For 4 long years, Joanna Davidovich spent her nights and weekends drawing, sketching, and then animating this crazy little short film. She uploaded the pencil tests to Youtube as she made them and keeping her followers updated on the process. It was great to see the support of the online community throughout the production. Once the pencil test were finished, my part began.
There were several technical challenges on this project. The first one was that Joanna wanted to do this short on paper. You'd think that after over a century of traditional hand drawn animation, this wouldn't be a technical issue, but surprisingly, it was. She had used Digicel Flipbook for her pencil tests, and still to this day, there is nothing better for hand drawn animation testing. We tried to make it work for the full production, but I just couldn't get it to do what I wanted. This short had 4,450 individual inked drawings that needed to be scanned, processed, organized, named, sequenced, and colored; a daunting task that I had to figure out a new way to achieve.
This short was actually animated at 30 frames per second instead of the normal 24. I unsuccessfully advocated for 24 fps because it's 1/6th less work, but Joanna wanted 30fps. Much of her work up to that point was done for broadcast commercials that were produced at 30fps, so she was already accustomed to work that way, but it gave her the ability to hit musical cues a bit easier and makes the animation a bit more fluid.
In February of 2013, the Inks were finished, Darren & I were nearly done with the paint, so Joanna moved on the finishing the backgrounds. She had only done rough layouts for the environments so she new where the characters would land, but hadn't really created a finished background yet. She had spent a lot of time researching Mary Blair and Samurai Jack (as you do), and started from the beginning. she completed the scene that appeared as the puppet theater falls down and asked me what thought. the conversation went something like this:
Me: "That's great! You have to create that for the rest of the short."
Joanna: " I can't do this for every scene! I just wanted swaths of color washes!"
Me: "Too bad, you made this and that's the way the short needs to look."
Joanna: < Insert cry like Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy. />
...3 months & 25 Backgrounds later
Joanna: "Wow! I really like the way this looks!"