Thursday, June 28, 2007

That's a wrap for Christy, Will and Nicole!

It's been a busy week here in KP land.
On Tuesday we mixed Part One of the finale at Advantage Audio in Burbank, Ca.
A 'mix' is when you combine the music, sound effects, dialog and anything else on an audio track and mix the levels. We usually preview the sound effects on the previous day, as always created by the king of squeak toy sounds- Paca Thomas. So, with our fantastic mixers- Fil Brown and Melissa Gentry-Ellis, we spent the next afternoon getting the levels just right for either your big stereo set up or little tiny tv speakers.

(Left to right- Melissa Gentry-Ellis, Paca Thomas and Fil Brown)

Traditionally, Mark, Bob and I gain a bit of weight due to the wonderful spread of snacks and food put out before us. We'll miss Advantage, but our pants will be grateful.

On Wednesday, we had a play-back of the episode at the studio for the final OK, before it is sent away around the world to be ready for airing. Recently we had a play-back for an episode that everyone was REALLY tired of seeing, so we created our own off-color running commentary track as the show played. If they ever put together DVD's for KP and ask us to do commentaries, I guarantee you they will be pretty funny but I'd imagine we'd have to watch our language.

On Thursday we had the final recording session with most of our KP stars. The stage was set at L.A. Studios in Universal City, Ca in Studio F. as we recorded with Kerri Kenney, George Takei, Kevin M. Richardson, Nicole Sullivan, Will Friedle and a slightly teary Christy Carlson Romano. Jokes were made, there was hugs all around and Nicole deftly recorded new Shego dialog that was originally recorded by your humble blogger as we bid farewell to our wonderful cast.

Kim's final line of dialog recorded for the tv series- "uuhhh...huh?"

(Left to right- Bob, Steve, Mark, Christy, Will and Lisa)

'Soundtrack Of My Life' for the week of 6/25-

Fountains Of Wayne- Welcome Interstate Managers. I'm still waiting for Halley's waitress.

KP Countdown- 14 days

Friday, June 22, 2007


This week we 'locked' the final episode of KP. When we 'lock' something it means we cannot make any changes to the length of the show such as adding or removing any scenes. We still have plenty of work left to do on the episode including re-animating some characters within scenes, but the scenes must remain the same length. The 'locked' DVD is then given to us to call any ADR (Dialog recorded to the picture) and the composer, Adam Berry, for music.
The episode is looking better and better each day as our digital effects department works their magic and fixes and adds special effects and corrects mistakes.
On Thursday, Joe and I did our final 'edit' ever on KP. It was assembling a 'previously on...' sequence for when the the two parter is shown as separate episodes. I think Joe was joking that I should have some emotional outpouring (which except for frequent rants, is totally not like me) but it didn't matter since I was far too exhausted from carting my boxes.

(Heavier than they look!)

This entire week I've been packing up my boxes for moving and I've been amazed at some of the stuff I've been finding including something special. One of my favorite items is the packet of fan mail I've collected over the years. I've never received fan mail on any other show I've ever worked on, so thanks to everyone who sent some in. There's even some hate mail! Thanks for that too, cause I got a lot of laughs out of it.
One of the angry letters wrote that my work was too reminiscent to Joss Whedon.

You could not give me a better compliment.

Except if you gave me cash. Cash is good.



'Soundtrack Of My Life' for the week of 6/18-
Amy Winehouse- Back To Black. Okay, I know I'm going to get a lot of nasty comments because of this, but the album is REALLY good. Quite often I wonder what 'f*****y' is this, too.

KP Countdown- 21 days.

