Mike Hollingsworth 9/28/16

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In an interview with Cartoon Brew, Mike said about his role as supervising director on Bojack Horseman, “Basically I would pick up scripts and pepper them as much as I could with animal gags…that is to say that I dabble in the dangerous and dark art of animal punnery.”

Mike, who is currently the Supervising Director on the first original animated Netflix series, Bojack Horseman, helped design the show and directed the original pilot. He directed, wrote, and voiced cartoons for the Comedy Central series Triptank and was a Director on Comedy Central’s Brickleberry and HBO’s The Life And Times Of Tim. He’s also the creator of the Shut Up Cartoons! YouTube series Nature Break.

Mike originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Once he arrived in Southern California, he started drawing cartoons for the LA Weekly and other alternative press publications. From there, he started making animated shorts that appeared in many of the top film festivals around the world, including The Annecy International Animation Festival, The HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, Animation Block Party, The London International Animation Festival and The Melbourne International Animation Festival to name a few. His love for comedy and cartoons is beautifully combined and illustrated in Stufffed Animals, some of which appeared last year as part of the Animation Breakdown film festival.

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33 thoughts on “Mike Hollingsworth 9/28/16

  1. What a funny guy. I felt like Mike with his background comedy is able to find the humor in any situation. I really liked how he went in depth explaining a bible and how detailed it is. I really appreciated the small details, like where characters have pockets so an animator can take objects out of. I have a lot of respect for mike since he started as a one man production and is able to complete projects through a pipeline. I can relate to this method of production because currently I working all aspects of animation from story boarding to postproduction. I look forward to collaboration with other departments to practice professionalism. Overall, Mike is a down to earth guy who gave us an inside look at animation studios and how a bible is crucial for a team.

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  2. Such great input and advices on storyboarding & animating for Television commercial series. I think his directing work balanced the common low budget situation and the art of animation, he figures out tricks to be able to finish the episode given the budget, but he also very much insists on producing good quality animation by making sure all the details are correct, and that the animation flows well with comedic gags. This is again is another good example of producing commercial work while keeping all the unique elements that keeps it interesting in it. I like the fact that he dived into the animation industry from doing stand up comedies, he is definitly a funny guy and he does really transformed well his sense of humour into the animation. It is always great to see people from different fields bringing different aspect & perspective into animation, which is what makes the animation continuously more interesting.

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  3. Bojack Horseman is one of the only shows I’m currently watching. What makes me find it more appealing than most animated shows is the characters seem believable because they’re consistent in personality and design. Now it’s obvious it has a lot to do with Mike’s careful care of the show. I was surprised to learn that Bojack Horseman is all animated in Adobe Flash and after effects. It’s something comforting to know such a great show is made in a program that is rather accessible. I greatly appreciate how Mike ran us through Bojack Horseman’s storyboarding and background layout bibles. Even though I am personally not pursuing in television animation, it is useful to understand how the system works. It is interesting how Mike’s stand-up comedy background plays a big role on how he manages his animation career. Understanding the pace of comedy aid him in creating more dynamic characters. ( I also find it charming how the character Bojack also started off in stand- up comedy.) Even though the turn around and the budget for each episode are slim, Mike seems to know how to squeeze it all in good use.

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  4. BoJack Horseman proves Mike is the master of animal gags – it’s the reason I keep watching the show. Often times the puns are made seemingly so effortlessly and nonchalantly (it’s just part of every day life in BoJack’s world) that I’m like “wait, did that just happen?” and it takes me a moment to catch up with the brilliance of the gag and its timing. Really, it wasn’t surprising to learn that Mike has a background in standup comedy because it shines through BoJack. What was eye opening was the painstaking degree of detail that went into the creation of the production bible and character rig in Flash – wowza! I was also glad to get the inside scoop on how the team peppers in textures, because, for me, that’s something that really makes the show stand out as special stylistically from other 2D cartoons. As someone who loves using After Effects, it was encouraging to hear Mike talk about how After Effects artists are relevant in the animation industry (or at least when it comes to BoJack). The thing that resonates with me most about Mike, though, is his commitment to questioning what is being said about a world when decisions are made about what goes on in that world.

