Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Old script online. And Vincenet Waller said it would never happen!

So, I found a site that has a Danny Phantom recording script.

And while I'm sure I'm setting myself up for a beating, I'd be some sort of hypocrite if I didn't point this out to the group.

You can find it here:

http://hometown.aol.com/zcat6/VoiceScripts-ep07BR.html

It's a 22 minute episode, 30 pages of script.

I had hoped to provide a Youtube embed in here, but no such luck. So... if you want to compare the script with the cartoon, you'll have to grunt your way through turbonick by clicking here:

http://www.nick.com/turbonick/index.jhtml?extvideoid=24536

Enjoy or don't enjoy... but either way, there ya go.

- Steve

30 comments:

Roy said...

I'm not out to instantly jump down your throad or anything, but 30 pages for 22 minutes is WAY too long.
Even if you 'relax' the 1-minute-per-page rule, that's a full 8 pages longer than that rule advises.
How long did the storyboard artist have to do it? 3 weeks? 4 weeks?
When you consider that sometimes a half a page can take a week to storyboard, 8 pages of excess script (or for that matter, 4 pages or 3 pages or 1 page of excess script) can mean the difference between making it to your kid's softball game or working 80-hour weeks.

Roy said...

I'm not out to instantly jump down your throad or anything, but 30 pages for 22 minutes is WAY too long.
Even if you 'relax' the 1-minute-per-page rule, that's a full 8 pages longer than that rule advises.
How long did the storyboard artist have to do it? 3 weeks? 4 weeks?
When you consider that sometimes a half a page can take a week to storyboard, 8 pages of excess script (or for that matter, 4 pages or 3 pages or 1 page of excess script) can mean the difference between making it to your kid's softball game or working 80-hour weeks.

Rocco said...

Action/comedy shows of the late 80s-90s had a page to minute ratio of two to one. A 22 minute script never came in under 40 pages, and they were not excessively over length. I'm thinking specifically of the early Ninja Turtles series, (on which I was art director, a designer, a board artist, and even edited some of the episodes and followed through post) and that type of show.

So, I'm thinking the page ratio is completely dependent on the style of the show and the amount of detail in the descriptions.

It's a matter of taste as to whether you want a shorter script that gives you more creative freedom as a board artist, but I prefer having the writer work out a scene in detail, knowing that I can change it if I need to, as opposed to the script coming in at a page a minute with descriptions like, "And then they battle a legion of foot soldiers until the planet is destroyed."

When the script is bad, it's torture to figure out and rework the action. A hacked out script, regardless of length, makes your brain hurt and doesn't give you the incentive to want to give your all to the show. But when it's good, and the writer is really thinking the scenes through, it's a joy to work on. When you can tell that the writer is into the show, it makes you want to build on it and plus it.

In this collaborative medium, it's all about getting the best people for the job, and working toward a common goal. That may be idealistic, but I prefer to be an idealist, and hope to work with other idealists in the future.

Steve said...

Roy said:

"I'm not out to instantly jump down your throad or anything, but 30 pages for 22 minutes is WAY too long.

Even if you 'relax' the 1-minute-per-page rule, that's a full 8 pages longer than that rule advises.

How long did the storyboard artist have to do it? 3 weeks? 4 weeks?
When you consider that sometimes a half a page can take a week to storyboard, 8 pages of excess script (or for that matter, 4 pages or 3 pages or 1 page of excess script) can mean the difference between making it to your kid's softball game or working 80-hour weeks."

Roy;

Fair enough, but I have to say, you're missing my point, and it's not my rule. It's a rule. And I think it works on gag driven shows.

But herebefore you, linked in this post, is a 22 minute cartoon. Also linked is the 30 page script recorded for it.

I found both of them online because there has always been a discussion how the one page per minute rule pertains to shows that are, for lack of a better phrase, "not contingent upon only physical gags."

Those two links give you the chance to look at them and see how that process worked on that specific episode.

My feeling is, your one page / one minute rule DOES NOT work on a show like Danny Phantom or Fairly Oddparents because of the creative choices that went behind the velocity and tone of those shows.

If the studio sets a six week deadline on the board, that's a different discussion. That's a budget / line producer discussion that i'm more than happy to have.

But as a writer, and a producer... this, the seventh episode of that series, was the "final draft" that was put forward to record, and move to board.

Show me how it should have been eight pages shorter, and how that wouldn't have made the cartoon 16 minutes instead of 22, and how I wouldn't have lost something everybody in the creative process from the EP, Producers and writers felt was important... and I'm happy to have that discussion.

