Ben Hurst interview at SAGExpo (August 27, 2006)
From Sonic Retro
The following is an IRC chat log from the channel #sagexpo captured during the eleventh Sonic Amateur Games Expo. In it, Ben Hurst, main writer of the second season of Sonic the Hedgehog, fields questions from those who were in attendance. It occurred on August 27th, 2006.
The log has been edited, with many segments unrelated to the core interview removed for brevity. Certain elements, such as improper spelling and grammar, have been preserved. In the transcript below, Ben Hurst goes by the handle Swriter.
[20:57] * Swriter has joined #sagexpo
[20:57] PerfectChaosZero: And the star has arrived!
[20:58] Swriter: Heya all.
[20:58] PerfectChaosZero: I gotta say Ben, you really draw quite a crowd
[20:58] PerfectChaosZero: You got almost 50 people here just to see you
[20:58] Swriter: I'll say a general hello since there are so many.
[21:01] * PerfectChaosZero sets mode: +m
[21:02] Swriter: LOL
[21:02] Swriter: Thanks. Much calmer.
[21:02] Silve: How did working on Sonic Underground generally differ from SATAM?
[21:02] Swriter: Is the first official question from Silve?
[21:03] Swriter: Okay. Question 1
[21:03] Swriter: Sonic Underground, Pat and I were brought in as an afterthought - after all the creative development was done.
[21:04] Swriter: We were "summoned" to a cattle call of writers and we refused.
[21:04] Swriter: But then one of the muckymucks at Dic promised us two episodes, so we went.
[21:04] Swriter: 20 writers in the room.
[21:04] Swriter: I wanted to walk out - but Pat was standing on my foot.
[21:05] Swriter: Anyway, they showed an episode from Satam season One - not one of ours - to illustrate the basics of the show.
[21:05] Swriter: Again, I wanted to walk out - but Pat nailed my feet to the floor.
[21:05] Swriter: After the meeting, I was first out the door.
[21:06] Swriter: But muckymuck from Dic asked us to come with him. He wasn't terribly happy with the existing script for the pilot...
[21:06] Swriter: So he asked us to rush a script through (I think it was Wedding Bell Blues)
[21:06] Swriter: We did.
[21:06] Swriter: They got rid of existing story editor and hired us and two more
[21:07] Swriter: Split the series down the middle - and ran it at two episodes a week, which is insanity.
[21:07] Swriter: Then, after the other team did four or five episodes, they left and we picked up the slack.
[21:08] Swriter: I had no input into the new continuity - and it was an amazingly insane schedule. Thus, the lack of quality in comparison to Satam.
[21:08] Swriter: Did manage to do an origin story
[21:08] Swriter: Did manage to do a 3-part knuckle story
[21:08] Swriter: but that whole disappearing mother - and a song in each episode made it difficult.
[21:08] Swriter: So, Satam was heaven, SU was tough.
[21:08] Swriter: End.
[21:09] yoshibot: Mr. Hurst, have you ever played any of the games the series is based off of?
[21:09] Swriter: Uh, no.
[21:09] Swriter: Next Q?
[21:09] PorpoiseMuffins: Ben- Can you now tell us the "unorthedox" plan you had to bring back SatAM around this time last year, and what ever became of it?
[21:09] Swriter: Died on the vine - and not worthy of mention now.
[21:09] Swriter: End
[21:10] PorpoiseMuffins: Alright, thanks :)
[21:10] Donnyku: Who's idea was it to bring Knuckles into Sonic Underground? I'm Not sure who wrote the 3 ep arc though
[21:11] Swriter: Ah, Knuckles.
[21:11] Swriter: To tell the truth, I'm not sure I would trust my memory on whose idea it was.
[21:11] Swriter: But I think I recall Pat and I wrote that three parter. Can anyone confirm?
[21:12] Quexinos: i think it had someone ese's name on it
[21:12] Swriter: Thanks
[21:13] Swriter: I know we did the story outlines
[21:13] Swriter: Anyway, I do remember working out the details on how the story unfolded - and though there were a few songs...
[21:14] Swriter: ...that were decent - they really did interrupt the flow of the shows.
[21:14] Smidge204: You wrote the songs too?
[21:14] Swriter: We didn't write songs.
[21:14] Swriter: We did an "outline" of the song.
[21:14] Swriter: Telling the music department what they should contain.
[21:15] Swriter: Then, they did the music and plopped it in.
[21:15] Swriter: The reason for the music:
[21:15] Swriter: Becuase DIC kept the rights to the ASCAP/BMI Royalties to increase revenues on the show - and afterward.
[21:15] Swriter: The song writers got practically nothing.
[21:15] Swriter: End.
[21:15] Dark_Warrior: Mr. Hurst, was there ever any influences from the games used in SATAM/Underground, even though you may have never played them. I mean, sure, the power rings are there, but anything else?
[21:16] Swriter: I can't answer a question for both shows - they were entirely different.
[21:16] Swriter: So, as for influences on Satam:
[21:16] Swriter: Len Janson was the story editor in season one - and he created the bible.
[21:17] Dark_Warrior: Well, not necesarily coincciding influences, but ones in either?
[21:17] Swriter: So, he was fed things to put into the series. Some of which he included, some of which he ignored.
[21:17] Swriter: Thus the power rings.
[21:17] Swriter: And other elements.
[21:17] Swriter: SU - was different.
[21:17] Swriter: The continuity was in place when they brought us on board.
[21:18] Swriter: If I had been brought in first, I would have made SU season 3 of Satam.
[21:18] Swriter: And if they had insisted on songs, I would have found a less intrusive way to work them in.
[21:18] Swriter: Maybe just great footage over the song and none of the character singing - or maybe have Ant and Bunny form a group.
[21:19] Swriter: Now that I say the latter, it leaves a bad taste in my mind.
[21:19] Swriter: Damn, I haven't typed this fast in a while. :)
[21:19] Swriter: End
[21:20] Swriter: Next up?
[21:20] SB: What did you like the most about Roboropolis?
[21:20] Swriter: What I liked most about Robotropolis?
[21:20] Swriter: I think the dark look in such contrast to Knothole.
