Executive producers Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley and Nick Filippi talk about the new season of their Emmy Award-nominated animated series, which premieres today on Disney XD and DisneyNOW, and how the Big Hero 6 team faces off against a new villain and his team of evil mascot robots.
With Season 3 of Big Hero 6 The Series premiering today on Disney XD and DisneyNOW, Hiro, his cutting-edge robot Baymax, and their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred once again embark on a season of high-tech adventures protecting their city from an array of scientifically enhanced villains. This time, to protect San Fransokyo, they face off against Noodle Burger Boy and his team of evil mascot robots.
The Emmy Award-nominated series is based on Walt Disney Animation Studios' 2014 Academy Award-winning feature film, Big Hero 6. In the series, when he’s not leading the legendary Big Hero 6 superhero team, in his normal day-to-day life, Hiro, our 14-year old genius, faces daunting academic challenges and social trials as the new prodigy at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.
For the show’s executive producers, Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley and Nick Filippi, the team behind the Emmy Award-winning hit Disney Channel series, Kim Possible, Season 3 will bring even more interesting stories as well as some different visual styles. “The new season explores the summer after graduation for Wasabi, Honey Lemon and GoGo,” Schooley shares. “So, it's taking us to some places we haven't been before and exploring the world outside of the school. We have an episode where we dig more into the Chibi world that we established in other episodes. In general, this season has a looser approach to the animation, in trying some different stylistic transitions.”
McCorkle reveals, “On the villain side, Noodle Burger Boy steps up to be the mastermind who creates this new family, to fill this void in his life. When he assembles this team, they are going to create a lot of mischief and chaos for our heroes and the city of San Fransokyo.”
“Visually, in Season 1 and 2, it would not be uncommon to do a split screen,” he continues. “But this season, our team pushed the boundaries where we might do a split screen and a character actually reached across the split and interacts with the scene they are next to. We're being a little more experimental in a lot of ways this season. Story ideas, they usually come out of character. It usually has to do with a character and a situation and deciding if it will generate the laughs and surprises that we want to happen.”
Each episode of the new season features two 11-minute stories. The series voice cast includes Maya Rudolph as Aunt Cass, Ryan Potter as Hiro, Scott Adsit as Baymax, Jamie Chung as Go Go, Khary Payton as Wasabi, Genesis Rodriguez as Honey Lemon and Brooks Wheelan as Fred. Returning this season is Jenifer Lewis as Professor Granville, Jane Lynch as Supersonic Sue, Horatio Sanz as El Fuego, Andy Richter as Globby, Alan Tudyk as Krei, Haley Tju as Karmi and David Shaughnessy as Heathcliff.
Season three guest voices include K-pop stars Nichkhun Horvejkul (2PM) as twins Dae and Hyun-Ki, one-half of boy band 4 2 Sing, and Jae Park (DAY6) as twins Kwang-Sun and Ye Joon, the other half of boy band 4 2 Sing; Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Killing Eve) as Cobra, a charming and crafty villain; and Nichole Bloom (Superstore) as Olivia, a passionate comic book fan.
Comparing Season 3 production to past years, Filippi explains they were able to reuse some assets, though his team “usually adjusted or added to them.” Noting episodes take around a year to produce, he goes on to say that the show’s design, and animation, have always been difficult, if for the simple reason that “we’re taking CG animated characters from a feature and translating them into hand-drawn, which has its challenges.”
Deriving a 2D animated series from an Oscar-winning 3D/CG Disney animated feature was no small feat, from the narrative to the technical, though the trio had plenty of material to start with. “On the one hand, a great deal of time, effort, work and a team of really talented people established characters and dynamics, so a lot of the heavy lifting already happened,” McCorkle says. “But then the challenge is, you have to live up to the quality of a Walt Disney Feature Animation piece. When we first saw the movie, we thought it lent itself perfectly to a series.”
“It's like they built this beautiful house and we get to come in and add some rooms to it,” Schooley continues. “A huge challenge is that you want the characters and the world to be as welcoming and as recognizable as the feature,” Filippi notes. “But you don't want it to be a rehash, you want it to be fresh, you want it to feel like something new, but with these characters that you love.”
In describing the show’s audience appeal, Schooley says, “I think the strength of these characters and their relationships…kids really relate to tight friendships and it's a very comforting situation that kids really respond to friends that are like family.” McCorkle concurs. ”Family,” he says, “is such a universal need. There are some situations that put you in a position where you count on your friends in a way that is above and beyond. It touches a strong emotional reaction.”
“We have an amazing team,” Filippi concludes. “Our crew is like a family, they go above and beyond to make compelling, impactful and fun episodes.”
Big Hero 6 The Series is a production of Disney Television Animation and carries a TVY7-FV parental guideline.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.