LB: What Does a TV Animation Director Do?

Glad You Asked Department 7/12/13

question_ditkoBack in the late ’90s I did a little work in animation, creating projects like Fox’s THE SILVER SURFER, which I also ran – as much as a writer can run what is probably the only TV genre where writer-producers don’t get to call all the shots because the animator-directors are the official Big Cheeses – and supervising the writing on SURFER, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, DIABOLIK (a French series for all practical purposes although everyone wanted it to be more), and HBO’s SPAWN (a terrific series bujt the less said about it as an experience in my life the better).

As a result of that work (which you can get a quick overview of here), I’m often asked a lot of questions about the television animation process. One of the days, time permitting, I’ll write a nice long article on the subject. But until then I’m happy to use this space to answer the following question from Delia, who wants to writes:

I’ve been a secret fan of Saturday Morning animation for years and have always been amazed at the variation in quality. I’ve seen shows that obviously were intended for 8 year olds, like POKEMON, and shows that scaled upward in age past pre-teens and teens to the viewing group I’d call Young Adults, which clearly was the demo you aimed THE SILVER SURFER at.

Mostly I think of myself as an artist, rather than a writer, and I’m eager to learn what the opportunities are for nerd girl artists like me in animation.  I’m familiar with some of the more advanced issues, such as ageism and sexism. (Whew, at least I’m young.) And I do know that there’s more to TV animation than Saturday morning these days. A lot more. But I’m still not clear on the actual stages that the art goes through for TV, nor do I understand who necessarily does what. And I really, really want to know what the Animation Director actually does. Can you help me out on this?

To which I have to wholeheartedly reply:

I love this question, Delia, for several reasons.

  1. Because you remember THE SILVER SURFER, which was indeed intended for adults of all ages and not just tykes.
  2. Because you seem to have liked it. (I fucking loved it myself.)
  3. Because you’re a young woman who wants to work in animation and I don’t hear from many humans fitting into that calling. (Aliens, yes, lots of ’em, but humans, not so much.)
  4. Because someone else has already answered this question wonderfully well, which means that I don’t have to strain my aging brain coming up with the answer.

That someone else is a friend named Will Meugniot, who really knows his stuff. Over the years, Will has been producer, director, writer, art director, storyboard artist, you-name-it on tons of animated TV including:

  • BIKER MICE FROM MARS
  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
  • X-MEN EVOLUTION
  • X-MEN THE SERIES
  • CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS
  • BATMAN
  • SWAMP THING
  • THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
  • C.O.P.S
  • ROBOCOP
  • JONNY QUEST

And many, many more. (Did I say tons? Make it whole planets full of shows.)

And foremost, to me, he worked his talented butt off on both THE SILVER SURFER and DIABOLI

realgbsK. In the words of Stan Lee, “Wotta guy.” (I don’t mean Stan wrote this somewhere, I mean he came right out and said it with real feeling to me.)

More to the point in terms of this question, Will is part of a team that put together a terrific behind-the-scenes “Making of” video for the  THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS DVD COLLECTION a few years ago, and which y’all can find on YouTube.

In terms of the matter at hand, these two videos should be very helpful:

And if you want more, it’s all at the Ghostbusters.Org YouTube Channel.

My thanks to Delia for bringing up this point. And my thanks to Will not only for sending me to YouTube to find the answer but also for being a hell of a guy and a sensational talent.

LYMI,

LB

Go to Will Meugniolt’s Comic Art Shop

Read/see/buy comics drawn and/or created by Will (like DNAgents, FedForce, Tarzan Weekly, Vanity, Marvel TGeam-Up, Solomon Kane, Howard the Duck…)

dnagents-the

My purpose here is to help as many undiscovered creative geniuses as possible. But I can’t answer if you don’t ask. So send your questions and make everyone’s day!

About LB

Larry Brody has been profiled in such national magazines and websites as Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Starlog, People, Electronic Media, IndieSlate, TechTV, io9, and of course TV Guide. A legendary figure in the television writing and production world, with a career going back to the late ’60s, Brody has written and produced literally thousands of hours of network and syndicated television. Brody has also been active in the TV animation world, writing, creating, consulting, and/or supervising the cult favorite STAR TREK animated TV series, the SILVER SURFER, SPAWN, SUPERMAN, SPIDERMAN, and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED animated series, and was showrunner of the French animated series, DIABOLIK, as well as part of the team that developed and wrote the live-action/cgi animation sci-fi series Ace Lightning for the BBC. Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys.

3 thoughts on “LB: What Does a TV Animation Director Do?

  1. ChilltownTV says:

    These are great, Larry!

  2. TVWriter™ says:

    Thanks, Leesa. Tell your friends. Or – wait – maybe you should do what Ahnuld used to…keep your edge by feeding potential rivals misinformation instead.

    Nah, you don’t need to worry about that. As far as I’m concerned, ChilltownTV is way ahead of the pack.

    LYMI,

    LB

  3. ChilltownTV says:

    Haha! Thanks. 🙂 And will do. I’m going to retweet this. It’s really great.

Comments are closed.