Thursday, March 29, 2018

R.I.P. Animation Great Fred Crippen

The folks at Animation Insider (definitely follow them if you haven't already) report that noted animation director/producer Fred Crippen recently passed away at age 90. Mr. Crippen contributed mightily to the cartoon biz with quirky commercials, spots on Sesame Street, and more. His most well-known addition to the corpus of American TV animation was the off-the-wall 1965 series, Roger Ramjet.

As mentioned on Wikipedia, "the show was known for its crude animation, frenetic pace, and frequent references to popular culture, which allowed the show to entertain various age groups."

Kids of that time loved it.

The series featured Ramjet as the adult leader of the American Eagle Squadron, a group of four kids who also happened to be expert jet pilots. Each episode, the squadron was tasked with saving the world in "around 5 minutes and 20 seconds."

Many thanks, Fred Crippen!


Here's a sample episode of Roger Ramjet entitled "Comics" wherein our heroes battle alien robots who hope to conquer a weakened Earth with (really really bad, boy it's bad) "comedy." Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Script Formatting

Q: I have a teleplay. I've heard there are different formats for scripts. My format consists of the heading, dialogue, and description being 1.25 spaces from the left edge of the paper. The character names above their dialogue are the only things I indented. My page numbers are at the bottom right
of the paper. Keeping in mind that there are different formats for scripts, is my format correct?

A: There are two main script formats -- sitcoms and screenplays. With the exception of "act breaks" (the annoying advertising part that pays for everything), the hour TV dramas are usually written in standard screenplay format. In this format, the margins are small, the dialogue is indented from the action description, and the character names are centered over the dialogue. Sitcom scripts are similar but the margins are wider and the dialogue is double-spaced.

I would recommend that you find a show that is similar in style to your teleplay (half-hour comedy, etc.) and then set about getting a copy of a script for that show. There are various online resources. In order to be taken seriously, you should make your script look like this script from an existing show -- one that was generated by a professional.

Another thing you might want to consider is purchasing some script writing software. These contain script templates for many kinds of television and film scripts and even things like plays, novels, and radio scripts. I have used both "Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000" and "Final Draft". Final Draft seems to be more popular among professional animation writers, to the point that it’s considered the industry standard, but both are good. These applications can be kind of pricey ($100 - $200+) because of their narrow appeal (professional writers) but I found they seriously increased my productivity and so are worth every penny. 

One more thing; the page numbers go in the upper right hand corner.

If you have a question about writing for animation, send it to me via the CONTACT tab. If you have your own thoughts about this particular question, please leave them in the comments.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Author FAQ: What Software Should I Use to Write My Books?

Q: I was curious what software you use for writing your books.  I want to convert one of my scripts into book format and pursue creating a series of pre-to-early teen books, so I want to make sure what I submit follows industry standards.

A: I use MS Word for all of my book writing (picture books, short stories, chapter books, and novels). I've also used a screenwriting program which has a novel template. The script program worked okay, but I prefer Word because its files are more universally accepted -- the screenplay software pretty much requires the person at the other end to have it too.  Ultimately, you'd have to convert the screenplay program file to Word anyway (to have anyone else read it) and when I had to do that there were tons of formatting problems that I had to go through and fix manually. Maybe other authors who use a screenplay book template can weigh in on their level of success.

With regard to industry formatting standards, there are a skillion how-to books on the shelf that show you proper page and paragraph layout, etc.

You're correct in wanting to get it right as I've read that an improperly formatted book sample can drive a prospective editor or agent bonkers.
If you have a question about writing books, send it to me via the CONTACT tab. If you have your own thoughts about this particular question, I'd love to hear them so please leave them in the comments.

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