Skip to main content

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time
Christian Haynes - Zack In Time. 
If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series.

The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes.

TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating?

My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips. 

As I got older, I became a lot more interested in storytelling and tried to come up with different ways I could express my artwork with it. I became more interested in comics books and that soon transitioned into an interest in storyboarding. 

I then knew that I wanted to become a film director and began making my own short films that I put on YouTube. Eventually I applied to film school and during my junior year and fell back into my love for animation. 

I decided to pursue my passion of creating animated films and television and started to develop my own ideas. One of those ideas became "Zack In Time" and has become a passion project of my producer, Paige, and I, that we're currently making with a small animation crew, to hopefully become an official series one day!

TET: Can you tell me a little more about your animated series?

Zack from 'Zack In Time'.
Zack from 'Zack In Time'.
"Zack In Time" is the story of a biracial 13-year-old boy named Zack McAllister who moves to the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming with his mom, and doesn't fit in at his new school. At the end of the school day, he stumbles upon a high tech watch and takes it home. He places it on his wrist and it takes him back in time to several historical events before returning him back to his room. 

He soon realizes that it's a time traveling watch and over the course of the story, he discovers that it was created by a secret government agency to go on missions throughout time. He is soon recruited by the agency to train to become a junior agent and help the other agents embark on their missions before they can find a way to remove the watch from his wrist. 

The series will continue to tell Zack's time traveling adventures as a junior agent with the help of his two best friends, Kendall Campbell and Angela Wong, as they protect their city from shadowy threats who attempt to take the watch as their own.

TET: Inspiration for the series?

"Zack In Time" has many influences, specifically the shows "Danny Phantom", "Ben 10" and "Kim Possible". I grew up with those shows and I wanted to create a show that was a throwback to them. 

I feel like a lot of shows today are 50/50 on 2-D and 3-D animation and if this show ever gets picked up, I hope that it can bring back more of the 2-D-style animation. 

As far as characters, the show had several influences as well, especially the shows that featured protagonists that had to balance the ordinary life with their extraordinary life. 

With the storytelling, there were a mixture of influences. When I was first developing the idea, I thought it would be a film series, so films like "Back To The Future", "The Terminator", and "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" were big influences even right down to the characters' names. 

Some other films and shows that influenced the series were "Jimmy Neutron", "Phineas and Ferb", "Hey Arnold!" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender".

TET: What applications do you use to make the series?

Zack In Time Trailer Still.
Zack In Time Trailer Still.
To create the characters, props, vehicles and backgrounds, the animators have been using Adobe Photoshop to design them, and using a program called "Krita" to animate the characters either with a "puppet" style animation, for simpler shots where all of the pieces are created individually, and then animated through puppeteering. Or they've been animated frame-by-frame to give the characters a more natural look for the more complicated shots. 

Once each shot is completed, my producer has been editing them together with Adobe Premiere into small trailers or clips to see how everything flows together. 

We had the actors record all of their dialogue on their own microphones and had them send us their audio tracks to our Google Drive. My producer also used Premiere to edit the vocal tracks together into one audio track, for us to use in the animatic, that the animators can reference as they animate, as well as have a soundtrack for them to use for their clips.

TET: Your biggest challenge(s) making the series?

The biggest challenges for us right now are the fact that we're an independent company trying to produce studio-level quality content. We can definitely do it, but since our crew mostly consists of college interns who are doing the work for free, it's much more of a slower process. 

I think another challenge is the fact that we can't all be in the same room to collaborate on this project and instead have to communicate through messaging apps or Zoom calls. 

I am definitely thankful to have a producer who is always on top of the schedule and makes sure that everyone has an assignment, so that the project can continue to move forward, and we can meet our goals! 

The final challenge for us is trying to find the time and energy to work on the project while also balancing our daily lives. A lot of us are in school or working or have other projects going on while this project is being produced, and it can be difficult to make space or say "no" to things to make the series a reality.

TET: Future plans for you and/ or the series in relation to animation goals?

Paige and I would love to have this idea to be picked up by an animation studio one day and become an official series. We would also like to build up Paige's production company, I'm happy, to become a successful business and help aspiring artists to have jobs in the animation industry. 

We also hope that the show helps bring in more diversity to animation. Not just for the characters within the shows, but also for the people who are creating them. For many of the crew members on the show, this is the very first project they've worked on and we want this to be an opportunity for them to learn more about the animation process as well as prepare them for what it'll be like to work in animation full-time. 

It's always been my dream to be a show runner for an animated series and this experience has definitely given me a taste of what could come. I'm very proud of the work the crew has done so far and I'm so excited about it's potential in the future as we make progress on it!


