Interview with Director Giancarlo Volpe (part 1 of 3)
For those of you suffering the summer doldrums with just the exciting "Fury of the Avatar" movie to look forward to all season, I have great news- it's interview time! Director Giancarlo Volpe has graciously spent some of the summer Avatar work hiatus sharing his experiences working in the animation industry, most particularly on Avatar. Over the summer, AvatarSpirit.Net will be giving fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of Avatar. While you enjoy each release of interview material, be sure to also check out the extensive reference library on all things Avatar available on ASN, talk about the show and what you see here on the forums, and enjoy the fantastic talent of our artist members on oekaki.

To start this first interview post, I want to thank the crew members of Avatar who have contacted us and provided material for the site, both credited and uncredited. We at ASN feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to spotlight the folks who make the show possible, and their appreciation is worth more to us than words can quite convey. We do this for the fans and for the crew, and it's great we can bring both together! :-D

Specifically, I wish to thank Mr Giancarlo Volpe. One of two Avatar Directors to span both seasons, he has a lot to do with what makes this show so great. I think the fans will come to appreciate the show so much more seeing it through his eyes. I sure know I do. So, without further ado, lets begin...


UJoF: As I've been inputting crew credits, I've noticed each director seems to have their 'stable' of storyboarders. For Season II, you've had Oreste Canestrelli, Ian Graham, and Bobby Rubio. Lauren MacMullan has had Chris Graham, Dean Kelly, and Kenji Ono. Ethan Spaulding has had Miyuki Hoshikawa, Justin Ridge, Tomihiro Yamaguchi, and now Michael Chang. I'd be curious to know how these teams were formed and how the work is coordinated. Is there a method to which team gets what episodes?

GV: The storyboard crews are appointed to the directors. A lot of artists have certain areas they're really good at, for example, one might be your action guy, while another is really good at acting and emotion. The idea is that you'll have a good mix of everything on any given team.

In general, the episodes are written chronologically, and the scripts fall on whatever director is up next in the rotation. Being that there's three of us, I expect to direct every third episode, although the order can change for various reasons. For season two, I did episodes 201, 204, 208, 210, 213, 216, and 219.


UJoF: When you get an episode, what happens next? How do you coordinate the work within your team?

GV: After I get the script, it's up to me to divide it into four parts and distribute it to my team (and take a part for myself) to storyboard. I have to keep a number of things in mind when I do this. Obviously, you want to try to divide the work up equally. But action sequences tend to be exponentially a lot more work than anything else in the show. So it's common to give some one less script pages because they're doing a fight sequence. I also prefer to "appoint" certain artists to certain locations or characters in the show (like a location director in live action.) For example, I'll give one guy all the Mai and Ty Lee and Azula scenes, another guy all the Aang and other kids part, and another guy all the Uncle and Zuko parts. Or, I'll give one guy all the scenes that take place by the lake, while another guy gets all the scenes that take place in the city, etc.


UJoF: How did things go with shuffling the teams during the transition from Season One to Season Two?

GV: The shuffling of the crews happened mainly because we lost and gained a few artists between seasons one and two. Dave Filoni, who directed a lot of season one, left to be supervising director on the new Clone Wars cartoon. Justin Ridge left to work on that show as well. Anthony Lioi left to be a supervising director on American Dad, etc, etc. You may have noticed that we originally started with 4 directors (we even went as far as to claim elements to see which one of us represented which nation. I got air.) It used to be that there were four directors with two storyboard artists a piece, but it later changed to three directors with three storyboard artists a piece.
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