ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.8 - NOVEMBER 2000

Tom Snyder Productions Goes Scriptless
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The domestic world of Brendon, Paula and baby Josie in Home Movies. © Tom Snyder Productions.

Cartoon Network bought the original five episodes and ordered eight more to complete the season. Recently, the network ordered an additional season of 13 episodes. According to Linda Simensky, Cartoon Network’s VP of Original Animation, "We had a bunch of episodes to screen for Mike [Lazzo, Senior VP of Cartoon Network’s Programming] and by only the second episode, he yelled, ‘Buy it!’"

The biggest change in the new episodes is that they are going to be scripted. However, the improvisational element will still be preserved. Galsky, one of the show’s producers explains the new regimen, "What we do now is we go in and we [record] the script. Once we have that take, we’ll go in and improvise a little bit. Then, the audio editors paste together the best of both worlds."

Also in production is Hey Monie, the first network animated series about an African-American woman, which will air on the Oxygen network. This retroscripted show was originally a five-minute short on Oxygen’s X-Chromosome series. Hey Monie was picked up to become part of a new Oxygen show. The new episodes will be 11 minutes in length. So far, the network has ordered ten 11-minute episodes.

The domestic world of Brendon, Paula and baby Josie in Home Movies. © Tom Snyder Productions.

The Story of Squigglevision
TSP is also known for Squigglevision animation. Snyder created the process himself. "I’m not an artist," he says, "but I used to be a programmer. I’d stay up late at night drawing little stick figures and seeing what I could have a computer do to speed up the insanely long production time in animation. One night, I just drew this little figure…I kept on drawing the same figure on top of itself and then had the computer memorize each of these [drawings] and then flip through them. What it created was a very human-like energy that made the character pop out because it was continually covering and uncovering bits of the background."

In addition to creating a unique look, Squigglevision saves time and money. Snyder explains, "[It’s] a nice cheat because it implies a lot of motion that’s actually not there. Therefore, there are fewer redraws and fewer pixel changes than you have in a lot of conventional animation." Snyder’s company has perfected the style over the years. He comments, "The newer looks that we have that still use a squiggling theme are a lot easier to watch. It’s become a lot more painterly and more interesting." The company has also created several non-Squigglevision TV pilots and Web toons.

One of Squigglevision’s attorneys, Doug Savage, lounging by the pool with movie star J.C. Cramwood. © Tom Snyder Productions.

Looking Ahead
Snyder is thrilled to have expanded his work into the online arena. He recently won an award at the First World Internet Animation Competition, for World Internet News, a two-minute parody of the BBC News. The company has already created several shorts and series for Shockwave.com and CartoonNetwork.com. Snyder plans to retain the company’s television focus, but will continue to dabble in the Web world. With a unique approach, a flair for quirkiness, and a knack for finding actors who can wing it, TSP is sure to ad-lib their way into continued success.

Sharon Schatz is a writer/editor at a major kids’ television network Web site. She is also a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

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