» Interview: Raven Molisee at Everfree Northwest 2013

After the Everfree Northwest 2013 closing ceremonies finished, TRS reporters ixnay and nimrod had a chance to chat with Raven Molisee, storyboard artist on seasons 2 & 3, before the convention totally shut down.  Here’s the transcription of their interview!

There may be some overlap with the panel – we prepared these questions before the panel happened, so if you have to repeat yourself, my bad.

Right.

(ixnay) And hey, not everybody that’s reading this got to see the panel!

Exactly. So, in your opinion, why are storyboarders so important? I know that you’re the in-between role where you have to interpret the script and then do your work in a way that the animators can interpret. It’s like you have the most “full” job in a way.

It’s the pre-planning for the visual stage! Otherwise, trying to go from writing just straight into animation – we’re all looking confused right now, because what would you do?

(ixnay) Just to preface these next ones, we asked our community members [of the Round Stable forums] what kind of questions they would have for storyboarders.
Do the storyboarders have involvement in the design of any of the background/incidental ponies?

Oh yes! Many of them are pre-designed, but especially characters that come up for a joke or something – characters like the mental patient pony in Read It and Weep and who has now become “Snowflake” [ed note: Round Stable readers may know him as “Big McLargehuge”] from Hurricane Fluttershy. Those are two examples of characters that didn’t exist before. Sabrina said on stage that Vinyl Scratch happened kind of the same way, so we do have input in that way. It always goes through a final design pass so that it’s approved and all, but we can definitely affect the designs. And that goes for locations and props, too – like the “cat whistle” in Read it and Weep, that was just something that we just put in and then they liked it enough that they kept it and designed it. I figure that Ahuizotl is a crazy cat hoarder. He’s got all those cats!

This may be one of the questions that has some overlap [with the earlier panel] but how much freedom do storyboarders have when adding content not specified in the script? Like, I remember hearing that the pictures of Peewee at the beginning of Just for Sidekicks wasn’t in the script at all.

Me and [director James Wooton] Wooty came up with that, basically as a means to address continuity. Because here’s this episode about Spike taking care of pets and he’s technically had a pet! We needed to know what happened to that, so we brainstormed and it’s that kind of thing.

That worked real well; I thought it was great. So I would say that is lots of freedom, then! Are there any sight gags or visual gags that you were hoping to be able to put in a future episode?

(ixnay) Sort of like, in a general sense do you have an idea in your head for some of these characters, that we have these gags that we want to put in somehow?

You know what might make you sad, I am not on season 4! I moved down to LA. If I could, though? Gags kind of erupt out of specific situations so I don’t have any gag ideas but I have scenarios that I wish could have happened.

Who designed the background characters in Equestria Girls? This is another one that came from the forums.

I’m not someone in design, so that’s not my department!

Haha, sure. Here’s an interesting one: What is the hardest scene that you had to storyboard?

“This Day Aria” was the hardest because it was pretty bare-bones except for the lyrics in the script and because of the pacing. There are some parts of the song that go at a pretty even clip, you know, so you can’t have one or two shots for an exciting part. You have to add all of these crazy things to fill in the time and make it dynamic, like I reference Disney – what was it in the script, I know they wanted a “Little Mermaid” kind of feel.

I think people definitely got that impression pretty strongly.

Yeah, we referenced that a lot.

Lots of people were pretty excited about that, they like that a lot.

Cool!

Has there been any sort of conscious movement away from sort of “realistic” pony movements? Some people commented that there seemed to be more human-like things in later seasons. Was that a conscious thing, or maybe something out of convenience?

I’m one of the prime perpetrators of that, haha, but a lot of the storyboard artists on season 2 were different and new to the show. Everyone brings their own – like, I know Cory Toomey does a lot of that kind of stuff. I’m really fond of characters physically touching each other, so that involves a lot of lifting of limbs and stuff that maybe isn’t natural for a horse. If you look at an episode like Hurricane Fluttershy, there’s a lot of touching. It’s for a reason!

I believe that is all we had prepared.

(ixnay) I’ve got a question for you! Since we’re at the end of the convention here, have you been to one of these types of conventions before?

I was at Everfree last year, not as a panelist or anything, though.  I was kind of just lurking around.

Oh, did you show up with Sibsy then?  I noticed her last year but I wasn’t really familiar with the storyboarders back then.

We all crashed it!  But it’s always overwhelming with how nice people are.  You know, as an artist you’re quiet and there’s a reason we’re behind the scenes and not actors.  So, getting direct feedback from people is really rewarding and it touches my heart.

That’s great to hear. I’m glad that this fandom in general has that effect on you and that it encourages you and the rest of the creators.

I’ve met so many friends through this who will probably be in my lives for a long time and I really appreciate that.

That’s great!  Well, I suppose that will wrap this up.

(ixnay) We don’t want to keep you from your dinner!  Thanks so much for doing this with us.

Thank you for wanting to talk!  Huuugs! 

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