Not many people know that I’m a double agent…
night other days, I am a development assistant at Cloth Cat Animation, the studio that is producing Luo Bao Bei.
There are lots of perks to working in the same studio that is producing a show you’re writing for. I see things that writers never usually get to see – namely, what exactly happens after the script is signed off: the storyboards, layout, rigging, and animation itself. I get to hear the music as it’s being edited in post. I’ve even gotten to meet some of the voice actors as they come in for recording.
Being able to see every stage of the animation process for a series is so exciting for me as a writer – I never quite appreciated before just how collaborative and creative the whole thing is. The amazing teams at every point work their magic and add new layers of comedy and visual storytelling, so the script just gets funnier and more concise as it moves through the process. Many of the talented creatives working on Luo Bao Bei are close friends and colleagues of mine, and being able to chat to them about it and peek over their shoulders has taught me so much about what makes a successful animation script, and a successful animation episode.
Best of all, I recently had the chance to preview my first completed episode of Luo Bao Bei – my first piece of writing turned into an animation, ever (i.e. A VERY BIG MOMENT).
It was amazing – surreal – seeing my words coming out of an animated character’s mouth, seeing them act out the story I had created. But one of the things I loved best about the episode were the bits I hadn’t written – the extra visual and comedy touches from the storyboard and animation teams that just added a whole new level to the script, and made the episode so much better. Definitely made me well up a little!
Since writing that first episode months ago, I’ve been though a MASSIVE learning process. I’ve now written several scripts for Luo Bao Bei, and with the help of my fab head writer Dave Ingham and script editor Victoria Wilson, I have learned something new on each one. My scripts used to be huge, over-length beasts, but now I strive for the most concise action possible from Page 1. Instead of worrying about explaining things to the audience, I focus on what’s happening on the screen at every moment. As I get to know the characters more and more, the dialogue I write for them becomes more realistic and authentic.
All in all, Luo Bao Bei has been an amazing first series to work on. It’s been a total privilege to see it being made behind the scenes, and it’s taught me so much about writing for television – which is valuable experience I can bring to all the future projects I work on.
Luo Bao Bei will be broadcast in China and internationally from 2017 – and I can’t wait for you all to see it!