Storyboard vs. script the classic debate.

I.R Joey

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For some reason I found myself reading the blog of our fellow Toonzone member Jaime_Weinman (one of the old school guys who doesn't seem to show up as much anymore). One of his posts dealt with the conflict or rather diffrence of opinion between the people at Spumco and the team at Warner's during the early 90's. The debate was over the proper way to make cartoons, should they be artist driven and "written" with storyboards or written by script writers. On one side we had John Krifalsci and his group who basically said that writers are irrelevant in cartoons. That the focus shouldn't real be on the dialouge or even the plot really and more about creating funny drawings/gags. That being the case he was a vocal critict of the other "style" of cartoons most prominantly demonstrated by the Warner TV animation cartoons like Tiny toons, Animaniacs, and Freakazoid. These shows were basically guided by writers, with the artist underlining their scripts with the drawings. The criticism was that they were far to dialoge heavy, and that they replaced pop culture jokes for true humor. He also said that these writers didn't draw and thus couldn't understand toons. Also the shows were hardly "timeless" but time capsules for the 90's as Jamie put it.

The 90's are long gone but the remnants of this debate still live on. On cable, particularly Cartoon Network and Nick, we see alot more artist driven shows. Some say this is the legacy of the 90's Ren and Stimpy, that Krifalsci won his battle to wrestle power away from writers and put it in the hands of the artist. We've seen so many Ren and Stimpy influenced stuff, and even out right clones come around that I don't think anyone can argue it didn't leave a deep impact. Yet, many argue that these shows aren't as good as the original, and that includes the new Ren and Stimpy which is unfettered by the influence of Nick censors, yet somehow draws the ire of animation fans.

As for the other "school" of thought. The WB costed through the mid to late 90's with shows like the above mentioned Animaniacs, the spin off Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid and the long forgotten Histeria. These shows won them several emmy's but with the coming of Pokemon Kid's WB pushed these shows aside in favor of imported shows. Now a days the well seems to have run dry on these type of shows with the notable exception of Duck Dodgers on CN which is the direct descendent of these shows (even many of the same people). A few Nicktoons hold to this idea particularly the Klasky Csupo ones, but they also seem to be an endangered species.

As for me I find myself somewhere between the two camps. On one side there are alot of "artist" driven toons that I really like. Like many of you I enjoyed Samurai Jack, and alot of the other Cartoon Cartoons (I'll never get used to calling them Cartoon Network originals). I've also been enjoying some Nicktoons like Fairly Odd parents, and Teenage Robot. Yet there's another side of me that says that cartoons should have great dialoge and shouldn't just be about setting sight gags up. The Anime fan in me wants his cartoons/anime to be filled with as much dialoge about philisophical jargon and angst as is possible.

I guess in the end I have to say that when executed at their best both are very valid.

Anyhow, what are your thoughts?
 

Terrence Briggs

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POINT #1: Jaime Weinman was part of the Animaniacs Defense Committee on USENET back in the mid-1990s. In those days, it was Ren & Stimpy versus Animaniacs. If he and the Spumco Peoples' Front haven't made nice since then, they'll never grow up.

I knew that time had passed both arguments by when Toonsylvania and Ripping Friends aired. Toonsylvania proved that Speilberg and some Animaniacs leftovers weren't mad geniuses. Ripping Friends proved that Spumco's subversive "Real Toons" elitism would gladly sell itself to the sugar-cereal set if it meant that a network would buy it.

The ideologies of script versus storyboard got buried in the reality of execution. Lame storyboards are just bad scripts. Any suggestion that good writing can't exist as much as good storyboarding doesn't show a holistic understanding of what makes good art; it shows a personal preference.

Samurai Jack is a good storyboarded show. With Batman writing, it would be superlative. Phantom 2040 featured superb writing, but could've used some good storyboarders, to give the show more of a visual punch.

END. OF. ARGUMENT.
 

I.R Joey

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Terrence Briggs said:
POINT #1: Jaime Weinman was part of the Animaniacs Defense Committee on USENET back in the mid-1990s. In those days, it was Ren & Stimpy versus Animaniacs. If he and the Spumco Peoples' Front haven't made nice since then, they'll never grow up.

I knew that time had passed both arguments by when Toonsylvania and Ripping Friends aired. Toonsylvania proved that Speilberg and some Animaniacs leftovers weren't mad geniuses. Ripping Friends proved that Spumco's subversive "Real Toons" elitism would gladly sell itself to the sugar-cereal set if it meant that a network would buy it.

The ideologies of script versus storyboard got buried in the reality of execution. Lame storyboards are just bad scripts. Any suggestion that good writing can't exist as much as good storyboarding doesn't show a holistic understanding of what makes good art; it shows a personal preference.

Samurai Jack is a good storyboarded show. With Batman writing, it would be superlative. Phantom 2040 featured superb writing, but could've used some good storyboarders, to give the show more of a visual punch.

END. OF. ARGUMENT.
Really I didn't know all of that about an Animaniacs defense group. Very interesting, but wouldn't you say that storyboard 1st shows have become alot more prominent especially on cable?
 

Superperson

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I guess that would all depend on what type of cartoon your making in the first place...I think there whould be somewhat of a balance, I think script writers should be the foundation for the cartoon itself, but also give the storyboard artist some freedom to add a gag or something extra to a scene if they see fit. For a complicated storyline, you obviously need a good script, because a storyboard mite not cut it, Samurai Jack was a serious storyboard driven show but the plot was hardly complicated or thought provoking (not that most kids shows are). But I guess it all should come into its proper place, but if I had to take sides, I would rely a bit more on script writing but also emphasize on storyboarding too. Probably certain parts more then others though, not the whole show.
 

Terrence Briggs

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I.R Joey said:
Really I didn't know all of that about an Animaniacs defense group. Very interesting, but wouldn't you say that storyboard 1st shows have become alot more prominent especially on cable?
Among American cartoons, they seem to be more prominent than they were in the past. Scripted show still seem to make up the majoirty on animation on TV, even if you exclude the imports.

The Animaniacs Defense Committee was a term I coined. It was also composed of Andy "Chance Wolf" Hill.
 

Samurai

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To me, this like a question of "Tom & Jerry" vs. "The Simpsons". Shows like Tom & Jerry have no dialogue, but literally use animation to show their humour.

On the other hand, adult comedy shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, etc. are based heavily on their dialogue and pop-culture parodies. Take away the dialogue and snappy references, and you essentially take away the show.

To me, it seems these days, it skewers heavily towards script-based comedy like The Simpsons and Family Guy. I call this the "Adult Swim Era". Most of those shows have limited animation, and rely entirely on their dialogue. Essentially, they are more like comedy skits than animated shows. But it seems that's what people prefer these days...
 

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