Monkey Ninjas : An Interview with Devadas George


A month or two ago, I came across Carl and Phil: Monkey Ninjas and wrote about it. I dropped Devadas George, the
creator of the series, a note asking if he’d like to do an interview. Happily
he agreed!

PG: Can you give us a little background on the person
or people behind Carl and Phil? Where are you all from,
and what do you do?

DG: It’s just one person, me. I’m from Kentucky, 6’1″, 31
years old, Virgo, I enjoy long walks on the beach
and…wait, that’s probly not you meant. Anyway,
I’ve been living in Texas since ’99 doing motion
graphics at various post-production facilities. I
used to do lots of short video stuff with a best
friend from high school. Spare time I do the usual
stuff, draw, write (need to write more), I used to
skateboard but I got hurt too much, so now I’m
learning to ride ramps on my bike. I finally got a
personal website up www.obotray.com but haven’t
updated it in ages.

PG: Is ‘Devadas’ your given name?

DG: Devadas George is my name. My dad is from Madras,
India. Mom is American. I go by “deva” (day-vuh).

PG: Is it just you doing the animation and voices, or
do you have others helping out?

DG:
Me again. I didn’t want to bring in too many
outsiders in case it did take off, or people moved or
whatever. Keep it local y’know? I do get help with
voices, friends and stuff for side characters. But
all the main ones are me. I get help with audio
production too, some custom music here and there, but
the writing, drawing, animating is just me on my
laptop.

PG: The website [monkeyninjas.com] has 6 animations on
it. How
old is the show, and will there be an episode 7?

DG:
Episode 1 started Jan 2002. I used to only make them
when ChuckECheese wanted them, so they came out every
3 months or so. But a huge gap opened between 5 & 6.
And the gap til 7 is yet to be seen. I went freelance
in my real life last year and I had to worry about
paid work, so until ChuckE came thru on Ep 6 I was
draggin my feet on it.

PG: The shows have some fantastic ‘bit characters’ in
them, beyond the standard crew of Carl, Phil, the Slime
monsters, etc. In particular, a running joke is that everyone
wants their own nearsighted miniature screaming ninja. Was
there any particular inspiration for him, or for the Doctor
who does the ‘two tents’ joke? (“flllllll…ammable?”)

DG:
Almost all the jokes and characters are voices that
come out of me when I’m home alone or in my car acting
silly. Or jokes that come up in conversations with
friends or situations out. I write everything down
and put ’em in a box at home. When it’s time to write
an episode, I’ll go thru all the jokes and see which
can be animated and then write a plot to connect em
all. One idea, from YEARS ago, just said “nearsighted
ninja,” so I turned it into a character. He’ll return
in future episodes. “Two tents,” is an OLD joke,
probly Henny Youngman’s, he was a genius.

PG: How about the doctor?

DG: The “fllllamable” doctor’s look was totally
inspired by this dude who walked into the coffee shop
where I was storyboarding. He has no idea though.

PG: The geekier side is curious about the tools used
for
animation and voice over. Can you give us a little
background
on how you built each episode?

DG:
I write it first, a solid story is crucial to keep
things moving. Then I storyboard it by hand, the more
detail the better, and noting when I’m gonna do
“camera moves,” and transitions etc. Then I draw all
the scenes in Adobe Photoshop, keeping all the layers
I’m gonna animate separate. Then I record all the
“scratch” audio, making sure all the timing is right,
pauses and stuff. This is crucial, cause once it’s
animated, and I’m putting in final audio, there’s
little to no control over the animation. But there
are always last minute changes where i’m like, “Oh
man, it’d be funnier if____ happened, or he said _____
instead.” Then i’ll record all the final audio, sound
fx and oversee the audio mixdown and bam! It’s done.

PG: How did MonkeyNinjas get hooked up with Chuck E.
Cheeses? It doesn’t seem like their normal fare.

DG:
They were clients at my old job and I was doing (and
still do) animations for their show. So it was just a
matter of doing a longer one. They made me keep it
all clean too, which I thought was a drawback at
first, but in the end it gave me a much smarter,
timeless cartoon that everyone could enjoy. Felt nice
not taking the shock humor, or violence route.
There’s enough of that out there.

PG: Here’s a great chance to boost your favorite
projects,
shows, or just say something to folks. Any particular
things
you’re working on that people might like to hear
about?

DG: Creatively i’m always running in too many
directions. I guess mainly I’m tryin to get
Carl&Phil on tv. That’d be a dream come true. In
the meantime I’m trying not break my back on my bike
(I’ve seen it happen,) and replace the countertops in
my house.

PG: Well, any particular projects folks can take a
look at?

DG: Current projects? hmmm. www.obotray.com is my
personal site with motion graphics stuff on it and
links to some other friends sites with our work on it.

Planet-Geek would like to thank Deva for taking the time out of
his busy schedule to talk with us..

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A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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2 thoughts on “Monkey Ninjas : An Interview with Devadas George

  1. You should’ve said “A month or two ago, I came across Carl and Phil: Monkey Ninjas, AND GOT ALL MY FRIENDS ADDICTED!” 😉

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