Friday 4 December 2020

Recent additions, December 2020


With thanks to Jim Sorenson, the show bible for Robotix has been added to the MP 4000 section.  Along with the 14 scripts for episode recap, with correspondence by story editor Alan Swayze


Background keys for select episodes of Season One have been added to the archive, thanks to Ryan King.

Elaine Hultgren, co-owner of and layout artist at XAM Productions in Utah, made the jump to storyboard artist for Marvel in 1985.  For her storyboard test, the Transformers episode Blaster Blues was used for story.  Those storyboards are now available at the archive.  Elaine would go on to be credited for the entire runs of Jem, Inhumanoids and Dino-riders.  Her career would continue to be involved with shows covered by the archive throughout the 1990s.  First with Marvel, then with Graz Entertainment and the final involvement with a Sunbow co-production coming with Generation O! in the year 2000.

The Transformers The Movie

All 31 storyboard sequences for the movie have been cropped to the original two-panel pages.  All pages have been straightened, vertical pans rotated and file sizes reduced for ease of loading and viewing.

Fraggle Rock

The full storyboard for the main title sequence has been added to the archive.

Thursday 17 September 2020

Transformers deleted dialogue recordings

 Uploads by Transformers At The Moon

MP 4023 The Transformers - Day 1 (in five parts)

MP 4024 The Transformers - Day 2

MP 4025 The Transformers - Day 3

MP 700

01 Transport To Oblivion

02 Roll For It

03 Divide And Conquer

04 Fire In The Sky

05 S.O.S Dinobots

06 Fire On The Mountain

07 War Of The Dinobots

08 The Ultimate Doom, Part 1

09 The Ultimate Doom, Part 2

10 The Ultimate Doom, Part 3

11 Countdown To Extinction

12 A Plague Of Insecticons (including Insecticon Body English for sound library)

13 Heavy Metal War

Laserbeak ADR session - Chris Latta and Wally Burr

Ravage ADR session - Frank Welker and Wally Burr

Season 2

21 The Immobilizer

30 Dinobot Island, part 2

Friday 28 August 2020

August 2020 update

This month has seen some obscure rarities come to the archive.

MP 200 Pandamonium

Added model sheets, height comparison charts and background layouts for Pandamonium.  One of two co-productions in 1982 between Marvel and Intermedia Entertainment (on behalf of MGM/United Artists).

The series revolves around an alien artifact, sought by the sorcerer Mondraggor, which falls to Earth and breaks into pieces.  American brother and sister Pete and Peggy observe the piece which makes planetfall in Tibet.  Upon flying out to examine it, they discover three pandas have been turned into talking bipeds: Chesty, Timothy and Algernon.  The siblings and the pandas are now in a race against Mondraggor to reunite the pieces of the artifact.

The series was presented as a comedy with the panda's personalities being expys of The Three Stooges.  It and fellow Marvel/Intermedia show Meatballs & Spaghetti were among the last US animated shows to include a laugh track.  Both were cancelled after one season and have had no modern home release.

MP 700 Transformers

The Hasbro briefing binders, originally purchased from the Ron Friedman auctions, have been uploaded to the archive.
These include binders for the initial 1984 cast, including early names and designs.  As well as separate briefing material covering Shockwave, Jetfire, the Dinobots, Insecticons and Constructticons.

Air Raiders

Added the Sunbow press kit for what would have been the next Sunbow/Marvel co-production for 1987.  Development work by Doug Booth and Ron Friedman during the summer of 1986 led to a three-part pilot script written by Friedman and ready by January 1987.
Unfortunately, low retail orders of $30 million at Toyfair in February, combined with Hasbro's decision to abandon funding for full-length animation once the existing contracts were fulfilled, led to the pilot being cancelled.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Marvel Productions Behind The Scenes

A documentary made in 1981 during the production of Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends.  Spider-Man On The Move, presented by Stan Lee.  According to documentary producer Arthur Greenwald, Stan's star turn on this programme led to NBC requesting he record narration for seasons 2 and 3 of Amazing Friends, as well as narration retroactively added to repeats of season 1 and to The Incredible Hulk.

Sadly, the main production office (flat-topped, single story building) featured in this documentary burned down in March 1984.

8mm home video of Marvel Productions' head office, filmed in 1984 and uploaded by Bryce Malek, as he and Dick Robbins worked as story editors on The Transformers

 A floor plan of the head office from February 1986, from John Semper's files

1st floor

Ground floor

More of Bryce Malek's home video, this time of the office Christmas Party in 1986.  Putting faces to a lot of the names on the above floor plans.

