Freak Show Series Premiere
‘Freak Show,’ the new Flash-animated series created by David Cross (‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Mr. Show’) and Jon Benjamin, premiered last week on Comedy Central. In the coveted slot right after ‘South Park,’ ‘Freak Show’ airs at 10:30pm ET/ 9:30pm CST.
Below, Craig Hartin, Animation Director/Producer & Radical Axis, answered a few questions for CHF, but first, a clip!
AARON SIMPSON: The initial order is for 7 episodes. How far along is the team?
CRAIG HARTIN: Currently we have turned in 4 of the 7 episodes. The turn around is fast on the shows. We will have the final episode turned in by the first week in November.
AARON: Was their an un-aired pilot produced?
CRAIG: We did create a pilot. It was about ten minutes in length. A lot of what is in episode 1 is seen in the pilot. We made some minor adjustments to the files but the overall look and feel of the show was created during the pilot.
AARON: Do you storyboard first, then record, or vice versa?
CRAIG: We often have many things happening simultaneously due to the production schedule. We wait until we get the record version of the script and then start boarding based on it. A lot of times we will have designs of backgrounds and characters ready to take with us to the record for David and Jon to look over and approve.
AARON: Who designed the characters?
CRAIG: Todd Redner and Eric Cerda, based on notes from Scott Fry, RADICAL AXIS CEO, and direction from myself Craig Hartin, Animation Director/Producer Radical Axis, designed the freaks. After that we took all the combined drawings and made them into model sheets and sent them off for approval.
AARON: Where David Cross and Jon Benjamin involved in the look of the show?
CRAIG: We had a lot of conversations with David and Jon on the feel for the show and the look that they were going for. So most of the influence was from these conversations with them.
AARON: How much paper is used in the production?
CRAIG: Both Scott Fry and I are big on brainstorming before we send anything off. So we did a lot of paper drawings of characters and backgrounds, then went into the meeting room with them, put them on the wall and marked them all up. This helped us nail the look a lot quicker than sending every rough drawing that we came up with. Aside from that the entire production is created in the computer.
AARON: What was the biggest hurdle the production team faced in creating the first episode?
CRAIG: The biggest issue that we ran into was what software to use. Be began looking very seriously at Harmony, who was very helpful, but the big issue there was the learning curve and our start date for production. We had to begin production almost immediately after being told that the show was picked up, which meant that we had less time to experiment with other software.
AARON: How involved are David Cross and Jon Benjamin in the oversight of the animation?
CRAIG: Both David and Jon are very hands on with this show. Both very hard workers. They want to see the animation getting better and better just as we do. They are also understanding of the limitations of animation.
AARON: Besides Flash, what software is incorporated into the production pipeline?
CRAIG: We begin with building the radioplay in Final Cut as well as the animatic. After that we will kick out the digital animatic to the Flash animators. Once animation is complete we move animation out to the compositors for composite in After Effects. We have also been using Illustrator for some of the backgrounds. All mixing on the show is done through Pro Tools.