Apple TV+ recently released the first season of Central Park, the animated musical comedy from creators Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad, and Nora Smith. It centers on the Tillermans, a family that lives in Central Park as the father, Owen, manages it. It follows their shenanigans as they knowingly and unknowingly fend off the heiress Bitsy Brandenham, who wants to turn it into condos. It's pretty good! And ComicBook.com recently had the opportunity a couple of weeks back to speak with Kris Fitzgerald, animation editor on Central Park, all about Season One, its music, and even Kristen Bell's sudden stepping down and recasting.
In case you were not already aware, the first season of the show features the voices of Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, and Stanley Tucci, among others. Emmy Raver-Lampman has since replaced Bell as the voice for the mixed-race character Bell originally played, and Bell will take on a new role going forward. The new role has not yet been revealed. Central Park's first season is currently available on Apple TV+.
Keep reading to check out our full interview with Fitzgerald!
ON WHAT AN ANIMATION EDITOR DOES
ComicBook.com: For a lot of people, I don't think they really understand the whole process of animation. So for people who may not know what exactly does your day-to-day look like as an Animation Editor for a show?
Kris Fitzgerald: Yeah, it's so interesting. With animation, a lot of like, "How does that work? Because you're not really shooting stuff. How does that work? How is that different?" They understand live action, but with animation, we usually have a preproduction. And of course, there are many different ways to do animation, but this is primarily the way that it works. And it's shifted and evolved over time. But what happens is in preproduction for editorial, there's the animatic phase, which is where we take the storyboards, and we take the dialogue from the script, and we marry those together. And a lot of the time we're adding sound effects and music, but we're really in the animatic phase, the animatic editor is creating that timing. So you've got four panels that are for a car chase, or maybe it's 20 panels, 20 images, and you're laying those in to the correct time of what that scene should end up being. And so that's the animatic phase.
And then with that, once that gets locked and everybody's happy, the creators, the directors, that is then sent to the animators, who then take that timing and use that really as a blueprint to get from point A to point B. They say, I've got two seconds to make this shot work with these three panels, these three static storyboards. And so they fill-in all of that animation in between. So that's kind of the exciting thing about animatics is that you're really creating that pacing, that timing, creating the world. And so there's a lot of creativity that happens in the animatic phase. And once the animators take that, and they create that, they deliver those shots back to the editor. Sometimes the animatic editor and the post color editor are the same person, sometimes they're not. And so that's delivered to the color animator, the post animator, and those are then dropped in over that animatic that was created by the animatic editor.
And really that's where you see the color, the life starts, you see that happening with those animated shots. And then, the color editor fine tunes it, cleans it up, fixes things that may have come through that didn't quite work. Sometimes there's a rewrite with the writers once they see it in color. And they decide things aren't quite working and they are working. And so there may be more animatics that are put into the color phase. And those go back to the animators, and they do the same process again, and send that back. So once that gets to the point where the show is pretty much when it's going to be, then that post editor takes that, and either delivers it, or there's an online process where the specs and everything, the delivery specs are put in and exported. So that's kind of an overview. I hope it was sort of clear, but kind of gives you an idea of how it flows.
So which parts of that do you factor in? Are you talking about multiple times there?
Yeah, so with Central Park, Season One, I was really lucky. I liked being both the Animatic Editor and the Post Editor, because you're following it through all the way from the very beginning when the directors and the storyboard artists were creating from the script what it should be in color. So you're really able to collaborate with everybody early on, writers, directors, storyboard artists, and the producers, kind of figuring out what that show is going to be. And then I also really enjoy the color phase though, because then you're getting it back and you're seeing what happened. How did we get to this point? What's the timing that you set in place in the animatics? How does that come and work in the color phase where all the animation is built-in with all the key frames and all of the movement between those individual storyboard panels?
