Robotech Art 3

Carl Macek



Publication information
Release date

May 1988





Preceded by

Robotech Art 3 is a reference book written by Carl Macek, and included character designs, behind the scenes material, and insights to the production of the failed series Robotech II: The Sentinels, and was released in 1987. It not only contained the story of what happened to the series, but a wealth of technical information and a behind-the-scenes look at how animated series were produced at the time.

Publisher's SummaryEdit

Carl Macek, the man who brought the ROBOTECH phenomenon to the United States, tells the story of THE SENTINELS, the television series that was to take over where ROBOTECH left off. Here is not only the story of what happened to the series, but a wealth of technical information and a behind-the-scenes look at how animated series are produced. It is a must-read book for anyone interested in animation as well as for fans of the ROBOTECH series.

Pre-production ControversyEdit

The BeginningEdit

Robotech Art 3 was a fascinating window into the challenges of animation production during the mid-to-late 1980's. In order to help make Robotech II: The Sentinels feel as authentic as possible, Carl Macek, along with producer Harmony Gold USA, approached the original Japanese studio, Tatsunoko Production, to handle pre-production. The studio wasted little time in sending out the character and mecha designs, which was set during an unrealized portion prior to the events of Robotech: The Masters. They also took the liberty of designing a number of new transformable weapon and transportation systems.

An entire new cast of characters had to be created if the story of The Sentinels was to have the same epic feel as the original series. Several characters had already been created either directly (as in the Robotech: The Graphic Novel - an original story) or de facto (direct reference in the original series without actual screen time).

The introduction of Col. B D. Edwards in the Robotech: The Graphic Novel was intentional. Macek emphasized Edwards would become a key figure in The Sentinels. Edwards' hatred for Roy Fokker, now transferred to Rick Hunter, formed a catalyst for much of the action of the series. Eventually Edwards and Hunter would face off in an ultimate showdown amid the burning ruins of the homeworld of the Robotech Masters.

The final major introduction which had to be included in the storyline of The Sentinels was Col. Jonathan Wolfe. Described in the original Robotech series as a famous war hero from the Robotech Expeditionary Force, Jonathan Wolfe had to have a history that would be documented in part during The Sentinels.

Assembling the TalentEdit

When the heads of Tatsunoko Production, Hiroshi Iwata, Ippei Kuri, and Kenji Yoshida, returned to Tokyo the following month, they took with them a number of books, sketches, and story outlines detailing the first week of programming, which dealt with the launch of the SDF-3 on a mission to the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. These would form the basis of what would eventually become The Sentinels.

During the two weeks that the Tatsunoko's creative team was hosted in Los Angeles by Harmony Gold USA, they received a crash course in Robotechnology. They learned how Robotech differed from their original Japanese series. They also became aware of the direction in which Harmony Gold USA and Matchbox hoped to take the series. The logic of the plan was well received by the Japanese. The plan was simple - Western storytelling in the Japanese style. Given these basic plot points and concepts particular to the Robotech Universe, Hiroshi Iwata, the line producer for the magnificent theatrical film Macross: Do You Remember Love, would begin the character design. His first assignment: age up the survivors of Robotech: The Macross Saga.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, the names Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, Max Sterling, and Ben Dixon had little meaning. But Macross was such a mega-hit that every animator knew the characters' Japanese names: Hikaru Ichijo, Misa Hayase, Maximillian Jenius, Hayao Kakizaki, etc. In producing a sequel to Robotech, certain liberties had to be taken with the original Japanese Macross storyline.

When preproduction of The Sentinels began, great care was taken to avoid any reference to the original Macross storyline. If rumors surfaced that a sequel to Macross was being produced, whether true or not, it would have sent shockwaves through the Japanese animation community. There had never been any plans to make a sequel to Macross. The driving thought was to produce a sequel to Robotech.

To avoid confusion, code names for various characters were established and a variety of character design compromises were made to preserve the sanctity of the original Macross universe. The most glaring design compromises took place in regard to the Zentraedi. Breetai and Exedore were not only aged, they were, for all practical purposes, redesigned. This is nothing new for the Japanese animation community. Most of the costumes and several of the original characters and mecha from Macross were redesigned during the production of the Macross theatrical feature. This redesign was eventually written into the storyline (advancements in cosmetic surgery, familiarity with the concept of fashion, the need to be micronized in order to make the long space journey, special ceremonial costumes, etc.).

In the weeks following their visit to Los Angeles, Hiroshi Iwata, Ippei Kuri, and Kenji Yoshida began to assemble a topnotch Japanese production team for The Sentinels. Masaru Shibata was to be the head of the production. Hiroshi Ohnogi and Yuko Tomita were assigned as the scenario writers. Hiroshi Ogawa became planning designer. Hirotoshi Ohkura, Takashi Ono, and a talented staff of artists would design the characters and mecha.

Lost in TranslationEdit

Macek realized things weren't going exactly as planned. While the production of the artwork moved swiftly, the initial scripts did not progress as rapidly. The interfacing between the "constructed" timeline in Robotech and the proposed timeline in The Sentinels was virtually impossible to reconcile with the Japanese writers. They were not willing to reintroduce the familiar characters like Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes into the early episodes (regardless of the need for continuity). They felt compelled to focus on the new characters - Jack Baker, Karen Penn, Rem, Cabell. Perhaps it was an unconscious reaction to dealing with characters protracted from Macross. Whatever the reason, the initial scripts written by the scenario writers chosen by Tatsunoko were far afield from what everyone was expecting for a sequel to Robotech.

It was here that Macek hypothesized that the Japanese production team intended to take footage from The Sentinels and reedit it to create a new program - without the characters from Macross - and present it for broadcast in Japan. In viewing the final animation, more attention to detail can be seen in the scenes featuring Jack Baker and the battles on the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. The scenes with Rick, Lisa, and Minmei were relatively pedestrian - also these scenes did not follow the model sheets. It was difficult to say with certainty if this was the case seeing that the full production was never completed and communications were broken off with many of the Japanese writers and designers before these questions could be asked.

New Creative DirectionEdit

Macek felt the only solution was to return to Los Angeles and construct the scripts with American writers. These scripts with a series of sample storyboards would be forwarded to Tatsunoko for comment and then put into production.

With this new direction, a creative team was assembled in Angeles to form the core of material needed to facilitate the production of The Sentinels. Kent Butterworth, a veteran storyboard artist and writer, was hired a script supervisor. Kevin Altiere, Paul Power, and Butterwort began storyboarding initial scripts written by Carl Macek to illustrate the direction in which the stories should go. A group of science fiction authors, including Arthur Byron Cover, Steve Barnes, John Shirley, Richard Mueller and Steve Roberts, were brought in to write dialogue and construct scenarios from my plot points. Walt Kubiak, Eric Bernstein, and Duane Capizzi rounded out the writing pool.


In the end, all their efforts proved fruitless. Production for the new series fell through, thanks to a number of mitigating factors. Macek, disheartened at the failure of the project, decided to salvage what they could and released Robotech II: The Sentinels, a compilation of the first three completed episodes of the series. Whatever ideas that were not realized were later reappropriated into novel form by Jack McKinney, and later, into comics by Jason and John Waltrip.

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