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.

Resume Tip #1 – Keep It Simple

Write less than you think you should

One of the best things you can do for your resume / CV is to keep it simple – write concisely, write less.

Too often we see resumes with 3 or 4 pages, explanations of every responsibility they have ever had, whatever other nonsense they can cram in paired with little to no experience. Candidates write like this in an attempt to look impressive BUT any decent hiring manager will see through all that. This is a lot of filler and usually makes the potential employee appear desperate, so don’t do it!

Secondly, a big, chunky resume is difficult for the reviewer / hiring manager to read. I am more apt to pass over a 3 pager, loaded with all the toppings than a cleanly written one page CV. You want your resume to be easily readable and more importantly, scannable. Very few people are doing a deep dive on your resume – instead you want it to read fast and catch their eye.

Here is your goal – keep the resume to ONE page. Unless you’ve been in the business 20 years, you can fit it on a single page. All that semi relevant small stuff doesn’t NEED to be included – have a good reason to include what you do and tailor your resume to the job you are going for.

Also think about this – someone reviewing 50 resumes at a time may not actually look at your 2nd page. You only are guaranteed a glance at one page. Make it a good one.

Whenever I rework my resume, I always ask myself, ‘What can I remove?’ This is a great question to ask every time you sit down to retool the resume.

Your past employment should be 90% of your resume. Where did you work, what job did you do, and for how long. The rest you can go over in the interview. Scrape it down and make it simple!

Human Resources Series Teaser

The new Big Mouth spinoff series

Finally, we can talk about this…Here is a look at our new show we have been working on for almost two years – the Big Mouth spinoff, Human Resources! This teaser does a good job explaining a little bit of the nonsense that is the Human Resources series.

If you ever watched Big Mouth wishing you got to see more of the monsters, then this will be right up your alley.

The cast on this show is unbelievable! Randall Park is Pete the Logic Rock (the Easter Island looking guy) and one of my favorite new characters.

Check out the trailer – this has been a labor of love for all of us – entirely produced remotely (from our collective homes) during the pandemic.

Human Resources season 1 – Coming to a Netflix near you March 18!

BTW – Stay Out of the Way

Advice to Managers – Stop monkeying with the machine

Here’s what I tell most new managers – let’s call it proactive guidance.

If a crew is running well and morale is good, then stay out of their way.

If you want to do something (if you feel like you aren’t contributing enough), then figure out how to make your crew’s life easier. Start by listening and watching.

Get them better tools / resources OR clear roadblocks for them. Often young leaders think they always need to be involved – they tend to micromanage to either assert their position or to feel useful. This is a mistake.

Sometimes crews might actually need training, but more often it is just a nudge that’s needed. Unless the wheels are falling off the cart, training may not be the move. Just keep them pointed in the right direction.

The skipper lets the crew do their job and stays out of their way so they can do it well. She watches the crew to see where they need help and continues scan the horizon making sure they are headed the right way.

Big Mouth Puppets Behind The Scenes

Part of Big Mouth season 5 was creating a live action puppets version of our characters – it was a lot of fun (and stress) to produce during Covid, but totally worth it!  Here’s a few behind the scenes stories / trivia about how we produced the puppet sequence from “A Very Big Mouth Christmas” episode.

99% of the planning was done remotely over zoom, without seeing anything in person, which was crazy!  We didn’t know how anything would come together until we were physically at the shooting location.

Checking puppets before a shot

The Director of the shoot, Tanner, was pushing us to use a snow machine early in our planning.  I’m glad we went with his idea because seeing the snow falling outside of each shot with the window looked amazing!  It really adds depth and immersion to the shots.

When you watch the very beginning of the episode, Maury was never supposed to drop the tree beads strand at the beginning (that was an accident), but it was the best take and there was something kind of funny about him dropping the beads so we kept it in.  It was tough to get the puppeteers to have Maury hang those beads on the tree – did a few takes of that to try and get it right.

Another take that was difficult for the puppets was Connie throwing her glass.  We did that take A LOT.  It’s not easy to have puppets physically throw items, so we really had to work at it.  The poor props department had to get glasses ready with her “drink” in it (which was little shreds of red mylar) and the puppet would throw it and they’d have to get the next prop out. There was red mylar shreds all over the ground below the puppeteers from pouring the “drink” out over and over.

If you look closely, you’ll see there are all kinds of penis and vagina themed cookies and ornaments.  Props department had a field day there.

Most people watching probably won’t notice, but if you look for it, you will see these puppets blink!  Ok here’s the secret – it’s not actually part of the puppet rig.  We did all that in post.  The compositors did a lot of beautiful work on these sequences. It really brings life to those characters and it’s super subtle (that was one of Anthony Lioi’s many ideas on the puppets sequence).

