Sunday, February 14, 2010

How Many Mistakes Are There In This Saturday Morning Cartoon Production System


Here is a factory production system guaranteed to produce crap. Note at what point the "director" comes in and what his duties are limited to.

You could have the greatest cartoonists and animators in history working at this studio, and the cartoons would still smell.

28 comments:

Austin Papageorge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnK said...

There are lots of illogical things about it, but the most glaring one is that no one is overseeing the production from step 1- the idea- to the last step- editing the finished film.

There's no director.

Iron maiden said...

does cell service still exist?

rob mac said...

Looks like a robotic production line. Does the director only oversee the direction stage bit in the middle?

:: smo :: said...

the real director here is this sheet of paper. any questions will be addressed in the form of a flow chart.

where it says "director" might be some sort of lead animator but there's no one guiding the actual boarding/story/feel, or working out the timing. someone is working on audio in another room entirely and they won't have any idea as to what's going on save early boards until the end.

heck i worked at a studio where i didn't meet the "director" until i'd been there a month.

on your marks! ready...GO...set.

Luis María Benítez said...

From what I see the director is in the middle of this, where he should instead be at the top of the diagram. I remember and old video of Walter Lanz where he showed the responsability of the director from step one.

ardy said...

So I guess they put the voice recordings in a time capsule that was not to be opened under any circumstances until every other part of the cartoon was completely finished. I think this is why anime became so well received later on, American audiences were already used to their cartoon characters looking as though they were speaking a different language than the voice actors.

Pat Desilets said...

Sometimes producers think they're directors.

RooniMan said...

I can't even understand the flow of that chart, so I say: EVERYTHINGS WRONG!!!

And for the director coming in: He doesn't come in at all. He doesn't get donkey d***. Hes practically nonexistant in this horrible production system. All because of those greedy monsters known as "Executives."

Zartok-35 said...

Thats deffinatley not the way I envisioned cartoon production. Why do the models come off the Script?!?

foolsfitness said...

perhaps you could post you ideal flow chart as a contrast?

May your sharpies always have ink and stay sharp- Alan

Lohen said...

Whoah! Could you show us a simple diagram with the correct production system? You´ve talked a lot about it, but I don´t have a clear idea.

EalaDubh said...

I can see one whacking great fundamental error, but fortunately it's a really easy fix.
Like so

Khato said...

Well, all the parts seem to be there. What baffles me the most is that the sound and layout seem to be completely seperate. I always thought that in order to get the correct performance in the layout stage, you need the VA's performance to compare and individualise the..
.. oh right, Filmation.

If the process was changed to be more fluid and natural, but the budget wasn't (stock animation and backgrounds away!) would half-decent cartoons even be possible, or is Filmation's whole ship unsalvagable? I'm not sure.

Niki said...

There is direction, it's just limited to those three tiny rectangles. Whoever made this system should be charged with high treason.

Stone said...

so... considering how few frames of animation there were in these shows... the Director was distilled down to a glorified timer and probably only had 3 hours of actual work a day?

sounds great!

Stone said...

this is also why you end up with nonsensical, un-animatable scripts. The writer just does whatever and the one person who might actually have SOME sense of continuity and how things should go together doesn't even get to touch the episode until it's practically done!

Pete Emslie said...

Not only should the director be at the top of the production chart, but it should be mandatory that he possess some drawing ability too. I still believe the ideal situation was like in Chuck Jones' unit at Warners, where Chuck himself sketched out a fair number of character poses throughout the cartoon as a clear indication of what he wanted carried out. (I'm sure that other Warners directors did the same, but you'd know better than I, John)

Nowadays you have too many directors just riding herd on the animators without ever having given clear visual direction in the first place. It seems they prefer to let the animators do something first, and they'll just tell them it's wrong and to revise it afterwards. At least that's the story I hear from a bunch of my friends in the TV animation industry these days. No clear guidance whatsoever.

JohnK said...

Yeah, what they are calling a "director" is merely a sheet timer.

