The Cast Of RWBY Talks Fandom, Animation, And The Audition Process | AsianCrush
Interviews

The Cast Of RWBY Talks Fandom, Animation, And The Audition Process

Otter Lee October 24, 2018 October 24th, 2018

The Roosterteeth Panel marked the official end of NYCC and fans were thrilled by the exclusive content they witnessed. The selection of goodies included a new Halloween-themed episode of Camp Camp, selected scenes from the upcoming Volume 6 premiere of RWBY, and the world’s first look at the new mecha anime Gen: Lock. Perhaps most surprising was the announcement of a collaboration and possible crossover between RWBY and Gen: Lock with DC Comics.

The following is a transcript of a press roundtable that AsianCrush reporter Otter Lee attended with RWBY cast and crew members Kerry Shawcross (Director, Writer, Voice of Neptune),  Miles Luna (Writer, Assistant Director, Voice of Jaune Arc), Barbara Dunkelman (Voice of Yang Xiao Long), and Arryn Zech (Voice of Blake Belladonna).  It has been edited to only include the exchanges AsianCrush had at the roundtable.

Sadly Lindsay Jones (the voice of Ruby Rose) and Kara Eberle (the voice of Weiss Schnee) had already gone home.

Arryn, you had some very big scenes in the snippet that we saw. What was it like saying goodbye, even if temporarily, both to Ilia and Sun?

 AZ: I was really bummed to see Sun go. He became just a little bit of a – oh gosh, I don’t know the word for him – he was my buddy. And having to say goodbye was a bummer. But I knew that Ilia would have to stay behind with the White Fang and so I was prepared for that goodbye.

There’s been so much going on with Blake and with all of the girls so it’s been nice to be able to step it up a bit, to get to stretch the acting muscles and get to work on things a little bit harder. So it was lovely.

RWBY has obviously undergone a big graphical overhaul over the years. How, if at all, has that affected the writing process? Are there things that you can express with the more detailed graphics that you weren’t as able to in previous volumes?

KS: I think to a degree, one thing that’s always been true, and they probably love and hate us for this, is that the crew will figure out how to do anything. There really has not been thing at all yet that has been like “Hey guys, we just can’t do that.” We’ve always figured out a way to solve any challenge like that. So it’s definitely made it easier to have more emotion and to have these cooler action scenes that have a lot more effects on them and everything. But I don’t think it influences too many things, at least for me.

ML: I think the biggest change that we’ve seen with the growth of our team is that obviously there are a lot of improvements that you can see on screen but I think there’s a lot of improvements behind the screen when it just comes to quality of life working at an animation studio. Really early on we were a very small team doing things that a team that size should have had no business being able to accomplish because we had so many rock stars as well as dedicated – everybody was super excited about what they were doing. And when you’re super excited about something like that, sometimes you can really pour everything into that without coming up for air and taking a breath. And so by getting more people on the crew, it’s not just that we’re able to improve things and make things look cooler, it means people get to go home earlier and enjoy their weekends and stuff like that. That’s something that’s really important to us.

KS: Yeah, we have more automation and can let people focus more on just making that shot or that asset or that effect just right, and not as much of the tracking or saving and publishing in this specific way. A lot of this year has been more behind the scenes for the artists so they can take more time to just focus on the art, and less about just making sure that it works.

Can you describe the creative process behind the Adam character short? For one thing, people were finally able to get to see Sienna Khan in action, instead of just dying.

KS: Yeah, that was definitely the second –

AZ: That’s action! Dying is an action!

KS: You know, we were weighing what our character short was going to be about because we definitely knew that we wanted to kind of do one so that we could focus the rest on the series proper. And we thought now would be a great time to do an Adam one. And the second that came up we knew we have to get Sienna in there. So in some ways that shaped what the overall structure of it ended up being, because what are all the things we wanted to talk about Adam, let’s kind of show where he came from and how he got to where he was and kind of see that through. So we could see a little bit more of faunus being abused, we could see more of it shifting from Ghira to Sienna and now to Adam. But there was a good bit that was just “We want to see Sienna fight.” Hell yeah.

ML: I personally had a fear in the past that if we put really vital information in a character trailer there’s no guarantee that the audience will have seen that when they go to watch the full show. Some people may just choose to watch it in theaters or on the Blu-ray. And if they didn’t catch this one thing in the trailer then they might be missing out on a piece of information. And then I was proved wrong when in Volume 5 we had Blake’s character short that had a lot of information about Ilia, and then we repeated some of that information very quickly in the show, and there were a lot of comments that were like “Oh, well that was just redundant.” But from our point of view, it was just to make sure that you knew it because it was really important. But now it’s like “Well, maybe we can really truly see these character trailers as opportunities to get out more information as possible so we can keep things moving in the primary show. And so we really wanted to make sure people had a better understanding of who Adam was as a character and how he got to be who he was. And this seemed like a great opportunity to do it so we can just keep things rolling in the proper volume.

KS: Yeah.

AZ: Adam’s a dick, that’s it.

Arryn, we interviewed you last year and we learned that you were in a production of the musical Cats in high school. Barbara, were you in any musicals or plays in high school?

 KS: Goldilocks, or…

BD: I was just going to say, yeah, Goldilocks or Rapunzel. But no, I didn’t do any acting or singing or anything like that growing up, which is really funny. I just used to play around with voices and stuff with my brothers growing up.

ML: There was a famous character.

