I motored to a pair of animation studios today; at the first, I encountered a tired group of production board artists on a popular half-hour show who told me:
"I'm not happy that I'm not doing my best work, but I don't have time. I've got like nineteen pages of script for an 11-minute short, and the schedule is cramped, and I know they're going to cut pages after I turn in the boards ..."
"I had fifty-five panels cut from my last board. They seem to think that fourteen pages of dialogue equals fourteen minutes of screen time, but you need to put in the action, the pauses, and let the board breathe. That seems to get lost in the process."
I told the second artist to who I talked that I didn't get -- had never gotten -- why story editors and supervisors don't trim scripts before they hand them off to board artists, many of whom exhaust themselves trying to hit a deadline while at the same time boarding an extra five or six minutes of show that will be cut to length down the line.
Why this is the way the business now often works is a continuing mystery to me. Long ago, I wrote half-hour animation scripts for a living, and the process was straightforward:
1) Steve would write his multi-page wonder and turn it into his story editor.
2) The story editor would give Steve's script to his secretaries, who would read dialogue and descriptive action aloud with stop-watches, jotting down the time it took to read same onto the script's title page. (They had done this for a long while and were good at it.)
3) The story editor would look at the time on the front of the script, then tromp down to Steve's office and say: "Cut four pages out of this ...."
But apparently this art has been lost on a number of current show-runners, who hang on to every syllable of golden prose and so allow board artists to draw themselves blind with extra work. And then, after that work is completed and the animatic is assembled, cut the boards.
I'm probably just an old-fashioned nit-wit, but this seems wasteful to me.