Audient was delighted to hear that voice actor, Paul Castro Jr has been putting his ASP880 through its paces in his home studio. He used it for the recently released Netflix anime series, High-Rise Invasion for which he voiced the supporting character, Rikuya Yoshida.
His youthful, energetic voiceover talent belies a decade of industry experience. Speaking to ‘Gen Z’ and ‘Millennial’ audiences, he has been the voice of Nick Sports Promos for Nickelodeon and is currently busy with much of their online content, such as The SpongeBob SquarePants Family Tree which boasts over 3 million views.
With many of his jobs becoming remote recording sessions over the past year – for obvious reasons – he’s had to be sure that his audio gear meets industry standards. We asked him to tell us a bit more about his studio setup.
“having a professional home studio setup with reliable industry-standard gear is critical for a thriving VO business”
I have a custom-built professional, broadcast-quality home studio, set up with Source-Connect Pro. I designed the studio with cerulean and grey colors to ensure the studio was bright and vibrant, a contrast to the typical black foam studios you see in the entertainment industry. Shout out to my buddy Herb at EDGAcoustics who helped me with it.
Nice. Is it in your home or off-site?
Fortunately, my studio is located in a separate dedicated room in my own home. It functions as my voice-over studio as well as my office space for all my work. Whether that’s on-camera self-tapes, film editing, mixing and even podcasting.
Wow, you just voiced Rikuya Yoshida in Netflix’s High-Rise Invasion. How was it to be a part of that?
2020 was a very transformative year for me in terms of my voice-acting career. I moved to LA at the start of the year and was fortuitous enough to book some amazing video game and animation work right away. I was stoked to be a part of High-Rise Invasion, as a huge anime fan myself, being asked to be a part of a show like this is always a blessing, and when I found out I was cast I started to dive into the truly amazing manga which made it even more thrilling.
“ASP880 is an essential part of my workflow now”
Do you record projects from your home studio setup? How has your gear helped?
Due to the pandemic, many of my jobs have turned to remote recording sessions from my home studio, however, there were others that I cannot discuss just yet due to NDA’s that I did record at professional recording studios, practicing the COVID safety protocols and guidelines enforced by SAG-AFTRA. This past year truly proved that having a professional home studio setup with reliable industry-standard gear is critical for a thriving VO business. The ASP880 is an essential part of my workflow now.
What features of the ASP880 do you particularly appreciate?
Typically, when you are recording sessions from home, you’ll be sending along your files as RAW and clean as possible with no effects or compression etc. added to them. However, the ASP880’s stellar preamps and low noise floor have exponentially improved my home studio quality.
“ASP880’s stellar preamps and low noise floor have exponentially improved my home studio quality”
In addition, the 8 extra ADAT channels now allow me to have multiple mics on deck in preparation for whatever a specific project might require, which is a spectacular addition, as efficiency and simplicity is everything for me. Also, for the days where there are numerous auditions and I cannot control the outside elements, being able to dial in my desired sound with its HPF and PADs has been a big plus.
Tell us a little about the process when providing voice over for these large animation projects: do you have the video playing in front of you whilst you’re reading the script? How much do you record in one session? Are you on your own?
Some projects I’ll be doing ADR dubbing, which is when the project has already been animated or voiced in another language, and then I’m providing the English dialogue. When this is the case, we’ll be using software like VoiceQ or connecting via Source-Connect and using Pro Tools to sync up with the video.
“the 8 extra ADAT channels now allow me to have multiple mics on deck”
On the other side is when I am doing pre-lay for an animated series where very little or nothing has been animated yet and I’m originating the performance. Some sessions can be as short as an hour and others can go up to four. If it’s an intense video game with screaming, things tend to be on the shorter end.
Typically, you are alone in your booth connected with the team remotely, that be the director, producer, script adaptors, and if you are lucky other cast members!
Hold on, did you say ‘screaming’? Audient can’t help thinking about how this might impact the neighbours…
Whenever I’m recording anything it’s always a gamble that my neighbours might call in a complaint on me thinking I’m fighting crime or something. This goes double for when I am doing on-camera auditions – just seeing a silhouette of this guy flailing his arms around, crying in his living room. I assume it must be comical for them.
They’ve yet to complain though, so fingers crossed!
“EVO 4 is awesome”
You also have an EVO 4 audio interface in your arsenal. What an excellent choice! Is it your go-to interface these days?
The EVO 4 is awesome. It’s the interface I use on my desktop setup which is my workhorse machine for editing and gaming. So, if I’m live streaming on Twitch or need to record a pickup or slate I forgot in an audition it’s got an amazing quality that is on par with my high-end gear, which is kind of insane considering it’s at such an affordable price.
Tell us what you like about it.
I think this interface is truly perfect for anyone. Whether that’s podcasting, live streaming, music, or voice over… the preamps in the machine are beautiful.
Its Smartgain feature is also ground-breaking in terms of pioneering one of the most troublesome things to get right for new talent in any of the aforementioned audio fields: PROPER AUDIO LEVELS.
The EVO 4 is also the interface I pack with me when I am on-the-go travelling, since it’s so lightweight, compact and USB powered. I really love it.
What projects have you got coming up that you can talk about?
It was just announced that I voice Rindo in Square Enix’s NEO: The World Ends with You, which I could not be more ecstatic about. I’ve been a massive fan of the series and Tetsuya Nomura is a genius.
Paul Castro Jr on EVO 4: “lightweight, compact and USB powered. I really love it”
I also have a few animated projects and video games that should be coming out soon as well as a few anime titles. Can’t say much more but they’re all extremely exciting!
We can’t wait to hear more! Before we let you go, we’d love to know whether you always wanted to do what you are doing?
Growing up I was obsessed with video games, animation cartoons, and anime. I always dreamed I would work in the video game industry in some capacity, but I never knew how or if it was even possible for “normal” people to do that.
In college, I was pursuing pre-med and quickly found out that was not my purpose in life. Doctors are AMAZING and absolutely essential… but bio-chem just wasn’t for me. I unexpectedly found my way into an intro acting class thinking “Hey I should try and pursue that voice acting thing!” and my professor ‘Doc’ Jack Burke at my first college Monmouth University, who sadly passed away recently, was quick to tell me words I preach to any aspiring voice actor: “If you want to be a VOICE ACTOR, you must first learn how to become an ACTOR.” And that sort of set me off on my journey into Theatre and Live-Action Television and Movies.
I have been lucky to find my way back to my passion which is voice-over for video games and animation which is honestly where I get some of my most artistic satisfaction.
It sounds like you’re on exactly the right track! Wonderful. Audient wishes you every success with it all.