Animated Trekspert Talks Starship Farragut

KTKail Tescar is the originator of the #1 website dedicated to the animated series of Star Trek.  For those who may not be familiar with The Animated Series (TAS), it was created in 1973 and featured the voices of nearly the entire cast of the original live-action series, including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, etc.  Being animated, this series could “boldly go” where the original series could not due to budgetary constraints, and was able to show more exotic aliens, spaceships, and planetscapes not possible with a weekly live action series.  With Star Trek off the air, the animated series helped to keep “TREK ALIVE” in the years between the original series and the movies. Since the its launch in 1997, Kail’s website has been a clearinghouse of information related to TAS.  Kail also contributed to the official CBS/Paramount DVD release of Star Trek: The Animated Episodes, by providing the producers with original scripts, storyboards and artwork he had collected for use in the bonus feature Drawing The Final Frontier.  Kail is a talented artist and has re-created the Filmation style for drawing folks in the TAS universe.  For some time, he wanted to get his original TAS comic books materialized, but after teaming up with NEO f/x, Kail is now seeing a long-standing dream come true…to help create a new full-length, animated episode of Star Trek in Filmation-style. Kail is the Lead Artist and Associate Producer of STARSHIP FARRAGUT:  The Animated Episodes.  I thought I’d take some time to interview Kail and discuss his involvement with Starship Farragut:

Prior to conceiving the premise for “Starship Farragut” five years ago this month, I knew of you and your work.  In fact, I engaged you to draw a likeness of me in the TAS style.  How did you go from appreciating TAS to then drawing and mastering the Filmation style of Star Trek?

It’s funny, but I was well into doing the animated Farragut before I realized I had done a portrait of you years earlier. In fact, you were one of my very first commissions! 

JB_Animated_2003

Being Animated TAS in 2003 - Yikes, my hair!

In 1973 I was 13 years old and already a HUGE Star Trek fan. I was thrilled that my friends of the Enterprise crew were coming back. I loved the show, and in the days before VCR’s I actually filmed the TV screen with my super 8mm camera, so I could watch them over and over. One of the things I loved about those days was that all Star Trek fans were united. We loved Star Trek period, and fought hard to bring it back. Once the spin offs started, fans got fractured. Old Trek versus new Trek. That made me kind of sad, and I feel Trek lost something. Don’t get me wrong, I loved some of the modern Trek, but my heart will always be with the original.
Anyway, flash forward to 1997, I got my first computer and wanted to make a website, Star Trek seemed a natural. I searched the web and found thousands of Star Trek websites, but only one devoted to the animated series, Curt Danhausers Guide to Animated Star Trek which was, and is, an awesome website. So that was my main reason for opening Startrekanimated.com, not an overpowering love of the animated series, but to do something different than everybody else. While Curt’s website was an encyclopedia of information on TAS, it did not have much “fun” stuff. So I decided that would be the focus of my site. I set out creating graphics, sounds, games, stationary etc. I found there was a complete lack of high quality TAS images on the net, so I started creating some, wallpapers based on screencaps, at first only aliens, and the ships of TAS. Later as my skill grew I started doing the crew. From doing this for a few years I learned the TAS style and started making a few portraits for friends, and from there my portrait service was born.

I have to assume that since you’re a TAS fan, you’re also a TOS fan?  What is it about TAS that you like more than TOS?  

I can’t say I like TAS more than TOS. But after working with TAS over the years my appreciation of it has grown. TAS and TOS are both very nostalgic for me, I love them both, but because of the website I have become the “TAS guy” which is very cool, and I have acquired quite a collection of TAS memorabilia. I’ve been contacted by some writers and artists who worked on the show, and they seem to appreciate my work to keep TAS alive in the hearts of fans. Before the DVD release, many fans had never even heard of TAS. So it’s kinda fun to have a nitch, to have something special in the vast sea of Trek.

Share the experience of working on STARSHIP FARRAGUT: The Animated Episodes and bringing your work to life in true animated form? 

