Big Mouth Season 6

Now that Big Mouth 6 has been out for a few weeks, I wanted to post and send out some thank you’s to the fantastic crew that built yet another amazing season.

This is actually the first Big Mouth season that we made 100% remotely (not in person / in the studio at all). Hard to believe you can make an animated series fully remote with everyone in different places. It’s a weird thing to hire people and work with them for a year and never even meet in person! We started this one back in January 2021, everyone still in their homes…

I remember Big Mouth 6 was a nice “break” for the crew. After us figuring out and producing the Human Resources season 1 episodes (which tended to be all big, filled with lots of new characters and locations) the crew was beatup and tired! Not only was it the work of figuring out a new show but it was also a much more complex series. When they came back to Big Mouth S6 – they already knew all these characters and what to do with them. It was returning to an old friend. No one ever thought Big Mouth was easy but it definitely felt a little easier compared to Human Resources when we got back into it.

Ok on to some appreciation for the many people who make this …

Big Gratitoad to all of the EPs – Mark, Jen, Andrew & Nick, writers team and Titmouse crew who put this together. Thank you Lioi, Rico & Andy, Henri, Bryan, Alex, Ross, Ybarra, Kelly, Pablo, Glenn (and stacks of other people who I won’t drag out a list a names here with). Shout out to our incredible design teams, board teams, dial editing, compositing, animatics, editorial, checking, timing, and production teams. These people make this show look good!

Thank you to all our partners at the studios in Korea, Konrad and the whole sound team at Margarita, our friends at Light Iron, our track team at Syncmagic, and all our record studios.

Appreciation for Chris, Shannon, Antonio and Ben for creating and running one of the best studios in the business where we can make this wild show. Lastly, thank you to all our partners and friends at Netflix – Moon, Porter, and the entire creative team, Mike K, Talar, Amy and the production team, David, Lauren and the post team, localization / globalization, marketing, and the army of everyone else at Netflix who helps put this thing out in the universe!

Thank you, thank you, thank you – everyone who works on this show – you make one of the best shows out there and we appreciate you all and the work you do to bring this thing to the fans year after year.

Animation News Last Month’s Wrap 10/6/22

Lots of news in the last month – did not include much of the Disney / D23 announcements (there were a ton). A couple unionizations, some layoffs, and a bunch of Justin Roiland projects. Here we go!

If you missed it, the Solar Opposites Halloween Special is up on Hulu…

Paloni Show! Halloween Special! set to stream on Hulu on 10/17
More Roiland stuff on Hulu! Should be good nonsense. Props to my friends who have been slammin n jammin on getting this out.

Production workers vote to join the Animation Union at Bento Box

Harley Quinn renewed for Season 4 with new showrunner (Sarah Peters)

Lightyear had a decent launch on streaming considering it was up against Stranger Things

Rango Director Gore Verbinski shops his Netflix feature around town

Pinocchio live action getting some mixed responses

King of the Hill not going to be at Fox
Sounds like it could very well find a home at one of the streamers, just won’t be airing on Fox

Pixar releasing their first longform series on Disney+ starring Will Forte
Wondering how this will look compared to their features – I’m sure it will be classic Pixar high quality stuff

More layoffs / restructuring at Netflix Animation

Rick and Morty Season 6 premiere getting some good numbers

Emoji Movie creating some competition for the Queen’s funeral

Disney Parks attractions first looks – Coco, Frozen, Moana, Zootopia, Villains
Lots of parks news and lots of new attractions based on Disney properties

Netflix debuts Entergalactic trailer and key art

Great cast for the new Andy Samberg Digman series at Comedy Central
Have some friends working on this as well over at Titmouse – looking forward to seeing it

Tooning Out The News Animators Vote to Unionize

Listen More

There’s one thing I tell myself to do lately: listen more.  

I’m appealing to those of us who veer towards not listening or maybe those of us who talk too much.

As a leader or manager, we can often wrongly think our job is primarily to tell people what to do.  That’s a very simplistic way of thinking on its own, but let’s just talk about what it means WHEN you do have to tell people what to do.

If you don’t listen, you won’t know if there is retention / understanding / comprehension.  You taught or gave orders, they acknowledged, and you watched in slow motion as it got done wrong because YOU weren’t listening originally. YOU weren’t aware they just didn’t understand.

By listening we can learn and discover.  Listening allows us to find problems and then hear about the situation to understand the issue at greater depth.

Often we don’t listen with intent or even listen at all.  Listening creates or leads to awareness, empathy, and intelligence.

Listen.  Think.  Listen some more, and THEN ask questions.  I often feel like I have to fill the dead space in a conversation, but perhaps leaving that gap open is creating for the other person to share an idea they would not normally or for the other person to think (it also gives room for YOU to think).  

Sometimes listening is just creating the space for someone to communicate feelings, frustration.  Often there is subtext behind that, and it’s great to find understanding when we can.  We don’t necessarily have to solve every issue we listen to – sometimes people just want to be heard.

