1. a container or receptacle from which a person at a party or the like
draws a gift without knowing what it is.
2. any miscellaneous collection.
Seriously, I'd write more if someone gave me a jumping off point. This blog gets enough compliments from friends in the industry that I definitely want to post regularly but the void between my ears needs some priming. If you've got questions about animation, fire them off. In the meantime...
MY CARTOON NETWORK DEVELOPMENT
Development is a painfully slow process. You have a meeting. You have a burst of creativity. You spew the fruits of your imagination all over the page and send it off. And you wait. And wait. And wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and you hear nothing.
And if you're not careful, you wither. You doubt every creative notion you've ever had. You assume, now that they've actually seen examples of what you had in mind, they realized that they made a terrible, terrible mistake and are looking for a way to easy the blow. Singing telegram? Guy in a gorilla suit? Written on a giant chocolate chip cookie?
In reality, you are not the center of their world. Don't worry, Mom still likes you, but your creative execs are busy. This is where I am now. Had a great first meeting. Learned why they optioned my show and the elements of it that they want to see me emphasize, talked about antagonists and sent me off to write premises. I did the prerequisite spewing on the page and emailed my creations, still dripping with promise and enthusiasm.
My execs promptly left town. Was it something I wrote? And for all I know, they could be headed to the Catskills for a vacation. More likely, they're dealing with the work of many other creators who have projects in development in addition to giving notes on every premise, outline and script of ongoing shows. I did send in some sketches of some possible antagonists and got an email in response.
Okay, it was an auto-replay telling me the guy was out of town but it WAS a reply.
Thankfully I got a second reply promising a meeting and an unofficial comment about liking the premises. That went a long way toward blowing the clouds of despair out of the sky. And so I wait........
I am working on a the new Fox prime time animated show, BOB'S BURGERS. This is not to be confused with the chain of Bob's Big Boy restaurants. Coincidently, that was my childhood burger. I grew up only a few blocks from their famous Toluca Lake location.
Storyboarding on the animated series is a kick. And I'm getting to witness an entirely different creative process from what I do on my own shows.
The series is by Loren Bouchard and benefits from his unique vision for the show. This guy knows exactly what he wants which makes the whole production tremendously easier. We spend our time trying to get the most entertainment out of the material instead of guessing at what the producer wants.
I'm amazed at the way Loren and his fellow producer, Jim Dauterive, keep the process loose while dealing with the structure of animation production.
In typical TV animation, a script is written, recorded and doesn't change from then on other than cutting it for time or to make room for gags developed in storyboards.
Prime time shows often have "writers rooms," meaning a staff of writers that not only write individually but also review each others work. These shows reserve the right to rewrite throughout the process just as they would in a live action comedy. I believe this started with James Brooks when he started The Simpsons..
There are good and bad versions of this. There are producers who can't look at a storyboard without coming up with changes, no matter at what stage of production the episode is in. This is close to the definition of Hell. Your work can be tossed, not because the gags weren't funny or you messed up the staging but just because the producer thinks it would be neat to do something different.
The good version is when the producer is always conscious of productions. Thumbnail boards are meant to be rough because that's when most of the changes will be made. It's understandable, it's like a playwright seeing the first rehearsal of his play. After that, lines may be rewritten for humor or to smooth a transition after scenes are cut or for any number of reasons, but the locations aren't suddenly changing from Mars to Reno.
The biggest difference is respect. When a producer appreciates the work being done, is complimentary to the stuff that's working and explains the reasoning behind any changes... you can't help but feel part of a team. That's the way animation is supposed to work.
Loren and Jim encourage lots of improv by their actors. Surprisingly, when a show is long, they don't just cut the material that doesn't propel the story. They hang onto the material, improvised or written, that gives their show a unique voice. I had a whole sequence cut to make room for an improvised bit by a secondary character.
I didn't mind. It was only in thumbnails. I realized that the new sequence wouldn't fit in The Simpsons, South Park or Family Guy. It was unique to Loren's taste. And come January of 2011 you'll find out if it's yours. --Tad