A Chat with David Rosler
On April 14th, 2002, we had the privilege of hosting a member of the Galaxy Rangers production team in an IRC-chat session, David Rosler. David worked as a storyboard artist and character designer when the project was being produced. Now running his own company, David stumbled across Betamountain.org a short time ago and contacted us about spending some time looking back down memory lane.
A really personable guy, David spent 2 1/2 hours of our questions and insane IRC abuse. You, however, don't have to weather that and instead you'll get to read a nice streamlined interview style posting. For you purists out there, David gave the approval for the edit. Besides, if you were there, you'd have a chat log of your own ;)
Update (2017): You can find David these days over at his website http://www.davidrosler.com!
So, without any further ado....
The David Rosler IRC Interview
<Did Robert have a firm idea of character designs (what each character looked like) before he started working with the artists, or did they hand him sketches and they worked from there, or what? >
- <DavidRosler> I DO know the answer to that and almost always when it comes to secondary characters the story comes first. So we would get the screenplay or a part of it... and whoever's job it was would design under David Gregg's direction. They ALWAYS knew what they wanted. Now that you mention it there were times when they would hand us a PHOTOGRAPH of someone. Carl Sagan was one. The kid from "Lassie" was another. But rarely if ever do I recall a story being designed around a character. I forget the name of the character designed after Sagan. Wait... "Senator something"
- <DavidRosler> SENATOR WHINER! That was Sagan. :-)
The late Mr. Carl Sagan & Senator Wheiner
<Now I'm gonna have visions of Wheiner saying "billyons and billyons">'
- <DavidRosler> billYons
<Getting away from the past, what are you up to now?>
- <DavidRosler> Actually, I'm wrapping production on a made-for sci-fi action feature of my own called The Aries Knights, but I think the room might be more interested in Ranger history first. :-)
<No, we'd like to hear current projects as well. :) >'
- <DavidRosler> It should be completed in a few months. Heavy on the CGI. Some articles coming out soon, including a feature in Femme fatales (the three main characters are women). Actually, if you like the Galaxy Rangers you might very well like The Aries Knights. If you want I'll keep you posted on the details. (There’s) very big production values on this. we're rather proud of it, actually. it's no cheap-o movie. :-) It’s a live-action feature with additional CGI creatures by the way, just so you know.
<Sort of like Farscape with cg instead of puppets then? >
- <DavidRosler> Not as zany as Farscape... more intense drama and the comedy coming organically from the drama.... Farscape, while good, is a bit more like a vaudeville show to me, though top vaudeville honors must go to Lexx.
<May we ask which company is doing the CG? >
- <DavidRosler> My company, called The Rosler Group, is a design and animation/FX firm, and the production grew from that.
<Even better - sounds like a great project>
- <DavidRosler> We think so. People have seen some rough cuts of scenes and sat engrossed on the drama, laughed at the jokes and said "cool" at the action scenes, so I think we're doing okay with it.
<Does "The Rosler Group" have a website? >
- <DavidRosler> We're changing domains. If you do a search on The Rosler Group you'll find a link, but there is no Aries Knights page yet. When we have one it'll be an entire site. It’s a proposed series of features with a lot of back-story.
<How long were you with the Galaxy Rangers? Were you one of the original crew, or did you join later on (inasmuch as there was a later)?
- <DavidRosler> Actually, I have been a genre fan all my life and would have been sitting in on a forum like this if there were such things years ago, so I’m happy to be doing my part on the other side of the screen. :-) I came on pretty soon after they started I think, but the ORIGINAL designers were Ed and oops... what's the other guys name? There was a lot of initial designing on GR before I came on, but mostly just the main characters.
<…Nothing like having a bunch of fans ask you about a show from 16 years ago (probably 17-18 from a production standpoint). >
- <DavidRosler> the original designers were done by Ed and.... what was the other? I think there was a big wave of hiring just after they moved into the offices and I was on the tail end of that.