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  5. Sooooo Cool! The man who direct Bojack Horseman show pop up! It’s like I’m one step closer to hollywoo! A lot of good stuff and great experience come from this great speaker. He tells us his own story of doing shorts, getting in festival and selling his own animation series to TV and web. His experience and skills enable him to combine comedy and cartoon and really make a progress. The control of timing and brilliant ideas with gags lead into great shows one after another. He also share the opinion that we should be on the friendly side. Be nice and treat others well because of the small industry. (Bonding with others and get yourself into party is also a way to approach success.) As a director, he also shows that there is need of leadership to be an director. We learn so much from him and it surely mean a lot to me, both a great fan of Bojack and also an animator.

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  6. It is so exciting to tell about my friends that the director of Bojack Horseman give a Lecture for us. Cause I really have many friend who is big fan of Horseman. And what shocks me most in the seminar is that the director just let us to see almost whole pre-production of the show, which is so specific and full of details. Usually, I think the complex pre-production design is normal thing is feature animated film, but not in the TV shorts, but what Mike show to us is totally fresh my mind. All stages are fully designed and even including where the character should get their stuff, where the character should put the phone on,etc. Those design are so specific and strictly control. I am so appreciate about it. Also, Mike also inspires me by sharing his experience Of his career and how to be a director. Try to do every thing and try to know anything, that is what I try to do in the future . And, try to learn and built leadership when be cooperated with other, and always do bot be shy. Thanks Mike, It is so appreciate to hear to pleasure sharing!!

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  7. Bojack is a phenomenal show. The dark humor and utterly depressing stories are brilliantly contrasted by humor and the animal ‘punnery’ that Mike is responsible for. I’m convinced that it’s those small background jokes that make this such a great show. Without the levity, it would be far too bleak a story to enjoy. It was refreshing to hear about how much freedom the storyboarders are generally given in a show like this. Yvette had a similar thing to say about ‘Beavis and Butthead’ I recall about writers not considering visual gags and leaving those up to the boarders. Taking a peek into their production bibles was illuminating. So many mouth shapes and angles for the animators to work with, it almost takes all the fun out of it.

    I was glad to hear Mike speak about working relationships and he seems to resonate with many of our visiting artists in their understanding of the necessity of being kind to everyone. If only every industry would adopt such a concept. He also spoke about making your own work, another sentiment shared by many of our visiting artists, and being close buds with editors. I was glad to have Mike at USC and can’t wait for Bojack season 4!

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  8. The Bible of the Bojock Horseman is stunning. It’s so nice that Mike Hollingsworth shares this precious production process with us. It is a weird dark humor show, but every steps of it work very carefully. I love the turnaround movements. It tied down not only the look of the main character but his main performance, so that he can remain to the same guy through seasons!

    Some details that I’d never thought of before such as where are the characters’ pockets should be. And if they are holding stuffs in their hands they should do something with them, not just holding them because their hands are empty. Those details helps a lot to built up the world and the characters. Keeping the fresh eyes is truly important. It’s interesting that our friends or family who don’t make films sometimes see more clear than us. Let them to be the first audience can point out some blindness that we didn’t notice before.

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  9. Do you know how many “Bojack Horseman” in the Chinese audience? My friends, both boy and girl, have his fans group. They saw it through illegal downloads, special channels online, buy pirated DVDs to watch the work, and even a girl told me that he saw some of her boyfriend’s life in this work. Bojack Horseman has been so popular, of course, because Mike is put a lot of energy to this show, good production and his own talent.
    Of course, this matter please also sparked my reflections in Chinese, even with the Mike’s talented , also won’t have such works like Bojack Horseman, because there is no legitimate broadcast “Adult Animation” in Chinese channel, even if there is, the audience and the income is very low. So many of the “success factors” in Bojack Horseman , please do not forget the business environment is also an important factor.

