Forty Question with Boyd Kirkland
Boyd Kirkland is a producer and writer for X-Men: Evolution. Recently he answered questions from Evolution fans here in the Beyond Forum. Here you can find some of the most frequently asked questions about the Evolution characters and series. Thank you Boyd! Personal questions are located here on the first page, select a link for more questions and answers.
Personal - Show Production - Character - Plot
Show Production Questions
How much control do Stan Lee and Avi Arad have over the series?
As executive producers, Stan and Avi have lots of control, but once they saw the show was developed and doing well, they have just entrusted us to carry on as they've been busy doing other things.
Did Noel Fisher do all three voices for each of Toad's disguises(when he was following Wanda to the ski resort with Kurt's image inducer)?
From what you hear from them may we know if it is more towards the side that we will see a 5th season or if they're kinda moving to cancelling it? (Yeesh! I feel like im asking the majic 8 ball or something - no offense of course!)
Your magic ball probably works just as well as mine! But I can tell you this - that the network still loves the show. As with all TV programming, it ultimately lives or dies by the ratings, so keep watching!
What are some of the things that are required for comic book characters to successfully cross over into other mediums? Some comic book based movies, like x2, spiderman and the original batman and superman, have done very well, others, like the hulk movie, the later batmans and superman three, have not done so well. I suppose the underlining key is faithfullness to the comics, but what do I know?
The most important element is good story-telling, and that means an interesting plot with interesting characters that a viewer can relate to on some level. Also important, is understanding the differences between the print medium and the TV/movie mediums. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, which must be played to. When you say "faithfullness to the comic," I agree to the extent that one understands the essence of what has made a particular comic character popular or enduring, and remain true to that. But there is also the pitfal of being so faithful to a comic, that one isn't willing to recognize ways to improve it for a different medium. Often something that works in print will seem silly or unbelievable in a film.
How does the process work? I know the storyboard is done first, then what?
Here's the basic steps to producing a cartoon: 1)Develop the general parameters of the series (tone of storytelling, visual style, etc.). 2)Write a story (premise, then outline, the script). 3) Design and color everything the script requires (characters, locations, props, etc.). 4) Cast voices for all speaking roles, and record the script. 5) Storyboard the script (essentially translate it into a visualization of every shot in the show). 6) Direct/Time the storyboard (called "slugging" - every shot is timed to allow for all action & dialogue). Timing sheets break down all dialogue, actions & camera moves into film frames as a guide to the animators and cameraman. 7) Layout the show (draw full-scale versions of all scenes, with artwork divided into "levels" of backgrounds, overlays, characters, special-efx, etc.). 8) Animate (18 to 22 thousand drawings are made for each show to put movement and personality into the scenes. 9) Ink & Paint (color all of the drawings and paint backgrounds). Backgrounds are painted traditionally with acrylic paint, then scanned into the computer. Animation models are color-keyed in the computer using Photoshop, and the final animation is painted overseas with their computer paint programs (I'm not sure what they use, as our show is done by two different studios in different countries). 10) Digitize/composite the shots (usually in a computer these days, as opposed to a film camera), shooting all artwork and camera moves, and outputting the show to digital tape. 11) Edit the show & do retakes (cut/edit scenes to tighten the pacing and improve the flow of the show. Retakes fix any problems in scenes that are not working). 12) Create sound & music, synched to a "locked" picture. 13) Dub the show (music, sound efx and dialogue are balanced for clarity and emotional impact). 14) Online the show (final master print of the show is created with all color corrections, efx, fixes, etc. finalized, closed-captioning, main title and end-credits are added, etc.) 15) Deliver the show to the network for broadcasting! Whew! I probably forgot a few things, but that should give you a good idea of the amount of work involved. The whole process takes about six months from script to screen. Lot's of work for twenty minutes of entertainment!
Do you have any say in the voice casting, or is that the director's job? Also, where did you find the actors? e.g agencies, open casting
The voices are all actors in Vancouver, B.C. The executive producers selected the recording studio, which held auditions, usually seeking talent from casting agencies. Casting decisions were made by myself and Marvel, with Kids WB having the final approval.
Throughout X-Men: Evolutionís production have you and the other members of the creative team ever sat down and looked at other comic based shows, specifically superhero team shows (past and present), to see what they got right and wrong, and avoid the same types of things in your own show?
I am always looking at other shows, both animated and live action, to learn from them and improve what I do. I have also learned much from my own experience, having directed much of Batman, the Animated Series, as well as Produced/Directed/Storyboarded/written, etc. on many other series over the past twenty or so years. My directors are also very talented guys with many years of experience in this business. We often have group discussions about ways to improve what we're doing, and to learn from each other. One never stops learning in this business, as there are so many different ways to approach things, and the tools of our trade are constantly evolving. I should also explain that what we can do with action adventure shows like this is often very limited given the young age of the target audience. It has always been my hope to one day produce a show geared for older age groups, as is often done with Japanese anime. Then, many of the things I see fans wanting on message boards like this could be done. If any of you out there has connections with wealthy investors who might be interested in such a venture, send 'em my way!