<Ray Shenusay (Kat)>
- <DavidRosler> RAY! I kept thinking "Sean"! And Ray was a nice guy too, but was the hardware designer so I didn't interact with him much
- <DavidRosler> Ray and Brad Fox did the hardware stuff. [---] Even though only Ed and Ray were listed as designers, a good number of people listed under storyboards did alot more than storyboard. The most notable examples were Laslo Nosek and Alex Stevens, who were listed as storyboard artists but were master scene designers. Brad Fox was a hardware designer, I did some characters, etc
- Anyway...Ed and Ray were working for Robert when Robert was working out of his home office as I understand it. That work was then used to raise the financing for the show. So Ed and Ray were the ORIGINAL designers for the show, though even the main characters were tweaked a bit as the show went into production.
- <DavidRosler> Ed was funny in a way.... he confirmed to me what I had been told early on: that he REALLY wanted to be a fashion illustrator at the time, so all his character designs he did had a gorgeous, illustration style to them. Unfortunately, and this is only an opinion, there seemed to be a downside to it.... interested?
Working with Multiple Studios
<-- Insert group approval here -->
- <DavidRosler> well, the further from the actually drawing style of the animation you go, the more need there is on the part of the animators to interpret what they are given. If you draw it in EXACTLY the animation style, they essentially have a blueprint. Well, Ed's stuff was half-photographic in illustration style. And the show, during production in Japan, was handled by four different divisions of the animation company. Hence, Niko, for instance, ranges from looking athletic tomboy to petite intellectual, depending on which division was working.
<So his stuff meant a lot more work reproducing it? >
- <DavidRosler> Not work in reproducing it. Extra effort maintaining the consistency, because if you hand a bunch of cartoonists a line drawing, they'll give it back with small variations. If you give each one a photograph, you get WAY different interpretations.
<That explains a lot…. noticed the characters would shift looks from time to time... hadn't realized that was why…also very noticeable in the different style of the introduction sequence to the actual episode animation>'
- <DavidRosler> David Gregg told me at the time there were 4 different divisions, explained as A, B, C and D, going from the sublime to the merely okay. The great scripts went to A and so forth and the scripts like "marshmallow trees" would go to "D". So when the show was cooking it was hot. When it was just okay it was just okay at best. Still, that's a much better average than most shows, really. It's funny about the quality issue of the show itself. When watching the show initially I was so aware of the production it lost me as an audience. After stumbling on your site, I cracked open a couple of shows and it's pretty darn good :-)
<We tend to agree - even the bad episodes tended to be a lot better than most of the rest on at the time…We refrain from asking where Mothmoose went. >
- <DavidRosler> "Mothmoose" (Obi Wan imitation) there’s a name I've not heard in a long time.
<Do you have a metal badge? If so, the emailed question pertains to that...>
- <DavidRosler> I do have a metal badge. What's the question?
<E-mailer writes that he “found the picture on a Galaxy Rangers Fan site and that the badge was made with a CNC machine... I think that the negative form was made with a CNC machine and then the badge was poured with aluminium (anodized) or any other metal (gold plated). Do you know any details about this badge, how or by whom it was manufactured?”>
- <DavidRosler> Gee, I have no idea. All I know is that all the pre-production staff, the designers and artists mostly, though the secretaries perhaps also, got one. It was some form of costume jewelry and very well made. I often wore mine to work and that's no joke. When the president of the company gives you a pin personally you wear the damn thing, and I was happy to.
<True, true. And to end that email, no chance you'd give it up due to the fact he'd like one? >
- <DavidRosler> I have it to this day, in fact. It’s a treasured memento from a really fun production to work on…. but I would never part with it. Like a set of cuff links my father gave me as a teenager, there's just too much sentimental attachment to it.
<Sent along the pic of the badge to your email>
- <DavidRosler> do you want me to confirm if it's genuine? I did see the mail you sent. It looks like the real thing to me. Where did he get it?
