Each week, we’re taking questions for the cast and crew of the hit animated series “Transformers Prime” from fans of the official Transformers Facebook page. Check out this week’s Fan Q&A with  “Transformers Prime” storyboard artists Sam Montes, Paul Harmon, Bryan Baugh and Jeff Johnson!

Atticus Tsai-McCarthy asks: Are you basically the editors in the sense that you decide where scenes end, and how they flow?

Sam Montes
Sam Montes
StoryBoard Sam Montes, storyboard artist: I wouldn't consider myself an editor, because “Transformers Prime” has its own editors and they do an amazing job of making the show look good. I'd say storyboard artists are a lot like cinematographers because we are responsible for selecting the camera angles and compositions of every shot. We are also like choreographers because we have to plot out how the characters move, act, fight and interact with the environments.
Jazz Meister asks: How long does it take to draw a single storyboard? And how often do you have to change
them because something wasn't quite right?


Sam Montes, storyboard artist: For each episode, I'm usually given six weeks to finish my storyboard. That may seem like a long time but you have to consider that a storyboard artist is responsible for anywhere between 400 - 600 drawn panels per episode. As far as making changes to the storyboards, I find myself making revisions all the time. Animation is definitely a team project so it's important to incorporate the ideas of the other remember, especially the directors, producers and designers.
Melynda Barney asks: What is it like being an artist for a Transformers cartoon?

Bryan Baugh, storyboard artist: it’s fun because I can remember having some of the Transformers toys as a kid. So I went into this project already familiar with the characters. I guess you could say, being an artist working on a new animated show about those same characters is sort of like the grown-up equivalent of playing with toys.

Jocelyn Simmons asks: When you guys draw out the scenes, do you guys do basic sketches like we've seen from Miko, just something to get the gist of each clip, or do you get into some of the deeper details, with little pieces and parts and all the little bolts and screws that steal every fan's breath away?

Bryan Baugh
Bryan Baugh

Bryan Baugh, storyboard artist: We usually don’t draw excessive detail in our boards. A storyboard artist’s job is to figure out the shot-to-shot visual storytelling, the camera angles, and the basic composition of each shot. So it is better for the characters to be drawn simply. A basic figure - with just a few basic shapes or a couple of unique features - does the trick just fine. Trying to sit there and doodle out all the little complex details of every robot’s surface texture, is not only unnecessary, but it can also make a storyboard drawing confusing to look at, or difficult to “read” visually. You want to get the point of each image across as clearly and immediately as possible.

Yessie Nieves asks: Hi guys Thanks for this opportunity. Which characters are for you the most challenging character of the series (including the humans)?

Paul Harmon, storyboard artist: The trickiest part is the scale of all the different characters; there’s a big range of sizes.

Alec Weston asks: What was the creation process for the storyboarding and how long did it take for each board?

Paul Harmon
Paul Harmon

Paul Harmon, storyboard artist: Each team is different. For my director we would do thumbnails, then roughs, and finally revisions. it’s a very thorough process but you’re more likely to stay on the same page that way.

Julia In-Gyong Handschin asks:  How do you start a storyboard and how do you proceed? Do you have some brainstorming sessions where you gather ideas for the show?

Jeff Johnson, storyboard artist: We usually start by going over the script with the director. He lets us know what the scenes should accomplish and what the main goal of the episode might be.

Kathryn Vergara asks: Are all your storyboards still drawn out traditionally, with pencil/pen on paper, or is it all digital these days? Is either method easier or faster? And do all the storyboards between the various artists share the same "style" of work, or are they all very different?


Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson, storyboard artist: I still use pencil and paper when I'm first going through the script. I make little drawings on the side to jot down ideas during my first pass through my section. After that, almost all of the drawing is done with a digital pen on an LCD screen. It is both much faster and much easier, especially when it comes to making changes and keeping track of the entire episode. All the storyboard artists try to keep the various needs of the show in mind while drawing, but the finished boards inevitably have an individual style. We are all different people after all and that comes out in the drawings.