April 15, 2024

Genndy Tartakovsky Answers Animation Questions From Twitter | Tech Support | WIRED

Published May 12, 2023, 2:08 p.m. by Arrik Motley

In a recent Twitter Q&A, Genndy Tartakovsky answered questions about his work in animation. When asked about the technology he uses, Tartakovsky said that he uses a “combination of 2D and 3D software,” but he didn’t specify which programs he uses. He did say, however, that he prefers to work with traditional animation techniques rather than digital ones.

Tartakovsky is known for his work on the TV shows “Samurai Jack” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” as well as the feature film “Hotel Transylvania.” He has been nominated for four Emmy Awards and three Annie Awards, and he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for “Samurai Jack” in 2004.

Tartakovsky’s work is characterized by its use of strong visual storytelling and action-packed scenes. When asked about the challenges of working in animation, Tartakovsky said that the biggest challenge is “getting the story right.” He added that he often has to “compress a lot of story into a very short amount of time.”

In order to create his signature style of animation, Tartakovsky said that he relies on a “strong sense of timing and rhythm.” He also said that he pays attention to the “small details” in his work, such as the way a character moves their eyes or the way a background is designed.

Although Tartakovsky is best known for his work in television and film, he has also worked on video games and commercials. When asked about the differences between working in different mediums, Tartakovsky said that the biggest difference is the “amount of time you have to tell the story.” He added that in television, you have to be able to tell a story in 22 minutes, whereas in a feature film you have “a lot more time to develop the characters and the world.”

Despite the challenges of working in animation, Tartakovsky said that he loves what he does. When asked about the best part of his job, Tartakovsky said that it is “seeing the characters and the worlds that I create come to life.”

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hello I'm Genji tartikovsky I'm an

