Who wouldn’t love a job where you are surrounded by the people who created your favorite childhood cartoons?
For Culver Girls Academy alumna Kacie Hermanson ’12, her summer internship at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank, Calif., was a small slice of heaven. Studying animation at New York University, Hermanson was one of 25 college students selected for the Nickelodeon internships. Between 1,400 to 1,500 people applied.
She worked in the archive and resource library, which recently started collecting and cataloging some of the documents that have shaped people’s childhoods for the past 25 years.
“It’s still a fairly young company,” she explained, so it has only been in the past two to three years that it started going through its old files. The goal is to establish something similar to the Disney Vault, she said.
The archives allow new animators to explore the development of a cartoon series and it also lets the creators of the shows see how the characters have changed over the years. By going through the old storyboards, sketches, and scripts, Hermanson had a chance to see how some of her favorite cartoons developed from the concept phase to becoming Nick staples.
“We had boxes of material coming from all over Los Angeles,” she said. Material was also coming from animation studios in South Korea and China. She worked with material from Rug Rats, CatDog, The Angry Beavers, The Fairly OddParents, and Doug. She looked over the concept storyboards for The Angry Beavers before the show aired. “I can tell you they were a lot angrier – and a lot more political,” she laughed.
The environment was just incredible. The mentorship goes up to the highest levels. Everyone is open and welcoming. It is a nice feeling to have.
She talked with people working on current classics like SpongeBob SquarePants, and took a practice drawing artist test for the show. Hermanson spent two hours discussing storyboards with Sherm Cohen, who started at Nick on The Ren and Stimpy Show and is currently working on SpongeBob. And she met for 20 minutes with Butch Hartman, the creator of The Fairly OddParents.
Hermanson explained that cartoon shows are either script-driven or storyboard-driven. Script-driven means a script is written and the artists draw the storyboards around that. Storyboard-driven entails the artists being given the basic concepts, and create the episode. SpongeBob, for example, used to be storyboard-driven, she said, but it is now script-driven.
Storyboard artists generally have three weeks to develop an episode from the script. Then it goes to the animators, who may take another month or so to finish it, she said. Working in archives, she saw how animation has changed from paper drawings with Post-It Notes stuck to them for corrections to fully digital today.
For someone studying animation, the internship was incredible. Hermanson said Nickelodeon generally selects up to 15 interns, but decided to take a larger than usual class this summer. “We were really proud of the work we did,” she said. “They said we set the standard for the interns.
“The environment was just incredible,” Hermanson added. “The mentorship goes up to the highest levels. Everyone is open and welcoming. It is a nice feeling to have.”