Thursday 30 July 2020

July 2020 update

This month has seen some housekeeping at the archive.  The "Productions" links have been moved to the top of the page for easier navigation between the various shows

MP 600 G.I Joe

Due to the official Hasbro YouTube channel releases reaching 50 out of 95 full episodes.  The GI Joe section of the archive has been split into two parts, in the same manner as Transformers.
For production material from season 2, as well as the full script and storyboard samples from GI Joe The Movie.  Update your bookmarks to:

MP 900 Defenders Of The Earth

To streamline the DoE page, only full episodes which are supported by available production material will be uploaded.

MP 5205 Jem

A trio of music video storyboards have been made available to the archive:

First up we have There's A Melody Playin' by future Shrek director Vicky Jenson, from the episode In Search Of The Stolen Album.  Jenson took visual ideas from Madonna's Papa Don't Preach video, the single for which was only released less than two months before these storyboards were finalized.

Next is the original version of Love's Not Easy, by comics legend Romeo Tanghal.  This music video was slated to be the third video for the episode Island Of Deception.  Due to the issues which affected many shows sent out to overseas animators by Marvel Productions in the summer of 1986.  This episode along with 6 others in season 1 were cut down to 19 minutes of original animation.  The time being made up with music video replays and Superstar PSAs.
The video below is of a fanmade animatic using colourised versions of the storyboards.  This was premiered at Jemcon 2018:

Finally, there is Gettin' Down To Business, version 2.  Drawn by Marvel Comics and Productions artist Mike Vosburg for the season 2 episode The Bands Break Up.  Unusually for the time, the storyboards were drawn on 3-panel pages (left over from GI Joe The Movie), versus the usual 6 panels.  Viewers are encouraged to compare the storyboards with the finished video as major changes are made to the first five pages:

Monday 15 June 2020

One year anniversary

Better late than never!  The Sunbow Marvel script/storyboard archive celebrated its one year anniversary on June 10th. 

Since launching, the archive has expanded beyond anything I thought possible.  Covering 13 years worth of shows, movies, miniseries and pilots:

  • 91 full or partial scripts
  • 118 dialogue scripts
  • 73 full or partial storyboard sets
  • 43 model sheet/cel files
  • 7 show bibles or writer's guides
Not counting concept art, memos, outlines, voice actor call sheets and much more
Thank you to everyone who has contributed scanned material over the past year.

There is still a lot more out there to be preserved, so if any owners are willing to contribute, please message the archive.

Here's to the second year!

Wednesday 27 May 2020

May 2020 update

Here is a roundup of additions and changes to the archive for May:

MP 100 The Incredible Hulk

Added sample pages from both the outline and the full script for Prisoner Of The Monster, written by Susan Misty Stewart (Misty Taggart).

MP 700 Transformers

  • Completed the 9th digital reconstruction of a Ron Friedman-revised script, back to first draft dialogue.: Doug Booth's Roll For It
  • Received a contribution by NeverDoubt of the first draft script for Fire In The Sky
  • Added low-resolution samples of storyboards for The Immobilizer
  • Separated the More Than Meets The Eye script into it's three parts, for ease of loading and reading.
MP 5204 Moondreamers

Added 6 pages of samples from the show bible, created by future Spider-Man TAS showrunner John Semper and Cynthia Friedlob.

Monday 11 May 2020

Martin Pasko 1954-2020

It was announced on Mark Evanier's blog that writer and story editor Martin Pasko has passed away at the age of 65.  The Sunbow Marvel Archive wishes to express condolences to his friends and family.

A full list of his work that is covered by the archive is below, followed by the video of one of his finest works:  The GI Joe two-parter, Worlds Without End

Dr Strange And The Mystery Kids
In late 1981, Martin was commissioned by Marvel Productions to write the Preliminary Development document for a potential Dr Strange cartoon pitched to NBC, spinning off the Doctor's appearance in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends.
NBC balking at some elements of the property that could be interpreted as "satanic", along with Marvel's subsequent refusal to water down the concepts, led to the pitch being rejected.
Martin sold the development script in early 2013:

MP 100 The Incredible Hulk
The Creature And The Cavegirl (partial storyboard available)

MP 600 GI Joe
Operation: Mind Menace
Worlds Without End part 1 and 2
Cobrathon (with Rebecca Parr)

MP 5201 My Little Pony
Story Editor for 61 episodes (with Rebecca Parr)
Writer: Fugitive Flowers, part 1 and 2 (with Rebecca Parr)

MP 6610 Bucky O'Hare And The Toad Wars
Kreation Konspiracy (full script available)

93-400 The Tick
Story editor for 6 episodes
Writer: The Tick vs the Breadmaster

Worlds Without End, part 1

Worlds Without End, part 2

Wednesday 22 April 2020

April 2020 update: 10 in 10

Just wanted to say thank you to all viewers and contributors for getting the archive to 10,000 views in 10 months. 

