Tuesday 21 May 2013

A Show of His Own

Back in 2011, in the days of Arbitrary Stopframe Series 1, one character emerged as the clear favourite out of the eleven who had appeared in the show.  Everybody else got just one appearance, or at best two, but Doctor Murkum (one of the many denizens of Universe XGT) got three episodes to himself - well, two-and-a-half if you take into account that he had to share the last one with an angry DVD copy of a South Korean monster flick.  And somebody - I think it was Tim - suggested that perhaps Murkum should get a show of his own.

Well, he's got it.  Tim's suggestion rankled away throughout 2012 - if I gave Murkum his own show, what sort of show would it be?  I considered making it a chat show, but that one fell by the wayside; I could never come up with a workable answer to the questions of who he would talk to, about what, and why.  I briefly considered having a split-timeframe format, intercutting footage that was meant to have come from Murkum's first camcorder back in the 1980s with other footage of him in the present day reviewing his past escapades on tape and trying to deny or explain away the more embarrassing bits; that one floundered due to its technical over-complication.

Eventually, I settled on a less-is-more approach, and decided that each episode should be a short stand-alone sketch, set at Fort Murk in the present day, in which Murkum brings injury and/or embarrassment upon himself.  He does that a lot anyway, so it made sense that The Murkum Show should bring it to the screen.  The fun thing about writing for Murkum is that he's numb-skulled, arrogant, violent, a kleptomaniac and a pathological liar, so I can write/animate him suffering all sorts of indignities without having to feel even remotely sorry for him - he deserves every indignity that comes his way.

So, with that premise in mind, I built a set out of Lego, scribbled down a trio of short episode scripts (half a side of A4 each, if that), and sent them to Tim for appraisal.  It's worth mentioning at this point, for those who don't know already, that I've known Tim for a very long time, and Murkum is almost as much his fault as he is mine.  So that's why he gets to read the scripts before anybody else.  Basically he agreed with my own assessment, which was that Episodes 2 and 3 worked, but 1 felt unfinished; combined with the fact that I'd decided I wanted the series opener to feature some of Murkum's highest-ranking employees, it seemed like the logical thing to leave Episodes 2 and 3 as Episodes 2 and 3, but push back the previous 'Episode 1' to become Episode 4, pending a rewrite, and pen a new episode to begin the series.  Which I did shortly afterwards.

The next step was dialogue recording and processing - it took a lot of faffing about with a constricted throat and a pile of audio filters to make Murkum-on-speakers sound like Murkum-in-my-head.  The job was made more complex due to Murkum being a cyborg (with an artificial voicebox, mechanical components in his chest to keep his respiration and circulation going, and all of his limbs at least partially cybernetic), and I needed to try and make his voice sound like it was being electronically generated, but without ending up as a clone of Microsoft Sam.  Got there in the end, though, with some more assistance from T.

The actual animation process was relatively short and painless, with the first three episodes (collectively 'Production Block A') shot back-to-back over the course of last Thursday, and I then completed sound editing for the trio and released Episode 1 Elite Class on Saturday.  As you can see right here:

Ta-da!  The Murkum Show has landed.

I've already finished dialogue recordings for 'Production Block B' (Episodes 4 to 6), and am aiming to film the visual components in the next few days.  The plan is to release one episode every Saturday while stocks last, so come back on the 25th for Episode 2 Drinkies...

- The Colclough