Dan Harmon Talks About the ‘Community’ Christmas Episode, Conceptual Stories, and ‘Dungeons & Dragons’

On Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

The last time I spoke to ‘Community’ creator Dan Harmon in September, he had already written the script for the stop-action-animated Christmas episode that is set to air Thursday at 8:00PM on NBC. While he had an idea of how long doing a stop-action animation on an episode would take, he had no idea how truly involved the process is.

“One thing that I didn’t anticipate was that every shot was an effects shot,” he told me earlier this week. “Post-productively there’s stuff you have to do. If a character jumps up in the air and clicks his heels, you’re rotoscoping things out that are helping that person stay in the air while they’re jumping in the air, and I thought that was fascinating.”

Even as late as Monday, there were still some effects and music left to insert. But even in rough cut form, the episode is not only one of the best of the season, it shows quite well how Abed (Danny Pudi) sees the nutty world of Greendale Community College, as the entire episode is a product of his unconscious.

Speaking of Abed, Harmon also mentioned that this week they are shooting an episode where the gang plays the classic role-playing game ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ with Abed (natch) as the Dungeon Master. More on both episodes after the jump.

On what he decided the characters would look like once they entered Abed’s Winter Wonderland: “We just kind of riffed on that stuff. We kind of went back and forth on a couple of things. Like should Britta be a ballerina for the sake of irony, and in that case what would Annie be? And then we finally just settled on that this is Abed’s unconscious and you should just go with your first instinct and let your unconscious be Abed’s unconscious in this case.

“Abed sees Jeff [who is portrayed as a Jeff-in-the-box] as a big talking head with limited practical functionality, and he sees Pierce [portrayed as a teddy bear] as maybe deserving of more love than he gets, and sees Troy as a soldier, and sees Britta [who's portrayed as a robot] as a malfunctioning device, and sees Annie [portrayed as a ballerina] as a creature of grace, and sees Shirley as a big baby who feels entitled to the Christmas of her choosing.”

On the slow process of doing stop-action animation: “(The animators are) incredibly dedicated people who practice this sadly dying craft of moving these little fingers and heads one frame per frame every day. They watch weeklies instead of dailies in this process, and I remember them celebrating because they got four minutes done in a week.”

Displaying 1 Comments
Have Your Say

  1. Matt says:

    Ah ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ are amazing, cant wait to see it.

Displaying 1 Comments
Have Your Say

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>