Puppet Wrangler (Rachel) getting Rick covered with ‘soot’ and ready for the shot

Some other stuff the compositors did:  adding smoke fx to Rick coming out of the fireplace, putting the reflection on the penis sword, removing the puppeteer rod from the penis sword (so it looks like Maury is actually holding it), and removing all the wires / rigs from when the Shame Wizard flies away offscreen.

The Vader Johan was actually a big laser cutout piece just strapped to a baker’s rack so we could roll him past the window.  The art department came up with the idea to light up his eye at the shoot, so they modded him and put an LED behind some red plastic.  It looked great!

The DP (Yuki) checking the lighting on the stand in puppet

It was a great shoot and wild to do early in the pandemic.  Hopefully we get to do some more Big Mouth puppets in the future too.

Big Mouth s5 Trailer

Glad to see the trailer finally released out in the wild – everyone gets to witness the wildness that we have been working on for season 5. Lots of surprises this season – new monsters, love triangles, hate / love themes, Christmas, and one of our biggest episodes ever.

Also one of the big secrets that you can finally see in the trailer – we did stop motion and puppet versions of Big Mouth!

Those were a lot of fun to collaborate on and build out. Will add some behind the scenes posts on those later.

Check out the trailer to see all the shenanigans we have been up to. Season 5 comes out on November 5!

There Are No Secrets

He will steal all your secrets…

Just so you know, there are no secrets.

Sometimes people think there is some sort of secret schedule, technology, pipeline, budget – whatever specific target you want to imagine is the root cause why a show works.  

“If I could just get my hands on that budget…”  Well, if you did, you would probably find a few items that were a small surprise, but it will just be a normal budget.  No secrets – it’s not unlocking the mystery of production.

It’s the equivalent to saying, “If I just had Tiger Woods’ clubs, I would be much better at golf.” That’s an obviously ridiculous statement.

People visiting the studio love taking pictures of our schedule on the show, finding out how many crew we have, or writing down how many weeks we spend doing something – as if having that equation would be the secret.  It’s not a secret.  It’s just a solution to a problem.

Each production has problems – to critically evaluate each project and apply the correct amount of time and resources and pair the plan with the right talent, that yields the CHANCE to make something great.

Being skilled at analyzing and predicting allows you to be able to make these models tighter and more accurate.  It also helps if you have put in some mileage so you have the needed references.

Applying the wrong model to a project aimlessly because it was proven to have worked somewhere else will typically yield poor results.  If you happen to see this slowly becoming apparent mid production, it might be time for a pivot (if anyone will listen).

Get input from the right people when building out new projects, but don’t worry about the ‘secrets.’  If anything, it might lead you into a false sense of security.

When is Big Mouth Season 4?

The wait is over (mostly) – It’s launching December 4!

Netflix finally announced it today, along with dropping the season 4 trailer. I watched the trailer again this morning and sometimes I forget how much crazy stuff we packed into one season.

The cast for s4 is just as crazy – Maria Bamford, Zach Galifianakis, Seth Rogen, Sterling K Brown, Lena Waithe, John Oliver, Paul Giamatti (FYI you will be surprised which character he is in the show), and a bunch of other people that they probably haven’t announced yet.

We started this season back in January 2019, so we are excited for everyone to get to see it. Check out the trailer below!

Google’s First Ever VR Google Doodle


Google released their very first VR / 360° Google Doodle and it celebrates the work of the guy who pretty much invented special effects, Georges Méliès.  There are all kinds of references to Méliès’ films and his techniques baked into the short – lots of stuff I totally forgot he invented.

For being VR this had a smart setup – building the stage out as a set that can shift and evolve so they didn’t have to move the camera around for new new locations (much like how Méliès made his films – based on theatrical stage tech at the time).

Great animation and design – lots of fun.  These crappy screenshots don’t do it justice – just go watch it.

If you don’t have a VR / Google Cardboard, you can still check it out in plain old 2D too (with a mouse controlled camera)


Here’s the link to the short: Back To The Moon


More info about behind the scenes and the making of “Back to the Moon” here:

Big Mouth / Titmouse / Netflix


What is Big Mouth?

Big Mouth is the amazing Netflix Original primetime animated series a bunch of us have been working on over at Titmouse for the last year or so and it’s finally launching / premiering / dropping September 29.

It’s created by the collective brains of Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett.  The principal cast is just nuts – tons of incredible talent:  Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Richard Kind, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph and Jordan Peele (and the guest cast is just as nuts).

The show is about kids growing up, going through puberty and dealing with all the garbage that life throws at us as we try to get through it all.  Even though this is a show about kids, it’s not for kids by any means (btw the trailer below is slightly NSFW) .

I will be posting more about the show as we get into it (and after it launches), but now that it’s finally about to be out in the wild, figured I’d throw it out there for anyone who’s been wondering what we have been working on at Titmouse.  Enjoy!