Of course, a big thanks to Derrick, for agreeing to do this with us! You rock, Mr. Wyatt!
Now, without further ado...
I have a question in regards to the design of the characters. I would like to know why some characters seem to be so reminiscent of their G1 counterparts while others seem so much different aside from certain distinctive details. Ratchet is one that comes to mind as being so different, while I see Starscream as a character that keeps, baring the obvious art style and vehicle mode diffeences, a very similar design to his G1 counterpart.
DJW: Usually it boils down to how precious the characters are to me, and how much I like the design of the originals. The more I like a character, the more aspects I will try to retain in redesigning it. That's probably why the Decepticons retain even more of a classic feel than the Autobots. Ratchet is a little bit of a different case. He was originally planned to be called Red Alert in the show, so there are various design cues taken from previous Red Alert incarnations. I remember especially liking the Binaltech Red Alert package art. So while the Animated version of this character's personality and design remained the same, he eventually took the name Ratchet instead of Red Alert because most of us in the CN crew identified much more with the name Ratchet.
Mr. Wyatt, something I've always wondered is what the timeline/turnaround time is for completing an episode? What are the stages that it goes through before being ready to go on the air?
DJW: The turn around time for each episode is generally around six months or more. All episodes go through the stages of pre-production, which begin with writing and design, dialog recording, then story boarding, and color. Once the pre-production materials are complete they are shipped to Japan for animation. Once the animation comes back from overseas, post-production begins. This involves retakes, editing, music, sound fx design and sound mixing.
Second, given the GaoGaiGar influence in Jetfire and Jetstorm, are there any other non-Transformer Japanese robot shows that you're fond of that we may see referenced in the future? (I remember seeing a number of toys on your desk in your pictures on your blog...)
DJW: I would consider anything from Takara to be fair game, though any of these homages would probably not be quite as "in your face" as the normal Transformers homages. The GGG influence in Jetfire and Jetstorm probably comes straight from Takara! Eric Siebenaler had been working with the Takara engineers on the twins for quite some time. So the engineering of these characters had been worked out before I got my hands on them. Once Eric passed off his ideas to me, I added the bits like the head details, the Beast Machines Jetstorm homage elements and the color.
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Seeing as how you mentioned being fond of certain Japanese characters, like Dai Atlas, Deathsaurus, and Grandus, I'm curious as to your opinions of the various Japanese-only TF shows (Headmasters through BW Neo if it's not too much trouble.) On a related note, I'm also curious if you're a fan of the Brave series.
DJW: I got the UK edition Takara Transformers box set a couple years ago, and I have watched a bunch of episodes from the different series, but I've never had the time to sit down and watch any of the series completely from start to finish. I really think that they have some of the coolest characters and concepts in of all of Transformers history. Although at times the story and the characters' personalities can sometimes get kind of bland.
I have only seen two episodes of Gao Gai Gar. I will tell you that I pretty much spent the entire time watching them with my jaw dropped. Probably some of (and maybe THE) coolest transforming animation ever. I need to see more, but I would definitely say that seeing what I have, and seeing the designs, I am a fan. Captain Shark is one of the coolest robot designs ever.
"Why did they end up designing Prowl and Jazz as Ninjas"?
DJW: Prowl was characterized as being a ninja before I ever started working on Transformers Animated. I never really questioned the reason behind it, or who's idea it was. It was Marty Isenberg's idea to make Jazz sort of the "Elite" version of Prowl, which just really seemed to fit his character.
Can you tell us a funny story about your work - perhaps interacting with colleagues, a funny mistake, etc?
DJW: Well, we work with famous actors all the time, but it was really funny how star struck we all were when "Weird Al" came in to record the voice of Wreck-Gar. Tom Kenny (who wasn't even scheduled to be in that show) came in just so his son could meet Al. It was pretty cool ( and a little funny) to see even our normal actors get a little geeked out over him comin in.
Which is your favorite TFA toy? I know you have tons, but there has to be one you play around with more than the others. XD
DJW: Swindle is totally my favorite TFA toy! He was always my favorite Transfomer from when I was a kid. His classic G1 toy was always a little disappointing to me because he was so different from the G1 cartoon (although they did get the big purple eyes right on the toy, and that is the most important part!). So, I'm super happy to finally have a really dead on show accurate Swindle toy.