Kindly,

- Steve

roy said...

rocco said:
:::but I prefer having the writer work out a scene in detail, knowing that I can change it if I need to:::

But that's the key. Most of the people I know in the business are told that the script is law and whenever they dare to change it they're reprimanded and wind up having to do it all over again.
I've never seen a script so detailed in its desciptions that it negated the minute/page rule and I've worked on multiple action shows as well as comedy shows for preschool through primetime.
Maybe I just have bad luck.

rocco said:
:::When the script is bad, it's torture to figure out and rework the action. A hacked out script, regardless of length, makes your brain hurt:::

Again, this is the key. I've never been one of the people who argues against having writers. I'm against having BAD writers.
And good writers seem really hard to come by or this "controversy" wouldn't exist.
Despite what the writers on this blog seem to thing, most artists aren't prejudiced against writers as a "breed", they're prejudiced against crappy writers who make their lives hell.

Steve said:
:::Show me how it should have been eight pages shorter, and how that wouldn't have made the cartoon 16 minutes instead of 22:::

I assure you I could do it, the main solution being "simplicity."
But I'm not about to rewrite a show for you that's already been done (let alone for free).

a storyboard artist said...

hi,

i don't want to sound like i hate writers, but i see some really time-cosnusming and confusing stuff just on the script's first half-page alone.

"The camera flies over ROOFTOPS trailing DANNY, who rides his BIKE furiously towards home."

right out of the gate, that's a lot of houses to draw. but, okay, it sets up the drama... but if we are looking down on a character from high in the air, how do we know who it is? If we cut in to a closeup of him, it could break the 'bird's eye view' effect you were(?) going for. plus it will look a little odd to cut in close and then cut back wide for no real reason.

"WITH DANNY, as he approaches the Fenton house."

what does "WITH DANNY" even mean?
okay, we'll assume it means we cut to a closeup of Danny...

"Suddenly, Danny exhales a BLUE PLUME as a trio of ELDERLY WINGED GHOSTS (who appear to be half OLD MEN/HALF VULTURE and speak like elderly New Yorkers) fly overhead in a "V" formation."

this is a logistical mess. you would need to be close on Danny to see the blue plume, you would need to be in a wide shot to see winged ghosts flying, you would need to somehow establish where they are in relation to Danny via a series of pans or cuts, you would need to cut in close to the ghosts to see that they're old men/half vulture creatures... all of this cutting for the purpose of illustrating stuff with no thought given to what's actually literally happening while all of these confusing yet important establishing shots are going on... meanwhile, the flow of action has been lost entirely because you're so busy cutting and panning around to relay all of this dense and confusing information.
the act of interpreting all of this and solving this 'puzzle' would take even a skilled board artist a long time without so much as touching pencil to paper. half a day gone already.

"They fly around looking for something"

looks easy typed on paper, doesn't it?

when you're storyboarding something, relaying something as vague as 'looking for something' (and doing it well) is already a challenge.

what are the iconic movements flying half-bird men make when they're looking for something that the average tv viewer will recognize and understand?

that's right... there aren't any. the board artist has to make them up. and you would be amazed at how many drawings are needed to relay something like that clearly.

"WITH THE VULTURE GHOSTS, as Danny catches up to them. They continue soaring around the neighborhood."

again, more buildings, more perspective to deal with... lots and lots of pencil time.

"They pass through an APARTMENT BUILDING, freaking out the PEOPLE INSIDE."

so now we have 3 vultures, Danny and a group of people all actively running, flying, freaking out. it's one sencence of a script, but pages and pages and pages of storyboards.
now we have to cut inside an apartment complex (that will need designs) and we have to show several people running around freaking out (which will take multiple poses and character designs).

that's just the first half-page of script. i'm too scared to see any more.

one you've figured everything out, actually storyboarding that half page could take up several days (possibly a whole week). even if you're doing half an episode, you've used up several days on a half a page of script with another 14.5 to go.

there are only two ways to handle it if you're a board artist: hack it out or work tons of overtime.

neither are appealing to an artist, but when your reputation is the only thing that keeps your family fed and clothed there aren't too many options beyond working lots of oppressive overtime.

it's not that there aren't solutions to all of the logisitcal problems this half-page has, it's that the amount of time they require just to untie the knots is counter-productive.

i also look at this half-page and all of the work it requires and i have to ask: was it worth all of this trouble?
no offense, but it's not particularly funny and it's not particularly exciting. so all of that effort did very little beyond establishing stuff in a very dry way.

again, i'm not trying to be a jerk... but you posted this as your example of a cartoon script that i assume you consider to be "good" and i just don't see it.
it's confusing, time-consuming, laborious and not very entertaining.

i'm not saying this to be mean, i'm saying this to give you some perspective of how a storyboard artists would probably react to something that you feel is in good shape.

and this is why artists argue against writers, because unless you've had to deal with a script like this, how would you know just how problematic it is?

