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Fandom Q+A Ward Jenkins Q&A 3.0: Revenge of the Ward

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Good morning everypony!  It’s time for yet another fandom Q&A, and this time we're welcoming back our old friend, MLP:FiM storyboard artist Ward Jenkins, who had the opportunity to work on the storyboards for this morning's new episode, "The Times They Are a Changeling"!  So now's your chance to talk to Ward about his experiences in creating the storyboards for this week's episode, or whatever else you might want to ask (so long of course as he can contractually answer it)!

 

To learn some more about Ward Jenkins, be sure to check out his previous Q&As here and here as well as his website, wardjenkins.com. While a newcomer to My Little Pony, Ward Jenkins has an extensive background in illustration. Be sure to check out some of his work!

 

As always, please respect that because Ward Jenkins works on My Little Pony, he may be unable to answer some questions about unreleased episodes of season 6 as well as other contract limitations. Let’s not try to worm any inside information out of our guest! Aside from these topics, feel free to inquire about his storyboard work on episode 16, his previous work experience, and his personal feelings and thoughts on all things pony, so go ahead and ask away everypony!

 

To start things off, I'll get a question out of the way that I've been wondering since I learned you worked on this episode, Mr. Jenkins:

 

In the course of doing storyboards for "The Times They Are a Changeling," did you have the opportunity to do storyboards for our new changeling character (and the first to have a developed character since Queen Chrysalis WAY back in Season 6), Thorax the changeling?  If so, how was doing storyboards of him different from doing storyboards for ponies?  Were there challenges with his more insect-like appearance or the holes that dot his body?

 

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Hi guys! I'll do my best to answer all the questions today. And if not today, as soon as I can get to them. But I promise to answer every single question! 

 

 

 

 

 

In the course of doing storyboards for "The Times They Are a Changeling," did you have the opportunity to do storyboards for our new changeling character (and the first to have a developed character since Queen Chrysalis WAY back in Season 6), Thorax the changeling?  If so, how was doing storyboards of him different from doing storyboards for ponies?  Were there challenges with his more insect-like appearance or the holes that dot his body?

 

 

Yes. I was able to storyboard the first half of the episode, so basically, I boarded the first time we see Thorax. Yes, he was a difficult character to draw because of all the weirdness to him, and mostly because his eyes are less expressive. So, basically I had to do more with his head and front hooves movements and poses. 

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(edited)

What was your favorite part of storyboarding the episode?

Edited by cmarston1
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Hey, Ward, when you're drawing, do you ever get OCD fits that can hinder progress?

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First let me just say this episode was beautiful.

 

Second, what was the writing/stroyboarding process like for this episode?

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Hello, first I thank you for all the hard work that you put in to making such a phenomenal show.

 

And now to my question. What is your favorite color(s)?

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What was your favorite part of storyboarding the episode?

My favorite parts were: Spike talking to the rock ("You're not a changeling, are you?") and when Spike does the mirror bit with Thorax. I referenced I Love Lucy for that bit. A lot of fun and great expressions to work with on those two scenes. 

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Hey Ward. First of all, very good episode. Thorax is one of my favorite characters of this season now and he made changelings for me, very huggable. XD

 

Question, did you watch the canterlot wedding season 2 finale, to get some inspiration for the changeling designs and how hard was it, to give Thorax some expression, considering changelings are very basic from the colors and characters?

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Hey, Ward, when you're drawing, do you ever get OCD fits that can hinder progress?

Well, not really, but since I'm a perfectionist, that does hinder my progress. So, when a deadline is looming BIG, I have to give up a lot of details I normally would include, just so I can deliver on time. 

First let me just say this episode was beautiful.

 

Second, what was the writing/stroyboarding process like for this episode?

Thank you! It was a lot of fun working on this one. 

 

For the record, I didn't do any writing on the show - that's left up to the writers. We storyboard artists are the first to start imagining what the characters are going to do for the episode. We first get a script and then usually get the audio track of the entire episode - that way, we can base our expressions and posing from the voice actors' work. We then do a rough stage of boards, and then meet up with the storyboard supervisor and director and then make changes, tweaks, plussing. After my delivery of final boards, they'll sometimes have storyboard revisionists go in and add or change some expressions or maybe fix a scene that might not be working for the director. 

Hello, first I thank you for all the hard work that you put in to making such a phenomenal show.

 

And now to my question. What is your favorite color(s)?

I'm partial to greenish ocre! Thanks, by the way. It's a fun show to work on! 

Hey Ward. First of all, very good episode. Thorax is one of my favorite characters of this season now and he made changelings for me, very huggable. XD

 

Question, did you watch the canterlot wedding season 2 finale, to get some inspiration for the changeling designs and how hard was it, to give Thorax some expression, considering changelings are very basic from the colors and characters?