I haven't done an update post for a couple of months, but have been busy adding to the archive on a near-daily basis.  The additions include:

  • Various model sheets/cels, height charts and concept art from Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, G.I Joe, Muppet Babies and the Pryde Of The X-Men pilot.  Including work by John Romita Sr, Russ Heath, Rick Hoberg, Bruce Timm and Alex Toth.
  • Various one and two-page storyboards for Jem music videos
  • For Transformers, pages from the outline, and the unedited pages to Act I of the dialogue script for Chaos.  The first page of the outline and the handwritten "Beats" chart for Grimlock's New Brain
  • The official video for the first three miniseries of GI Joe
  • More official video of Defenders Of The Earth, including three of the four "movie" releases: The Story Begins, The Book Of Mysteries and the Prince Kro-tan arc.  The fourth, The Necklace Of Oros, will be linked once posted to YouTube by ComicsKingdom

As always, if anyone out there has access to any full scripts or storyboards and is willing to consider contributing scans to the archive.  Please get in touch via the "Contact" link.  For scanning from home, some contributions have already been made using Adobe Scan:
For one-page items, such as a voice actor call sheet or a memo, a flat photo will do the trick.

Here's to the next 10,000

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Unproduced projects

Doctor Strange And The Mystery Kids - 1981
In late 1981, Marvel Productions hired Martin Pasko to write the Preliminary Development document for a proposed Doctor Strange cartoon to be sold to NBC for the 1982 season.  Spinning off the Doctor's guest appearance in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends.

According to Pasko when he sold the document in 2013, NBC rejected the pitch as they felt the mystical elements and the villains could be interpreted as "Satanic" and Marvel refused to water down the concepts any further.

The Mysterians - 1983

An early entry into the 1980s transforming robot craze.  New Jersey-based toy company Knickerbocker, after an unsatisfactory effort by DC Comics, approached Marvel Comics to develop a monthly comic, pack-in comics for the toys and an animated special.  Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter developed the backstory and treatment for the first story, much to Knickerbocker's delight.

In December 1982, Shooter, publisher Mike Hodgson and other Marvel staff attended a meeting with Knickerbocker executives to discuss the planned launch of the franchise.  The meeting started three hours late, with the executives described by Shooter as "ashen-faced and nervous" and "going through the motions".  The meeting included a conference call with Dennis Marks, Marvel Productions' Head Of Development.  It transpired that Marks had ignored Shooter's treatment and come up with another one involving "cute, wacky, goofy kids and a dog".  Knickerbocker were aghast, stating they wanted what Shooter had developed.  Which in turn, left Marks stunned*.

Shooter and company headed home wondering about the meeting, speculating about a possible company shakeup at Knickerbocker.  The next day, they found out that the shakeup was that Knickerbocker had been bought out by Hasbro.  At that point, all plans for the Mysterians were dropped.  Though the toy designs would not go to waste, as they found their way first to Takara's Micro-Change line, then to Transformers as the Autobot mini-vehicles Huffer, Brawn, Gears and Windcharger.

* - The "kids and a dog" premise popularised by Scooby-Doo had been relentlessly copied during the 1970s.  Marvel Productions spent its first three years applying this tired formula to pitch after pitch.  Successfully selling it to networks on Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends and Meatballs & Spaghetti.  It was attempted on Dungeons & Dragons until D&D creator Gary Gygax intervened and insisted the dog be made a unicorn.  Even after Dennis Marks was fired from Marvel in 1983 - the executives of both NBC and CBS refused to deal with him - this formula would be attempted at least one more time on transforming robots.... 

For more details on the Mysterians' development, head to Jim Shooter's blog

The Incredible Hulk & The She-Hulk - 1983

Written by Misty Stewart (Later Misty Taggart) in early 1983 as a means of retooling the previous year's Incredible Hulk cartoon, presumably as a last-ditch effort to persuade NBC to renew the series.
Changes included rewriting the Hulk to be less like the comics incarnation and more like the live-action TV series which had ended the year before.  Also to bring back She-Hulk as a regular supporting character. (photos taken from ebay auction).

"Car And Cable" 1983/84
Originally appearing in an article about Marvel Productions, in the pages of Marvel Age magazine in 1985.  A pitch titled Car And Cable showed a transforming Volkswagen in a comedic setting with three kids and a dog.  Long assumed to be Marvel's attempt at producing a knockoff to their own success story in The Transformers...

