Notes From Derrick Wyatt’s Panel at TFCon 2009

{mosimage} For those that couldn't attend TFCon 2009, but would still like a glimpse at what Derrick J Wyatt, character designer and art director for Transformers Animated, had to say at his panels, now we've got the basic, boiled-down transcript for you! These questions and answers come from the first panel solely dedicated to Transformers Animated.

So without further adieu, click here to read the transcript provided by our staff member Devcon!

Q: It's been noted that Optimus' Facemask has been absent as of late – he used to put it on at first but he barely does so anymore. Is there any reason?
A: Basically we forgot to storyboard it, so the animators didn't put it in. It should come back eventually.

Q: What is your favorite character? How about your least favorite? And which character would you have wanted to add to the cast?
A: Favorite character, hands down, is Swindle. Least favorite is Beachcomber (some jeers from the crowd there) Sorry Beachcomber fans! We even cut his scene. Character I would have liked to put in… I'd say Galvatron. But with Nimoy for the voice.

Q: What are the non-TF influences in your work?
A: Mighty Orbots, lots of classic Hanna Barbera cartoons… ABC Warriors. (At the second panel he would say that his one dream job after Transformers Animated would be a remake of The Mighty Orbots)

Q: What motivates you to draw Transformers Character?
A: I've been in love with Transformers since I Was 12.

Q: Why doesn't Blurr look more like his G1 self?
A: We wanted to "mix him up". Mostly we wanted more of an "earthly" vehicle, with some Transtech Cheetor thrown in.

Q: What was the hardest character you've had to design for TFA?
A: Lockdown, who was more like a Frankenstein Monster. Also Prowl, who had his wheels on his shoulders and was white.

Q: So can we have the Female Starscream name?
A: (Laughs) It's not "Suzan". Also, not Dirge, not Nightbird. Not Laserbeak, or Laserwave

Q: Will we have more female characters in Animated?
A: Not for "main" characters. Sorry, no Flipsides.

Q: On what did you base your designs for Soundwave in the Virtual World?
A: Sonic White Music Label, and the Electrostatic Soundwave.

Q: How did you get Judd Nelson to voice Rodimus in the Season 3 Opener?
A: We went through Sue Blu.

Q: Was it hard to choose which characters would make it to the final cast?
A: VERY. Selection is a hard process of going through everyone's wishlist… And we can't make everyone happy.

Q: How did you come up with the concept of Sari?
A: It was in the "story bible" from the start, decided by Marty Isenberg.

Q: Will we see Unicron in Animated?
A: No. It probably couldn't be done using this concept anyway. (At the second panel he would say that Primus is the one Transformer he would like to stay as far away from Animated as possible. No love for the Transformers gods from this guy 😀 )

  Q: Will we see more Combiners in TFA?
A: Not in Season 3.

Q: What would be the next 4 characters you'd want in the show?
A: Strika, Grandus, Blot and BW Megatron.

Q: Not in terms of hardest but in terms of revisions, which one had the most?
A: Probably Bulkhead. He was much "fatter" in the beginning.

Q: Whose idea was it to have Shockwave as the Spybot?
A: It was Marty's idea, with lots of input from Corey Burton.

Q: Is there a chance we could see Kup as another old guy to work with Ratchet?
A: Would love to, but there's no time.

Q: So what's the official status of Rodimus?
A: He's recovering, getting the rust off. But he may only appear in a crowd shot.

Q: Given the reaction of the fans when we first saw the original preview of Optimus Prime, especially the one "Geewunners" had, what would you say to these people now?
A: "Haha!!!" (crowd laughed) But in more seriousness, I do a show I'd want to see.

Q: Will we see more Japanese characters?
A: Definitely Grandus, but we might see more cameos.

Q: In S2, Ultra Magnus has been almost shown as a "godly figure", especially with the hammer that made him look like Thor. Was that a direct reference?
A: Not really. He's a Transformer, not a god.

Q: Why exactly is Wreck Gar so naive, and why isn't he more into the "Talk TV" thing like the original?
A: It was Marty's idea. And this is our re-interpretation of the original character.

Q: Blackout's alt mode looks more like Obsidian's than it does Blackout's mode from the movie. Is that a reference, a shout out to Beast Machines?
A: Not really. We just wanted a Cybertronian helicopter and that's what we came up with.

Q: We've noticed a lot less human character involvement in S3. Is there any reason, and will we see some familiar faces between now and the end of the season?
A: We were asked to by Hasbro. Sorry, you won't see Angry Archer or Meltdown… Though we had a scene with Archer in "Human Error". We had to cut it though.

Q: In "Human Error", it looked like Prime and Bumblebee had their "human forms' based on their actors. Were they?
A: Not really.

Q: Why was Team Char present in the Virtual Reality scenario?
A: "Rule of Cool". No real reason.

Q: Which series was your favorite: TFA, Teen Titans or Foster's?
A: TFA… Transformers is a dream job!

Q: Why did you use entirely new characters for the Jet Twins instead of established twins like Sideswipe and Sunstreaker?
A: It was Eric Siebenaler at Hasbro who decided this. Besides, we wanted *jet* twins. Cars wouldn't have worked, so Sideswipe and Sunstreaker wouldn't be appropriate for what we had in mind.

