With Transformers BotCon 2011 come to end, Tformers is happy to bring you this roundtable interview with the big guns behind Transformers Prime.
We sat down with Hasbro Studio's Stephen Davis, Duane Capizzi, Bob Orci, David Hartman and Mike Vogel on Sunday afternoon to answer our questions about the Transformers Prime show.
What we got was a candid take from the creator on the genesis of the show and and how it came to be one of the most innovative cartoons ever.
Stephen Davis - President Hasbro Studios
Duane Capizzi - Supervising Producer / Writer
Bob Orci - Executive Producer
David Hartman - Supervising Director / Art Director
Mike Vogel - Head Of Development
Birth of Prime
Hasbro approached Orci and Kurtzman about doing a show for the Hub after they decided not to do another movie.
The decision to do Transformers Prime was immediately interesting because everyone knew they would be able to do things they could not do in the movies.
With the success of the movies, they were able to leverage the box office momentum to attract the best people and crate the most amazing team that is working on the show today.
Hasbro really gave them the resources and support to do this the right way. A show with themes, ideas and character stories that would resonate with adults.
One of their greatest challenges was creating something in ten months that usually takes two years. Yet, they pulled off something beyond anybodies expectations of what the show could do.
Because everyone was so passionate about the product and believed in the studio. They were able to get launched and get going in a very short time.
Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Kline went out and reached for the best of the best to create the number one animation team in the business.
They pulled together one of the best voice casts since Sunbow. They have created one of the most tightly knit casts and they think it really shows.
The team knows they have a long history of "awesomeness" to live up to and they are excited to leave their mark on Transformers. However, they are intimated by the challenge of making something cooler than people's favorite version of Transformers.
A lot of the balance they have created, comes from the sense of old and new. Peter Cullen and Frank Welker make it the real deal that can still work well a newcomer like Somali who can own a character like Arcee.
With the Soundwave character, the vocoder effect is used in a very subtle whenever he is played back. This is their sort of nod to the classic G1 namesake.
Some of the ideas Orci and Kurtzman had for the Live action movies, were used in the Transformers Prime cartoon. The battle in space and Frank as Megatron were two of them. One of the ones they could not do, was a Transforming train due to budget constraints.
Jokingly, it nearly killed them to get a five part mini-series off the ground in time for Thanksgiving weekend.
This is high stress show, but what makes it the most rewarding is working with some many great people. Every week, the bar is raised where everyone at every level is giving 120 percent.
The team take animation's limits and turn them into opportunities, they get to spend so much more time with the characters that you get know them on much intimate level than you ever did with previous incarnations.
They had an amazing animation partner Polygon in Japan. They almost never said "no" to anything the team asked for. They see them as a partner in the show more than a work for hire.
The Transformers, when you take a step back are kind of very strange. The head Megatron episode was messed up. To eliminate any question about where the series is going. And that's not even the tip of the iceberg. It gets weirder and weirder.
When they saw Predatory, they felt they were making something really special. They were also really amazed by the loud response from the BotCon audience when they showed the clip of the Arachnid character.
Working on Prime has made Bob Orci hungry for more. Citing this a one of the more satisfying things they have done in a long time. With a team like this, it is not a grind. It is a whole another ball game. They just get to do stuff.
They waited a year to put out the toys because of time constraints. With only ten months to create the show. It wasn't done till just before it aired.
The Hasbro toy team had to wait till the five part series was done to start looking at how they would physically create them.
Additionally, the toy team needs a longer lead time to model, design and engineer the physical products.
For the Hub, they will have different toy scenarios. Some shows will have toys that come out at the same time as the show. Others will have to wait a year due to design or too see if there is demand.
They feel it was worth the wait as the toys turned out to great. Citing the toy for Starscream looks just like the Character in the show.
If the movie franchise was about a boy and his car. They wanted this series to be about three kids and their bots. Kind of going for that "Iron Giant" kind of feeling.
With a limited number of characters, they be relying on intrigue and shifting alliances more in coming episodes. However, it will never be done randomly. When every they make a turn in the storyline, it has got to be meaningful.
They have gotten a lot feedback from fans that Prime is the kind of show they really can get into the characters. Yet, it is still the kind of show they can watch with their kids and enjoy it.
At this point, the show has taken on a life of its own. The characters have been fully fleshed out in ways they never dreamed.
The Transformers are like living breathing characters now. The fear of not having the kids around has gone away.
Ratchet and Starscream were characters that kind of took on their own life and went in directions that surprised them. Jeffery Combs did a lot to embody the character and bring it to life.
The character Miko comes across so well because she is very much like the actor who plays her voice. She was even planning to come dressed like her to BotCon but backed off at the last minute.
Ratchet, Arcee and Arachnid were cited as some of their favorite show characters.
The Humans need a lot credit because they are always a tough thing to get across to the Transformers fandom. The team really like the three characters they created and feel they were not born out of gimmicks.
Visually, it is also very difficult to replicate humans figuratively in CG particularly. The Hub feels the bots are awesome, but the kids are awesome too.
The Polygon team absolutely love the Miko character. They are always working a little harder on her to make her more animated. Sometimes incorporating unplanned antics for her.
A lot of times with Transformers, they put a kid in because some executive said they needed it when they did not have a role for them in the story. On Prime, is all about the bots growing and the kids growing, everyone has an arc.
Unlike other shows, The kids also have vulnerabilities. They know dome people like Miko, and others wish she would go away. They made her do things a teen would do. Make mistakes, and cause mischief, etc.
They don't want to force the kids into every episode. If they do, sometimes is simply for a reactive thing. To use them to help explain things. Like when Vector Sigma is mentioned, they will question the bots as way to help educate viewers about the Transformers.