Monday, May 15, 2017

Gyakuten Saiban 5 - Sound Staff Interview To Commemorate Its Release! (2013)

Title: Gyakuten Saiban 5 - Sound Staff Interview To Commemorate Its Release! / 「逆転裁判5 発売記念サウンドスタッフインタビュー!」

Summary: CAP'STONE is the website of the sound division of Capcom, which often features interviews with staff members about the sound design of Capcom games. In this interview to commemorate the release of Gyakuten Saiban 5 (Ace Attorney 5 - Dual Destinies) posted on August 6, 2013, Capcom's sound designer Sandou Yoshiki (using his name DJ Sandou) interviews the sound director (Horiyama Toshihiko) and the sound engineer (Amagishi Shinji) about working on the sound design for the game. They talk about recreating the sound effects for the new 3DS hardware and getting it all sound like classic Gyakuten Saiban, but also to give the sound effects a new, refreshing feel. Sandou Yoshiki himself has also worked on the Gyakuten Saiban series by the way, as he himself worked on sound effects for both Gyakuten Saiban 4 (Ace Attorney 4 - Apollo Justice) and Gyakuten Kenji 2 ("Turnabout Prosecutor 2"). Yamazaki Takeshi, the scenario director of the game, also has something to comment on the importance on background music and sound effects at the end of the interview.

Renewing The Sound Effects To Give Them A Fresh Sound

DJ Sandou: Today we have the SD (sound director) and SE (sound designer in charge of sound effects) with us! Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) is the best! Please tell us about the work you did for this game.

SD: As the sound director, I’m responsible for the direction of everything sound-related, like the background music, and I also manage our contacts with the external companies that help us with our work.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! So you’re something like a project manager! Seems like there’s a lot to do for a sound director!

SE: As the sound designer, my work consist of creating sound effects. I also worked on the audio post production for not only the game itself, but also the animated scenes and the promotion videos.

DJ Sandou: Fantastic! So you worked on everything sound-related besides the background music! Oh, that’s right! Early on in the development cycle, your project overlapped with the development of Layton Kyōju VS Gyakuten Saiban (Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney) where I was working on, and we’re seated right next to each other, so we both made the other listen to “Objection!”all the time back then (laugh). Anyway, please talk about where you focus on particularly when working on the presentation or mechanics in terms of sound design.

SD: The main sound effects of the Gyakuten Saiban series were reused from the very first game until Gyakuten Saiban 4 (Ace Attorney 4 – Apollo Justice). But this was going to be the first new game in many years, so we decided we’d renew the sound effects so they’d have the quality befitting the new hardware, so they’d all feel fresh again.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! Renewal! I figure it must have taken some courage to take that decision! But I think the new effects sound really good, as they fit right with the feel of the sound effects in the series up until now! I think you could call them a proper evolution of the sound effects!

SE: Precisely! We focused on creating sound effects that could satisfy both existing fans of the Gyakuten Saiban series, as well as people who had never played the games before. Our goal was to have sound effects that could satisfy the older fans by feeling new, yet without losing the typical Gyakuten-feel to them, while also making sure that new players would find the sound effects of the Gyakuten Saiban series unique and interesting too.

People Will Find The New Mechanics Refreshing, Amazing And Fun!

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! Fantastic! I am with you there! Anyway, what is the key to getting that“Gyakuten-esque” feeling?

SE: It is for example nowadays common to add sound effects to character animations that give a realistic feeling to them, to make it feel the character’s really there. But I think that the animations in Gyakuten Saiban are more meant to show off the characteristics of each person, it’s basically a comic-like expression. So for the sound effects, we decided to pick a selection of animations which would really showed off the uniqueness of the characters, and had those animations stand out even more by giving ew sound effects as possible to the other animations, and by also using unique sound effects, I think that creates the typical Gyakuten feeling.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! It does happen that the more sound effects you add, the less impression they leave! So you tried to focus it all on one shot! In one sound!

SE: But with the new mechanics introduced in this game like the Heart Scope (Mood Matrix) and the animated scenes, and the funny movements in the break animations and transformations of witnesses who are cornered, we also focused on created new sound effects you have never before heard in Gyakuten Saiban. I think that people will find these new elements refreshing, amazing and fun!

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! I always look forward to the break scenes! It’s become one of the things you expect from Gyakuten Saiban! Oh yeah, I heard you also worked on the settings for when playing with headphones?

SD: Oh! Yeah! With handhelds, there’s always the problem of having to adjusting the sound, especially the BGM, to either the internal speakers, or to the headphones. With Gyakuten Saiban 5 (Ace Attorney 5 - Dual Destinies), we adjusted it to the Nintendo 3DS speakers in principle, but we added a function to the game so the sound quality will be automatically adjusted for pleasant listening on headphones once you plug it in the Nintendo 3DS.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wirght! That’s really doing your job! A two-handed sword style using both speakers and headphones! Even Ōtani would pale at the sight of that! (TN: Ōtani Shōhei is an two-way baseball player) Anyway! You mentioned right now you redid all the sound effects, but as I think this is what most people will be interested in, allow me to ask some more about this! Could you tell me as the SD what went well, and what turned out to be difficult?

