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This is Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki discussing the first VeggieTales episode.


(silent for 30 seconds)

Man 1: Hey there, this is Phil Vischer.

Man 2: This is Mike Nawrocki.

Vischer: And uh, we are watching "Where's God When I'm...

Both "S-Scared?".

Vischer: The very, very first VeggieTales video that was produced in 1993, by 4 Dominican fryers, working in a back of a Taco Bell, or something like that.

Nawrocki: Very close, (Vischer laughs) very close.

Vischer: So anyway, uhm, let's see here I quit my job at a- actually, no. This, actually started before I quit my job. I had a job at a video post-production house, Mike worked there as well in Chicago. And, um I had a special deal with them where, if I had any downtime, I could work on VeggieTales, 'cause I already come up with, you know, the basic idea for the show and I've been trying to sell it for about uh, two years at that point, unsuccessfully. And so while working at that post-house, um. Well first we make this little two minute film, uh, "Larry's" er...

Nawrocki: "Take 38".

Vischer: "VeggieTales Screen Test Take 38"

Nawrocki: Yeah, uh-huh.

Vischer: Which hopefully they'll put on as a Easter egg so you can see it.

Nawrocki: Look for it!

Vischer: Uh somewhere, maybe. But don't write me a nasty letter if you can't find it. And um, so then while, while I was at this post-house, I, I, uh, made Junior Asparagus, made his family, made his house, his little room, uh, built all those sets, and then wrote the script for the first half for the "Tales from the Crisper".

Nawrocki: Which I named, remember that one? Wait, okay, alright so we go- here we go.

(silent for two seconds, as it cuts to the countertop)

Vischer: Yeah, you came up with that name, based on the HBO...

Both: "Tales from the Crypt".

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: Which was NOT for kids.

Nawrocki: (laughs)

Vischer: But, you know, we're always making jokes that aren't for kids.

(both of them laughing)

Vischer: Wow, we got into it really quick here.

(Bob looking at the letter)

Vischer: Now you'll notice here, this is the only episode where we actually had a real kid, and this was a girl from our church at the time, who read this. But in retrospect, it was kinda slow-moving, so we decided it might be better if Bob or Larry read it.

Nawrocki: Yeah. Well, if you noticed, there was really no animation on Bob at all. (chuckles) He's just kinda stuck for a while.

Vischer: That was a way to save time. So the Countertop was originally built for uh, the very, very first piece of VeggieTales animation, which is, uh, "Mr. Cuke". Uh, where Larry the Cucumber test.

Nawrocki: Screen test.

Vischer: To see if he would work.

Nawrocki: Hm-hmm.

Vischer: Um, and then we kept that every since, and they actually, I think it got rebuilt it once. But other than that, it's, uh, just the way it was.

(Cuts to the beginning to Tales from the Crisper)

Vischer: 'Kay, I also built this set while I was working at the post house. And those little shadows-

Nawrocki: (interrupts; imitating the assistant voice) "I don't believe you could do it!"

Vischer: (chuckles)

Nawrocki: (normal) I gotta be that guy.

Vischer: That you?

Nawrocki: That was me, remember? (imitating the assistant voice) "I don't believe you could do it!" (switches to normal) Sorta a precursor to Mr. Lunt, who you do.

Vischer: Yeah, and I'm doing this other guy who sounds a whole lot like Frankencelery AND Jimmy Gourd.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: (imitating Frankencelery) Rrrrrrrr! (switches to normal) But I built that little set at the post-house and actually, those little shadows...

Nawrocki: I like that dissolve there, that was nice.

Vischer: Yeah, we tried to make that not look so obvious (Nawrocki chuckles) but, you know, such is life. Those little shadows were motion-captured. They're the only, uh, I believe, just about the only elements in VeggieTales ever to be motion-captured, which means performed in real time (Nawrocki chuckles) rather than animated by hand. And I actually wired them, those little shadows, just to the movements of my computer mouse, and then listened to the audio and made them wiggle, in real time. So at this point, for the first approximately 4 minutes of this show, I was the only animator.

Nawrocki: And wasn't this house modeled after the house you were renting-?

Vischer: Yes, it was actually. We were living up on the North side of Chicago, and, uh, the layout of this house was very similar, yep, stairs in same place, actually, walls were the same color... too.

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: So, ohhhhh.

Nawrocki: It's art imitating life. Art imitating your house.

Vischer: That's one bright kitchen.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: So-

Nawrocki: I don't remember your house being that bright.

Vischer: No, it wasn't that bright.

Nawrocki: So I was exaggerating.

Vischer: Just that wall. The... purplish.

Nawrocki: 'Kay, now you, you actually animated all of this up to right about here, right?

Vischer: Uh, 'till he got into his room.

Nawrocki: 'Till he got into his room?