[21:21] Swriter: And the pathos of what the Robotisization did to the residents. Excuse my spelling.
[21:21] Swriter: The artists on Satam really knocked themselves out in the second season - the best backgrounds I've ever seen on an animated series.
[21:22] Swriter: End.
[21:20] Bartman: How long were you working for Tiny Toons?
[21:22] Swriter: I don't remember how long - but I know we penned 18 episodes. I don't know how many actually made it into production.
[21:22] Swriter: But did get a nice complimentary letter from Spielberg to Pat and myself. We glowed for weeks.
[21:23] Donnyku: do you still have that letter?
[21:23] Swriter: Yes. Of course. :)
[21:23] Swriter: End.
[21:23] Bartman: Hmm...can you remember some of the episodes you've written?
[21:24] Swriter: The one about the dog that could change shape - he would puddle, then re-emerge going the other way.
[21:24] Swriter: He was protecting some birds.
[21:24] Swriter: And did a number on a cat.
[21:24] Quexinos: i remember that one ^_^
[21:25] Swriter: And there was a scary one with....(oh, first goes the memory)...uh...
[21:25] Swriter: I can't remember.
[21:25] Swriter: That's just about the same time we sold our movie. Things were nuts about then. We were also working on a Euro cartoon series called Star Street.
[21:25] Swriter: Someday, I'll have to update my IMDB.
[21:26] Meowtwo: Elmyra had a lot of animals.
[21:26] Swriter: I remember using Elmyra once - but really sorry, I don't remember too many details. It was a blur.
[21:26] Smidge204: Heavy drinking will do that
[21:26] Swriter: LOL
[21:27] PerfectChaosZero: Ok, I guess that's it for tiny toons for the time being?
[21:27] PerfectChaosZero: or do you still have more comments on it Ben?
[21:27] Swriter: Sorry I can't remember more - but that was also the time that Len Janson's partner from so many series...
[21:27] Swriter: ...was diagnosed with brain cancer.
[21:27] Swriter: And died.
[21:28] Swriter: Along with everything else, it was a turbulent time. I was also working on an exhibit at the Smithsonian.
[21:28] Cheezmatt: Oh dear. Okay.
[21:28] Swriter: I'm pleased to say I have another exhibit opening at the Smith next year, "Emmisaries of Peace." :)
[21:28] Cheezmatt: Ahem... Forgive me if this strains the memory: Did Robotnik roboticize almost the entire population of Mobius, or were the regions aside from Robotropolis kept under martial law?
[21:29] Swriter: Cheezmatt, good question.
[21:29] Swriter: When Len decided to bring Pat and me in on the second season exclusively...
[21:29] Swriter: ...we had to sit down and decide the final details of the universe.
[21:29] Swriter: It had just been an unconnected series of episodes up until then.
[21:30] Swriter: So, we watched all 13 from the first season, then brainstormed.
[21:30] Swriter: And I don't know if we specifically addressed that issue, but it would have been R's intention to spread his tentacles far and wide.
[21:31] Swriter: But the freedom fighters had kept him confined to a large degree - and least so we decided. I think. Wow, it's been 12 years.
[21:31] Swriter: 11, actually
[21:33] Swriter: Did I answer last question sufficiently?
[21:33] Smidge204: From last time, I got the impression that you live in a social bubble to prevent "contamination" of your writings. Is that true?
[21:33] Swriter: Not a social bubble.
[21:34] Swriter: But I have been careful not to expose myself to the further incarnations of Sonic.
[21:34] Smidge204: I used that term for lack of a better
[21:34] Swriter: Not through contempt or lack of respect - but because I don't want to wind up subconsciously plagerizing (sp).
[21:35] Smidge204: Anyway, that answers my question nicely. Thank you.
[21:35] Swriter: The direct answer to the R question - is that it wasn't important in the greater scheme of the original 11-episode arc of the second season.
[21:35] Swriter: Actually, now that you mentioned it, we had freedom fighter groups around the planet - so they must have been fighting him off.
[21:35] Swriter: Duh.
[21:36] Swriter: And you would have seen more groups if ABC hadn't decided to saddle us with those four goofy shorts.
[21:36] Kroze: Well, you mentioned to us about the Rosey incedent at the writers table yesterday... care to tell us the story?
[21:36] Swriter: LOL
[21:36] Swriter: That's an hour of my time I'll never get back.
[21:37] Swriter: When I wrote B to P - one of the rules from Len was that we always suffered losses and had gains.
[21:37] Swriter: So the gain for that episode was Rosie.
[21:37] Swriter: But the exec at ABC was "sure" that the audience would have an expectation of seeing and hearing from Rosie again.
[21:38] Swriter: And wanted me to remove her and that part of the storyline.
[21:38] Swriter: But I wasn't letting go without a fight.
[21:38] Swriter: And I cajoled, whined, pleaded and finally just dug my feet in.
[21:39] Swriter: And you know the result. But it made me realize the difficulty of working with executives who are too literal and not creative.
[21:39] Swriter: Actually, this exec was one of Len's former secretaries who let her power go just a bit ot her head.
[21:41] MissPuar: #02sorry if it's been asked- but what species are the FFs? I get so tired of ppl arguing about sally being a squirel or a fox ;__; your opinion'd be very apreciated.
[21:42] Swriter: Sally was a fox/squirrel. At least that's what we told ourselves. There was a bit of ambiguity around the office on that one.
[21:42] PerfectChaosZero: So then half squirrel, half fox?
[21:42] H_Hog: sort of a portmanteau between groundhog and squirrel, I'd gather
[21:42] Swriter: But we were so preoccupied with the master storyline, that those kinds of questions sort of fell by the wayside.
[21:42] Swriter: No, not half and half, just nebulous.
[21:43] Swriter: I'm trying to remember what her father looked like in B to P.
[21:43] Swriter: I think he was a Fox.
[21:43] Swriter: So - mom might have been a squirrel.
[21:43] Swriter: Or vicey vercy
[21:44] Swriter: Well, the important thing was the character, not the design. She's one of my favorite characters.
[21:44] Cheezmatt: Question: In one episode, "The Void," there is a brief mention of a command meeting. It's also mentioned that Robotnik has "Lieutenants". Who or what are these Lieutenants?
