Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Love And War

Something really cool happens in second seasons. After a dozen or so half hours, the artists and writers figure out the characters, and move away from plot driven stories and gags, toward personality driven stories and jokes.

Love and War marked that turning point in Tigre. We knew the characters well enough that we could start looking for entertainment not just the situations, but how the individual characters reacted to them. From this point on the episodes just got better and better, for as long as it lasted.
...Not that I did any of that in my beatboards. I continued to focus on the visual structure, and action - leaving all the juicy stuff to the people who are way beter at it than me. In this case, the phenominal Eddie Trigueros.


MichaelA said...


These beat boards are great!
I just wanted to ask if you could describe the process a little more. The shows I have worked on (co-productions rather than in-house network shows) usually don't do beat boards.

How long do you normally have to do a beat board? Is it done prior to the storyboards and then boards done from yours? On El Tirge, what was the timeline / process for that ie. x weeks for beat boards + y weeks for storyboards then into animatic etc?

Thanks so much!

Dave Thomas said...

Hey Mike,

The beat boards were all done prior to the boards starting. Usually they were done from final drafts of the scripts, but on occasion they were not. If the script wasn’t yet approved by the network, I would sit down with the writers and talk about the network’s concerns and what was most likely to remain in the story, and focus on that.

Each beat board took between 16 and 20 hours. Monday through Thursday I would start at 8 AM and work until 12 or 1. Friday it would be handed out to the board artist.

Our board team was on a six week schedule. It sounds luxurious, but the guys needed every minute of it. The storyboards were never shorter than 400 pages, and often as long as 600.

After the network pitch there was a week for director’s notes and network revisions, a week revisionists to execute them, and one more week for animatic.

That’s a lot of time. At Nickelodeon, we spend about twice as much time on our shows as other studios. But then again, our animated programs do a lot better. In my opinion there is a direct relationship between the two!

MichaelA said...

Hey Dave,

Thanks so much for your reply!
You have some great work in 20 hours then! Well done!

How did you find the timing for the show/animatic with the longer boards? Did you find a lot of stuff was cut back? Are there any animatics you go should us so we can see how your work was translated to the final storyboards?

So what are you working on now? I saw few episodes of Might B which looks great. Love the animation style - some of the nicest flash stuff I have seen to date.

Thanks again!

Dave Thomas said...

Hey Mike,

Tigre was a really ambitious show -so to avoid killing the board guys, I would pre-slug the
scripts to 10 minutes 50 seconds.

What I mean by that is after the episode was recorded, I would have the dialogue editor write the line lengths in feet and frames on the script. Then I would then go in and slug in time to account for the action called for in the script.

After all that was done I would add up the slugs and line lengths, and if the time came out to greater than 10 minutes 50 seconds, I would cut dialogue and action.

That's a long winded way of saying when it came time to do animatics, not a lot had to be cut.

Anything that was added was the choice of the board guy - as in the case of super artist Sean Szeles. His storyboards always came in 2 or 3 minutes over. He would jam pack them with awesome character flourishes and thinking moments, as well as jokes of his own. It absolutely killed me to have to cut them for time. It was like choosing which of your ears to cut off, or something out of Saw.

Let me see if I can post some of our animatics. If I can, I'll do a proper post.

We're still wrapping up Tigre, but after this I'm going back to my old Alma Mater, Fairly Oddparents.

The Mighty B is awesome, a real breath of fresh air - and Erik Wiese is a genuis. It's a hand drawn show though, not flash. And man, what fine drawings they have!