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When designing a Robot character for the show, are all of the abillities for the character planned up front, or is there space left open for unplaned abillities to be added later that might be needed later for a given story? (for example, Bulkhead has his wrecking balls but we've never seen the saw blades that the Leader class toy has, so we would have to assume he has them but they haven't been shown yet in a story.)
DJW: After we choose a new character to be in the show, I usually start doing some sketches of the new Transformer while Marty Isenberg figures out what kind of personallity and powers the new bot will have. Marty and I will work with our supervising producer, Matt Youngberg and Eric Siebenaler at Hasbro until we are all happy with the look, personality and powers of the character.
It was Eric's idea to put all the extra weaponry on the Leader Bulkhead toy. Eric's thought was that the additional armament would represent upgrades the Headmaster had added to Bulkhead's body to make him more dangerous when Headmaster had control of him. Bulkhead himself doesn't have any of those weapons in the show. Even if the Headmaster had added that stuff on in the show, I'm sure Bulkhead would have removed it after he got his body back.
Could you please tell us a little bit about how an episode comes to be, ie do you and your team brainstorm ideas, then work up some sketches, then vote and work the most popular idea? Or does everyone get to contribute an idea and the team works them up in turn? I am more interested in the creative approach to such wonderful work in general rather than specifically. Thank you for your time.
DJW: It's kind of different each time. Eric and I will start doing sketches of characters we want to see in a new season, everyone has some ideas of stories they want to see. Marty has tons of story ideas and comes up with an overall story arc and wrangles everyone's varrious ideas into 13 episodes. Then Marty, Matt and I will usually meet with each of the episodes' individual writers. Everyone contributes ideas, but most of the biggest (and best) ones that really drive the plot forward come from Marty.
My question is how you came to the unusual design of TFA Optimus? For once, his colour scheme is an odd mix of clashing colours and clear area separation (blue helmet, mostly red torso, blue hands, silber legs, blue feet). And then there is his face: While most most bots have grey faces, he is one of the very few having a different coloured one (not to forget the black markings around his optics). And how did you come to having him as the only one such pouty, visible lips?
DJW: I don't consider Optimus' colors to be unusual or clashing at all. They are very classic super hero colors, and colors that Optimus Prime has always had. The blue face comes from Beast Wars Optimus Primal, and the lips were inspired by Primal's from Beast Machines. Since our Optimus Prime was going to be an inexperienced novice leader, I wanted to infuse some of Primal's design into him.
Also, what side of Starscream does Girlscream represent?
DJW: I try not to think about that one!
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Is there a chance we might get to learn more about Prowl; who he is, and where he comes from, or get some more focus on him? (Note from Raz - so many people asked this, I decided to condense them all into one question)
DJW: Well, I hate to be so vague, but I really don't want to give specific plot points away. All I can say is that more characters will have their history explored in season 3.
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Also, was the Samurai Armored Prowl planned as a toy first, or was the toy based on the episode?
DJW: The episode came first. Hasbro wasn't even going to make a toy at first, but I think they liked the episode so much that they went ahead and made it.
Derrick, with the TFA UK comic character who was previously named "Sideswipe" renamed as "Afterburner," is there still a chance that a new version of Sideswipe or the entire Sunnyside duo (I believe this refers to Sunstreaker) could appear in a future episode of TFA?
DJW: It would be possible in theory. The UK comic wouldn't have any kind of creative restraint on us. We could even have our own version of Afterburn if we really wanted to.
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So many people asked questions about season 3, so I decided to condense them all, as I know there are certain things you need to keep a tight lip about. Can you give us any insight about what to expect that's within the bounds of what you're allowed to say? Maybe something you can reveal to us for the first time? If not, we all totally understand.
DJW: Season 3 is the most ambitious undertaking yet on Transformers Animated. I'm sure many of you have seen the new designs that have been coming out of the internet woodwork. There is a lot going on. Optimus is continuing to grow into his place as leader. The mystery of Sari and her story continues. We get to see some of how the military Elite Guard interacts with the civilian Autobot High Council. We will have new characters, and old favorites will return. And just what is Megatron going to do stuck in outter space with the head of the bot he dispises most?! Tune in and find out!
And there we have it. Thanks to everyone, once again, and give Mr. Wyatt a big round of applause!