[21:45] Swriter: Due to lack of space and time, we never could get into the entire backstory. So, the command meeting was never fully explored - and Robotnik's lts. were sort of left by the road.
[21:46] Swriter: And as for the Fox and Squirrel debate, we weren't really sure either, but it didn't seem important at the time. In hindsight, we probably should have decided.
[21:46] Swriter: Cheez - I would have to go back through my personal notes for that one. I did a large amount of work that never saw the light of day.
[21:46] Swriter: End
[21:47] Sling: Ok...so Ben
[21:47] Sling: Since you worked on SatAM, did you ever meet Jaleel White and what is he like?
[21:48] Swriter: I have met Jaleel. He struck me as one of the most gentle souls ever. Kind, courteous to a fault and modest - as well as soft-spoken - until the camera or microphone turned on.
[21:49] SSNWadmanKiddo: So then the mic turned on and...?
[21:49] Swriter: Yes. I had occasion to meet him outside of Sonic as well - and he was a gentleman. And rather shy.
[21:49] Swriter: He was the consummate actor when the mic turned on. He embraced the spirit of Sonic.
[21:49] Swriter: End
[21:49] DimensionWarped: Mr. Hurst, did the result of the script after it went through editing ever bring what you thought to be too many changes to the script?
[21:50] Swriter: No. Most of the changes in writing came from Len and he was very respectful.
[21:50] Swriter: He also shielded us from interference in the storylines - and defied the powers-that-be on numerous occasions.
[21:50] Swriter: To Len, story was first, executives and other opinions were second.
[21:51] Swriter: Actually, story first, character first and other things second. :)
[21:51] Swriter: Len was the highest paid story editor in the history of animation. He started his career at HB bringing the Smurfs to the screen.
[21:51] Swriter: And had/has the respect of all.
[21:53] Shadix: Alright, I'm gonna squeeze this in here since I keep getting forgotten. Back on the subject of music; as you probably already know we cheezmatt managed to obtain a score for the show that had alot of demo tracks and wasen't exactly what we were looking for. Do you know who we can talk to or where we can go to possibly find the real backscore to season 1?
[21:53] Swriter: I don't have a clue, Shadix. I made a call to DIC, possibly at your behest (sorry, sometimes I forget who asks me these things) and got the same runaround anyone else would get.
[21:54] Swriter: Unless there's some money to be made, they don't jump and answer.
[21:54] SonicUnderground3: wehn willthe new episodes of sonic underground air on tv in u,s,?
[21:54] SonicUnderground3: if there are any
[21:54] Swriter: I'm not aware of any new episodes.
[21:55] Swriter: At one time, I thought there were more than 40, but that was just my mind acting squirrely. Or foxxily. But that would take us back to Sally, so let's not go there. :)
[21:56] Swriter: Usually, syndicated series are in 65 episode blocks.
[21:56] Swriter: End. Let me know if I'm missing anything in the questions. This is a lot to watch.
[21:57] JKP: Ben, can you give us an update on this comedy movie you were working on?
[21:57] Swriter: It's finished and on the market. I don't think it will ever sell.
[21:57] SSNWadmanKiddo: On the market?
[21:58] Meowtwo: What's it called?
[21:58] Swriter: Yes, being shopped.
[21:58] Swriter: The Gift
[21:58] Meowtwo: What's it about?
[21:58] Swriter: Well, it's a movie script, so we're looking to sell it to a studio.
[21:58] Smidge204: Ah, that kinda market
[21:58] Swriter: LOL - that's not an easy answer - and it's sort of a strange area.
[21:59] Swriter: Has anyone ever heard of Le Petomane?
[21:59] Swriter: He was French - and played the Moulin Rouge for ten years to sold out houses.
[21:59] Swriter: Kings would disguise themselves to sneak into his shows.
[22:00] Swriter: Nurses were posted during each performance to catch women who fainted from laughter.
[22:00] Swriter: And he did his entire show...out his bottom. He was a freak of nature and could both inhale and exhale through his posterior.
[22:00] Swriter: And could do everything from a woman's scream to a baby cry to a French horn.
[22:01] Swriter: When the dramatic actress Sarah Barndhart visited Paris, her show was empty. No one could compete with him.
[22:01] Swriter: So, we had the thought, what if another person like him were born in present-day.
[22:01] Swriter: And thus the script.
[22:02] Swriter: It would be a monster hit, but Hollywood Execs are scared to death of it.
[22:03] Swriter: End
[22:04] PerfectChaosZero: Rave, you're up
[22:04] Rave779: Cool
[22:04] Rave779: OK, anyway, Mr. Hurst its a pleasure to talk directly to you
[22:05] Swriter: Thanks. It's a pleasure to be here.
[22:05] Swriter: Very gratifying to see the team's work is still alive.
[22:05] Rave779: and its been really cool that you wrote some of Sonic too
[22:05] Rave779: cuz you also got me hooked to chili dogs
[22:05] Swriter: I loooooooove chili dogs. :)
[22:06] Rave779: do you think you have any more plans for working on any more Sonic the Hedgehog projects in the future?
[22:06] Rave779: Or something around there
[22:07] Swriter: I've heard rumblings hear and there, but I only comment on that which is signed, sealed and delivered. So far, Sega has not approached me.
[22:07] Swriter: hear=here
[22:07] Rave779: I see, and what did you think about Sonic Underground, the way that turned out?
[22:08] Swriter: Sonic Underground has its moments. But in truth, it can't measure up to Satam.
[22:08] Swriter: It wasn't as well thought out and the pace of the production was too fast for proper reflection and good writing.
[22:09] Swriter: Rave, to tell you the truth, I can't really remember how Underground ended. I know that's sad, but it was done as such a blatant commercial afterthought that I just got in there, wrote and walked away.
[22:10] Rave779: I see, well I guess thats about it for me, thanks Mr. Hurst
[22:10] Swriter: Did I answer sufficently?
