Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods Interview w/ Chris Sabat and Sean Schemmel [NYCC 2014]
Who really isn’t a Dragonball Z fan in this day and age? Personally, I grew up watching Dragonball Z and have been hooked ever since. While it was the first anime I completely fell in love with, I will say that having the honor to interview the voice actors for two of my favorite characters was a great experience. Yes, Goku and Vegeta were sort of my heroes growing up and are two of my favorite characters of all time. Beyond the characters are interesting voice actors.
SheAttack attended New York Comic Con this year and in the video below (you are also welcome to read the transcript below – with less humor of course) I sit down with Chris Sabat (Voice of Vegeta and Piccalo) and Sean Schemmel (Voice of Goku) while we chat about the new Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods movie and they answer some burning questions that many Dragonball Z fans are dying to know!
Watch below for the interview:
Q: Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods is the latest Dragonball Z movie. Did you have any favorite parts from the film?
Sean: I like it when the dragon gets nervous about Beerus, and I like doing my impression of Vegeta at the end. And the Bingo song, a lot.
Chris: Yeah I dug working on the Bingo song, I loved Goku’s impersonation of Vegeta. I really liked seeing Kid Trunks and Goten’s appearance. That would make me laugh all of the time. Oh and there’s some stuff in the extended cut that’s really funny. I guess Hercule gets really, really, super drunk at the party and he challenges Beerus to a “Match of Fist-A-Cuffs”. So he’s all slurring, and then he passes out and if you listen closely he’s like, “videlgaveawayaburger.”
Chris: So yeah, we had him Hasselhoff. It’s so good.
Q: So would you say that Battle of the Gods was your favorite DBZ movie so far?
Sean: Favorite any Dragonball so far.
Chris: Yeah hands down. Some of it could be because it’s kind like, “Do you like the iPhone 6 better than the iPhone 5?” Because it’s the new shiny, but I will say that it’s just so nice after working on the show for so many years to come back to something that we love and it’s fresh and new and awesome.
Q: And how do you feel about always coming right back into the studio and getting back into your characters?
Sean: Well we never really left because we were doing Kai every month for every year, so I was never away from Okatron for more than a year. Or we were doing a video game or we were doing Kai then a video game so everybody’s saying we got the band back together and I’m like “Um, we’ve been doing stuff for 10 years. Idk what you’re talking about.” So I can see how it would be perceived that way, but I think the good feely part about it in terms of being back together is more like good feely we’re telling a new story. That was the best part for us.
Chris: Yeah. Totally.
Q: So being a voice actor, what is the process like? Do you step into the story not knowing or are you able to watch the film before or while acting?
Sean: There’s a lot of different processes for a lot of different companies and studios. Dubbing is different from prelay where we don’t have animation. And we usually always go to a studio. There’s a couple different processes that we do from home but it’s most largely done over the studio. With prelay you get your script in advanced, you look over your script and you don’t have to memorize your lines. Then a lot of times we record with the whole group of people in the same room. It’s an ensemble cast and with dubbing is usually one actor at a time. And Chris is like, “Alright Sean, your first line is line 35, Goku is very upset, go” and its Boop, Boop, Beep. Then I look at the line and usually the it lets me know kind of what Goku’s state is because he has basically two emotions and then I say my line and then he’s like, “Ok good next line.” Or “Do that differently.” Or “Here’s the direction.”
Chris: Or sometimes it’s like, “Hey Chris, you paying attention? Oh yeah sorry I was just on my phone. That was good, that was good. Next Line.”
Sean: That’s the basic outline of the process. And what’s really great about the Battle of Gods’ DVD, with the extended features and extras you can actually see us in the booth and you’ll hear Chris, you’ll see him in the corner giving me direction and you’ll get a very good idea of the process. I’m really excited about these extended features.
Q: Throughout all of the series, there’s a lot of screaming that is just down perfect. How do you both get into that mindset?
Sean: Thank you. With me, there’s a rule with dubbing where it’s like make your voice sound as awesome as what you’re looking at. And so luckily if I had to do those kind of screams I think I do a good scream, but if I had to do them prelay it might not be as good. Versus dubbing because what I’m looking at is this really intense animation that I’m trying to imagine. For me as an actor, I’ve always felt like the animation is here (raises arm above head) and I’m always just kissing the bottom, like I’m not quite there in terms of the scream. Like I can’t just get it. Which I kind of like being in that spot because it’s like light speed where you approach 18600 miles per second and then mass increases it.. never mind because you can never really do that because you’d have to convert into light, but it feels like that approaching light speed is how you would try to metaphorically match the animation.
