"How to Train Your Dragon 2" Malay-dubbing process
Writer: Erny Suzira
The talents who voiced the three main characters of the film,
(L-R) Yuii Chan, Sasha Saidin and Hafiz Suip.
Undoubtedly, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" is one of the most successful animated films of 2014 as the film even bagged a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and won six Annie Awards including Best Animated Feature and Best Director.
Because of that, Fox Movies Premium decided to give the animated DreamWorks production its very own Malay-dubbed treatment, in conjunction with the upcoming Hari Raya celebration!
The sequel to the animated film "How to Train Your Dragon" will feature local Malaysian celebrities as the voice talents with winner of Akademi Fantasia 7, Mohd Hafiz Bin Mohd Suip as Hiccup, singer-actress Sasha Saidin as Astrid, voice talent Hafizudin Fadzil as Stoick the Vast, Mix FM DJ Prem Shanker as Gobber, and Astro Quest Third Runner-up Yuii Chan as Valka.
Cinema Online got the privilege to talk to the talented voice cast and they told us about their wonderful experience of bringing the animated characters back to life!
How did this project came about?
Sasha Saidin: We got a call from Astro, and they asked us whether we've done dubbing before, and whether we have watched the movie before, and also about our experience. I guess from there, they listen to your voice and see the intonation and suitability of it.
Is that how each of you got the role? There was no audition or anything?
Sasha: Yes. I guess it's because we're all kind of known in the industry. So they already know about our voice projection, intonation and everything.
When I went in I had a little bit of coaching because before this I'd done some voice over to my own acting. So I knew what was coming and what to do. But this was a bit more different because you have to get each reaction on the dot which is a little bit tricky.
But working with sound engineer and the director, it was fun and they were very helpful in giving tips.
The voiceover talents interviewed by Cinema Online.
How about Hafiz?
Hafiz: This is my third or fourth time dabbling with voice over work. My first dubbing was for "Garfield", the second one was for "Ben 10" and after that I did "The Smurfs".
I did it two or three years ago, so I had a little bit of experience in the dubbing area. This year I got "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and I got the role of Hiccup. To me, it is quite different compared to the previous character that I have dubbed before. All this while, the roles that I got are more comical and funny but Hiccup's role is slightly more serious and dramatic.
That's why I feel that the film is not specifically for children, but it is suitable for all ages. Because there are a lot moral values and I think this is a whole new experience for me because its the first character where I have to be serious and have to really immerse myself to get how he feels.
What about Yuii?
Yuii: It is the same with me, I too got a call from Astro. Before, I was more active in singing, so I was quite shocked when I got the call, but I felt excited at the same time.
When I got into the dubbing room, it was really nerve-wrecking because I have to start everything from scrath. I struggled a bit, but the director and producer guided me well and helped correct my mistakes which made me feel better.
The two of them did the recording in just around two days, but I had an extra two days. I have to re-record everything because they wanted to make sure my intonation and pronunciation was correct.
So, is dubbing vastly different from acting then?
Hafiz: To me, dubbing is more challenging in terms of the mimicking because you have to sync with the animation. Like when the character was punched or falls down, you have to pretend as if you're in the situation as well. I think that is a bit tricky because the timing has to be exact.
Where as in acting, it is different, because you are already in character when you're acting, there's no timing or synching to worry about.
Sasha: Also, when you're acting, you have a sparring partner, so you can communicate with each other. But dubbing is like you are talking to yourself. When we got into the dubbing room, there were a lot of scenes where we had to scream and shout, and we just have to really let it all out in that room. We had to really imagine that we're in the same situation as the animation characters.
Hafiz: Because we want to make sure that our voice is really synced with the animation so we have to exaggerate a lot.
Sasha: Yeah, and when you're dubbing, it's different. Sometimes, you think that you're really exaggerating but when you listen back to it, it actually sounds really normal.
Yuii, Sasha and Hafiz are having a good time!
Do you guys rehearse first before the actual recording happens?
Sasha: We got the script first. I read through it because I've seen the movie, so I basically know the storyline.
Hafiz: I even had to imagine and pretend that my pet cat is Toothless.
Hafiz, as a singer who is used to using your voice all the time, what were the problems faced during the dubbing, if any?
Hafiz: There was no problem. It's just there are differences between singing and dubbing which is also considered as acting. You have to use a lot of your imagination. There's a lot of brainwork there because we have to put ourselves in that situation. That's the difficult part.
So, to be honest, I am still learning because acting is not easy, especially if you have to be a character which you are not familiar with.
What about Yuii? How do you practice with the role?
Yuii: My role is actually a mother. But the funny story is, I am still single, so I don't know how it's like to be a mother that has a child and a husband. So, at first I was thinking "How do I act like a mother?" So, I called my mom and talked to her and try to observe the way she talked to me. So, I just imitated the way she talked. I used that and put it into my role.
Furthermore, when you get into the room, there is no one else with you. So you have to really immerse yourself with the character and use your imagination a lot and it is hard for me, which is why I took more days to record than Sasha and Hafiz.
Another thing is, I am the youngest of the bunch and I had to play a mother. So, I needed to deepen my voice so that it sounds mature. That is the most difficult part of the process.
The complete voiceover talents of "How To Train Your Dragon 2" in Bahasa Malaysia:
(Top row from left) Sasha Saidin, Hafizuddin Fadzil and Yuii Chan.
(Bottom row from left) Prem Shanker and Hafiz Suip.
Do you think the dubbing in another language may affect the quality of the movie?
Hafiz: I don't think so. You just need to play with intonation and everything is scripted, so it's fine.
Sasha: In my opinion, I think Malay is more elaborate than English. So, to fit the exact translation as the English language is a bit tricky. When the character's mouth opens and closes, the timing has to be exact. So to rush and get all the words in is kind of hard, because Malay sentences tend to be longer.
Hafiz: That's why sometimes we have to shorten the dialogues ourselves without changing the meaning of the sentences.
What was the hardest scene to dub?
Hafiz: My answer is simple. The name of my character is Hiccup, so trying to talk like him is already hard enough.
Sasha: For me, I think everything is okay. Astrid's character is kind of tom boy-ish and yet she's really girly in front of Hiccup. So I have to play both of those roles depending on the scene. I have to be strong and sometimes meek.
Yuii: My role has a lot of complicated feelings, you have to imagine seeing your son after being gone for so long and then meeting back your husband, and there's also the dragon fighting scenes. There's a lot of gasping for my role!
The voiceover talents of "How To Train Your Dragon 2" in Bahasa Malaysia with
(fourth from left) Mr. Vineet Puri, Territory Head Malaysia of FOX International Channels,
(fourth from right) Ms. Junaidah Said Khan, Senior Assistant Vice President, English Language Business,
Astro and (third from right) Ms. Norazian Mohd Zahir, Senior Assistant Vice President,
External Production, Content - Astro Production.
Last question, how is your Raya preparation?
Cinema Online, 14 July 2015
Hafiz: This year, I will go back to my hometown in Sarawak. I rarely go back to Sarawak because of my work. I will go back Sarawak this Raya for two weeks.
Yuii: I'm just waiting for invitations from my Malay friends.
Sasha: I will be celebrating Raya in Gombak. Every year, it has been a tradition for all of my siblings, cousins and relatives to get together in Gombak and we will cook together.
You can catch the Malay-dubbed version of "How to Train Your Dragon 2" on FOX Movies Premium and FOX Movies Premium HD on Astro this 18 July 2015.