Vischer: So it's still me, and I was doing about 12 seconds a day and thinking, "Boy, I think I'm gonna die, I think I'm gonna die. I might need some help." Right up to about, uh, let's see, I got him into his bed... and I think I did a little bit more... yeah, right around here was when I realized I was gonna die.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: This is also before I had learned... actually, we did those pupils... in, uh, uh, motion-capture too.

Nawrocki: Oh yeah?

Vischer: We put his pupils on the mouse-

Nawrocki: Okay.

Vischer: -I think, and animated them in (chuckles) real time.

Nawrocki: Oh man.

Vischer: And there's Bob's first words ever spoken in a story other than the Countertop.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: "I'm Bob, I'm a tomato, and I'm here to help you."

(Pause for 3 seconds.)

Nawrocki: It's a-

Vischer: By the way, there's a, uh, green dragon to the left. Uh, in his room, is a green dragon, which is probably the most complex thing, and there's the blue wind-up lobster.

Nawrocki: Oh yeah.

Vischer: The green dragon is probably the most complex thing I have personally ever modeled.

Nawrocki: Wow.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: Wow.

Vischer: Nothing ever got more complex than that dragon (Nawrocki chuckles) until we had other modelers.

Both: (laughing)

Vischer: I-

Nawrocki: [Larry]'s specialized in the theater.

Vischer: I'm not a very good modeler. And listen to Larry's voice.

Nawrocki: Oh no, I don't wanna listen to Larry's voice!

Vischer: S-S-S-Strange, I think he had a cold.

Nawrocki: (deep dopey voice) It's kinda goofy.

Vischer: You had a cold that day?

Nawrocki: No, I just- Larry had a real low dopey voice for the first two shows, I think. And then, it started to get higher. And I, I had a lisp (Vischer chuckles) also with Larry, up until like, I don't know, like, "Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed" or something.

Vischer: Really?

Nawrocki: LarryBoy had a lisp.

Vischer: Wow.

Nawrocki: Yeah. Or Larry and LarryBoy had a lisp.

Vischer: Who-who-who decided it should go away?

Nawrocki: I just got tired of the lisp.

Vischer: (laughing)

Nawrocki: I just kinda went to speech- Larry's speech therapy for a while, and got rid of the lisp, and uh, Larry is what he is today.

Vischer: So, Junior Asparagus, that's my wife. Uh, we recorded all this dialogue actu- for the first half of the show at the post-house, uh, where Mike and I worked. Just an edit room with a regular old mike.

Nawrocki: Right.

Vischer: Not even a-

Nawrocki: And we actually recorded it right to hard drive too, didn't we? Did we go right to-

Vischer: Well, no, we didn't link to that.

Nawrocki: Oh okay. And then- and then we transferred it over to the SGI.

("God is Bigger" starts.)

Vischer: Yeah, we put it on the SGI.

Nawrocki: (chuckling) And boy is that quality low!

Vischer: Yeah, so we apologize for the quality of the audio and the quality of the video which was, you know, compressed and re-compressed several times (Nawrocki chuckles) over the years.

Nawrocki: I had fun with the sound effects though on the cartoon sound effects library.

Vischer: Yeah, you did.

Nawrocki: Yep, yep.

Vischer: So now this was, I think, that was the first shot that Robert Ellis animated, was the eyeballs in the closet. And Chris Olsen, I hired those two guys, uh, Robert had just graduated from the Art Institute in Chicago, and Chris had just graduated from-

Nawrocki: University of Illinois.

Vischer: Champaign. And brought 'em in, said, "Okay, we've got, uh, three months and one computer. (Nawrocki chuckles) Go! Go!"

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: And of course, none of us had ever done anything even remotely like this before.

Nawrocki: Well, in technology itself really had- hadn't gotten that far either, so we were trying to figure out how to even, you know-

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: -Pull it off.

Vischer: It was-

Nawrocki: Technically was-

Vischer: -Tricky. Because we had one computer, which had one, uh, 300 megabyte hard drive, not gigabyte, megabyte.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: And so we figured out pretty soon that wasn't gonna be enough, so we went out and bought one two-gigabyte hard drive, which right now my palm pilot I think has (Nawrocki chuckles) more.

Nawrocki: Gotta run you by at 65 cents.

Vischer: Yeah, an iPod has up to 10 gig on it.

Nawrocki: Aw man.

Vischer: And, uh, and that hard drive cost $2200, I remember.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

("God is Bigger" ends.)

Vischer: And so the whole show had to be rendered to that one hard drive, which then filled up and would only hold maybe about a- a minute's worth-

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: -Of rendered frames.

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: And then we would have to, uh, uh, save it all off to a DAT tape and delete it all and then fill it up again and then save that all off to a DAT tape and then delete it all and fill it up again. (Nawrocki snickers) So by the time we got to the end, we had to stack up like 20 to 30 DAT tapes with all the... film on, and we didn't know about rendering- we didn't know about an editing system, so we figured when we get to the end, we'll just rent one and we'll dump all the frames. We didn't have any money for- to buy one-

Nawrocki: Right.