Walt Disney said...

Steve! I applaud you laying it out there for all to see. You are a brave, brave man. 30 pages is in no way "too long" for a 22 min action show. I've worked on action/comedy shows where scripts have varied from 26 pages to up to 43 pages, and in both cases it ALL was necessary. But as a writer I have a tendency to call out my action and shots in short single lines rather than paragraphs-- more than most animation writers I suppose. I generally try to think of each action line as a panel.

Too bad you're getting a beating from the "artists". But not unexpected... pretty much a waste of time and effort I'd say, but I'm damn glad you made the effort.

best,

Walt

Kent B said...

Kudos for posting this script and putting it out there. This is a pretty solid TV animation script. Does it take full advantage of the medium of animation as the Warner Bros & Disney shorts of the '30s & '40s? No way! The dialog drives the picture, like most TV animation. Good voices and snappy cutting can make this an entertaining show. With some creative filmmaking, it could be produced in a "Roger Ramjet" style.

I have to disagree with "Storyboard Artist" about this being out of line. The opening shot with Danny flying over rooftops is a stock sky pan with Danny - a few silhouette rooftops in the lower part of frame tells us where we are - push in on Danny or a Foreground Overlay takes us into a closer shot for his reaction - The shot of: Vulture Ghosts fly through an apartment building freaking out people inside can all be played on an exterior of the building - pan with Ghosts fly in - the camera see the outside of the windows of the apartment building and we hear the VO shrieks. With the right acting this can get a bigger laugh than animating the ghosts swarming through the hallways and crowds of people running.

Now if the Producer or Director want to spend a ton of money on the picture without adding any entertainment value - then knock yourself out - the scene is a throw-away set-up scene to take us to Danny's line "You fellows look lost---"

There are cheap ways to stage the party scenes, too, and still get the laughs - even milk them by not wasting animation on meaningless crowd scenes. Just concentrate on the jokes and other important stuff!

The shows I have worked on we didn't have money to burn, so we always tried to get the most entertainment for our buck. It's been awhile since I had a half million $$ to blow on a 20 minute picture.

wal said...

Response not aimed at Kent B. I agree with all that you said. Just using your quote:

"The dialog drives the picture, like most TV animation."

That's done to compensate for the crappy animation that comes back from overseas.

Sadly that's the nature of the business. Virtually ALL TV animation has gone overseas where the animation is done sweathouse style and the end result is usually terrible.

Doesn't it suck having a beautiful board go to Korea and have it come back looking like crap?

The artists need to look to their union and get back control... but it's doubtful TAG would allow that to happen, given how closely they work with the big studios.

Anonymous said...

wal said...
"Sadly that's the nature of the business. Virtually ALL TV animation has gone overseas where the animation is done sweathouse style and the end result is usually terrible"

I must disagree. If storyboard artists weren't so overworked doing hundreds of pages that get thrown out, they could focus more attention on detailed poses and expressions.

Then the overseas studios wouldn't be stuck with so much guesswork.

Blaming the overseas studios is a cop-out. They can only produce stuff based on what they're sent.

It all starts with the script. If the script is bad, it all goes downhill from there.

I'll put the work ethic of any overseas studio over the work ethics of 98% of of Hollywood's animation writers.

Sorry, but it's true.

Kent B said...

First of all, "dialog driven scripts" were not created to compensate for bad overseas animation. Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna and Jay Ward figured this out when they were faced with the problem of delivering massive amounts of TV animation footage for 10 cents on the dollar compared with theatrical shorts budgets.

Now the early "Ruff & Ready" "Huck Hound" or "Rocky & Bullwinkle" shows were storyboarded & animated by guys with a lot of skill and experience, and they still hold up pretty well today.

A lot of time the "crappy animation" from Korea is because the storyboards are calling for way more animation work that the producer is paying for. Disney & Warners seemed to get pretty good animation from Korea by paying top dollar. If you can't afford to pay for "100 zebras running down a hill of daffodils" then don't even go there! Even after the producer has tortured the storyboard artist to make a beautiful storyboard of this scene, it goes to a guy in Asia getting paid 5 bucks a foot, with a family to support.(Hey, I'm sure it would be a great looking scene, and Katzenberg would be willing to pay half a million bucks for 15 seconds of gorgeous animation - but my show doesn't have that kind of budget)

A lot of people think that the "Overseas studio" is a magic black box - you send a bunch of preproduction material over there and the cobbler's elves somehow spin it all into gold. Having worked at several of these studios over the years, I've learned they have a saying in the far east: "Money talks, bullshit walks"

Steve said...