By the time I'm given the script and audio track, any new characters or scenes, etc. are already designed and colored. So, Thorax was already "done" by the time I start working on the boards. He was a very difficult character to board out because of the details of all the holes as well as the fact that he didn't have any pupils. I just had to do more with his head and eyebrows for the expressions, and do more front hoof movements. And head positions, etc. 

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Yes. I was able to storyboard the first half of the episode, so basically, I boarded the first time we see Thorax. Yes, he was a difficult character to draw because of all the weirdness to him, and mostly because his eyes are less expressive. So, basically I had to do more with his head and front hooves movements and poses. 

 

Awesome sauce!  And as far as Thorax goes, I'd say you did a bang up job on your part because I could definitely tell he did a lot with his head and hooves, whole body language in general, to convey his emotions.

 

Does that mean you also got to do storyboards on the changeling larva in Thorax's backstory flashback?  That would be something considering that's a piece of canon we've never even seen in the show before!

 

Also, was it fun getting to storyboard Spike so much?  Was it actually a little easier doing some of his body language since he's a bipedal character with digits who generally moves like a more humanoid character would, especially opposed to the four legged and digitless ponies?

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Hello! The episode was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you collaborate with the writer's while you do the storyboard or do you just get the writing and work off of that only?

If you do work with the writer's how often do ideas get changed?

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Awesome sauce!  And as far as Thorax goes, I'd say you did a bang up job on your part because I could definitely tell he did a lot with his head and hooves, whole body language in general, to convey his emotions.

 

Does that mean you also got to do storyboards on the changeling larva in Thorax's backstory flashback?  That would be something considering that's a piece of canon we've never even seen in the show before!

 

Also, was it fun getting to storyboard Spike so much?  Was it actually a little easier doing some of his body language since he's a bipedal character with digits who generally moves like a more humanoid character would, especially opposed to the four legged and digitless ponies?

Yeah, I did the Thorax flashback scene with all the grubs! That was pretty fun to do. Also, drawing all the little grubs squirming through Chrysalis's legs. Lots of good natured grossness! 

 

Spike's a fun character to board out because of his arms and actual hands with fingers! Yes - it was nice to change out to a bipedal character for a bit while working on this show. 

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To begin with, i am new to the fandom of MLP;FIM... but not to its "concept"...(i actualy only know gen4)

 

At the end of the episode, Twilight gives a speech; and shows, how even she can still learn about friendship... then after that Twilight and Starlight say a cupple of words;  and those words echo something i posted in a thread, that Twi is actualy teaching US as well as Equestria! 

 

My question is a little "off topic" especialy considering the previos point......Have you heard of or seen Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock"?

 

If not please get you and the MLP Crew to watch some of them.... you have the same....um....."Mission Imposible" (puny)

to teach the world about peace and tolerance. now jim set out to do that, he tried to get all ages watching.... But YOU (well the MLP;FIM groop in general) have gathered the most diverse groop, considering the origonal demographic.

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Hello! The episode was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you collaborate with the writer's while you do the storyboard or do you just get the writing and work off of that only?

If you do work with the writer's how often do ideas get changed?

No, board artists do not work with the writers. Their work is pretty much done and then it's given over to us. It's up to the directors to keep the nature of the story in line with the rest of the show. That's why I think Big Jim is a fantastic director and has been doing his best to keep the MLP torch going strong. 

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No, board artists do not work with the writers. Their work is pretty much done and then it's given over to us. It's up to the directors to keep the nature of the story in line with the rest of the show. That's why I think Big Jim is a fantastic director and has been doing his best to keep the MLP torch going strong. 

Ah awesome and yes Big Jim is fantastically fantastic

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(edited)

 

My question is a little "off topic" especialy considering the previos point......Have you heard of or seen Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock"?

 

If not please get you and the MLP Crew to watch some of them.... you have the same....um....."Mission Imposible" (puny)

to teach the world about peace and tolerance. now jim set out to do that, he tried to get all ages watching.... But YOU (well the MLP;FIM groop in general) have gathered the most diverse groop, considering the origonal demographic.

Yes, I'm familiar with Fraggle Rock. I remember when it first aired on HBO back in the late-70s/early-80s. Great show! I think I was a bit too old for the demographic, but I watched it anyway because I loved anything Jim Henson related (Dark Crystal!). Just so you know, I don't work at the same place as all the MLP artists and animators, so I can't really pass on anything to them. I'm pretty sure that Big Jim and others who work on the show are aware of Fraggle Rock. It's a great show that has timeless themes throughout the series. 

Edited by wardomatic
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Yeah, I did the Thorax flashback scene with all the grubs! That was pretty fun to do. Also, drawing all the little grubs squirming through Chrysalis's legs. Lots of good natured grossness! 

 

Spike's a fun character to board out because of his arms and actual hands with fingers! Yes - it was nice to change out to a bipedal character for a bit while working on this show. 

 

Very cool.  Also, I assume you did some background work at least in the storyboards, so was the Crystal Empire a fun new setting to play around with if you did?  Some very, shall we say, geometric buildings there, definitely has a different feel to it than Ponyville does.

