SDCC 2011 Video - Jeff Kline, Mike Vogel, Bob Orci & More Discuss the Season 2 Trailer, Season Three, and Upcoming Plot Points

During our time at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, we had the pleasure to taking part in two separate roundtable discussions.

The first focused on the overall production of the show with David Hartman (Art Director), Bob Orci (Executive Producer), Jeff Kline (Executive Producer), and Therese Trujillo (Animation Producer).

The second was more in-depth about the designs of the show with character designer Jose Lopez, Supervising Producer and Writer Duane Capizzi, Background Supervisor Vince Toyama, and Head of Development at Hasbro Studios Mike Vogel.

The roundtables ventures from interesting, to informative, to utter hilarity, so be sure to view the videos of each roundtable and summarized points below!


(left to right) David Hartman (Art Director), Bob Orci (Executive Producer), Jeff Kline (Executive Producer), and Therese Trujillo (Animation Producer)

After a brief discussion of the live action Transformers franchise, Jeff Kline hopes that the whole back story of Transformers is definitely to be told in Transformers Prime and there is not a cross-pollination between the Transformers Prime team and the live-action team, except for when new characters with the movie namesake are brought up. Sometimes if they attempt to use elements from the film, they will reach out to the movie counterparts.

However, despite this, Bob Orci says that the show has a very cinematic feel to it. Dave Hartman chimes in that they are treating the show in a very cinematic way. The lighting is a forethought and rather than just an overall blanket of light, Prime has a shot-by-shot lighting.

While this process takes longer, this gives the show a very cinematic feel and something that is not seen in other series on television.

The round table guests were not willing to reveal the villain from the teaser of the show’s second season, but Kline says again that all things teased in the show will be fulfilled.

The panelists reveal that there is a Dark Energon vaccine. Bob jokingly says that they thought of that already and it not DragonX76’s idea. He then leans over to Hartman, who was sitting next to Orci, to discuss stealing the idea.

Kline also suggests that there is a possibility there are multiple types of Energon, comparing it to multiple types of fuel.

When deciding a new character to be introduced into the show, Kline says they look for new points of view when introducing a new character so that there are multiple personalities on the show that are not fulfilled. That is Duane Capizzi’s job and he actually explores that a lot, Kline says.

The topic originally came up with a question for Orci on why the Dinobots did not work in the live-action Transformers (it doesn’t make sense for robots to hide as dinosaurs in 2011), but suggested the feasibility in a new live-action series or maybe the third season of Transformers Prime they may show up. An idea couple possibly be a Dinobot Island or a crack in the Earth.

The round table members had nothing but praise for Polygon Studios for their hard work.
Therese Trujillo says that Polygon did a great job of keeping up and is pretty much an equal partner with the show’s creators. She adds that as the show continues on, be sure to keep an eye on the quality fo the animation, as Polygon gains expertise, their work continues to get better and better.

It is this dedication that shows with the aggressive schedule as Kline adds that the only studio that was willing to try and meet the show’s aggressive timeline was Polygon. Other studios were wondering if the Transformers actually needed to transform, citing the worry that such a timeline would not make transformation possible.

As an example of Polygon’s dedication, Kline Polygon’s domestic troubles with the Earthquake, continue to work and are the heroes of the show. In fact, when the earthquake hit, Kline says that before they could contact the studio to offer their condolences, the studio already sent a message saying they might miss a deadline or two.

There is almost a daily interaction between the folks as Hasbro Studios and Polygon. Sometimes Hasbro will send a bulk of work to Polygon, but most of the time, there is a lot of back-and-forth. Each episode takes approximately 6 months of work on Hasbro’s side and similar amount of time for Polygon. While this may sound rather lengthy, Kline suggests that this timeline is actually faster than most television shows.

Therese, the only female on the round table, praised that the writers do a great job of balancing both the female and male characters on an equal scale. She also cites that there are a multiple number of females working on the show’s crew.

The biggest reason that we see a lot of June but not Miko or Raf’s family is that it boils down to the time. Instead of showing Miko’s parents, who are not be around a lot because they are in Japan, the animators can build another Decepticon. However, they have worked ways into showing them, such as a still photo of them on Miko’s cell phone.

Raf has a big family and is referenced, but instead of animating his mom or other parts of his family, again, they can take the time to render another robot. With that being said, Kline says to an eye on a future episode where Raf’s home will be a setting in the show and is part of the plot.

After Kline’s explanation of Raf’s family, our own DragonX76 joked that the humans will not have to transform and will take less time, (referring to a joke about studios expressing worries that a robot needs to transform while operating on such tight timelines) but Kline says there may be something along those lines in the future, so stay tuned.

Bob joked Pretenders, but Kline calls it a “combo platter.”

Jack Q suggested something along the lines of Sari, and Kline, after pausing for a second, says, “I would say, ‘keep watching.’”

While throughout most Transformers cartoons, some things change but one thing remains constant: kids and parents. When asked whether or not that is because the show’s creators want to be able to have the parents and kids watch the show together, Orci says that is not necessarily the case.

