Shenmue Dojo Interviews Bill Black. Shenmue 3 VO Director

spud1897

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An interview we've been looking forward to for a while!

We sit-down with Shenmue III Voiceover Director Bill Black!

Topics include how Bill got into the industry, when the Shenmue project became known to him, casting (including what happened to Eric Kelso) and more!

Not only that Bill has kindly provided some behind the scenes footage which is available throughout this video and the RAW footage at the end for all to see!


Bill has also kindly offered to answer further questions from fans so let us know in the comments and we can pass those on.

Find Bill via https://thebillblack.com/contact/
 
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Per usual, thanks for organizing these! While I haven't been able to listen to it all, that bonus content at the end is very rewarding.

You can tell he took this role professionally and seriously, esp. stressing he doesn't want cheesy '80s kung fu voices and providing the voice actors aids for how to pronounce things correctly. It's also cool to see little details like his efforts to make sure he really understood Shenhua's personality, etc. I'm glad he ended up part of the team.
 
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Great interview.

Bill sounds like he was really passionate about the project and did an immensely professional job even up against some serious restrictions on the time and budget available to him. Would love to see him return for Shenmue IV with those couple extra months of recording time he wanted and more control over the process now he's working for himself rather than a company.
 

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Brilliant interview! Very detailed, very informative. I knew of the budget restraints, but to hear more detail about it only goes to show that the team have done a great job with what little time they had. It's great to hear that he's happy for Eric Kelso to come back as Ren next time too haha (the newer guy was good, don't get me wrong, but it's not the same). It's also nice to hear that for the most part, it was a pleasurable experince which confirms what Corey was saying during his Shenmue hang out last summer.

It was also very kind of him to provide some behind the scenes footage, so please give him our thanks for that!

My initial question was to ask if the possibility of using original voice actors for Nozomi etc was possible, but he did mention a few times that a lot of it is dependent of being within a geographical area. I really want to know about these famous fans who can't be identified (this was also mentioned last summer!) So instead, i'd like to ask if it's true that some of the actors were willing to take a pay cut to do Shenmue III? If at all possible, i'd also like to ask if he has a spare copy of the script lying around and if so, can I please have it (buy it) ;)
 
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Great work as usual @spud1897

We’ve heard through unofficial channels way back in April that there was an error in post-production that meant the improved sound files weren’t implemented and featured in the final game. I appreciated his candid nature of confirming this.

I do wish you had slipped in question regarding the massive translation error at the end of the game and see if he was aware of this given his desire to see things properly pronounced and translated accurately.

On that note is Ryo name actually pronounced Dee-you not Ree-Yo? He seems to pronounce it as the former.
 
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spud1897

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Thanks for listening everyone.

Looking back I wish I'd have found a slot re the translation, though I understand it had actually been done before Bill got the script.

I'd never really given much thought to the actual constraints these guys had when recording this. 4 months and he's have preferred 6, if not longer, to do the VO. Post-production issues etc. What we got was a damn miracle in terms of balancing quality and quantity.

As for pronunciation I'll defer to the experts on that.

Keep an eye out next week as I have a little bit more coming from the interview.
 
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Looking at the footage, I think it's a bit weird that at that stage (even if it's really early which I believe it's the case, but obviously everyone was already selected for their role), both the director and the VA for a major character need to be reminded that the game takes place in 1987 rural China, the character is a tomboy raised by her father, etc.
 
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Looking at the footage, I think it's a bit weird that at that stage (even if it's really early which I believe it's the case, but obviously everyone was already selected for their role), both the director and the VA for a major character need to be reminded that the game takes place in 1987 rural China, the character is a tomboy raised by her father, etc.
I think this partly comes down to the preproduction. Bill said he'd have wanted much more time around this and to have met with Ryan Payton to discuss everything, so you'd think this would come into it.
 
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I would've thought it'd be fairly common for VO talent to be thrown into their roles like that, for smaller game productions, anyway.
 
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Yeah, VO isn't like other forms of acting where you need to go deep on research, learn your lines in advance, rehearse, etc.

It's not uncommon to get your briefing from the director when you turn up to record.
 
