Tradigital Television: Digital Tools and Saturday Morning
(continued from page 6)

The final render of Action Man, pulling lighting and all the other elements together. Courtesy and © Mainframe Entertainment.

CG production schedules ranged from 8-10 weeks to 16 weeks, depending on the complexity of the show. "South Park," says Maistri, "was greenlit in July of '99 and began airing in September of '99. Once the models were built and approved, we could turn around shows in about 4 weeks, storyboard to final tape." The reuse factor played a part in this. "We also had about 200 various expressions to pull from in the show library. With Karen & Kirby, we're completing about 3 minutes per week with 4 animators, much faster than with traditional animation."

Post Production
A show that uses 35mm film format requires equipment, processing and personnel that is experienced with elements not used by most "traditional shows" these days. Equipment would include a flatbed or a moviola, and a film splicer for negative cutting. Processes would include negative processing, best light transfers and color correction. Personnel, an editor trained to work with these elements.

Today, after animation is complete, most "traditional shows" are processed digitally by the overseas studio The overseas studio delivers a Take 1 and all retakes on a video format that can be transferred and fed directly into the digital editing system. Generally, all off-line assembly, audio synching and editing in of retakes is all done on an AVID editing system with an editor.

On receipt of the Take 1, Take 2 retakes are called. The overseas studio is given 2 weeks to complete and return the retakes. On receipt of Take 2, Take 3 retakes are called. These are given a one week turn around time, as are any other subsequent retakes.

The episode is cut to length (broadcast length) usually no later than the receipt of Take 3 retakes. Music is spotted once the show is cut to length. The director and the composer review the show and discuss the musical needs of the episode. Sfx are spotted only once all animation-related retakes are approved and dropped into the show. A music preview is held approximately one week before the audio mix. Sfx are previewed a day or two before the audio mix. At the audio mix (dubbing) session, the dialogue, music and sfx levels are adjusted and finalized and a final audio track created.

The picture for the episode is edited with sub-main (episode) titles and assembled at a video post house for final picture approval. The final picture is then "married to" the final audio track. Once approved by the director and the "powers that be," the episode is assembled, the series main title, end credits, bumpers and/or interstitials and blacks for station breaks for the half hour are laid in. Dubs of the half-hour are created and forwarded for broadcast.

A typical post production schedule is six weeks, starting with the arrival of the Take 1 through completion of the individual episode's final onlining. With shows that contain more than one episode in the half-hour, the actual delivery will depend upon the completion of the other shows to be included in the broadcast half-hour.

CG Post Production
Post at Mainframe is handled in a fashion reminiscent of the Leica reels used for feature animation. Dent-Wilder explains, "We edit as we go through production. We start with the animatic and scenes are replaced as production proceeds. Once the picture is locked, we spend approximately 3 weeks on music and sfx."

Creative Capers completes post on its series about every other week. Sue Shakespeare states, "Using CG we have a lot less retakes. Once your models are established in the system, you're always on-model." They only use animatics for primetime shows. Once the shows are locked post is completed in about 3-4 weeks.


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8