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  10. It’s really enjoyable to watch Mike Hollingsworth’s works which have very bizarre and interesting sense of humor. And the speeds of movements really make those gags more hilarious and vivid. Especially for the character Bojack Horseman, It’s really impressive to see how Mike structures him into different angles and layers to make facial expression, mouth sync system, eyes blink and turntable. I love strong high contrast colors with well-designed shapes. These entire things make this character outstanding and full of personalities. Plus, I do enjoy seeing the process of quality control about shapes, neck length, etc. With the detailed presentation from Mike, I can really figure out how the TV animation operates and efforts behind the scene.
    Overall, I can feel his strong passion and energy as a designer and director. Without abundant patience, creative energy and time, it is not possible to create many wonderful and magical pieces.

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  11. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never seen “Bojack Horseman”. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see part of an episode in class, with the supervising director on hand to provide insightful commentary on the design and production process. It was great to hear from Mike Hollingsworth, not only because of his comedic sense but because that humorous nature was paired with a strong work ethic which could be seen in both his dedication to producing personal works and in the production bible he shared with the class. It was eye-opening to see how much detail went into the making of the bible. In particular, I enjoyed the practical advice for the storyboard artists, from paying attention the the utility of pockets to ensuring that the extras are not just frozen placeholders in the background, as such notes will also enhance the thought process and execution of my own projects. I really enjoyed learning from Mike, and hopefully I’ll get to see a full episode of “Bojack Horseman” in the near future…

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  12. The last four weeks, we have been peeking into the big animation business, from the most traditional Disney Animation from Norman Floyd, passing through T.V. children animation with Adam Burton, to the adult swim and prime time animation with Yvette Kaplan, and this last week, Mike Hollingsworth. These conferences have given me a kind of very detailed panorama of how does the pipeline works in each kind of animation, and also, in a sort of ethereal way, a taste of the environment of the different studios. Mike Hollingsworth confirmed what Yvette claimed in her talk, about how in prime time animation is the writers guidance what defines the style and general humor of the show, in opposition to what happens in children directed animation where the story boarders artists have much more power creating the gags and general humor. As the bible of Bojack Hosrseman is an incredibly detailed document, also reveals how little possibility of movement and proposal animators have. As one felt in Yvette a more creative driven production proposal, in Mike Hollingsworth was more about budget and optimization of the pipeline, and that, also defines in great length the amounts of resources available to develop each episode.

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  13. I can definitely see Mike Hollingsworth’s background in stand-up comedy show up in his animated works and personality. He has a certain enterprising sense of humor, and unafraid of offending someone. Indeed, he is probably counting on it! I had never seen Bojack Horseman before, but in addition to being funny, it was surprisingly sweet. It seems that you can have an animation that is both kind hearted and crude at the same time. Not exactly surprising in all honesty, but I’m sure some people may have had a hard time comprehending that.
    Perhaps it was because I have not been in the know as much as I used to, but I found it surprising that flash animations were still used. I did not know about Adobe Animate being a thing until Mike’s seminar. For a long time, I gave up on flash because Adobe seemed content to have flash just be for websites. But it seems they eventually caved in to the pressure to have an actual animation suite. May have to give it a try one day when I have the time.

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  14. I am so impressed by the amount of detail put into the character design and entire layout/pipeline of Bojack Horseman. I had no idea that flash animation series were so detailed and specific about their characters. I imagine it would make jobs a lot easier for animators since one would just need to pick from the list of assets to create poses.
    It is very cool that Mike’s background was not in directing or animation or art, but in stand up comedy. Using his knowledge of how and when to deliver jokes, Mike became a valuable and main asset to his team. Not only does timing help out greatly in animation, the entire story of the show is often driven by the jokes. It almost reminds me of a stand up comedy with a story.

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  15. I still can’t believe there were Olympic medals given in art and literature as late as the 1950’s! Let’s bring that back, and add animation to the mix – I mean it’s a sport right?