That was until March 2020 when Instagram user consumercollectibles contacted this archive and others to show the original pitch artwork, revealing a previously unseen piece that shows this was in fact an early pitch for Transformers

It is unknown at time of writing exactly where this pitch falls in the development of The Transformers.  Whether it was conceived in summer 1983, when Hasbro first acquired the toy license and according to Buzz Dixon, were shopping the concept to every production studio in LA.  Or whether this came after the Jim Shooter treatment seen in the main Transformers section.  Marvel Productions head David DePatie was reported to be openly hostile to Marvel Comics.  As mentioned above, allowing his development team to outright ignore the treatments being sent over to them.

Air Raiders - 1987
Intended to be the next major Sunbow and Marvel co-production in 1987, promoting the new toyline.  Ron Friedman and Doug Booth worked on development of a potential cartoon through the summer of 1986, with Friedman writing a three-part pilot by January 1987.  Unfortunately, the dual slump in syndicated cartoon ratings and toy sales - due to oversaturation of both - led Hasbro to cancel the project and end all new funding for toy-promoting cartoons once the existing contracts for Jem and Visionaries were completed.

Ron Friedman material (Heritage Auction previews only).

Captain America and The Avengers - 1990
As he recently uncovered from his storage, Flint Dille worked with Stan Lee on developing an Avengers series to sell to ABC.  The network felt there wasn't a market for it and passed on the pitch.
Flint would work with Marvel Productions again in 1991, as story editor for season 2 of Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes.

Siegfried & Roy 
Pitch material created in 1992, intended for 65 episodes in 1993 season.  The plans fell through and Marvel Productions was reorganised into New World Animation that year, taking Biker Mice From Mars forward under the new banner.

Concept art (20 pieces)
Pilot storyboard (14 pages) Will Meugniot


The following pitches were revealed in an article covering Marvel Production in Comics Feature magazine issue 33, cover-dated January 1985.  Full scans can be found at:



Iron Man

The Monstress

Teen Hulk

Hulk Hound


Wacky Wacky West - year unknown

Wednesday 4 March 2020

David Wise 1955-2020

The Sunbow and Marvel Archive wishes to express it's condolences to the family and friends of David Wise, who passed away of lung cancer on March 3rd.

David Wise' Facebook page announcement

On a more personal note.  As a kid growing up in the UK in the 80's and 90's.  The thing that hooked me on Transformers were the Video Gems VHS tapes.  In particular, the three episode tape of The Key To Vector Sigma and War Dawn.  We had that tape from near it's release in 1986 until the turn of the century when we abandoned VHS for good.  By that point, the tape was so degraded that the sound effects often overrode the dialogue.  Even now, though the episodes are technically a two-parter and one standalone, it is hard not to think of them as a trilogy.

They are stories that have stuck with me for nearly 35 years of my life.  Even in later years when my interests were elsewhere, it was always something I would come back to eventually.  Leading to properly discovering the rest of the Sunbow/Marvel shows in the past two or three years, eventually leading to the creation of this website.

The full list of David's works within the scope of the archive. * - indicates that an item of production material is available to view at the archive.

MP  700 Transformers

19 Attack Of The Autobots *
24 Day Of The Machines *
33 Microbots *
42 Make Tracks *
45 The Secret Of Omega Supreme *
47 Kremzeek! *
51 Auto-Bop *
53 The Girl Who Loved Powerglide *
55 The Key To Vector Sigma, part 1 *
56 The Key To Vector Sigma, part 2 *
58 War Dawn *
59 Trans-Europe Express *
6701-01 The Rebirth, part 1
6701-02 The Rebirth, part 2
6701-03 The Rebirth, part 3

MP  900 Defenders Of The Earth

38 Audie And Tweak *
Flesh And Blood
The Mystery Of The Book
The Book Of Mysteries
The Gods Awake
The Starboy
Fury Of The Deep
The Ghost Walks Again
The Prince's Royal Hunt
The Prince Weds
The Prince Triumphant
The Prince Dethroned
Return Of The Skyband

MP 5201 My Little Pony

11 The Revolt Of Paradise Estate, part 1
12 The Revolt Of Paradise Estate, part 2
27 Through The Door, part 1
28 Through The Door, part 2
58 Somnambula, part 1
59 Somnambula, part 2
60 The Ice Cream Wars
61 The Prince And The Ponies

MP 5205 Jem

25 Culture Clash
48 Renaissance Woman

Conan And The Young Warriors

01 Isle Of The Lost
12 Once A Thief (with Bryce Malek)

Friday 21 February 2020

February 2020 update

This month the archived has brought together....

