Thursday, April 2, 2009

Derrick Wyatt Interview, part 1

me: Hey DW, you there?
derrickjwyatt: Hey, we connect.
me: I'd have started sooner but my son just bust into my office with glee, because he found the formerly detached head of Sentinel Prime and needed it reattached; RIGHT AWAY!
derrickjwyatt: lol
me: I owe you all a big thanks for teaching him how that head has to come off! (And the hours of searching for it when it's lost!)

me: Okay, so this is new format for us, we thought an 'instant message' style interview would allow things to be more conversational. Lets give it a shot!
derrickjwyatt: Okay, sounds good to me.
me: So, we're are only a few days away from Animated season 3 finally beginning!
derrickjwyatt: Yeah, I am pretty excited about season 3 finally hitting the air after all these long months of working on it. I can't wait to see what people think of the Transwarped movie.
me: Well if history is any indicator, we're all going to love it.
derrickjwyatt: I hope so!
me: Just those few publicity stills have people doing cartwheels!
derrickjwyatt: Well, that is the reaction I expect when you show people a character model of an Action Master! Ha ha!
me: So the intro movie, "Transform and Roll out" was separate from the 13 episodes of "Season 1." Is Transwarped the first 3 episodes of season 3 or it's movie, then 13 more shows?
derrickjwyatt: Yeah, Transwarped is 3 episodes of the 13 from season 3. It was made to be shown as a feature length special, but it can also be split apart into 3 seperate episodes.
me: Got it! Anyway, you picked a good one with Action Master Mainframe! Was this a little nod to the former producers of Beast Wars?
derrickjwyatt: No, actually I put him in there because Trent Troop bought me the toy at last years Botcon!
me: Ha ha. Funny. Geez, so all we need to do to get our favorite characters in TFA is bring you a free toy at Botcon?!
derrickjwyatt: Ha ha ha, I'm not sure how I answer that one without getting in trouble!
me: Thankfully, you've got my favorite, Perceptor in! I'd have given my left arm to see him in Animated! (and yes, I'm a lefty!) Thankfully, I don't have to!
derrickjwyatt: Yeah, Perceptor is awesome. I was really happy we got to use him. He has a very... Interesting voice. It will be intriguing to see fan reaction to that one.
me: Ha, you're such a tease! My fear is he'll be voiced by Erkel, as the super science nerd!
derrickjwyatt: Haha, no. It won't be anything like that. It's not like anything anyone has guessed so far. To me, the voice is the epitome of science. You'll have to let me know what you think after you hear it. I think it is different, and yet still very respectful of the character.
me: I'm sure the boards will be exploding with opinions!
Like all of Animated! *Different, yet respectful of previous fiction.*

derrickjwyatt: I know they will. I can't wait to read what those four guys who hate Animated have to say! I say dripping with sarcasm.
me: Ah, try not to let message board whiners get to you. They represent the minority of fans who always seem to have the most to say! It's just the result of this being such a passionate fan base.
derrickjwyatt: No, I get it. And I like that there seems to be a large majority of positive reaction.
me: Large majority by FAR! I don't know who to thank but the way Animated is structured, in terms of how it can be thought of fitting in with the rest of Transformers mythology, it's totally brilliant.
derrickjwyatt: I think we got homages in to almost every TF series, with the unfortunate exception of G2. I ran out of steam a little at the end of the season.

me: Let's talk about the art aesthetic. What a stark contrast to the (live, Bay) movie(s). Whereas my kids have a difficult time telling Megatron apart from Jazz... TFA is the un-movie! My kids can recognize (and love) the iconic look and feel of each character. Movie characters, awesome as they are, are so visually complicated. It's difficult even for adults to know what they're looking at. In Animated everyone is iconic. No one is going to confuse Swindle with Blitzwing, even though they have very similar colors!
derrickjwyatt: Well, that was something we tried to push. You should be able to tell characters apart, just from reading their silhouette. And it's very important to me that the design of the character fits what Marty has in mind for their personality.
derrickjwyatt: Part of it is also boiling down all the previous versions of the characters, taking pieces that I like from past incarnations, and putting them back together in the Animated mold.
me: It's obvious to me someone (I guess you!), has put a lot of thought into it.
derrickjwyatt: It really does take a lot of thought. Much more that people realize. The designs always go through many rounds of revision.