BD: Oh, yeah. So if you guys have seen Red vs. Blue there’s a character called Jensen that I play, which Miles wrote with the inspiration of a character I used to fake vlogs with named *begins doing a lispy, open-mouthed voice* Jackie Mittens! And she was really excited to be studying and learning all about cats and *stops doing voice* all this stuff. And Miles had seen those videos that I did before I even worked at Rooster Teeth. Yeah, thanks for that.

KS: It’s so weird too to see her true self come out.

BD: The character I was doing.

KS: The character of Barbara.

AZ: My high school best friend is blonde and she had a character who *does a similar voice to Barbara* talks about snow globes all the time. *stops doing the voice* So I need to find a different track of friends. *laughter* So I guess stop with the blondes.

BD: Or you’re on the perfect track.

AZ: *does the voice* So exciting!

BD: *does the voice* So exciting!

Can you talk about the direction and production of the big Maiden fight at the end of Volume 5?

 KS: At that point we were getting the season ready so a lot of the scripting was done very late at night. But then after that pretty much all of our fights kind of started out with we’ll write the scripts, we’ll go through these very specific beats that we want hit or any dialogue that’s in between. And then from there we start working with our storyboard team and they always do a phenomenal job with giving us this amazing base where depending on who’s working on it sometimes it’s this very detailed choreography, sometimes it’s larger action moves, and then we try and be very collaborative and iterative in our process. So basically it starts with the script and that has all these things we have to hit, and then we get into boards and we go “Well, what if we did this, what if we did that, oh you know this thing needs to happen but what if it happened here instead?” And then same deal, it goes to animation and they continue to look at the library of fight moves they have, look at other references that they want to pull to shoot mo-cap. Basically it keeps building and building and building. So that fight I think was a team of four people over the course of like six weeks. And then on top of that the effects team came in and the audio team came in. Basically everybody adds their little bits. I feel like it’s just everybody’s pushing it forward and higher and higher and higher.

ML: Kind of crowdsurfing this work of art across the finish line.

KS: It just gets taller and taller because it gets better and better. But it was a lot of fun and that was a fight that we knew was going to be very big so we pulled it way earlier into production. I think that’s what helped gave it that little extra love that made it really sing. But people really liked that fight and it made me super happy.

 During the panel you mentioned that some of you had been reading for different parts in Gen;Lock. What’s the audition process like at Rooster Teeth, even when you’re company members?

 KS: I mean, it kind of varies. Depending on who’s kind of already being thought of for the role or not – we try and incorporate everybody as much as possible. So if there are smaller parts like actually some that you saw either in the Adam character short or the Adam scene in this first episode that we showed that were people who were on the crew that are interested and we’ll send out an email saying “Hey, if you’re interested, come talk to us, record something and we’ll listen to it.” And then sometimes it’s Gray’s idea for a character and he goes to Miles and says “Hey I want you to try out for this.” And we take it very seriously and it always starts as an audition. It doesn’t matter if they already do voices or if they already work at the company. We wanted to do it right. So that way it always feels earned.

BD: It’s nerve-wracking every time. And it’s always scary.

KS: We’re all friends but you want to do a good job.

AZ: Yeah, you want to do your best.

BD: Even though you’re working with everybody – I auditioned for some parts in Gen;Lock as well and I remember going in like “I know Gray, I work with Gray all the time, we’re friends, and like I’m terrified.” Because you have to put yourself out there and you feel very vulnerable. And you don’t know what they want or what they’re looking for necessarily. So it’s scary but it’s so much fun to be able to do that for all these opportunities.

What have been the craziest convention experiences that you’ve had in the past few years, either good or bad?

AZ: Oh gosh…

ML: I’ve been all over the place, yeah.

AZ: Yeah, I don’t remember where I’ve been.

BD: We’ve been to a lot of cities. And it gets hard to remember specifics about certain areas but I will always remember New York Comic Con because it’s just so intense and what we do here, the presence we have here, is so cool. Like last year we had the RWBY banner up like basically at the main entrance of Comic Con. And I remember seeing it and being like “Holy beep, we’re big. This is huge to be a representation at New York Comic Con.” So that’s been pretty crazy, to say the least.

ML: I don’t know if I have any crazy stories, although now I just know that no matter where I go someone’s going to ask me to sing the Camp Camp song. That’s just part of my life now.

AZ: Barbara and I were talking about that. I was like “Did he memorize this thing?”

BD: And I was like “Oh girl, he knows it.”

ML: Girl, I wrote it. It’s up there.

AZ: I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about craziest experience, I guess. Because like what if they read it and they’re like “That was me, I was the crazy one”? Then I outed this person as a crazy person.

BD: It could be crazy good.

ML: Do you have any crazy good experiences?

AZ: Crazy good? I mean, always.

ML: There was what just happened right before you went on stage  [today].

AZ: Oh, that’s me being a fan, though.

ML Yeah, it was pretty cute, though, it was adorable.

AZ: So there’s a new Doctor, right? She was on the panel. I freaked out. I ran up to her and I was like “I’m a big fan, I’m on a panel, I’m on after you, I’m really nervous.” And she was like “Don’t be nervous, it’s easy.” But the thing is I was talking about meeting her, and not about being nervous about being on the panel. Which worked in my favor, because she didn’t realize that I was nervous. Not that my jabbering…

BD: My favorite thing is that when you realized she was there you disappeared for like ten minutes because you were freaking out. And then you reappeared and then you disappeared again and you met her somehow.

AZ: Yeah, I had to contain myself because I ended up going to the floor at one point and it was fine. She’s a wonderful woman. That’s right, Doctor Who’s a woman now!

ML: Woo! Yay!

RWBY Volume 6 premieres on October 27th, exclusively on Roosterteeth’s streaming service.