A selection of storyboard pages for MP 4064 Pryde Of The X-men.  Marvel Productions' attempt at an X-men pilot, produced in 1987 but not aired until 1989.

MP 6000 Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends

The last 27 pages of storyboards for VideoMan

MP 600 GI Joe

Storyboards for:
  • The commercial for Marvel Comics issue 14, which saw the debut of Destro
  • 17 pages from 31 Cobra Quake
  • All but five pages from the season 1 main title.  It appears that this title was created bespoke for the Pyramid Of Darkness miniseries.  However due to the miniseries being written and produced so late in the run (episodes 37-41), yet due to be aired first.  It seems this title was edited and used on the whole season.
  • The commercial for Battleforce 2000.  Part of the 1988 toyline and one of the last Marvel Productions' storyboards for GI Joe as full-length cartoons came to an end and Sunbow looked to TMS to produce commercials for the remaining toylines
MP 700 Transformers
  • The call sheets for Hoist Goes Hollywood, Chaos and Dark Awakening have been donated and attached to the respective dialogue scripts.
  • The Dark Awakening dialogue script has been replaced by an unedited version showing deleted lines
  • The 1st page of the outline for Cosmic Rust, revealing a starring role for Shockwave that was removed in the full script
  • The 1st page of the outline for Chaos, showing a flashback to Kup's time as a slave mining death crystals, which was originally intended to be a Quintesson operation
MP 900 Defenders Of The Earth

The main title storyboard, only parts of which were animated and edited together with footage from early episodes.  View the official video of the intro at the Defenders page for comparison.

MP 5205 Jem

Storyboards for:

  • Both the initial draft and revised version of the main title sequence
  • Roughs and final storyboards for the first four pages of the Glitter and Gold music video (The big reveal of Glitter and Gold Jem).
  • Roughs and final storyboards for Jem And The Holograms, The Misfits and The Stingers' music video: Now
In addition, the site has been supplemented by video links from the official Hasbro YouTube channels.

Thursday 30 January 2020

January 2020 update

Happy 2020 to all viewers!  The archive is kicking off the year strong with...

MP 4034 The Transformers The Movie

Thanks to contributor Avon - the archive now hosts all 31 storyboard sequences for the movie.  As such, the existing draft scripts and lists of cut scenes have been collected with the storyboards into a new dedicated page for the movie (accessed from the Productions link on the right).

MP 900 Defenders Of The Earth

The official YouTube channel for King Features Entertainment (owners of DoE and the newspaper strip characters that comprise it) is uploading the show for free, episode-by-episode.  For episodes that have scripts or storyboards available, the videos will be directly linked once they have been uploaded.  Root Of Evil and Escape From Mongo are currently linked and more will follow.


With permission from - and thanks to - Marvel Productions storyboard artist Michael Swanigan.  The archive now hosts several partial storyboards from various shows:

MP 6000 Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends

6018 A Firestar Is Born (5 pages)

MP 100 The Incredible Hulk

07 The Creature And The Cavegirl (9 pages)

MP 400 Dungeons & Dragons

01 The Night Of No Tomorrow (21 pages)

03 The Hall Of Bones (21 pages)

22 The Dragon's Graveyard (25 pages)

MP 600 G.I Joe

4007 The Worms Of Death (The MASS Device, part 3)  (10 pages)

21 The Greenhouse Effect (9 pages)

MP 6501 Fraggle Rock (Animated)

02A Big Trouble For A Little Fraggle (20 pages)

04A A Fraggle For All Seasons (20 pages)

10A Mokey's Flood Of Creativity (20 pages)

All of these storyboards can be found at the respective show pages.

Friday 24 January 2020

The dialogue recording

Once a script was marked as "final", it could then be made available to record the dialogue.  It would then fall to the production company to book a recording session and voice director, as well as contact the voice actors' respective agencies to book them for the session.

A voice actor would have a maximum number of three speaking roles for every session.  If there were one-off roles or incidental voices required in the script, these would be distributed among the actors who had not reached their three character limit.  On shows with large ensemble casts, there would sometimes be a small amount of dialogue lines from a character in the script that proved insufficient to justify booking that character's voice actor for the session.  In these instances, dialogue would be reassigned to a character whose voice actor was already booked.