A sheet timer that memorizes some simple formulas and uses the same ones over and over again.

He has nothing to do with the creative aspects of the shows-not that there are any.

He doesn't even direct the voices!

Kingfish said...

The craziest thing I can see, is that the voice recording seems to be happening totally independently of the storyboards and layouts- how can you draw expressions if you can't hear what the actors are doing?

I guess if you're xeroxing model sheets it doesn't matter.

The guys who make these cartoons must love the modern system of using Flash- you don't even have to worry about designs changing when the artist traces them because you're literally dropping in the same image over and over and over again.

robward said...

Why did this happen? - especially in what seems to be such an artist-driven medium as cartoons?
Is it just because of the new money that networks and advertisers were willing to spend on kids cartoons?
Did a bunch of hacks come in?
Did no-one care about quality as long as they were getting paid?
Is this just another example of what happens when you throw money at any successful art-form?
Is it too reductionist to say that no really great art comes out of a great budget?
I only got questions, sorry.
Love your blog and toons, though.

Severin said...

Which studio in particular did this come from?

Zoran Taylor said...

@robward - Hacks? Check. Didn't care? Check. Throwing money? Check. Yep, all at once. John has explained ALL of this.

My advice to those with questions is to search the blog first. You will find most if not all of the info you're looking for - this blog is VERY extensive....

Ryan said...

And to add to what's been covered already, how do you do models completely parallel to storyboards?

For example, let's say you tried making the first Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon using this system. The script says there's two spy characters, Boris and Natasha. Storyboard has no idea what the two will look like, because someone else is doing the models. She draws the storyboards with them both of the same height, then Layout gets the models and boards, and discovers that Boris is half as tall as Natasha.

So what happens is that Layout needs to fix all these boards after the fact, and it doesn't turn out as good as it could have been if Storyboard could have included it from the start.

Even if the execs listen to Layout's complaints, they won't address the root problem, they'll just give the model designer a new stipulation that from now on, all characters need to be the same height.

bergsten said...

Stuff like this is what you get when you value consistency and predictability over everything. Everything will cost the same. Everything will take the same amount of time. Ironically, your quality will be consistent too, if you insist on calling it "quality."

This might work if you're running a light bulb factory, but is doomed to failure in any endeavor whose purpose is to create unique output.

Cartooning by General Electric!

HemlockMan said...

I used to enjoy seeing graphs like these handed out at work. I could roll them up and fantasize about braining the manager who gave them out and shoving them up his (or her) ass. I never acted on these fantasies, but would have been poorer for not having experienced them.

pappy d said...

This chart is a powerful symbol of evil in the modern age. It's death camps run by mild-mannered civil servants.

For anyone whose business plan is just to make money, it's a no-brainer. After all, it's been proven that someone put money in the top end of the chart & even more money came out the other end! It's crap by design. A director would only make it slower & less runny.

What separates Scheimer from his contemporaries is his ability to see past our reflexive ethical prejudices & grasp the basic Truth that "entertainment" is a fuzzy concept in law & so is "animation". So sue me!

kurtwil said...

As an engineer turned FX artist and vid game tester, the chart here is a joke to both professions. For animation it's worse. As JohnK said, there's no creative control at the beginning, and no creative review at any of the major production staqe. Worse, the production starts with only a script, not a combination of script and visuals!

Proof it doesn't work:
When I worked on CROCADOO in Australia, at the beginning we had a lean team and several stages in production where director could jump into the flow and make sure the visuals, character staging and animation, and acting were working properly. We never started a show until script and Storyboard were ready. Everything was done in house, which helped overseeing the work.

But, that system was mostly junked when budget cuts required an inexperienced but cheap Vietnam company to take over the bulk of animation. The overwhelming number of bad drawing we got crashed the system and brought about what that awful flowchart shows.

Ironically, the shoddiest of our first year episodes, via that flowchart system, turned out to be the most popular show the series had! I'll leave the horrors that followed to your imaginations! :-)