[22:10] Swriter: Oh, I guess so. :)
[22:11] this_guy: Last year you talked about that if your plan for getting the third season of SATAM made fell through that you would write it up in narrative form and release it on the net. Do you still want to do this and if so when would they be released
[22:12] Swriter: I think my phrasing was "might." Pardon me for fudging, but until all hope is extinguished - I'll not spill the beans on the (who knows if it will happen?) third season
[22:13] this_guy: ah so there is still some hope
[22:13] Swriter: There's always hope.
[22:13] Swriter: At least until I croak. Then, I could care less. LOL
[22:13] Swriter: JK
[22:14] Swriter: Nah. I actually have a storyline and copious notes - and now with your question, I'll add to my will that they be released.
[22:15] SB: Once again, I'd like say I'm honored to talk to you, Mr. Hurst
[22:15] SB: Couple questions about SatAM once more
[22:16] SB: This might be a bit nitpicky, but in the episode "The Doomsday" Project, much of the machine appeared to be laid out with stonework, even in the higher levels. Any words on the actual design of the Doomsday Machine?
[22:16] Swriter: Thanks. Always makes me feel funny to be honored, but thanks.
[22:16] SB: Or maybe a better question is how did the idea of "Doomsday Machine" come into being between you writers.
[22:16] Swriter: Yes.
[22:17] Swriter: I created the doomsday machine - as I did most, if not all of the "devices" in Satam that I didn't inherit from the first season.
[22:17] Swriter: I had a fairly elaborate description of the machine, but there's only so much room in a 22 minute script
[22:17] Swriter: So the artists took it upon themselves to fill in the gaps.
[22:17] Swriter: I thought they did a great job - and I never noticed the stone.
[22:18] SB: Well, I was always interested in the technology of the series, so bravo from a techno-geek, sir.
[22:18] Swriter: Thanks. I love the techno-stuff. It's a blast (pardon pun) to write.
[22:18] Swriter: My favorite was the holographic maps. They were done very well by the artists.
[22:20] Swriter: Gimme a sec - I have a comment.
[22:21] Swriter: The breakdown of who did what in second season - Main storylines and backstory, devices and action mostly came from me. Character development mostly from Len and Pat. Dialogue rough from me - polished by Pat and finally by Len.
[22:22] SB: Thanks for answering my questions Ben. That's all from me.
[22:22] Swriter: I have a bunch of stuff still from the series. I sold all the storyboards from the 2nd season on ebay. Thank you one and all for paying for our health insurance for a year. :)
[22:22] Swriter: Some of the specs and stuff - and xerox backgrounds go to a special fan - the rest might wind up on ebay.
[22:23] Donnyku: Did you ever think of possibly having Sonic or Tails robotisized?
[22:24] Swriter: Of course. But we would have to build an entire story around that - and there would have to be a very good reason to do so.
[22:24] Donnyku: I was always interested in seeing a robotisized Sonic recking everything
[22:25] Swriter: Very chaotic of you. :)
[22:25] Donnyku: chaotic is fun though
[22:25] Swriter: It is indeed.
[22:25] Swriter: But it's too easy to go that route. I like subtleties.
[22:26] Donnyku: I guess the hard part is figuring how Sonic would be caught and robotisized, huh?
[22:26] Swriter: Nah, I could do it in a heartbeat. Twenty different ways. Sleep, betrayal, special equip by Robotnik. Like I say, that kind of stuff is easy to come up with.
[22:26] Swriter: Coming up with a story to support it is the hard part.
[22:27] Swriter: And if the story doesn't support it, I won't go there.
[22:27] Swriter: That kind of thing leads to devices taking over the script. Yuck!
[22:32] Slinger: Ben, I was wondering if you had an opinion on the Sonic X anime series?
[22:32] Swriter: Let me say this is immensely gratifying. Thanks for showing up, all.
[22:32] Swriter: I've never seen it Slinger.
[22:33] Slinger: eh
[22:33] Slinger: I was also going to ask about the games
[22:33] Slinger: the writing in them
[22:33] Swriter: I've never played them.
[22:33] Swriter: The only game I've played in a major way (and still do occasionally) is Descent and all its incarnations.
[22:34] Swriter: I love it because you blast stuff and nothing dies but robots.
[22:34] Smidge204: Descent 3 FTW!
[22:34] Smidge204: So beautiful ;.;
[22:34] Swriter: Yeah.
[22:34] Swriter: Except for the annoying little bot.
[22:34] Swriter: :)
[22:34] PerfectChaosZero: I don't believe Ben has tried out any SAGE Booths, but he's welcome to if he so desires
[22:34] Swriter: I don't know what they are.
[22:34] PerfectChaosZero: There's fan made video games
[22:35] PerfectChaosZero: *They're
[22:35] Sling: of mostly sonic
[22:35] Swriter: Ah.
[22:35] Swriter: I'm not particularly facile with games, but mayhaps I could give them a try sometime.
[22:35] Swriter: I love Descent because at one time I was a pilot. And the flying is quite realistic.
[22:36] Cheezmatt: Question about our favorite ugly sorceror, Nagus. He's been one of the most enigmatic elements in the series due to his shared history with Robotnik and the King, and his large role in Season 3. Without giving away important Season 3 plot points, can you tell us a little more about him? What were his motives for researching the Void, or teaming up with Robotnik? He didn't seem to be an evil sort in "The Void" - The King lived
[22:36] Swriter: Whew.
[22:37] Cheezmatt: " The King lived in relative comfort with him, and he didn't do any real harm to Sonic and the girls. In the very early Void outlines there was a note that read "Ixis is ally of dragons". So, is there anything at all you can tell us about Nagus?"
[22:37] Swriter: Wow, here's where the ten year gap from then to now comes into play.
[22:37] Swriter: As I recall...
[22:38] Swriter: He was in an early episode in Season 1
[22:38] Swriter: And in our campaign to reweave and wrap things into season 2, we dusted him off.
[22:38] Swriter: I have notes about him somewhere, but I'm coming up a little empty.
[22:38] Swriter: Sorry.
[22:39] Swriter: Remember, we wrote the entire season in 13 consecutive weeks. So, some of the lesser points have fallen to the wayside.
[22:39] Cheezmatt: That's perfectly fine.