Q: How exactly did Bumblebee's human body get designed?
A: Our original plan was to have the Automen look like the Scooby Gang (crowd laugh)… Prime with Freddy's ascot, that kind of thing. But ultimately Hasbro said "no" so we came up with something based on Bumper's Bumblebee voice.

Q: Will we see a Season 4?
A: (careful pause) I can't confirm or deny that. Sorry. (At the second panel he would suggest that Hasbro may be waiting for Botcon–er, "a certain other convention further south"– to make an announcement about Animated)

Q: We already know that, among the members of Team Char, Oil Slick gets an earth mode. Will another character get one?
A: Maybe Blackout.

Q: Is the fact that many G1 characters who get cameos in the show and the fact that these same characters get toys in universe a coincidence or was it something that was planned?
A: It wasn't really planned. The only thing that concerns us is that if we want to place a G1 character in the show, we have to make sure we "make it work" with the overall aesthetic of the show.

Q: You've snuck in a lot of references to previous Transformers shows so far. Should we expect more within the next episodes?
A: (laughs) Hey, there are some that still weren't found!

Q: What was the first Transformers toy you ever had?
A: Ravage. We tried to put him in the show but we just couldn't, unfortunately.

Q: With Animated reaching a close, were you approached to design for another show?
A: I'm sorry, I can't answer that.

Q: If you were a character in the show, which one would you be?
A: Well I already told you I loved Swindle… But it'd probably be Isaac Sumdac.

Q: Can we have an official answer for Blurr's status?
A: Sure don't look good for him, now does it? Thing is, when I designed the "smooshed" cube, I wanted them to put the spark but you all know it didn't make it to the episode. So it was up in the air whether or not he was alive, then Cliffjumper just tossed him in the incinerator… It doesn't look good and I'll leave it at that.

Q: Colors aside, Sentinel Prime's ship looks like it could have been another Omega Supreme. Could it be?
A: Maybe, in another time…

Q: Will we see more Elite Guard characters?
A: Not as planned.

Q: We got 3 dinobots so far, will we see the other 2?
A: We wanted to, but we won't. Sorry.

Q: If you had to choose 1 character to remove from the series, which one would it be?
A: NO!!!! They're all good, I'm not removing anyone! (laughs)

Q: Does Sentinel Prime's ship have a name?
A: Some people online already said "Steelhaven".

Q: Is there a possibility of seeing a "Shattered Glass Animated?"
A: We actually thought of that. Only if Fanzone would yell "This is why I LOVE machines!!!"

Q: Was the fact that Blurr and Shockwave have Transtech parts intentional?
A: Definitely for Blurr, that was Eric Siebenaler's idea. But Shockwave? Does he… (Quick back-and-forth with the crowd there) Well if he did, it wasn't my intention.

Q: How did you get involved with the Online Fandom?
A: Well I started with my blog… Then I joined the Twitter scene. It all snowballed from there.

Q: With Ultra Magnus down, who's in charge for the moment?
A: Sentinel Prime is. He's Magnus for the time being, but he still has to answer to the Civilian Authority.

Q: Is Starscream ever getting his body back?
A: (Pause, with a crooked smile)… Possibly?

Q: Was Fanzone based on Sipowicz from NYPD Blue?
A: Actually he was based on a character from a British Sitcom called "The Thin Blue Line".

Q: Why was Stephen Hawking's voice chosen for Perceptor?
A: Well if there's a voice that just screams "SCIENCE', it's that voice, wouldn't you say? I'd also like to think that Perceptor just deleted his emotions to make more room for scientific knowledge and logic… And that's the kind of voice he'd end up with.

Q: Now we all know Sentinel Prime's VA is Townsend Coleman, who also voiced "The Tick". Did his design take that into account, and will we see a direct reference to that in the show?
A: Not really actually. And a reference, you mean like "SPOON!"? No, that shouldn't happen.

Q: Have you ever attended any of the Voice Acting sessions?
A: Oh all the time! David Kaye and Townsend Coleman playing on each other is just a riot to look at.

Q: Will we see "The Touch" in animated?
A: Probably not. Hasbro would have to own it.

Q: Will the Allspark come back in S3?
A: (Same kind of pause as he did for the Starscream question)… Possibly?

Q: Well would this mean that the "Allspark Powered" robots get killed if it does return?
A: Well that's a good question, isn't it?

Q: What exactly is the significance of the Magnus Hammer?
A: It was the hammer that was used to forge the Allspark Container.

Q: Was the Allspark influenced by the Movie Allspark?
A: Oh definitely. But if it was up to me it'd have been called the Matrix. But with the whole "Matrix Trilogy", it's understandable why they chose "Allspark."

Q: How much control do you have when it comes to creating a character design?
A: A lot of it is a process of back-and-forth between us at Cartoon Network and Eric Siebenaler at Hasbro.

Q: The Omnibots in Generation 1 were considered Elite soldiers. Have you considered them for the Elite Guard?
A: No.

Q: So, fess up. What's with the chins?
A: CHINS ARE POWER!!! (laughter from the crowd) Things just got designed that way, again you have to remember that we got an aesthetic going on and that's how things went.

Q: On the character of Dirtboss being a forklift, were you aware that there's a character in the upcoming ROTF named "Dirtboss" who will also be a forklift?
A: Actually we didn't. So that's a complete coincidence.