Monday, November 23, 2009


No pictures this week! Sorry I just don't have the material. This is not a bad thing. The job of "animation director" is all about adapting a storyboard to the inflexibility of time. The storyboard needs tweaking because of this(tho I am not in the business of "fixing" boards, the board revisionists do that). In addition to timing out all of the action, I "plus" boards so the acting and emoting reads better onscreen.

The latest episode of Venture Bros, "Self-Medication", needed pretty much no plus-ing. It's probably one of the most amazing boards from this season, rife with specific character acting and well-composed shots. I added some stuff but it's nothing compared to the rest of the board. Yes it's that good, so I have nothing to show!!

While you're here though you should go to Siobahn DeStefano's blog, she's posted up some boards from this season and you should check em out! theyre awesome!!


Jesse Benjamin said...

Out of curiosity - because I know so little about the animation industry - if this episode didnt really require a lot of "plus"ing on boards from you, what was your day to day like?

Are you there to time out animation for the most part, is that the major job you have? Do you often get pulled into doing work on the show?

Ian Jones-Quartey said...

I go into a little more detail on it here:

A very very very basic outline of pre-production:

1. Creators/Writers write the script
2. Designers create characters and backgrounds
3. Storyboard artists and revisionists create storyboards based on the script and the designs
4. Editors create animatics
5. Animation Directors time out and clarify all of the action on the board so our overseas team can animate the final show.
6. Color designers create all of the character color palettes and color the backgrounds.

My job (#5) is about timing. I do most of my job on "exposure sheets". They are a spreadsheet where each row corresponds to a single frame of film. You can see an example in the link above.

Usually I add a lot of drawings to the storyboard in order to finesse the onscreen action(these are the sketches I upload). This particular episode needed little of this, so my main task was timing the artwork from the storyboards.

WRT the question "Do you often get pulled into doing work on the show?" Well yes, I indeed work on the show. Every person in the process I listed up there is working on the show, making creative decisions that greatly affect the product.

Thanks for the question, I should do a big post later explaining exactly what my job is. Because I know it's confusing.

Jesse Benjamin said...

oh geez im sorry, i forgot an important word, i meant to ask "Do you often get pulled into doing OTHER work on the show?"

Is the system laid out that if someone said "Oh hey Ian, we need someone to design these background characters, can you bang this out?" Or is everyones jobs pretty straight forward?

I've read about exposure sheets, and I'm familiar with the concept of animating on 1s, 2s, 3s. But god I can't even imagine the learning curve when youre first confronted with an x-sheet. Is it simpler than im making it out to be, or is it like learning a new language?

Also im curious, do Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick ever dip their creative hands into these different production stages? Does Jackson ever say "No, i dont like that able for the Monarch's home" or "this character is too fat/thin/tall/old" or is all of that pretty much set up from the get go in the writing process?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Ian!

Jesse Benjamin said...

*table not "able"

Ian Jones-Quartey said...

No problem I like answering, that's why I do these blog posts! Thanks for the comments.

The system is pretty regimented. Each employee has a specific role to play. However there is a little crossover between the steps. You have to collaborate with the department that gave you the artwork to do your job, and with the department that you're delivering to.

But on the whole, your job is your job. Animation is always collaborative so it's simpler to keep things like an assembly line.

X-Sheets do have a level of difficulty but once you get into doing them it's pretty simple. The main stress isn't the sheet itself, but being able to visualize what's happening onscreen, how fast the action should be, and how the audience perceives it. The X-Sheet is just the tool for defining those things. (And as a side note, the show is animated exclusively on 2's.)

And lastly, Jackson Publick is very hands-on with each part of production. Before we direct each show we sit down with him and pick his brain on each part of the episode, the intentions of the characters, how certain people should act, etc etc etc. As the creator he's got to sign off on everything.

Zack said...

Hello Ian, this really has nothing to do with your current post, but I was wondering if you could put up a link to your archives of RPG World? As you probably know, your old site is gone now :(

Jhonny Smith said...

heya, i was wondering the same thing as Zack, would it be possible for you to put up the RPG world archives for viewing, or downloading? us die-hard fans really would appreciate it :)