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ok, one last question....then i will let more experienced people ask....

 

would you consider "Bronies" to be sorta the students of Twilight?

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For the record, I didn't do any writing on the show - that's left up to the writers. We storyboard artists are the first to start imagining what the characters are going to do for the episode. We first get a script and then usually get the audio track of the entire episode - that way, we can base our expressions and posing from the voice actors' work. We then do a rough stage of boards, and then meet up with the storyboard supervisor and director and then make changes, tweaks, plussing. After my delivery of final boards, they'll sometimes have storyboard revisionists go in and add or change some expressions or maybe fix a scene that might not be working for the director. 
 

 

I was always interested in how that all worked out. Amazing episode, as many others have indicated! One of my favorite of the series and your own work in it I thought was very well done. That mimic scene with the two Spike's was hilarious. Especially when Thorax Spike slipped.  :lol:

 

My question has to do with what you responded with earlier. Since the storyboards go back and may get tweaked, is there ever a time when changes go back even further to character designs or the writer because something just doesn't work with storyboards?  :ooh:

 

Also, you said you sometimes draw on some other movies or series for inspiration. Is there any movies, games, series, etc that have really influenced your work overall?  :fluttershy:

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Very cool.  Also, I assume you did some background work at least in the storyboards, so was the Crystal Empire a fun new setting to play around with if you did?  Some very, shall we say, geometric buildings there, definitely has a different feel to it than Ponyville does.

I had a lot of full background pans (from previous episodes) for me to work with. Sometimes I used the BG's as-is - dropping them into my boards and then cropping however I choose for the story. Other times, I'd make some background scenes for myself, but knowing full well that I can't do TOO much since we are under a budget and/or time. The angularity was a challenge, but not so much as I thought it would be. I did a lot of scenes in the ice cave, actually. 

ok, one last question....then i will let more experienced people ask....

 

would you consider "Bronies" to be sorta the students of Twilight?

I would say that the FANS could be the students of Twilight, but not entirely. Even though there's educational value to the show, it's still entertainment! ;)

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Hello Ward, and thank you for contributing to one of the best episodes of season 6 up to this point. 

 

I notice that season 6 has been a bit lacking on spinning (by that I mean the kind of whirlwind-like spinning which happens when someone/something rushes quickly past a character). Is there any particular reason for that? Just asking because I like the cartoon physics of this show.  :-P

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Do you get to pitch your boards and act them out like they do for feature films?

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My question has to do with what you responded with earlier. Since the storyboards go back and may get tweaked, is there ever a time when changes go back even further to character designs or the writer because something just doesn't work with storyboards?  :ooh:

 

Also, you said you sometimes draw on some other movies or series for inspiration. Is there any movies, games, series, etc that have really influenced your work overall?  :fluttershy:

 

I really don't think they go back to the writers' if something isn't working. The story is pretty much locked down by the time we get the script, and I'm sure that Hasbro makes sure of that as well. I really don't know much of the story side of things, but if something isn't working, we make sure it's hashed out by the time the animators start animating. Editing for the animatic also helps work out any issues as well. 

 

I love movies and cinema, first and foremost. I love a lot of different genres, so many to list here. Some day I'll list movies that had a big influence on me. I promise!

Hello Ward, and thank you for contributing to one of the best episodes of season 6 up to this point. 

 

I notice that season 6 has been a bit lacking on spinning (by that I mean the kind of whirlwind-like spinning which happens when someone/something rushes quickly past a character). Is there any particular reason for that? Just asking because I like the cartoon physics of this show.  :-P

I haven't noticed that. Not sure why that is! 

Do you get to pitch your boards and act them out like they do for feature films?

No, not really. For one thing, I work remotely and do all my interacting with my supervisor and director via Skype. After me and the other board artist deliver our rough boards, we have a big meeting and do a walk-through of the episode and the director will see what's working and what's not. (We actually do the main walk-through BEFORE any boards are worked on, and I make notes for anything worth needing to know.)

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Is there a lot of flexibility as far as timing goes. Do you get to board your own gags, like the looking in the mirror part or is that something that is already written for you. Do you have to engineer a way to make it all fit in the time allowed?

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I really don't think they go back to the writers' if something isn't working. The story is pretty much locked down by the time we get the script, and I'm sure that Hasbro makes sure of that as well. I really don't know much of the story side of things, but if something isn't working, we make sure it's hashed out by the time the animators start animating. Editing for the animatic also helps work out any issues as well. 

 

I love movies and cinema, first and foremost. I love a lot of different genres, so many to list here. Some day I'll list movies that had a big influence on me. I promise!

 

Thank you for your response! I will look forward to the day you release that list. I know what it's like to love a lot of different genres. :idea:  When it comes to music, for example, many people have a hard time knowing what I like because I love almost all music genres for their own reasons all the way down to the raw music of outdoor nature itself. Having a wide base of interest can be very advantageous for those in fields of art.  :squee:

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