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What's the hardest casting choice you've had to make in your showrunner career?
Hardest casting choice?
Not sure what that means in context. Like we had two people and couldn't decide which one to pick? I can't even think of an example of that.
We've had some roles that were hard to cast. Goliath and Elisa come to mind, but once we found Keith and Salli, respectively, the decision was easy.
There have been roles where my first choice was over-ridden by TPTB, but it's always worked out pretty darn well, anyway.
1. Do you think that "quality of writing" is something that the average person might have a stronger opinion about compared to other subjective creative forms like art or music? Does that make it more likely that you'll get people complaining about the quality of the writing in a show rather than any other aspect of it?
2. Is it fair to say that a lot of complaints of this nature are ignorant of the many factors that go into making a show outside of purely creative decisions? Stuff like budget, scheduling or availability that might influence what's reasonably possible to do in a specific time frame?
3. Have you noticed these kinds of criticisms getting worse over time? I feel there wouldn't have been as many people complaining about "Hello, Megan" during the time of Gargoyles, or maybe even Spidey.
4. I get that armchair criticism has always been around and that social media has provided a bigger platform for it, but the recent negative reception to stuff like the ending of Game of Thrones or Star Wars The Last Jedi has made me curious about your perspective on this kind of thing.
1. I do think that. My hypothesis - untested, unconfirmed - is that in a literal sense, nearly everyone knows how to "write". They know how to grab a pencil, pen or keyboard and put words on a page in an order that is at least comprehensible to another human being. So there is, perhaps, a subconscious assumption that if they just set their minds to it, that they could write stories, too - as good or better as most of the professional writers out there. On the other hand, to take your examples, not everybody believes they can draw or make music. Those talents seem esoteric, special, unique. I believe they strike a bit more awe - at least generally - than writing does. So the writing becomes the easy target. Or at least the easier target. But, of course, I'm a writer that can't draw or make music. So it makes sense that I should believe I'm under attack more. Human nature. So take it all with a grain of salt.
2. I think that's very fair to say. (And this is reading a bit like I posted these questions myself in order to defend myself with the answers. Not that I'm complaining.)
3. The internet is... well... awful... in so many ways. And its spread and influence has increased over the years, so, yes, it is definitely getting worse. But it hasn't really changed. Back in the pre-internet days, I'd still get nasty letters (sent via the post office) on Captain Atom. And the basic percentage of praise to criticism to abuse is really about the same. It just feels multiplied by the internet. The quantity of feedback is exponentially larger. And, again, human nature being what it is, I can get literally 50 tweets of praise, which are then wiped out of my mind by one mean tweet.
4. Well, I hated the ending of Game of Thrones, too... and I had mixed feelings about Last Jedi... but that wasn't the point of your question. It definitely FEELS worse. The main thing that people don't seem to get is that I LIKE MY SHOW. Brandon and I like what we've done. Not every frame, mind you, but overall, we LIKE OUR SHOW. And we are making the show WE WANT TO MAKE. I don't mind that people don't like it. (It'd be lovely, I suppose if we had 100% praise for the thing, but I honestly don't expect that. Ever.) What gets on my nerves is the assumption that many "fans" (or hate-watchers) have that we should be making the show that THEY WANT US TO MAKE, and that we're failing because we're not MAKING THEIR SHOW instead of MAKING OUR SHOW. That does grind on me. You want to shout out: "GO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN SHOW!! No one's forcing you to watch ours!" But, of course, that's not a particularly politic statement to make. And more hate-watchers are still more watchers.
In the time that you've been working in TV animation, you must have seen many changes in the industry. In terms of the "nuts and bolts" elements of making a show (storyboarding, animation, retakes, sound mixing etc), things must have changed quite a bit.
1. What aspects of production have become easier over time?
2. What has gotten more difficult?
3. Would these changes have more to do with changes in technology, your own level of experience in the industry or to the studio/property you're working with at the time?
4. Is there anything about the industry that was specifically different in the intervening decades with Spectacular Spider-Man or the earlier seasons of Young Justice that wasn't the case before or since?
5. If Gargoyles were to come back with you involved, obviously the most important thing is the continuity of the story, but to what extent would it have to change in its art or animation style to be made today?
1. I'm not sure "easier" is the term I'd use, but "possible" includes a lot of fixes we can make in editing and post-production on voices, on picture, on effects, etc. There are things we can do now that we flat out couldn't do before.
2. Nothing particularly springs to mind, unless it's the glut of content that makes getting attention for one's project more difficult.
3. Mostly, with changes in technology. I like to think that I'm better at certain things now than I used to be, too. Of course, the flip side of that is that I'm also more demanding than I used to be. Different studios have different strengths and weaknesses, but I haven't noticed one being stronger or weaker overall, and I've worked at a LOT of different places.
4. Post-production visual FX work became much more commonplace since. But it was largely not done previous.
5. That depends on all sorts of factors that are hypothetical. But there's no reason why - at least in theory - we couldn't simply use the same design style, assuming TPTB approved.
Hello! I was wondering if you ever watched Robert Kirkman's Invincible (2021) animated series? It's about superheroes and gave me the same vibes as Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice (just WAY gorier). I really enjoyed it, and one aspect of it that I absolutely loved was the longer episodes, running about forty-to-fifty minutes each. I know it's way above your pay-grade, but I was just curious, if you had the choice, would you want to extend your episodes to fifty-some minutes like Invincible? Or would you want to keep them a little over twenty minutes? Assuming of course you'd be able to still produce twenty to twenty-six episodes for each season, which Invincible didn't do at just eight episodes per the first season.
Anyways, Happy Halloween! I'm eagerly awaiting the next episode of YJ Phantoms! Artemis' arc is looking to be fantastic!
I haven't seen Invincible.
In some ways, I'd love to stop worrying about episode lengths entirely. But I'd still want the same quantity of episodes (or more). And budget is definitely a factor. It's been great on the last couple of seasons of YJ that if we have (within our budget) been freed from the constraints of a maximum length. But I don't feel like we've been hugely restricted by running between 22 and 27 minutes. Don't know that we need "fifty-some".
In your "big round of question-answering" earlier this year, someone asked you about why there was never a Christmas episode of "Gargoyles", and you mentioned that it was never a big enough priority, though there'd been some ideas for it.
This reminded me that Halloween was the only holiday to feature in "Gargoyles" (unless you count New Year's Eve in the "Bad Guys" spin-off) - it got in twice, in fact, once in "Eye of the Beholder" and once in "Clan-Building", and from there, a thought I'd had about "Gargoyles", "The Spectacular Spider-Man", and "Young Justice".
Now, though I think that both "The Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Young Justice" were both well done, they never grabbed me as much as "Gargoyles" did. (I suspect that this comes from my having grown up on medieval legends and history far more than on DC and Marvel super-heroes, so that "Gargoyles" war far more a "first language" for me than the other two series were.) But one feature of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Young Justice" that didn't appear in "Gargoyles", a feature that really delighted me, was that sense of the year's cycle, traveling through various holidays, in particular (I recall that "The Spectacular Spider-Man" incorporated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's , and Valentine's Day, and the first two seasons of "Young Justice" - I haven't gotten around to seeing Season Three, so can't comment on it - covered the year's cycle - if a different year's cycle from New Year's to Independence Day than from Independence Day to New Year's, thanks to the time skip). Of course, I think it makes sense that those series would focus more on that cycle, since their leads were human (with a few alien leads in "Young Justice", of course, but who were interested in Earth customs), while the gargoyles would have less interest in human holidays (apart from Halloween,for obvious reasons).
More musings than an actual question, but it was an observation that I wanted to share with you.
I think you're right. But I also think it had a lot to do with an evolution in my sensibilities. Keeping track of time for me started to become a priority for me later in my work.
This is my first time writing in, so I just wanted to say thanks for having this website up! I can't imagine the amount of time it takes to answer everything. It's truly appreciated. I picked up YJ not long after the third season wrapped up, and I'm delighted I got into it when I did.
I especially have to thank you (and the rest of the YJ crew, of course) for Artemis. I was in a bit of a rough patch when I watched it first, and I saw a lot of myself in her. Watching her overcome her fears, especially in the first season, was a reassuring inspiration. There's been more than a few times when I found myself thinking of her as I braved through things. She means a lot to me, and I'm thrilled to see her still working things out now, even though she's been through so much. (I was beyond excited when we found out she's leading the Team now! I can't wait to see that!)
Anyway, I've had these lying around for a bit, so here we go.
1) You recently mentioned some of the organizations youâve reached out to for help with YJâs characters of color, cultures youâre unfamiliar with, and the LGBTQ+ community. Itâs wonderful to hear that youâre working with them! Which other groups have you worked with (both today and during the first and second seasons) and how does that relationship work?
2) What does a day in the life look like in the YJ acting booth? (I have to imagine itâs pretty fun with that particular group of actors and directors!) Any idea when youâll be able to record in person again?
3) From what I understand about acting (both voice and âregularâ), itâs incredibly important for actors to be able to play off of each other. How does that work with recording during the pandemic? Do actors record lines individually and then play off those recordings, or are Zoom meetings used to imitate the booth as much as possible?
4) One last question about voice acting: how much influence do your actors have over the characters' personalities? Are their ideas about the characters integrated into the writing?
5) Iâve always loved the glimpses weâve seen of YJâs interpretation of Atlantis. Many of the versions Iâve seen are basically just a very large underwater city with little oceanic inspiration. YJâs version seems to have been created with a lot of thought toward how the structure of the seafloor and plant life interact with it, as well as the intense influence of magic. The colors also often feel particularly vibrant and ocean-like. Given that youâre not one of the artists, Iâd guess you may not know much about how it was designed, but is there any insight you could give to choices made regarding Atlantisâs design and culture?
I've just seen the first episode of Phantoms, and it's looking spectacular so far. Good luck with finishing up post-production, and thank you again for your hard work!
1. I'm going to hold off answering which other organizations we've worked with for now, as I think revealing the organizations would by default reveal content. I'd be happy to answer this after the season's over. But I've already stated that we've been working with GLAAD and OUT and MPAC (Hollywood Division). Plus, we've run every single outline and script by Dr. Janina Scarlet (superhero-therapy.com and @shadowQuill on Twitter). She's helped us with psychological and therapeutic details, while also generally acting as a sensitivity reader for our work. And there's also Warner Bros' own DEI department, who've been very helpful. There are more organizations, but the rest will have to wait for now. As for process, it can differ slightly. But generally, we discuss the stuff we were thinking about doing with them and get their feedback. Then we show them our outlines. Then our scripts. Sometimes even animatics or animation. At each step, we listen, take their notes and make sure everyone feels good about what we're doing before we take the next step in the process. We don't do anything that doesn't work for our story and characters. But we admit to ignorance on many fronts and many levels, and we like educating ourselves and allowing that education to be reflected in the work.
2. Well, it is fun! (Or, you know, most of the time. Nothing's perfect.) But pre-pandemic, we'd bring a majority of any episode's cast in together. (Although our casts are SO big, that sometimes we might split that cast into two shifts, trying to get folks who have scenes together to record together.) Jamie usually has them do a first run through without much direction. Then he might dive in and nuance an exchange or a line. Or even a certain phrase. We like to have options, but we want to make sure we get at least one version that hits the nail on the head. And we also make sure that we have at least two versions of every line. Post-pandemic, everyone was recording alone. Which is still great but not quite as much fun. There's a lot of playing back what one actor did for the other actor. (Whomever went first, kinda gets to set the tone for any scene, in these cases.) As for when we'll get back to recording in person, I don't know. Not on Season Four. That's all fully recorded.
3. See above.
4. After an episode or two, we definitely begin to incorporate their performances into their characters. With regulars or our long time recurring actors, we often sit down and talk to the actors about their characters, and I'm not at all adverse to listening to their takes on their own characters and importing those ideas into future episodes.
5. We wanted to fully bring their culture and milleu to life. To see Posiedonis - which is all you've seen of Atlantis so far - as its inhabitants see it.
Thank you for watching!
Can you describe the recording process of Young Justice: Phantoms? Was it ENTIRELY done separately? Was it done via video-conferencing? Did each actor get the entire script or just their lines?
The first half - or nearly half - of the season was done the way we always have, with group recordings predominantly, while picking up the occasional actor at a different time, based on availability.
About halfway through the season, we temporarily stopped recording because of the pandemic.
So in order to keep our board artists supplied with vocal tracks and working (from home), we began recording scratch tracks, using myself, Brandon, voice director Jamie Thomason, Talent coordinator Laura Lopez, editor Cris Mertens, and my wife and kids.
Then we began recording actors individually from home. Some of these actors have fantastic home studio set-ups. Others, well... not so much. We weren't video-conferencing with them, but we were audio-conferencing.
Then we switched from BangZoom Studios for our records to Atlas Oceanic Picture & Sound, which had a booth with a door that opened right into their parking lot. That way an actor could drive up and stay in their car until called for. Then they could walk right into the studio without any contact with any other human being. The engineer was in the control room, and the rest of us - including Jamie - were all listening in from our homes. Then when that actor was done, the booth would be sanitized before the next actor entered. Some of our performers still worked from home, but about half came to Atlas. It was always the choice of the actor.
And every actor always gets the entire script.
In the recent IGN article you were interviewed for, you mentioned how Gary Krisel tried to nix the existence of Alexander. Is it possible there was some meta-commentary in The Gathering? Both you and Xanatos (with help) had to fight against a seemingly all-powerful force to save Alex? I'm probably reading too much into things, but I found it an amusing parallel.
All that was done before Gary suggested that Alex wasn't a great idea. (That's what saved him. He was already baked in, so to speak.) So, yeah, I think you're reading too much into it.
