Since this post is related to the previous, I thought I'd illustrate it with the work of the same artist, Chris Schweizer, who is selling original art for just $100 per page. As more artists turn to working digitally, original art from a published work is becoming rare. So enjoy the art and consider getting some to hang on your wall. You can certainly see Chris's talent grow with each book. If you have doubts, hit the link to the preview of CROGAN'S LOYALTY in the preceding post.
And now back to the ongoing saga of that which I cannot speak: my pilot at Disney Jr.
So when last I wrote I had a character designer working. I also have an art director and BG layout artist working. Again, I apologize for the lack of visuals to illustrate this but isn't it cool how the legionnaires are crawling out of the sand?
We had talked about using a line on the backgrounds in the style of 101 DALMATIANS. You'll find a wonderful discussion of those backgrounds on a website by Oswald Iten, a Swiss film scholar and animator. My layout artist started with an exterior and drew it in three different ways.
I don't like to dictate. I'll do it as a matter of course when I'm producing a show but I much rather explain what I want and then be pitched to. For instance, there's a bird guest star in my pilot. I didn't give the character designer any sketches but I sent him many bird pictures featuring wild plummage and photos of an actress who plays a similar personality as our bird. He also has the script, of course and if I had voice auditions, I'd send him those. I hired him because of his talent. Why should I bring him down to my level? Of course once he's taken a shot I'll mark 'em up or cut and paste versions together in Photoshop or even do a sketch based on his. It's the whole pic worth a thousand words thing.
Same thing with an actor. Never give an actor a line reading unless they ask for one. If the person is just not getting it, paraphrase the line with the line reading that you're looking for but DON'T USE THE SAME WORDS. If you're the story editor and the actor can't get it, maybe the problem is in you line. Move on, consider a rewrite and come back to it. Also, DON'T REDUCE THE ACTOR TO YOUR LEVEL OF ACTING! You've written the line and have heard it in your head over and over. That doesn't mean it's the only way to say it. Be open.
But I've digressed. Back to BG layouts. The artist delivered three versions. The first was very close to the Dalmatians style... and it immediately looked boring to me. My show has adventure and sentiment but will not take itself as seriously as an old school Disney feature. The playfulness I'm after should be mirrored in the artistic design.
The second had more caricature to it. The walls weren't necessarily straight, architectural detail was
more flamboyant yet there was still a solidity to the forms. In my mind that solidity will help build believable atmosphere which is another way of saying "mood."
I loved the third. It was humorous, very graphic, fanciful. But it seemed to say "short subject" to me instead "feature" or "pseudo-feature." I worried that I might be making that decision from a lack of imagination. Maybe I was limiting myself unnecessarily.
So I took a tour of the internet, looking at backgrounds from animation and lots of Maurice Noble stuff. I wasn't analyzing; I needed new input. I copied a few examples to send to the artist, not as an example of what to do but just to show Noble's simplicity. Curiously, as soon as I pulled up the three examples, the "middle" version leapt out at me. It was definitely the right way to go and not just the "safe" choice. It was kind of weird. If anything, looking at all those Warner Brother's BGs should have pushed me toward the most caricatured BG but it didn't.
So I gave the artist my pick and some pragmatic notes about what was needed, not only for the pilot script, but for future stories -- bushes to hide behind, windows with a view of arriving guests, a suggestion of the neighborhood and distant hills. He came back with two more sketches. He didn't just add things to the existing drawing, he played with the shapes as well as adding the pragmatic stuff. He also did one with a Maurice Noble kick to it. Again, a gorgeous piece but clearly not right for the world we are building.
His lines will become a sort of overlay to the background colors. He asked if they should remain sketchy like those in Dalmatians or be done in Photoshop or Illustrator as clean lines. I told him that was up to the art director who will make the choice with production in mind -- no sense picking a style that is too hard to execute on a TV schedule. See? I don't dictate.
Until I do.
Hmmn, I didn't touch on Casting or Music so I guess I'll leave that as fodder form my next post. --Tad