more aggressive tone to support his attitude.”
Head over to the PlayStation Blog to read the full interview where other topics include Claude’s personality, voice acting for a “medium-sized dog”, and how the game caters to the European market.
Developed and published by SEGA, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is scheduled for release on 25th September for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.