    Mike’s story is one of amazing determination and perseverance. Even after being rejected from CalArts, Mike kept right on animating first receiving recognition at festivals, then going on to work with Oddbot and then landing a story position on Disney Channels Playhouse Disney and finally the director of the famed Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman! The dedication Mike has to his work seems unparalleled, as he created one of the most in depth, informative production bibles I have ever seen! There was definitely enough material there to teach an intermediate storyboarding/background course, that’s for sure! In addition to being driven it was obvious that a background in standup comedy was one factor that led to Mike’s well timed jokes. I was completely amused by Mike’s description of the unruly testosterone battle which often ensues in an all-male meeting. Lesson: Women are good to have around.

    One of the most importance aspects mentioned in the lecture was how important it is to make full animations, so you have experience doing every part of the pipeline – from storyboarding and preproduction to the animating to editing and post production. The more you know the more invaluable you become to a company.

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  16. Mike has an amazingly strong sense of humor and it is a different kind of humor we can find in most animation people. His background from stand up comedian really influence what we experience in his shows and shorts. We can see that his sense of timing and gags and his story telling style are very unique and strong. He really mastered the proper time for gags in both visually and in dialogues. Bojack Horseman is definitely great and hilarious in term of both character designs and story telling. Mike has successfully create a complete world for his animation. The Bible for this show is one of the most stunning and detailed bibles I have ever seen. They really pay attention to every detail and work so hard on getting everything drawn out perfectly. Based on my personal experience as a story artist, I have never worked with such detailed and perfect storyboard like the ones for this show before. The show bible is absolutely amazing. It really helps creating a strong and believable world

    I also love his shorts that he showed in the lecture. It is very impressive to see that he gave us a huge amount of laughs by showing a less than 10 minutes shorts with a so simple story. Lots of respect to Mike Hollingswoth. Thank you for the laugh!

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  17. Bojack Horseman season 1 was one of my favorites shows and season 2 was not bad but I stopped watching it at season 3 episode 3 because I didn’t find it interesting enough and that was the mistake. That’s were this season should start. Episode4 is the underwater episode and I think it is one the best pieces ever made in TV history. I understood about the episode from the Mike’s presentation. Actually I was so impressed by his presentation. It was a close look to an industry pipeline and process. I was amazed by Mike’s degree of attention about small details. It got more surprising when I understood he didn’t exactly came from an animation background. The bibles for storyboard artist was something really interesting and for me terrifying a little bit. Anyway the presentation made me to continue watching the show again with consideration of how much effort is behind it.

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  18. The presentation had so much fun. Bojack Horseman is very funny, I really like the show. Going into it I was immediately hooked by its character and those animal gimmick. The show always continually entertained without disappointment. Bojack Horseman is one of my favorite shows. The characters are memorable and relatable. It goes over and satirizes some very real and very stupid topics that we see every day. Although it does have many laughs through the series it still has serious moments and some sad moments too which I thought gave Bojack Horseman more depth as a character. It tells some most important message about life. Thanks to Mike and keep doing the great work.

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  19. Mike has a great sense of humor and the way he presents himself shows his personable skills as a director. After his seminar I watched the latest season of BoJack Horseman and I paid attention to the animal gags and all the wonderful background characters and realized how simplistic the animation is, in a good way. I also realized that while watching it, I eventually forgot that I was watching a Flash cartoon and was instead drawn into the story and characters in the same way live action encapsulated it’s viewers. Even though the curtain was drawn on the 2d puppets and I had a better understanding of the television pipeline, which can ruin shows for me, Bohack stayed true and I think that’s thanks to excellent directing and a strict attention to good storytelling. I’d love to one day work as a storyboard artist at Shadow Machine.

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  20. It was a fun time to meet him and hear the progress of Bojack Horseman. The animation seems very simply made, I actually amazed the details of its each working progress. However, he has such specific requirements on his work, I would not feel comfortable to work as an artist, I could say it will be hard to understood as an artist by him. Well, what he does is still reasonable and I understand he has limit of budget and time like any other television animations have. Thus, everything has to be under control and practical.
    I respect his work and I like the show. There is no doubt that he ahs a great sense of humor and his work reflects his personality extremely well.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us and I will keep watching Bojack Horseman haha.

