Handy Manny

In the summer of 2010, I storyboarded a couple Handy Manny stories for Nelvana Ltd.

Up to that point, I’d only done a couple of storyboards using digital tools and was still trying to figure out a comfortable work flow. More importantly, I was still trying to find a way for my drawing to look like my drawings: my line look like my line: my style, etc. I’m still working on that.

I came to the conclusion that I have two styles: my style (pencil and paper or ink on paper) and my DIGITAL style (drawing digitally). There is a difference if one takes a good look. For me, I prefer the look of my style on paper, but the co-ordinator on Handy Manny said she could tell it was my storyboard right away based on the art, so maybe I’m closer to my goal than I think. Hmmm...

The story for this one: Manny and the Tools co. go camping. I only did the second half of this episode. I have no idea who did the first part.

There is no sound because that part takes place after I’m on to the next storyboard and I don’t get access to the sound files.

I will be posting more animatics and storyboard materials in the near future. Print storyboards I will post as it seems appropriate, but animatics will have to wait until the actual episode airs. I figure its only proper. That means that all animatics will likely be at least a year old by the time they show up here.

However, while you are waiting...

HIM
The new page (pg 44) has been posted over at HIMcomic. Click on the pose down preview of this week’s action to get more comics! FLEX!!
HIM044_pre
Handy Manny is copyright whomever owns it. I claim no ownership.
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20 Years?

Hard to believe, but I’ve been in the animation business for 20 years. 20 YEARS!!

I was hired by Nelvana Ltd. as a Layout Artist in January of 1991 while I was in my final year (3rd year) attending the Classical Animation course at Sheridan College. I went freelance in 1993 and so here I am as I am, today. That’s the short of it.

There are plenty of stories and anecdotes I could write about (Like: how I was hired for my first job, or rather how I wasn’t really hired and just showed up for work, sort of), but that’s for another time, if anyone is actually interested, that is. I’m not sure why anyone would be.

As an exercise out of personal interest, I had the idea to list all the different shows I have worked on in the past 20 years. They run the range of styles from stick figures (That’s called “easy money” in the business) to UPA to typical cartooning to typical adventure style to psudo-Anime. The mediums included: traditional 2D hand drawn cel art, 3D animation and Flash style animation. I’m still partial to traditional 2D, but alas, there is less and less of that being done in North America.

I started my career as a Layout Artist (Setting up the shots by drawing the full sized background and character poses that would be given to the animators and background painters) and became a Storyboard artist in 1995 or maybe 1996 and am still drawing storyboards to this day. What can I say, it’s a good job.

Ok, so here is the list of shows I’ve worked on, in chronological order (as best I can remember):

LAYOUT:
Rupert - Nelvana Ltd.
Beetlejuice - Nelvana Ltd.
Dog City - Nelvana Ltd.
Pink Panther - Pheonix Animation
Magic Schoolbus - Nelvana Ltd.
Eek the Cat - Nelvana Ltd.
Little Bear - Nelvana Ltd.
Pippi Longstocking - direct to video movie - Nelvana Ltd. (I also did location design for my own scenes)

STORYBOARD:
The Terrible Thunderlizards - Nelvana Ltd. (This was a part of the Eek show)
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - Nelvana Ltd.
Blazing Dragons - Nelvana Ltd.
The Tick - Sunbow Entertainment/ Sony Wonder
Stinkin’ Around - Nelvana Ltd.
Wing Commander Academy - Universal Studios
The Busy World of Richard Scarry - Cinar
Mummies Alive - DIC via Pictor
Magic Schoolbus - Nelvana Ltd. (Also served as Storyboard Supervisor on the final season)
Pippi Longstocking - TV series - Nelvana Ltd.
Salty’s Lighthouse - Sunbow Entertainment/ Sony Wonder
Anatole - Nelvana Ltd.
Birdz - Nelvana Ltd.
Brother’s Flub - Sunbow Entertainment/ Sony Wonder
Franklin - Nelvana Ltd.
Rollie Pollie Ollie - Nelvana Ltd.
Fat Dog Mendoza - Sunbow Entertainment/ Sony Wonder
Braceface - Nelvana Ltd.
Generation O! - Sunbow Entertainment/ Sony Wonder
Timothy Goes to School - Nelvana Ltd.
Cramp Twins - Sunbow Entertainment/ Sony Wonder
Berenstain Bears - Nelvana Ltd.
Cyberchase - Nelvana Ltd.
Di-Gata Defenders - Nelvana Ltd.
God Of Dance [radio edit] - promo - Independent (I didn’t do the actual storyboard, but I directed the thing and so I had a hand in its creation. I just didn’t give myself credit)
Grossology - Nelvana Ltd.
Hot Wheels: Battle Force Five - Nerdcorp
Stoked - Elliott Animation
Bolts and Blip - ToonBox
Total Drama Reloaded - Elliott Animation
Handy Manny - Nelvana Ltd.
Detentionaire - Nelvana Ltd.
Babar: The Adventures of Badou - Nelvana Ltd.

