Interview: White Radish

by Christopher Macdonald,
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Shawn the Touched of White Radish to talk a bit about his latest Project, Pink Lemonade as well as a few other things. Shawn brought a friend, Kara Dennison with him to liven things up a bit, Kara is also involved in Pink Lemonade, but more about that later. The interview was unfortunately postponed by a bit, my younger cat, Sushi, ate through one of my network cables. But we did get under way in the end and here's how it went...

Kara Dennison: Ah! Hallo!

Anime News Network: Sorry about that, my cat just ruined yet another network cable.. I wonder what she finds so tasty in them? Editor's note: It seems that I'm not the only Anime website editor around here having problems with his cat.

Kara: LOL

Shawn The Touched: Funny, I just had a cat stomping around in the dry leaves outside my window, sounding like a prowler.

Kara: Nyao!

Shawn: Okay, now we've met. ^^

ANN: Well Shawn, ANN has taken a look at some of your previous works, The Item and The Apprentice, both of which I've just recently seen. But now you've got a new, much bigger project under way called Pink Lemonade. Your 5th project, right?

Shawn: Let's see... No, fourth, unless you count the demo tape.

Shawn: Unless you mean our fan works like 4F. ^^;

Shawn: In that case, you should also count Nagisa Bonita, the music video.

Shawn: 4F was in 1994...or 93.

Kara: Wow ... man, how old was I then ...? Eh, maybe better if I don't say.

ANN: Can you tell us a bit about Pink Lemonade? That is if it isn't a secret?

Shawn: The story...

Shawn: It's not a secret per se, although of course major plot elements are secret.

ANN: right

Kara: ... himitsu desu.

Shawn: It's mainly a romance in a SF setting.

Shawn: Something that I can't seem to find in mainstream SF.

Kara: Unless you count the 1996 "Doctor Who" TVM, but Grace was rather ... sorry, go on. ^^;

Shawn: Usually, SF movies/shows/whatever are either SF/action, SF/horror, or something like that. SF/romance is hard to find.

Shawn: Not saying there's no romance in any SF, but it's usually tacked onto an action plot or something.

ANN: Well Shawn, you brought a guest with you tonight, would you care to introduce her?

Shawn: Certainly. This is Kara Dennison, who currently plays two voices in Pink Lemonade, and aids in cel painting, continuity checking, and some scriptwriting, as well as writing some songs for it.

Kara: I'm a busy little thing, aren't I? Heh heh.

ANN: It would seem.

ANN: When did you hook up with WR?

Kara: A little over a year ago. I was working in fandubbing circles, and I saw a call for natural Australian voice actresses. Even though I'm NOT, I specialize in dialects, so I sent some files.

Kara: I was originally only pegged to play Pickle, who's somewhat of a minor character, but when one of the other actresses dropped out, I ended up voicing Pepper as well — much more substantial role, and Pickle's girlfriend.

ANN: The fandubbing was of Anime I'm assuming?

Kara: Yes, things like Sailor Moon, mostly. I still do a bit of that, but I'm more interested in original animated and audio productions now.

Kara: (Both inside and outside the anime genre.)

ANN: And all the other work that Shawn managed to get you to do for Pink Lemonade, is it the first time you've done that sort of work?

Kara: I've been writing ever since I was twelve or thirteen ... but things like cel painting and continuity, I'd never done. Shawn had to teach me a lot about digital cels and such.

ANN: good teacher?

Kara: Very much so. ^.^

Shawn: ^_^

ANN: When Kara sent you her files, what was it that made you pick her to be a part of your team?

Shawn: Well, she was good, and fit the part. She started as a voice, and gradually became involved in other aspects.

ANN: How many voice actors are involved in the PL project?

Shawn: Let me see...

Shawn: 10 for the main parts, and then there are small bit parts here and there.

ANN: Do you do any of the voices?

Shawn: Yes, a few. ^^ Not very many, though, because there aren't many male roles in PL.

Shawn: I'm the voice of Drink, the bartending robot, who you can see in the trailer.

ANN: Yes, it's rather common for women to play men but you don't hear of that many men doing the voices of women do you?

Shawn: Except in Voltron.

Kara:And some small online cartoons, like "Radiskull & Devil Doll," and that "Miss Muffy" series ...

Shawn: That too. ^_^

Kara: "Cow and Chicken" ... I think Cow's a girl ... hard to tell who's what in that cartoon. ^^;

ANN: Shawn, your first introduction to Anime was in the 80s with series like Voltron and Robotech, like so many other people. But what was it that made really get to love Anime?

