What we learned from the first movie Big Hero 6 is that friendship is a very powerful concept when put in action. We saw how friendship transcends any space and matter. It is even more powerful when a friend gives up something so you could enjoy more in your life.
Baymax is the friend we fell in love with in Big Hero 6, and he returns in a new Disney XD series “Big Hero 6: Baymax Returns.”
During the Red Carpet Premiere of COCO in Los Angeles, I have had an amazing opportunity to sit down with the Big Hero 6 directors and producer to talk about this new series and what to expect from it. I also had a sneak peak preview of the first episode of this exciting series for kids and adults alike.
Robotics prodigy Hiro (Ryan Potter) lives in the city of San Fransokyo. Next to his older brother, Tadashi, Hiro’s closest companion is Baymax (Scott Adsit), a robot whose sole purpose is to take care of people.
When a devastating turn of events throws Hiro into the middle of a dangerous plot, he transforms Baymax and his other friends, Go Go Tamago (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and Fred (T.J. Miller) into a band of high-tech heroes.
Baymax has been a true friend and says good-bye in the original movie. This TV series brings Baymax back and explores the possibilities of saving the city of San Fransokyo from the dark forces.
Here’s our interview cast who answered a lot of questions about Big Hero 6: Baymax Returns: Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley and Nick Filippi. Ryan K. Potter, the voice of HIRO, also joined us for Q&A during this meeting.
One of the things that you need to know is that when a popular movie or animation is converted into a TV series, there are some drastic changes need to take place. We are talking about not just how the story is being told and how it progresses from one episode to another. More vital changes have to be made seamlessly in the animation progression that affect everything that transpires afterwards.
This talented and experienced team of TV storytellers and animators have shared some interesting details that an average person has no clues about.
Executive Producer & Screenwriter Mark McCorkle
One of my burning questions to every person on the panel was how different it is to produce and direct a movie vs. a TV series. Mark McCorkle chuckled and shared this with us.
All the records are very collaborative with the actors, because we always say to people sometimes saying a line the way it was written maybe doesn’t feel exactly right. Or some people are very good at ad libbing and have ideas for jokes. You’ve got Brooks who does Fred, who is always full of ideas which is great.
Executive Producer & Screen/TV Writer Bob Schooley
We always encourage the actors, and especially when you’re adapting a movie, the actors know the characters better than we do coming in, so we let them take the lead on that to a big degree. I mean, Scott with Baymax, he has a very specific idea of what Baymax would and wouldn’t do, what he wouldn’t say. We never mind if an actor is like “ah, I don’t think that feels right for the character.”
So, it definitely keeps it with the continuity of the movie where the characters don’t feel like they’ve changed. They’re evolving over the course of the series, but we feel like they’re true to the movie.
I love personally TV series that are made based on the previous animation full features. For example Star Wars Rebels that has been a brilliant TV series that has captured our attention for three full seasons! I am impressed how well the TV series is done. And I do hope that BIG HERO 6 will have its own captive audience as well.
Speaking about some fun cameos that will appear in the Big Hero 6 TV series, we’ve got a scoop!
Somebody we’re very excited that we brought back, Stan Lee who plays Fred’s dad in that little after credit sequence. The back story is that he was a superhero in the past, and he gets to be the voice of wisdom from Fred, and then a particular episode for Hiro. And it’s just great to work with Stan Lee like that. Intimidating, but an honor.
I mean the cast is a very varied cast. It’s probably the most varied on any show that Bob, Nick and I [Mark McCorkle] have ever worked on, because typically this mix of folks from live action, like Obake, our main villain, is voiced by Andrew Scott, who is Moriarte in the BBC Sherlock series. While we were recording him, he was doing Hamlet in London, but then we also have Globby, who is one of our more comedic villains. That’s voiced by Andy Richter.
So those are two Andy’s that are on different spheres of influence, but it’s a wide ranging voice cast. When we first developed this show, what the kids responded to was that there was a variety, that some of the villains are sillier and a little more comedic, and some are more serious and threatening. I think in a weird way, if it has all been one or the other, it would get a little too repetitious.
Executive Producer & Storyboard Artist Nick Filippi
As drawing and animation techniques have to be adjusted for a TV series, Nick Filippi who is a storyboard artist and animator explained about the animation and how it is different.