If a voice actor was unavailable for a particular session due to prior bookings, a separate "pick-up" session would be booked to allow their dialogue to be recorded as soon as possible.
For shows intended to be broadcast on one of the three US networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), scripts were reviewed and approved by network executives and the approved dialogue had to be rigidly adhered to.  For syndication broadcast, a looser approach was permitted, with changes made in the recording session itself.  One notable instance of major change was to the opening scene of Transformers episode Five Faces Of Darkness, part 1.  The broadcast scenes of the Constructicons fighting over energon cubes had to be created on the spot, as the original dialogue scripts reveal that the miniseries was meant to open with a fight between the Insecticons (characters who were reformatted in Transformers The Movie and who effectively no longer existed) in a fight with Menasor.

Five Faces Of Darkness, part 1 dialogue script on the bottom left....

...and the broadcast version.

However, allowing changes during the session could lead to potential errors, as dialogue would sometimes be swapped between characters.  Or at other times, characters would read written on-screen text differently to what had been directed in the script and first-draft storyboards.  In both cases, due to the hectic production schedules, there was often no time to accommodate these changes in the final storyboard revisions that were sent to the overseas animators.

Where scheduling permitted, the dialogue scripts that every voice actor worked from would be drawn up using scene numbers from the first draft storyboards.  This has been confirmed as being the case on all of G.I Joe season 1, Inhumanoids and Transformers up to and including the episode The Insecticon Syndrome.

At the beginning of 1985, a change was made on Transformers starting with Dinobot Island, part 1.  From then until the end of the series, finalised scripts would have each line of dialogue numbered and transcribed to the dialogue scripts.  This enabled recording sessions to be booked and take place ahead of the completion of the first draft storyboards.  

 MP 700-28 The Insecticon Syndrome dialogue script, organised by storyboard scene numbers

MP 700-29 Dinobot Island, part 1 dialogue script.  Drawn up using dialogue lines numbered on the full script.

Script page from Bucky O'Hare episode MP 6610-12 Bye-Bye Berserker Baboon, with dialogue numbered, to be transcribed for the dialogue script.

Due to the manic production schedule of season 3, several episodes would have their scripts finalised on a Monday or Tuesday, then go into a dialogue session on the Thursday or Friday of that same week.  Among those episodes that were rushed to dialogue were Thief In The Night, The Big Broadcast of 2006, Only Human, Grimlock's New Brain and Call Of The Primitives (see the production timeline for dates):

To listen to a sampling of dialogue recording from this era, follow this link to a playlist of deleted dialogue from Transformers season 1 (Thanks to Transformers At The Moon).

For a lot of animal noises or human sounds known as "Body English", particularly ones that were strenuous for an actor to perform at every session.  Additional Dialogue Recording sessions would be booked to put these sounds on tape.  The tapes could then be re-used by the production company sound editors over and over again.  Some notable ADR tapes include:

  • The late Bob Holt recorded stock roaring sounds for The Incredible Hulk in 1982.  The recordings would be frequently used by Marvel Productions on multiple shows.  Including Juggernaut on Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, various monsters in Dungeons and Dragons and the barbarian Ramar in the first G.I Joe miniseries.  As well as the final, posthumous use:  the roars of Unicron in Transformers The Movie
  • Shortly after production of Transformers season 1, director Wally Burr recorded Frank Welker to make a stock library of sounds for the Decepticon jaguar Ravage.  Excerpts from this session would be used for all of Ravage's appearances throughout the rest of the series.  The tape would see it's final use in 1986 on the final episode of G.I Joe: Into Your Tent I Will Silently Creep.  The tape can be listened to at this link:
  • Around a similar timeframe as the creation of the Ravage tape.  Chris Latta was brought in to record a stock library for Laserbeak, which again was used for all of Laserbeak's appearances throughout the series.  For over 30 years, it was assumed that the role of Laserbeak had been performed by Frank Welker, due to his long association with performing animal noises for animation.  However, when Transformers dialogue recordings surfaced in 2016, it was revealed to have been Latta's role all along.  The tape can be listened to here:

Friday 17 January 2020

The storyboard and slugging process

In the last article, we looked at the process of story editing a script.  Now we look at two of the key aspects of production: storyboards and slugging.

Here are some examples of storyboard cover pages from the archive

Once a script was passed to Marvel's storyboard department, first draft storyboards were normally expected to be completed within two to three weeks.  Ideally, each act of an episode would be assigned to a separate artist.  Some top artists, such as Will Meugniot on the G.I Joe episodes Cobra Quake and Worlds Without End part 1, had provision in their contracts to storyboard an episode on their own.  As the workload increased at Marvel during late 1985 and into 1986, there were instances of an artist having to storyboard an episode on their own in the same timescale normally given to three artists.  Such as Doug Lefler's incredibly rough boards for the Transformers episode Cosmic Rust.