Shawn: Ahh, that's a good one. ^^

Shawn: It was I think ...hmm...both the stories and the visual look were refreshingly different, and covered areas that I hadn't seen in other animation. I'd always been a fan of animation, and those shows went off in new directions compared to what I'd seen before.

Shawn: I must admit, part of the thing that made it so unusual was that people died. But aside from that, there was a continuing story that had a beginning, middle, and end, which I'd never seen. There was a romance aspect, which I'd never seen. (And actually, that was what I found more interesting in Robotech. I'd lose interest during the constant space battles, but every time Rick & Minmei or Rick & Lisa appeared, I was interested. ^^)

ANN: So Shawn has been interested in animation and Anime for a long time now, what about you Kara? What got you interested in Anime?

Kara: Well, really it was a friend of mine in high school who was obsessed with "Slayers." She got me into that and Ranma ... and, of course, I watched some of the dubbed "Sailor Moon." (more)

Kara: When I came to college, there was an anime club, and that just sort of clinched it for me. I got exposure to a lot of lesser-known stuff like "Captain Tylor" and "Maze." And I get to be an active officer in the club.

ANN: You mentioned that you did some fan dubbing of series like SM, how did you get involved with that?

Kara: By complete chance, actually! I was searching for fan pages online, to learn more about the series, and it turned up a fandub audition page. I had a mic, so I just randomly tried for a small part in a short clip. (more

Got in on my first try, and sought out more stuff from there.

ANN: Shawn, are you professionally involved in Anime outside of WR, and before....

Shawn: Okay. I'm not sure what would constitute a professional involvement in anime outside of animating it...

ANN: Laff, very true.

Shawn: So I'd have to say no.

Shawn: What I do otherwise is graphic design, animation (of a more mundane sort) and video editing, and web design.

ANN: How do you come up with the ideas for you projects? Do they just pop into your head?

Shawn: Yes, and usually in the shower.

Shawn: I find the shower to be a creativity enhancer.

ANN: Do you have ideas for your upcoming projects already?

Kara: Oh, believe me, he has no shortage of ideas ...

ANN: I know the feeling, so many ideas, so little time, right?

Shawn: Yes, there are a number of future works, but I'd rather not say anything about them until PL is near completion. ^_^

ANN: When is PL going to be finished, what stage of the work are you at right now?

Shawn: There's still a lot to do. It's a pretty long project. I can't give a certain date of completion.

Shawn: I don't want to give a certain date, because that's what caused previous works to be rushed.

ANN: Any favorite series or creators to speak of? (question for both of you)

Kara: I have an unholy love of "Shoujo Kakumei Utena" at the moment. TV and movie. I'm also a big fan of "Tylor" and any "Lupin III" stuff I can find.

Shawn: Creators: Sonoda, Takahashi, Akemi Takada, Miyazaki, Ryo Ramiya (there's an obscure one), Ebi Fry (likewise), and whoever created Slayers.

Shawn: Series: way too many, but you can take about anything from the creators I mentioned...

Shawn: Lately been watching a lot of weird stuff, like Key.

Shawn: And I like Battle Athletes. ^^

ANN: Key is weird :-)

Shawn: And Lain is one of the weird ones.

Shawn: Eva's pretty weird as well as good.

ANN: Eva's does get pretty weird.

ANN: What about as a creator, do you think you've been influenced by any creators in particular?

Shawn: Well, yes, of course I've been influenced by everything I've seen and liked. ^^

Shawn: I can't say which in particular, but there have been a lot of influences.

Kara: Tempest ... try the last half of Utena ... or even just the movie, LOL

Shawn: Yes, the movie will do it.

ANN: I was hoping to see the movie recently... but -sigh- missed it.

Kara: Akio apparently hired Escher to design the school ...

Shawn: We saw it pro-subbed at Otakon, in the theatre. ^^

ANN: Can you tell me a bit about the process that you go through to create your movies?

Shawn: It's evolved a lot over time. The way it's done now is usually starting with a rough sketch on paper, although it's sometimes sketched directly on computer.

Shawn: However it's done, when the sketch is in the computer (scanned in the case of paper), it's cleaned up and inked using graphics tablets.

Shawn: Then, (after motions tests, which I forgot to mention), we add shading and highlights to alpha channels in Photoshop, and the cel can be painted at the same time, and later combined with the channels.