Vischer: -So we'll just rent one for a couple of weeks.

Nawrocki: That's all it would take. (chuckles)

Vischer: Yeah, (chuckles) sure, that's all it takes.

Nawrocki: Two weeks.

Vischer: (laughs) And then we'll dump all of those frames, uh, in a couple of weeks on the editing system and put in sound effects and make it all snappy pretty.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: And lay it off the tape and we'll be done!

Nawrocki: It'll be easy.

Vischer: What could possibly go wrong?

Nawrocki: Two weeks seems like an eternity when you're in your twenties.

Vischer: (chuckles) But we didn't really know how we were gonna get the frames over to the editing system, 'cause nothing was as easy then as it is now.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: So, and we had all the frames were on- still at GRAFx work station and the editing system was a Mac-based editing system, Macintosh-based. So we had to, uh, do something called FTP to get-

Nawrocki: You know what? I just realized something.

Vischer: What?

Nawrocki: We went through all this talking tech-

Vischer: Oh, there's- did you see the dinosaur?!

Nawrocki: Oh, that's pretty cool. And Larry is, "Pfffft!" and we didn't even say anything about that.

Vischer: Ohhhhh.

Nawrocki: We're just talking tech here-

Vischer: What'd he say?

Nawrocki: I don't know. Were we concerned (Vischer laughs) that, uh, Larry was making a farting noise?

Vischer: We- Yeah, and also-

Nawrocki: Can I even say that on a commentary?

Vischer: No, you can't say that, I don't think. He was making a spitting noise, but-

Nawrocki: Okay.

Vischer: -But he was also implying that that's what God did-

Nawrocki: Yeah, so-

Vischer: -When he made all the stars. So that's, you know, right from the beginning, we were kinda pushing the envelope.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: We were...

Nawrocki: Right on the edge.

Vischer: That's some risky stuff. Boy, that sure is a nice dinosaur. Did you see that dinosaur? It was in that shot too.

Nawrocki: Yep.

(Frankencelery appears, Junior says, "Ahhh! It's Frankencelery!")

Vischer: WHOA! Hang on! It's Frankencelery! That's trouble! I'm gettin' in the toy chest! You'll notice I don't think there's a single texture map in this entire show. (chuckles)

Nawrocki: Oh, everything's just flat-shaded?

Vischer: Everything is just flat, colors the walls, just blue.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: You know the toys, just whatever- Oh, Larry has a texture map, he's got his little bumpiness.

NawrockI: Yeah.

Vischer: And, you know, little green color variation. But, you know, it works.

("God is Bigger" plays again)

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: Whatever. Didn't get any letter- Actually, I had one guy call me to say, "Why didn't you use texture maps?" And, well, I don't know.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: Didn't have time. (chuckles) Well, it seems to work. That little picture on the wall there has a texture map, of course.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: The picture there, but-

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: Uh, that's a pretty darn simple show.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: And the books up there on the shelf? They're just cubes flattened.

Nawrocki: I like the faceting on the little-

Vischer: Yeah?

Nawrocki: -On the footboard, that's nice.

Vischer: Yeah, that is-

Nawrocki: Yeah, there's really no- I don't think there are any, like, smooth curves in this whole show either.

Vischer: Not very many, no.

Nawrocki: It's all straight lines.

Vischer: Yeah, it's not a real smooth show. Oh, and that- this is actually the first song that was written for VeggieTales. This, uh, "God is Bigger Than the Boogie Man" was written before the theme song.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: It was that song first, and then, um... and actually at this- at this point in the history of kids' video, the Wee Sing videos were really popular. So I was watching the Wee Sing videos.

Nawrocki: Okay.

Vischer: Which were just, you know, public domain songs wall-to-wall-

Nawrocki: Uh-huh.

Vischer: -Saying, "Okay, what's- you know, what are kids going for in music?"

Nawrocki: Uh-huh.

Vischer: And kinda decided that, uh, this, uh, uh, kinda bluegrass-

Nawrocki: Dixie.

Vischer: -Dixie- Dixieland feel-

Nawrocki: Okay.

Vischer: -Would be a lot of fun.

Nawrocki: Okay.

Vischer: And then that's when I had to figure out who could actually do it because I was just strumming this song on my guitar.

Nawrocki: Right. I remember that, and I remember listening to Kurt... uh, Kurt's version of it in a cassette player in your car-

Vischer: Wow.

Nawrocki: -In your garage, you remember that?

Vischer: Wow!

Nawrocki: You played it for me and I was actually surprised at how good it was.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: I said, "Wow, this guy, you know-"

Vischer: This Kurt guy-

Nawrocki: "-Is good at music!"

Vischer: This Kurt guy, he might be worth having around! (Nawrocki chuckles) That's what he was thinking!