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I thought it was already pretty common knowledge that Brianna Knickerbocker did no research whatsoever for the role. Iirc, she tried to tell a fan on Twitter that Shenhua was a new character even after the release of Shenmue 3 when she’d read and recorded her lines. I hope they recast Shenhua for Shenmue 4.
 
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Love Brianna's performance. She was barely in the first game and for the last 2 hours of the second game 15 years prior, so i don't blame her for thinking she's new.
 
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On that note is Ryo name actually pronounced Dee-you not Ree-Yo? He seems to pronounce it as the former.
It’s a pretty non-trivial thing to try to explain, but it shouldn’t really be formed as a “d” sound, it just typically ends up sounding sort of like it.
I had a course in phonetics long ago, and it’s just the most convenient terminology I know to explain, but the Japanese ‘r’ sound comes from essentially voicing an ‘L’ sound, but instead of tapping the tip of your tongue to the dental ridge, you tap it on what’s know as the “alveolar ridge.” If you run your tongue back from behind your top teeth along the roof of your mouth, the point where it drops off a cliff is that alveolar ridge.
This is actually where you would make a “d” sound normally, and you might wonder why I didn’t just say to make a “d” sound, and it’s because that’s not really what you want to do. At this point what you want to do is morph that “L” phonation into an “r” phonation, while starting with the tip of your tongue at the alveolar ridge.
One other thing to note is that it’s easy for Japanese speakers to roll their “r”s, because it’s also partially fricative. By that I mean there’s some amount of air you want to expel to move your tongue forward, and the pressure of your tongue to alveolar ridge is fairly minimal.

I hope this was at least the most beautiful non-answer you’ve received today.
 
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It’s a pretty non-trivial thing to try to explain, but it shouldn’t be formed as a “d” sound, it just typically ends up sounding sort of like it.
I had a course in phonetics long ago, and it’s just the most convenient terminology I know to explain, but the Japanese ‘R sound comes from essentially voicing an ‘L’ sound, but instead of tapping the tip of your tongue to the dental ridge, you tap it on what’s known as the “alveolar ridge.” If you run your tongue back from behind your top teeth along the roof of your mouth, the point where it drops off a cliff is that alveolar ridge.
This is actually where you would make a “d” sound normally, and you might wonder why I didn’t just say to make a “d” sound, and it’s because that’s not really what you want to do. At this point what you want to do is morph that “L” phonation into an “r” phonation, while starting with the tip of your tongue at the alveolar ridge.
One other thing to note is that it’s easy for Japanese speakers to roll their “r”s because it’s also partially fricative. By that I mean there’s some amount of air you want to expel to move your tongue forward, and the pressure of your tongue to the alveolar ridge is fairly minimal.

I hope this was at least the most beautiful non-answer you’ve received today.
This is interesting as I have pronounced Ryo's name with a silent "R" sounding more like "yo" and his last family name as "Hah-zoo-key." I thought this is how the Japanese would pronounce it. If I am wrong, and I know I am, could you tell me how a natural Japanese would pronounce his name? I want to be as respectful as possible.
 
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spud1897

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RELEASE

Shenmue Dojo Interviews Bill Black: Directors Cut

A little extra from an earlier interview with Bill but pulled due to bad audio on both our ends. However we both decided to show off the best bits to the community for all to see!

 

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That's so cool! I can't wait to get back from my 30 mile bike ride to listen to this.

I love this community so much! :)
 
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spud1897

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Shenmue Dojo Presents:

Uncut BEHIND THE SCENES footage of Shenmue 3's voice over recording. This is all the footage Bill sent us, including unseen footage from our interview or Jibby's edited version!

Many thanks to Bill for this footage.

ENJOY!

 
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It’s interesting to hear Suzuki’s explanation of Shenhua’s character, that she speaks directly and to the point and is really spitting image of her father. In that sense I feel Shenmue 3 realty dropped the narrative ball and there should have been a narrative pay off once Yuan was rescued and reunited with Shenhua.

Also slightly comical Corey seemed to be having issues with button prompts when playing.
 
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