Are writers present in the animation studio or are they somewhere else? Thinking of Television writing
Most animated series are storyboard written. Which means the writing is done by drawing a storyboard. These include Spongebob Squarepants, Adventure Time, Regular Show etc. Anything that's action heavy. If you aren't a storyboard artist you won't really have a chance writing for a show like this.
There are however animated shows that are script driven, like Legend of Korra, Simpsons, American Dad, etc. Anything that's dialogue heavy. These are written just like a normal TV script.
Storyboarding starts with a script, and usually some rough concepts or character designs/BGs to work off of. Storyboard artists don't always have any creative input on the writing in a big production, but smaller ones can be a lot more flexible.
I would almost guarantee that all animated shows begin at a writing level before being handed off to storyboard artists.
Years ago I wrote for Toonsylvania and Mega Babies (11-minute shows) and both began with a concept... then outline... and finally a written script before they were ever handed off to a storyboard artist. There's just too many people who have to "sign off" on an idea to begin the process with physically drawing the storyboards before anything is written out.
The closest thing would probably be South Park's animation process, because they need very little network approval to produce their show. However, I know that this show still begins in the writer's room before involving the art department.
is the writers room in the studio or does it come from somewhere else? where is the script written?
The animated shows that I worked for hired freelance writers. That allowed for the head writers and some executives to exist at the studio, but ideas were submitted via email... Then notes were received back... Then outlines, etc.
Network (and I'm sure some cable) animated TV shows always have their writers "staffed" in-house to take advantage of the writer's room collaboration.
I used to get my approved outlines in the afternoon/evening and wrote my 11-minute scripts from midnight to 5-6am. No distractions that way, and I've always loved staying up late!
TV is usually pretty script heavy, though mentioned a few times this isn't always the case. There are some shows that never see a script, shows like Spongebob and Adventure time are actually written at the storyboard phase.
The reason for this is because those shows tend to focus on animation as the humor, not always the dialog, and the best way to write for that is to just storyboard it out.
That is a very rare case however, most places have writers. If it's a comedy show it's usually written with a group of writers bouncing ideas off of each other to put together a strip. If it's drama you'll usually have a writer or two do a first draft, and then this is looked over by the script editor and further iterations are done (or in some cases a complete re-write from someone else).
This is my basic understanding of that process, I just know most of this from listening to writers in interviews or other industry interviews.
Adventure Time and Spongebob have writers too. It's just that the process moves to storyboard before an actual, physical script it produced. In this interview with an AT writer he talks about writing a two-to-three page outline before sending the concept off to a storyboard artist.
To anyone who's worked on an 11-minute script, you'll realize that a 2-3 page "outline" can contain a really clear idea of what the finished show will be - even without including every line of dialog. These outlines have to be detailed enough that the studio, network, and standards and practices can weigh in on them before artists take the time to start drawing the finished product.
This is similar to a show like Spongebob, where writers pitch ideas for episodes, then outline their ideas before they're sent off to the storyboard artists. I only know this because a very talented writer (not artist) named Steven Banks has worked for Spongebob for years.
He's not an artist (a pen and paper one at least) but gets writing credit on numerous episodes of the show because he, well... writes the ideas, concepts, and situations that become the show.
I've always considered outlines and scripts two different things, so I guess in that sense there are "scripts". But essentially in those shows there isn't an official script as the storyboard artists create the story based on the outline instead of follow a script word for word.
This is how the animation process works.
News, Shorts, and Everything Else in the World of Animation