Monday, June 18, 2007


There's been a lot of talk about cut sequences, alternate endings and
other bits of stuff that don't seem to end up in the show so I thought
I'd clarify a bit.
When I started directing at the beginning of season 2, I created (with
Pieter Kaufman) the animatic for 'The Ron Factor'. An animatic is a
video version of the storyboards matched with the recorded dialog to
work out the timing and pace of the show. It was an interesting
experience because I kept referring back to the work that Chris Bailey
had done on season one, while trying to maintain my own personal
identity. Once completed, it was good, but it could have been better.
Mark and Bob described the 'overlapping dialog' theory was employed on the first
season to get that cinematic feel. I went back in and re-cut the show
to that feel and it was better but not great.
After screening it to the executives, they also felt something was not
quite hitting. It was mentioned that maybe the pace was off, but it was
good enough to send into production.
On the second episode 'Naked Genius' I made a concentrated effort to
find my identity within the KP world and get comfortable. On the advice
 from executives, I sped up the show. I mean, REALLY, sped it up. We
pulled out pauses and breaths within the dialog and everything moved at
a breakneck speed. It clicked and everyone liked it. This was the way
to tell one of my episodes from any one else's and I feel like Pieter
and I set the pace and feel for the rest of the series. However, there
were repercussions.
The scripts were written to a particular length and speeding
everything up made the show a whole lot shorter. We found that we had
to write and record inserts during the animatic stage. This was not an
ideal situation.
Therefore you will not find many scenes cut from the animatics of
seasons 2 and 3 since we used as much material as we could.
During the start of Season 4, Mark and Bob wanted to accomodate the new
timing by writing longer scripts. It was a good idea that had
unexpected results. We started to find we had shows were
overlength. WAY overlength. We had to start cutting out whole
sequences, characters and situations and then re-writing and
re-boarding to make the new edits work. We ended up with a tremendous
amount of footage cut from Season 4. Traditionally, we would provide a
few extra minutes to be animated that we could cut during the final
picture editing. However, because of the end credit 'tag' (the little
bit of animation over the end credits) we didn't ship those extra few
minutes. There was very little 'actual' animation cut from Season 4,
but a ton of storyboards with recorded dialog from our cast that will
never see the light of day.
Here's a list of just a few of the larger cuts we've made this season-
THE BIG JOB- One of Ron's new jobs involved him dressed up in a bunny suit holding a large arrow sign. His antics cause a vehicle pile-up.
CAR ALARM- A sequence with Motor Ed serenading Shego in 'Say Anything' style trying to convince her to work with him.
FASHION VICTIM- A flashback to the day Ron cleaned his room
MENTOR OF OUR DISCONTENT- A lot cut from this one including a long sequence involving Ron and Artie at J.P. Bearymores, a fight sequence with Kim, Ron, Drakken and Frugal in the High Tech Science building as they steal the URC and Drakken and Frugal in Drakken's Lair Cafeteria.
STOP TEAM GO- Barkin fighting Team Go.
Just for comparison- in the picture we have
the stack of deleted storyboards for Season 4 next to a standard episode.

Friday, June 15, 2007

'Final Picture Editing' or 'Joe Will Fix That'

I don't know when it started, but we have a nickname for the computer counter that we use to track scene numbers. I have no idea what it's really called, but one day in complete frustration of trying to ask for 'that scene counter thing', I simply called it 'puff-puff'. It has remained 'puff-puff' ever since. Even In serious retake meetings, Clay Renfroe (stone faced with a business attitude) would ask for 'puff-puff'. It is now universally understood what 'puff-puff' is and I don't think I'll ever learn the real name.
Why would I want to?

Final picture editing is the one of the last steps in bringing KP to cable boxes and dishes around the world. We receive the raw animation (without sound effects and music) from our overseas animation studio and we cut, alter, re-time, flop, re-sequence to our satisfaction. Sometimes we will try to get closer to the timing we had previously established in the animatic phase. Sometimes the raw animation will bring a new beating heart and we will have to follow a new road it has presented before us.
Joe Molinari is a very important man behind the scenes at KP. He has edited final picture for me for a long time. He understands the pace and feel of KP and always brings fresh insight to whatever crosses his Avid. No matter what the schedule is like, I want Joe to do a first pass on raw episodes. There's no need to discuss the episode upfront, In fact, I prefer it if he knows nothing about what he's about to work on. It provides a fresh, first time perspective and he can base his opinions based on first impressions, instead of an idea that I've lived with for months. I know that shallow praise is handed out too often in Hollywood, but Joe is the real deal. He understands film and respects the vision of what the director is trying to achieve and makes it better.

When we received the raw footage from Part One of the finale it was pretty straight forward. Starburst did a very good job of following the boards and enhancing the acting.
Part One is mostly all 'set-up' and it all seemed to work from the beginning, but it still provided a challenge. How do you establish the pace and feel of a 2 parter without having the second part? We were able to finesse the timing on STD and SIT because we had all the parts at the same time. This time around we had to rely on what we had established in the animatic and keep our fingers crossed for the best.

Part Two was another situation entirely. While Part One has an intricate set-up with well written dialog and groundwork, Part Two is a Michael Bay style apocalypse. It is massive and loud with CG characters running around blowing stuff up. It is requiring a strong shared vision to plow forward because there was a lot of 'elements', but little flow.
Joe did a terrific job of making sense of all this chaos, but ultimately it was one of the longest sessions we have ever had. However, after a 2 day session, I feel we wrangled this bear of a show to the ground. The show isn't 'locked' yet as it is being reviewed by executives, but we will lock the final episode on KP on Monday. After that, it's all about the ADR, retakes, sound effects, music and sleep.

'Soundtrack Of My Life' for the week of 6/11-
Crowded House- Time On Earth. People are like suns, indeed.

KP countdown- 28 days.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mark & Bob's Farewell Lunch 6/13/07

(From left to right- lurking in the background Tom Hart, Dialog director Lisa Schaffer, Bob, Mark, Will, Christy and Steve)
During the presentation, Mark and Bob's most memorable quips and quotes were read to everyone's amusement. One of the best quotes from Mark during his 17 year stint regarding an idea pitch from a fellow writer- "Are you drunk or are you stupid?"

However, my absolute favorite is-
Executive (after reading a new script)- "So what are the children getting out of this?"
Bob- "22 minutes closer to death."

Kim Countdown- 4 weeks left to go.