[22:39] Quexinos: wait naugus was in an early episode in Season 1?
[22:39] Cheezmatt: Lazar.
[22:39] Quexinos: oh
[22:40] Swriter: That's what my memory tells me, but I don't know if I can trust it.
[22:40] Swriter: Was Lazar the one that spoke like Yoda - and was written by Jules Dennis?
[22:40] Cheezmatt: Yep.
[22:40] Swriter: Then scratch what I said. I must have created Naugus. LOL
[22:41] Quexinos: it hink the only thing used from Season 1 was the "metal eating baloons"
[22:41] Swriter: I loved those things.
[22:41] Cheezmatt: Well, I essentially wasted my questions... alas.
[22:42] Swriter: Sorry. First goes the mind.....
[22:42] Cheezmatt: Thanks anyway Ben, they were dignified answers nonetheless!
[22:42] Swriter: I'm just happy I can still type.
[22:44] SonicUnderground3: hey ben would you consider wirtting scripts for sonic x?
[22:44] Swriter: Of course.
[22:44] SonicUnderground3: and are yuou aware of the new sonic underground website that is up made by fans who have wrote some scripts for a secnod season and trying to get it on tv what are your thoughts on that?
[22:45] Swriter: I've never heard of the SU website. I wish them luck in their quest.
[22:45] SonicUnderground3: ok thank ben
[22:46] SSNWadmanKiddo: Ok, now for a more serious questino.
[22:47] * Swriter puts his serious hat on.
[22:47] SSNWadmanKiddo: In the past, like, year or so, online streaming video has become more popular. Stuff like www.Youtube.com if you've heard of that.
[22:47] Swriter: Yes.
[22:47] SSNWadmanKiddo: Full of amateurs making fools of themselves.
[22:47] Swriter: LOL
[22:47] Smidge204: Is that the one with the little plastic propeller or the can holders?
[22:48] Swriter: Plastic propellers! I can't believe you had to ask.
[22:48] Smidge204: Sorry!
[22:48] SSNWadmanKiddo: Have you ever thought of doing anything along the lines of taking advantage of the popularity of such video?
[22:48] Swriter: LOL
[22:48] SSNWadmanKiddo: Like... I dunno. Putting up something on Youtube you made?
[22:49] Swriter: SSNWad - It's crossed my mind. But I have directions in my life that are absorbing most of my time, including the resurrection of my original career - voice acting.
[22:49] Swriter: So, unless it has a paycheck attached to it, I sort of have to put other things ahead of it.
[22:50] Swriter: For those of you who don't know, I worked for Mel Blanc for 7 years. And had the rare honor of being his student for two years, one-on-one.
[22:50] Swriter: Mel Blanc=Porky,Bugs,Daffy, et all. For those of you too young to know.
[22:50] SSNWadmanKiddo: Got any tips you can tell us here?
[22:50] Swriter: Do you have a week? LOL
[22:51] Swriter: I spend a minimum ten hours a day now doing voices.
[22:51] Swriter: I want to do movie trailers.
[22:51] Swriter: And cartoons. :)
[22:51] PerfectChaosZero: haha, I saw that one trailer you made for that slug movie, XD
[22:51] Swriter: That was fun to voice.
[22:52] Swriter: I still have a ways to go on my character stuff, but a lot of the harder stuff is finally getting easier again. I just did four voices for a museum that will honor Boulder Dam.
[22:53] Swriter: I can give this advice for people interested in voice overs.
[22:53] Swriter: For every first chair symphony player, there is a person who spent tens of thousands of hours practicing. Voice is the same.
[22:53] Swriter: You have to create a list of your characters, then practice them EVERY DAY.
[22:54] Swriter: And read aloud every day. From books, from magazines, scripts - anything you can get your paws on.
[22:54] Swriter: The competition is fierce - and if you want to stand out, you'll have to be "first chair."
[22:55] H_Hog: thanks for the tip
[22:55] Swriter: Pleasure. :)
[22:56] rael_the_sexy: Mr. Hurst, what was your favorite episode that you wrote a story for?
[22:56] Swriter: Wow.
[22:56] Swriter: I used to think it was Blast. But now, I'm leaning towards Doomsday.
[22:56] Swriter: I love the interaction between S and Sal - and the kiss at the end. :)
[22:57] Swriter: And the "You'll always be #my# hero line.
[22:57] rael_the_sexy: Well, thanks a lot Mr. Hurst.
[22:57] Swriter: Sure.
[22:58] Meowtwo: Okay, bit of a pointless question, but I felt like I needed to ask something, where did the decision come from to change Rotor's appearance?
[22:59] Swriter: Whew. A softball.
[22:59] Swriter: That was Len, Len and Len.
[22:59] Swriter: He went on about it a bit to the lead design artist, who listened intently, looking like he was going to argue...
[22:59] Swriter: But simply shrugged and said, "Okay."
[23:00] Swriter: Len was sort of twitchy for a while - he had a full head of steam built up. I remember that day because I decided to go to lunch early and let him find someone else to unload it on.
[23:00] Swriter: Not to give the impression that Len is tempermental, because he's not. Just very firm in his convictions.
[23:01] SAGEVisitor710: Question: Robotnik and Shively seem to be the only humans on Mobius, exactly how did they get there and would there be any other humans on Mobius?
[23:01] Swriter: Whew. I shared that backstory once and got pilloried.
[23:02] Swriter: But I'll give the quick answer. Mankind destroyed themselves and altered the planet in the process, creating the sentient creatures. But a space expedition, operating under the rules of relativity...
[23:03] Swriter: ...kicked Robo and Snively out - and they came back to the changed planet. We never got to go into really deep detail because we lacked time.
[23:03] Swriter: And Sega wasn't too happy with that continuity.
[23:05] Rave779: THere was something that I wan't to ask about the SatAM version?
[23:05] * Swriter drums his fingers, looks at his watch, taps his foot.
[23:05] Rave779: Like, how did the planet come to be called Mobius?
[23:05] Swriter: Stole that from Sonic.
[23:05] Swriter: Whew. Mobius. I think I inherited that name. Don't remember its origin.