Why wasn't Gargoyles included in Kingdom Hearts 3? The more I binge Gargoyles from Disney+ the more I think of how it would have been just the perfect world for a DLC add on. It's just a shame it's not included and I really want to know why.
Then you are asking the wrong guy. I have no idea.
I have a simple question, who were the artists that did the concept art for the show? I have searched extensively but couldn't find much in detail, even after searching the archives.
I found Dennis Woodyard, Kazuo Terada and Hiroshi Ohno but not much in terms of concept art. Maybe it's because there wasn't social media platforms to share them to back then when the show aired.
From context, I assume you're talking about Gargoyles. This is all in the archives, but I don't mind mentioning their names again:
Hi Greg! Once again, thanks for the amazing show that is Young Justice. I wanted to ask a few more questions about the show I adore.
1. How old are Traya, Anissa, and Jennifer?
2. Was there any debate between the writers, producers, and actors over how to pronounce Lian? (I know some people including myself pronounced it as LeeAnn, and sometimes say that)
3. If it was Cadmus policy to delete the source material, how come they kept Roy alive and frozen instead?
4. How did Mal and Karen discover Conner's and Megan's real identities, or is that something we might see later?
5. What's your response and feeling when people come up to you and say that the show (or even Gargoyles) helped them during a difficult time, maybe even saved them from suicide?
1. By the end of Team Year Eight...
Traya Smith is 11;
Anissa Pierce is 5;
Jennifer Pierce is 3.
2. I pretty much set it as Lee-AHN from the beginning and Brandon, Jamie and the actors followed my lead.
3. The Light thought they might have a use for him later.
4. Yeah, no spoilers.
5. On the one hand, I'm glad we were of use, but it's sad that we were necessary in that way.
I love watching Young Justice and Gargoyles, they're amazing shows! I can't wait for the 2nd half of YJ outsiders, but regarding your earlier work, what was your favorite part about producing Gargoyles?
Back then... probably the voice recordings and the sound mixes.
Sorry to put you on the spot but...
Roy Thomas alleges here, https://www.bleedingcool.com/2019/04/18/an-open-letter-to-dc-comics-from-roy-thomas-on-paying-and-crediting-whats-due/ that DC Entertainment has not paid him royalties for their use of Artemis who he created. How do you feel about this?
Did DC ask you to change Artemis' name to Tigress or was it just a story/character decision?
DC did not ask us to change Artemis' name to Tigress. That was a purely story-driven decision. (And her name is still Artemis Crock.) Besides, to my thinking Roy created BOTH Artemis and Tigress (i.e. the Tigress version of Paula Brooks).
I worked as Roy's assistant editor at DC in the mid-80s. He was very good to me. And, of course, I personally think he deserves royalties on the Artemis character, no matter what she's called.
In the Bleeding Cool article linked above, he's wrong on only one point: when he says that virtually every other character in YJ has creators listed. Unfortunately, that's not true. No matter how many creators he sees credited on our show, the vast majority of characters still do not receive creator credits - or only include some but not all of their creators. How they decide who does and doesn't receive that credit (and the royalties that go with) is a complete mystery to me. I have been pushing back against this from Day One... to no avail.
Now, I might honestly get in trouble for posting this. And it won't change anything, anyway. So a big part of me is hoping that Ask Greg doesn't have much of a reach.
Or that I'm politically smart enough to delete this post.
But I'm not.
Having watched the first half of season 3, I can honestly say that the writing on Young Justice is as sharp as ever. As always, some episodes like "Evolution" and "Nightmare Monkeys" are better than others, but that's going to be true of any show.
However, I recently re-watched "Depths" from season 2, and I have to say that the quality of the animation on Outsiders is just not at the level of the animation on seasons one and two. What would account for this? Is your budget smaller? Did you switch animation houses? Or, do you not agree with the premise of my question?
Don't get me wrong. I think the animation is okay. It's just not as good as prior seasons.
Our budgets are technically higher, but are (with inflation) more or less the same. We did switch animation houses. But we had to. The world has changed. There's way more production in Seoul than there used to be. It's way more competitive for studios and artists over there.
But basically, I don't agree with the premise of your question. We've had mixed animation success in every season, with strong episodes and weak episodes and everything in between. I'd put the animation on "Nightmare Monkeys" up against anything we did in Seasons One or Two. And there are episodes in all three seasons that had us pulling our hair out over the animation. In the end, however, I think they all cleaned up respectably.
Not a question. Just letting you know, my six year old daughter loves Gargoyles and was ranting that the bad guys were being mean to the Gargoyles. She'd make a great advocate for them. And she loves what you guys did with the comics. I had to change some of the words that my daughter does not need to learn yet. But that's okay. I hope someday you will be able to keep up the good work.
Thank you so much. That really makes my day!
You know, when we first focus tested GARGOYLES, the moderator asked the kids, "Did you like Goliath?" The kids all said yes. Then: "Did you like Demona?" The kids said no. The focus testing folks then advised us to take Demona out of the show. We had to explain to them that the kids didn't like Demona because she was THE VILLAIN! (Duh.)
Where there any plans during the production of the Avalon world tour for the travelers to wear outfits from the London, Mayan and the ishimura clans?
No. Pragmatically, changing costumes - particularly back when we were producing Gargoyles in the 90s - was a costly, difficult thing. We did it, but sparingly. I doubt we even considered doing it in the way you're suggesting.
English isn't my native language, but i really want ask you some questions.
I know you are color blind and maybe this question is more suitable for Phil Bourassa, but since both are currently working in Young Justice: Outsiders, maybe you should ask him if you can´t answer...
1)Why decided make the Bart's eyes green? In all the comics his eyes are yellow (except in New 52 where were red and that Bart at the end wasn't Bart). His yellow eyes were an important part of his design, even his googles are amber color in order to hiding his eyes color because were so unique what could reveal his secret identity. His eyes were the first thing we saw clearly in Bart´s debut in Flash #92 (and i thought he was a girl because this close up of big eyes and hair locks looked like an image from a romantic comic XD) Change the yellow for the green, is like turning Superman blond.
2) I've noticed the Reach Scientist's dress look like a hijab with a niqab, and according to Young Justice wiki, i'm not the only who think that. So Is this intentional?
2-a) All the Reach women dress like her?
It´s a bit hard to see a woman with a "hijab" being ignored, despised and silent by a man (although she was smarter).
3) Why Traci 13 was redesingned like caucasian to the season 3? She was asian american in the comics and Young Justice had being doing a great work including divertsity in the members of the Team
I love Young Justice and i'm very happy for the season 3. Thank you very much for your great work
For the record, I'm red-green color deficient, not full on color-blind.
1. Maybe because of my color deficiency, I wasn't aware of Bart's eye color. I can't speak for Brandon, Phil or our color specialist James Peters, but it is certainly possible they weren't aware of that detail either.
2. Not that I know of.
2a. Not necessarily. No spoilers.
3. Look again. Thirteen/Traci Thurston is biracial in Young Justice. Her father is Caucasian. Her mother is Asian. I think that's always been true in the comics.
What will the run time of Outsiders be? Will it be longer than Invasion?
I assume you mean per episode.
We no longer have a set time constraint for lenth of episodes, as we did back on our cable days. Of course, we have budgetary constraints, so the episodes are still approximately the same length. But some ran a litttle longer than others, as we can now edit each episode to its ideal length and not to some arbitrary fixed length.
hey mr greg weisman i was just wondering were you aiming a little older and just had to keep it appealing for kids
We talking Young Justice? Gargoyles? Shimmer and Shine? Every series is different in its demographic targeting, sometimes even from season to season. In most cases, we tried to target multiple demographics simultaneously by writing in layers.
Can you tell us the meaning of the colors of the index cards you use to plan your shows?
It changes from show to show, even from season to season. And on YJ S3, because of index card shortages of specific colors (this happened, believe it or not), it changed more than once DURING the season.
As an example, in YJ S1:
Green - villains
Red - Justice League
Blue - The Team (hero stuff)
Purple - The Team (teen stuff)
Yellow - Stuff where a specific date matters (like holdays)
White - Stuff that we're laying pipe for but will not objectively reveal to the audience at this time
The following needs saying, so I'm taking time out from my very packed weekend - not to procrastinate, which would not be unusual - but to write up something that I think is important.
But first, some backstory...
I'm not particularly smart about very many things. I am in many ways a bear of very little brain. Ask anyone. I use an iPhone 4.0 because I literally believe that I don't have the brain space to deal with upgrading. I'm a slow reader. My dyslexia makes math difficult as I am constantly transposing numbers. I'm afraid of change. Etc., etc., etc.
But one thing - maybe the ONLY thing - I am smart about is STORY. Now, I've studied story for decades and decades in small ways and large. I also believe I have an innate gift for story. Like a great pianist, the gift itself would have been wasted without years of study and practice. I've had and done both.
What that means is that - when it comes to story - I have often (not always, but quite often) considered myself - with no modesty and tremendous arrogance - to be the smartest person in the room. In any room where this is a topic of conversation, but especially in any room where story was being professionally discussed. (You can see why - with an attitude like that - I'm so popular with animation executives and the like, and why I've been fired from so many jobs.)
Even on the many, many occasions when I have felt that I am among peers who understand story as well as I do, I never felt like they understood it better than I. As good, yes. Differently, sure. Stylistically, of course. But not better. I never felt anyone knew story better.
Oh, I've made mistakes, missed opportunities, slipped up, ad nauseam. I'm human and have never claimed perfection. I've collaborated with some brilliant and wonderful people. The list is nearly endless. But none of that ever shook my basic feeling that when it came to story, I was as smart or smarter than anyone in the room.
All that changed with YOUNG JUSTICE.
So let me state it for the record: when it comes to story, BRANDON VIETTI is the Smartest Human Being in the Room.
I'd love to tell you - BELIEVE ME, I'd love to tell you - that he learned all this at my ancient knee, and that if the student has surpassed the master, the master can at least take some satisfaction in that. But that, dear readers, would simply be a load of crap.
From Day One of YJ, as witness Kevin Hopps could attest, Brandon Vietti knew story, understood it deep, the way I do. And he was smarter about it than I.
The ultimate example of this dropped this past Friday.
Episode 307 of Young Justice: Outsiders, entitled "Evolution."
SPOILERS coming, so if you haven't seen the episode then please go watch it first before reading any further.
Like all YJ episodes this season, Brandon and I broke this story together. A pretty even 50-50 collaboration. There were certain things I wanted specifically to see, like the Cave Bear. Certain things I had researched such as that in (actual documented non-DC Comics) mythology, Nabu was the son of Marduk. And there were certain things that BV wanted in there, like the meta-human kid that Kalibak sacrifices. Certain things he had researched like The Art of War by Sun Tzu (a.k.a. Vandal Savage, a.k.a. Genghis Khan, a.k.a. Marduk, a.k.a. etc.)
And together, we created a pretty kick-ass story for the episode. I don't actually remember the day of the week, but for the sake of simplifying the story, let's say we finished breaking/building the story with index cards all neatly pushpinned into my office bulletin board on a Monday. Monday evening. We both felt pretty good about it, or at least I did, and we left for the day.
Tuesday morning, he comes in and says, "Something's missing."
I tell him he's crazy. There's nothing missing from 307. Nothing. It's a great damn episode. Maybe one of our best.
BV says no. Something's missing.
I say, "What? What's missing?!"
BV says, "I don't know yet. Something. Give me a day."
I roll my eyes in as pronounced a fashion as I possibly can and say, fine.
Wednesday morning he comes in and says, "I want to add a character."
I'm resistant. "It'll mess up the works, I tell him."
But he explains, and of course, he's right. Because Brandon Vietti is the Smartest Person in the Room.
The character he wants to add is Olympia. Olympia Savage. (I take credit for the first name only.) That's right. In our first version of this story, Olympia simply did not exist.
Try to picture "Evolution" without Olympia. Be honest. It's still a solid story. A few of the actual things Olympia does, we had Cassandra doing. But otherwise the plot remains almost completely unchanged.
But not the ending.
With Olympia in the story, the episode isn't merely a solid YJ episode. It's not merely a great YJ episode. To my mind, "Evolution" transcends YJ. It is a phenomenal, even revolutionary twenty-plus minutes of television.
And I tried to talk the guy out of it.
Of course, BV's contributions don't end there. He wrote the script, too, which is fantastic. And if you knew how much he contributed to every facet of production it would humble you. It humbles me, and as you can see above, I'm NOT a humble guy.
But screw all that. I'm not talking about pretty pictures, or color, or sound, or music or even dialogue.
This post is ONLY about STORY. And when it comes to STORY... BRANDON VIETTI will always be the SMARTEST HUMAN BEING IN THE ROOM.
I bow to his greatness. And trust me, I do not do that lightly.
To be honest, he's so good, it's pretty damn annoying.
But it's an honor to be his partner.
Are they any bisexual and trans gendered gargoyles in the gargoyle universe?Have we seen them without mentioning who they are. the tv show and comic were theyre closeted for now?
Thank you and the crww for a great cartoon ahead of time.
Bisexual for sure, and yes you've seen some, though keep in mind that most gargoyles mate once and for life, so you're less likely to get proof. I'd think there would be trans-gendered ones, as well, but I'll admit I haven't yet written any.
Back in the day, we weren't allowed to objectively present LGBTQ characters. That doesn't mean the characters were in the closet. We tried to write with consistency - even to the things we weren't allowed to do.
hi Greg i was just wondering were you making gargoyles for kids or did you just have to appeal it to them to and were aiming for older
Our primary target was dictated to us as "BOYS 6-11". But our intent was always to reach a much wider audience. We had to hit that center target, and we did. But we intentionally created a series that would work for kids as young as four. For girls and women. For tweens, teens, college students and adults.
Are all of the premises for individual scripts generated by you and Brandon? Or, does your team of writers pitch some story ideas to you? Can you give a specific examples in regards to Young Justice how this collaboration works?