me: Lets back up the early days of this series. I heard Bumblebee was at one point cast as Hotshot?
derrickjwyatt: Right. The original cast was going to be Optimus Prime, Prowl, Bulkhead, Hot Shot and Red Alert.
me: Wow. Are there elements of TFA Hotshot's design that carried over to what we see in today's Bumblebee or is what we see a total revamp?
derrickjwyatt: No, I never did a Hot Shot design. We talked the Hasbro guys into using Bumblebee before I got that far. I pretty much begged to use Bumblebee.
me: It's easy to pick out areas that were remnants of Hotshot's personality. "Fastest thing on wheels." Young 'hotshot' upstart... etc.
derrickjwyatt: I guess. People always say that he has Hot Shot's personality. I'm always like, Hot Shot had a personality? Ha ha. I don't know, I didn't watch enough of the Unicron Trilogy to see it I guess.
me: Bumblebee had the personality that we imagined Hot Shot could have, had the show been written better! It's easier for me to imagine his personality as such with (now defunct Dreamwave) comic series!
derrickjwyatt: I like Bumblebee, I connect with that character. I didn't have any connection to Hot Shot.
me: Ah, so Bumblebee was your doing! That character is my son's absolute, unquestioned favorite. We literally do not leave the house without that toy in his hand. (And seriously, I'm *not* the one putting it there!)
derrickjwyatt: Not that I don't see the potential HS has, but I like him much better as a peripheral character, while having BB be in the main cast.

me: How did Ratchet come to be Ratchet, instead of Red Alert?

derrickjwyatt: That was Sam Register. I had won Bumblebee, so I never said anything about Red Alert. I knew the name, so I was cool with it. In the first meeting we had with Hasbro, Sam said "Is Rachet a cooler name than Red Alert?' and everyone went "Yeah".
me: Grumpy old codger, always was the best connection to G1 and other mythology in TFA. Love the character! "Ratchet" fits better, just sounds like the old workhorse type of name.
derrickjwyatt: Yeah. Before I ever started developing the show, Red Alert was intended to be a female medic. My friend Eric Canete did some development art of her. That's why she's a female in our show, it's an homage to that development drawing.
me: Awesome! I can't wait to see another fembot! It bugs me that there aren't more.
derrickjwyatt: Red Alert (now Rachet) was always supposed to be male, ever since I was on board.

me: How did you come to be working on Transformers Animated?
derrickjwyatt: Well, I had met Sam Register when I was working on Teen Titans, and Sam likes my drawings, so he had me do development design on some various things around that time. None of that ever went anywhere. Later on when I was on Legion, Sam asked me if I wanted to take a pass at a new Transformers series.
I didn't think anyone would really go for it, but they did. And here we are.
me: Which you were doing as an employee of CN or freelance?
derrickjwyatt: I was working for Warner Bros at the time, and doing freelance design work for Cartoon Network.
me: Well a belated congrats on getting the gig! A lot of fans, including myself are glad someone had the good sense to get a Transformers fan on board of the development team!
derrickjwyatt: Ha, thanks. Sam had no idea I was a TF fan at that time. He has since learned. Ha ha.

me: I have to ask you about Sari. or is it SARI or S.A.R.I.?
derrickjwyatt: No, just Sari. She was in the series bible before I came on board.
me: I think you and I are about the same age, which has led me to wonder if you, like me, were a fan of the old Calvin and Hobbes comic. IMHO, that was the most brilliant strip ever written. When I see Sari, I see a female Calvin. Was this among your influences here?
derrickjwyatt: I did like Calvin and Hobbes! There might be a little of that in her. There is also some of Ralphie Phillips from that old Warner Bros. cartoon. There is also some anime influence, and probably some Hanna Barbera too. A lot of the humans have influences from those places.
me: Interesting! Hm, maybe it's just because I like both (Sari and Calvin) so much that I noticed similarities between those two.

