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Writing to the CGI Format

SPECIAL NOTES

WRITING TO THE CGI FORMAT 

The CGI format has a fabulous look, but it does have certain restrictions as well.  Please take careful note of the following simple rules.  These are not negotiable or fudgeable, the way rules are in standard cel animation.  CGI animation is a lot of sweat.  It isn't something you want to just end up on the cutting room floor.  So you break these rules and we will murder you.  We swear it. 

LENGTH

Let's get this out of the way first.  Scripts should run 20-22 pages.  No margin cheats, no partial pages, no eleven-point type fonts.  We know that's not a lot of room for your brilliance to shine through, so make every word, every action count.  We still want great stories.  We just want them in 22 pages or less.

Three acts, no teaser.  Dialogue lines will be counted.  A 21 minute episode should have between 150-200 dialogue lines.  Please don't start asking whether "Hey!"s  or grunts count as dialogue lines.  If you're that close to 200 you should cut it down anyway.

Remember that the stock transformations will make up a good percentage of each episode, so you are actually writing a nineteen minute show rather than a 21 minute show.

THREE-POINT CUTTING

Production of computer animation is made vastly easier by scripts which are structured so that individuals or small groups go off on their own.  Thus three or more things are taking place simultaneously and we can cut back and forth.  A single sequence can thus be assigned to one animation suite, allowing the CGI animators to move forward in a contained data set with specific characters.  This speeds up production dramatically.

SCENE LENGTH

Limiting scenes to between 30 seconds and 1 minute also helps speed up production. 

WHAT'S EASY -- WHAT ISN'T

The easiest scenes from a production standpoint are chase scenes, especially in vehicles.  The most difficult scenes are character interaction (such as a fist fight) and scenes with a large number of characters grouped together.

This doesn't mean that hand-to-hand combat is out.  But please save it for climactic moments.  Earlier action scenes should concentrate on chases and firing weapons.

Wisps of smoke, flame, and water effects should be avoided. On the other hand, straight pyrotechnics (such as lasers and explosions) are quite easy.  And fog -- as long as it is a general fog, rather than streamers -- is no problem.

In general, interiors (such as caverns or ruins) are to be preferred to exteriors, since previously-created caverns and ruins can be reused and redressed for the new location.  The end result will be a show that becomes richer and more spectacular as time goes on!