---o ---o--- o---


Thanks to Christian for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to see more of the behind the scenes work check out Zack in Time's InstagramTik-Tok, or you can also help fund the project's develpment through the show's Patreon.

Popular posts from this blog

Reallusion Releases Cartoon Animator 5 - One Version, More Features, Lower Price!

If you're serious about producing 2D animation as quickly as possible, while still achieving professional results, Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 5 makes the most compelling case yet as your animation studio/tool of choice. Cartoon Animator's point of difference has always been its ease of use and accelerated workflow. Creating fast, 2D animation using puppet, bone rigged based characters and props, on a stage with 3D depth for easy scene parallax effects. As it has developed Reallusion has incorporated more advanced features like motion capture for both face and body as well as being able to export scenes to post production tools like After Effects with the addition of plugins. After moving away from Flash based vector image support for a few years, Reallusion is back with full .SVG (scalable vector graphics) support for resolution independent graphics. They've also added Spring Dynamic physics and Full Form Deformation tools, both of which make it ridiculously easy t

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor. I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut , by Meltytech , which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner. This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far. One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!). Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up

Make Disney/Pixar Style Characters with Reallusion's Character Creator and Toon Figure Bases

The Extraordinary Tourist Classic Coat outfit created using Reallusion's Toon Designer for CC3. I've talked before how I've wanted to get into 3D Disney/Pixar style character animation since I first saw the animated cutscenes for the very first Tomb Raider game back in 1996. It's why I initially bought Reallusion's iClone 3D studio app as soon as I could afford a computer that would run it. But then Reallusion released their 3D Character Creator (CC) for iClone and I wanted to create my characters with that (and I did try with Bat Storm ). But the focus of CC was realism, even with ToKoMotion's stylised body morphs . Now with Reallusion's Cartoon Designer bundle for CC3 which features two packs, Toon Figures , and Toon Hair , designing Disney/Pixar style 3D characters just got a whole lot quicker. The two packs are the bare essentials for creating Toon style characters. Five body morphs (2 male, 2 female, and one adolescent body morph that w

Eric W. Schwartz: Cartoonist, Animator and Amiga Die Hard

July 1992 Edition, CU Amiga Featuring Amy the Squirrel. American Cartoonist, Eric W. Schwartz , (whose unofficial Amiga Icon, Amy the Squirrel, is pictured on the July 92 edition of CU Amiga cover on the right) is my only real animation hero. Sure there are the big names like Disney , Chuck Jones , Tex Avery and even Preston Blair whose influences can all be seen in my own cartoons but Eric did what none of the others could. He showed that really great 2D computer animation was within my reach with little more than an Amiga Computer , a copy of Deluxe Paint and Moviesetter . This was at a time when computer based animation was in its infancy (outside of computer game animation) and Flash was something that lights did. There were many great Amiga artists but Eric was really the only one consistently making very funny, traditional style animations. His humor and drawing style is heavily influenced by classic Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons but he managed to build on this,

TimeBolt: Fast Video Editing for Anyone Creating Online Courses, Podcasts, or Vlogs.

I resisted making tutorial videos for a long time because I don't like editing. Specifically I don't like editing me teaching as I step students through a process during a screen record. I have a tendency to insert long pauses not just in the middle of sentences but between multiple words in the middle of sentences as my pace matches what I'm doing onscreen. This makes for very long and very slow paced video tutorials. To counteract this I have to edit out all the pauses. This can take hours, or even days on particularly long tutorials. For example, when I created my main course, The Lazy Animator Beginner's Guide to Cartoon Animator , I literally injured the thumb on my right hand, operating my mouse, as I spent weeks taking out all my pauses (seriously, I had to wear a thumb brace for a few weeks to fix the pain). Recently I came across TimeBolt , a very affordable, fast editing application with the featured purpose of removing all the pauses from your video (and even

Review: Headshot Plugin for Reallusion's Character Creator 3

Headshot for CC3. Quite possibly the best 3D Avatar I've made of myself in any 3D application. Creating a realistic 3D human avatar is a whole lot easier with Reallusion's new Headshot Plugin for Character Creator 3. The plugin is an AI powered extension that can generate 3D digital humans from one photo. Which sounds like an amazing proposition but, in practice, if you're trying to achieve a specific likeness to an actual person, Headshot will give you an excellent base to work from. Headshot has two modes, Auto and Pro. Auto Mode Auto is well worth a try if you have an ideal photo of a front facing person that is properly lit and posed to Headshot's optimum requirements. It's also the only mode that will take a crack at generating a hair model. I grabbed an image of Harrison Ford, dragged it into Headshot without changing any of the default settings (other than specifying 'male' and selecting an 'old male' setting) and this is what I