The irreverent, profane, and hilarious animated series Crossing Swords once again grace our television screens for season 2 on Hulu!
What is Crossing Swords?!
Coming from the minds of creators John Harvatine IV and Tom Root and producer Seth Green, Crossing Swords carries on the great stop-motion animation style the trio made infamous with Robot Chicken.
I recently sat down with the creators and some of the cast at a press junket for season 2.
John Harvatine IV, Tom Root, Seth Green
The creators and producers themselves weren’t available for a video interview, so I sat down with them on an audio channel to discuss the process of creating a show!
Ben Kliewer: What is the process of creating a show in a stop-motion animation tv series. Because this isn’t a quick-to-produce medium.
Seth Green: No! It’s brutal. And it takes a very long time. It’s just like shooting cinema, except you have to shoot frame by frame. And then you have to cast multiple times, you know? You get the actor, and then the puppet itself and then the animator. But the labor involved in actually building all the stuff, the sewing of the clothes, the constructing of the characters, it’s the same as it would be with making movies.
BK: How big are the figures?
Tom Root: About three inches. Two and a half-ish.
BK: How do you shoot the show? Do you shoot it in script order, or do you do it all together based on the sets needed?
SG: Sort of, a little bit like that with what you’d call block shooting on a steady location. But the upside is that we shoot it all at the same time. You get all the scripts written and approved and then put through your pre-production when everything is built. Then you’re able to animate them roughly all at the same time based on how you schedule your sets. The goal is to not have to replicate too many sets or have to move sets from stages because that’s what takes the most time; lighting everything and getting it set up. Then ideally you’ll be able to shoot across those main sets with multiple versions of your characters shooting at several places at the same time. So, imagine if you could put Julia Roberts on six different stages at once.
BK: How much manpower does this take?
SG: It can be as many as 200. But usually, we’re just over 100 with this scale of production.
John Harvatine IV: There are usually 15-20 stages, so 15-20 animators plus people making puppets, people making sets, people lighting the stages, post-production, and on and on.
BK: So, when you say a “stages…”
SG: We’re not talking like a Warner Brothers massive airplane hangar. We’re talking about somewhere between a 6 and 20 foot square tented stage that has a wood frame and whatever set we’re putting on top of it, a lighting grid and background curtains. Or, in a lot of cases with this season, monitors. We’ve gotten a lot more into using monitors as background. Sort of similar to what they’re doing on The Mandalorian. Not quite as sophisticated with, like, parallaxing perspective, but we’re able to do moving pictures like out the window of a driving shot. It’s crazy.
BK: I know we’re close to our time limit, but let me ask you this. Where did the idea for Crossing Swords come from?
SG: I mean, that’s all Harv and Tom.
TR: We knew we wanted to make a peg-person show. We knew we wanted it to look like that. Then we secondarily designed a story around the peg-people. And we decided that since the peg-people looked like children’s toys, we wanted everywhere they went to look like a playset. The world that lent itself the most to that was this sword and sorcery type of knights and dragons world. So that’s the story we wrote.
BK: Well, the show is a blast, and thank you for your time today guys!
SG: Thanks, man! Really enjoyed it!
TR: Appreciate it!
Yvette Nicole Brown and Luke Evans!
I also had the opportunity to chat with Yvette Nicole Brown (voice of Sgt. Meghan) and Luke Evans (King Merriman) and this time, we got it on video! Check out the video below!
Voice Acting Legend Tara Strong
I was also privileged enough to talk with the voiceover veteran and sweetest person on the face of the planet, Tara Strong. Check out the video here!
Crossing Swords seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming only on Hulu!