On seasons one and two, all the springboards were generated by Brandon, myself and Kevin Hopps, working together to break the stories. That is, we didn't go off separately and come up with premises and then pitch them to each other. We sat in a room and worked it all out together. I then wrote all the premises, and those were handed to the writers, who wrote the outlines and the scripts.
Season three has been similar, except it's just been Brandon and myself generating the springboards and breaking the stories. I then go off and write all the beat outlines. And those are handed off to the writers to go straight to script.
Do you enjoy having conversations with people about your work (If they are not asking for spoilers or trying to pitch you ideas etc.
Hey Mr.Weisman, managed to check out Starbrand and Nightmask and it was pretty good to no one's surprise. Also congrats on a season 3 of Young Justice. I just have two questions regarding that show.
1. You mentioned that there was both a timeline(that only you and Brandon are privy to) and a series bible(with details like Vandal Savage being Attila
the Hun supposedly). In the context of Young Justice, is their a difference or are they more or less the same.
2. You mentioned on this site that you used post cards and a giant billboards with different cards with different colors to establish certain dialogue or plot points. Do you also use them for events off screen such during the time skip or prior to the series?
Thanks in advance for time.
1. They are two different documents. I'm constantly updating the timeline. The bible, I haven't looked at in five years.
2. Index cards, not post cards. And, yes, sometimes.
What in the animation industry has changed since you first got into it, for better or for worse?
Tons. And nothing.
The biggest change for me, right now at least, is the end of animation in broadcast syndication and for the major networks, through the rise and (plateauing) of cable stations, into streaming services.
Why didn't SpecSpidey or YJ have "Previously On" segments? Was it a network or production decision?
I'm vehemently against using them. I learned painfully from Gargoyles that they actually have the opposite effect then one would think.
Instead of acting as small reminders or hints, they convince people that they've missed too much to join the series now. They were never necessary. Everything you truly NEED to know to enjoy a given episode is spelled out in one way or another within the episode itself.
Did it ever get annoying having to make almost every single character in Gargoyles you wanted to kill fall off something?
Eh. More amusing than annoying.
Hi big fan of the series gargoyles thank you so much for your part in creating the show. My question is during the creation of the gargoyles were did the ideas of there look come form for instance London clans animal features wyvern clans beaks horns human faces and so on also Hm which were your favorite clan artwork my personal favorite wyven/avalon clan
I don't really play favorites. They're all my children.
The idea that the London clan would be modeled (loosely) after heraldic animals was mine. Not the execution, of course. Credit for that goes mostly to our lead character designer Greg Guler.
The idea for Zafiro being serpentine was also mine. We just looked to Aztec, Olmec & Mayan art for inspiration.
Hi Mr. Weisman. I remember we met in WonderCon last year and I asked you questions about writing spec scripts for cartoons. I remember you said that I should write three scripts, then go over them, and only submit one of them if you're absolutely sure it's good.
Knowing what you and your crew got away with in Young Justice, how do how people like you and Gennedy Tartakovsky on Sym-Bionic Titan get away with the TV-PG content and make your show with teens in mind? And since I plan to make TV-14 shows for the main Cartoon Network channel, would the channel accept them?
You'd have to ask them. The needs of ANY given channel are constantly changing.
And I don't write for an older audience. I write on levels so it works for the widest possible audience.
How long did it take to write and make an episode for Young Justice?
By the way, you are THE BEST writer on TV ever!!!
Um... well, it takes a minimum of nine or ten months to go from an episodic springboard to a final complete episode in the can, ready to air. Often more like a year.
Hi Greg, I was just wondering, how do you react to negative criticism on a show you worked on before like all those people who heavily criticized something you that you and your team liked, like the Joker in Young Justice for example? Would you stick to the creative choice despite how the majority of the audience did not approve or would you make changes to that criticism even if you thought it was fine the way it was.
I know I'm not obligated to advice the creator what to change or not not to change, I am merely asking how the creative team would react in this situation, because I too am learning in production management and how to plan construction for a form of entertainment media.
It would really help,
I have to stick to my guns. In part because of the long lagtime between production and airing. And in part because I need to maintain my passion for a project. If I'm taking notes from everyone who can make a suggestion on the internet, I'll (a) never get anything done and (b) quickly lose my passion for the project.
If I had listened to all the YJ criticism that came down the pike early on, I would have, for example, cut Miss Martian, Superboy and Kid Flash from the series. I would have made the season one Robin Tim Drake and not Dick Grayson, which means we would never have gotten Nightwing in Season Two. I would have lost Dick's laughter and his wordplay. Aqualad would be another white guy and not the son of Black Manta. Etc. Etc. Etc.
People don't know what we have planned, and they react. Often negatively - especially on the internet - to things that they will eventually love if we and they are patient.
Going through the archives, I find the point by point summaries you give of the production process behind your various shows very interesting. It isn't necessarily obvious how much work goes into animated shows so I appreciate that you provide these brief insights.
Have you made a lot of changes to your approach or has it remained largely the same over the years? To put it another way, was your day to day work on Gargoyles significantly different to that of the work you did on WITCH, Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice?
Are any changes more to do with your own personal preferences, or are they largely determined by shifts occurring in the industry in general, with improvements to technology and so on?
Day to day, little has changed of substance. But my process of breaking both arcs and stories continues to be refined with every new series. And there are technological changes that influence things too. I used to review timing sheets. Now, I almost never do. In fact, on Star Wars Rebels, I never even saw storyboards - just animatics.
But every series is slightly different. A lot depends on who you're partnered with, and the processes at any given studio, etc.
And yet, at the end of the day, the process is still basically the same.
I was recently watching the Gargoyles episode "Eye of the Beholder" (which is one of my favorite episodes) and I was curious about one aspect of that episode's production. Was the Werefox's roars, snarls, growls etc. performed by Frank Welker? Some of the effects sound quite similar to other large beasts that Frank has performed. Thanks in advance.
I don't recall. Was Bronx in that episode? If not, then probably not - as we're not allowed to use Frank's voice without paying him. And I don't think we'd have brought him in ONLY to roar for a guest werefox.
In any case, I'd think most were done with sound effects.
But it was so long ago.
You have stated that to do Dr. Fate's voice Kevin Michel Richardson (the voice of Nabu) and whomever is playing the host (Jason Spisak/Kid Flash, Khary Payton/Aqualad, Lacey Chabert/Zatanna, or Nolan North/Zatara) are recorded saying the same lines. Then in post production, the voices are double-tracked, so the audience hears two voices.
1. What is the process step by step in order to be able to double-track?
2. Is double-tracking something that requires a studio in order to be able to do or could it be done from a smart phone?
1. Um, it's pretty much what you listed above. It didn't really matter who we recorded first, so that was based on scheduling. If Kevin was in the recording booth first, we'd record Nabu first. If the host body actor was there first, we'd record him or her first. If they were both there, it was sort of Voice Director's choice. We then played the take from whomever recorded first for the second actor, who attempted to match the basic cadence and tempo. But we consciously chose NOT to have the second actor try to match the first exactly. We like those moments when they aren't perfectly aligned. Then during my attended edit of the dialogue, we'd lay those tracks over each other for storyboarding and animation purposes. (It helps that the Helmet of Fate doesn't reveal any lip movements, that might cause confusion between which track to animate.) Finally, in post-production, specifically at the mix session, we'd mix the tracks so that you can hear at least a taste of both flavors.
2. Uh... I don't know enough about smartphones to answer that question. I wouldn't know how to record one track on my smartphone, let alone two, let alone know whether or not I could double track 'em onto a single track.
hey Greg, i've been a fan of Gargoyles since i was 11 yrs old, i was wondering, how did you come up with the distinct roars, growls and snarls for each clan member? (you can include Demona if you want)
We worked them out on two levels. First with the various actors and voice director Jamie Thomason. Then with our sound effects editor Paca Thomas at Advantage Audio.
FYI - Advantage Audio is also where we did The Spectacular Spider-Man and where we are currently posting the Rain of the Ghosts AudioPlay.
I leave tomorrow for MomoCon 2015. More information on it can be found at their website: http://www.momocon.com/
But here's MY schedule for the weekend:
FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015
BREAKING INTO ANIM 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Main "Villains" Room Omni-International
w/Floyd County Productions
SIGNING 03:30pm - 05:30pm
YOUNG JUSTICE 08:00pm - 09:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2015
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:30pm
ANIM CREATORS 02:00pm - 03:00pm
w/Ben Mangum, Mike Reiss
SIGNING 05:30pm - 07:00pm
SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015
SIGNING 11:30am - 01:00pm
GARGOYLES 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
That's right! Both Keith "Goliath" David and Crispin "Red Arrow" Freeman will also be at MomoCon!
As usual, at my autograph sessions, I will happily sign anything you bring along with you for free. But I will also be signing and selling copies of my two novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM. ($10 per book, cash only.) If you purchase both books (signed and personalized for $20 cash total), you get a FREE art surprise. I will also be signing and selling copies of my animation and radio play scripts (from GARGOYLES, MEN IN BLACK, STARSHIP TROOPERS, TEAM ATLANTIS, W.I.T.C.H., THE BATMAN, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, DC SHOWCASE: GREEN ARROW, BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS GARGOYLES, YOUNG JUSTICE, BEWARE THE BATMAN, GARGOYLES MEETS THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS YOUNG JUSTICE and KIM POSSIBLE). Each signed and personalized script is $20 cash. I'll also be giving away #RainoftheGhosts AudioPlay postcards for free!
So please stop by and say hello!
Hello, Mr. Weisman.
I had a question regarding the adaptation of original characters from television to their comic book counterparts. One of the more displayed occurrences of the comic book integrating a character from a television series was with DC comics integrating Harley Quinn from the Batman: The Animated Series. Since you had similar experience when the Aqualad character you created in conjunction with Brandon Vietti and Phil Bourassa became the official Aqualad of the DC comics universe, I thought you could answer a few questions on the subject.
1. What is the official process a comic book marketing company must use in order for its writers to begin using an original character? Do representatives from the comic book corporations contact writers from the television program and make negotiate to gain permission from you and other important figure heads on the television program?
2. How long does the process take for the comic book corporation to acquire all of the rights to the character and include the individual in the comic books?
3. How do these companies determine what makes an original character worthy of being integrated into the comic book continuity of these fictional universes? Since the version of the Aqualad character you created became the official one in the DC Comics universe, I imagine that the officials representing the comic book company would have explained what properties stood out the most.
4. Which party retains the copyright stemming from the creation of the character?
5. What are the chances that another one of your original characters from your Young Justice series, Green Beetle, will be adapted for the DC Comics continuity? After seeing the show, I was very surprised to learn everything about the character had not already been adapted from the comic books, but was an original creation on your part. Despite the limited screen time compared to some of the main characters, the character was fleshed-out and well-developed. I thought you had put enough creativity for the character to make a jump to the comic book continuity.
Thank you for your time.
1. I'm not too comfortable answering this generically. I'm sure every case is unique. So I can only speak to examples I've been involved with, specifically - as you mentioned - Aqualad. In that case, the thing to keep in mind is that no one employed on the production has any rights in ANY of the characters we create. It's all being done under a "Work For Hire" contract, which means that Time-Warner, the company that owns DC Comics, Warner Bros Animation and Cartoon Network, owns all our work product outright. So they don't need our permission to use characters they already own, including Aqualad, which (a) was based at least in part on the existing Aqualad that they already owned and (b) they owned from the moment the idea for the new version came out of our heads, pens, tablets and keyboards. Geoff Johns did contact us and talk to us about the details of our version. He then went off and did his own revision on that for DC Comics.
2. See above. They already owned it. So it took NO time.
3. I think Geoff just liked the character - and/or thought he could do something with him - but you'd really have to ask him.
4. There are no parties. There is only one big corporation with multiple divisions.
5. I think it's unlikely, because if it didn't happen back when the show was on the air, why would it happen now?
1) Do you ever grow tired or weary of writing and working on only super hero type of shows? I'm assuming working on this new star wars series must of been a breath of fresh air for you?
2)When it comes to the projects you create and produce how do you pick the correct voice director for the project? Do you have a process you go through or that type of thing out of your hands?
1. They're not that different. And I love super-heroes. It's a bastard genre born from every other type of genre fiction, which allows me to do almost anything.
2. Well, when it's up to me, I tend to go with Jamie Thomason, who's both amazingly talented and a good friend. We have our rapport down to a science, and so it makes the process both fun and phenomenal. But sometimes it's not my call. And then there are a number of other great directors I've also worked with, in particular Ginny McSwain, but also Andrea Romano, Curtis Koller, Dave Filoni, Sue Blu and others. I also enjoy voice directing myself, so if schedules permit, I'm game.
ONE MORE TIME!! This looks to be as final a revision as it's going to get for Denver Comic Con website (http://denvercomiccon.com/), before I head for the airport in a couple minutes. But, again, follow me on TWITTER @Greg_Weisman to stay up-to-the-minute on when and where I'll be.
DENVER COMIC CON LATEST PANEL, INTERVIEW & SIGNING SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, JUNE 13th, 2014
10:30am - 11:20am - ART OF THE PITCH in ROOM 110/112.
Victor Cook, Greg Guler and myself will be talking about pitching and selling animated telvision series to the Powers That Be.
11:30am - 12:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
I'll be signing my novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS throughout the weekend for $10 cash. (That $10 includes the book, a personalized signature and copies of the original development art by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was.) I also have a half-dozen copies of Young Justice teleplays, which I'll sell (and sign) for $20 cash. I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for free - especially if you buy my book. ;)
12:50pm - 1:20pm - INTERVIEW with Tim Beyers of MOTLEY FOOL in the MEDIA LOUNGE.