[23:05] Rave779: Cuz I remember someone said that it was suppoeed to be a obstacle in SOnic 2
[23:06] Rave779: ALso, there is something I like to ask about Mobius too
[23:06] PerfectChaosZero: Actually, I think I can field this one Ben, if I recall, several of the old game manuals refered to the planet as "mobius"
[23:06] Swriter: Ah, I'm not familiar with the games, so if it came from there, I wouldn't know.
[23:06] Swriter: Thanks!
[23:06] PerfectChaosZero: As a result, they told Ben here, "It's called mobius" and that was that
[23:06] Rave779: Does Sonic's Freedom Fighter group fight all over Mobius, or just on a continent in Mobius
[23:07] Rave779: Cuz Sonic races to different areas to get stuff, y'know?
[23:07] Swriter: Rave, that would have been expanded on if we hadn't been cancelled. But in an earlier answer, I cited the fact that since there were other FF groups, it stood to reason that Robotnik was reaching out and doing bad touch all over the place.
[23:08] Rave779: OIC
[23:08] Swriter: At least I think that's what I sorta said, in a way. Maybe.
[23:09] Swriter: After this question, I have something to say.
[23:09] Rave779: I just like to thank Ben for a recomendation for a book that he told me to check out. THe Writers Journey is really good
[23:09] Rave779: I just got it 2 days ago, and I'm hooked
[23:09] Swriter: It's a great book. Took me three reads to wrap my mind around his concepts.
[23:09] Rave779: It really helps, and it changes the way I see movies
[23:10] Rave779: especially when I saw the new movie, Accepted
[23:10] Swriter: Glad you liked it. I met the author at a seminar out here - he was astonishingly articulate and intelligent.
[23:10] Rave779: I used the stuff from the book, and saw the things I read about. THanks alot for the recomendation.
[23:10] Swriter: Pleasure. :)
[23:11] Swriter: Well,
[23:11] Swriter: I really appreciate all the attention from all of you, but I want to make sure you understand that the only reason Satam was as good as it turned out is because of the complete team.
[23:11] Swriter: The director, Ron Myrick, was just the best.
[23:12] Swriter: Len is a brilliant story editor.
[23:12] Swriter: Pat writes brilliant dialogue.
[23:12] Swriter: And it's the only show I've ever worked on where everyone gathered on Friday nights to watch the footage just in from overseas.
[23:13] Swriter: And the only time I've had artists literally drag me from my office to show me artwork. Especially on BtoP. The artists went nuts on Mobotropolis and the Floating Island.
[23:13] Swriter: End of statement. :)
[23:13] Tendo: It's a simple question.
[23:13] Tendo: How much did you enjoy working on SatAM as a whole?
[23:13] Tendo: And why?
[23:13] Tendo: What were the best and worst things about it?
[23:14] Swriter: Hmmm.
[23:14] Swriter: Satam was way up there.
[23:14] Swriter: Maybe the best. But I also wrote on other series that touched me deeply.
[23:15] Swriter: I loved Captain Planet - and was very proud of doing the first animated episode dealing with AIDS.
[23:15] Swriter: We had to fight like hell to get that one through.
[23:15] Swriter: But Sonic - as a fantasy - and as a metaphor - resonated in my soul.
[23:15] Mogzin_Thunder: Lol, I remember that really messed up episode with like... blood.
[23:15] Swriter: Freedom fighters facing evil - and not stooping to the level of evil to defeat it.
[23:16] Swriter: Yep, Mog.
[23:16] Swriter: There's a dignity to Sonic that underscores the entire series.
[23:17] Swriter: Sometimes, the comedy and the flippancy could make you think it was tongue-in-cheek, but I remember getting chills as I sat with a yellow pad thinking of the evil stuff.
[23:17] Swriter: Dulcy's Mom in chains.
[23:17] Swriter: Uncle Chuck getting Robotocized.
[23:18] Swriter: The reveal where we learn that people are still able to think, but unable to act after being transformed. That one really got me.
[23:18] Swriter: That was the moment that brought the series to life for me, actually.
[23:18] Swriter: As I recall, that was first season, wasn't it?
[23:18] Quexinos: no
[23:18] Quexinos: it was second season when we found out but Uncle Chuck wa sinthe first season
[23:19] Swriter: That's why it's nice having smarter people than me around.
[23:19] Swriter: :)
[23:20] Swriter: I need to go in about 20 minutes, so any more questions?
[23:22] H_Hog: "The question is... Do you prefer Akira or Ghost in the Shell?"
[23:22] Smidge204: If you don't tihnk it'll taint your creativity, I recommewnd watching some Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. (I am #highly# bias here, but it's got a lot of nice technobabble anbd is very good quality)
[23:22] Swriter: LOL - I've seen neither.
[23:23] Swriter: My world is pretty small right now. And my spare time is spent reading. I've been a bookworm since I learned to read.
[23:23] PerfectChaosZero: Smidge here can provide you with every episode if you have broadband.
[23:23] Swriter: Where is the show?
[23:23] PerfectChaosZero: It's often on Adult Swim on CTN, but he has a server with it.
[23:24] Swriter: Or better, could you send it to Quex to hold for me, please?
[23:24] PerfectChaosZero: hmm... well Ben, I'll send you an e-mail today/tomorrow with instructions on how to snag it
[23:24] PerfectChaosZero: Or that
[23:25] Swriter: Thanks. :)
[23:26] Mogzin_Thunder: But is music for a show usually considered that much in a production? Because for me music for a scene is quite important. And most music nowadays, no offense or anything, seems like recycled synthesized garbage that never shuts up and covers the fact for lack of sound effects and sounds the same in many productions as well.
[23:26] Swriter: Mog...
[23:26] Mogzin_Thunder: Is it an afterthought?
[23:26] Swriter: I've been on both sides of the booth. And most music in cartoons is prefab.
[23:27] Swriter: It's rare to have good scoring.
[23:27] Quexinos: what is prefab?
[23:27] Swriter: But I think Sonic did a pretty good job.
[23:27] PerfectChaosZero: pre fabricated
[23:27] Swriter: Yep.
[23:27] Swriter: What Chaos said.
[23:27] Swriter: And most SFX come from the same tired library. I have a complete SFX library on mp3.
