For American Ninja Warrior fans, the wait for season nine has just begun. It won’t be until the summer of 2017 that we get our next fix of action and emotion.
But if you want to think positively about it, season nine is already kicking off behind the scenes. The ATS Team, the men and women who design, build and manage the course, are already back at work getting ready to challenge Ninjas across the country.
Here’s a breakdown of how the course comes together, with input and quotes from Travis McDaniel, The ATS Team COO.
October: The ATS Team begins internal designs for for new obstacles
“Starting at the beginning of October, October to November 1, we internally work up [obstacles]. We look at the past seasons. We work up our general concepts of what we think would be a good course and we also come up with our new ideas and we do a lot of internal testing. A lot of stuff that no one in the outside world sees because we're like, ‘Okay that didn't work at all.’
We do as much internal testing as possible. Then we try to have a good stack of ideas for new obstacles come November 1 and that's when we'll meet with A. Smith and Co [the production company behind American Ninja Warrior]. We'll get their feed back.”
November: The ATS Team works with A. Smith and Co on developing obstacle ideas
“They'll give us notes. They give us some ideas. Then we come up with other designs. It's really getting paper designs done. Then they'll go to the network and present those. The network will say okay we want to see these in prototype. We want to see a change on this drawing. So we'll make that change.”
December: Obstacle development continues
January: Production begins
“Basically this whole process from November to December is going back and forth doing prototypes, trying stuff out, with the end goal that January 1, we have kind of a 75% course lock on the city courses.”
February: Production continues
“Then over January and February, we have now started to build the ones that we have a lock on and we're continuing to build prototypes and testing for that remaining 25%. Every season there's one obstacle that never quite gets done, and we're working on it through all the cities and they end up changing the grids, so it's always in the last city. It's kind of funny how that happens every season.”
March: National Finals course development
“Then right around March is when we start Vegas and looking at last year's grid and changes we want to make. We try to lock that by the end of March.”
April: Show taping begins, National Finals production continues
“We build that [the National Finals obstacles] in April/May, and we're on the ground in June. So we try to set aside a full two months for building all the cities and a full two months for building Vegas.”
May/June: National Finals course is complete. Filming continues.
So it clearly takes some time to plan courses that are unique, new and crazy challenging. But what about just one obstacle?
“If someone had an idea that they drew up on the white board. The same day we could have a sketch up drawing done. The next day, in a single day we could build a prototype, and the following day we would test it.
So in like four days, you could go from lightbulb idea to prototype. And then to actually build a finished obstacle, it usually takes a week per obstacle, and obviously we're doing many obstacles at once.”
The bottom line is this: Hold on, Ninja Warrior fans, your new obstacles are on their way!
More on how American Ninja Warrior is made
- 5 things you should know about the team that builds the courses
- The ATS Team is coming up with new American Ninja Warrior obstacles right now
- Behind the scenes where the obstacles are born
- Meet the green hats, the people in charge of the American Ninja Warrior course
- The past, present and future of the company at the core of the course
- The other insanely cool things the company the makes the course are doing
- Get your hands on the course as a tester
- Jen Hansen has the coolest job on American Ninja Warrior
- Meet the man dedicated to destroying Ninjas
- What you need to know about being an audience member
- 5 surprises from the American Ninja Warrior production trailer
- How many people does it take to pull off an episode of American Ninja Warrior?