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: So- But I played this-this song for my wife first on my guitar and she said, "That's too simple to be a song. That can't be a song." And I said, "No, really! I think it'll work!"

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

("God is Bigger" ends.)

Vischer: And then Kurt made it a little fancier. Here's Dad, the first time we had to wrestle with "How does Dad sit down and where does his tie end up (Nawrocki chuckles) when he's sitting?"

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: It turns into a belt.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: When he's- Look at that! He's got a belt on!

Nawrocki: Yep, yep. That's a stylish tie, though, isn't it?

Vischer: Yeah. Oh yeah, there-that's a texture map.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: (chuckles) There are like five texture maps in this whole... whole film, I think.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: But that's like a warm little scene. That's kinda nice, for being extraordinarily low-budget.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

(Pause for 3 seconds.)

Vischer: Look at that, so cute. Oh, look at that nodding. We're a little more subtle now with our animating.

Nawrocki: (chuckles) Yeah.

Vischer: But see, we had to turn out like, you know, 10 seconds a day per animator on this to make it-

Nawrocki: Well, I think, the other thing too, even-even though it-it was like 10 seconds per day, I don't even know if (Vischer chuckles) we had the skill to animate better even if-

Vischer: No.

Nawrocki: -We would have had the time.

Vischer: If you'll notice in here, that... if, for example, it-it's a rule in animation that when you- when a character looks from one point to another point, the first thing you do is you blink. And if you actually pay attention, you typically do that. You blink, and then your pupils go and then your head follows. So most head turns go in a sequence; blink, pupils, and then head catches up. And we clearly did not know that principle in this show (Nawrocki chuckles) 'cause it almost never happens.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: Pupils kinda drifting left and right, (Nawrocki chuckles) up and down-

Nawrocki: Characters jerking left and right-

Vischer: Hey! This is the first ever Silly Song with Larry! And the only one that was not written by Mike Nawrocki!

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: Yayyyy!

Nawrocki: Well, "High Silk Hat", uh, Marc Vulcano did that one.

Vischer: Oh, that's right. Oops, sorry, my mistake!

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: Um, I wrote this one! And, uh, it was never, uh, we never thought that we'll do a Silly Song with Larry in every show we do. It was just "Let's just do something silly in this one", and how about kind of a Monty Python, you know, kind of a "and now it's time for Silly Songs with Larry".

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: So, and I came up with this song, which you probably already know, if you have the DVD of "Ultimate Silly Song Countdown". I was walking through the Plaza of the Dirks and Federal Building in downtown Chicago with a handful of tax forms, and all of a sudden started singing out of the blue, "Everybody's got a water buffalo". And so I had to write back to work, and this was when I was working at the post-house before we had officially started making the show, and had to hum it all the way back to work so I wouldn't forget it. And it was animated entirely by Chris Olsen-

Nawrocki: You know-

Vischer: -In a week!

Nawrocki: In a week, and the thing that bothered me about it at the time, which I like now, it's all one camera, one shot.

Vischer: Mm-hmm.

Nawrocki: And I thought it would be too monotonous, you know, at the time, and I think that we had problems with it because there were so many frames we couldn't break up the shot because it was so long.

("Daniel and the Lions' Den" begins.)

Vischer: We didn't have time-

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: -Either.

Nawrocki: But, you know, it works, it works so well.

Vischer: It works! And now we're trying to make them simpler like that again, 'cause we got kinda too complex.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: All of our Silly Songs were turning into, you know, fully-produced Broadway musicals.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: It's killing the budgets.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: This piece of animation is actually from an industrial, uh, film that I worked on. Not exactly was a daytime thing, uh, and I won't mention the client, because they'll say, "Hey, we own that! What are you doing?!"

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: But I built the sets and the mountain range and, uh, the texture maps for, uh, this industrial piece, and then, uh, repurposed it, uh, for the beginning of this show. And I think we, um, decided to do "Daniel and the Lions' Den" because my wife and I at this point had just seen "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and just thought that was, you know, just an amazing piece of work, and a great way to tell a Bible story. So we decided to do kind of that- kind of adaptation of "Daniel and the Lions' Den".

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: And so, and here it is.

Nawrocki: There it is. That is certainly a black and white floor, isn't it?

Vischer: Yeah, you know, they- they really liked black and white linoleum (Nawrocki chuckles) tile back in ancient Persia.

Nawrocki: True black and true white.

Vischer: Oh yeah, true black and true white. Yeah, there's no- there's no shades of gray.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: But, look. See, that- the motif, the little flower motif-

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: -On the walls? That was, uh, it came through research, they actually used that motif on, um, Darius's, uh, throne room.

Nawrocki: Cool.

Vischer: So, that was- and that's a texture map.

Nawrocki: That's a texture map.

Vischer: I think it's the only texture map in that-

Nawrocki: Wasn't everybody doing the whole chessboard thing too back then? Remember all the chessboard-

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: -Pieces and everybody would do it in 3D?