1:30pm - 2:20pm - CARTOON VOICES I in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
I'll be moderating this panel, which features Kevin Conroy, Jim Cummings, Michael Dorn, Jennifer Hale & Veronica Taylor.
3:30pm - 4:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
4:45pm - 5:35pm - YOUNG JUSTICE in the MINI-MAIN ROOM.
This one includes myself (writer-producer, voice actor) & Christopher Jones (YJ companion comic book artist).
5:35pm - 6:05pm - OPENING CEREMONIES in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
7:00pm - 10:00pm - FOUR COLOR MIXER at Breckinridge Brewery/Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown.
SATURDAY, JUNE 14th, 2014
9:35am - 10:00am - INTERVIEW with BEYOND THE TROPE at my table at Booth 122.
10:00am - 10:20am - INTERVIEW with WESTWORD at my table at Booth 122.
10:30am - 11:20am - RAIN OF THE GHOSTS in ROOM 201.
I'll be reading from and discussing my new novels, Rain of the Ghosts & Spirits of Ash and Foam.
11:45am - 12:35pm - ANIMATION PROFESSIONALS in ROOM 201
I'm moderating this panel, which features Chris Beaver, Victor Cook, Greg Guler, Derek Hunter, Christy Marx, & Jan Scott-Frasier.
3:00pm - 3:50pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
4:00pm - 4:50pm - GARGOYLES 20th ANNIVERSARY in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
This is a big one, with me (writer-producer-creator), Victor Cook (storyboard artist), Jim Cummings (voice of Dingo), Jonathan Frakes (voice of David Xanatos), Greg Guler (character designer), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (voice of Elisa Maza) and Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona) .
5:00pm - 6:00pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
SUNDAY, JUNE 15th, 2014
9:30am - 10:20am - INTERVIEW with EXAMINER.COM at my BOOTH 122.
10:30am - 11:20am - THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN in the MINI-MAIN ROOM.
Includes myself (writer-producer-voice actor), Victor Cook (director-producer), Jim Cummings (voice of Crusher Hogan) & Greg Guler (artist).
1:30pm - 2:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
2:45pm - 3:35pm - CARTOON VOICES II in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
Again, I'm moderating for Robert Axelrod, Kimberly Brooks, Jennifer Hale & April Stewart.
4:00pm - 5:00pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
In addition to the times listed above, I'll often just be hanging out at my table, so stop by. Attend a panel, buy a book, say hello!
Do you think if I call cartoon network on a regular and complain about how unfair they are for taking down YJ before we was able to have a 3rd/4th/5th season but yet they have all these other shows like bakugan still coming on.? Im not trying to down play them but seriously. ?! Why that play all the time but yet there is never a rerun of YJ .?? It came on on Saturday and Sunday morning. ..that's it.! I wouldn't blame the ratings if its so low.. who really wakes up at 8 or 9 to watch that show (could have came on at 10, not sure since it been so long) unless they know it was going to play that time.?
And that's another thing.. how is anybody suppose to know is there was gonna be another season if y'all don't advertise it.? I realized that y'all didn't do that for the 2nd season or if you was gonna have one (unless I looked it up on Google or something). There was times were I didn't know if a show was coming on that Saturday morning and I would have woke up for nothing ... just upset and sad.. I think that's another reason why y'all did not have that many ratings... we never really knew when it would come on unless we look it up. Please answer ... I really wanna know
I've lost track of exactly what question you "really wanna know" the answer for. So I'll try to comment on what I can.
I think we can all agree that the series didn't receive as much promotion as we might have liked. Frankly, no show I've ever worked on has ever received as much promotion as I would have liked. None. (Although Star Wars Rebels may be the exception. Lucasfilm has quite the machine up and running to create buzz.) That's just the way things go in a business where promoting an animated series is an additional expense that most networks have decided they can't afford.
Whether you like Bakugan or not, keep in mind it's an acquisition, not an original series. It's considerably cheaper because the U.S. network doesn't have to pay for production, only for a license fee to air it in America.
Calling CN to complain daily does NOT sound like a good plan. Imagine if someone did that to you?
Did you, Greg Guler, and Frank Paur design Demona to be sexy on purpose?
Well... we didn't design her NOT to be sexy. I guess what I'm saying is that having her be sexy wasn't our priority. We wanted her to look formidable, mostly. But gargoyles are just... naturally sexy, I guess. (Everyone tells me so.)
When the shows are being edited, how is it decided what goes and what stays? How are some lines more important to the over all plot of the story than others?
Um. They just are. I mean, if a character says something essential to understanding the plot, that'll stay in. If it's very funny, it'll probably stay in. If it's kinda off-point, and the episode is running long, then the line's at risk.
I have a few questions about some of your unmade projects that've been mentioned in passing. Hopefully you'll be at liberty to discuss these, but I'd understand if not.
1. On a panel about developing television animation, you'd mentioned that your and Brandon Vietti's Green Lantern development "didn't even have the same lead [character]" as Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Though I'm very happy with how that show turned out, as it was left in very capable hands, I'm curious. Who was the lead in your Green Lantern development?
2. I was also surprised to hear you'd worked on a Space Ghost, as he's my favorite superhero. Though it didn't seem like you developed it for long, what was the general tone you and Vietti were pushing toward with that series?
2b.What was the cast like?
3. You mention working on a Thundercats reboot here (http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?qid=14819). Was it the infamous "rock band" development of the series, or a different one entirely?
4. At Dreamworks, you'd developed Small Soldiers: The Animated Series. Was the show meant to be a series about the continuing battle between the toys or was it going to be a show that used the mythology behind the toys (the battle between the Gorgonites and the Commando Elite) as the basis for its stories?
1. Charlie Vickers. Though pretty much every Earth Lantern you can think of would have gotten in there eventually. (Plus a lot of extra-terrestrial Lanterns, as well.) Hal would have had a prominent role in the pilot.
2. Space Ghost is also a favorite of mine. General tone: action, mystery, fun. Lots of HB action characters, including another of my personal favorites: the Herculoids.
3. So long ago... Might have been a rock band though my one episode didn't feature that as an element. It was for Duane Capizzi, if that helps narrow it down.
4. Even LONGER ago. But both, I think.
Hi, Greg, just following up from what you said on twitter. Did you hear the comments Paul Dini made about why shows like Young Justice were not renewed?
Here's a link to the specific clip
And a link to the full podcast in case anyone else wants it
What are your thoughts on this?
For the record, I listened to the clip but not the entire podcast. So if I missed out on some important context, I apologize.
I agree with a lot of what was said, but I don't agree that the executives didn't want girls to watch. (And I'm not really sure that's exactly what was being said, though that's the way it's been reported on that internet thing.) The target audience for Young Justice was ALWAYS Boys 6-11. If we ALSO got girls that was fine. If we got older kids, tweens, teens and adults, that was fine. If we got younger kids, that was fine.
But we had to hit the target: Boys 6-11. And we did to some extent, but not enough to compensate for the loss of our toy line. Anyone who says the show was cancelled because too many people (of any specific demographic) were watching us, is, I think, grasping at straws. It's not that too many were watching, it's that NOT ENOUGH were watching in our target demographic. Even then, if the toys had sold, we would have been fine. But the toy line was cancelled, which took away our financing for the series. And that was that.
Thanks to the joys of TiVO my daughter and I have discovered and been watching Ben 10.
(Mini review: The theme song is right up there with Spectacular Spiderman and the characters are fun and endearing. That said, at least as far as we've gotten, I have noticed a lack of, (for lack of coming up with a better word), 'depth' plotwise: They stop the bad guy at the nuclear power plant, but they don't explain where all the workers went. The rescue the three kids at a sleepaway camp overrun but space fungus, but don't explain whether the rest of the camp ran away or were captured and consumed. Etc. I noticed that the show was structured with one season of standalone plot stories mostly showing Ben, Gwen and the grandfather adjusting and interacting in their new situation. The second season starts having plots of Plumbers, and Forever Knights and aliens groups, but mainly having them appear in standalone stories. Starting the 3rd season I presume they'll start putting together all these parts into more of a greater mythology. Or so I guess from the fact they have multiple follow-up series.)
I noticed that you wrote the episode I most recently watched, Ben 10,000. It was very good. It made me wonder- it seems to be the most 'overarching plot' based so far. Beyond showing us future hero Ben, future magic caster Gwen, future society etc- it seems to tease the direction of the series. Leading me to my questions:
1- Were you approached to write this particular episode because you are know for working on shows with detailed overarching mythology, or was it more random of that episode being available, or you choosing from a list and it appealing to you?
2- In the other direction, when you are choosing none regular writers for your own shows, do you choose specific writers with their track record in mind to match certain types of stories? Do you offer them to choose among several none claimed upcoming plot whether or not it matches what you think of as that writers specialty, or what writing he or she did that impressed you?
3- What type of preparation do you do/expect for none series writers? Watch all the previous episodes? Read synapses of all? Prepare a list of representative episodes to back up the plot of the episode to be written and its tone? Just take detailed instructions from the show runners and expect tremendous edits to cover the adjustments to continuity?
Laura 'ad astra' Sack
(As apposed to the 'as astra' I accidentally autofilled into my last 12 postings;)
1. So long ago... As I recall, I think story editors Tom Pugsley and Greg Klein approached me because they knew I liked Time Travel stories. I had done one for them on THE MUMMY.
2. Generally, I assemble a writing 'staff' at the beginning of each season. '(Staff' is in quotes, because these days, in fact, the 'staff' is all freelancers.) In choosing a staff, I generally am choosing from an embarrassment of riches. There are a ton of talented writers who can handle the kind of show I tend to do. I have a few individuals that I've worked with many times before, who are familiar with the way I work and are very good. So I tend to go back to them over and over, assuming they're available. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I push a specific story on a specific writer. More often, I've got three or four and - schedule allowing - I let the writers fight it out for which they'd prefer. (It's never much of a fight.)
3. I'm not clear what you mean by "none series writers". Even assuming the "none" is a typo for "non," I'm still not sure. As for prep, I expect them to have done their homework. We rarely have the footage for them to look at episodes, but I do expect them to keep up with reading the final outlines and scripts.
You had mentioned that you negotiated with Jeffrey Katzenberg to get the publishing rights for Rain of the Ghosts. Did you attempt to acquire the rights to any other property you developed while at Dreamworks?
I have turnaround rights to pitch a couple of other properties that I developed there.
You once mentioned that you write down character traits, or something of the like, to help with making sure all the characters are in-character; but on a show with multiple writers, and with character development over the course of a story, how do you write those traits down?
I usually type up a document, generally called a series bible, and distribute that to everyone involved. Also, all writers have access to ALL of the outlines and scripts, so they can see how our characters are evolving.
A few question on recording voices.
You are known to have a strong preference for recording voices with the whole cast together whenever possible. It is my understanding that is not the industry norm.
1- Have you worked on shows recorded in isolation? By choice? Do you ever think that method better suits certain genres or specific shows? (I recall an interview with a voice actress on Daria in which she said how much she loved being by herself in the booth repeating a line multiple times trying different inflections and pacing. It occurred to me such a satirical show might have benefited by a less natural feel with starker separations between spoken lines.)
2- Have you ever had resistance from above when you let them know you planned on recording the actors together?
3- Is it becoming more common to record voices together, or are most shows still recorded in isolation? (Are there any other shows you haven't worked on that you know were recorded together?)
And that is my last saved up comment! Thank you so much for your time reading these comments and the work that inspire them.
1. I have, though not on shows I produced. (Or at least not regularly on shows I produced.)
1a. I don't think it's ever a good idea, but some folk swear by it. Different strokes, and all that...
2. No. A group recording is more economic, so for purely financial reasons, it is the industry norm in television. Not in movies. But I'm mostly a TV guy.
3. You really have it backwards. MOST shows record their actors in groups. Only a few do not.
Now that I've posted all my episode thoughts...(in theory I still plan on doing the same on the comics, but...) I want to say thank you for the series in general. (I'd go into details, but it seems redundant after posting all those responses.) I've thoroughly enjoyed it in all its parts. Well, by the time you read this the video game will be out. [Yep!] I probably will have to sit it out. Pathetic as it is, I have to admit to some motion sickness from a lot of video games. I'm assuming I'll be able to get some pretty detailed descriptions from the good folks here. I hope that there will be other continuations as well. (Also good luck on your new Star Wars series.)
I have to admit to more than a little annoyance that another show I enjoy is canceled, but also some confusion. If I understand correctly one of the major factors, if not the major factor in the cancellation is that the merchandise didn't sell as well as they companies had hoped. Good viewership numbers are almost inconsequential. If this is true, (big if, I admit), I don't understand the business model. Why continue making cartoons targeting the older demographic at all? I know the show aimed for a broad audience, but it aimed for each part directly. A lot of cartoons aim themselves at kids directly, and place bonus references and jokes for the older viewers. I've loved many shows like that. But the complexity of characters and plots in shows like Young Justice is not a bonus for older viewers, it is integral. (IMHO) A relationship like, for example, Guardian and Bumblebee is more relateable to a college or adult viewer than a kid. (I would have gone to Babs and Dick, but that was mainly expanded upon in the comics.) A kid would gravitate to the first season romances, or the M'gan/L'gan/Conner triangle. All the relationships were interesting and important to the show, and none were simple, it's just different parts resonant (from experience or at least plot type familiarity) better to different age sets. (Or for out of YJ examples- In Green Lantern- the complexity of Razor and Ia's relationship- given his past lost love, her resemblance, his survivor guilt and rage issues and her ultimate sacrifice is not something that targets the younger viewers of the show. They'll just accept the two are a couple and enjoy the fight scenes. It was perhaps more integral to the show than any Hal based plot. In Tron the entire looks of the show was aimed older, high teens and 20s would be my guess, and not particularly conducive to action figures to my eye.)