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  21. This week’s seminar was pretty interesting, especially for anyone who’s interested in either becoming a storyboard artist or a director. I really liked learning about the process behind creating Bojack. Seeing how complex that flash puppet was was shocking. I’ve never seen one with quite that many options. There were a lot of little details he brought up that I hadn’t really considered before. Making a note of where the pockets are on each of the characters is a pretty smart idea, and I also really appreciated that they put an emphasis on keeping things as simple as possible.

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  22. I am a huge fan of Bojack Horseman. It amazes me to see a show portray such a range of humor and depth in half-hour segments. The mix of comedy and drama is unlike anything I’ve ever seen so it was really amazing to see the show’s bible and the behind-the-scenes making of “Fish Out of Water.” Given the show’s aesthetic (which I love), I wouldn’t necessarily think of Bojack as stemming from the practices laid out by Preston Blair and Richard Williams so it was really interesting to hear how valuable the Bojack team finds those texts to this day.

    From watching the show, you really get the sense that there is a strong collaboration between story-boarders and writers. Based on what Yvette said in her talk, it sounds like this sort of thing is rather rare. Aside from children’s television, I’d love to know what other animation shows out there have a similar thing going for them…

    Really great talk on Hollingsworth’s part! I really appreciated the extent to which he described the process of making independent comedic animations and working on a Netflix TV series. It gave me a much stronger sense of how things work in the comedy realm of animation.

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  23. It’s so much fun to meet a person who are making the show that I’m watching and enjoying.
    Listening his career path was very entertaining and inspiring, I got a-possitive-let’s-keep-doing energy from him
    This seminar was very useful in the aspect of production pipeline – all the small details in Production bible, tips for storyboarding..etc etc. It was good to know that some storyboarders are using Flash for storyboarding(more reason to study more Flash(or animate cc).
    I have 1 more season to go for Bojack Horseman and I’m so trilling about it. Thank you so much for coming and sharing great stories.

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  24. Mike was certainly an entertaining guest. You can definitely feel his background in comedy in Bojack. I really enjoyed his acute attention to detail in regards to what characters are doing and not doing. The magic “pulling an object out of a butt” thing was really funny, but also true. I know that many magical things can happen in animation, but you do want some sort of reality in the work so that it is believable. I also enjoyed his enthusiasm to create little animated shorts. He did not let his rejection from Cal Arts get in his way. He kept going. It goes to show that if you are really passionate about something, you will not let anything get in your way. Just do it! *not sponsored by Nike*

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  25. COOOOOL! Bojack Horseman is a fantastic animation character and leave us a lot of fun. I am so impressed by the design of the character details. They do all things considered, like the color, the height, the clothes of the character and even the length of the horseman’s neck. So that covered all the bases. And next time I will think more about the early design. I think I do my design to dispose of matter carelessly. Mike give me the instruction of my work and I need to change in my next assignment. Any way, Mike is a successful animator. I like Bojack Horseman very much! Thanks for sharing.

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  26. Like people mentioned before, Bojack Horseman is so popular in China, one reason I think makes this show so successful is how convincing those characters in personality and design. I’m currently still on season one. When Mike showed us the bible of Bojack Horseman, I was pretty shocked by how detailed of his design, from a character’s pocket to a certain prop, I guess that’s why I really think this animated world which based on LA is so convincing and really close to our daily life, and that’s the reason why this show resonated people a lot. From the bible, especially the chapter for storyboard artist was really interesting, I think in that way, such a big crew can collaborate better in same pace.
    Thanks to Mike, I came to notice some detail that hidden behind every sense when I watch it again.
    Thank you so much for sharing your way of thinking and your enthusiasm!

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  27. It was really a great night to have pleasure to talk to Mike Hollingsworth. He is so cool!!! You can always see his humor in every woks he made. I think sometime humor is the most important part for an animation and also a team. The bible he showed us resonated me a lot, giving me lots of informative ideas of animation.
    Thank you for sharing!!