Vischer: Yeah, they were-

Nawrocki: Kinda looks like that.

Vischer: So this whole set, 'kay, this whole palace. Everything, and- and this was the most complex set and this show had 20,000 polygons in it. Okay, now, for reference-

Nawrocki: Didn't Khalil's turban have more than-

Vischer: For reference, (Nawrocki chuckles) on the Jonah pirate ship, there was a bag. Inside the bag was a bowling pin, and the bowling pin had 20,000 polygons in it.

Nawrocki: Yeah. Okay.

Vischer: And you don't even see it.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: Inside the bag.

Nawrocki: We got polygons just to kick around, (Vischer chuckles) throw them in a bag.

Vischer: See, but man, you know, in the old days- Oh, look, it's the pear! She never came back! We never used her again!

Nawrocki: Yeah, we should bring back the pear- Well, wait a minute! Although, the voice came back in "Jonah". Remember the- the woman on the dock?

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: 'Cause it's Gail Freeman.

Nawrocki: Yeah. Who was-

Vischer: Who was also the narrator!

Nawrocki: Yep, yep.

Vischer: The narrator. By- And that opening song when we were flying over that stuff I made for another piece?

Nawrocki: Uh-huh?

Vischer: Uh, my wife came up with that one. That was one of hers. When I-

Nawrocki: Were-

Vischer: The-

Nawrocki: What-

Vischer: The opening, um, score.

Nawrocki: Oh, the opening score!

Vischer: (humming the opening score) That one. And I actually tried to write words for it for the longest time-

Nawrocki: Okay.

Vischer: -But I couldn't figure out how to make it work, so we ended up using it just instrumentally. (regarding the Scallions) Look at those guys, they're cute. Not a whole lot of motion going on, you'll notice. Oh! Ooh! Oh!

Nawrocki: Okay, you remember this song? This is the first song we co-wrote, remember? You had written part of it-

Vischer: Oh yeah.

Nawrocki: -And wanted me to come up with a couple of extra verses?

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: That was fun.

Vischer: Yeah, I remember that.

Nawrocki: This- This little song still works, I really like this. I like the- I like the way this is shot, and, um, the choreography-

Vischer: Yep.

Nawrocki: -And everything.

Vischer: And I don't know if you know this story, but the three girls in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" who sang, you know, in the hedges and on the highways?

Nawrocki: Didn't I tell you- Didn't I tell you that? Didn't I tell you that story?

Vischer: I'm telling the story. (Nawrocki laughs) I don't care who told it.

Nawrocki: Well, you said, "I don't know if you know if you know this or not!"

Vischer: I don't know! I don't know!

Nawrocki: Because I told you!

Vischer: I don't know that you told me! (Nawrocki chuckles) I don't know that.

Both: (laughing)

Vischer: Anyway, the three girls in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" that sing that little song actually auditioned for the Coen Brothers singing this song.

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: Singing our song, that's the story.

Nawrocki: Yeah. See I found that online and I sent it to you.

Vischer: No you didn't.

Nawrocki: (laughing) Yes I did!

Vischer: No, you lie.

Both: (laughing)

Nawrocki: I do not lie.

Vischer: See, there's very little, uh...

Nawrocki: (imitating Scallion # 2) Better not be 'lion'!

Vischer: Almost no secondary motion later to this. But, I- I storyboarded this whole film, because we didn't have any story artists, and I did all the art direction 'cause we didn't have any art directors!

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: I designed the chair, 'cause we didn't have any designers.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: And there's nobody in the company, so...

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: Oy, that was a nice shot of that guy's bellybutton there.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: Not sure what happened there. Look-

Nawrocki: Nice little slide there-

Vischer: Slide. Yeah, and then- Chris Olsen animated a lot of this... I think, I'm not positive.

Nawrocki: I think so.

Vischer: You know, you can see some of the, uh, compression artifacts-

Nawrocki: Oh yeah.

Vischer: -On the door in the background.

Nawrocki: Oh yeah. Compressed.

Vischer: Yeah. 'Cause it was highly compressed to, if you're technical, to a, uh, media 100 non-linear editing system when it was first introduced like the very first generation of that editing system. And then, because we were renting it for two weeks and we ran out of time, the rental company was coming to take it away and we were only half-done laying off of our show, so we had to dump it down onto a beta-cam tape and then rent an AVID from somebody else and then re-digitize the whole thing (Nawrocki chuckles) onto the AVID!

Nawrocki: So, it's compressed-

Vischer: Like the worst possible scenario!

Nawrocki: Yeah, so it's, uh...

Vischer: You notice those banners. They seem to be-

Nawrocki: A little dark?

Vischer: -Self-levitating.

Nawrocki: (chuckles) Well, it's just that the- the fishing line is so fine-

Vischer: Oh really?

Nawrocki: -They can't see it.