me: What can you tell me about the real life timeline going on behind the scenes? From what I can gleen, the production of TFA Season 2 concluded a LONG time before it actually aired. Then quite a bit longer before season 3 began being produced.
derrickjwyatt: Hmm. I'm really bad with time and timelines. I think we did have most of season one at least done for many months before it aired. And there was a huge gap in production between season two and season three. This coupled with the fact that they just raced right through airing seasons one and two together with no break, lead to the very long break running up until the new season. Sometimes people don't realize how long it takes to make cartoons.

me: Has CN been happy with Transformers Animated performance?
derrickjwyatt: Ratings have always been strong. Even in all the months of reruns. We rate right up there with most of the CN shows.
me: Glad to hear it! Alright, so you're a Transformers fan. What's the first Transformer you ever bought?
derrickjwyatt: I think it was Ravage maybe? Hmm. I don't actually remember.
me: Ravage?! Awesome, and the RED cassette FRENZY!
derrickjwyatt: Ha ha! Yes! Frenzy! I also remember getting the red version of Bumblebee.
me: Pfft, yeah, I'm still trying to figure out the whole red/yellow, "Bumblejumper" bit!
derrickjwyatt: That might have been a little later though, because I think I bought him to get a certain mini-spy maybe.
me: You mentioned timing, how long does it actually take to make a show?
What does an "Art Director" actually do?
derrickjwyatt: Oh, poo, I thought we were going to talk about nerd stuff! Okay, it takes around six to nine months to make a show from start to finish. I design characters, over see the design of other chracters, props and backgrounds. Then I art direct the color and background painting when the models are done. I also help with retakes on the animation when it comes back from overseas, to make sure characters are on model, and the right colors and what not.

me: Marty Isenberg said somewhere (Botcon, and interview perhaps?) that there was a scene in Megatron Rising where he put a serious smack down on the Dinobots. And that you, "couldn't use it." Is that because of some quality type issue or because it was just so badass (too violent)?
derrickjwyatt: It was a quality issue. The animation was really bad, so Matt just cut it out.
me: I need some more Dino action. Even if it did mean seeing them get smoked by a newly resurrected Megatron! Well, there's always season 3 ... Let me try a few season 3 Qs.
derrickjwyatt: Okay
me: So will we get to see more Swindle? Wreck-Gar?
derrickjwyatt: Heh. Maybe... Maybe...
me: Damn, I love those two.
derrickjwyatt: Me too!
me: Does the third season have a new introduction?
derrickjwyatt: New character intro?
me: animation w/ theme song before the show starts...
LOVE the theme song, I don't imagine that's changed(don't want it to)
maybe different bits spliced in w/ new characters, etc.
derrickjwyatt: Oh! No. It's the same. There was some talk of it, but we are using the same one from seasons one and two.
me: So Optimus Prime graduated from the Autobot Academy, but is not an Elite Guard? Is that right to say that's his official status?
Is the story of why he 'flunked out' or whatever going to be told in S3?
derrickjwyatt: Oh. That might be a Marty question! Did we say he graduated?
me: Yeah, maybe not. He was there, performed well, but didn't graduate. Maybe that's it. Are we going to find out why he didn't graduate? Seems like that's a major story that needs to be told.
derrickjwyatt: He definitely didn't get to complete the Elite Guard training.
me: Are we going to find out why?
derrickjwyatt: It's possible.
me: oh poo, and here I thought, I might get a yes or no!
derrickjwyatt: lol, If you ask the right question.
me: Is season 3 done being produced?
derrickjwyatt: Nope. We are still doing post production.
me: Has the conclusion of S3 changed based on the anticipation that there will not be a season 4?
derrickjwyatt: No. Nothing was changed.
derrickjwyatt: Except for instances where the episode time was too long or something minor like that.
derrickjwyatt: That info about the end of season 3 being changed was wrong.
me: Oh?
derrickjwyatt: Yeah.
me: I guess that can be considered a silver lining to this dark cloud... Since hearing rumors there would be no Transformers Animated Season 4, I have feared seeing some enormous cliffhanger, with the shows ending as abruptly as Dreamwave comics stories... that really sucked!

