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Cut Out Animation Research

Haha! Cut-out animation history and inspiration!

“Both Blue’s Clues and South Park creators use the computer as a very sophisticated camera which enables the production process to be broken down into stages that can be handled by different teams of people: storyboards, design and layout, lip-sync, and animation. Both shows use relatively small production teams–ranging from 15 to 30 people per episode, compared to the huge
staffs, both in-house and overseas, needed to produce a typical 2D or cel-animated series. We can expect to see more of this kind of computer use in animation, blurring the line between CGI and traditional animation, and breaking through once-prohibitive cost and time barriers.

At a production studio hidden away in Marina Del Rey, California, animators and technical directors on the South Park TV show and feature film began using high-end equipment: Silicon
Graphics workstations running AliasWavefront’s PowerAnimator software to create
a virtual plane–in 3D space–on which “flat” computer-generated characters are
animated. They switched to Alias’ Maya software since the beginning of Season
Five (#102 – “It Hits the Fan”).

Even the texture of construction paper is applied in the computer, and that “no-platen” shadow look is achieved by separating the character’s parts with a small layer of space as would occur in
real cut-out animation, which is, in case you were wondering, the technique Trey Parker and Matt Stone used to create The Spirit of Christmas, the animated short that spawned the Comedy Central series. Monica Mitchell, a production manager on South Park, pointed out that it would have been nearly impossible to produce the show with construction paper. “Time and flexibility are the bottom line,” she said, noting that changes to the show are often made the day before broadcast. “



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