Can you tell us your role and summarize your day-to-day responsibilities?
I was just recently promoted to producer, and I serve in that role for our new animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch. My responsibilities are ostensibly to work with our VP Athena Portillo and schedule out the entire show from start to finish. I work with our team here at Lucasfilm Animation and our overseas team in Taiwan to make sure that all departments are working together in terms of finishing on their deadlines and handing off their work to the next piece of the puzzle. I figure out if there are any hiccups or bottlenecks, and find ways to keep things moving.
From an animation perspective, we are always producing another episode, and another season, and another show. To do that requires a consistent drumbeat. You can’t burn people out, or burn the midnight oil to make the show, because there is always something in progress. There’s a “marathon over sprint” kind of mentality behind it. We make sure that the artists and everyone takes a vacation from time to time and gets some rest and relaxation. It’s important that people aren’t working until 11 o’clock at night all the time. One of our benefits at Lucasfilm Animation is that we all have stable jobs. We’ve been lucky enough to be consistently producing shows for quite some time. And we’re very, very proud of that.
Another important part of what Lucasfilm Animation does is that we’re not just producing shots, we’re producing stories. We write our stories, we design the assets, build the assets, and storyboard the episodes.
And do you have a favorite part of that production workflow?
This is probably jumping ahead a little, but I started on Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2009 as a production assistant in the asset apartment. I was there for about two and a half years and then I went to the story department. We don’t do traditionally storyboards; instead we do previsualization on a software called Zviz – which involves rough 3D animation to block out scenes.
And before you continue, can you explain a little more about what this process involves?
So Zviz was developed by George Lucas and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) many years ago, and we used it on The Clone Wars. It’s a tool for previsualization, or Previz, which is an alternative to normal 2D storyboarding. Instead we create low-resolution versions of all of our assets and our artists set everything up like a stage play in the computer. Once the director is happy with the staging, then they drop in specific camera angles and we “shoot it.” Zviz allows you to build all of that out, and even start to edit those pieces together so you can send to the editorial department for them to refine. It also allows us to work incredibly fast. When someone makes an adjustment, we can quickly take the files and move them around, without having to redraw whole storyboards.