With a title like “Batman vs. Robin,” viewers should have a decent idea what to expect from the new direct-to-video release directed by Jay Oliva and featuring the voice talents of Jason O’Mara, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Conroy and more. Namely, a lot of action, action, action!
Drawing inspiration from Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Robin” and Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s “Batman: Court of Owls” storyline, the animated film comes as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line and serves as a follow-up to 2014’s “Son of Batman.” CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland spoke with Oliva and renowned voice director Andrea Romano from the world famous CBR Tiki Room at WonderCon 2015 in Anaheim, CA to discuss the making of the film, the difference between throwing a punch and taking one and why, when it comes to this movie, nobody escapes.
No stranger to animation nor live-action action — as the storyboard artist for “Man of Steel” and director of a number of DCU animated films — Oliva spoke of the differences between the two, of which there were few. “Well, it’s very similar in the sense that, the storyboards I do for animation is exactly the same that I do for live-action,” Oliva explained. “I pose it out. I pitch it. A lot of times [Zack Snyder] and I go back and forth. He’ll pitch me an idea and be like, ‘Is that cool?’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, but you know, we did that in ‘All-Star Superman.’ Why don’t we try this?'”
Of course the biggest difference is the limitations of the actors involved. Oliva was reminded of this recently while working on storyboards for Warner Bros. upcoming live-action film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
“One of things I had Batman do, Zack looked at me and was like, ‘This is really cool, Jay, but the stuntman can’t do that,'” he explained. “‘Whatm Batman can’t backflip, throw two batarangs, grapple away and hit Bane in the face at the same time all in one shot?'”
However, whereas in live-action films injuries on set are a very real possibility, this is less of a concern in animation. “If I can draw it, that’s what Batman’s going to do. And with this film, we hurt Batman pretty bad. Batman and Nightwing. And Damian. Actually, everybody gets hurt. Nobody escapes.”
And when it comes to selling that pain, it’s up to the voice actors to make it sound believable. Thankfully, they have one of the best voice directors in the industry at their side: Andrea Romano, who even discovered the subtle yet major difference between what throwing a punch sounds like versus what it sounds like to get punched.
“I can tell if you go — huagh! — with an ‘h,’ it sounds like you’re doing the action, you’re throwing the action,” she told CBR TV. “If you start it with a vowel — uagh! — it sounds like you’re receiving the action. So, if you get hit in the gut — uagh! — if you get hit in the chin — agh! — two different sounds.
“After so many years of doing this — you just learn some techniques and some things you can say to actors that get them right to the point,” Romano continued. “You can’t spend a great deal of time saying, ‘Well, imagine if you will that someone is throwing a medicine ball at your stomach…'”
As for the best grunter: “Kevin Conory has gotten very, very good,” she said without hesitation. “Because he’s got a lot of experience doing it.”
“Batman vs. Robin” is available now.
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