ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 6.01 - APRIL 2001
Tradigital Television: Digital Tools and Saturday Morning
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Examples of a main model pack. These designs will be referenced by teams of artists in order to put together the final show. Courtesy and © Nickelodeon.
Initial Designs and Storyboarding
Once the outline and/or script is final and approved, the pre-production process begins. The outline or script is distributed to the designers, storyboard artists, director and support staff. The director meets with the producer and the artistic staff in order to determine which designs will require rough designs immediately for the storyboard artist to use. These designs would include any new characters, specialized props, new background layouts and main or recurring characters if they are in new costumes or have a different "look" than they usually do (examples would be the main characters dressed as astronauts, or the main characters in flashback to when they were babies). The same is true of any main background designs that have a different look than usual (an example of this would be the main character's bedroom done in Salvador Dali's style). While a main model pack has already been distributed, any important new designs are given to the storyboard artist as early as possible, in order to facilitate completion of the storyboard with appropriate artwork. Designs for the episode will continue to be worked on while the storyboard is in progress, with final designs completed after the storyboard has been completed, approved and rough timing done (so that final design work is focused on scenes that remain in the picture, not those that have been cut). Using the script and later the storyboard, the production assistant or coordinator generates a list of characters, props, efx and backgrounds that are included in the episode. They also track the completion and approval of the designs for each episode and collect all artwork to prepare for overseas shipment. A schedule for completing a storyboard varies according to the length of the episode. A short (7-11 minutes) is typically done in 5 weeks (3 weeks rough storyboard, notes received on storyboard pitch, 2 week for revisions and clean-up). For a longer format, the storyboard duties will be shared by 2 or 3 artists. The schedule is typically 6 weeks, rough to clean-up.
Voice recording for the episodes can occur at different points, depending upon how the production is set up. If the show is "dialogue" driven, the voice recording will probably be done from the script. The result of the recording session is more or less a radio play of the voice actors' performances for the storyboard artist to use along with the script as reference. If a show is driven more by visual gags, or if the creative producer prefers recording from the storyboard, the voice recording sessions will occur once the storyboard is complete (with dialogue indicated on the storyboard) and approved. In this case, the storyboard artist completes the storyboard based on the outline or script. The voice director uses the storyboard as reference in guiding the actors' perfomances. Both scenarios require that a "recording script" be typed up that includes only the dialogue of the actors. Each line of dialogue should be line numbered on the script for the dialogue editor's reference later. During the recording session, all the takes of dialogue by each actor are tracked and the preferred takes are circled. These preferred takes are then assembled and dubbed onto DAT and 1/4" audio cassettes as the Edited Master Recording (EMR). If an 8 frame "pause" has been added between each line of dialogue, it is sometimes called a Normal Pause (NP) tape. Both the EMR and the NP tape serve the same functions: for shows recorded from scripts, the tape is a reference for the storyboard artist. This tape is also used by the episode's director to do the initial timing (slugging or animatic) of the show. The same editor who assembles the EMR or NP tape, also generates a line-lengths version of the recording script. Using a copy of the "circled takes" script from the recording session, the editor indicates the length of the selected dialogue in feet and frames. The line-lengths script along with the EMR or NP tape will be used by the director to time the show and prepare it for track reading. The schedule for voice recording is generally 2 weeks. Week one is for casting auditions (non-recurring roles) and the following week for the actual recording session.
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