animator and director and creator of

Dexter's Lab Samurai Jack Primal and

unicorn Warriors Eternal I'm here to

answer all your animation questions on

Twitter this is animation support


at tatsumilology how is 2D animation so

smooth and fluid tell me for animation

we go at 24 frames per second let's say

my arm goes from here to here in 24

frames which is one second so one one

thousand it'll be really smooth if I

don't have the time or money to do it

then I'll start going to 12 drawings and

now all of a sudden it's not as smooth

and then if I really am running out of

money and time then I'm gonna do it

faster and I'm gonna do it in six frames

and here now you're losing the fluidity

but I'm gaining money so I could do the

rest of the episode but it's a fake

nobody cares about fluid or smooth you

want great acting you want good jokes

good stories Good characters if it's a

little choppy I don't care so don't

obsess over smooth or fluidity upsets

over Stories character humor

storytelling at the peach 42 why are

there so many cartoon characters that

don't wear pants that is a old Timeless

question it's haunted me in my dreams

sometimes it's just somebody's choice to

have a character be naked and it's okay

if he has a bow tie on let's keep

thinking about this one all right thank


do voice actors try and time their voice

to animation or do animators have to

animate what the voice actors say the

voices come first before the animation

starts we have the actor come in they'll

read the line we edit it into the shot

and then the animator starts to animate

to the lip sync and we break down the

waveform right so it's loud what's

accented and then we'll follow that for

the animation now interestingly enough

for Primal I just have grunting

we did our dialogue recording after the

animation was done Aaron the plant who's

uh who voiced spear he would then come

in we would play him the picture

and then he would do the grunting to the

picture a lot of anime is actually

dubbed sometimes after with the voice

cast but for our style of animation our

mouths are very articulated we have to

do it to the voice recording not after

at least choice or Wise Choice maybe

when they make sequels to animated

movies do animators repurpose shots or

elements of them from the former movies

I don't really know much about animation

so this could be a very stupid question

for Hotel Transylvania from the first

movie to the second movie we repurposed

most of their character designs and the

castle itself but on the other hand

because technology is going so fast

within a couple years imageworks the

studio that we use they reprogrammed all

their tools so they couldn't just use it

they had to input it and then change it

and upgrade it but yeah usually for

sequels unless you change locations

there is some Savings in that at my Ike

camps what are the 12 principles of

Animation basically there's squash and

stretch you have a circle it gets hit by

something and so then it squashes that's

squash and stretch then anticipation

before you can go straight you have to

go backwards for a big cartoony

character doing a punch the anticipation

is crazy so this is a big anticipation

for a punch and then the punch would be

you know completely off the page so

there's your anticipation and there's

your punch and follow through is if you

go to grab something things move at

different speeds so if the hand is

anticipating this way and we're going to

grab then when we move it my wrist will

go first my elbow go back and so you see

the wrist is leading here and then it

catches up after so that's all about

overlapping action and follow through

and you can put the squash and stretch

in there too because then the hand can

be delayed a little bit then there's a

little stretch and really those three

will get you started there are ten maybe

maybe there's eight and I'm not going to

give them to you because they're they're

earned principles that you have to first

learn the first five principles and then

when you get to the eighth principle

sometimes we'll throw in three more

principles and by you know 30 years in

the industry I know 27 principles but

I'm not gonna talk about them because

you can't even comprehend those

principles you know I'm probably gonna

get reamed for forgetting a whole bunch

but you know start with those uh at uh

disorder how often do animators forget

to animate the characters blinking and

how often do we just not notice they

haven't been blinking for like five

minutes blinking is part of keeping a

character alive and sometimes even

breathing that's an odd thing because

it's really creepy because you almost

feel like they are kind of alive we did

that on Fang in Primal where we had her

breathe more because she's such a big

creature sometimes you forget about the

little things and sometimes the little

things say a lot we're always kind of

thinking about it so I usually if the

character is just standing there we'll

always remember to use a blink but a

good observation though uh at slow beef

3D modeling animation question is an

Armature and a rig the same thing

rigging we use the term for

you know what I'm not gonna explain it

it's it's it's hurting my brain an

Armature is basically a skeleton this is

the worst drawing I've done today that's

your Armature but rigging is actually in

CG animation you put a point here and

you put a point here and now your elbow

and your arm can move so that's called

rigging a character for movement and the

Armature is really the proper beginning

to the rigging process it's something I

hate to talk about


uh at Juni by the Sea why is Hotel

transylvania's animation so good hotel

is good because we took the principles

of classical animation stuff that was

done in the 30s and 40s and 50s and we

translated it into CG and what that

means is adding you know new sculptures

to the model and every new expression

and pushing the squash and stretch and

forgetting about gravity and actually

one really interesting thing that

happened was because our animation was

so extreme what happens is you animate

like a naked puppet basically it goes to

a different department and they put the

clothes Dynamics over it the computer

then knows how to fill in the Dynamics

but not when you're moving from here to

here in one frame that doesn't happen in

real life so constantly the closed

Dynamics were broken the animators had

to go back in and actually start

animating the clothes like what how we

would do it on paper and then they would

put those key frames in for the Dynamics

and then they would follow them a little

better everyone would had so much fun I

think doing it because the results were

so unique at I am me essence or I am

Essence a little papa-ish I am the

essence who knows how to create a

cartoon character I like to really think

of a character Inside Out is it a happy

character is it a sad character and then

you're gonna start to find shape

language that suits those personalities

I'm gonna draw it because I like to draw

let's say we're going to draw a happy

character then the posture of that happy

character will usually be uh Happy

arched and there's already a positive

vibe to this character now in the same

respect let's say it's kind of a sad

sacky sad character and the body posture

has to work with the attitude and that's

really the beginning principles of it

all how it all works also once you start

drawing your character they're gonna

start changing it's like having a baby

the baby starts as a pile of mush and

then it starts to tighten up and grow

older and have a personality and all

those things when we we first designed

Dexter Dexter was really tall even

though we knew we wanted them to be

short and as we started drawing him as a

rectangle we do hundreds of storyboards

and we keep going with it all of a

sudden the shorthand he starts to shrink

and he gets squattered right so you can

see the the difference and it's funny

because DD didn't go through the same

transformation I think her torso maybe