The show’s storytellers want to reflect peoples’ real lives. So instead of thinking about kids and parents being able to sit down and watch together, they are more interested in telling a story that makes sense.

Right from the beginning, the show establishes that Raf comes from a large family, meaning that his voice gets lost in the chaos. So when we first meet him, he is very quiet, however; as the show goes on, Raf finds his voice because the other humans cannot understand Bumblebee, so he works as a translator.

Orci also mentions a great case for kids being in the show. They are the ones that have more open minds and are less fearful of the robots and are more willing to help. It’s an organic way for the robots to interact with humanity.

However, Kline says, they are attempting to bring new people into the Universe and the best way to relate is through their perspective.

They want to be able to bring their kids in and introduce them to the Universe that fans already love without boring adult fans and Hartman says that they never dumb down the show.
Kline adds that they don’t need to do that because a kid’s visual understanding is so much more than previous generations.

Depending on how long the team gets to do this, they may be able to explain how he lost his voice. Bob jokingly suggests adopting a voice from the Internet like Cartman. "I hate these Decepticons," he says in a Cartman voice.


(left to right) Jose Lopez (Lead Character Designer), Mike Vogel (Head of Development at Hasbro Studios), Vince Toyama (Background Supervisor), and Duane Capizzi (Supervising Producer and Writer)

Before writing out the whole script that has the new character, the creative designers sit down to decide what the character is like, Duane Capizzi explains. And prior to designing the character, they have the show’s creators to put out a list of what aspects are important to the character and what they want him to do.

Jose Lopez says that the personality of the character will dictate what the character will look like. The designers first design the vehicle mode and then continue from there.

Jose reveals that his favorites to design so far have been Soundwave and Arcee.

A participant asked why Cybertronian robots look similar to their Earth versions, and Capizzi says that while it is an animation limitation, a character usually chooses his/her alternate mode parallels the Cybertronian mode.

They reference WFC, whose designs are very similar to the Earth modes.

When deciding which character shows up, the creators reference several things: wish lists, fan favorites, and whether or not that character fills a hole in the personality gap, and budget. Each decision is story-based and character-driven and well-though out.

Meanwhile, Knockout and Breakdown were planned because they wanted to develop these characters.

Jose contends that Producer Rafi Ruthchid was not his inspiration when designing Raf, despite that the two look quite alike. Jose explains that through the multiple iterations of Raf, the character’s hair got bigger and bigger, and by coincidence, Rafi’s hair got bigger and bigger.

The craziest one of similar physical features to their character is how much Miko and Tania Gunadi (voice of Miko) resemble each other. Prior to meeting her, they heard her voice and said, “this is Miko,” but by a chance of fate, Tania looks very similar to her animated counterpart. Somebody mentioned that Tania actually has a Miko outfit as well.

When asked about whether or not Transformers Prime is part of the War for Cybertron continuity, the writers decline that it is not.

While the writers try not to contradict anything else that has been established, it is sometimes not possible.

The creators want to have a continuity that makes about 85% sense, however; if they have to choose between something that follows previous continuity or better storytelling, they will always choose better storytelling.

They chose not to have Prime as a direct sequel to WFC because of time. However, think of WFC and the lore as ancient history that informs the current events of the series. The series also operates of multiple levels: one that doesn’t alienate 7 year-olds, but at the same time, the series jumps in on a race that has already been in battle for a long time.

The round table guests declined to reveal the identity of the character that was teased. But they did mention that the character is so good, we will “shit.”

There was also a lot of discussion about whether the character should have been teased at all, but obviously in the end, he was.

Duane says they are playing a lot of frenemy stuff, like Silas and his organization. There is actually an upcoming arc involving Silas will pay off “devastatingly” as Silas gets close to some of the characters.

While Skyquake is dead, his death deals a lot of repercussions for characters in Season 2.

Vince Toyama will sit with his board artists, divide up the script and describe how to develop each set within the episode. After working with the board artists, they develop animatics and see how it looks. All of the stuff is done in house prior to going out to Polygon.

Animation schedules afford creators to work on multiple episodes at a time and this is done for budgetary reasons. At any given time, three episodes are being directed at once.

Look forward to an artifact that is quite popular in Transformers lore to pop up soon. The guys almost revealed it, but didn’t just in time.

The creators offered up that the second season finale is currently being written and they are hoping for a third season. The creators knocked on a lot of wood the entire time and Mike Vogel stresses that Hasbro, Hasbro Studios, and The Hub are behind Transformers Prime, so hopefully it will get picked up for the third season.

During BotCon 2011, Kevin Michael Richardson joked that Jeffrey Combs (voice of Ratchet) does not wear pants in the studio. The creators offer that he indeed does.

Duane offers up a great back story for this joke: While he was working with Peter Stormare on Batman vs Dracula, Stormare was wearing nylon pants and they were making too much noise in the studio. The producers mentioned them, and before they knew it, Peter threw off his pants. It is not surprising that Kevin Michael Richardson made this joke at BotCon, as he was the voice of The Joker in the film.

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