It is traditional hand-drawn animation, where the feature was computer generated 3D animation. We chose to go with hand-drawn animation partially because we wanted to create a new world and look for the show. We wanted everybody to immediately recognize these characters, to embrace these characters that they fell in love with in the movie, but we wanted to have a fresh start on the show, so we choose hand-drawn animation similar to what Disney was doing in the 60’s.
We were referencing 101 Dalmatians. We wanted something that had a graphic feel that the animators could really latch on to, but also the warmth of the hand-drawn pencil line.
Between our show, Tangled and DuckTales, I think there’s three very good vital contemporary examples of how smart 2D art direction can make something a unique piece of entertainment onto itself.
Bob Schooley chimed in:
We talked to the directors of the feature when we were developing it, and they asked if we were going to do it in CG [computer animation] or in traditional 2D? And frankly to do CG for television, there’s no way we could do what they did. That movie was so amazing, so it’s like, well, let’s be the best thing we can be for TV. The directors were like, what Disney TV Animation is doing right now in traditional 2D is beautiful, – so run with that.
And we sort of took that as ‘yeah,’ that’s the way to go, just because that’s so unique. It’s become this thing where CG is a big features thing and then TV is just doing some amazing things with 2D now, because we’ve been doing this awhile.
When we did Kim Possible, we definitely loved that look, and we wanted to do something that sort of felt kind of like that, but had its own identity. We were really happy with what they’re doing with 2D on this show. I mean, it’s very dynamic. The action scenes in this, I think, are pretty amazing for TV.
Ryan K. Potter, the Voice of HIRO
Ryan K. Potter is a warm and very down-to-earth. He shared so freely his creative career pluses and challenges. When asked how different it is to make a movie vs. a TV series, he shared some invaluable insights and his personal perspective.
I think with the series, we could just have a lot more fun, not to say we put less work into this, because that’s not true at all, but I would go in for a specific scene for the film four, five, seven, eight times, but with the series I go in once to record an episode. We get to go in the booth and play around with the entire episode. We throw ideas back and forth, as opposed to me coming in two months later with brand new ideas.
A lot of it is actually coming from us in the room, not me personally, but the writers do a lot of work. There’s a lot of synergy for the episodes in the sense that we get to create a lot on the spot, because we still animate post voice, so we don’t have to always stay true to the script.
In the series which focuses on HIRO and Baymax, the producers wanted to go in-depth with other characters and flash them out better by introducing us to their own storylines. The first episodes focus more on other characters than Baymax.
Okay, what’s interesting is –this two-parter was not the first thing we did. The first couple of episodes we did a spot light on Fred and a spotlight on Go Go and Honey Lemon. We felt like we knew that Hiro and Baymax were the heart of this show, of this whole franchise. So we knew that would be the big thrust for the series, but as fans we got to see so little of those other characters in the movie. It was fun to say, okay, let’s do more with them.
So it’s a nice change to move the spotlight around a little bit.
And the other character we’ve had a great time with is Aunt Cass. Maya Rudolph is super funny, super talented, but for me what was fun in that movie, the original movie, and we tried to carry it on. She’s a flawed caregiver. She’s not entirely confident, which to me is real. That’s how it is being a parent. You don’t have all the answers. So for us, that’s a really fun, rich character. And I think the relationship with Hiro in the movie, no offense (To Ryan) you’re a pretty bad kid.
He get’s arrested and then he’s willing to go right back out and get arrested again. So for our series, we knew okay, he’s on this new path where he’s trying to be a better kid. He’s still a risk taker.
So the two of them try, it’s a fun family relationship. Two people that maybe aren’t 100 percent certain of what they’re doing, but they’re both trying and it’s fun.
The other character from the movie that we’re having a great time with is, Krei, played by Alan Tudyk, who is a genius and he’s so funny. He brings such life to that character, and we’ve gone so crazy with him compared to what he was in the movie. It’s been a lot of fun to explore that character.
If you’ve seen Big HERO 6 movie, you know that we had to say Good-bye to Baymax. Now, Baymax has a way to return and tell his story and make his own mark on the events in Fransokyo. Watch this series with your kids. You can be easily hooked on the story plot from episode-to-episode.
You will see some amazing animation of the city where all characters live which has been done using 2D techniques adapted for TV series. Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle who collaborate on many of their projects, described their fascination with the city where Big Hero 6 characters live and grow.
