Emru Townsend: So the whole thing is hand-done? Or are you saying that some of the things that look like CGI aren't?
Darwyn Cooke: Everything is 2D animation. There's no 3D animation. There are a couple of shots that look like 3D, I think Bruce Wayne's head in particular.
Yeah, I would have sworn that was 3D.
We have a very talented sculptor on staff, named Glen Wong. He did a lot of the maquettes for the studio store, the little sculptures of the characters. What he did was, he actually sculpted Bruce Wayne's bust, and then Bruce shot it with a Hi-8 video camera. Then I took that footage, captured it all again, and then treated it.
When you say "captured and treated", this is using software like [Adobe] After Effects?
The whole title sequence was produced in Adobe After Effects, using the Production Bundle, and a Targa video card.
[With] all the footage we were using, we definitely wanted it to look degenerated, so instead of trying to do something high resolution and then figure out a way to make it look rough, we just work in low resolution and blow it up. So we captured things, took bad video captures, and intentionally used that type of stuff. It all becomes very easy once you get into it, it's like editing to a hot music track.
So who created the music to the opening?
A gentleman named Kris Carter. Kris works with Shirley Walker, [who is] part of the Warner music department. I can't say enough about that, that's certainly what made the whole thing really easy and thrilling. It was a hell of a music track to work to. I really thought the theme for [Batman Beyond] was great, and sort of... [hums the bass line] You know, to hear something that fast, and that loud, and that edgy, it got us all motivated.
Now, how did this work? You mentioned that you had the idea, and you also had the music. Did you start with a rough idea of the kind of shots you wanted, then you listened to the music and worked from that, a back-and-forth process, or was it music first, then illustrations?
I think we had the track to start with. From that point it was sitting down and trying to figure out what we wanted to do. As soon as we had the whole idea of anything literal out of the way, it became a lot more interesting. It became a matter then of figuring out what shots we wanted to do, and then looking at what would be the best way to do them. And some of them came down to sculpture... one of the Batman shots is actually an action figure that Bruce had retrofitted, and then it was shot on a turntable.
That's the one where Batman is surrounded by all these other [villain] types.
That's right. The other types are all drawn, [and] you have the Batman character who's actually an action figure. And there were no action figures of the character at the time, so we sort of put that one together [with all] these bits and pieces. And then it's all enhanced when we brought it into the machine.
It was a really eclectic mix. The typography, again, it was typeset and it would be shot off the monitor and then it was reshot off the monitor, degrading it over and over.
So we had all of this kind of neat stuff and then we laid in a lot of traditional animation as well. Most of the things with action shots in the titles, with Batman in them, were all hand-animated here at the studio. If I can, I'd like to point out the contributions of Adam van Wyk, one of our storyboard artists. He did the animation on most of the key Batman moves in the titles, the actual physical drawings.