Hey, I have MUCH to say to this, but I love that the discussion is going on and don't want to boot it off track with opinion.

Still, just to say it - this may not be my favorite example of a script, but of the three that were online, it's the one that I liked the most when it was finished.

Walt Disney said...

anon said: "It all starts with the script. If the script is bad, it all goes downhill from there."

If things turn out bad, the blame is always with the writer, if things end up good the praise goes to the artist.

No matter how it's cut, the artists will always blame the writers... it's a pointless debate.

Anonymous said...

you're full of crap, walt.

when a cartoon is a hit, nobody... NOBODY thinks to praise the storyboard artists.

it always... ALWAYS goes to the writer.

Steve said...

When a show is a success, the praise goes to the person who CREATED it.

THAT'S the person who gets another shot, more clout, and all the accolades.

Matt Groenig. Seth Macfarlane. Matt and Trey. Butch Hartman. Steve Hillenburg. Genndy Tartakovsky. Craig McCraken. Jesus, do I really need to go on?

Everybody else is an employee on some level who may or may not love what they do.

Walt Disney said...

Anon, what business do you work in? Are you just doin' Flash out of your parent's basement for your MySpace page?

I've worked on so many series where the "creator" is just someone who had a couple of scribbles on a napkin-- brilliant as they may be, but no concept, no idea of character, no stories... then a writer is brought in to make it happen conceptually (in an effort of collaboration)... which is fine that's how it works sometimes.

But if the show is a hit, ALL the praise goes to the "creator"--- not the board guys in the trenches, not the story editor, not the directors, not the character designer, sometimes not even to the show runner (if other than the creator) etc. But even when things are good, the writers will be at the bottom of the list for praise.

Anonymous said...

Um, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends' scripts are in the 50 page range. That's for a 22 minute episode. Dialogue heavy? Yes. Gag driven? Not so much. Funny, well done animation. Seems kids like it and adults like to give awards to it. Cartoon Network is happy with it. It's a quality kids show. Enough about the length of scripts...we (writers who use typewriters) don't go on and on about how board artists over draw or lose story from board to board. So just let us have our time as "artists" too. In 22 page scripts, 30 pagers and 50 pagers.

Anonymous said...

to the above anon:
if a board artist overdraws a show, it doesn't mean the writer has to work nights and weekends for the next 5 weeks.
to walt:
you weren't talking about show creators, you were talking about board artists, so don't backtrack now.
steve is right. when all is said and done its the shows creator who gets praised.
but when executives and industry people watch individual episodes that are well-received, all praise goes to the writer.
which is why writers get front and credit on all tv animation and movies but artists only occasionally do.

Steve said...

Some responses to the anonymous above me:

::if a board artist overdraws a show, it doesn't mean the writer has to work nights and weekends for the next 5 weeks.::

Very true. But that's a budget concern and a production model concern. That's not the writer's call either. Shows have their own "speed" and "feel."

What the above says to me is that the show needs a six week board schedule.


:: to walt:
you weren't talking about show creators, you were talking about board artists, so don't backtrack now.
steve is right. ::

I just want to linger on that for a moment.

Mmm. That feels good.

Okay. Back to me being wrong. :)



::when all is said and done its the shows creator who gets praised.
but when executives and industry people watch individual episodes that are well-received, all praise goes to the writer.
which is why writers get front and credit on all tv animation and movies but artists only occasionally do. ::

Well, on my last three shows the writers, directors AND the board artists were in the front of the show.

Also, when a pitch went well, it was the board artist who pitched it and got the praise.

I think so much of this discussion goes show to show it borders on being moot sometimes.

Have a good Friday.

Bob Harper said...

Actually Foster's scripts are around the 40 page range for 22 minute.

They are definately not gag driven, but that's how the show's creator, a cartoonist, wants it.

And after animating on the show for a few years I find the difficulty coming from some board artists over others, as well as some scripts.

It's a fun show to work on, but very challenging.

Anonymous said...

40 pages?!?!?!

How do you get to your kid's softball game?!?!

Walt Disney said...

anon said,"you weren't talking about show creators, you were talking about board artists, so don't backtrack now."

Um... I don't see how adding (mentioning) other factions/people who work on a production who ALSO don't get credit in addition to the "artists" for their hard work is viewed as "backtracking". In was inclusive to show that the "artists" were not alone.

