Genndy Tartakovsky Takes on Giant Robots
GT: It's done with Rough Draft Studios with the same directors that worked on Dexter's and Samurai Jack and Clone Wars. I don't even see them as an overseas studio; I just see them as my directing partners. And so when the series got greenlit, we talked about doing this CG stuff and [they] built a CG unit, a really top-notched unit. We met together and started building stuff. It's great and it was all build for this show.
RD: Is there any new movement on the Samurai Jack feature?
GT: Because it's feature development it's a very long process. But just turned in another version of the outline and there has been some real positive feedback. We'll do a couple revisions and hopefully we can actually start storyboarding. It's on the cusp of going to full greenlight, but we're not quite there yet.
RD: Do you still have a desire to do live-action projects?
GT: I get an offer here and there, but nothing has come along like the Dark Crystal. The puppet thing was cool. That was the one that really fit perfectly. The other stuff is nothing that I really want to get into. It's funny; after working on Iron Man 2, it really made me love animation more. Because getting into that live-action world, it's pretty amazing and high profile, but I definitely know inside my gut that I'm an animator and I love animation and I love drawing. I really missed it when I wasn't doing that.
GT: I went to Marvel to sell them on doing an animated thing and they started talking about some live-action stuff. And they said have you ever met with Jon Favreau, and I go no. So they gave him my number and I never thought anything would happen, but Jon called me and we got together for lunch and we started talking about stuff and he said for his first movie he really looked at Clone Wars and Samurai Jack for some of the fight stuff. For him it was the same tone that he was trying to get — some comedy that doesn't make fun of itself. And so he asked if I wanted to help on Iron Man 2 and I said sure. So myself and Brian Andrews started boarding for him and before you know we had [the] whole [Expo and Japanese garden] action sequence[s].
RD: What would you say is the key difference between boarding for animation and boarding for live-action?
GT: You have to think of it a little more realistically. Even though it's still CG and it's still animated, at the end of the day, it's still a cartoon in a way, but budget-wise it's a much more realistic thing. So if you do a crazy shot we had to sit down with an fx person and a camera person and really see if its practical or affordable. If this shot is going to cost $140,000 is it really worth it? It's far more shot per shot where in animation you can draw a crowd scene and it will take a few hours to do but it's not really going to kill the budget, but in live-action if you make something with too much complexity it's going to be a mess. You have to think more economically. I had to think of the real world. I was storyboarding this highway chase sequence and I actually went to the location and took a bunch of pictures and laid it out and kind of walked myself through it to see how I would actually shoot it. So it's a very different experience because before I would think of a picture and I would just draw it.
RD: Some other directors that started as storyboard artists have said that becoming a director made them a better storyboard artist. Do you think that is true?