If I have left anything out, it is because my involvement was quite minor (fixing a storyboard or helping out on a show for a week or some other small task) or I simply have forgotten about it.

The thing I’m most happy with was God of Dance. I was able to have pretty much total creative control over it and I was very pleased with the end result. It was also great fun to put together at all stages. Even the all-nighter I spent scrambling to approve the final footage so the promo could be delivered for presentation. Actually, the making of story behind this promo is interesting. Maybe I’ll write about that, next time.

So... To sum up:

When I started in the animation business, I would meet guys who’d been around for 20 years and was amazed that they’d been ‘in’ so long; now, I’m one of them. I guess if you live long enough, it is inevitable that you become one of “them”, whomever “them” may be.

-Steve.

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BRACEFACE!!

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If a picture speaks a thousand words, than that picture should have gotten your attention.

That scene was from an episode of the Nelvana Ltd. TV series BRACEFACE. It was a show about a girl who had braces. It tried to be topical from time to time and address real teen issues, or as real as one can have on a Saturday morning show for kids.

For my part, as much as I could as a storyboard artist, I tried to push and play up the drama. The series lent itself to drama more than most, and I consider drama to be one of my stronger points as a storyboard artist. If someone cried on the show, chances are that part of the show was storyboarded by me and I added the tears (Tears are, in my experience, rarely scripted. For some reason, the act of adding tears into scripts and extreme feeling (such as crying or real anger) seems to be avoided. I have no idea why). At the same time, if there was comedy, I tried to push it as far as I could take it and milk the gag for all it was worth. Well, one day a ripe plum dropped on my desk in the form of a script called “Busted”.

I do not recall who wrote this script or whose story it came from, but when I read it, I was gob smacked and more than amused that the studio was going to make a show like this. What was it about? Sharon, the blonde main character, wanted attention from a boy, but felt her bust line was too small. Since she wanted this boy to notice her, she decided to buy an inflatable bra in order to increase her good noticeability. Things start to go wrong at a school dance (at the mall?) and the bra doesn’t stop growing. Now, if tears are usually avoided in animation, breasts are... a-hem... untouchable.

There was plenty of broad comedy I could play up and also some solid drama at the end, so I dig in and tried to push this material for all I could. I handed in the storyboard and that was the last I ever saw of it. I never even saw the finished episode, until last week.

Someone posted a bunch of episodes on YouTube and I finally got to see it. Although the director took out a couple of panels where I knowingly went too far with the material (Oh, like you wouldn’t?): funny and clean breast gags, but certainly stuff that wouldn’t make it on TV. eg. If I remember correctly, in the pictured scene below, I think I ended the cut with a gag of having the breasts grow smack into Maria’s (The Asian girl) hands (in a ‘don’t panic’ gesture) as she is trying to calm Sharon down. Then, we’d cut to the next sequence. I never expected that gag to make it in to the show (and it didn’t); however, so much was left in that I’m just amazed. Remember, this was a kids show... in animation!
Braceface_BE-03
I don’t know if this episode offended anyone or not or caused any kind of controversy anywhere. The YouTube comments seem to suggest that people thought it was funny and/or tragic and that’s all it was supposed to be.

Here is the the video of the final third of the episode with the naughty bits on display. I storyboarded all this (I probably storyboarded the last 11 minutes or so of this episode) and I really must tip my hat to the director for leaving in as much of what I added into the actual scripted show.

I still can’t believe this made it on air in a kids show.

-Steve
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Babar

Shameless self-promotion isn’t complete without mentioning what I’m working on.

For the past few months, and for the next many, I have been, am and will be drawing storyboards on BABAR and the Adventures of Badou from the fine folks at Nelvana Ltd. First season is already on air and it is the second season that I’m currently working on. Do look for it wherever TV programs are found.
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This is actually my second encounter with Babar. The first was when I was still in collage finishing my final year. I drew a layout test for Nelvana, trying to get a job in, of all departments, Layout. The test was to draw a few scenes from the then cel animation Babar cartoon. Despite what had to have been an amazingly weak test submission, if my memory serves me well, I was hired for my first job in animation as a Layout Artist.

Interestingly, a few years later, someone found a pile of old Babar layout tests in the studio. As much I wanted to see my test, it was missing. There can only be two possibly reasons for its absence: Someone swiped it to later sell on Ebay for a couple of bucks, having the foresight to see value in those dodgy drawings (not to mention the existence of Ebay, well before the internet was anything a common person knew anything about) or they burned it for the artistic abomination it must have been. I suspect the latter is more likely and I’d probably agree with their logic.

If you see it on Ebay, please let me know. I’d kill to see it again.

HIM
Over at HIMcomic, I have created a new section called ComHIMtary. It is a page by page commentary talking about this and that, bits and bites and assorted whatnots regarding the pages themselves. That section will be updated whenever I have something to say about a particular page.

Criswell
Criswell speaks, “I predict that this new section will be a hit of Titanic proportions or it will not. Can you prove me wrong? Impossible.”


-Steve.

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