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Putting Together the Pieces of the Southern-Most ‘Park’

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A little bit of interesting fun by way of Zach Klein: an Apple profile of how things get done at South Park HQ. Granted, like the lot of them, you’re just reading a sales pitch, but if you’re a working designer, you’re probably already, in some form or another, part of the cult, so what’s the harm? It’s a nice little read on how, week after week, they put together the show and how insanely fast they must work to get it all done (you’ve likely read before that they produce the show up to the minute it airs, to keep it timely — not an easy thing for animation). Here’s a little:

To duplicate that analog jumpiness today, the animation crew employs Adobe Photoshop and Maya. “It’s incredibly fast,” says [Animation Director Eric] Stough. “It used to take three months to do a show. We’ve gotten it down to six days.” The animators scan the original construction paper characters and backgrounds. “We have a 10-year library of props and backgrounds and characters that we recycle and reuse,” says Stough. Those scanned images can be used as textures in Maya. The 3D modeling application can easily duplicate the physics of working in the real world with paper. “With Maya, we have puppets now and they’re grouped together as if they were glued together,” says Stough. “It’s kind of like a virtual camera stand in a computer. But instead of using a computer to make the animation smooth, the artist has to go in and make it jumpy.”

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