At this time in the animation industry, the obligation to be on-model did not lie with the storyboard artists.  That was reserved for the layouts, a process which had been outsourced either to the animating studio, or to !XAM Productions in Utah.

Because of this, combined with the presence among Marvel's storyboard department of top comic book artists, storyboards had a variety of contrasting art styles.  From clean, simple lines to very rough to heavily stylised in a way that would never make it to the actual animation.

From Defenders Of The Earth episode 39: The Defense Never Rests

From the Dungeons & Dragons episode 16 The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow

From Jem episode 33 Trick Or Techrat.  The music video for We Can Change It, version 2

Once the first draft was completed, a copy would be sent to the animation directors (Or sequence directors, depending on how they were credited).  A number of them were veterans of the animation industry, who started their careers with either the original Walt Disney or Warner Bros. Studios in the 1930's and 1940's.
Their role was first to time out, or "slug", the non-dialogue portions of each scene.  The list of timings would then be handed to a producer to add to the storyboards.  As seen below in this page from Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends.

The numbers refer to the Feet and Frames of footage required for each scene.

Meanwhile, the animation directors would prepare the exposure sheets for each scene.  These would be detailed frame-by-frame instructions to the overseas' animators.  As shown at the link below in these examples from the later seasons of Muppet Babies (From the blog of warburtonlabs):

A quick key to the exposure sheets:

The top row would detail the production number, footage length, scene number and sequence number.
The horizontal bold lines, every eighth line down, represent half a foot of footage.

Then from left to right:

Column 1: Represents the path and flow of action
Column 2: Details dialogue, broken down into it's phonetic components
Column 3: Lists the levels of animation.  In other words, how many separate cels were required for an individual frame.  The maximum number of acetate cels allowed was always five, with the sixth column being the background
Columns 4 and 5: Notes for the Camera Operator including trucking, panning, field size and which background was to be used.

The raw "unslugged" recordings of the dialogue session, once they were available to the sound editors, would then be spaced out to the director's timings to create the full running length of the episode.  With the slugged recording available, producers would then know how many scenes would need to be cut in final storyboard revisions.

Once the final storyboard revisions had been decided upon, the storyboards would be packed up. Along with the exposure sheets, model sheets/cels, colour keys, background keys, background layouts and a whole host of other production material and shipped out for animation.

Thursday 9 January 2020

From draft to final, the story editing process: Cosmic Rust

In the last article we looked at the process of submitting a draft script.  Now we will look at the process of story editing using one of the most recent additions to the archive: The Transformers episode Cosmic Rust.

The story editors for the Transformers main series from 700-01 Transport To Oblivion to 700-64 B.O.T were Bryce Malek and Dick Robbins.  After which, they were tasked by Marvel Productions to relaunch and be story editors for the stalled production of Defenders Of The Earth.  A 65-episode series produced on behalf of King Features Entertainment.

From 700-02 Roll For It until at least 700-42 Make Tracks, they were assisted by Ron Friedman who was credited as providing "Additional Dialogue".  In practice, this meant Friedman largely re-writing every line of dialogue and the story editors accepting most of what he gave them.  Whilst there has not yet been any paper verification beyond the scripts that Friedman himself has sold off, it seems likely that his involvement with the series ended in March 1985 due to him being needed to finish writing The Transformers The Movie, then writing the third G.I Joe miniseries and then beginning work on G.I Joe: The Movie.

Cosmic Rust (originally title Rust In Peace) was completed by series' production co-ordinator Paul Davids on 10th September 1985.  While the archive does not have the finalised copy of the script, it does have the full storyboards and dialogue script, which were drawn up using the version of the script that was passed out of story editing.

First draft script:

Full storyboards (with final revisions made by producer George Singer):

Full dialogue script:

I know you are, but what am I?
The opening exchange between Rumble and Astrotrain is changed to be more adversarial.


RUMBLE: Hey, Astrotrain, look out for those asteroids!

ASTROTRAIN (VO): Relax, Rumble!  Do you always have to be a back-seat driver?

ASTROTRAIN (CONT): Well, fry my heat shield!  Get a load of that -- the Autobot symbol!


RUMBLE: Astrotrain!  Look out for those asteroids!

ASTROTRAIN: Quiet, pipsqueak! You're bothering me!

ASTROTRAIN (CONT): Well, fry my heatshields!

RUMBLE: I'll do more than that if you call me pipsqueak again!

ASTROTRAIN: Get a load of that, pipsqueak - the Autobot symbol!