So Season One, that's what I was. I was from animatics through color, which is really fun. It's like juggling multiple episodes. Sometimes I'd be on five episodes at once, where it was different phases of the animatic, or into color, and overlapping, which is exciting and fun. And then moving into the second season, just the way that production lines up, sometimes you're not able to do both phases because there's just too much overlap. And so Stephanie Earley, who was my assistant for the first season then became the animatic editor for the second season. And I was just strictly for the post color, so the pipeline is really exciting. And it's nice to be able to work in both worlds, and at least understand both worlds too.prevnext
ON GETTING INVOLVED WITH CENTRAL PARK
Now, I know you worked on Bob's Burgers as well. How did you get involved with Central Park? Was it literally just creator Loren Bouchard was like, "All right, we're doing this now."
It's really fascinating how the animation world is so small. It's big, but it's small. And so I was really lucky to have worked on another production at Bento Box called The Awesomes. And I had worked with some of the producers and that was Seth Meyers' show, and it was on Hulu. And we had tons of Saturday Night Live voices. It was a really cool project, funny superheroes. On that project, I worked with some of the producers at Bento Box. And that world, we were crossing paths all the time and working. The editor on Bob's Burgers, I would ask him questions about things, because we were in the same building.
So it was nice to have that crossover. And that's kind of where people would see you, and kind of see you in the halls, and smile, and wave, whatever. And then, I went on to work on some other series. I worked on Lost in Oz for Amazon, which was an action-adventure, female-lead series, which is really beautiful. But as that was wrapping up, the producers and creators were like, "We have this other series, it's bubbling right now. We know that you have a musical background. It's a musical, would you be interested? It's kind of, we don't know exactly when it's going to land, but we'd love to get you over to our world again, back over to Bento."
And so there was a position opening up as the assistant to Mark Seymour, who was the editor on Bob's. And I was like, "Yeah, I'll definitely take an assistant editor role underneath Mark." Working with this team that I had kind of you crossed paths with during The Awesomes, and it worked out perfectly. I worked on that show for a little bit of time while Central Park was in development, working on it. And then, it got the green light, and I jumped over to Central Park full-time. So it's fun. It's always like, you don't want to burn bridges, you want do great work, and be a great person to work with. And it does help in the industry.prevnext
ON THE SHOW'S RECEPTION
How do you feel about the reception to the first season so far?
Ah, it's been nice. Of course, in these crazy wild times, there's so much that's going on. It's nice to have the feedback that it's receiving. It's a nice, lighthearted... There's a lot of optimism in it too. It's something familiar with Central Park being something that we all know, recognize. It's something that we can look at and feel a little bit of hope and levity. And I'm really happy that people are liking it, that there's something familiar to the audience too, people who like Bob's Burgers. They're feeling a little bit of that same, just genuine sensibility that comes from Loren, and Nora, and Josh has just added so much to the show. I mean, they really have something down that's working well. So definitely, it's exciting, and I'm happy to be a part of it.prevnext
ON FAVORITE PARTS OF WORKING ON THE SHOW
What was your favorite part of working on it so far? Obviously, it sounds like you’re in the midst of Season Two stuff, but...
Yes, yeah. So we're deep in it right now. I think the musical numbers are really something that I've not ever worked on before. I have a musical background, so that was really enticing when they talked about it, when they offered the position. And I think that's one of the really fun challenges of the show is making those musical numbers feel seamless, making sure that the pacing and the timing really leads up to the song, and it's not jarring. And that it's just the natural progression of what should happen is, someone should burst into song.
And so that's something that I've really liked with Central Park. Lot of split screens too, which is really fun. There's sort of that element of... We had that acapella, that mash-up on YouTube that started to happen where all these acapella groups started doing the split-screen mash-up. And I kind of feel we have a little bit of that too, where all the characters will be singing at once, but we're able to capture where they're at, what they're doing with those split screens. It's kind of fun.
Do you have a favorite Season One song?