SD: When we first worked on the sound effects, we created sounds that slightly different from the original ones on purpose. The sound of the gavel for example is one of those, the one we made first is the one you’ll find in the final product. But there were also sound effects of which the team didn’t want them to change too much from the original feel, so we tried to keep as close to the original there. So as a result, we have sound effects that exactly the same as the originals, but also that sound completely new, but I think this fitted perfectly with Gyakuten Saiban 5, which is a game that uses 3D graphics that look like 2D. And all the sound effects have been created in much higher quality now.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! That's the answer the whole team came up with together! You’re all s dedicated to your work! Anyway! And now I’d like to hear what the actual sound designer who worked on those sound effects has to say!

SE: What I think went well was making the sound effects feel new, but still true to the series. Like I just mentioned, with every sound effect I made sure not to destroy the Gyakuten-feeling, but I couldn’t just re-use the sound data from previous games as they were. The sampling rate was just too low (basically, the quality of the sound wasn’t clean and clear enough. But you could say they had character!). They weren’t fit for use as 3DS sound data… So that was difficult.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright!

SE: So what I did there was to make new sound effects from scrap that sounded exactly like the originals. So basically, I listened to them and recreated them. And that was difficult. For example the popopopo sound used for dialogue lines, they sound like one single ‘po’, but if you analyze the sound in detail you’d learn that there are actual four intervals played in rapid succession. So I had to find out in detail about those intervals, the waveforms used and the length of them. I’m luckily and old guy (laugh), so I made use of a method often used when makingmusic for older games to create the sound effects. What I did was use the oscillator of a synthesizer to control a simple waveform through MIDI. It was fun creating a sound effect like that, in a time when the specs of games have changed so much.

SE: And another problem was that the sound data we had wasn’t only of a low sampling rate. To get around the issue of limited memory, the original sound effects also had extremely short loop sizes, with reverberations cut off. They were really “retro game sounds” So we also renewed the sound effects of which we though that could improve a lot through these changes. For example the sound of the gavel or the murmuring in the gallery. As nobody in the team commented the new sound effects felt strange, I think the attempt at making them feel new succeeded, but there were also sound effects of which they said it felt odd, so I had to redo them and they became very close to the original sounds. And I had to copy all those sound effects by ear. In general, I found copying the sound effects by ear of these environmental sounds much more difficult than that of electronical sounds like the popopo sound effect. I was free in doing the new sound effects and managed to create them in a short period of time. It was fun, and went very smoothly.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! Great job! You really did your best on that! Fantastic! Anyway! You’ve tried something new with this game with using voice actors for the voices of the characters, so if you have something to say about that, please do!

SD: Up until now, we had staff members of Capcom do the voices like Objection! This is part of that unique “handcrafted” feel so particular to the Gyakuten Saiban series. But with Gyakuten Saiban 5 we introduce animated scenes and have professional voice actors do all the voices in the game. It does not feel as “handcrafted” as the previous games anymore, but in return the game feels much more grander than it had ever before.

The Quality Of All The Music Is Very High No Matter The Type, So Each Time I Listen To A New Song I’m Surprised

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! Anyway! If you have anything to say about the background music, like how you used both new songs and arrangements of old songs, or something about Mr. Iwadare who created the background music this time, please tell us!

SD: As for Mr. Iwadare Noriyuki’s music, the quality of his music is always very high, no matter the type, and I am surprised each time I get to listen to a new song. He really gives each song a lot of attention, and sometimes he even plays the instruments himself to use in the music. At the end of the development cycle, I went to Mr. Iwadare’s workshop and we listened to each and every track from the speakers on the 3DS to make sure it was all right. The music for the trial parts retains the basic feel of the music in earlier games, but it’s also arranged in a fantastic manner that makes use of the music stream capabilities of the 3DS. The new songs for the investigation parts and the new character themes all feel very much like Mr. Iwadare’s work, featuring a lot of variety like orchestral, jazz, rock and traditional Japanese music.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! I agree it all sounds like nice Gyakuten Saiban music! Anyway! Could you tell me what’s the most impressive about this game in terms of sound? 

SD: All the BGM are great to listen to, but if I had to choose one track, I’d go with the track that goes with the new mechanic Heart Scope. The lyrical piano, the whimsical synth pad and the programmed rhythm all come together and is really interesting as a piece of music.

SE: I already mentioned it just now, but the break scenes so typical of this series, where the witnesses are cornered and transform have powered up considerably in this game. So I put a lot of work in the sound effects for those scenes too. I hope people will enjoy these scenes so unique to the Gyakuten Saiban series.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! Anyway! Please tell us about the animated scenes!