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  28. Mike Hollingsworth’s presentation was very inspiring. Bojack Horseman is a TV show that high reputation, and became very popular, and I enjoyed listing to his story.
    As seen his work, for creating unique and funny works, I feel also creator him/her self has to be the same. And he taught me animators and creators have to be tough to live in the field, and build good relationships with other workers.

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  29. I am always big fan of Bojack Horseman. I LOVE the dark humors in this show and I always curious about this show is made by what kind of people . I guess Mike Hollingsworth has gave me the answer. The Bible of the Bojock Horseman is stunning. It’s so nice that Mike Hollingsworth shares this precious production process with us. And It was surprised me that how detailed he designed the characters. The reason of why this show becomes so popular is the characters are all so convincing and vivid and lovable. I also enjoyed listening his story of how the studio works .
    It was an amazing presentation ,thank you Mike and looking forward your future works!

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  30. Apologize for the late reply, I have been sick. That’s ok (hopefully), because Mike is so memorable I definitely have a lot to talk about!

    What a funny guy! I really enjoyed how Mike not only talked to us about his unconventional path into the industry, but also shared in detail the expectations of the artists he works with on Bojack Horseman. I absolutely LOVE that show, and it’s so depressing yet hilarious I can most certainly see how Mike’s influence runs deep. There were times I felt Mike was holding back from making fun of us too much, we aren’t as lucky to be stand up comics who got their foot in the door teaching ourselves flash after all. At the same time, it was nice to see someone with a sense of humor talk about how important timing is in animation. That, I think, is where Mike’s unconventional path into the industry has it’s major strengths. So often I see work of students (including myself) where the joke is great, but something about the timing just makes it not funny. I think animation is such an amazing field, that there is inspiration to be taken from various amazing art forms. Stand up comedy is obviously one of them, and an important one!

    That rant aside, I thought the most “industry useful” information came from the pitch bible. Mike ran us through every page of that bible, and boy did I learn how important detail is in animation shows. I didn’t realize that multiple people would be opening the same file. I suppose I always thought people had their own little chunk and that was that. It made me really aware of not only how important clarity is in a process, but also communication. There’s more to being a member of a team than just doing your little part, but just having this general expectation that multiple hands are going to touch everything so things need to always be clear to every person in the room. That is something that I never really thought about before, and I think shows my naivety. I am definitely going to need to work on my communication skills in the future.

    It was a great talk, and I enjoyed. Even got a few laughs out of Mike’s tumblr.

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  31. Bojack Horseman is a hot topic on internet in China. People always post a paragraph text of funny story with a picture of Horseman to enhance the emotion. And the pictures they post always attract other people to curious about the show. So when I met the director during the class I feel the world is too small and our school is so amazing. What a wonderful experience! I have no words but the praise to say about the show. I remember the most is the storyboard part. It’s really interesting to see the making of a successful show. And Mike’s storyboard even it’s super rough I can tell the idea of the humor and the rhythm of the story is perfect. Every beat hits my heart. I can feel his passion of the animation and telling story. I lived in LA for one and a half year till now, so many details in Horseman about the city convinced me so much and makes me feel I live with him.

    Thank you so much Mike!

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  32. I couldn’t make seminar this night (had to pick up the car from the shop) and was very disappointed to miss it. However, I was able to get filled in the next day on some of Mike’s advice and what he showed and discussed! As someone who’s goal is to be a storyboard artist, I appreciated his advice about posting mini-comics that showcase your humor and gags. I’d love to start including that into my routine, and to just have fun with them.

    It was interesting to learn how detailed and rigid of a structure the production bible is for his show, Bojack Horseman. I think that’s pretty incredible though, and works to keep the aesthetic correct especially when so many hands are touching the work and it’s being created in a shorter amount of time. Mike sounds like someone who is very sure of himself and his work, which is exactly what a great director and creator should be. I wish I could have seen his presentation in person.

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  33. So good to hear from Mike Hollingsworth. He had a pleasant quirky sense of humor. His presentation was informative on the production pipeline in Flash. I am familiar with this pipeline, but the work he does with other production companies was great to get another perspective on. His attention to certain characters and design elements was fun to hear. Thank you so much for sharing.

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