You could go on a deep dive with this concept and say that it’s not simply about listening but about being open.  Be open to ideas, be open to people. Listen more.

Animation News Wrap 9/2/22

Here’s the cornucopia of animation trades news over the last month. Lots of HBO Max drama…

Emmys Individual Achievement Winners – Netflix almost swept it this year (lots of Arcane wins)
TV Academy Reveals Emmy Winners In Juried Categories

Good take from CNN on how Netflix is changing business models – this explanation is directly related to the changes at Netflix animation
Netflix is not in deep trouble. It’s becoming a media company

Dreamworks sets the Kung Fu Panda 4 Release Date (it’s March 8, 2024)

Love Death and Robots renewed for Season 4

Tubi orders Adult Animated Comedy Series from Julien Nitzberg about drug dealing bears – there’s not a ton of Tubi originals yet, so maybe they will start to have a presence in original animation

AMC shows off some ‘Pantheon’ trailer and key art finally – We have been making this at Titmouse and I haven’t seen much of it, so it’s cool to see how it’s turning out. Some definite Ghost in the Shell vibes.

Streaming views surpass cable for the first time (from Nielsen) – Everyone knew this was coming, so here we are at the crossroads where streaming is beginning to pass cable in scale

Ok, we have to talk about HBO Max here … lots of big changes this last month.

Lots of shows were to be pulled from HBO Max abruptly – 36 titles, with 20 titles being originals

Then we heard about more cuts from HBO Max – including a stack of Batman & WB projects, as well as the JJ Abrams Batman project

Cartoon Network creators then jumped in to blast Discovery’s decision (and handling) on removing these shows from HBO Max…
Fungies creator Stephen Neary “slams” HBO Max
Summer Camp Island creator Julia Potts reacts
Infinity Train creator Owen Dennis calls out HBO Max

So at least after all that, John Oliver called out HBO Max over pulling the series (no clip – not exactly surprising)

Ok that’s enough of that – I’m sure there will be more HBO Max stuff next time.

And closing this out on a lighter note – some footage of the lost American Sailor Moon pilot has been unearthed. It’s great and terrible in all the best ways.

Ok that’s it for this time. Stay frosty.

Animation News Weekly Wrap 7/31

Hi animation friends – trying a new thing this week where I collect some animation news stories from around the trades over the last week and plug it into this easy to quickie read format. Enjoy!

For the Rick and Morty fans – Adult Swim announced the premiere date for Season 6 (I’ll save you the click – it’s September 4)

GDT’s stop motion Pinnochio is looking magical – if you haven’t seen the trailer yet (it’s also below here and it looks incredible)

Good review on Deadline for DC League of Super Pets

And some early weekend BO results for DC League of Super Pets that look positive

And the power of the Minions keep going … Minions Rise of the Gru is the first animated film to pass the $300M mark during the Covid era

South Park is celebrating and doing a 25th anniversary pop up shop + experience that is touring the world! Hollywood date for the experience is set for August 20 (likely in that weird empty lot at Hollywood and Vine they use for pop ups / Halloween mazes)

Sad news – Paul Coker, Rankin/Bass Production Designer and MAD Magazine illustrator has passed away at 93. (Here’s a bonus link to a pinterest board of Coker illustrations)

I’m slightly biased and excited about this news for my friends – Brutus Pink (creators of Big Mouth and Human Resources) have renewed their deal with Netflix through 2026

That’s it for now. Have a great week everyone.

Move Slow and Follow Rules

I tried to think of what would be the opposite of ‘Move fast and break things’.  Zuckerberg’s often quoted ideal is interpreted (or misinterpreted) a thousand different ways.  I like the simplest interpretation – challenge things, try a lot of stuff and fail fast (so you get to the ‘right’ solution faster).

Seems like a sign that you would see hung up by a public pool

“Move Slow and Follow Rules” probably isn’t a good thing to automatically put in play – seems like almost a default setting we often see on most productions.  

Move slow and you get less done.  Sure there are times you need to move slow. You need to probably move slow if you are learning.  You might also need to move slow(er) if accuracy or quality is not at spec.  If neither of those are at play, you should consider moving faster (generally speaking, people could embrace a little more urgency on most shows).

Carefully follow your established rules and you will likely get the same results.  Sometimes, you want the exact same results (assuming things are going well and high quality), but most times we want better results and linked improvement.  You get that from small iterations, adaptations to the rules.  You want exponential results?  You better be ok with breaking some things.

‘Move slow and follow the rules’ is a good thing to tell the novice, someone inexperienced, or someone struggling with quality.  Otherwise, I’m always going to recommend we take a good look at things, move faster and adapt.

Big Mouth 7 and Human Resources 2

It’s hard to believe we are already making Big Mouth season 7 – it was not that long ago we were sitting in an office talking about the rules of how the Hormone Monster (he wasn’t called Maury yet) appears into scenes, who can see him, does he have super powers?

