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    Interview with Erik Wiese- Storyboard Artist

    For those reading that don't know what a storyboard artist does, describe your job duties and what you were responsible for on CatDog?

    "In the case of CatDog, the storyboard artist translates the script into a series of drawings -- visualizing the ideas, action and story that were dictated by writers. But it's more then that; we have to wear a couple of other hats too. We're cartoonists, we have to make the drawings as entertaining as the ideas on the script. We have to make the drawings act. We have to design and stage the shots so that the images will give the viewer the emotion we're trying to convey.

    Although, with some shows like SpongeBob, Ren & Stimpy, and even the best Looney Tunes, those were written not by script, but rather by the cartoonist during the storyboard process. My experience with this was on SpongeBob. The writersí contribution was only in the original idea. And what the storyboard artists would work from was a two-page outline."

    Did you assist with anything else besides the storyboards?

    "Yup. I would fill up Derek Drymonís car with gas so he'd have a full tank. Cleaned Peter's windows and sharpened his pencils. Laughed at Rob Porters jokes. Kept the urinal seat warm for Chuck Klien."

    What are some of your fondest memories working on CatDog?

    "Working with some cool people. Derek Drymon, Larry Leichliter, Steven Banks, Rob Porter, Ken Kessel, Barry Bunce, Scott Wood. I'd pick their brains and learned a lot. There brains are very tasty with a little salt. {:o"

    I'm sure I'll remember more as we go.....

    I was asking this question to Steven Banks and he said this was a question the artists could answer much better: From a two-headed snowman, to buildings like a dentist office shaped like a tooth, the endless detail in the background of CatDog amazes me. How did you all come up with so many ideas and detail? As the Storyboard artist, do you remember coming up with any specific ideas for the characters or any of the story ideas?

    "As I remember, that all came from Peter. Derek Drymon and Rob Porter acted as his creative development team. They would really work with Peter to suck out as much of his imagination and funnel it into the show. (Insert bad joke here: )

    As for the skill in visual detail, that also came under the direction of Peter. He's the main man with a "vision."

    As a storyboard artist, the ideas I get to add was in the way I would make CatDog act, or how I wanted to cut from scene to scene, or through staging. That, for me was the real fun."

    CatDog seemed to go through a lot of changes character wise. For example in earlier episodes CatDog was more a yellow shade, then in later episodes, CatDog appeared more orange colored. Lube looked very different from ďDog GoneĒ as compared to episodes later. Why were there changes like that to the show?

    "I think it's the nature of all TV [cartoon] shows to evolve from the first few episodes. The same is true for feature animate movies. There's not much time to polish all your ideas when you're trying to make a TV show. So much has to happen in such little time. But what ends up happening is that you learn as you go. And as go, you start to refine the rough edges.

    I'm sure Peter made changes to the characters, the writing, and the backgrounds as they learned with each episode that they made."

    Which episodes did you enjoy working on the most and why? What episodes impress you the most in detail and story?

    "The CatDog theatrical short "Fetch." I was still the young guy trying to prove myself to the other guys. But they trusted me with A LOT of scenes `cause I did a board called Siege On Fort CatDog. That was what I think really got Rob and Derek to trust me and let me board their ideas.

    Fetch was the kind of project that was a "Mission Impossible." The director, (who I like to call Obe Wan Kinobi,) Larry Lichliter wanted to really make it awesome. He was very inspiring, and I know that's why he got the best performance I could give him. I practically animated my storyboard.

    Animated Storyboard example look at the sequence


    Almost a year later after moving on from CatDog to another production. Larry and Peter gave me a HUGE cell from a scene I'd done on Fetch. It's a one of a kind, because no cells where actually used on that short. This was there way of saying thank you. It was all digital ink & paint. That was a good feeling getting that from the big shots.

    I guess that would have fallen under your second question. That was certainly a very fond memory.

    Do you remember an episode in particular that took the most time and work to put together?

    "That would have been Fetch too.

    Because it was going to be projected on a big screen, extra detail and special attention to the drawings were made. I had to draw larger, the animation drawings, background paintings; EVERYTHING had to be bigger and better!

    We were all working literally through the night. It's weird being there all night and then into the next morning when everyone's coming to work for the next day Meanwhile the one you're on still hasnít ended. ...Umm fun with "sleep deprivation!" The best cartoons come from lack of sleep."