<We think he found it on another fanpage, origin unknown>
- <DavidRosler> Bob... strange. To my knowledge those badges were only ever given to the people of the art staff.
This one needs a little setup - editor
- Joins: rangerh (rangerh@sdn-ar-002flniceP188.dialsprint.net)
- ChanServ sets mode: +o rangerh
<Rangerh> hi all and honored guest
- <DavidRosler> my pleasure, Scott. That reminds me of a story, may I?
<Surely :) >
- <DavidRosler> Scott said "honored guest". A few years ago I was in the lovely Caribbean country of Trinidad doing some work which was essentially for all of Caribbean television (Trinidad is essentially the flagship location for all of the island television stations) and at one point was invited to their version of a senate council of some sort (forget the proper title of the Governmental body)... and it had a lot of the old world British still attached to the proceedings…. All very formal with dignity dripping from each inflection. And at the beginning I was introduced even though I was only there as an onlooker.
- <DavidRosler> and VERY TIME someone stood to say something, even if it was to say "bless you" after somebody sneezed, they would say, "Mister chairman, fellow senators (and turn to me with a BOW) and Honored guest." After the 80th time it got pretty uncomfortable, although they were deadly serious about it. :-)
[---] On my first Saturday in Trinidad I sat down in front of the TV to try to absorb what the television market was down there…. Trinidad is the southern most island in the Caribbean. So I settled down with my breakfast at 9 am, turned on the TV, flipped the channels and what do I see? The Galaxy Rangers!
Settings, Photon and Laslo
<Well, your reputation precedes you! Back on the GR designs, how about the "settings"? How much of that did you design, and how much was handed down from above? >
- <DavidRosler> Nothing was "handed down" really, it all got done in the general creative pit, though I had not one thing to do with the environments. I did storyboards and characters; Alex Stevens and Laslo Nosek did the primary environment art. God this is bringing back memories. Shall I tell a Laslo story?
- <DavidRosler> After the rangers pre-production virtually all of the art staff was let go, which is typical in the biz. I had lined up a huge contract for 100 illustrations for Putnam publishing on a license tie-in to a truly quirky show called Photon (anyone remember it?)
Courtesy of http://www.snowcrest.net/fox/photon/
<Various group responses: no, afraid not...I do. I remember it. >
- <DavidRosler> (Those who do have my sympathy). But they needed the work FAST so I subcontracted a lot of background work Anyway, Laslo was absolutely brilliant as a designer, really unique. (he's a big-shot now at a company doing a lot of stuff for the Nic network) But at the time Laslo was really fresh from Hungary and his English was not what it might have been, which is what one would expect of someone in that situation. In these photon books one planet was supposed to have kings and such and for variety I said to Laslo, "make it like "Oz". Well, naturally he had no idea what I was talking about, so I said, you know, like the wizard of oz, use colors like emerald green and magenta and stuff like that. He smiled and nodded enthusiastically and said, "OK, OK" So a week later we meet to see what he had done with my rough outlines....and they were BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT, AMAZING.... and done ENTIRELY IN TONES OF EMERALD GREEN AND MAGENTA AND ONLY EMERALD GREEN AND MAGENTA!
<lol.. very nice>
- <DavidRosler> It takes a particular kind of genius to work like that. I was very fond of that guy.
<...I have to know, is Photon any link to the game that lost out to Lazer Tag in the 80's?>'
- <DavidRosler> Exactly the same. It's sad in a way, because photon developed it all and did a great job on the basic toy etc, and laser tag literally beat them out with fancier ads. It was that simple. I had almost the whole art staff go to one of the photon arenas and we spent the night with the place to ourselves thanks to the connection to Photon books (they wanted us to really know what is was about so I invited the artists)- grown adults - shooting infrared beams at each other in a smoking, high-tech maze.
<Was there any element of the show that has stuck with you over the years?>
- <DavidRosler> One thing that stayed with me is the sense of fun and good will on that show. It was about the least pretentious and most fun crew I have ever worked with or even been able to assemble. Also the show was so good and well respected in the biz that I still use it on my background info.