Sadly, while the storyboard scenes are left intact, this added joke was deleted from the soundtrack.  Sometimes dialogue would be cut from scenes where the visuals were retained, in order to better pace out the amount of dialogue.

Till All Are One
By September 1985, the major details for The Transformers The Movie were locked in as production of the movie went full steam ahead.  As such, there was a drive to drop in early references in order to set up for the movie.  Such as bringing in female Transformers in The Search For Alpha Trion or generally dialling up the violence level in the last dozen or so episodes of the season.  One such reference was inserted by the editors when Starscream laments that none of them can read Ancient Autobot, Megatron intercedes:

MEGATRON:  I do, you illiterate clod!  I am fluent in every planetary language!

(CONT): It says the Thirteenth Legion of Autobots arrived here the first millennium after Autobots were first created.....

(CONT): -- which would make it about five hundred thousand years before we Decepticons left for Earth!

In the final edit, the second line is changed to say "...the first millennium after the creation of the Autobot Matrix."  The third line was then given to Starscream.  This early attempt to introduce the Matrix was cut in the final storyboard revision.

A MacGuffin by any other name:
The draft script refers to Perceptor's rust-proofing agent as the Ultra Compound.  This was changed to Corrostop in the final version.  Often a device or other plot-relevant item might have it's name changed in order to make the dialogue flow more easily.  For instance, the weather core in the previous episode Trans-Europe Express was originally titled The Pearl Of Jehuddin.  This was changed to Bahoudin for better dialogue flow.

Always picked last
During the G1 35th Anniversary Reuinion at TFCon in 2019, Paul Davids made his collection of production material available to view for the attendees.  One item was the edited outline for this episode.  One key change between outline and script was that Paul intended for Shockwave to be on the mission to Antilla.  A handwritten note states "No, leave him on Cybertron".
It is likely that many of the scenes featuring Starscream throughout the first act, including those of him providing medical care to Megatron, were originally meant for Shockwave.

Action! Action! Action!
Originally the cliffhanger to Act 1 was for the Aerialbots to pursue Blitzwing into New York City, with Silverbolt opting to fly above.  The last line before Fade Out being Skydive's "Keep your wings tucked back, guys-- It looks like trouble!"
The editors must not have felt this to be a sufficiently exciting cliffhanger, so an insert scene was added where Blitzwing banks around a skyscraper and opens fire on the Aerialbots.  We go to break with the explosion caused by his laser blasts filling the screen.  We return from break to find that the Aerialbots have dodged the blasts unharmed, Fireflight commenting "Lucky that guy can't aim straight!"
The entire scene was cut, along with a lot of material from the subsequent chase through the city, in the final storyboard revisions.  The act break was moved up to Perceptor being shoved into Blitzwing's hold by Breakdown, fading out on Dead End's line of "You've got an appointment with Megatron"

2 for 1 special
The scene of Blaster riding aboard Cosmos through space, lamenting their inability to find the secret ingredient, was shortly followed by them arriving at Autobot HQ to report their news to Prime.  The information the audience needed from the second scene was added to the first and the second scene deleted in the story edit.  Originally, Blaster reports the more plausible explanation that they have searched the entire solar system (Playing on past story given that Cosmos was making a return trip from near Titan in The God Gambit).  This was changed to the more vague line from Cosmos of "There is no more Ingredient X - anywhere!"

You're on your own.....or are you?
Once the Autobots realise that Megatron is frying their headquarters with the heat ray, Prime calls the Aerialbots for support, their response?

SKYDIVE: (noncommittal) It's unfortunate that you are under siege.  However, it's very inadvisable that we expose ourselves to Cosmic Rust!"

SLINGSHOT: Yeah!  We don't wanna catch your disease!

SILVERBOLT: Sorry, Optimus -- you're on your own!

*Aerialbots fly out, screen fades out*

OPTIMUS PRIME: (softly) Then we are doomed.

Megatron and Rumble then fly off carrying the lightning bug, with Megatron proclaiming "Another hour or so, and there will be nothing left of Prime and the Autobots!"

This subplot of the Aerialbots walking out on the Autobots in their time of need somewhat plays on plot elements from The Key To Vector Sigma, part 2.  During the battle on Liberty Island, the Aerialbots return to attack Menasor with the following exchange:

OPTIMUS PRIME: came back!

SILVERBOLT (VO): You didn't think we'd really leave you in the lurch, did you?

SLINGSHOT (VO): What d'ya think we are?....cowards?!

Perhaps due to it's nature as a recycled story point, this entire subplot was deleted in the final edit.

That's all for our look at story editing.  Next up: A look at the storyboarding and slugging process.