Interview With Spawn Animation Director Frank Paur
Friday, December 09, 2005
By Janet Jaramillo
Frank Paur went to school at Brigham Young University, focusing on fine arts and illustration. He began his career in animation by doing layouts and storyboarding.
"I am able to incorporate everything I loved as a child, and as an illustrator, make it my career," he says.
What is involved with directing animation?
FP: To be a director, you have to have answers -- and the best way to have the answers is to have experience in every aspect of animation. Like most animation directors, I started at the bottom and learned every step it takes to get something on screen. I understand what works, and I am able to communicate that to the people I work with. For me, especially with Spawn, there are three things I focus on when directing. The first is to decipher the intent of the scene -- are we letting you in on some information about the character or is the action key? Second, I ask myself, what is the emotion I want to convey -- terror, a hint of something to come -- the mood is very important. And third is the composition of the set and positioning of characters. This is vital with Spawn because of the use of shadows. It's almost like the shadow is another character, so you have to work really hard to show what you want in so much darkness.
So the ability to effectively explain what you are trying to achieve is a key characteristic of a director?
FP: Absolutely. This is why I chose Chuck Patton to work with me on Spawn. He not only understands my language, he also has a lot of great ideas to add. He is also great at communicating our needs to his team, so it works really well. But also it's important to be able to create a quick visual that the illustrator can elaborate on. My ability as an artist comes in handy as a director.
What is something you do in your job that surprises you?
FP: Acting. To time scenes, many times I become the character and act out their part so we can get an accurate time for the action that is taking place. Every movement has to be laid out, and it's not just about walking into a room and sitting at a desk, for example. Take Sam -- he's a big guy, so when he enters a room he may be out of breath, he may pause as he opens the door and he covers a lot of ground with his big steps. All of those things must be thought about and accounted for when timing the scene. It's a part of the job that surprised me for sure.
HBO Spawn versus Film Roman Spawn?
FP: When I worked on Spawn at HBO, I just took over the third season. That experience was more taking what was already set up and adding my directing knowledge to it. I wasn't involved from the ground floor like I am with this Spawn project.
At Film Roman we have the experience from HBO under our belts and we know what worked and didn't. One of my goals this time around was to get more detail in the background and using Photoshop a lot more. The level of detail in the walls, carpets and stained glass is really amazing and necessary seven years later.
There is also more cohesiveness with the characters, it's more unified style-wise than it was at HBO, especially since this is a movie and that was a series. It's a little bit apples and oranges in that department until we go to series. I think the cohesiveness will really shine once we get that far.
But overall for me personally the difference is I got to start from scratch and I have a lot more influence over how the project looks.
Question from message board member, Gavrilo Princip: Will the new animation feature the same music (or composer) as the original? The music was one of the keys to creating the incredible atmosphere of the HBO animated series. It'd be a shame to lose it.
FP: Fifty percent of everything you see on TV is sound. The music is critical and it will definitely reflect the style of the story. Choosing a composer is like casting an actor, the composers talent will have to be able to fit in with the show and be able to create the right sound for what the story is trying to convey. We're not quite there yet, so I don't have an answer about who the composer will be. But I can say with 100 percent confidence that a lot of care will go into the score of the show.
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