Vischer: Okay.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: Oh, I like this. This was kinda fun. But look at the guy's eyes on the right. He's just- His eyeballs are just kinda drifting around and he's not blinking.

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: Isn't that good fur? I did the texture map on his fur collar.

Nawrocki: (chuckles) It's brilliant.

Vischer: Doesn't that look like real fur?

Nawrocki: (chuckling) Oh man. It's like you're-

Vischer: It's dalmatian.

Nawrocki: It's really there.

Vischer: (chuckles) Now at the end of this... song, uh, there is a thunderclap.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: A lightning flash.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: Which was actually not intentional. It was a render glitch that cannot-

Nawrocki: At the right time.

Vischer: -Go away, so we ended up just putting a sound effect to it (Nawrocki chuckles) 'cause we couldn't get the render glitch to go away, and turned it into thunder.

Nawrocki: It works too! It was amazing-

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: -At the time that I did it.

Vischer: You'll see it when it comes up. Actually, the little green onions have, uh, texture maps on them to make their little bottoms white.

Nawrocki: Was there actually glass in his monocle? I can't remember if there was.

Vischer: I think so. I don't know. Turn around! Yeah!

Nawrocki: Is there a little bit of reflection in there?

Vischer: Just a little. Hmmm.

Nawrocki: I don't know.

Vischer: Well, maybe.

Nawrocki: It may be just the compressions.

Vischer: Oh, here we go. Here we go! Here comes the thunderstorm!

Nawrocki: (chuckling)

(Pause for 5 seconds.)

Vischer: Whoo!

Nawrocki: There you go!

Vischer: (chuckling) That was unscripted. It was improvised by the computer itself.

Nawrocki: (chuckling)

Vischer: But it really added.

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: And then the thunderstorm's over.

(Female vocalist sings "So the law was passed...")

Vischer: Oh, that's my wife! I forgot about this little part! Man, I haven't watched this show in about 10 years.

Nawrocki: Been a long time.

Vischer: (singing) "Just begun" (speaking) That was very, uh, Lloyd Webber-y in-

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: -That little... bit. Oh, that town. (chuckles) That town is all just-

Nawrocki: Look at those little boxes!

Vischer: (laughing)

Nawrocki: Oh man.

Vischer: Yeah, I think I built this... little set, I don't remember. Chris Olsen built it. I can't remember.

Nawrocki: (whispering)

Vischer: But that was pretty extravagant to build a whole set just for one shot.

Nawrocki: Oh yeah!

Vishcer: You know.

Nawrocki: Yeah, yeah.

Vischer: Man.

Nawrocki: Like a whole town.

Vischer: Whooo!

(Scallion # 1 says, "Ah-ha! Oh! Ah-ha!")

Vischer: Two shots. Oh, that was slapstick. Did you see-

Nawrocki: Wow, that door was moving pretty slow, wasn't it, for slapstick?

Both: (laughing)

Nawrocki: Looking at the animation now.

Vischer: This was kinda hard, getting characters to carry other characters-

Nawrocki: Mm.

Vischer: -In there and some sort of red world.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm. And Mars-ish.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: So that's what lions den look like back then!

Both: (laughing)

Vischer: Chris Olsen did that little lion thingy. He was always good at the little, you know, iconography.

Nawrocki: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Vischer: Also did the little, uh, little signs in the "Forgive-o-matic" when they came down-

Nawrocki: Oh yeah.

Vischer: -That symbol of-

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: -The bear in the blender, and-

Nawrocki: Did he do the lion pizza box too?

Vischer: I think- Pretty sure. Ah, he was kinda our first graphic artist.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: Before we had any graphic artists.

Nawrocki: Now, I love to compare this with "Little Joe". Remember when Little Joe gets thrown into the mine shaft?

Vischer: Yep. (chuckles)

Nawrocki: I'd love to do a split-screen on both of those and just look at the, you know-

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: -Part in technology.

Vischer: Now this- this is some funny stuff, and this was improvised by Mr. Mike... Nawrocki and Mr. Mike Sage.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: Mike Sage being the short guy, Mike Nawrocki being the tall guy. And boy, were we laughing.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: That was some funny stuff. Larry's not laughing.

Nawrocki: No, he's in the lions' den.

Vischer: He didn't get it.

Nawrocki: It's not funny to him.

Vischer: He didn't get it.

(Pause for 9 seconds.)

Vischer: That was - This was-

Nawrocki: -Animated by Chris Olsen.

Vischer: -Animated by Chris Olsen in one night.

Nawrocki: Just taking those little guys and-

Vischer: Flappin' 'em around.

Nawrocki: -Flappin' 'em around.

Vischer: See? You gotta be clever. We always had a saying at Big Idea that clever is worth more than gold. Because, then you don't have to spend a lot of gold if you're being- Like the lions, for example. We're thinking, "How on earth are we gonna do lions?"