Older fans are less likely to buy toys, (or have toys bought for them), but they also have control over their own finances to buy what is actually advertised during broadcast. Between the 24 hour cable tv cycle and dvrs, grown ups will be watching when kids can't, allowing for targeted ads of the none happy meal/stompies/pillow pet variety. (For the record, my 4.5 year old adores her stompies. ~she's 5 now~) I get that a franchise like DC or Marvel or Star Wars can expect some cross product sales, and even a show not squarely aimed at a small kid can have a cool iconic action figure that sells well. But no one expects Smallville or Arrow to survive on toy and apparel sales, they stays on air based on the number and demographics of viewers, just like Birds of Prey did not last for the same reason. Have cartoons, or at least the beautifully animated ones, become loss leaders for merchandise like comics have become loss leaders for movies? And is that a reasonable burden to place on a show that does not squarely target the audience that will buy those toys? Is a high level video game an attempt to tap into an action figure equivalent of older viewers?
I don't want to turn this into a rant about how annoyed I am that YJ was canceled....er, not renewed. I will admit to being mightily confused why DC Nation isn't aiming to expand into more than an hour of programming. I just assumed it was planned to become a 2 or 3 hour block like the old Disney Afternoon, with perhaps a rotating stable of shows. But I am interested on your more insider insight on what the none creative aims are when a new cartoon is unleashed upon the world nowadays and whether they are reasonable. Thanks,
I think one thing to keep in mind is ratings these days are NOT what they used to be.
Ducktales was a ratings smash. It made it's money by itself. Any merchandising was gravy.
Our numbers on Gargoyles, back in the day, puts the ratings of many of today's quote-unquote top-rated animated series to shame. (And Gargoyles was a hit, but never a home run, ratings-wise. Just a single or double.)
So with lower numbers overall, that means less income is coming in from advertising. Meanwhile, the costs of production have either held steady or gone up. That's pretty simple math, isn't it?
So to pay for the production of these shows, you're counting on other streams of revenue to balance the books - and for an action show that mostly means TOYS.
So if the toys don't sell - for whatever reason - how do you pay for the series?
Whether that's reasonable or not is somewhat immaterial. It's just the cold, hard truth of the situation.
So EVERY show I've ever been asked to produce has a core target that it's trying to reach, and usually that's BOYS 6-11, because the belief is (whether you agree or not) that Boys 6-11 drive toy sales for action figures. Doesn't mean the networks object to other demographics (girls or younger kids or older kids, tweens, teens and adults) ALSO watching. But you still have to hit the target.
Picture it like a bullseye. Concentric circles. You MUST hit the center. But hopefully in hitting that sweet spot, you are also reaching the other demos. Back on Gargoyles, I was farely successful at hitting that target audience AND reaching other demos too. And that has always been my goal on these shows. We didn't quite manage it on W.I.T.C.H. We did on Spectacular Spider-Man. And our success was mixed on Young Justice. Ratings were decent overall (by today's standards though not by any absolute standard at all), but our ratings in our target demo were inconsistent at best. (We could go on forever about why, but it doesn't change the FACT of the numbers.)
Throw in Mattel's decision to abandon their YJ line (again, without going into the reasons behind it), and frankly it's no surprise we weren't renewed.
Because how could Warner Bros afford to make it?
After experimenting for two seasons and 46 episodes of YJ, why wouldn't they take the chance on something new that might bring in more money? Or at least pay its own way?
Frankly, we need a new business model. But the studios haven't landed on one that works yet. So they still chase hits.
Thank you for answering my previous questions!
You have made reference to SAG before, so presumably Young Justice has to abide by SAG rules or get boycotted. I have a few questions related to this and the voice acting part of the production process:
1. How do the voice talent get paid? A flat rate? Are they paid by the hour? By the line? By the episode? Or some variable rate?
2. When you voiced Lucas Carr, did you have to join the SAG union? Or is production allowed to hire non-SAG personnel as long as they pay them differently?
3. You have stated that getting a second character out of an actor entails no added costs. Since it is free, I am wondering why a few actors (Jesse McCartney comes to mind) doesn't get to voice a character other than Dick Grayson. Was it a matter of actor preference, producer preference, or a mix of the two?
4. How long does a typical recording session last? Do you sit in throughout the whole session, or leave it up to the voice director? How many episode(s) are typically recorded in a sitting?
5. When one of the voice actors sing a song (Reach for a Reach, Hello Megan), they get separately credited. Is this subject to a different rate, or is the singing part simply added as a "character" in determining pay?
Thank you, and I hope by the time you are reading this, you've already got several gigs lined up!
0. I'm not sure "boycot" is the correct word. The major studios sign contracts with SAG, that prohibits them from contracting non-SAG labor for their acting needs. They can get around this by SUB-contracting, but most don't on major projects.
1. I don't want to speak for EVERY show. In my experience, a voice actor gets paid a flat fee for four hours of work and up to two character voices. For a tiny additional fee, you can get a third voice. But this holds per episode. So for example, even if you could record one guy playing four roles over two episodes in a single four hour session, you'd still owe him two payments. The fee is negotiable, as long as it's above union minimum. But most series pay the union minimum plus 10% and have favored nation clauses in their contracts, which prohibits them from giving any individual actor a raise without simultaneously giving raises to EVERY actor on the series.
2. I first joined SAG to play Donald Menken on Spectacular Spider-Man, and am still a member in good-standing. No union shop can hire non-union actors.
3. Well, Jesse often DID voice additional characters, like Thug #2 or whatever. But generally, there are some actors who have the ability to change their voice enough that they can convincingly play multiple characters without the audience balking. Others really - as talented as they are as performers - only have their own voice.
4. Sessions typically go three to four hours. But often we'll be there all day. We can only keep each individual actor for four hours without incurring overtime, but we could start one actor at 10am and have him until 2pm. And we could start another actor at noon, and have her until 4pm. And a third at 1pm and keep him until 5pm. That way, we have overlap to record their scenes together, but we also have more time to get everything done.
5. Singing is a separate rate. And it's also an additional character, unless they are singing IN CHARACTER. That is, if Nightwing suddenly burst into song, we'd have to pay an additional fee to Jesse for his singing. But we wouldn't have to count that as a second character (or third, since he's also doing Thug #2).
Since virtually every wardrobe change in a cartoon requires a new character model turn sheet, what did your character designers draw for scenes like when Fox was naked on the rooftop in Eye of the Beholder or Elisa was naked under a blanket in Heritage?
It was a long time ago. But if you're asking if I have naked production pictures of them, I'm sure the answer is no.
Today marks the Nineteenth Anniversary of the World Premiere of Gargoyles at the movie theaters on Pleasure Island at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida. Certainly one of the most stressful evenings of my life, one that seemed to veer toward total disaster but ultimately turned out to be a bit of a triumph and then a flat-out fun time with Keith David, Josh Silver, Salli Richardson and Marina Sirtis.
Wanna hear more of this story? Then make plans now to attend ConVergence 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 3-6, 2014 to celebrate our TWENTIETH Anniversary next year. I'll tell this anecdote and many, many more... (Honestly, you won't be able to shut me up!)
On an unrelated note, I'd also like to thank all the friends, family and fans, who took time out to wish me a happy FIFTIETH Anniversary of my birth. (Otherwise known as my birthday.) It was so wonderful. Thanks!!
How do you guy's come up with the sound effect's for the show? Like for example Black Canary's cry?
The great team at Audio Circus, led by Otis Van Osten, creates our sound effects.
AND BIG NEWS, our sound mixer CARLOS SANCHES was just nominated for an EMMY AWARD for the sound mixing on the YJ episode "Bloodlines"!!!!
1a. When you are working on a series and have to deal with a story bible or design document, is it inclusive of scripts and detail or just an over view.
1b. If they get to large is it common to separate them into their own documents? ex. A document for characters biographies and another for plots/timelines.
2. When changes are made to either a script or story bible do you use strike-through until it is finalized or simply delete the content?
3. When I am working on story boards or scripts I try to make characters actions be causality based and driven by their personality, moral alignment and available options. Is this similar to how you create your story lines?
4. How can I make characters engaging and direct through dialogue in scenes that are relaxed?
5. What is your going rate for projects and would you be interested in working with Mark Crilley or Luaren Faust?
1a. Most series bibles are written in advance of scripts. Mine TEND to be very thorough, including plans for stories, etc. But, no, by definition, it does not include all the details included in all the scripts. I try to update/revise the bible as we proceed. But by that time no one's looking at the darn thing anymore, so keeping the bible on track is a luxury and a low priority and almost always falls by the waysid. I'm not sure what you mean by a "design document".
1b. For a television series that doesn't seem like something that would ever happen. Years ago, I did do the bible for the entire Platinum Comics Universe, and that was so long that I did split it into multiple sections.
2. See above. But I tend not to use strikethrough very often. I tend to just revise.
3. Yeah, pretty much.
4. Get in their heads. Be clear what they want. Be clear on the difference between what they want and what they know they want. HEAR THEIR VOICES.
5. I'm not going to tell you what I get paid. Sorry.
5a. I'm always interested in collaborating with talented folks, but I'm not going to get specific about any individual.
1. When you write an animation spec how much blocking do you put into the episode? My research says I should describe every single twitch of the character's face and body so that the animators in Korea will get everything right. But I wrote a short episode for a company that told me I should only do that if I'm both the writer AND the animator. I should just stick to short details like I would for live action. So who is right?
2. I assume the best way to answer that question is to read examples of animated scripts--Is it possible to obtain copies of Young Justice scripts from season 1 somewhere? Should I go to a script library in LA or attempt to contact Cartoon Network for a copy?
1. There is no right and wrong. Every series has it's own rules. I'd love to say there's a standard, but there just isn't. On MY SHOWS, we use the scripts to direct the entire episode, including camera angles, etc. The actual directors and storyboard artists aren't restricted to doing the script exactly as written, but by being thorough like that, I feel more confident that at the very least, they know what I'm looking for. If they come up with better ideas, great. I don't know that I've ever seen an animation script that was totally Master Shot style, a la live action. But I've seen many that lean way more in that direction. But it's not the way I work.
2. You can. But I don't recommend it. Currently, though we're not thrilled about it and hope the situation changes someday, YJ is dead. You want your spec script to be for a show that's CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION. On that level alone, YJ doesn't qualify as a good way to spend your time if you're serious about getting work in the industry.
While on the topic of CGI, do you prefer this method or the classic hand drawings for animation and why? I know your series have mostly been all drawings (I think) but wanted to see.
I don't have a preference if the series is developed correctly for the medium it's using. I did Roughnecks: the Starship Troopers Chronicles in CGI, and I think it worked great. I did Max Steel (Season One only), and although I'm proud of our scripts, I DON'T think it worked great, because the series as it was developed (by me but under marching orders from multiple very large companies) didn't work in CGI.
Hello, Mr. Weisman.
These questions are an extension of the previous question I submitted.
6. Before Nielsen ratings were released for animated programs, what size audience had to be attracted in order to keep a show alive on a network? Since you worked on a number of projects over the years, it would make sense that you'd have a pretty good grasp on the matter.
7. How important are Nielsen ratings for animé dubbed into English and subsequently aired on the channels? Ratings for these shows almost never appear on ratings outlets, like Zap2It (http://www.zap2it.com/) and TV Series finale (http://tvseriesfinale.com/).
Thank you for your time.
6. Nielsen ratings pre-dates my professional career - by a lot. (How old do you think I am exactly?) Anyway, ratings mean different things in different times. Before People Meters, kids ratings in general were way higher than after People Meters became standard. There isn't some fixed number that says this is good. Below this is bad. Everything's relative.
7. As important as for anything. Bigger numbers are better than smaller. But a show that's cheaper to produce can get away with lower numbers and skate by. But ultimately, if a program is dragging a network down, it's toast.
Hello, Mr. Weisman.
I had a few questions that pertain to the Nielsen's ratings system.
1. Why isn't there any public information about Nielsen's ratings for most of the animated series that have been on television? Classic cartoons and many of the modern ones have virtually no ratings tied to them. In the past few years, the figures have been released for programs that have performed well for cartoons, such as the animated series that currently air on Fox, Avatar: The Legend of Korra on Nickelodeon, Adventure Time on Cartoon Network not to mention Young Justice, as well as a few other programs on or were on the air.
2. Are networks allowed to request that the ratings for a show be withheld or simply not released to the public? In addition, why are the ratings released for some episodes of animated television programs, such as Young Justice or Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, while not being provided for others?
3. As someone who has worked on a variety of animated projects over the years, were you given the exact ratings of a program to work with? By that, I mean were the exact ratings made available to you, and if so, who provided them? Or was that information not provided? And did these particular ratings have any leverage on what would go in the animated universe?
4. What were the ratings like for your original animated series, Gargoyles? A search on Google turns up an article, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-15899915.html, which requires a subscription to read in full, reads:
"Walt Disney Television Animation's Gargoyles new animated show delivered a strong 2.8 Nielsen metered-market rating and an 8 share average over a special stripped debut Oct. 24-28. That was up 33% in share from its,"
5. Are you even allowed to discuss the ratings of an animated program, or is there a contractual obligation that prevents you (and others) from doing so?
Thank you for your time.
1. As far as I know, anyone can PAY to get Nielsen results. But if you don't feel like paying, then you're reliant on getting those results from entities that have paid. Those entities tend to be news organizations (that may not think enough of the general public has an interest in cartoon ratings) or networks (who are only going to display ratings that make them look good and/or suit their current strategy). But I'm no expert.
2. You've got it backwards. Nielsen is a COMPANY that charges for its services. It's not some public forum that networks have somehow forced to withhold info from you. If you really want the info, go pay for it.
