It was my birthday Sunday. I got another book of William Hope Hodgson stories featuring his novel, Ghost Pirates. If you wonder why that's worth mentioning on a Hellboy blog, I direct you to the archives and some of the earliest posts on this site. I also got the DVD of Batman Begins and paid special attention to the extras since we want to load up our release.
Meanwhile, Sparky from the Hellboy.com forum
constructed this lovely pinata for me. Unfortunately she didn't include the pictured Spear of Destiny in the package and everything else I hit it with just bounces off. Check out all sorts of her wild creativity at Phobe.com.
Yesterday I did a little blog surfing to see what people thought of Hellboy Animated and was pleased to see mostly positive responses. And many said how great this blog is. Which means I have to up the content somehow. This will all be easier after San Diego Comicon.
Meanwhile, I'm going to answer some random questions about animation production that surface time and time again. Where possible, I'll connect them to this project.
Pitching: It's the idea that counts. Even the character designs are secondary because a new artist can be brought in. New writers can be brought in too but it's the idea that gets the ball rolling. Don't fuss over details. You don't have to work out what's in the bottom drawer of your character's dresser or know the names of his five best friends. It's the idea: Crime-fighting Penguins, A loser sports team that channels the powers of Greek gods, Blog Writing Dogs, whatever. Pitch only what you need to sell the show - and make it as short as possible. When I pitched Hellboy ten or so years ago, I did a short Adobe Premiere "sizzle piece" that gave a mood, a sense of action and no details whatsoever.
Of course, it didn't sell so maybe that's not a good example.
Scripts: Don't sweat the format. There are tons of free scripts on the net to look at. It comes down to writing what happens and assigning dialog to characters. What is considered amateurish in live action scripts, but necessary to production in animation is directing on the page. Suggest how the characters are feeling, what they're doing and the basic camera angle. A storyboard artist may ignore the specifics but he'll get the intent and if the deadline is tight enough, he'll be thankful you had the basics worked out. But you must see the action in your head!
How long is a script? Well, how long is your movie? I've recounted the trouble I got into by not trusting my instincts. A half hour script (22 minutes, allowing for titles and commercials), written in a Tad Stones Hellboy style is about 32 to 34 pages. That's me breaking down every shot and leaving time for playing out action and suspense. Some shows have longer scripts because they're more dialog driven. Other shows have shorter scripts because the storyboard artist and director will play out the action. The script says, "Super Tom chases The Pouncer across the rooftops. The Pouncer disappears then catches Super Tom unawares." and the artists will play that into several minutes of show.
As I wrote the extra material for the second movie, I really wanted to play atmosphere and suspense. It wasn't normal animation pacing at all and much different than the first movie. It was important to fill out every detail. I put exactly what I want on the page but remain open to changing things for more exciting ideas that make the same story point.
More later. -- Tad