Nawrocki: Uh-huh.

Vischer: "We can't do lions! That'd be expensive!"

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: But, I put on my thinking cap (Nawrocki laughs) and I go into- I sit in my Thinking Chair-

Nawrocki: Your Thinking Chair.

Vischer: -And I decide, "We don't need lions, we just need yellow eyeballs!"

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: And they'll just kinda float.

Nawrocki: Mm-hmm.

Vischer: Oh! It's my wife again! Oh, I did those- those fuzzy... pink things.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: (laughing)

Nawrocki: That's a pink puffy cloud from Teletubbyland.

Vishcer: (laughing) Yeah! So...

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: And this was kinda tricky, this big old camera move, 'cause we weren't used to doing big old camera moves... back then. See how it's-

Nawrocki: Oh man.

Vischer: -Minimalist the set is?

Nawrocki: Oh yeah.

Vischer: (laughing)

Nawrocki: Who's turning? Is Larry turning?

Vischer: I don't know.

Nawrocki: Is the camera turning? Is the world turning?

Vischer: I think a little of both. Actually, we had a problem with that shot for a while, because the animator had Larry turning and the camera was turning, but you couldn't tell which was happening.

Nawrocki: Do you remember my suggestion about-

Vischer: See how the lions got compassionate there?

Nawrocki: I did, yeah. Their eyes.

Vischer: Now they care about him.

Nawrocki: Yeah, now they're not so scary.

Vischer: They're saying, "He looks hungry, let's order pizza."

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: That's what they're saying there.

Nawrocki: Um, remember my suggestion, like a year and a half ago-

Vischer: Robert- Did Robert Ellis do that little-

Nawrocki: Yeah, I think he did.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: Yeah. Remember my suggestion a couple of years ago. I wanted to actually reanimate this whole thing?

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: Like just keep the same script, rerecord it, and reanimate it.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: I would love to do that one of these days. I know it would be great.

Vischer: I think we'd lose money on it.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: 'Cause everybody already has it, see?

Nawrocki: Yeah, but they don't have it with good animation or audio-

Vischer: I know, but they aren't gonna buy it again.

Nawrocki: Oh, I don't know.

Vischer: 'Cause they've known this story. People care more about the story than they care about animation.

Nawrocki: Yeah, yeah.

Vischer: You know?

Nawrocki: Yeah, that's probably true.

Vischer: Boy, that's very- Look at that animation. Wheeee! (laughing)

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: Just slide 'em around!

Nawrocki: Oh, the best though, is still the "Rack, Shack and Benny" floating balloon mom.

Vischer: Oh.

Nawrocki: (imitating Mom Asparagus, singing) "Think of me every day".

Vischer: (laughing) Well, you know some people have resources (Nawrocki laughs) and some people don't have resources. But just because you don't have resources doesn't mean you can't make a show!

Nawrocki: (chuckles) Okay.

Vischer: You just have to make it in a different way! Look, his pupil came through, (Nawrocki laughs) that was always happening, their black pupils would pop through their eyelids.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: And then we'd either have to go in and adjust them down or try to paint 'em out later.

Nawrocki: And we tried to paint 'em out, uh, but we didn't really notice them. We didn't have quite the eye for- you know- the frame, uh, ratio-

Vischer: Although in this show, we didn't have any paint software. So we couldn't paint anything out.

Nawrocki: Wasn't I doing it- Oh no, later, I was actually doing it in Media-100. I'd actually-

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: -Collect freeze frames and bring 'em into like Paint or-or Photoshop or something and paint them out, and throw them back into- Oh, yeah, yeah! Look at all that pupil stuff.

Vischer: On this show, we had to catch it and go back and actually go into the animation file and push their pupil back into their head a little more and-

Nawrocki: Right.

Vischer: -Then re-render those frames.

Nawrocki: Yep.

Vischer: That was kind of a hassle. That was a very nice hop cycle on the way out.

Nawrocki: That wasn't bad.

Vischer: Yeah. Oh, his mouth didn't quite say "Wow", but he-

Nawrocki: And he's not quite looking at the camera.

Both: (laughing)

Nawrocki: Larry's looking at the camera- (imitating Larry) Thank you. (normal) Ooh.

Vischer: (chuckles)

Nawrocki: Wow, this is hard to watch, isn't it?

Vischer: It's kinda funny that he said it was his finest hour and this was the first show ever.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: Or was it-

Nawrocki: Or maybe it was his finest hour so far.

Vischer: Oh, this song, my wife and I came up with melodically while we were driving to church one morning. And, uh, we were singing in the car and she was singing the melody and I was harmonizing, but I didn't yet carry around a little, uh, tape recorder. And so we had to sit through- she actually had to sit through church humming it, all through the church service so we wouldn't forget it. And then we came back home and wrote the words that afternoon.

Nawrocki: What's Larry doing?

Vischer: I don't know.