3. Very inconsistently.
3a. For example, on YJ, we occasionally got ratings reports from CN via our bosses at WB.
3b. Often, we got no info.
3c. Absolutely not, because by the time ratings came in we were way past committed to whatever creative decisions had been made. Whether those numbers effected air dates, hiatuses (hiatusi?) or pickups is a your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine thing. I haven't seen enough of the raw numbers myself to make an evaluation.
4. As I recall, during our first season on Gargoyles, when we were weekly, our ratings were very strong. Our second season, when we were on five days a week, was during the peak of the Power Rangers craze, and although our ratings were solid, we were consistently beat by that show, coming in at number two for our time slot week after week after week.
5. There's no contractual obligation, but there are political considerations. Plus, as I said above, I'm not always informed. And I'm not fond of passing on rumors or making half-assed guesses.
I recently re-watched "Sentinel" and something I don't recall ever seeing brought up is that Nokkar speaks with an effect similar to Anubis. Two different voices, here's a clip:
First of all, I think this is a really cool effect, but I wonder what the reasons for him speaking like that are. Which voice is his "real voice," is there a translator built into his armor? Either way it does make him sound alien, and I like that. I'm just curious as to what your creative intent was here.
The link wouldn't open for me, but NO. To the best of my recollection, we didn't double track Nokkar's voice (as we did with Anubis-as-Avatar), though we may very well have futzed it - especially with his helmet on, and that futzing may have been similar (though not the same) as the futz we used on Anubis (when not an Avatar and for his piece of the double-tracked voice when he was an Avatar).
Hi Mr. Weisman,
First I like to tell you that I'm a big fan of your work, especially Gargoyles, I sad that the series ended and that you didn't get chance to create the season 3 you envisioned; I hope that you get the opportunity to work with the series again someday and tell the rest of the stories you had in mind. Secondly, I like to thank you and the moderators in advance for taking the time out of your schedules to read my questions.
I read that when you worked on Spectacular Spider-Man you had a central theme for the series "The Education of Peter Parker." So I was wondering:
1. Did Gargoyles have a central theme? If so what was it?
2. Do you think that a series has to have a central theme?
3. Do you think that each episode within a series has to have its own theme? Can some episodes be non-theme oriented? (Ex: Can the heroes try to stop the villains from committing some terrible act without there being a deeper meaning to it.)
I hope you've picked up our three Gargoyles Trade Paperbacks, which contains at least a portion of our Season Three.
1. I'm not sure I had it boiled down quite as clearly, but it was probably something along the lines of: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."
2. No. Not every series.
3. No. Not every episode. But most benefit from one, even episodes that are mostly one big fight.
Dear Mr Weisman,
What was it like directing the 2001 English dub of the anime OVA series 3x3 Eyes? How different is it from working on American cartoons?
Well, I not only voice directed 3X3 EYES, but I also story edited the English language translation. In those days, that meant a LOT of time with a relatively crude VCR, going back and forth, line by line (grunt by grunt, even) with a LITERAL translation given to me by Jonathan Klein, my boss at New Generation Pictures, in order to transform it into (a) American idiom and (b) something that would fit the already existing lip-synch. Generating usable scripts for this purpose was VERY time-consuming.
The next step was the voice recording. Generally, in American cartoons, we bring in the entire cast and record them together, and those voice tracks are then used by our storyboard artists, directors, timers and animators to help create the footage. That is to say, the pictures are drawn to match the actor's performances. But when dubbing an existing cartoon into English, obviously, the actors have to match the picture instead. That's a time-consuming process called ADR, which, I think, stands for "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" - though I have no idea what about it is automatic. This process is done with a single actor in the booth at a time. The first actor has only the Japanese dialogue to respond to. Later performers can listen to what some of their English-speaking fellows have already performed.
As a voice director for something like 3X3 EYES, I'm looking for the right sound, a good performance and a good match with the existing lip-synch. I mostly cast people I'd enjoyed working with before, with Brigitte Bako ("Angela" from GARGOYLES) and Christian Campbell ("Max Steel" from MAX STEEL) as the two leads plus other favorites of mine, including Keith David in a really wild role, Ed Asner and Thom Adcox among others. We also held auditions for a handful of roles, and some of the people (e.g. Susan Chesler, Yuji Okuomoto) who worked for me for the first time on 3X3, later became new favorites of mine that I used again on other series like W.I.T.C.H. and Young Justice.
For fun, I also took a couple parts myself: I was Hide, one of the buddies of the male protagonist, and I was also a bum, who hummed a semi-recognizable theme song.
Finally, I also participated in the sound mixes here, balancing the new dialogue track with the existing music and effects tracks.
I was wondering if you could shed some light on the process of breaking a story for young justice. Does the storyline come first with characters who you feel will suit the story being plugged in afterwards, or do you decide on certain characters being spotlighted then working a story around them?
ASKED AND ANSWERED. Check the archives. Then if you have specific questions, you can post those.
All about Young Justice:
1. How long in terms of script length is an episode of Young Justice?
2. Do you follow the one page=one minute rule of Hollywood filmmaking at all or is it fairly different?
3. Is it difficult to write stories for the series when you have to keep in mind the different powers of all the characters?
4. What is the average budget per episode?
1. We shot for between 30 and 33 pages, and generally wound up between 30 and 36.
2. No. Because we break down way more shots in our script than in most live action scripts.
3. It's challenging, but I wouldn't say difficult.
4. That's proprietary information.
I heard down the grapevine you're a fan of Joss Whedon.
1.) Have you gotten to see the Avengers film yet?
2.a) If so, did you draw any inspiration from it, seeing as it's in the same "super-hero ensemble" genre you write (so well) for?
2.b) What modern works (be they film, television, literature, art, or not at all) do you draw inspiration from? Or just like?
3.) Over your career, you're written generally high-concept stories. Now more than ever, it seems like high-concept stuff has entered the mainstream (aliens, super-heroes and giant transforming robots running around everywhere). Since everyone's playing in the same sandbox artistically, does that make it more difficult to come up with original ideas? Without subverting or straight-up parodying the genre you're writing in?
4.) How do u rite so gudd? What would you recommend to new, ambitious writers, to help us learn to write with confidence and voice and stuff?
5.) Your decision to skip ahead 5 years (in YJ) shocked me, upset me and piqued my interest. I've never seen a show jump so much time, so I'm very excited to see how you all bridge the two season together. How did you let the studio powers-that-be let you take such a big narrative risk? Was it a big struggle?
Thanks for (presumably) taking the time to read and answer my questions. I love that Ask Greg makes it so easy to reach out to an artist I admire, whose work I respect. I'm the biggest fan ever of everything you've ever done, yadda yadda more accolades, etc. But really, you are an inspiration.
2a. We were WAY done by the time I'd seen the movie.
2b. Check out the "INFLUENCES" archive here at ASK GREG.
3. I'm not sure you're defining "High Concept" correctly. I think you mean "genre" has entered the mainstream. In any case, I just don't think in those terms. I'm just trying to tell good stories.
4. READ the classics. WRITE a lot. Proofread scrupulously. Get yourself VERY educated. Read newspapers. Etc. Or check the ASK GREG archives for a more complete answer.
5. No struggle. Everyone loved the idea.
Hello Greg Weisman, thank you for this interesting opportunity. I'm a big fan of Young Justice and it's great to see another great DC show around. I'm sorry to say this is the first show by you that I've watched (I should fix that). Snappy writing, fun undercurrent of mystery, and from what I understand is a staple of your shows, not assuming your fans are incapable of following an ongoing plot line.
I love the fight scenes in the show. Very fluid animation; and I enjoy in particular when the "normals" get to cut loose and drop some martial arts on each other. I also find it fun when Superboy gets to utterly wail on people.
Anyways, I have a question that has been plaguing me in recent years. I'm not sure if the answer varies from show to show but here it is. How much say do the writers get in the crafting of the action scenes? Do you guys lay down some guidelines for what must happen in a fight or do you ultimately leave it up to the animators and/or artists?
Well, there's my question that quickly devolved into a multi-question, I'm sorry. But, please, keep the awesome coming man! I hope this show keeps on keepin' on! Six seasons and a movie!
Every series is different. On YJ - and most of the shows I've produced - I make sure that the script spells out the action in real detail - in part to attempt to assure that we're not winding up with an episode that's too long or too short. Having said that, I then am happy to have our board artists, directors and my fellow producer (on YJ that's Brandon Vietti) go to town and PLUS the action and visuals. But I do get approvals on all this to make sure we're staying on point with our story and not doing stuff that's out of character or off-tone for our series. Then you have the timers and, of course, the animators contributing too.
I know a lot of people consider Gargoyles to be an anti-Disney show due to its dark tone, but I think it actually has a lot of similarities. Both Gargoyles and other Disney films adapt mythology and famous stories in their own ways, while featuring strong emotions and conflicts(okay, those might be a bit general).
My question is, did Disney storytelling have an influence on the making of Gargoyles, and the eventual integration of different mythologies?
I'm sure it did, since I grew up on Disney movies. But we weren't consciously trying to either DO DISNEY or NOT DO DISNEY. We were just doing GARGOYLES.
For what it's worth: I'm sorry the majority of your fans are too emotionally invested in YJ to realise that the very thing they love is something you give them. And that AskGreg is a privilege... not a platform to express a lack of gratitude and sense!
1. I'm writing the plot for a comic, and I've hit writer's block. Do you have any suggestions as to how to overcome it?
2. I mostly write on inspiration, as that's when I can create the best stories. When not inspired how do you continue to work on a writing project?
3. What type of people do you bounce ideas off of or have read over your stuff?
1. Write anything. Market lists. Daily Journals. Whatever. Just get back in the habit of writing. Focus off the problem that blocked you for a bit though. The answer may come to you in the shower or something.
2. The characters tend to tell me what happens next.
3. My partners on any given project. (I rarely work in a vacuum.) Kevin Hopps, whom I've worked with for years and years now, is probably the best sounding board I've ever had.
Hi Greg! I looked through the archives and found that you previously mentioned that the first couple seasons of Gargoyles cost $400k-500k per episode to produce.
Assuming the cost of haven't changed dramatically, it seems as though animation is cheaper than the standard scripted network show. Given that, I'm surprised there aren't more animated shows on the major networks, especially with anime so popular in the US now, particularly among older audiences.
I think the only weakness to Young Justice is that it feels like the stories are big enough to fit in a whole hour, but are being condensed to thirty minutes. Again, assuming the cost of animation is in the ballpark of what it was for Gargoyles, an hour-long show doesn't strike me as financially prohibitive.
1. Can you say how much Young Justice costs to produce? A ballpark would be fine if you can't/don't want to give exact numbers.
2. What are your thoughts on the lack of non-Fox/non-comedy prime-time animation? Do you think this is something that can change in the future?
3. Do you think we might one day see hour-long dramatic animation? Did you ever consider making YJ an hour long?
Thank you very much for many excellent shows and opening yourself up for questions from the community!
Your assumptions are faulty. Animation and anime have not - in this country - hit the kind of critical mass among adults that you seem to think they have. A few comedies, like Simpsons and Family Guy have worked in primetime, but others have failed. Even the great BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES - which was a huge success in the afternoons - didn't fare well in primetime.
In addition, costs HAVE changed dramatically. Budgets have not, but that means we have to learn to do more with less, generally.
More important is the issue of shelf space. An hour - per conventional wisdom - is a LONG time for kids to sit and watch an animated show. We're told, with some evidence to back it up, that they get bored. And kids still define the economics of most animated product. So if you are going to use up the VERY limited shelf space that any network has with an hour show, it darn well better kick some major butt in the ratings. Because otherwise, for nearly the same money, they could put on two shows (if not four) and have twice (or four times) the opportunity to grab the audience.
In fact, the trend isn't to longer shows, but to SHORTER shows. 11 minute episodes.
So with all that in mind:
1. No. That's proprietary information I'm not authorized to reveal.
2. Yes, I think it can change. But I won't pretend it would be easy to change the corporate culture that doesn't believe in this notion at all. What it takes, of course, is one network taking a chance on one show that's SO GOOD, that it's a hit in defiance of that culture and all conventional wisdom. That would break the floodgates. The inevitable result would be a lot of crap would go on the air, fail, and the conventional wisdom would come back into play with a vengeance. The one hit would be the "exception that proves the rule" and that would be it for awhile. That's what happened after Simpsons. (Who remembers Fish Police?) But the door would be open at least a little. Over the very long haul change is possible.
3. One day? Sure. In fact, I hope so.
3a. I'm not saying it's never crossed my mind. I'd love it, of course. But (a) it's not up to me, and (b) it's never been a realistic possibility.
First of all, let me say that how much I have always enjoyed Gargoyles. It was a high point of the afternoon for my younger brothers and me during the original run (while our mother enjoyed having a half hour relatively free of sibling squabbles), and now I'm having a lot of fun introducing the show to my 4-year-old son. So, you see, your show has multi-generational appeal! Thank you for all your hard work and vision.
Secondly, I guess my question is about your writing process. I recently discovered via this site your ideas for the prospective Gargoyles spin-offs. This suggests to me that you write with a, for lack of a better term, "master plan" in mind. Unlike, say, David Milch, who famously writes and re-writes furiously as new ideas occur to him, and actually plans out very little.
1)Would you say this is accurate?
2)If so, do you ever deviate from this plan, if a new and different idea strikes you?
3)Again if so, would you mind providing an example? (A Gargoyles show example would be just fine, I'm not asking for spin-off spoilers here!)
Thank you in advance for your time.
First of all, that really warms my heart. Thank you for telling me that.
1. I can't speak for David Milch, but yes, I do better when I've planned ahead. That doesn't mean I don't allow for new ideas and/or rewriting. I do. I just would rather have the structure in place to allow new ideas to grow, rather than - generally - winging it.