[23:28] Swriter: Which means, so does everybody.
[23:28] Kulock: I do so hate hearing the same sounds over and over for things. Particularly that one scream they always use for a guy falling...
[23:28] Swriter: Yeah.
[23:28] Silve: Are you working on any other projects currently? (Sonic related or otherwise)
[23:29] Swriter: I just finished a four year project that will be opening early next year at the Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian…
[23:30] Swriter: And I've been asked by Universal to do a rewrite on my show, "Waterworld" (only at Uni Hollywood) and mostly I'm doing voices these days.
[23:32] AKnotholeResident: well, i did have a few questions that would probably have us up all night, but ill make it short
[23:32] AKnotholeResident: on the topic of music, did Mike Tavera compose the score for Season 2?
[23:33] Swriter: Don't know. That was post production and I was too busy with story and voice sessions. Sorry.
[23:33] Swriter: I'm sure somebody here knows that one though.
[23:34] Kaige: Thank you for this chance, Mr. Hurst. My questions concern Lupe and the Wolfpack, since she is my favorite character ;). We know that they had alot of Native American influences. What else can you tell us about Lupe and her pack? Like is there more backstory than what was presented in Cry of the Wolf? How old is Lupe really? And did she ever have a family of her own (before the majority of the pack being captured of course)?
[23:35] Swriter: Pat was the engine behind the wolf pack and she created Lupe...
[23:36] Swriter: We were the lead writers on the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina (and we did 80% of the voices as well) and so we're well-grounded in Native American projects
[23:36] Donnyku: you wrote that?
[23:36] Swriter: That's just one of many. We worked with Disney Imagineering on most of those jobs.
[23:36] Swriter: Yes.
[23:37] Swriter: Actually, we were the conceptual designers as well.
[23:37] Donnyku: to put it simply, my family has a "tradition" of going there quite often. Mainly due to having Cherokee blood in us.
[23:37] Swriter: I really love creating something in your mind, then walking through it after it's done.
[23:37] Swriter: That's great. In the queue area - the voices you hear are me and Pat.
[23:38] Swriter: And I'm on their answering machine as well. Call there after 7pm Eastern and you'll here me.
[23:38] PerfectChaosZero: hah
[23:38] Swriter: hear.
[23:38] Swriter: Duh.
[23:44] Kroze: 1. Well, this is something I was asked to do yesterday but me being be (Read: dumb) forgot, my friend does a comedy band named Random Gibberish and they are all about all that is Geekdom and writing songs about it, for one of their albums, they wrote a song about the Aquaman of the 90's... Mati from Captain Planet entitled "Heart", and since you worked on Captain Planet, we figured you might get a kick out of this song...
[23:44] Swriter: Last addition. Lupe's family and pack would have been further developed if we hadn't been cancelled.
[23:44] Kroze: Would you like it?
[23:44] Kroze: 2. Now for the OTHER quick questions: Lets say someone here wanted to hire you to do voices for him or her, how much do you normally get paid for a job?
[23:44] Kroze: Does it matter by like the size of the production?
[23:45] Swriter: Sure, I'd like the song. Can you give it to Quex for me?
[23:45] Swriter: Second...let me read....
[23:45] Kroze: Does it matter by like the size of the production?
[23:45] Kroze: And yes I know, most voice actors do it on a hourly scale...
[23:45] Kroze: 3. Who would win in a fight between Aquaman and Mati? And yes, we shall let Mati have his monkey and Aquaman have his... um... well, whatever Aquaman has normally...
[23:46] Swriter: I'm still non-union, so it's negotiable.
[23:46] Swriter: I do some jobs just because I want to. I've done three movie trailers. Two for nominal fees, one for free. It's good practice.
[23:47] Swriter: And I want the exposure. Movie trailers pay and astronomical rate if you get into the groove.
[23:47] Swriter: Don LaFontaine makes between 11 and 14 million a year.
[23:47] PerfectChaosZero: He's considered the official, "Movie Voice Guy" isn't he?
[23:47] Swriter: Yep.
[23:48] Swriter: He's "da man" - one of the very top.
[23:48] Swriter: Kroze - re CapPlan and Aquaman - I haven't a clue.
[23:48] Swriter: Mati wasn't really a fighter.
[23:49] Swriter: Interesting bit of trivia about Captain Planet design.
[23:50] Swriter: The producer didn't like any of the designs for the main Character, CapPlan. They drew one after the other. No go. [23:50] Swriter: Finally, they drew him to look like the producer. And he bought it. So, when you see Captain Planet, you're actually looking at Nick Boxer.
[23:51] Meowtwo: He had blue skin?
[23:51] Swriter: Only after we held his nose long enough. :)
[23:51] Kulock: It's a pleasure to speak with you, sir. You worked with the voice talent a lot, correct? A few years after the production of SatAM, Christina Cavanaugh (the voice of Bunnie) suddenly gave up doing voicework. Did you ever find she had issues with the field, or a dislike for it, during your work with her on SatAM?
[23:52] Swriter: I don't know. But I can speculate.
[23:52] Swriter: There has been more than one voice actor who made so much money (called your "Go to Hell" money because it means you can tell everyone to go to hell) and happily retired. If she didn't just croak, then I suspect she retired and is living handsomely somewhere.
[23:53] Swriter: Did you check the IMDB?
[23:53] GerbilSoft: IMDB says retired in '01
[23:53] Swriter: Ah.
[23:54] Swriter: And sometimes, people become full of themselves and forget that EVERYONE IS REPLACEABLE and then they get replaced. If you get a bad name in this town, word travels like wildfire.
[23:54] Kulock: I was just wondering if you knew of anything that may of prompted it, whether it was something she always dispised, just doing it for supplemental income, that sort of thing.
[23:54] Mogzin_Thunder: I live pretty close to Hollywood... :P
[23:54] Swriter: I don't have any inside information on that one.
[23:55] Swriter: So do I Nog. About three miles.
[23:55] Kulock: Well, I was just wondering. Thank you, yeah, that's it. Probably anything else I could has has already been covered. ^_^
[23:55] Swriter: Pleasure.