Well we figured all that out along with lots of other questions and slowly a big world started to evolve, which is even bigger now with the world of Human Resources. Here we are years later, now starting to work on Big Mouth season 7 and Human Resources season 2 – we are excited for the fans to see what we have been cooking up!

Lots of new characters, new nonsense, and new adventures (that we can’t talk about yet) coming for our favorite friends and monsters in the Big Mouth universe.

Thrilled to be doing many more episodes with such a fantastic crew. Here’s to Big Mouth 7 and HR s2!

Human Resources Season 1 Launch

The wait is finally over – Human Resources season 1, the show we have been working on, produced entirely during the pandemic (remotely), launches today! It’s all about the monsters – we get to see more about their lives, their jobs (and clients), and all their coworkers (and the associated work drama of course).

It’s probably our best looking season yet, and the one we are most proud of. We loved making this series and hope everyone who watches, enjoys it as well.

It is a very tough thing to make a new series, so I want to show some love for everyone who made this show come to life…

Big shout outs and thank you to the Human Resources crew – phenomenal writers and script team, killer dialog editors, the powerful director crew, an amazing storyboard team, the ninja animatics editors, our fleet of expert timers, beastly design teams, our talented comp department, an absolutely badass production team, our eagle eye checkers, the unstoppable accounting crew, and our last line of defense – the incredible post editorial commando group. I could not imagine a better team I would want to have made this series with. You guys made this all happen!

Muchas gracias to all our teams at Margarita Mix making this show sound the best, to our relentless recording engineers, the fantastic crew at Light Iron, and of course our hard working overseas animation crews at Yeson and Yearim making some outstanding animation.

Appreciation to Kevin and his team at Chromosphere for designing / building a stunning main title sequence.

Thank you thank thank you to our incredible partners and execs at Netflix getting us what we need, all the brass at Titmouse who clear the way for us every week of production.

And a big big BIG thank you to the Executive Producers / creators of this show – Mark, Jen, Andrew, Nick and Kelly – they are the best EPs in the biz! Lastly, thanks to Anthony Lioi – the magic man, and the guy who makes all this animation sparkle and come together. I would have thrown in the towel years ago without that guy.

I could keep going – it would be an endless sea of thank you’s. So many people worked to make this show come together. Without rambling on – thank you to each and every one of you guys – big love, appreciation and gratitude that you were there with us on the journey make this amazing series.

Human Resources Season 1 came out today! Watch it on Netflix! Enjoy!

Human Resources Series Trailer

Last week Netflix released the full trailer for our new Big Mouth spinoff series – Human Resources! It’s hard to believe the series is almost here – we are a little under two weeks away from the premiere.

New humans, new monsters and we finally get to see what life is like for a hormone monster (and all the other monsters) working at the office. And yes, the hormone monsters can be gross to work with in an office environment.

The cast this season is amazing – we were very lucky to get to work with such incredible talent (you will see a slice of some of them in the trailer).

Shout out to our crew who absolutely killed it and worked together to make an unbelievable series we are all very proud of. Enjoy the trailer!

How Are We Doing With Remote Training

Training in the covid / remote era is going to take longer and cost more – finding efficiencies and planning is essential

Often we talk about burnout and efficiency during the remote work / Covid era, but something we don’t talk about much is the significant increase in training time. It is a hidden cost that should not be ignored as the effects can greatly reduce the effectiveness of our crews.

Put simply – Working remotely increases communication time and transferring information is generally inefficient. Training, is at its core dependent on communication. If we do the napkin math here, it shows that training is going to see slowdown in most instances.

On our shows and what we are seeing around the industry, it can take upwards of 50% more time to get employees in training to competency. In addition to the learning time for the trainee, the people teaching the employees are having to dedicate more time to the effort, tying up team members and managers who could be addressing other issues. The cost here to the production is significant, particularly on new productions where there is large scale onboarding.

Here’s a sample of things we are missing: We do not have the ‘osmosis’ of employees being in the same location, nor are they seeing the cadence and quality of work of their peers in real time. They can’t lean over their neighbor’s desk or drop by a director’s office. No one can lean over their shoulder to explain a shot or a technical element. Strangely enough the ‘water cooler’ moments would also create lots of talk that ultimately solves issues. These all streamline training and reduce the friction that we typically see today.

We have not yet discovered any large scale solutions to apply here – instead we have to target new methods of training and create opportunities to replicate some of the circumstances we had in studio when we were all in one location. Creating online ‘water cooler’ areas where employees can gather, dedicated and more frequent small scale / digestible training sessions, and more tailored training programs can help alleviate some of the issues outlined above, but it’s never going to be as easy as in person training.

What we cannot do is expect training to work at the same speed and effectiveness as we had before we started this remote era. This is something that leaders have to push up the ladder so we get the appropriate support in place. We must evaluate and assign the correct time and resources and not create unrealistic expectations (which creates additional unnecessary stress) with the goal of supporting our teams to do the best work possible.