<Did you have a favorite episode?>
- <DavidRosler> I can tell you what my favorite episode was at the time it initially aired..... One Million Emotions.
<That's a local favorite! "Arizona McGee. Sensation dolls. Spiders from Mars! Now we're cooking!"… followed closely by Galaxy Stranger... >'
- <DavidRosler> I'm glad to hear so many people like that one. One Million Emotions was very well written. It went to the "A" division in Japan as you can tell. Beautifully done.
<Can you tell that I like Goose? ;-) >''
- <DavidRosler> Everyone liked Goose.... the break-the-rules good guy.
<Who came up with the ranger ships?>
- <DavidRosler> The ships were all designed - more or less - by Ray and Brad Fox. Brad's wall was covered with sports cars. All these brilliant guys doing brilliant work, all with expertise which had nothing to do with science fiction!
<How much do you know of how the computer and drawn animations were merged?>
- <DavidRosler> Brad Fox was put in charge of the early CGI stuff in postproduction. It was a very cumbersome system, would render each frame to film and that was merged in the video edit.
<Was there any one section of any episode that you were directly responsible for?>
- <DavidRosler> "Section"? A whole scene? No, these things are always collaborative efforts by their nature.
<Was there any other sci-fi shows/movies that influenced some of the eps?>
- <DavidRosler> influence? Yes, tons of stuff. There was one with a death-star trench, Bronto Bear was the show's nod to Godzilla.... Goose is essentially Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western. Oh, there are plenty of "homage's".
- <DavidRosler> I remember Robert and Gregg desperately trying to describe Godzilla to Ed, but they needed the Bronto Bear done fast and no one had a picture. I helped on that one because I grew up on Godzilla movies.
<... I think we all did on Godzilla>
- <DavidRosler> Ed had no idea what they were talking about when they said, "Big fat legs, huge tail, skinny neck, small head". He looked at them like THEY were Bronto Bears!
Bronto Bear & Godzilla
<How about a least-favorite episode?>
- <DavidRosler> Least favorite? Maybe Moose-a-saur or whatever that was. Alex Stevens was so sick of drawing marshmallow trees he was on a rant about it. He was a great designer, though. I was really pleased with what he did on the photon books. Just great, masterful stuff.
<What other physical mementos do you have from the series?>
- <DavidRosler> Oh yeah, did anyone ever tell you guys about the yearbook I made?
<No? not that I know of >
- <DavidRosler> Toward the end of production, I took photographs of everyone at work, did a paste-up, and started assembling a yearbook, because it really was a pretty close group. For the first few days I was chided about it, but then people started culling through things to add, and drawings of all the artists as unflattering as possible made by other artists and I put it all together and we all signed each other's yearbooks on the last day of production. I remember Robert came up to me and asked for one.
<Wow - that is a real memento of the show - something that is just for the production team>
- <DavidRosler> I just found mine when your site made me think about the show. Bill Wright was in charge of putting the screenplay into scene formats for the storyboards, and wrote some truly wicked stuff which made it in there.
- <DavidRosler> (My God, this is like a trip down memory lane, or in this case, the memory internet superhighway)
<LOL, welcome to our world>
<Out of all the characters, including the minor ones, which one did you like the best?>
- <DavidRosler> Hmmmmmm, there were so many, I have a few PERSONAL favorites. Boss rancid was the first one I drew in the same style as the animation, much to the complaints of my fellows there. But when it came on screen, it looked EXACTLY as I had drawn it. So much so that it was weird... it looked like I had drawn the actual animation! That was a real lesson is sticking to the format so that's a favorite.
- <DavidRosler> I remember when Rusty faints ("Rusty and The Boys") I did a very melodramatic swoon in the boards for which I was also chided, but that worked too, I thought. You could see the Japanese were having fun with that shot, so that stands out.