Chris: I’m the voice director for the series and I’ve worked with a lot of people. I’ve worked with all of the Dragon ball z cast, and the toughest thing about finding the cast is that we found a lot of people who had never done anything like this before. Partially because Dallas just didn’t have a market for it and part of it is because there’s nothing like Dragonball Z out there. You aren’t going to find some hardworking like super pro actor to come in and say, “Hey I have an idea. Let’s have you scream for 8-10-12 hours this week.” They’d absolutely turn it down and say I can’t do it. And so we had to find the people who were aggressive and enthusiastic and ready to do it. So whenever I would have a new person in the booth, and I’d never had to say this to Sean, but I’d always have to tell them. “Okay, here’s the deal. This scream is gonna be intense. It’s going to be long and it’s probably going to hurt your voice. But I beg you, do it as awesome as you possibly can because then all you have to do is do it one time. Because if you do it and it’s not as awesome as it needs to be, then you have to do it again. So why hurt your voice every more doing it twice. Just do one amazing awesome scream and be totally prepared for it. Be mentally prepared. Watch the videos as much as you need to before you do it.” We had an incredible moment and I’m so glad we did when we were working on battle of the Gods where Goku has this insane power up and he delivers this amazing line and says …
Sean: “I won’t let you destroy my world.” But then he has to punch through all those rocks.
Chris: And then he has this weird animation where that came through it, and so we said “Let’s just do it. They didn’t do it in the Japanese film, but why don’t we have your version. Why don’t we just scream, power all the way through it. And it was the most insane thing I’ve ever heard him do. And I’m so happy that it worked out that way, because it sounds so good in promos and trailers and it’s so effective.
Sean: I am surprisingly pleased. I’m pretty hard on my own work and I have so many posts from like the 2nd page of Reddit and my friend Dave Vincent was like, “Sean you’re on the 2nd page of Reddit!” and I’m like “Huh, and what’s Reddit? I mean I know what Reddit is but is that a big deal?” And he’s like “2nd page, that’s like on Kotaku” and I saw it and I thought “This is going to be so stupid, I look so stupid in the booth” and I watched and I when I finished I was like “Yeahh! I brought it” I felt really good about it. I rarely feel cocky about my own work but in that moment I was like “Okay, I’m good.” I was very happy with it. My only fear is that people won’t ask me to say Kamehameha anymore they’re going to ask me to scream “I won’t let you destroy my world” and then do that scream which `I don’t think I could ever do that again.
Chris: And when you’re directing someone to do a scream like that and Sean’s experience because he’s a director as well, or read lines like that or do some sort of hurting sound or pain or something that is emotional, because I’m an actor too, I sympathetically almost make those mouth movements as he’s doing it. I’m like in the booth and when he’s screaming I’m holding my breath the whole time he’s doing it because my brain is sympathetically making the same sound in silence inside my mouth. And when he’s done with it I’m like exhausted too.
Sean: Wow, I didn’t even know that.
Chris: Yeah and it’s like a sympathetic thing I do, I don’t know why. But it was incredible.
Sean: I gotta give it to the animation. That intense animation is where I really draw a lot of inspiration from those parts in the show and it was there, it was like really good so I’m very happy with how it turned out. I think that movie is going to end up being legendary in terms of 20 years from now it’s going to be considered one of the greats in Dragonball history. And all animation history in my opinion.
Chris: Can’t wait to see what comes next.
Q: Alright so one last question. Myself being a Dragonball Z fan, I’m always curious to know what other mediums do you find inspiration from?
Sean: Chris and I both are very visually stimulated but, there’s lots of different actors and music largely. I’m a classically trained musician and I was just playing some stuff back to do the Vegeta stuff and I thought, “Wait, are all of my inflections diatonic and totally tertian because I’m not hearing any in between crematic notes?” But anyway, a lot of it is musically inspired and I also pay attention to actors I enjoy like Benny D and Daniel Day Lewis. Lots of actors who are real character-y and just different forms of art and even different sounds like non-organic. There’s a lot of different places that you can find art in. So for me I’m really hypersensitive to music and sounds.
Chris: Yeah, I would actually have to mirror the same exact sentiments. I was a music student and I’ve always been a huge fan of sound and to me all of Dragonball is just a sound-scape. Although the video is neat, all I really care about is what it sounds like and that’s kind of what we do for a living. I like making electronic music, I love listening to a lot of other music and so whenever I’m casting or whenever I’m looking for new roles I’m trying to think, “Yes this would be the right person for the character but I also like to experience it without ever seeing what the character ever looks like and I want you to be able to watch it and go “I know that that’s Piccolo or I know that this is Beerus without ever having to look at the screen. To have a nice choir of sound.
Sean: Yeah, they complement each other and it’s kind of the thing that hooks your ear.
Chris: If you listen to voices like Greg Ayres and Chris Ayres and even Vic Mignogna, they have a very specific resonance to their voice. Even in Laura Bailey who has a really interesting resonance. I know there’s so many out there. Like Steve Blue for instance. His whole voice is only like a small layer on top of this massive instrument.
Sean: Even if you look at Peter Cullen. I don’t know what other stuff he does but you hear Peter Cullen he’s like “Optimus Prime” like that just. I wonder how he orders his burgers like, “I’d like a milkshake with that.” (In Optimus Prime voice) Like I can’t do that voice, so it’s just sound for us. So that’s a weird long answer but yeah.
Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods is out now! Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods Extended Edition is now available on Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack with 20 minutes of never-before-seen-footage! Purchase it now from Funimation.com!