2. Yes. (Gotta start reading all the questions before answering any.)
3. Uh... one that comes to mind is one we didn't do. In "Grief", we belatedly came up with the idea to let Coyote kill the travelers, who wouldn't die because Anubis was off-line, so to speak. And if we had come up with that idea a bit sooner, I definitely would have incorporated it, because it's a GREAT idea. But unfortunately, the idea didn't strike us until AFTER the episode was completed.
The first season of "Young Justice" takes place over the course of half a year, starting on the Fourth of July and continuing to New Year's Eve in the Season One finale (with episodes set on Halloween and Thanksgiving along the way). I remember that the first season of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" similarly stretched from the start of the school year in September to Thanksgiving (with a Halloween episode along the way), and that the second season got up at least to Valentine's Day. The time progression in "Gargoyles" was more vague, but we had two Halloween stories ("Eye of the Beholder" and the Double Date story) and three wintry episodes in New York ("Her Brother's Keeper", which ends with a snowfall, "Re-Awakening", and "The Price"), as well as a clear timeline for the Stone of Destiny story.
I like this sense of the year's progress through the seasons and landmark days (like the Fourth of July and Halloween), but it doesn't seem that common in animated series outside your own work. I've seen two speculations on why that element is so rare in animated series. One is that a lot of the people who engage in such creative work aren't big on continuity and change, far less than you are. Another is that most people involved in creating animated television series live in or near Los Angeles and other parts of California, where the climate is pretty much the same year around and there's less a sense of four seasons than in other parts of the United States. I was wondering what your thoughts were on these theories.
Both these theories seem valid to me, but they probably pale from the economic explanation: if you progress through the seasons then you have to redress backgrounds and characters, and that's expensive. Me, I believe it's WORTH the expense. But that's only true if you're really going to DO something with it. If you're not, then there's not much point. (We also did it on W.I.T.C.H. by the way.)
Greg! You are my hero (professionally at least. I mean, face it, I don't know you. You could be an axe-murderer). I want to spend my life doing what you do. Any pieces of advice for an aspiring writer? What are good ways to train myself / further my writing skills / develop confidence in my voice (or my character's voices)? How did you get your start professionally, and what are some good avenues towards putting your work out in the world?
I thoroughly look forward to seeing the rest of your work, because all of it has been great. Thank you and adieu.
At the risk of losing my heroic status, I'm going to demur here, since all this information is already available in the ASK GREG archives. (I've been asked this MANY times before.) For example, check out "Animation", "Behind the Scenes", "Biz, The" and "Weisman, Greg" for starters.
Hey greg I have noticed that you dislike hypoteticals of "who would win in a fight with x" and of comparisions in general That's something I admire of your style.
But my questions is, what If you were left in charge of a show that does rely on such coparisions=
Supposing you were in charge of a show like Dragon ballz would you be bothered the hypoteticals and charcter's power leveles on your writting given that those are a big deal on those kind of shows?.
I'm not familiar with DragonBallZ, but if who can beat who is part of a STORY then it's not hypothetical.
Could you give us a few details on what the process to create an episode is like? I have no idea what doing online and locked picture mean...thanks!
1. We start/started by breaking down the entire season on index cards on a VERY large bulletin board.
2. Once the basic arc was approved, I wrote up premises for every episode in the season. Each premise is about a page long.
3. We brought in our freelance writers and broke down a handful of episodes at a time, with each writer in the meeting (myself included) taking one episode as their own, but with every writer in the meeting contributing ideas and notions to everyone's story.
4. The writer goes off with my written premise and the notes from the meeting and writes up an outline. This is a prose document, broken down by scene/sequence of about 8 to 10 pages in length. For me, as a story editor this is a VERY important step, as it nails down the story, making script writing much easier.
5. I do a rewrite on the writer's outline and submit it to WB, CN, DC, Brandon Vietti and the episode's director for notes.
6. The writer goes off with my revised outline and all the notes and writes a script.
7. I do a rewrite on the writer's script and submit it for notes to WB, CN, DC, BV, S&P, legal and the episode's director. Usually showed it to Kevin Hopps as well, who was great at catching my mistakes. The first season, Kevin was on staff, and it was part of his job. The second season, he just did it as a favor. Good guy.
8. I do another rewrite or polish based on all the notes.
9. We record the script, casting any new rolls, etc.
10. Simultaneously, the storyboards are begun...
11. While at the same time, design work for the episode begins: characters, backgrounds, props, effects. This is ALL black and white line-art at first.
12. The boards are roughed out and get notes from the director.
13. The boards are cleaned up and submitted to Brandon and myself.
14. Brandon and I give notes, and the boards are revised.
15. Meanwhile, designs are approved and then we go through the same process with color and background painting.
16. Boards are slugged for time to make sure the show isn't too long or too short.
17. X-Sheets (timing sheets) are created to give detailed information to the animators about how long each individual action will take and to give mouth movements to the characters.
18. All these materials are shipped to Korea to either Moi or Lotto to be animated.
19. We occasionally call for "Wedge Tests" that allow us to preview important or tricky bits of animation in advance to make sure we're getting what we want.
20. The animation comes back rough from overseas. Our editor Jhoanne Reyes compiles it into what we call an A-Frame. It's a very ROUGH cut.
21. Brandon, Jho, David Wilcox and myself call retakes, i.e. we ask the overseas studio for animation corrections. We also call out visual effects for Matt Girardi.
22. Brandon, Jho and I edit the episode, LOCKING it to the exact time that the network requires.
23. We spot the locked episode with our composers, Dynamic Music Partners, pointing out where and what we are looking for in the music.
24. We do the same thing with Audio Circus, our sound effects experts.
25. We preview the music in advance of the sound mix to make sure it's on target.
26. Generally, by now most of the retakes have come back from Korea and Matt's done most of his effects work too.
27. We mix the show for sound. That is we sit in a room and painstakingly balance the sound effects with the foley with the music with the dialogue.
28. We "On-Line" the episode. This is our last final view of the finished product to make sure everything is as good as time, budget and our abilities will allow it to be.
There's obviously more to it than all of the above, but that should give you the basics.
So, you've been working in writing and producing animated shows for a long time. Since the shows you work on are generally targeted to younger viewers, I was curious about the impact, if any, that your kids and being a parent to them has had on your work. How much an influence has your being a parent been to these shows? And have your kids in particular had any general or specific influences on anything you've worked on?
Just curious. Thanks.
Well, I often throw in little things to amuse my kids. Like making them genomorphs in YJ. Or using their birthdays on timestamps. And I'm sure they influence me in a hundred small ways I'm not even conscious of.
But mostly, I still write for myself.
Hello, Mr. Weisman.
My questions today are more closely related to television programming. So here goes.
1. Have you viewed the new ThunderCats on Cartoon Network that debuted last year? Assuming so, what did you think of it?
2. Have you viewed any of the original episodes of the ThunderCats cartoon? Assuming so, what is your opinion of the old show, and how do you think it compares to the latest incarnation?
3.The original ThunderCats cartoon met the 65 mark episode needed to go into syndication, and produced episodes beyond it. While many of the new episodes were entertaining, I could not help but notice, in my opinion, a decline in certain qualities of the show. One of the areas hit hardest, in my opinion, was the writing in the episodes. This seemed to manifest itself in terms of more predictable scenarios occurring, less creative solutions to the problems that arose and eventually lackluster storylines. ThunderCats wasnât the only show to suffer from this though. Cartoons like Captain Planets, which also surpassed the 65-episode mark, began to experience a bit of a lag, and lost many of the original voice actors/actresses who made their characters so exceptional.
4. So my question is what exactly happens to a show behind the scenes after moving beyond syndication? Is a showâs storyline only plotted out for 65 episodes and not expected to pass it? Or does the writing team have to brainstorm an entirely new set of ideas for episodes beyond? Are new writers assigned to the program or the old ones retained? Are the initial voice actors/actresses replaced with new people, choose not to renew their contract or different causes altogether?
Thanks for the time.
1. I haven't had time to see it, but I really like the people involved with it.
2. I did a long time ago, when I was working on a single script for a different reboot that didn't see the light of day. But you need to understand that I never saw it when it first came on, so I have no nostalgia for it.
3. I just have no opinion on this. I only saw a handful of episodes.
4. Every case is different. And obviously, I have no idea what went on with ThunderCats.
I was just reading the Toonzone interview with the late Dwayne McDuffie (http://www.toonzone.net/news/articles/36545/toonzone-presents-an-interviewtribute-to-dwayne-mcduffie) and he describes the difference between Story By credits and Teleplay By credits on Justice League, and how there may be a lot more writing done by uncredited main writers on the show. Is this similar to how you work on your shows?
Yeah, more or less.
Hey greg what's up I would love to ask you a questions regarding your story telling techniques
You have said in the past that you could go be telling stories forever if you wanted and in fact sometimes not even the tv show is enough for them hence the comics.
But have you ever considered in giving your characters and stories a Grand finale?.
I think something that has made me a bit sad is that in your past shows you have been cut short due to executive decitions out of your control and we have been unable to get anything resembling an ending that actually gives closure (w.i.t.c.h,Spectacular spiderman, gargoyles etc)
However it is always nice when a tv show character directly says goodbye to te audience(like batman the brave and the bold) or when every major plot point is solved at the end.
A big trait of western media in it's majority like tv shows and specially comics is that the characters "are frozen in time".
Spiderman for instance will always be a young man that fights crime and the story won't go beyond that,same for superman and batman. When the story gets after a certain point we as fans tend to get reboots reapeaing the smae story.
I would like to ask you if given the chance will you give us a finale to your works like gargoyles.
Will we ever see the closure of them?
Do you believe in "grand finales"?
Or do you want simply to never give them a real ending o your shows and simply give the idea that the story will be around forever?
Yeah, I'm not so much into Grand Finales. Probably why I'm more of a television or comic book guy than a movie or graphic novel guy. I believe (whole-heartedly) in the on-going story. That's what LIFE feels like to me.
Gargoyles is a perfect example. Characters come; characters go and some even die, but the world goes on. I even know (but don't ask) how Goliath dies, but I don't see it as the end of that world. It's only A FINALE, because there is no THE FINALE.
I suppose if one was writing a story with a single lead, a la Spider-Man, and either (a) one killed him off or (b) one really ran out of stories to tell, then I could see staging that big Grand F before you waved goodbye forever. But that assumes there isn't a new Spider-Man waiting in the wings and/or that a guy like me would actually run out of stories. And that hasn't happened to me, at least not yet.
I was wondering how much can be shared between your show and the WB DC direct to videos. For instance, as the movies "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" and "Justice League: Doom" share an executive producer and lead character designer with Young Justice, could you theoretically utilize character designs from those two movies? I imagine that even if you could, you would prefer to tailor unique versions for the show; but I'm curious what can be reused.
We can - and occasionally do - reuse elements from past WB productions (usually things like cars or paper clips or other props, but also the occasional background design or pedestrian), as long as they fit the style of the series. This is done to save money and time, so that our designers can focus on elements that are more unique to our series.
Dear Mr. Weisman,
Thank you for all the wonderful work you've done from Gargoyles, to Spiderman, to Young Justice. Been a fan for years.
1) From your experience, what was more enjoyable to work with? Working on a show that was completely yours to control - Gargoyles - from character development, plot, and storyline? Or Spiderman and Young Justice where the basics has already laid out?
2) Was there more pressure to succeed working on Gargoyles because it was original and the creativity was your to control? Or was there more pressure to work on an adaption on Spiderman and Young Justice because the bar has already been set?
1. They're different. Gargoyles is my baby. But in terms of the actual work, I don't think I had any more or less fun working on SpecSpidey, W.I.T.C.H. or YJ.
2. I think the pressure rises with each series, but I blame the internet more than anything inherent in the series. (I blame the internet for a lot, which is not to say I could go back to living without it.)
Hi Greg! First of all, congratulations on the Young Justice video game! Can't wait for its release! I've just got one question, which I've been wondering about for a while:
1. When you use cultural references in the show (like Wally's Planet of the Apes reference in Alpha Male, or his 'Dumbledore' line in Denial) do you have to ask permission to include them in the script, or do you guys have pretty much free access to all Warner Brothers material?
Great job on the show! Its easily my favourite TV show right now- there's clearly a lot of talent and effort that goes into it, and it really pays off! Keeping my fingers crossed for a season 3!
1. It depends on HOW we use it. A mention like that is what's known as "de minimus". That's a legal term which basically means it's of little significance. And that's okay. Parody is also okay, though the definition of parody can be tricky. Obviously, a bigger use like our Marvin the Martian visual would have taken permission if not for the fact, that, yes, Young Justice and the Looney Toons characters are all part of the larger WB family.
This is one I've wondered for a while now. That banshee like shriek of battle cry that Demona screams... usually when making her escape, here it is on youtube:
Is that Marina? Or a sound effect. I've wondered for a long time now. Either way, I always thought it sounded really cool.
I'm pretty sure it's a sound effect, but it's been a long time, you know?
How old are Kevin Hopps and Jamie Thomason? I can't find any darn websites that will ever confirm their date of births!
PS: If they do make more DC Showcases, I personally believe they should hire Jamie Thomason as the casting and voice director for all them.
I don't believe it's my business to tell you.
Whose idea was it for Demona to start turning into a human during the day and why did you add it to the series? Did you plan for that to happen from the beginning?
I think it was mine. But so many years later, I can't be sure. So much of the series was a collaboration.
And, no, we didn't know we were going to do that at the beginning. But it became clear that was the way to go.
I am so tempted to ask if Bette Kane (aka flamebird) Barbara Gordon ( aka Batgirl) and all those other high School students with alternate hero personas (Bumble bee, Herald) in the comic books are ever going to put on said costumes/personas on the show but I know better than that. So I'm just going to ask about another topic.