me: moving right along!
derrickjwyatt: People keep asking me if the new accessory set will have a new head for the coward Starscream.
me: ha, sorry no! Speaking of the set (which is available now, though it wasn't at the time we had this part of the conversation) lets talk about your development of the Animated Allspark.
derrickjwyatt: Okay.
me: It's part G1 matrix, part movie cube, all awesome! Is this a lot of your doing?
derrickjwyatt: Yes. The Allspark was one of the few themes Sam and Hasbro wanted to carry over from the Bay movie. I gave our prop designer Byron Penaranda the direction to make it Matrix-like.
me: Intersting. "Movie like?" Interesting, well, I'm glad you didn't make it 20 stories tall then have it shrink down to the size of a small radio for ease of carrying! :) That would've made it a lot harder for us to make a cool looking aftermarket accessory of it then! :)
me: So, stasis cuffs, ratchet magnets and the key are all the handy work of your "props" designer?!
derrickjwyatt: I think I did the MAGNETS, and the KEY. Byron did the CUFFS and All spark.
me: Cool! Let's shift to Transwarped. >>The following portion of our conversation can be considered part 2, which took place after Transwarped aired...
derrickjwyatt: K
me: Speaking of THE KEY, so now that Sari is a teen aged upgrade, have we seen the last of the key?
derrickjwyatt: Yeah, that's it for the Key. It finally did what it was created to do.
me: Aaaaaahhhhhhh....... cool!
me: Rodimus/Stryka and their crews, have we seen the last of them in Season 3?
derrickjwyatt: They may get some small cameo screen time, but that was their big moment for this season.
me: I'm surprised (and severely bummed) Damn, they're just bristling with potential...

me: Stasis pods and protoforms. Can't wait for more of that sweet action. I take it we will be getting a little more from where that mysterious stasis pod came from?
in season 3?
derrickjwyatt: Hmm. There will be more about stasis pods and protoforms.
me: Love'm! Can't wait! :) The Omega Supreme transformation sequences were the absolute bomb! Nice work!
derrickjwyatt: We love our Omega.
me: So do we! I was very surprised to see him again so soon! Omega Supreme, as he was always meant to be: The ARK!
me: Now we know one component of your teaser image was. The "Plasma Dynamic Thrustor!
derrickjwyatt: Yeah, I think the return of the PDT is just around the corner here too.
me: "PDT" :) ha! Well, it does have the potential to keep Megatron and Starscream on their toes for awhile. Another bit I totally dug. Arcee, with head in state of disassemblement... Very IDW Spotlight! Very cool.
derrickjwyatt: Oh yeah, that was drawn by our new prop designer, James Lim.
me: LOVED it! Have we seen the last of Metroplex or Alpha Trion?
derrickjwyatt: No.
me: Jumped out of our chairs when we saw that sweetness!
derrickjwyatt: Yeah, wait until you see the Elite Guard headquarters!
me: Metroplex City, on Cybertron! Well, it's about time!
Elite Guard Headquarters you say?
derrickjwyatt: Yep. It's a total Fortress.
me: Bo-YAA!
derrickjwyatt: Ha!
me: Of course! As it should be!
derrickjwyatt: Yep.

me: alright, before this conversation turns into a small novel, we need to wrap up and call this, Derrick Wyatt "IMterview" part 1. Stay tuned, new pictures and insights coming your way in part 2 shortly!

A sincere thank you out to Mr. Derrick Wyatt for taking the time to share his thoughts, insights and images!


Anonymous said...

hmm I wonder how fort max would work out with the headmaster being a completely different concept

Drancron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drancron said...

1. I'm thinking that the Elite Guard base might just look like Fortress Maximus's base mode - it doesn't necessarily have to transform into robot mode.
2. If he *does* transform, he doesn't need to be a G1-style Headmaster. In the comics, Fortress Maximus was a normal Transformer before he was a Headmaster.