Sunday, February 15, 2015

At Disney TVA


This past week, Steve Kaplan and I toured part of Disney TVA/Yahoo. And what they hey is Disney TVA/Yahoo? It's part of Television Animation that is not headquartered n Glendale but located near the Burbank-Bob Hope Airport. One of the shows there is getting rolled out this weekend:

This weekend marks the official debut of Disney's latest animated comedy adventure series Penn Zero Part Time Hero - about a regular boy who inherits the not-so-regular job of dimension-hopping part-time hero. ...



The things you need to know about Disney TVA is, it long ago stopped being under Disney Feature's wing and now exists inside the protective aura of Disney Channel.

And no Disney animated series gets on cable these days until it's been focus-grouped, animaticked and tested to a fare-thee-well. The Channel hierarchy wants to be sure the show (whatever it is) will succeed with its targeted demographic.

So any new candidate will have been analyzed, massaged, and massaged again before it flies with its (hoped-for) audience. The Channel wants winners that will roll beyond a Season One order, that will last through three or four cycles and become and "evergreen" that makes money for Diz Co. over the long haul.

Testing, coupled with generous prep time, is the way Disney Channel has worked on product for a long time. Sofia the First, in work for a year, started life as a special that scored big numbers with the moppet set. The 7D, now launched on its second season, had a long gestation period with lots of testing (and producer Tom Ruegger told me how challenging ... and nerve-wracking ... that was.)

Sam Levine, Penn Zero's co-creator (along with Jared Bush) described some of the development twists and turns taken by their series:

Originally the show was one story per 22-minute episode, and it was changed to two 11-minute stories. It doubled our design load and the amount of work we had to do. But it ended up becoming double the fun. Our directors have to think about each story as a separate genre, our composer Ryan Shore has to create music for each world. First it’s a Zombie world, now it’s a Clown world, then it’s a Western. ...

Whenever you see a Diz TVA series roll off the development pipeline, it's worth knowing that the route it takes to get out to the wider world is long and involved.

3 comments:

Tom Ruegger said...

Steve --

Ahh, the good 'ol days! The production of the initial "7D" pilot began in early 2011, and the series premiered in July of 2014. So gestation can take a while!

But other green-lit series at DTVA have reached the air a lot more quickly than that.

While the process to get a series through development, through pilot, through testing and then green-lit to series can be challenging, nerve-wracking, and lengthy, once the show is in production, then you have the full force of the Disney Channel and Disney Television Animation supporting you -- with all the departments (music, casting, post, etc.) pitching in to help your crew make the best show possible.

Each series is a fairly expensive investment, so it makes sense that the Disney networks (Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior) would want to do everything possible (focus group testing, etc.) to be sure that they're making hits, not misses.

Steve Hulett said...

Tom, thanks for the explanation. Knowledgable insights are always good.

Carlos Gutierrez said...

Will Season 2 of Star vs. the Forces of Evil start up next month?

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