How An Archer Episode Comes Together
Matt Thompson: "Adam Reed writes the script, and 99 percent of the time he writes it by himself. People think there's a writers' room for Archer, where all these jokes are tossed around, or that there’s a ton of improvising. No. The majority of the show is written. Which is rare for a cartoon, especially a comedy.
"The script goes to Neal, in Art Direction, and FX, for notes, at the same time. Art Direction is in charge of the look of the show, environmental design, and storyboards. They spend a couple of weeks with it before it's passed to the next department. At this point, the episode is moving in a kind of pyramid, with Art Direction at the top, and the offshoots below. Once they have a plan for environmental design and storyboards, it goes to several departments at once.
"It'll go to the 3D department to make 3D backgrounds. It'll go to the illustration department that creates the different gestures, moves, and clothes for the characters. The storyboards will go to the edit department. While that's happening, we're waiting on voice acting. In a two week period, we'll have recorded the audio for the show, and we’re editing it in conjunction. It usually lines up that, once the editors finish, the storyboard department will have had enough time it can then go to animatic.
"Then, from all these different departments, the pieces come back together in the animation after-effects department, making it a diamond more than a pyramid. They take the animatic from our edit team. They’ll take the drawings from our illustration team. They'll take the newly painted backgrounds from our background team and comp them all together. Then you have these 30-second movies that are fit together back to back to back, and on top of the original animatic edit.
"The only thing we don't do here, in Atlanta, is the final mix. That final mix goes to a guy in Atlanta while we’re still in the process of doing final tweaks to the animations. Eventually it’ll come back to us and we’ll all sit around and watch the final animation with the mix before we kick it to tape. That's the process."