Pre-production planning is considered very important. When a rough script has been prepared Bernie Kay and Terry Ward do a rough storyboard together. Changes are sometimes made to the script because a joke that is told in words may go over better in visuals only. Kay goes off with the rough storyboard and types up a complete script. When the director is happy with it they then make a clean storyboard to take to the recording session. They run through the script with ‘The Goodies” and then they record. Any changes that are made while recording are noted down and passed on to the layout artist.
As the series has progressed they have built up a library of material from past episodes. The layout artist can select library sequences to short cut the animation work. Right from the start of the series, if there has been any action that is reusable they have put more animation into it than they normally would have for a low budget series, If they need a flying sequence they don’t have to animate it, they can select one from the library, so that conditions the storyboard and layout. Sequences get code names such as “Dynamic Flying”. Banana Man has crazy flying habits like jogging or roller skating through the sky. They just pick out the one that fits the storyline.
These methods enable a small crew to turn out one episode a month. On Bananaman they have three animators, two layout artists, and one inbetweener that the animators share, as the animators do most of their own inbetweening, two tracers and three painters. These are looked after by the production controller and Terry Ward produces and directs.
The BBC and other television stations pay £l00 per minute for a children’s cartoon show which gives them the right to repeat it as many times as they like over a seven year period. The voice artists and musicians get repeat fees but not the producer. Ward estimates that; “If a cartoon series uses a lot of music in it the musician can end up making more money than the producer after 7 years. So obviously budgets need to be low on series work unless the backers can recoup money back in other ways. Terry Ward continues; “The merchandising in children’s television is a huge business and I would say that 100% of the series done at the moment are produced on the back of merchandising sales. The books, the childern’s wellington boots, hats, chocolate bars, yoghurts, everything else. In a way it is a shame because it would be nice to make films for TV just for the sake of making them. The merchandisers have got to make it work for them so it is starting to become like commercials where a client turns up at scripting and voice recording.”