Thursday, November 25, 2010


Greg and I spend a hell of a lot of time crafting our Young Justice stories with our writing staff and the recording studio is where we see those stories first come to life- or at least we HEAR the stories come to life. We SEE a story come to life 5 or 6 weeks AFTER the recording in the form of a complete storyboard which gives us the truest sense of how the story will play out after animation. Nevertheless it's quite a kick to hear a story come alive after spending so much time imagining it in our heads. It's often surprising to hear how an actor interprets dialog that you might have imagined being said in a very specific way. Sometimes these interpretations are for the better and sometimes not. Either way, the spontaneity of working with actors makes the recording sessions an exciting place to be. As does the fact that we have to record a show in under 5 hours. Believe me, 5 hours blazes by FAST so everyone has to be focused and on their game.

Voice director Jamie Thomason helps our actors navigate the emotional flow of each script. He has to be super familiar with each character and every story as well as the acting process so that he can properly provide direction to the actors to help them achieve their best possible performance in the shortest number of takes (remember, we record on a deadline). Speedy delivery of clear and concise performance notes is also important to help keep an actor enthused and "in the moment". Think about it- if you spend too long repeating any task or if you have to listen to someone drone on for too long about how to do your job better your enthusiasm for that job is probably going to decline quickly. Jamie has to keep this kind of thing from happening.

Jamie also has to interpret notes from producers, writers, and directors and translate those notes to the actors during the recording. It takes fast thinking, solid communication skills, and quick wit to keep a room full of actors, writers, directors, and producers all jazzed and on point. Jamie's got those skills times ten!

Speaking of skills, check out our cast! We lucked out in the casting process and got a hold of some great talent to bring our characters to life. The realistic nature of our series demands a touch of subtlety and sophistication in vocal performance beyond that of the average cartoon. This subtlety in performance and vocal quality is a key factor in selling the reality that Greg and I are trying to create. We found a cast that can hit that mark of reality on a weekly basis and we couldn't be happier with the results of their contributions to the series. We think you'll be happy with their performances as well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Here are a few promos for our upcoming movie premiere.

New York Comic Con 6 minute preview at MTV.

Cartoon Network commercial.

TV Guide's full page ad.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Production Update

Here's a post for any scholarly individuals out there who might be interested in seeing a snapshot of our current production progress for educational purposes. I won't list all the episodes here but I'll list enough of them to give you a sense of our work flow. Reading down the list between episode 26 and episode 1 will give you an idea of how a story originates and is brought to life just to bring you something cool to watch for 30 minutes.

Episode 26: Story beats have been worked out and finalized- hand written on 3x5 cards and currently tacked up on a wall in Greg's office.

Episode 24: Story outline complete. Ready to go to script.

Episode 22: First draft of the script is complete.

Episode 21: Recording the voice actors Tuesday morning.

Episode 18, 19, 20: Currently being storyboarded.

Episode 16: Storyboards complete. Currently being noted, revised, and cut to the proper length.

Episode 14: Storyboards were shipped to Korea this week. Working on designs at WB.

Episode 11: Finishing up designs for backgrounds, characters, and props at WB.

Episode 10: Background paint is in progress at WB. In Korea, key animation has been completed on 153 scenes.

Episode 7: Ink & paint on models is in progress at WB. Animation layout has begun in Korea.

Episode 6: Key animation has been completed, inbetweens are in progress, and 110 scenes are in the process of being colored.

Episode 5: Arrived from Korea last week and is now being edited. Beautifully animated by MOI!

Episode 3: Edited and locked for time. Awaiting retakes from Korea. Met with composers (DMP) Monday morning to discuss music for the episode.

Episode 1 and 2: Completed last week! Done! Ready to hit the air! Here's a picture of the final DVD sitting on my desk at work.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I thought I'd post a little behind-the-scenes material from Young Justice. If I have the time, I will try to update this blog with more entries like this with some regularity in the coming weeks.

When Greg Weisman and I started developing Young Justice we had a lot of discussions about how we could make another DC superhero show in a way that feels new. In both art direction and story a lot of ground has already been thoroughly explored in shows like Justice League, The Brave and the Bold, Teen Titans, Legion of Superheroes, The Batman, and Batman: The Animated Series. We had no desire to disrespect any of those great shows by trying to copy or emulate them. So it was important to us to create something new to establish a unique identity for our series, present familiar material in a new light for our audience, and also to challenge ourselves artistically.

I think one of the most defining characteristics of our series is realism. Once Greg and I established a realistic tone for the series it was clear that the art style of the show would have to match that tone. I do the majority of the art directing as part of my duties producing the show so the first rule I established during character design development was that it should never appear that any of our heroes shop at the same store for their clothes. Each costume should not only reflect the wearer's personality, physical needs, and traditional DCU look but also have unique tailoring. Conveying a sense of texture/tailoring variation between costumes would be the mark of realism needed to match the tone of the stories Greg and I want to tell. Hopefully it would also help to visually set our series apart from the other animated DCU TV shows that came before us.

The two characters that best illustrate a difference in tailoring are Aqualad and Robin . Aqualad's outfit is nearly seamless and shiny to convey a slick and textureless material designed to cut through water fast. Robin, on the other hand, has a costume that's all about seams and padding. When fighting crime on the streets of Gotham it just makes sense to wear protection. Robin's costume seams imply reinforced stitching and sewn in materials designed to protect the body during street fights or even stop a bullet. Unlike other versions of Batman in the animated DCU, our Batman will have the same extra stitching lines on his outfit for all the same reasons that Robin does. The subtle difference between them is that Batman's costume may have the feel of next gen. military gear where as I wanted Robin's outfit to be a little more sport inspired to match his youthful energy. Kid Flash not only runs fast but also uses his momentum to become a human cannonball. His costume needs to be protective against skidding and impacts so I wanted him to have lots of pads and a leathery texture which is indicated by thick folds seen on his outfit.

I could ramble on about the theories behind the other costumes in the show but I think you get my point. There's a lot of thought behind these designs and our choices are all designed to visually ground the show in reality. But all these choices and theories are pretty useless if you don't have a designer who can make them a reality which is why I was extremely lucky to get my friend Phil Bourassa to be the lead designer on Young Justice. Phil has an innate sense of how to make all of these theories about realism work to enhance a character's personality and look good on screen. He lives and breathes this sensibility.

Our design process begins with a talk about each character and maybe a look through some photo reference I gather together before he sets to work. More often than not he just comes up with concepts on his own. Either way, Phil nails it whenever he brings a new design to the table. He's a sharpshooter. He only seems to need one or two passes on a character before he finds the final design which always exceeds expectations. He's that good! And if you compare his current designs with his previous work on Crisis On Two Earths and Planet Hulk I think you'll find that he's doing his best work now for Young Justice. Lucky us! Check out more of Phil's work on Deviant Art.