- <DavidRosler> As for SHOW CHARACTERS I'm not sure. I'll probably always be too close to the show to stand back and see it objectively. I think all four main characters were very well realized though I had nothing to do with their designs per se.
<How did you become hired on? Newspaper ad, word of mouth..?…”hey, there's a really great pantheon of sci-fi people..want to join?”>'
- <DavidRosler> I heard about an ad in the NY times from a friend of mine. It said MAJOR science fiction animated show being produced in Manhattan and I thought, "yeah, that'll be the day". It sounded like hype but I sent the TINIEST array of samples I could muster just to do it and was called a week later. I went in a week after that and David Gregg said, "you're hired. We need you to start tomorrow". Very strange.
<Nice, I think Ken Landgraf alluded to that same hiring process>
- <DavidRosler> On the hiring, let me tell you. I went in and immediately saw all this great stuff on the walls and thought, "Whoa! I want onto this!" But I was stuck in a way.....
- <DavidRosler> because I just didn't think anything great could be happening of that nature in NYC at that time. So suddenly I'm nervous. And he looks at all my very best stuff and it was obvious David Gregg couldn't care less, and I had other stuff at home and I figured I had sunk myself on this great whatever-it-was.
- <DavidRosler> and then he said, do you have any designs in sketch form? And I did because I always used to carry around a portfolio big enough to double as a bomb shelter. He saw the sketches and "boom, you're in".
<ok - being a SF addict, like all of us, which artifact, or device, or vehicle, or concept of the GR series did you like best?>
- <DavidRosler> That's a big question. Too big to answer here, I think.
<can't you just give us a hint? :) >'
- <DavidRosler> I remember people talking about Dr Owen Nakita and I saw this drawing of a board with a bubble and jell inside on the CHARACTER wall and I said, "who put this here?" and someone said "That's Dr, Owen Nakita!" (did I get the name right?)
Dr. Owen Negata
<Close enough. I think we spell the name "Negata", but I'm not sure. n'gata, nagata, nagita, negita - depending on who's writing him >'
- <DavidRosler> OK. Oops. It's been a long time.
Music, Names, SHIPS
<We have to ask about the music, as it's one of the things I really enjoyed about the show. Do you know if there was an actual band outside of the credited people that performed the music for the show?>'
- <DavidRosler> Yes, for the main theme but I don't know who they were.
<Who came up the the name "Qball?”>
- <DavidRosler> I have no idea where the names came from, but Robert Mandell was HEAVILY involved in the writing so a lot came from him, I think.
- <DavidRosler> I wrote an episode when all the slots were filled, actually, and Robert sat down, discussed them (2 episodes, actually) and promised me we'd use them in a second season. If he ever does I'm holding him to that. J
<Who or what was the biggest pain to draw?>
- <DavidRosler> SHIPS were the biggest pain if you had a lot. James Wheelock sat for DAYS storyboarding "Armada" and just starting zoning out. It was rough. Those were the biggest pain.
<If Robert does do a season 2, would you want to work on it?>
- <DavidRosler> I have my own company, a feature in post and much stuff to do, but I have to tell you, my feelings are so fond for Robert and the show that it would be tough NOT to be involved in some way, and you may quote me verbatim on that to him if you are inclined. He was quite a decent guy personally.
All Good Things
- <DavidRosler> Have I answered all the questions there are to answer?
<We think we've run dry for the moment! Thanks for taking the time to come out and talk with us. It's been a pleasure to have some insight and to walk down someone else's memory lane.>
- <DavidRosler>It was my pleasure, really. I'd enjoy being asked back again sometime if you are inclined. It's a great deal of fun. Sooner the better though..... Things are looking a might dense in the next month or so.
[---] received via email post chat.
- This site was imported from the BM1.0 site and reformatted. While working on the import, it was great to re-read through the material and also see how good David was to spend some of his time with the group.
- You can find David's site at http://www.davidrosler.com