How To Record Audio For A Cosplay Performance (WCS UK 2018)
I made a short series of videos on our WCS audio recordings which can be found here:
I’m not an expert in sound, scripting, or story-telling so experts would probably laugh at the following advice BUT I do think I’ve got a decent track-record with making cosplay performances at this point so here’s some quick take aways you could use for yourself when making your own cosplay performances.
1.Before audio quality make sure your script is solid
For me a good way to do this is to write a rough outline of what it is you want the story to say with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end, then if your performance is going to use voices I’d go through the series and pick out lines from the character that match closely to what you’re trying to have them say. That way, you authentically capture the characters personalities and mannerisms whilst also collecting a vocal reference for your voice actors to go off. This is what I did for both our WCS qualifiers, I watched through all of Code Geass and FullMetal Alchemist to pull out lines and then created a mock up using the series OST and audacity. Which reminds me.
2.Set your music to a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end
Using our FullMetal Alchemist Ed Vs Greed skit as an example we separated the skit into 3 main parts. An opening that comes to a conflict, a conflict that turns to a struggle, then a struggle that turns into a triumphant light hearted ending. Our music reflects this with the first acts music being dark and suspenseful, the second acts music slowly becoming more violent before reaching it’s peak (side note: this music was actually used in the anime for Ed Vs Greed), and the third acts music being an arrangement of the first opening theme for FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood which has a theme about sacrificing for the good of the world and how it’ll be worth the pain in the end. We used 5 tracks across 3 acts.
3.Objective Sound Quality
For objective quality these are non-negotiable. Firstly your sound quality has to be high and if you’re going to have vocals you need a decent audio recording set up and decent voice actors. In our case, we’re lucky enough to have some very talented friends who can do some good voice work but you can always outsource (or not use any, the WCS 2018 winners didn’t and they were better off for it in a lot of ways). For audio quality I’d recommend getting a USB mic for simplicities sake (I use a Blue Snowball) with a pop filter and doing something about the reverb in the room you’re recording. Afterwards tidy up the recording by using editing software (audacity is free) to normalise the sound levels (compressing), clip any broken audio, add any special effects you need (Alphonse has an echo in his armour, for example), and fine tune the voices to whatever extent you have to (Ed and Greed were the same VA so I tweaked Eds voice to be higher and Greeds to be lower)
4.Think about your backdrop
For your backdrop think about how you can use it to strengthen your performance. For our FMA skit we predominantly had it in use as a background which I composed in photoshop specifically for our skit. Rather than keep the background static I animated light flickers and dust to give it more of a dynamic quality which is more realistic. I’d have the background interact with what we’d do on stage so when Ed used alchemic lightning it appeared on the backdrop or when Greed threw Ed around dust would fly from the floor. I also used it to add a bit of character to our cosplays. FMA is known for its gags and silly faces so during one of the more comedic parts I drew out sketches of said silly faces to interact with each other at the top of the screen. During the ending of our performance I had re-created the opening graphic of the first FMAB theme and animated it using the same methods as the previous backdrop and after I incorporated footage of our friends who also cosplay from FMA to try and recreate something that resembles an anime opening. The performance ends with me and Nomes interacting with the background to recreate the final scene from the opening with us being silhouettes against a moving sunset backdrop. In my opinion the key is to have your backdrop power your performance without being so overpowering that it takes away from it.
Hope this helps you guys, it’s a very simple template and I have no doubt that somebody could improve upon it but it’s how I’ve crafted most of the performances I’ve been involved in and if you’re looking for a basic framework I’m sure this will be a useful starting point.
If you want to see our final performance you can do so here:
Cosplays: Greed (Chris Minney) and Edward Elric (Nomes Cosplay) From FullMetal Alchemist Taken By Flash Air At World Cosplay Summit 2018 In Japan