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Entity writes...

Hi Greg,

In your latest beat sheet for the series opener, I see that the idea of the Trio being young and inexperienced was still prominant. I understand where you came from in eventually changing that, but when I first watched AWAKENING I was distraught by the Trio. Every gargoyle we saw was a full-fledged warrior. Where _were_ the inexperienced kids? The elderly? It seemed slightly out-of-sync that the Trio were such able-bodied fighters. Was the Viking attack a real threat or wasn't it?

That is just my original impression of the events of the initial Viking attack. Later on, when the gang counterattacks the camp, I can understand their participation.

I guess the battle just came off too light-heartedly when we glimped the Trio, starkly contrasting with characters like Goliath's and Demona's scenes. A real sense of danger is added by Hakon drawing Goliath's blood, boulders crashing into stone, refugees huddling about, the Captain barking orders, etc. But then we have the Trio gallavanting through the battle like it's, as Brooklyn puts it, just "fun."

I think their innocense could have been portrayed in a way that didn't detract from the realism that was so effectively installed earlier on.

This isn't intended to come off as pure criticism. AWAKENINGS was brilliant, especially Part 1. But I thought I'd mention my first impressions.

Another little thing I noticed from the beat sheet is that the flashback originally began showing the refugees entering the castle, with the Marauders/Vikings on their tail, and then both parties camp for the day till dusk. This struck me in two ways: First, it gave me a better grip of realism. Enemy attackers camping right outside the castle, both sides waiting for the battle to begin... that could've added a cool flavor to things, and immerse us more into the medieval setting. Secondly, showing the refugees herded into the castle beforehand would've better clarified the events surrounding the battle. In the final product, we jump straight into the fight and, as a result, a reason is not even necessarily needed. The Captain's off-hand comment about refugees comes off as superfluous. I remember shrugging. 'That's nice' I thought. We were in the battle. Who needed backstory? Of course, the refugees were an important component, for the sake of Tom and his mother, and to better portray the environment of 10th century Scotland. If we'd seen the prologue to the battle, that's included in the beat sheet, I think it would've been much more effective.

I guess what this comes down to in the end is my earlier message I sent to you, in which I asked about trimming episodes with Last Time and Next Time segments. You defended, saying they were useful for tightening the episodes, but I put forth, as shown here, that some valuable stuff can be lost. Of course, it's doubtful you would've wanted or could've gotten a 6th Part to AWAKENINGS, but don't you think you could use ANY extra time you have to better flesh things out?

Greg responds...

The trio are new to this warrior thing at the time of the Viking attack. Brooklyn takes it more seriously, and unfortunately we don't see much with Lex (not enough time in the episode). Broadway enjoys the battle and doesn't take it as seriously as he should. We did this on purpose in order to contrast his response in the second battle at the Viking encampment.

I don't think the realism was damaged (though, of course, you're entitled to your opinion). I just think we were showing a variety of responses to the stimuli at hand.

And we did show the elderly -- in the person of Hudson. We couldn't show everyone, so he stood in for all of his generation that still survived. The only group we didn't show at all were kids (Bronx's age). It was felt that it would just be too brutal to establish and show these kids -- only to have them smashed later.

As for the prologue, well, I liked it too. But talk about superfluous...

I mean, what would you have been willing to cut from the episode in exchange for adding that prologue. It's not like I can say, "Hey, we want this prologue. Let's animate an additional three minutes here." Ultimately we have an absolute time limit to every episode. A footage limit (based on budget concerns) that we are allowed to send overseas to be animated. Something had to go. And I think the Captain's line covers the necessary info. It might not be elegant. But it's servicable.

But don't start on the Previously and Next Time segments. They don't count. What I'm talking about is how much we were allowed to ANIMATE at our budget. That was limited to about twenty-two minutes and thirty seconds. Putting entire new sequences in would require us to speed up the pacing of everything else. Using thirty seconds for a PREVIOUSLY segment allows us to tighten pacing and cut out bad frames of animation once something is animated. Because, the truth is, nothing ever came back to us PERFECT. NOTHING.

So AGAIN, had I cut all those previously and next time segments you would not have gotten any extra scenes. You just would have had the scenes you saw with some bad animation and pacing left in. And if there's still bad animation and pacing in there -- well, trust me, we used those thirty seconds to cut out the worst of it.

We clear now?

Response recorded on February 07, 2001