Batman the animated series

Article on how Batman:TAS changed animation and the way we view cartoons
January 02, 2008
In the early 90's Warner Bros. wanted to develop a weekly animated series based on one of their most popular franchises. When Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm finished the pilot the series was picked up with great expectations. When the series made it's debut it changed the way people viewed cartoons forever. The series was "Batman: The animated series". The Batman series not only had a unique look to it but used some unique techniques in it's animation. The batman series changed the way people thought about cartoons and it also changed the entire Batman mythology in ways no one imagined.

Batman the animated series has a different look and feel from other cartoons at the time. Borrowing elements from all other Batman incarnations before it this Batman had a very dark look to it while still keeping the action and fun elements intact. Producers Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski wanted the show to be serious and visually striking, a form of "Mini-movies". They wanted the show to be driven by the character development, and the compelling stories not just random action scenes put together. They knew the look was very important. Inspired by the early Fleischer Bros. Superman cartoons the design on the characters was kept simple and a bit blocky.

The world Batman lived in was not made to look like any specific century or era in order to keep the show from looking outdated several years later. Instead borrowing from Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film the world was made to look very dark and gothic while still having a futuristic feel, the artist referred to this style as dark-deco.

Writers from The Batman comic books were used for several episodes to give the show serious stories that used character development and plots with emotion and depth to let you know that you weren't just watching a "saturday morning cartoon". The musical score was conducted by Shirley Walker. Shirley Walker conducted the orchestra for the Tim Burton Batman film. She brought great atmosphere and provided the exact mood with her music, making it feel as if you were watching a movie not just a "cartoon". The voice casting was conducted in a different manner than usual. The producers didn't want a person who could do funny voices or just changed the tone of their voice, they were looking for people who already had the personality within them and would just be able to let it out and record it. Great voice actors were cast for the show such as Kevin Conroy who has been the voice of Bruce Wayne and Batman from the beginning of the show to the present day in other shows such as The Justice League. Casting established actors such Mark Hamill (The Joker), Ron perlman(Clayface), Richard Moll (Two-face), and Paul Williams(The Penguin) gave the show the edge over other animated shows at the time. Guest stars were brought in as well such as Adam West who portrayed Batman in the 1960's live action T.V. show.

In this memorable episode Adam West voiced "The Gray Ghost" a televison superhero to a young Bruce Wayne who as an adult modeled his Batman persona after. This episode showed that the people behind the show respected those who made Batman what it is today.

As Bruce Timm described it " We weren't trying to reinvent Batman instead we were just building on what those before us did" Batman the animated series also used animation techniques not seen before or seen in years. Backgrounds were made on black paper forcing the artist to paint using bright colors giving the show a dark and moody feel. Several scenes were shot using just a still painting and animating only certain elements of it. a technique used in the Fleischer Bros. Superman cartoons.
Something that was noticeably different from other cartoons was the use of firearms. Characters from animated shows weren't allowed to use guns. They were only allowed to use things such as laser guns and freezing rays. The producers convinced the network and the studio to allow the villains to carry and use firearms the condition being that the gun could never be pointed directly at the camera.

Those are some of the ways That Batman the animated series changed animation, Next I will talk about how the animated series changed the Batman mythos in both film, comic books, and pop culture.
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