(1) Is it hard coming up with ideas and episodes for a show?
(2) When you get writers block is that when you raise the flag for a hiatus?
(3) Do writer's for t.v shows (any t.v show in general) use hiatuses in order to work on other projects?
1. Nope. It's hard to leave things out. Thank goodness for the comic.
2. No. I don't have writer's block on this series at all. And we had no control, one way or another, over any hiatus. That's the network.
3. I suppose some do. I was busy on Young Justice.
In the series, Demona gave several phony explanations of how she managed to live so long. Such as, stone sleep (Awakening) and stealing minutes of life from humans (City of Stone). Of course, also in City of Stone we found out that her link to Macbeth is the secret of her immortality.
But that was revealed in season 2 before the introduction of Oberon's Children. Demona let it slip in "Temptation" that she had survived through the centuries, but didn't elaborate.
When in production on the first season, did you know what the secret to her immortality would be? And were there other explanations you thought of but ultimately didn't use?
Pretty much by the time we wrote "Enter Macbeth" we knew the basics. Didn't work out the details until "City of Stone".
I've always appreciated that the show you create feature so many diverse characters with agency. It's great to see Elisa and her family, to finally seeing Spider-man in New York that features so many people of color in his cast, to having Aqualad and Artemis as such important, interesting characters in Young Justice. I love that your shows aren't engaging in the tokenism the way a lot of other shows (for kids or otherwise) do. And having strong women is a huge part of that--I remember friends in 4th grade fighting over who got to be Elisa or Demona at recess. So thank you for that!
I think with shows that are adapted from comics, there's this predicament of wanting to pay homage to decades of comic book history while not carrying forward the inherent racism and sexism of the eras when they were written. I think The Batman botched that when Detective Yin was replaced by Commissioner Gordon--closer to the comics, but axes a female, minority lead for a white male.
Not to mention the pressures from other areas. I remember hearing Dwayne McDuffie say that even in the height of its popularity, companies had no interest in making Static Shock toys, for example.
So, how do you handle this? Whether it's selecting minority/women characters from comics, creating new ones, or changing characters races like in Spectacular Spider-man, what's that process like when you make your shows?
Um... mostly... I just try to reflect the world I see. I'm a sheltered white boy, but even a sheltered white boy would have to be blind not to see that the world is populated with more than just sheltered white boys. So putting in strong female characters and strong characters of color seems natural and easy, frankly.
If you're asking for process, though, it's very much case by case. We don't sit there and go, "We need 2.5 minorities on the Team with 23% females." Instead, we build a diverse cast of characters, character by character. When adapting a property (as opposed to creating one from scratch, like GARGOYLES), we DO pay attention to tradition. But some characters are certainly more iconic than others. So Robin, Kid Flash and Superman's clone remain Caucasian, and there was never any thought of changing them. But by using Garth's Tempest identity, it freed us up to create a new Aqualad, as the son of Black Manta - in part, to demonstrate the alternate Earth idea, i.e. this is Earth-16, and one decision changed the course of it's history (continuity) from what we're familiar with in the comics. As for Artemis, we felt she was obscure enough to make her half-Vietnamese, without fundamentally changing what mattered most about her. Likewise, her mother Paula Brooks-Crock seemed obscure enough to go ahead and make her the Vietnamese Paula Nguyen-Crock, as that also helped us make her Cheshire's mother, since Cheshire has always been the daughter of a Vietnamese mother and a Caucasian father. Maybe "obscure" isn't the right word, but I think you get the idea. As for Miss Martian, well, obviously she's a Martian, but I suppose we could have made her Megan Morse identity a minority too. (We portrayed her uncle John Jones as African, after all.) But again, we're not trying to meet quotas, and as you'll eventually see, we had reasons for the choices we made with Megan.
Hi Greg! First of just wanted to say that I'm absolutely loving the Young Justice series, it's fantastic (particularly Home Front!) I just have a few questions about the process of voice recording for Young Justice.
1) Do the voice actors record in the same studio and interact with each other during the recording? Or do you often have to record separately due to conflicting schedules?
2) How long does it typically take to record each episode?
3) Who generally directs the voice actors during recordings?
4) Do the actors input their own suggestions for how the characters may react in a certain situation?
5) Does the script go through 'last minute' revisions during the recording?
Thank you so much for taking the time for looking at all the fan's questions and I look forward to seeing the rest of season 1 and 2!
2. Three to four hours or so.
3. Jamie Thomason.
4. Occasionally. But unfortunately, we don't have a ton of flexibility.
5. Occasionally. Nothing major.
Hi, again! First, thank you for answering my previous questions! I know you must be stressed, but, like others have said, it's awesome that you take time to answer questions like this. :)
And, now questions.
1. As a writer, how much say do you have in how the story is told? I mean, I know you write the script (duh), but it's the director who ultimately decides how it's told. So, do you both consult heavily on the matter?
2. Do you sit in on recording sessions? If so, why?
3. Um, I think this ties in with both the previous questions, but, do you have much say in how an actor performs their lines? Because, you must have written it with a certain tone, inflection, and emotion in mind, but the actor might interpret it differently.
4. How long does it normally take you to write an episode?
5. Do you find it easier or harder to write characters that have been created before you came along, as opposed to your own characters.
6. As far as character development goes, how deep do you go? Like, do you consider things that probably won't be presented in the project, or do you stick to things directly relative to the story?
I think that's it...not that I can't come back and ask some more. Thanks so much!!
1. Well, it depends if I'm a freelancer or a show-runner. If we're talking Young Justice, than Brandon and I have final say on everything. The directors work for us. Though of course, they are immensely talented people, and we value what they do. The writers likewise work for us, but we've worked really closely on the stories and scripts with them. And as we proceed forward into design and direction, it's all in service of those stories.
2. Yes, of course. All of them.
2a. Voice recording is (a) one of the most important parts of the process and (b) the most fun part of the process. I wouldn't miss them for both reasons. We need to make sure that what we record is what we intended and needed. And I enjoy it. This year, for various reasons, I've also recorded a lot of scratch track, i.e. I've been the temporary voice for various characters when the actors we needed were temporarily unavailable. Just to give the board artists something to work with, until we can get the correct actor in there.
3. Yes. Ultimately, Brandon and I have final say. But again, we trust and appreciate the great work done by our stellar cast and by voice director Jamie Thomason.
4. To write a script: eight days. To write an outline: four days. To write a beat sheet: one day. To break the story: two days. Add it all up. Throw in time for notes and editing at every step. And you're talking about six weeks, give or take.
5. A well-thought out character is easier to write, whether I created it or someone else did.
6. We have detailed backstories for all our leads and supporting characters. Sometimes even a one-liner character has backstory in our minds.
Looking at the TV series producing industry as a whole, something I've always noticed is that, when it comes to live-action, comedies like "How I Met Your Mother" are always produced to fill one half-hour time slot, while dramas like "Dexter" always fill an whole hour time slot. Every show ever made is bound to contain elements of both drama and comedy, of course, but it seems like it is the overall tone of the series that decides the length of each episode.
For example, comparing two recent shows with a vaguely similar premise, the two medical shows "Scrubs" and "House". Anyone will say that "Scrubs" is a comedy show with dramatic elements at times, while "House" is a drama that often incorporates humour. Scrubs was a half hour show, House is an hour long show.
So the general line of questioning I'm leading up to with all this is the following, why is it that that there has never been an animated series which consists of hour long episodes spread over a whole season, even though animated shows can also be seen as dramatic?
The closest thing I can think of as an exception is the early 2000s Justice League series, which always had at least two part episodes throughout its run (until it became Justice League Unlimited), but those were always divided into smaller chunks, even if many channels just aired them back-to-back anyway.
HBO's Spawn can easily be said to be more drama than comedy, yet the episodes still were not as long as any other dramas on the channel, even though there were only six episodes a season.
I'm not trying to say that quantity is the same thing as quality, I'm just wondering if you have any insight as to why the episodes of a regular animated series are always of about the same length, regardless of their tone, while live action ones are not.
The "conventional wisdom" is that kids won't sit through an hour.
I'm not saying I agree. But that's what the wisdom of the conventional states.
Hi, Mr. Weisman!!
In the episode "Eye of the Beholder", I've seen "Fox"(a.k.a. Jeanine Xanatos" turns back into her human self and she was naked in this episode, how did you guys come up with that story which aired many years ago??
Um... I'm not actually sure what you're asking.
The Eye of Odin was created by the video game folks, but we gladly brought it into the series. The discovery that Fox and Xanatos loved each other was a revelation that came with the "Her Brother's Keeper" episode. The idea of the gargoyles being free to walk around on Halloween seemed natural. Otherwise, the characters just sort of brought it all together, giving us what they would do.
Dear Mr. Weisman,
I've been a huge fan of yours for years and just wanted to thank you for supplying or helping to make 1/3 of the cartoons of my childhood. I'm currently following Young Justice and I love it! I do have one question that I couldn't find in the archives though.
I noticed in episode 10 what seemed to be some height inconsistencies with Red Arrow. Cheshire was said to be 5ft 6in tall. But when the two of them were having their stare down in prison, Roy only looked a bit taller than her. Meanwhile, he seemed to be a bit shorter than Lex Luthor as well. In my animation classes, my professor mentioned a tendency for teenage characters to be drawn slightly shorter than adults, to make them easier to distinguish. Is that what happened here, or was it just animation error/camera trick?
I know in a previous post you said that he was the tallest of the teens, with Aqualad in second, but I was hoping that you could tell me their actual heights (and the rest of The Team's), or at least your best guess.
Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the season.
We have height charts for all our characters and those charts are sent overseas to our animators for reference. I won't deny that animation errors take place sometimes, but none that I noticed in 'Targets'.
I can't tell you their actual heights. We don't put that information on the charts. I can only tell you how tall they are relative to each other.
A few questions about voice-over.
1) Is it recorded before the episode is animated?
2) How long does it take from recording the voice work until the episode is completely finished?
3) Do all actors get together in the room when recording one episode?
4) Are you present?
3. Ideally. Sometimes people aren't available on the day of the record, and we pick them up later. Sometimes if someone only has a line or two in the episode, we take pity on them and get them in and out fast. Sometimes, a single episode has two completely separate plots intertwining. We'd ideally record every actor in the first plot together, and then record every actor in the second together. But since the two groups don't interact, there's no need to record the entire group together and force a lot of actors to sit through scenes they're not in at all.
This is about pretty much all the series you've worked on. I've noticed that most of your series has a large cast of recurring characters (and that despite this characters tend to be very well delineated.) Now for Young Justice, WITCH, and Spectacular Spiderman that may be just because they were pre-existing properties and already have large casts. However, Gargoyles also had a large cast.
Was this a because of conscious choice?
Do you perfer working with a large cast of characters?
I do. I like creating worlds that feel real and populated.
Was the notion of stone gargoyles coming to life at night an original concept of the television show, or does it have a basis in historical legend?
Gargoyles as protectors is legend.
Specifically having Gargoyles only come alive at night, is -- as far as I know -- an invention, if a completely logical no-brainer one, of the series.
How different of an experience is it to work on a show were the seasons are 13 episodes(Spectacular Spiderman) from one where the seasons are 26(I think it's 26 might have read 28 somewhere)?
I mean do you have to pace yourself differently?
Which do you prefer?
Are you more comfortable including sub-plots that you might not get to adress in 13 episode seasons?
You know stuff like that.
The more episodes the better as far as I'm concerned. More EMPLOYMENT, first of all. Plus more room to maneuver, to add more subplots, more characters, etc.
Are the "bibles" something that just you do, or is it standard for animated series?
Do live action television series do it to?
Also do all animated series have time-lines like you've made?
Or do they just kinda make it up as they go?
1. It's pretty standard, though mine tend to be longer than standard.
2. As far as I know, though I've never worked in live-action.
3. That I doubt.
4. I'm sure each series is different.
I asked an unclear question a little back:
Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...
You've always (wisely) refused name one series you've worked with a favorite over another. It'd be like choosing which child you love best. But is there any instance of one work being a favorite instance of X and another of Y?
Uh... I'm not too clear on what you're asking....? Is it a chromosome thing?
Sorry. I meant that do you look at the various shows you worked on and when you think of one or the other does one particular aspect stand out as for you favorite example of getting that particular thing right, or conveying another thing the best as you've ever done it? Either in general terms like saying your favorite John Wayn western versus military flick. Or in a very specific terms like saying you think you really aced a concept- like a relationship or a philisophical concept or bravery or human foible etc.
Hey, there are a lot of great moments that I love (he says without modesty) in all the series I've produced. Even in the stuff where I was just a hired gun.
But the thing is... I mostly work in the same genre (i.e. super-heroes) nearly all the time. It's a bastard genre (he says with affection) that includes fantasy, science fiction, detective and mystery, thrillers, etc., plus -- at least the way we do it -- romance and comedy on top of the action and adventure. So it stays fun for me, fresh for me. But it doesn't lend itself to the western vs. military comparison you make above. All of them are all of it. So it's just about the execution. In general, there aren't any episodes of a show I've produced that I hate. Some work better than others. But for me it's mostly about the moments.
Should a storyteller be telling us stories we want/expect to hear, or are they allowed to tell us whatever story they want, regardless on if we like it or not?
Uh... I don't know that there are or even should be rules.
But as for me personally, I try to tell the stories I want to tell, the ones that I'd want to see - that way I maintain passion for the material. Then, of course, I desperately cross my fingers and hope that others also like the stories I'm telling.
Whether these are stories they wanted or expected, who knows? The audience isn't monolithic, so I'm not sure it's possible to give EVERYONE what they want or expect. But if a majority LIKE the stories, I figure I'm good.