Why Scene Prep department is so misunderstood and confusing to people?

I’m Scene Prep supervisor on Rick & Mory now. We prepare the scene according to the needs of all departments involved. Depending on the production, this includes a wide variety of tasks. I’m very impressed with how concise our tasks are and how smooth it feels.

In a cut-out animation scenario, SP duties usually include creating the scene with its template, making sure the Background art is perfectly divided, all rigs and needed HC’s are present in the scene for animation and providing a safe file to comp to navigate and work on for the final touches. Also, recently I’ve been noticing an emphasis on keeping continuity between shots, render or pre-comp duties and providing accurate sizing for the characters and props.

Worst case scenario, you can get asked to do all kinds of minor (or even worse, major) tasks that usually are handled by other departments. Due to schedule problems, productions can make use of the vague definition of the SP position to include them in their workload. And even worse, they actively look for junior profiles that won’t complain to get the chance to ”get closer” (not necessarily the case) to other departments by taking on some of its duties. Watch out for those, it’s hard to identify genuine opportunities from just dirty work that someone has to deal with.

Being SP is a lot. You need to navigate a lot of information to do a good job. You need to understand the pipeline of all other departments to be effective (This may be the best part of the job… the holistic approach and learning potential). And, in the current animation scene, you also need some advanced knowledge of Toon Boom Harmony. Otherwise, all kinds of problems can arise. You are setting the foundations for every artist on the show. Please, understand that this is a very crucial task and a big responsibility.

Love your SP artist. Help them grow. Value their holistic view.