SE: Oh! The animated scenes, eh? You’ll find some tenseful presentation there that the game couldn’t show. Usually, it’s not good to have a gap between how the game itself and the cut scenes look like, but it’s different with Gyakuten Saiban! Please enjoy this new world of Gyakuten Saiban with full voice acting, over-the-top sound effects and exciting music! The new mechanics in this game, Heart Scope and the Thought Route (Revisualization) also feature cyber-esque and speedy sounds which hadn’t been featured in earlier games.  Hope that people will also feel the “freshness” of this new Gyakuten Saiban in those elements.

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! I hope people will enjoy those scenes!

We Worked Hard On All The Sounds From Start To Finish

DJ Sandou: Anyway! Anyway! Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories to tell the readers of Cap’Stone?

SD: The coughing of Shinobu (Juniper Woods) in Episode 1 of the game, that’s the voice of one of our staff members, but edited. We had a voice actress record some coughing too, but the voice of the staff member was chosen in the end.

DJ Sandou: Thanks for that precious information! It was a very cute cough! *Cough* *Cough* Finally, do you have anything to say to the people who are playing this game?

SD: Some might still be at the beginning of the game, other might already be near the end, but
We worked hard on all the music, all sound effects that are used from the very beginning of the game until the finish. It’s been twelve years since the original Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) was released, and it’s also been six years since the release of Gyakuten Saiban 4. I hope the scenario, graphics and sound of this first new game in six years can all answer to your expectations.

SE: How do you all like Gyakuten Saiban 5? I did my best on producing sounds that can satisfy both fans who had been waiting for so long for this game as well as people who will now play Gyakuten Saiban for the first time. If you have anything to comment, I’d be glad to take on the challenge on coming up with new sound presentation, so please support us!

DJ Sandou: Right! Right! Wright! Thank you very much! I hope the people will enjoy playing the game! Gyakuten Saiban is the best!

DJ Sandou: To finish it off, we also got a comment by Mr. Yamazaki, the scenario director (^ω^)

Yamazaki: Hi! Yamazaki here, the scenario director for Gyakuten Saiban 5. Today I’m visiting the people here at Cap’Stone. Have you read the interview with the sound staff? You could really feel what they were concentrating on. They have already talked about how things went behind the scenes for the BGM and SE in detail in the interview, so let me write here about what I concentrate on, as someone who uses the sounds the sound staff creates to work on the presentation within the game. BGM and SE are crucial to a game (of course they are!) Thanks to the sounds, a game can become much more interesting! For example, when you manage point out a contradiction during a cross-examination, the SE and BGM stop as you hear “Objection!” That silence feels incredibly good. That’s an example of “sound presenation” introduced in the original Gyakuten Saiban. It’s become a given now, but I think this was a great idea. I think it’s a tradition that should always remain in this series.

But what I want to point your direction to is the moments after that…. “When does the music start again?” This is a surprisingly difficult matter. If the BGM and SE aren’t timed right with the rising excitement of the players, it’s effectiveness is halved. But if the music starts rights at that moment where players want it to start, the effects of that presentation is multiplied. This perfect timing is the most important issue where the people responsible for the presentation concentrate on. The standard way is to have the character court themes featured after successfully pointing out a contradiction, but it doesn’t always go like that. We pick different music depending on the scene. If it’s a thrilling scene where you drive a witness into a corner, we use a fast-paced song called Tsuikyū (“Pursuit”). If the protagonist is calmly explaining their deductions, we sometimes use a song called Logic. Other times, we use “screwball” choices for songs too. When adding BGM to a scene’s direction, it’s important to have a good grasp at what happens before and after that particular scene. BGM direction is like eating a full-course meal. Hors d'oeuvre → soup → main dish → dessert. This balance is important. If you’re only thinking about this one scene, you’ll just keep on using the exciting Tsuikyū. It’d be like a meal that’d go Hors d'oeuvre → main dish → main dish → main dish  → heavy stomach. So you need to pick a track that fits the scene, but also keep the tracks in mind that play before and after that. So if you decide to change one particular BGM, the whole order of BGM will change too because of this connection. Changing tracks searching for the perfect combination is like a puzzle. It happens often that I sit there with my hands in my hair. “I want to use this track here, but I already used it in the previous scene!” So you try and try and try, until you find the answer to the puzzle.

This answer to this problem the people responsible for the presenation came up with, the timing they chose for the sounds… It might be interesting to play the game while paying attention to the timing of the BGM and SE. You might figure out the secret behind what makes a courtroom battle so exciting!

And that’s my story about the BGM and SE of Gyakuten Saiban 5, where everybody worked hard on. I hope your ears can all enjoy this game. Please play the game while paying attention to the BGM and SE! And that is it for this time! Goodbye!

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