Interview with Sagan Yee (Plus Film Teaser!)

“Vestis Virum Facit” – Patron art by Tracy Butler

As we begin our crew interview series, it seems fitting to start with Sagan Yee, an animator who has both been with us the longest and contributed so much to the production of the Lackadaisy short film and the promotional material surrounding it. And so after the end of our Kickstarter campaign in 2020, we hired Yee to start on rough animations.

Their impeccable animation abilities made them a shoe-in for one of our first hires. As they demonstrated a keen eye for detail, Director Fable Siegel gave them a position in quality control as the project moved from roughs to cleanup. Sagan is also responsible for the rough animation on Ivy’s Jazz Cat Dance video which has over 1.5 million views (and counting) on YouTube.

It was a pleasure to interview Yee about their experience as an indie game developer and their work here as an animator and quality control specialist.

When did you first come across Lackadaisy?

I think I may have stumbled across the webcomic long ago, which would have begun around the same time I was heading off to start Sheridan College’s 4-year classical animation program. But I didn’t actually read it all the way through until after I’d been hired to work on the film. Needless to say, I was blown away by the art, the story, the historical setting, the blend of comedy and drama, everything. Many of the people to whom I mention the film project have loved the comic for years.

What is your role in the film’s production?

I did rough animation for 12 shots that will be part of the finished film, as well as bonus material such as the Ivy dancing the Charleston loop. I did a little bit of clean-up as well. My third role is to act as a second pair of eyes on finished shots, aka “Quality Control”, which involves checking for character detail consistency and occasional shot continuity. Stuff like missing whiskers, stripes coloured with the wrong shade of orange, that sort of thing. I made a whole chart for tracking the level of whiskey in someone’s glass over the course of a scene. Continuity is tricky!

What led you here?

Prior to Lackadaisy, I had spent the last 5 years running an indie video game non-profit. When the pandemic started, I was transitioning out of that role and also starting to miss animation. I saw a job posting on Twitter that was looking for 2D animators, specifically ones who could work in a style inspired by Don Bluth and Xerox-era Disney features like Robin Hood or 101 Dalmatians. There are very few hand-drawn animation jobs these days that involve character-driven acting, much less for a more mature audience, so I was instantly intrigued. When I mentioned it to my friends, some of them were familiar with the webcomic and reacted so enthusiastically that I decided to apply.

What has it been like working on the Lackadaisy film?

In my experience, indie projects like Lackadaisy do a lot more direct audience engagement and community building before and during production, whereas the television projects I’ve worked on didn’t require me to meet or even know the names of the other animators. On Lackadaisy, there’s way more opportunity to interact with the entire process, from the innovative ToonBoom/Blender/After Effects pipeline to participating in the [YouTube] streams, and even seeing how the merch is manufactured. The work Discord is very open, so you get to learn a lot about the production outside the scope of your actual job duties. I think one of my favourite parts was sitting in on the recording sessions with the voice actors; there’s a lot of screaming and cracking up, but at the end of the day, everyone’s a professional trying to get the best take.

Anything lined up for the future?

As Lackadaisy goes into post-production, I’m currently animating on an indie video game by KO_OP Studio in Montreal called Goodbye Volcano High. It’s a narrative adventure game about teen dinosaurs during their last year of high school, and possibly the world. Plus it features a non-binary player protagonist! I’m also working on a bunch of personal projects, including a small game about gentrification, and some short stories I’m trying to get published. You can catch me on Twitter @SaganYee and You can also follow me on Youtube, where I will probably post the rough animation from my Lackadaisy shots once the film is out.

Again, big thanks to Sagan Yee for responding to our interview. Next time, we’ll be talking to Zachary Nall, better known in the community as The Indomitable Newt (actually just “Newt” but I think there’s room for a good descriptor).

In the meantime, here’s the new Lackadaisy film teaser! Enjoy!