Shawn: It's hard to explain without getting technical.

ANN: By that you mean combined with the audio?

Kara: Well, to do that, you've gotta reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. ^.~
Editor's Note: Making fun of me, are we?

Shawn: Anyway, these painted cels are saved with alpha transparencies, and imported as TIFF sequences in Premiere and After Effects. No, not audio, I mean alpha channels for the shadows and hightlights.

Shawn: And the compositing is in those latter two programs, depending on the needs of the shot.

Shawn: That's the gist of it.

ANN: For people who have seen your previous movies, what can they expect to be different in PL?

Shawn: The shadows & highlight thing is particularly hard to explain casually.

Shawn: It's a much better story! Much more character development and dialogue.

ANN: That's okay, we're not trying to teach anyone (myself included) how to animate here, just give them an idea of what's involved.

Shawn: And it looks better, too.

Shawn: And there's also a distinct adult element.

Kara: And it's a SMIDGE longer ...

ANN: 6 episodes, right? How long is each episode?

Shawn: It'll be at least 30 minutes, but may run longer.

Shawn: By "may", I mean "probably".

Shawn: 2+2=5, for very large values of 2.

ANN: Lol. What kind of release do you have in mind for PL, and future projects, are you looking to see them distributed eventually? Will fans one day be able to go to their local Anime shop and pick up one of your movies?

Kara: LOL Well, it's quite an undertaking ... a full-length OVA.

Shawn: There are 2 distributors who have offered to distribute it in stores and the usual channels, once it's complete.

Shawn: The reason the others aren't distributed that way is because they're too short.

Shawn: However, compiled together with a special featurette "making of" sort of thing, the shorts can be done that way, too.

ANN: I have a backwards sort of question to ask you both right now.

Kara: Hmmm ...

ANN: If YOU were interviewing Shawn the Touched and Kara from White Radish, what would you want to know? Take as much time as you want with this, last person I asked told me he would call me back half an hour later... I heard from him 2 days later.

Kara: Wow ... that really is wild, LOL

Shawn: Heh, I'll have to request some time for that, too. ^^

ANN: (PS: I want the answer too :-) )

Shawn: Of course.

Kara: LOL Well, if I were to turn about and ask Kara Dennison something, odds are it would be whether or not she was barking mad for devoting so much time to something like voice acting. What does she hope to gain?

Kara: It's not as glamourous as other acting jobs she could be pursuing, and not as rewarding financially, to be sure. So why continue?

Kara: And really, it's for the same reason I act at all. It's for the love. For the experience. I get to experiment with different roles and sorts of things that wouldn't work onstage. There's a lot more freedom ...

Kara: especially (obviously) vocally, and just with the sorts of characters I play. I mean, I play aliens, vampires, mad scientists, magical girls ... it's really just a treat for me to GET to do it.

ANN: Backing up a tiny bit Kara, you're in University, right? What do you study? (if it matters... it matters)

Kara: I'm currently at William & Mary, and I'm studying theatre (as it's a liberal arts school, I'm taking random courses in other fields, too), with a minor in music or lit ... haven't decided yet.

ANN: How long have you been acting?

Kara: Since I was seven. I was in a children's troupe. Did a lot of things in community theatre and high school. And I come from an acting family. I have relatives in radio, and one on Star Trek (Michael Ansara).

Kara: (Just had to throw that in, LOL)

ANN: Acting is really in your blood then, huh?

Kara: Oh, very much so. Though he won't admit it, my grandfather (whom I live with in the summer) is a frustrated actor. He's really passed on that love of acting to me.

Kara: Here is a question for Shawn: Where do your stories come from?

Shawn:I get my stories from a story factory in Burbank! (I think that was originally Harlan Ellison's line).

Shawn: "What is your dream project?"
Editor's note: This answer actually came 5 days later.

Shawn: Pink Lemonade is my dream project, the one I'm working on now. ^_^ I've put a lot of time and energy into it, and it's very gratifying to see it all coming together.

Shawn: Also, "How long do you foresee yourself producing animation?"

Shawn: That's pretty much either indefinitely or until it becomes obsolete.

ANN:Yeah, it does. Well, thank you both, it was a pleasure.

Shawn: Absolutely. Great talking to you! And don't worry about it, it was fun. ^.^

Kara:Goodnight then. ^^

Shawn: Ja!

ANN: Good night Shawn, Kara.

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