    Thinking back on Fetch I remember how quickly everything happened, all the movements and everything seemed a lot faster than regular episodes. Still not sure if I'm wording this question right but was it difficult drawing for all of the quick movements? Was there more or less drawings done?

    "Not really. What had happened is that we had to fit SO MUCH into a 4min time limit. So we where being very tight with out timing. Everything was shot on One's rathers then Two's like on normal TV shows. That helps with timing -- a little. But it also makes things look like it flows better. Like the early Disney movies or Roger Rabbit.

    It took less drawings actually. The less drawings, the faster it'll move. However, I think that some parts may have been sped up a little in the Avid [post production computer]."

    During "Siege on Fort CatDog", were there any specific wars in history, that this episode models? Or is a simply a mixture of wartime and war fiction gags? For example the "Trojan Steak", is like the "Trojan Horse" or "Rabbit" if prefered heheh. I think I noticed an "Apocalypse Now" parody scene.

    "I am a HUGE Apocalypse Now fan and I've done two Samurai Jack episodes where you'll see that inspiration sneek in. Coppella and Borman are geniuses. One Samurai Jack episode is almost a complete homage to Apocalypse Now.

    On Siege on Fort Catdog though, I was drawing from all sorts of inspiration. The wide shot when we see what's become of CatDogs house, with the searchlights. That's blade Runner sneeking in there. I really wanted that dark ambient feel. As well as many many many Bob Clampett cartoons for the action and character acting. It never really ended up feeling like those cartoons for one reason or another. But I tried."

    "The Pet" seems very Disney inspired especially with "New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", with Tigger and his love and acceptance of little bugs. Was there a little disney inspiration here?

    "Nope. That was one of my first Storyboards. I didn't want to deviate from anything with this one. If there was any inpiration from Disney, it might have been because our head writer was from Disney's."

    Who's idea was it to call CatDog Meow-Woof, and why was it decided to be Meow-Woof instead of Hail the Great CatDog?

    "I think it was Steven Banks."

    Which half do you identify with more? "Are you a dog person or a cat person?"

    "I think Cat... no wait. Maybe Dog? ...? Um. Ultimately, I'd have to say I relate to CatDog.

    We're all like Cat & Dog. Isn't that why people always struggle with their own emotions and self-contradictions? All those reasons are why people hesitate and have meltdowns. Whether or not Peter intended that to the metaphor, that's the way I saw it.

    ... Or maybe it's because I have two cats and one big dog at home?"

    Do you share characteristics with any of the characters on the show? Who are your favorites?

    Sure. Lot's of them in fact. I can see facets of myself in almost all of them.

    Mr. Sunshine seems based off of Ben Stein in actions, and somewhat expressions. What characters whether main characters or minor characters were drawn to look like famous people or crewmembers of the show? Did your looks or ways of acting inspire any of the characterís detail?

    "Unlike Disney or Warner Bros, I doubt that Peter intentionally tried to caricature famous celebrities. Most of us think that type of humor has been played out. But I do think that Ben Stein inspired Mr. Sunshine. I remember talking to Peter about that when I first jumped onto the production.

    However, the "Evil Erik" doll is I. Yup! It looks just like me too. That was a fun surprise. When I first came onto CatDog I had purple hair and big raver sunglasses. I was an evil looking kid -- the artsy type."

    What was your favorite running gag, or mystery on the show to contribute to? (For example CatDog bathroom mystery, Eddie's Greaser worship, etc)

    "No running gags that I can recall. Except of course the mystery that everyone wants to know "how does CatDog go to the bathroom?" Well here it is. Let me tell you how he goes to the bathroom.

    Speaking of bathrooms.... I'll be right back. I gotta go really badly.

    Okay... I'm back. What's the next question?

    If someone were to flip through storyboard papers, would there be a lot of pictures and ideas not used at all? If Iím allowed to ask, what were some of the ideas not used? Did you come up with any full episode ideas that werenít used?

