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Behind the scenes with the creator of Woody Woodpecker.
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These are few sketches of one of our directors brought in for approval. Sometimes people think it is rather odd that we have directors for cartoon films, they say, how can you direct an animated character? Because we not only have to plan what they will do and say, but we also have to create the characters. I think you might be interested in seeing some other things, our cartoon director is responsible for.
To start with, we must have a main situation or idea around which to build our story. The director works with the story men to develop this idea. They might discuss different gags, trying to find as many funny situations as possible.
After the story has been pretty well developed, the story man makes a rough story board. Both the writer and the director have to be artist because we draw stories instead of writing them.
When the storyboard is finished, the director goes over with the writer; the writer makes notes about the characters and plans a gag so that they are funny and entertaining. Then the director starts to layout and time the entire production. He does this on a timing sheet. Everything has to be worked out in advance, the action, the dialogue, the music and the sound effects.
A director marks on his timing sheet the exact length of every scene in the picture, the tempo and the exact place where the sound effects or dialogue ought to be used. Now using the storyboard as a guide, the director makes a series of sketches that will tell the story in action.
While he is drawing this action sketches, the director also makes drawings of the stage settings or the action will take place. The settings can be almost anywhere, a desert, a forest, a log cabin, anything that fits the story and makes an interesting background. Whenever a new character is created for a cartoon, the director makes up a model chart that serves as a guide for the animators to follow. This model chart shows how the character will look from the front, the side and the rear. It also points out any special features. For example, a character might have a tail that hangs in a special way. All details of clothing or costumes are shown on the model charts. In timing the action of this picture, the director uses a metronome. It can be set here from one to four beats a second. He figures out what better tempo he wants the action to follow and makes a note of it on the timing sheet.
Then he works with the musical director to develop the type and kind of musical score that will fit the action of the picture. Along with everything else, the director meets with animators who will work on the cartoon. He explains the entire storyboard to them and any special features that have to be considered. The director has a big job and a very important one, he has to be an idea man, a gag man, an artist, have a knowledge of music and many other things, And his work is especially difficult, when you think that his star actor is a bird brained name Woody Wood Pecker.