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The Art of the Interstitial (2006) February 23, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, animation.
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Frankly, I’d never heard the term “interstitial” before I took my current animated job.  So when I was first told I would be a production coordinator for 100 interstitials, I had no idea what I was getting into; all my previous experience was on 11-minute stories like those on INVADER ZIM or 22-minute episodes of shows like EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS and JUMANJI.

Basically, interstitials are short animated pieces, usually used as bridge pieces or filler between longer pieces, but can also air separately depending on the broadcast rules of a given country.  Given that animation is generally a page and a half per minute of screen time, scripts are just a few pages at most.  Storyboards average between thirty and forty pages.

On the surface this may sound very boring and tedious.  I admit that tying to keep track of lots of little pieces, that aren’t any real intense storylines, may not seem appealing at first.  But bear in mind that each interstitial has some sort of beginning, middle, and end – a “mini-story” if you will.  And because they are shorter material, you potentially get exposed to a wider variety of mini-plots, themes, and ideas.  That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the job.  For our production, the manageability issue was overcome by treating the interstitials in groupings of ten two-minute interstitials, equivalent to the length of one 22-minute episode each.

Also, because they are just interstitials, we’ve had a smaller staff than I’m used to working with. This has required me to fill some script coordinator and post coordinator roles out of the necessity that we don’t have these positions, so they are part of my job umbrella.   Of course, then I can put this knowledge on my resume to help me get jobs later on. This for me has been another excellent reward of the project.

So if a job comes your way to work on animated interstitials, don’t turn it down just because it’s “not a show,” especially if you’re just starting out.

(originally published 2006)

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