Or would you prefer that artists are kept seperate and not grouped with others?

Walt Disney said...

Maybe this is easier to follow:

If the show is a hit, ALL the praise goes to the "creator"--- not the board guys in the trenches.

Bob Harper said...

"Anonymous said...
40 pages?!?!?!

How do you get to your kid's softball game?!?!"

Luckily my kids are all 3 and under so no softball games yet :)

I haven't had to pull OT in forever. I'm pretty quick at what I do and have found a comfortable workflow - with the occasional hiccup.

Kent B said...

Why is it that every time someone tries to elevate the discussion to talk about the craft of TV cartoon shows, the topic inevitably devloves into defensive whining and finger pointing?

Anonymous states the "Foster's Friends" has 50 page scripts, "Foster" is a hit show; ergo, 50 pg script = hit show - QED!

I've seen a few episodes of Foster's and it seems that the way they squeeze so much copy into the time slot is by speeding up the dialog track and eliminating any pause longer than a 12th of a second, so the show has a relentless energy like it's on speed!

Either that or they storyboard and record 50 pages worth of stuff, and end up cutting out 20% of the picture when they do the animatic.


PS - I actually enjoyed watching the show - the designs are appealing, the characters are interesting personalities, and the dialog was snappy and smart.

Steve said...

Kent;

Actually, I don't think this debate is more about "It's 50 and successful, so all shows should be 50 page scripts!"

(50 seems ridiculous to me, but whatever)

In the end, this discussion is - to me - more about the idea that there's some sort of unwritten rule about "one minute per page" and many people here, myself included, find it arbitrary.

When you're bullet pointing the kind of grunts a bear is making, followed by "and pulls out a turkey leg," of COURSE that's an 11 page script. When you're arcing an "A" story, a "B" story and a running gag, that's a different beast all together, and neither, to me, is wrong.

There is a larger discussion about how much time is "fair" when an artist is boarding a thicker show - but that's not the one we're having here.

- Steve

Kent B said...

Steve

I'm with you on the "arbitrary" business. My experience with action/adventure shows is about 40 seconds per script page, so 35 pages = about 23 minutes (gives you one minute to edit in post) - but, yes, there are many variables - Comedy dialog plays faster and takes up more space on the page - Does the script "call all the shots" or does the writer describe the Master shot as in live action? (I prefer the latter and so do most writers I know, since it lets the writer concentrate on telling the story!) Then there's the actors, and knowing their performances - how much ad-libbing are they allowed to do? Or do you speed up the dialog? (Like I mentioned, they seem to do this on "Foster's" and I'm sure they do it on South Park) After 3 or 4 episodes, though, each series finds it's own "tempo" and you can judge about how long a script will play. I'm sure your 30 page "Danny" script had a normal pause at about 11 minutes.

Breaking down the grunts Boo Boo makes as he's hungry should never be the writer's job - that's a "director's vision" thing if I ever heard one!

Walt Disney said...

"Breaking down the grunts Boo Boo makes as he's hungry should never be the writer's job - that's a "director's vision" thing if I ever heard one!"

I agree up to a point, but on the shows I've produced and story edited it's always been better to have the moments where a charcter needs to grunt or extert efforts in the script, otherwise something will get missed (yes, the director's job to catch) and once missed it's just more to add to ADR... and if it's not recorded, it won't be animated.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Delete Comment From: Animation writers


Eddie Fitzgerald said...
If a writer sells a fast-paced show that requires (let's say)twice as many board pages then the board artist should get twice the salary. That seems fair to me.

The writer/producer may agree with this but he's not likely to put much effort into convincing the management so it's a moot point. When all is said and done the board artist ends up doing twice the work for the same pay.

TV storyboards seem to get more labor-intensive every year. Most boards are made into animatics now and animatics require more panels. Not only that but the panels have to animate. If you work on a project that requires computer boards then the panels have to be formatted and shaded. Add to this the burden of the extra script pages I mentioned earlier and you have a storyboard guy who's never going to see his family.

My hunch is that complaining about this won't help the storyboarders much because if they get too many complaints the writer/producers will just send the boarding overseas. They'll do it with regret...but they'll do it.

If all this suffering made the shows better then at least we'd have that consolation, but does it? It might, given the right crew, but my guess is that most of the time it won't. Fast MTV cutting is misperceived as being cutting edge but it isn't. It was made to fit 70s rock and roll but it's 2007 now and the technique is wearing thin. I think the real cutting edge has to do with new styles of cartoon acting and animation but I guess that's a discussion for another time.