Who are you and what do you do on the show?
My name’s David Shair, and I’m a storyboard revisionist on “Fish Hooks”.
What does a storyboard revisionist do?
A revisionist does many different things, all directed towards the main goal of getting the storyboard (the blueprint for an animated show) ready to be animated. A lot of my job has to do with “plussing” the show. “Plussing” involves amping-up or pushing an area of a show so that it hopefully makes it better, whether it be the acting, expressions, staging (how the stage is arranged in a play, or, in this case, a drawing), backgrounds, costumes, cutting (editing), and even jokes. The storyboard artists on our show come up with great jokes, and it’s up to us, the revisionists, to help make the jokes be all that they can be (but without joining the army). Same goes for the storylines. We want to make sure we’re making the story as clear as possible film-making wise so that the audience is able to follow along and enjoy all the hard work that goes into each episode. So whether it be adding a background that isn’t there, changing the camera angle to fix a jump cut, or giving a certain goldfish an award-winning acting performance, a storyboard revisionist supports the show in any way they can.
What is a typical day like?
It’s hard to describe a typical day for a revisionist; like Forrest Gump says of a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. The revision team (Carson Kugler and I plus Sherm Cohen, our supervisor) may work on an episode at any point after it’s pitched (when the storyboard artist shows their full board to the crew) all the way to when it’s shipped (when the animatic is final, and the episode’s ready to be animated). By the way, an animatic is board drawings played out in time with sound fx and music; this is the part of the process where it really starts to resemble a funny, animated cartoon!
What inspires you to do what you do?
My work on “Fish Hooks” is inspired by a constant need to express myself and be creative. Hopefully, some of the ideas I come up with get to stick and eventually air on the show. I love comedy and, along with watching a lot of sitcoms growing up, I do improvisational acting outside of work, and this helps fuel my creativity on the job. I’m also inspired by my fellow crew members and the differing points-of-view they bring to the table. The individuals on the show are so important to the final product. Even with the same characters and sets, if there were a different group of artists working here, you would have an entirely different “Fish Hooks.”
What tools do you use? Programs?
We use the program “Toonboom Storyboard Pro” to work on boards. And I’m able to use a 21-inch Wacom Cintiq monitor, which allows me to draw right on the computer screen.
What did you do before “Fish Hooks?” How did you end up on the show?
After trying some different career avenues, I eventually figured out that animation was the place for me. Lacking the necessary drawing skill, I decided to attend art school at the Academy of Art University’s animation program. I graduated with a portfolio, specifically aimed at storyboarding, which I was able to show at my school’s graduate career fair. After moving down to Los Angeles, I interned at Nickelodeon Animation Studios, learning a great deal about working in a professional cartoon environment and meeting some excellent mentors along the way. And eventually, by way of some generous people from Disney Television Animation, I was able to procure a storyboard test for “Fish Hooks”, a show I already really liked. Somehow, it worked out, and I was brought in to help storyboard the episode “Spoiler Alert” in Season 2!
Do you have a favorite episode or anything that you’re particularly proud of?
As far as favorite episodes, I’m partial to “Parasite Fright”, “Fish Floaters”, “Unfinished Doll Business”, and “Fish School Musical”. I relished boarding out whole sequences in both “Sixteen Clamandles” and “Cattlefish Ho!”, and I’m most proud of my drawn (with a digital pen) acting work for our season finale, “Fish Prom”. My lips are sealed on that one.