The Secrets of Animation

TodayI…visits the Cleveland Show studio. Yesterday, my students and I took a field trip to the Cleveland Show studio. The show is basically a spin-off from one of the characters, “Cleveland,” taken from Family Guy. I’m not an avid fan, but I do admire the work that goes into animation. It really is amazing what technology can do!

                                      The Cleveland Show cast.                                   Show airs Sundays at 9:30pm on FOX.

Did you know that it takes about 8-15 pages of paper to draw 1 second of the show? An episodes is typically 22 minutes long (w/out commercials), which if my math is correct… it takes about 10-20 thousands of pages to create one episode! You can do the math yourself if you’d like here. Here’s how they do it:

First, they map out the ideas and start writing a script. Each episode is written like a play and has 3 Acts. They usually set up the plot and scene before the first commercial.
Then, all the writers gather in the “writing room.” They try jokes out and test if they’re funny. One guy types the script out as it is being said.
Next, one of the artists draws/sketches it on a computer. Everything is digital now and makes things more convenient. Although, this requires some amazing skill.
All the features (hands, eyes, legs, mouth, etc) are mastered by each artist. Basically, they are given the story’s plot, and it is their creative mastery that connects the words to an image. This requires some amazing expertise.
Hanging on the wall are a list of past characters and those being featured in upcoming episodes. After the script and sketches are completed, the work is submitted to Korea for the animation process to produce a first draft of the episode for viewing. This process can take about 3-5 months.

Then, they gather all the actors and do a table read like in the video above and record their voices. When actors/actresses live in another state, they can record via phone and don’t even have to be present for the table read. Mike Henry, the voice of Cleveland, was our tour guide. Such a cool guy! And hilarious! He said it’s fun to get to meet the actors and actresses when they’re not all dolled up.

Finally, this man edits the draft and fixes all the mistakes. Sometimes a character might not blink properly or their features are looking odd. He basically makes sure everything looks as realistic as possible. Again, not an easy job, but seems so fun.

Here’s a little clip of the final product: (featuring Kanye West)

The entire process to make 1 episode takes about 1 year!! Can you believe that? I was shocked when I heard that. It really makes me appreciate animation more. Hooray for field trips!

All my students with Mike Henry somewhere in the back. Sorry for the blurry picture!


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