I get comments:
Posted by: Chris Schweizer
First off, make sure you click on Chris's name for the link to his website. ONI PRESS, the same folks who brought you such diverse entertainments as WHITEOUT and SCOTT PILGRIM, publish Chris's tales of the Crogan family. It's historical fiction centered around the family tree of a fictitious family. Chris does an amazing amount of research to give the adventures a sense of reality. Highly recommended.
Chris also has a great behind the scenes blog about the way he does his comics, often using examples from the stories he's currently working on. Plenty of sketches too. You can also get a newsletter about his projects that's sent to you through the actual, stick a stamp on it, avoid the rabid dog, stick it in the mailbox, mail!
He's also a full professor of Sequential Art at SCAD-Atlanta. But now to answer his question:
The challenge of doing a fully animated pilot (usually around 10 minutes) is that you can't promise a crew an ongoing job. So even if an artist is coming to the end of a series, he has to weigh helping out with a pilot that may turn into a show against the knowledge that even if the pilot comes out well, it may be a long time before a decision is made to go into production... or not. If he does the pilot will it keep him from taking a "real" job? So where does someone with an approved script go for designer, storyboard artists and the like?
The nice thing about being an artist is that 90% of the reason you're hired is because of the quality of your work, not your age, your experience, who you know or your personal hygiene. That's the other 10%. So that means I can look at portfolios, comics and websites to find an artist. Then it's a matter of artist availability and the size of the assignment.
A storyboard artist only needs strong front and back character roughs to get started but eventually the project will need cleaned up, full turn arounds to animate the pilot. If I like the style of a designer new to the industry or not even in the animation business, I would probably use him for conceptual designs then hire a more experienced artist to do the final package.
It's not uncommon for a network, even one that has it's own studio, to hire an outside studio to produce the pilot. These studios put together a teams to produce a pilot subject to direction from the network and the creative lead. If the network's studio did the same thing it would cost more because of their overhead and they can't take people of exiting shows.
(The rest of this post will be done through gritted teeth because I finished it, brilliantly of course, and didn't save it as I wrote and lost it. Gnash, gnash. Therefore I'm adding a new image by Chris to put me in a better mood)
Of course, I also call friends to describe my project and get their recommendations. Yes, it's that old thing called networking. This is less about character designs than searching for storyboard artists. You need to know, not just their work but how they are to work with. Suddenly, that 10% I mentioned earlier looms up as a much larger figure. These artists are in a position to submarine your project. Are they flaky? Will they leave me in the lurch? Can they add gags? Can I stop them from adding gags? There's nothing like hearing the opinion of someone who's worked with your candidate.
Back to design. Given the choice I'd rather work with an artist with experience in animation. After that, I guy with real experience in illustration, comic books, web strips, whatever shows that they hit deadlines and have worked professionally. But at the same time, you want art that makes your show stand out from the pack. I don't want to give Cartoon Network that looks like the shows they were doing 20 years ago. As much as I love that stuff, the network as moved on and is looking for fresh visions.
Okay, I hope I've answered your question, Chris.
If you have questions, just leave them in the comments. Happy Holidays! -- Tad