[23:55] PerfectChaosZero: Question Queue: SV174, Cheezmatt, Donnyku, Mog, Silve
[23:55] Swriter: Whew.
[23:55] Swriter: Let's do these five, then call it a night. My fingers are wearing out.
[23:55] Swriter: :)
[23:56] SAGEVisitor174: Hey, thanks for letting me ask, and sorry about the default name. This might sound stupid, but did you have any connections with the people working on AoSTH at the time?
[23:56] Swriter: LOL
[23:57] Swriter: Pat and I submitted premise after premise to the Father/Son team that story edited AosTH - but couldn't score a single episode.
[23:57] Swriter: :)
[23:57] PerfectChaosZero: Probably jealous that your show was better than theirs XD
[23:57] Swriter: And that was a 65 episode series.
[23:57] Swriter: No, their show was finished before ours started.
[23:58] SAGEVisitor174: Oh you mean the Shellys most likely
[23:58] Swriter: Yes.
[23:58] Swriter: Nice folk. They just didn't like our stuff.
[23:59] Donnyku: My question concerns Jim Cummings. Assuming you worked with him, how did you feel about him? I personally feel that his Robotnik is a truely evil one and he fit the characters too well.
[00:00] Swriter: In the defense of AoSTH, it was more of a romp. Intended, I thik for a younger audience.
[00:00] Swriter: LOL
[00:01] Swriter: I looooove doing evil characters. The voice over artist was just that, an artist - and a consummate actor. Marlon Brando wasn't the head of the American Nazi party, but his performance in "Roots" knocked it out of the park.
[00:01] Mogzin_Thunder: Cummings does have a huge amount of range though...
[00:01] Swriter: Oh, yeah. And a lot of money, too. :)
[00:01] Mogzin_Thunder: I mean he does pretty much everything
[00:01] Donnyku: Cummings, the Vile Dr. Robotnik, and the lovable Winnie the Pooh
[00:02] Swriter: That's called talent.
[00:02] Swriter: Next question?
[00:04] SSNTails: I have a quick one...
[00:04] SSNTails: Why was Tails's shoe design changed for SatAM compared to his shoes in the games and AoStH?
[00:05] Swriter: That's a question I can't answer. No clue.
[00:05] Swriter: Sorry.
[00:05] Silve: What's your favorite character to write for in SATAM?
[00:06] Swriter: My favorite character...
[00:06] Swriter: Sonic - and Sally. And I lean toward Sally.
[00:06] Donnyku: pleasesaybunniepleasesaybunnieple.....drat
[00:06] Swriter: LOL
[00:06] Swriter: Okay, I secretly have a crush on Bunnie.
[00:07] Swriter: Sugarhog (blink eyes)
[00:07] Mogzin_Thunder: To keep things short as possible, I believe my ultimate goal is just to find an outlet of creativity, cooking, writing, drawing, it doesn't really matter, How would a person start to get to your position then and even now?
[00:07] Swriter: Wow. Fastball.
[00:07] Mogzin_Thunder: Then refering to Satam and stuff
[00:08] Swriter: Hard to answer. There are as many roads into writing as there are dead ends.
[00:09] Swriter: I started by writing commercials. I was first a disc jockey who produced commercials. Then wrote audio-animatronics and World's Fair Pavilions, movies (5 scripts one sale) and then animation - and them museums.
[00:09] Swriter: The path is individual to each person.
[00:09] Kulock: Which movie/script did you end up selling, if I may interject?
[00:09] Swriter: So write wherever you can and build your skills - and remember that the best gig is always the one that comes to you. So get good and you'll attract attention.
[00:10] Swriter: Bums. It's in the IMDB. And in two film cans under my bed.
[00:11] Swriter: Logline: Story of an Army Sergeant whose brother is killed by a skid row slasher - so he organizes an army of homeless people to hunt him down.
[00:12] Donnyku: sounds cool
[00:12] Swriter: It was, until the producer rewrote it.
[00:12] Swriter: That's a long and horrible story.
[00:13] Cheezmatt: About Robotnik's spaceship, the Destroyer, which is seen in SatAM's opening credits and BTTP.
[00:13] Mogzin_Thunder: oh yeah, and since i'm so clueless about this college stuff... how is a liberal arts degree?
[00:14] Swriter: Bachelors is better. Will serve you later in your career.
[00:14] Swriter: Space ship question?
[00:15] Cheezmatt: So anyhoo. What did "The Destroyer" do to Mobotropolis exactly? It seemed to kill off all plantlife, is that right?
[00:15] Swriter: The way we retro-fitted it (it was already in the opening credits) was to think of it as a giant blimp that sort of "robotocized" whatever it passed over.
[00:16] Swriter: Sorta like those little guys in doomsday and the Cry of the Wolf.
[00:16] Cheezmatt: One must wonder why Robotnik didn't simply rebuild it.
[00:17] Swriter: Okay a serious answer to that question - then I have to go.
[00:18] Swriter: The devices are only devices. The real reason I believe the series had such staying power is because of the characters and the overarching story that spanned 11 episodes in the same general format of a feature film. And that was how we planned it. The devices that Robotnik sought were those that fed his ego for "greatness" and power. Thus, the powerstones.
[00:19] Swriter: And it didn't hurt any that we got cancelled after leaving the series on a cliffhanger.
[00:19] PerfectChaosZero: Ben, I'd just like to say that on behalf of all of us at SAGE that we are really proud to have you visit us. We're very grateful how good you've been to us. One of the reasons the fan community continues to support you so is because you treat us so well.
[00:19] Swriter: That was one of the larger "drat!"'s of my life.
[00:19] PerfectChaosZero: The turn out was really increadible, as was this whole event. Everyone's telling me how great it's been being here with you.
[00:20] Swriter: Well, back atcha. I have been truly touched over the years by all of you. Your passion and your devotion are truly awesome. My humble thanks to all of you.
[00:21] Swriter: I enjoyed you all. And again, thanks.
[00:21] Swriter: Goodnight, sleep well, good dreams.
[00:22] Swriter: And on that note....
[00:22] Swriter: Knock-knock...
[00:22] * Swriter has quit IRC