I really like “Own It.” It was one of the first songs was that first episode where everybody's singing what they want, what they need, where they're at in their lives, and sort of the struggles they're facing. But I really liked that song, “Rats,” which was a Cyndi Lauper song is really fun. Hearing that in preproduction, and then seeing it on screen with the character singing it was a lot of fun. You can really hear that style and that genre of Cyndi Lauper in it, which was really fun. “Superheroes” was really sweet. Sarah Bareilles' “Superheroes.” Let's see, and then there's some that haven't been released yet, but I just really... There's a song that's coming up, so sweet, and I can't say because it hasn't aired, but just really sweet, and endearing, and genuine. So I think those are some of the songs that pop to mind.prevnext
ON KRISTEN BELL STEPPING DOWN FROM HER ORIGINAL ROLE
Now I have to ask, obviously, there's been a big shake-up recently with Kristen Bell stepping down from her original role.
You're not involved with casting, but as someone that works on the show, however, how do you feel about all that?
Yeah, and I'm not a part of those conversations, but I think, right now, we're all just trying to be aware, and be present, and do no harm, and do better than we were doing before. I think that's something that we're all feeling. And I'm really excited that she's still going to be a part of the show. She's just got such an amazing voice and she's just an amazing talent. And I'm excited for who is going to be coming in. I think that will also add more energy to the show.
And just speaking for myself, I think that's something that I feel is that the creators really want to do good. When it's like, there is a heart there that they... Do no harm and do the best they can. So I think, I really feel that, and I'm happy to be working with a team that is about that. I'm just excited to see what will come of the next season with the new voice, and still having Kristen a part of everything.prevnext
ON WHAT THAT MEANS FOR SEASON TWO
Now to be clear here, you're in the thick of things on Season Two here, and animation, that stuff can take a while to go from conceptual to completed. Is this change something that is affecting Season Two or is it something beyond that? Did you all have to throw out a bunch of work or?
I mean, I don't think so. I mean, production feels like we're still right on track. I mean, the shift is something that will need to be incorporated into. There is going to be a little bit of that replacing dialogue. I can't say about the schedule and stuff like that, but I think the team, Janelle Momary, she's our supervising producer really has... She's really amazing with schedules and with producing. So I think that, as with COVID, I mean, literally, we went home on a Friday, and that next week they had plans in place, and were able to get people computers, and feel safe working at home. So I think it's all about adapting and being able to shift with the things that life throws at us. So I think that we're rolling with the punches, and really I think it just makes for a better show if you can always be able to adapt.prevnext
ON THE FUTURE
Now for you specifically, obviously, you're working on Season Two right now. Is there anything else you're working on? Anything else coming up for you?
I'm full-on in Central Park mode, besides that just enjoying trying to get some sun outside, but really working on when I do have some downtime, just trying to stay up on programs, trying to take some online classes as far as... Because that's one thing with editorial and with editing is that there's always a new program, there's always a new plugin, there's always a new way of doing something that's faster, better, and cleaner, and really delivers a better product, helps you tell a story better. So that's one thing that I'm trying to do. The Editor's Guild is really incredible with giving... I mean, they've really stepped it up as far as classes and online training, so I'm taking advantage of that as much as possible. You can never know enough, there's always something new to learn. So that's kind of what I've been up to besides Central Park.
You've had the opportunity to work on some pretty big shows already here, but if there were a pie-in-the-sky show, if you could work on any show right now, what would it be?
I mean, I love working with the teams. I think that people who have vision, who want to tell human stories, those are some of the things that excite me. I mean, besides the kind of pie in the sky, who I'd like to work with, Andrew Stanton is incredible. I mean, after I saw WALL-E, I really fell deeper in love with animation. And then, Henry Selick who did Coraline, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach. His stop motion is incredible, and also the storytelling is incredible. It's quirky, it's fun, it's human. So those are some of the people that are kind of pie-in-the-sky people that I'd love to work with in the future.prevnext
Is there anything else you would like to say about your work, about Central Park, about anything at all?
Maybe just tell everyone, please go watch Central Park. It's fun, it's charming, it's quirky, and it's a musical. It'll bring a smile to people's hearts, hopefully. And you really do fall in love with the characters with each episode, so thank you.prev