Travel consideration provided.Read more from the DreamWorks HOME Event
It’s not every day that you get an art lesson from a DreamWorks animator, but that’s exactly what happened during my visit to the DreamWorks Animation Studios campus. During my trip, I was able to meet the Supervising Producer of Home Adventures With Tip & Oh, Blake Lemons, who talked about the animation process on the show and gave us a crash course on creating our very own Boov!
Art 101: How to Draw a Boov
Lemons explained how each Boov has its own quirks and features that make it unique. The aliens take everyday human objects and wear them as articles of clothing, which is one of the ways that the animators figure out what each Boov’s personality is. Since the Boov are all so distinctive, Lemons showed us variations for making each one different, demonstrating by creating a Boov self-portrait on the whiteboard. I decided to follow suit and create my own little Boov self-portrait, complete with a pinstripe business suit like the one I was wearing along with a pink smartphone. Lemons approved and told me it was a great Boov, so behold, my masterpiece. 😉
We also got a quick lesson in drawing Tip:
The Process of Animating Home Adventures With Tip & Oh
While we drew, Lemons gave us a fascinating overview of the animation process for this show. An experienced animator who had previously worked on shows such as SpongeBob and Chowder, Lemons told us that his involvement with Home Adventures With Tip & Oh began when he got an intriguing pitch: “When they approached me, they said that it was Perfect Strangers with a space twist,” he laughed.
When it came down to translating this popular movie into a TV series, they decided to go with a more 2D, traditional approach. “We all came from a storyboard-driven background, so we write and tell stories with storyboards. We like to do it like that because we feel we get to put a lot of character into the drawings we do in the storyboards. We just felt like as we were developing, 2D featured what we were doing in storyboard the best.”
As they developed Home Adventures With Tip & Oh, they re-designed the characters a little bit and brought in different artistic inspirations. When you go behind the scenes of an animated feature, you tend to see large idea boards containing clippings of different colors, photos, fabrics or drawings that serve as a point of inspiration, and this was the case for Home as well. For this particular project, Lemons told us that they were inspired by 1960’s children’s book illustrators like Ezra Keats who made use of creative patterns.
“If you think back, even back when you watched Scooby Doo or anything like that, there’s always a texture, right? There’s always a texture to the background that these 2D, flat colored characters can pop off of,” Lemons told us. They thought about layering patterns on top of textures, to create a lively atmosphere in the sky and background of Home.
The personalities of the actors and the soundtrack to the show were also influential in determining the final visual look. “Alex Geringas really brought an amazing sound to the show. He composes all the songs, all the score for every episode, and whenever we’re drawing, whenever we’re writing, we also keep that in mind quite a bit, ” Lemons said.
Developing a show like Home Adventures With Tip & Oh is no overnight process, with creators Thurop Van Orman and Ryan Crego beginning the initial work about 2 1/2 years ago.
“From there, we started putting together a storyboard staff, a writing staff – so that was about a year and a half ago. We started putting together episodes. Story ideas, to writing out those outlines, to writing and storyboarding, and then, once you do that, Animatics – do you want to hear about this? I’ll tell you all about it. The storyboard [is] 800 to 1,000 panels – that’s nothing compared to what the animation finally is. There’s so many frames in that. But 800-1,000 panels, we take that, record all those voice actors – we record them, and we bring in all that into our Animatic edit bay, we combine the images with audio, and we just pace the thing out and see how long it is. Sometimes it’s too long, sometimes it’s the right amount of time, and we just try to make it as funny and heartwarming and fun as possible. And basically, once our line producer says we have to be done, we’re done. (laughs) We could keep pushing it as long as possible, but we ship it out and get it animated, and we start working directly with those animators and animation directors, and they have a long time with it as well, and then it bounces back to us, and we do a bunch of post, and then Alex Geringas gets to put the beautiful music on it.”
And with a project this time consuming, it’s extremely gratifying to finally see it come to life on screen.
“It’s amazing,” Lemons told us. “That first episode that you guys saw, ‘Booving in,’ once we finally got that back and saw all that, especially with that opening title sequence and everything, we’re just like, woah. We’ve created something that’s really cool, that we’re really excited about. I hope you guys are enjoying it, and I hope everyone out there does, because I love it.”