    "Okay... truth be told, all storyboard artists try to sneak in subtle gags into there boards. We're notorious for that. In fact, some have even been fired for going too far. It's a game we like to play... test the boundaries, "fly under the radar" so to speak. But lot's of them got spotted, and didn't make it in.

    but as for real attempts at making a genuine contribution for entertainment value, many never get used. This is to be said of almost all cartoons shows. You have to get through all bad ideas to get to the good ones. I think that most of what ended up in the finished episodes is only on 1/3 of the ideas that it took to get there. You have to edit yourself and use the best stuff."

    Another thing that is very unique about CatDog compared to other cartoons, is the title drawings, and I admire that each episode title had a drawing or design totally of itís own. Did you draw out any ideas for the episode title images?

    "Yeah! I loved doing those. That was great, because it was only one drawing, and felt like an illustration. Plus it was less stress.

    Did you work from beginning to end of CatDog? Season 1-3?

    "I worked on season 1 and 2. I started off as a freelance animator on CatDog. When they were still getting started they needed to get some walk-cycles animated of CatDog so that the animators overseas could just trace my drawings. I did that with all the characters.

    Then later, I worked as an assistant to Derek Drymon, Barry Bunce, and Scott Wood, working on storyboards. Eventually, I would end up climbing the ladder and doing my own storyboards."

    When did you decide to get into the animation field? Do you have any special art degrees from college? Did you practice drawing a lot as a child?

    "Since I could remember, I always wanted to be a cartoonist and an animator. When I was a kid I drew as often as I could. Come to think of it, maybe that's why I got such bad grades in school. I was too busy drawing.

    I went to the High School for the Arts in Los Angeles, and later went onto Art Center and then finally Cal Arts."

    What other show's and projects did you work on before CatDog?

    "Just before I got onto CatDog I was the Assistant Director on the animated Bjork video for "I Miss You" and the "Character Design/Development" for SpongeBob Squarepants. I was also doing Character Design on Jumanji for a while."

    What projects are you currently involved with now? After CatDog ended, did a lot of inspiration from working on CatDog go into your later projects?

    "Right after CatDog, I went onto SpongeBob Squarepants. That was a great time, some of my most favorite projects where on SpongeBob Squarepants.

    (taken from email)***My SpongeBob coloring book just came out couple weeks ago! I am so stoked!!! I actually have my own coloring book. I had tons of coloring books when I was a kid, and now I have one that I did. ~~~Lion King's Circle of life music playing in BG.~~~~

  • It's called "The Good the Bad & the Krabby." I did all the drawings inside.

    Bob's webstore with coloring book//Amazon.com coloring book info

    I did a Fairly Oddparents episode "A wish Too Far" and then later left Nickelodeon to go down the street to Cartoon Network, where I'm now working on Samurai Jack. I've been on Samurai Jack now from season 2 though 4."

    Any specific artists or writers, of cartoons, shows, books, etc, inspire you when sketching ideas down for any cartoons you have done?

    "Yeah. I really like the old cartoons from Charles Adams, creator of "The Adams Family." Tex Avery and Bob Clampet are awesome, kings of cartoons! I love the UPA cartoons, like Gerald McBoingBoing and Mr.Magoo.

    But also on a totally different spectrum, I grew up on Robotech, Anime and Comics. Before they peaked.

    I'm a huge fan of Authur Adams. I can't get enough of his drawings, but I hate his imitators. They have neither the skill nor the talent that he has. Authur Adams is a mad man!"

    What would you say to anyone reading this interview that dreams of working in animation someday?

    "Read lots of the old MAD magazines from the 60's. Drink tons of Coke. Eat lots of foods with MSG. Listen to lots of Black Sabbath and Aphex Twin. Go to Medical School like your parents said. Then become a lawyer, and then apply to Disney.

    ...Oh yeah! I almost forgot... DRAW LIKE A FREAK!!! Draw from life and study drawing theory. Go to art school where they have hardcore draftsmanship classes."

    Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences on CatDog or in general?

    "Peter's afro. Barry Bunce's pimped out office. Steven Banks never wrote sitting down. Lisa Cossey's legs (ahem!) All the car chases in LA that we'd watch on TV. The crazy times the drama and stress that we all shared."

  • "Thank you very much Mr. Evil Erik Wiese, for some more secrets behind the phenomena of CatDog."
    Erik storyboard-ed these episodes

  • Fetch
  • The Pet
  • Hail the Great MeowWoof
  • Siege on Fort CatDog
  • Erik also has an online radio station site here