How a Simpsons episode is made part 5: Moment of truth, when Simpsons writers and producers view a story reel.
THE SIMPSONS NEWS – Moment of truth: When Simpsons writers and producers view a story reel.
“Last night’s “Itchy and Scratchy Show” was, without a doubt, the worst episode *ever.* Rest assured, I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.” — Comic Book Guy
All the work done ’til now, has all been building up to this moment.
The rough story reel gets sent to Fox and the writers and producers see, for the first time, if what they wrote is working as they’ve hoped.
I wrote about what happens at the Fox studios before the animation studio gets involved, in Part 1,
I wrote about the process of Storyboarding, in Part 2,
I wrote about the design process in Part 3.
Part 4, was about how a story reel is put together.
So what goes on in the final story reel screening?
It can be broken down like this:
- The story reel is watched
- They take a break and confer
- They watch it all again
The Story Reel is Watched
Around 10 am, the Director and the Assistant Director go to the Fox lot. There, they join The Show Runner, the Producers, the staff of writers, David Silverman, the Head Director, and some of our production staff, to watch the story reel of the episode.
It’s an interesting situation because, everyone in the room potentially knows all the jokes and how they should play out.
There is, on occasion, an unexpected surprise in the execution of a joke from the animators, which shocks everyone into laughter. But on the whole, everyone in the room should be expecting and anticipating all the jokes.
Interestingly, since the process takes so long to get to this point, and other assignments have been worked on, the writer’s often forget the jokes on a show and genuinely laugh.
When they do remember, the trick is to separate themselves as much as possible to experience it with fresh eyes.
I’m sure you go through a similar process when you watch a rerun of a show that you haven’t seen in a while. The difference is, you don’t get to change the joke after you watch the show.
(Thank you Michael Price,
@mikepriceinla On twitter, for the insight)
The Director and Assistant Director take note of the reaction the show is getting. What is laughed at, when. Hoping to anticipate whether there might be heavy rewrites or not.
They Take a Break and Confer
Once the screening is over, The Show Runner, the writers and producers leave the screening room, gather together and discuss what they saw.
They talk about what seemed to be working, what wasn’t working. This is where new jokes are pitched and new ideas come together.
They Watch it Again
After about an hour of this, The Show Runner and one producer (without the writing staff), joins the Director, Assistant Director, The Head Director, David Silverman and our production staff, back in the screening room.
There, they watch the show again. This time, pausing it at times and discussing changes that might occur or things to improve on. Here is where David writes down his notes, suggestions, sketches shots and draws his doodles, The head Director writes down and draws his. Production keeps track of what is being said, and so does the director of the episode.
Everything is broken down and analyzed.
Once that’s done, that’s it and it’s time to go.
By the time this is all over, it’s somewhere around noon. The whole process takes about two hours or so.
What do you think? Do you have any questions? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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VIDEO – Convert your Digital Paintings into a 3D Google SketchUp Model
It compliments Chris’ SkecthUp video, which I also posted a few posts back .
This video is amazing, because it shows you how you can actually texture map a SketchUp model from a flat painting. It’s incredible.
ART- Revising and rewriting as I go.
I made some changes to some of what I posted last time. As I was drawing the shots below, I realized that things didn’t make sense or play out well, the way I had written it.
As you read the boards below, I’ll explain:
So if you notice, the last panel on this frame has new dialogue. Originally I had the Lead Sorcerer say, “I’ll deal with you later”, and then he took a bag out of his pocket and began to chant.
This kinda didn’t feel right to me as I’ll explain below.
See how the Lead Sorcerer ends up responding to Rob? I didn’t want him to do that and interrupt his chanting. When a Sorcerer chants, he’s revving up to cast a spell. He shouldn’t stop doing so merely to talk back to someone.
But there was something even more important. I made the Lead Sorcerer continue to argue with Tom. I’ll explain why below.
See how Rob is looking around for a way out? My original idea was that the Sorcerers would be revving up to strike at Rob, but if they were going to do that, why was it taking long? Not only that but, they’d be looking straight at Rob, which kinda made it dumb to not notice when he made his move. As he does below:
So I made the Sorcerers argue so that all the actions that occurred made some sort of sense.
I find it interesting that there’s no stage in this process where you really stop writing and improving the story.
The fighting begins next week.
The Winged Apes make their first appearance.
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