Friday, September 26, 2014

South Park - From Construction Paper to The Emmys

Ever since I was young I remember watching South Park with my big brother.  We would laugh until our sides hurt over the quick, witty lines mixed in throughout the toilet humor.  But the thing that stands out to me looking back over the years is the evolution of the animation involved in South Park.  The creators of the animated series, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, started with pieces of construction paper cut out to look like the characters they had in their heads.  One of the first episodes, entitled "The Spirit Of Christmas (Jesus vs. Santa)", never actually hit the airwaves.  It was actually just a short film that Trey and Matt made together.  Here is 5 minutes of that video.

From there, South Park changed drastically - using state-of-the-art animation software and having a team of writers work on episodes nearly 24/7 until they are complete.  Today, South Park is one of the only shows in existence to write, animate, and air an episode within a week.  The team doesn't start writing until the last episode they created has aired, then they sit and brainstorm ideas for episodes until something comes to fruition.  From there, it is a scramble to animate the episode and finalize changes with the network until the air time - which is only 7 days from when they started the writing process.  Here is a short example of a modern episode.

So as you can see, the animation is far superior now to what it used to be.  The team of animators on the show keeps all of the character object files so they can be quickly added to episodes for editing.  I think this show, despite the style of humor, is one of the most sophisticated animated tv series today.

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