We fell in love with the idea of this mash-up culture of San Francisco and Tokyo, just because it was such a cool idea. And that sort of informed the animation. We were like let’s make it look like sort of traditional American animation. The stuff in it like noodle burger, which are hamburgers on Ramen bun roll. So there’s a lot of that. And Muirahara Woods this is a smash up. It’s like Muir Woods and Tokyo’s Aokigahara Forest.
So it definitely became sort of this fun thing to create that combo world.
It was neat to explore the city. It’s a big city, to create neighborhoods from the sort of bad part of town to the lovely part where Hiro in the flashback is learning to ride a bike. We felt like we wanted to make a real city.
As the Big Hero 6 series is all about kids who go to school for the gifted ones, the geniuses who move progress forward, we asked the executive team if they will be “pushing” science in the series. Or it’s all about pure entertainment. The answers are for your to enjoy.
As soon as Bob [Schooley] and I first saw the movie on our way out, Bob turned to me and goes, “It’s so refreshing to see science being positive, or being portrayed in a positive way that’s not dystopian future or whatever.” Because when we grew up, science was, let’s get an astronaut to the moon, like it was about solving problems. It was about the future and reaching and striving, and I feel like we kind of lost that a little bit.
So for us, it’s nice that you have this group of kids that are all smart and being smart is cool.
We did a specific story with Hiro, that Ryan [K. Potter] did a great job on, where he suddenly looks around and goes, “Boy, I gave everybody else a superpower, but I don’t have one.” And he gives himself one, and that’s the one where Stan Lee kind of gives him advice, and he learns his superpower is his brain. Being smart is his superpower.
Ryan K. Potter:
That’s one thing that’s never changed, and I don’t think ever will change. At the heart of the story, it’s just a bunch of smart kids and every problem that they encounter, they tend to solve it with their wits.
All Is Ready for the HERO 6: BAYMAX RETURNS
At Disney Pixar Studios!
The brilliance of the show is not only in the script, but also in the voicing and putting all those voices and sounds together. A huge responsibility for the sound effects that would match the animation techniques. The cast can be all over the world, shooting their projects. But a TV series need to go on. To get teh voice talent into the studio all at once is impossible most of the time. Everybody records in isolation. The characters may not see each other during the entire recording process. But what is done by the sound engineers is no less than magic.
Ryan K. Potter expressed his awe what the sound engineers do in their studios!
A lot of the credit goes to the sound engineers and the voice directors and the producers and the way they pick the takes that we do as performers. Then they start to kind of mesh it together and piece the whole thing together, because you have a map of just all these different characters speaking, and then the animators get to work, but that map or that structure that you’re creating, that’s not on us.
I have no idea how to move those voices around and, you know, pitch, fade in, time, time code this. That’s these guys [sound engineers].
Honey Lemon we love, just because Genesis, who does her voice is that character, is so sweet and she just brings so much warmth to that character. We really do, I love writing for all of them, just because I think they all have such distinct personalities. And it really is, by this point, we’ve done maybe 30 episodes we’ve recorded, I guess, total. Yeah, we’re into second season in terms of production.
You really get to sort of feel like the characters and the actors are the same thing to a degree, so you’re really writing for what you know they are.
We do have a good mix with our villains on the gender front that we have a number of female villains as well.
Yeah, we have Katy Mixon from American Housewife and she’s hilarious. We have really about half and half, male to female roles. She’s part of a something that every superhero show needs to have. She’s part of a mother-daughter 80’s themed dance crime team.
One of the people we do tend to record here, who I wanted to do a little shout out to, Jenifer Lewis from Blackish who does Professor Granville, she is hysterical. She is so good, so talented. Yeah, she is the best. She is a joy, a delight.
Watch BIG HERO 6: BAYMAX RETURNS Series
November 20, DISNEY XD
Join In Celebrating the Return of BAYMAX!
BAYMAX Returns in his Big Hero 6 TV Series on Disney XD & Disney Channel. Learn more about characters, animation & personal input from the Executive Team & @RyanKPotter the Voice of HIRO #BigHero6 #PixarCocoEvent #OlafsFrozenAdventure #sponsored https://t.co/7ZfqlIEnKo pic.twitter.com/MSpaLGDhmp
— Celebrate Woman (@DiscoverSelf) November 17, 2017