As you mentioned earlier, I had tried for some years to get a new animated Star Trek produced. Every so often I’d be contacted by an animator who wanted to work with me and create something, but it always ended the same way. I’d do all the preliminary work, and then I’d never hear back from the animator. I guess they figured out that it would not be so easy, that it would take a lot of time and work to do it right. After several of these false starts, I was a bit skeptical when I was contacted by Michael Struck from NEO f/x about doing a animated episode of Starship Farragut. But after awhile Michael convinced me that he was serious, and was actually going to complete the project, I jumped in with both feet. The big surprise came after I had created all the Farragut crewmember model sheets. I thought I would only be designing the characters look, but Michael asked me to work on the animations as well. I had never done animation before, so that was the biggest challenge for me. It is time consuming, tedious work, two years worth. My wife thought I was crazy, working for days on a sequence that would only be seen onscreen for seconds. But in the end, it was all worth it. I think the final product is as close to Filmation as you can get, and I’m very proud of the episodes.

You and NEO f/x are busy working to finalize the 2nd episode of STARSHIP FARRAGUT: The Animated Episodes called, “The Needs of the Many” – how is this coming along?  Is it coming along much easier than the 1st episode, “Power Source?”  Also, how do you think this episode will compare with the other?

The second episode, like Filmation, will reuse a vast majority of the animation already created for the first. So it is a lot easier in that respect. “The Needs of the Many” will differ from “Power Source” in many ways. “The Needs..” features far more space action,  starships and aliens ., so that’s going to be very cool.

Friends and fans of your work that have seen “Power Source” – what is their reaction? 

The reaction has been completely positive. It’s been very rewarding knowing that folks enjoy the show. It really makes all the work worthwhile. At heart, I’m an entertainer. I’ve done stage work, played in bands, sang in choirs, I just love to create art in any form, and hopefully bring a little joy.

I can tell you that folks at the Baltimore Comic-Con walking by our booth initially thought it was TAS!  They loved it and commented on the attention to detail and accuracy to TAS.  Being a purist with TOS, I respect and appreciate the fact that you stayed very true, but added a few things – as we have with the live action series (e.g., phaser rifle, Franz Joseph ships, female officers wearing shirts) – what can you share about this deliberate homage to Filmation style (difficulty, subtle changes from TAS, etc.)?

Having watched each episode of TAS about a thousand times for my website, I became sort of a technical consultant for Michael. He’d show me artwork created for the episodes and I’d comment, yes, or no, it’s not really TAS. The hardest part was asking artists to simplify their work. They sometimes got to sophisticated with their work, especially the computer generated stuff, and I’d have to rein them in a bit. That’s what got me the Associate producer title. Michael and I tried very hard to keep the look and feel of Filmation in every shot. I think we did that.

With the feedback I’ve observed being so positive, I’m sure “The Needs of the Many” will be a success.  Looking forward to seeing it and appreciate your tireless efforts and talented contributions towards the Starship Farragut project.  Thanks Kail.

Thank you for letting me play in your backyard John! My dream of creating new TAS would not have been possible without you, and your crew at Starship Farragut!

Stay tuned for another discussion soon with Kail regarding his comic book version of Starship Farragut – TAS style (same style as the animated project).

john03

Coming Soon!

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3 Responses to “Animated Trekspert Talks Starship Farragut”

  1. Kevin Palm Says:

    Heheh! Love the hair! ;-D

  2. Kevin Palm Says:

    I am seriously stoked to read the comic! I’ve loved Kail’s work on his TAS site for quite some time now, and I’m really glad that he got involved with Farragut! TAS is special to me since it was first broadcast when I was in my middle teens, and I even held my cassette recorder up to the TV speaker when it was on to capture the audio! ;-D I’d say that I probably had every TAS episode memorized. Well, at least the audio part…

  3. rubber wrist bands Says:

    Generally I do not post comments on a person’s blog, but I’d like to mention that this article has compelled me to do so! Thanks for your perceptive post.

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