Captain Planet: From script to screen
Nick Boxer shares the processes involved in making an episode of Captain Planet. (Meredith Darlington/MNN and Mike Lindsay/MNN)
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Nick Boxer: In animation, often we were working on any — we were working on anywhere from 13 to 26 episodes at a time, and often you’re cranking out things out on a weekly basis, like you’re getting a script each week, or you’re getting a story premise each week, then a treatment each week, then a script each week, then a storyboard each week. So, at some point, you have a dozen shows in production at different stages in the production process. And, you know, so it made it kind of overwhelming, and you also realized that, you know, documentaries get some airplay, but they don’t get a lot, and you can fix things a lot easier. And animation, ultimately, after you have this package, it goes overseas, it comes back, and what you have is what you have. You really can’t go back and say, “Oh, that scene didn’t work. Let’s re-shoot that. Let’s redo that.” Unless it was a total disaster. And even then, it was really hard to get stuff re-shot. So, any mistake that you make is gonna be there forever. And that, you know, that made it really sort of stressful.
There are episodes I watch — every so often you’ll see something, and maybe other people don’t react to it, but I flinch every time I sort of see something. I’m like, I always wanted to fix that, but you never could. Captain Planet, I think, was one of the more difficult shows, because most shows, say, Batman, it all takes place in Gotham City. So, one of the things that made Captain Planet difficult, and time-consuming, and expensive, is that because we’re dealing with these real issues, we wanted them to take place in the places where there’s issues — so, if you’re doing a story in Africa, every show had extensive model packs, whereas Batman, pretty much every show is going to use Gotham City as the backdrop. We had one show where the backdrop is the Amazon rain forest, one show where the backdrop is a savannah in Africa, one show where it’s, you know, a city. You know, you might do it in New York City if the issue was related to that, something on the ocean, you know, a research facility. So, we were very model-intensive. So, shows could take anywhere from six to nine months, pretty much, from start to finish.