Nawrocki: (laughing)

Vischer: Trying to figure out if Bob is a real tomato.

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: Or a CGI tomato.

Nawrocki: (chuckles, imitating Larry) Bob, are you CGI?

Vischer: Here come- Now, Qwerty, I actually built for another corporate training video.

Nawrocki: Oh really?

Vischer: I hope they don't notice either.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: They- They wanted us-

Nawrocki: That's an IBM-386, right?

Vischer: Yeah, it was a 386. They just wanted a little computer that could, uh, look around and wiggle a little.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: So I made this little wiggling computer and then thought, "Hey! I can use that wiggling computer again!" (Nawrocki chuckles) And now it's in VeggieTales, and it's still in VeggieTales, 10 years later.

Nawrocki: We've always wanted to upgrade Qwerty though, but we don't know if it could be-

Vischer: Yeah, I don't know. I think it's still good, you know, 'cause if all you're doing is word processing-

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: You know-

Nawrocki: Yeah, and checking e-mail.

Vischer: -And Bible search every now and then.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: You don't know more than a 386. Well, there you go. Wow, that was- Look, you can't even read the credits!

Nawrocki: Yeah! (laughing)

Vischer: We didn't know about-

Nawrocki: Didn't know-

Vischer: -About outlines yet!

Nawrocki: (chuckles)

Vischer: Man.

Nawrocki: Do you remember- and there, actually, the original version of this tape, we put the credits after each segment. Remember that?

Vischer: Yes, we did.

Nawrocki: So we had, we had "God is Bigger" and then the credits.

Vischer: Credits.

Nawrocki: And then the Silly Song, and then the credits.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: And then-

Vischer: I don't think we did it on the Silly Song, I don't think we did.

Nawrocki: I don't- Did we? I can't remember.

Vischer: And "Daniel" had credits, and then we got letters. We only sold 500 of those first videos, so if you have one of those, HOHOHO!

Nawrocki: See? I was calling myself Michael at that point-

Vischer: Really?

Nawrocki: -Because it was more sophisticated.

Vischer: That was so sophisticated.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: Uh, that made you look older too.

Nawrocki: Yeah, it did.

Vischer: When you said Michael.

Nawrocki: Yeah, well now it kinda makes me feel younger 'cause that's my son's name.

Both: (laughing)

Vischer: So, uh- Oh, but wait! There's more credits!

Nawrocki: Yeah, yeah.

Vischer: So we had credits after each of the two segments, and if you have one of those videos, it's probably collectible. Uh, but then we got letters saying, "Hey! You know, we got to the end of the first segment and the credits rolled and my kids got up and walked away-"

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: "'Cause they've been conditioned to get up and walk away whenever they see credits."

Nawrocki: Yeah, yeah.

Vischer: "So, don't do that anymore!" So we said, "Okay, we won't."

Nawrocki: We won't.

Vischer: And then we came back with the second video and, uh-

Nawrocki: Oh look, dialogue breakdown!

Vischer: Dialogue breakdown!

Nawrocki: Oh man.

Vischer: Take down! Shake down!

Nawrocki: That's a nightmare.

Vischer: Yeah, that was a nightmare.

Nawrocki: Yeah, and I think on show number 1, I actually had to do it off of a video tape.

Vischer: Yeah, you were, uh-

Nawrocki: Like shuttling it back and forth.

Vischer: Yeah.

Nawrocki: Writing down every single syllable.

Vischer: No, no, no, no. I think you were doing that on the SGI, 'cause we didn't have-

Nawrocki: Oh, you're right! I did that-

Vischer: It was a computer!

Nawrocki: We had a computer, so I actually just did- redid that digitally, yeah.

Vischer: Digital, digitally, that's the- That's almost as boring as, uh, working in a tollbooth.

Nawrocki: (chuckling)

Vischer: Mike did it for the team. And look-

Nawrocki: Oh look! I think that's a more recent-

Vischer: Wow! That's very nice! I don't remember that.

Nawrocki: Yeah.

Vischer: "Copyright 1998"? That's not when we made that show. Oh well, goodbye!

Fun Facts

  • Despite what Phil and Mike promised, the Easter eggs for Mr. Cuke's Screen Test and Take 38 aren't available on the 2004 and 2008 DVD releases.
  • Taco Bell is an American fast food restaurant.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a musical adaption of the Bible story of Joseph by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • The Thinking Chair Phil was referring to is the red chair used in Blue's Clues, where the host sits down at the end of every show after he collects the clues Blue left out.
  • Tales from the Crypt is an HBO series about horror stories formatted for a half hour episode, hence why Phil states it's not for kids. It is somewhat similar to the Twilight Zone, but more edgier and scary.
  • The Wee Sing series were home videos that were made between the mid 80s to either mid or late 90s.
  • Teletubbyland is the name of the area from the children's show "Teletubbies". There was an episode about a cloud that turned pink due to the tubby custard.