got a little smaller we call it pushing

proportions she was kind of like this

right in the first season and then as we

same thing we drew her we drew her we

drew her more and more and more and more

and then she became this

nothing that we really thought about on

purpose but just something that happened

organically so don't be so hard on

yourself and draw the character exactly

the same every time you're going to draw

them give yourself the freedom to get

comfortable with it the character will

become who they organically want to be

without trying to think about it too

much at little Uzi my cousin why are the

Clone Wars Episodes so short the truth

of it is we were really the first ones

to do Star Wars besides like really just

doing commercials and initially George

only allowed Cartoon Network to do one

minute episodes and I said well one

minute is basically a commercial I don't

want to do that I need at least three to

five minutes they went back to George

and George and his son especially I

think like Samurai Jack so they said

we've got Genji and the team from

Samurai Jack but they want more time and

so then George said okay they can have

three to five minutes I think he was

afraid we were gonna mess it up and I

don't blame him because that's like your

baby you know I wouldn't want somebody

else taking it and just doing what they

want with it that's the truth behind the

shortness of those first clone wars at

she ascends why did my parents let me

watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit at such a

young age uh I don't know why I think

it's okay it's not that bad Who Framed

Roger Rabbit helped actually bring back

animation basically around 88 animation

was in really bad shape TV shows are

really bad quality even Disney feature

animation was about to get sold then

they were making Who Framed Roger Rabbit

and it kind of reminded people how fun

animation could be and not only

technically did they blend live action

and animation but they combined Bugs

Bunny and Mickey Mouse together in the

same movie so it felt something more

special and it was great because of it

at Simi Kiera how do you direct an

animated show it's all about having a

point of view and having everybody help

you to create that Vision I was doing

Dexter's Lab we had a an artist would

draw the storyboard we would pinned it

all up and then they would pitch it we

had one storyboard artist when he

pitched the storyboard it was in the

like this funny voice and so Dexter come

over here and then there's DeDe and so

the whole room was crying laughing after

he finished I was like well how the hell

am I supposed to transfer this

performance into this episode because he

doesn't sound like the characters at all

they don't talk like that but there was

something about it that worked and so I

realized oh right that's my job my job

is not to take this performance and

translate it into something entertaining

it was like a really big Epiphany in my

career like all right that's actually

what I do at Twisted Twisted Little Kim

what was your favorite Samurai Jack

episode and why was it the jump good one

it's not the jump good one it's probably

the blind archers one because it's the

first episode that everything worked at

such a high level the story was simple

and super cool the design of it was very

simplistic and great and we did that

thing where we blinded him and it was

black and as the audio came up we

started to see it so it was so artistic

but still had badass action there was

something about it that really clicked

you never want to pick favorites but

that's probably the one that had the

most impact on us at Chris underscore

cull as someone who doesn't work in

animation how often is a storyboard made

like every cut in the scene or is it a

set number of frames generally the whole

rule is every time you cut there's a new

storyboard every time there's a change

of emotion there's a new storyboard

every time anything semi-significant

happens there's a new drawing in the

storyboard our storyboards have now

become basically almost extremes because

the storyboard is so important now we're

drawing more and more panels lucky for

you I have some storyboard examples for

unicorn or Eternal for the first episode

this is a Copernicus who's the robot

coming out of his little grave we'll cut

to the hole and you see his arms come


a bunch of steam that comes out and he

starts to lift his body up and he

continues up and now we cut to a

different front angle and he rises up

and then lands and then we start cutting

close and then when I draw this I'll

maybe even break it down even more to a

degree and this you know this is all the

first episode I like to do it like this

first so then I don't get bogged down

with the drawing all the emotion and the

speed and the pacing comes out

storyboards they're the most important

because that's your story it's

everything without a storyboard you got

nothing at the small motion writers

often give Animation notes where do

animators get to submit notes for the


that's a big question in a situation

sometimes a writer has too much opinion

and then the artists don't have as

strong of an opinion but the writer gets

to tell us what to do artists and

storyboard artists are a proud bunch and

we know what we're doing but sometimes

we don't and so we'll forget the writing

we'll throw it away and then we'll do it

on our own and it's equally doesn't work

so usually the healthiest relationships

are the writer and the animator are both

together and they're either unified team

that's why I always write my own stuff

for the most part because I want to have

dual power but yeah usually animation

folks don't get a chance to give writers

critiques we just complain about it at

our desks for three years at qp96 do you

know the difference between animation

and cartoon or should I mind my own

business animation cartoons anime

whatever it's all the same thing but

yeah in the industry especially in

features cartoon uni might have some

negative connotations I love all the old

style of Animation the Warner Brothers

take Savory all that stuff I love to use

the word cartoon it's one of my favorite

words so I think you're good at 95 Vivo

my character design homework is to draw

a cartoon character using the golden


how the I'm not really familiar

with the golden mean I think what it's

trying to say is to be dynamic we used

to say this thing keep the proportions

of the design special if you have a

character you don't want all of the

elements to feel even because this is

just boring what you want is your

elements of the design to be special if

I'm designing a football player you can

design them like a you know human

proportions or

it's it's that and same thing for

composition too usually we think of the

camera broken down into thirds and where

do you put your horizon line if you put

it in the center and then your character

in the center everything is kind of

boring but if you take you know your

horizon line and you lower it and then

your characters on the side here all of

a sudden we've got drama and interest

and scale so when it says your character

design homework is using that principle

it's just big small and medium and think

about it as what's special or unique at

an original username cartoons are better

because you can create a world what

limitations do animators face that they

can't surpass it's all about how well

you draw if you can draw it it can exist

if you can imagine it and you can draw

it it exists so the only things I can't

do are the things that I can't draw and

in my position I'll then find somebody

who can draw those things and they'll

hire them but yeah usually you're just

limited by your drawing ability there is

no limitations and I guess your

imagination well I think that about

wraps it up thank you so much thank you

for all the questions and really thank

you for the last 30 years for watching

all the shows it's super special to me

and I appreciate all your time and thank



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